Official Visit to Keith Lodge No. 23

Worshipful Master
Distinguished East
Past & Present Grand Lodge Officers
Brethren All,

The Secretary has read an invitation to all, to assist in the laying of the Corner Stone of our new Grand Lodge. An important event in the life of our Grand Lodge and an impressive, time honoured tradition.

The cornerstone concept is derived from the first stone our ancient operative brethren traditionally set in the North-East corner to begin the construction of a masonry foundation. Obviously a most important event, since all other stones are set in reference to it, thus determining the position of the entire structure.

Over time this ceremony became the ceremony of setting a stone in a prominent location on the outside of a building, with an inscription on the stone indicating the construction dates of the building and the names of architect, builder and other significant individuals but, the rite of laying a cornerstone is an important cultural component of western architecture and metaphorically in sacred architecture generally.

Do you remember, as the very last act of the Entered Apprentice degree you were placed in the north-east corner of the Lodge and told by the Worshipful Master that there you stand, an upright man and Mason, your feet forming the angle of a square, and it was given you strictly in charge ever to walk and act as such before God and man.

The Ritual does not elaborate, but remember that the Ritual throughout is a veil, and always masks far deeper truths than its surface-words exhibit and here too, it's symbolism is strong and powerful - in this position we were symbolically laying our spiritual corner-stone.

The operative mason was engaged in the construction of a material temple, formed, it is true, of the most magnificent materials which the quarries of Palestine, the mountains of Lebanon, and the wealth of the kingdom could contribute; but we, as speculative masons engage ourselves with the erection of a spiritual house, - a house not made with hands, - in which, the stones, cedar, gold, and precious stones, are substituted with the virtues of the heart, the pure emotions of the soul, and the warm affections from the hidden fountain of the spirit.

The Speculative Mason, then, if he rightly comprehends the scope and design of his profession, is occupied, from his very first admission into the Order until the close of his labors and his life, in the construction, the adornment, and the completion of this Spiritual Temple of his body. He lays its foundation in a firm belief and an unshaken confidence in the wisdom, power, and goodness of God. This he has affirmed on his first entrance into the Lodge and without it, he can advance no further than the threshold of initiation. On this basis he prepares his materials with the Gauge and Gavel of Truth, raises the walls by the Plumbline of Rectitude, Squares his work with the Square of Virtue, connects the whole with the Cement of Brotherly Love, and thus skilfully erects the living edifice of thoughts, and words, and deeds, in accordance with the designs laid down by the Master Architect of the Universe in the great Book of Revelation.

In Masonry, the north has ever been deemed the place of darkness; and in obedience to this principle, no symbolic light is allowed to illuminate the northern part of the Lodge. On the other hand, the east in Masonry is symbolic of Masonic Light or universal knowledge.

The N.E. corner is a point of much symbolic significance. It is the meeting place of N. and E., of darkness and light, and, therefore, representative of the Candidate's own condition. Standing at this point, he can henceforward at will step onward to the E., or backward to the N., advancing further to the Light or relapsing into darkness; it will rest with himself which direction his life will henceforth take.

The candidate is placed in the north-east corner of the Lodge, because it is symbolic of his relation to the Order and to the World. He has just emerged From the profane world. Some of its imperfections are still upon him; some of its darkness is still about him; and as such he belongs in part to the north. But his pathway is directed towards the East in his quest for light and truth. His allegiance, if I may use the word, is divided. He is not altogether in darkness, nor altogether in light. If he were wholly in darkness, the north would be the place to put him. If he was wholly in light - a Master Mason, - the east would have received him. But but he is neither; he is an Entered Apprentice, with some of the ignorance of the world still with him, and some of the light of the Order beaming upon him. One side of him faces the north, and the other side faces the east. He is neither wholly in one part nor wholly in the other part. He has just left the West, travelling East in search of light and therefore rightly placed in the north-east corner of the Lodge, the joining point of darkness and light. The dawn of a new day, with darkness fading and light rising.

My, Brothers, we can recognize three different levels why the novice is placed in the north-east corner; Mentally, Physically, and Spiritually. Masonry is a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Our Ritual gives us the allegory and the symbols, but only of our own free will and accord through our own desire will we be able to remove the veils.

As we have seen, the Corner-Stone, as the foundation on which the entire building is supposed to rest, is the most important stone in the whole edifice. By extension, that teaches us, as Master Masons, that we have placed another corner stone for Masonry. We, the Craft, are charged with giving him all our knowledge of Masonry and hope and pray that he, in turn, will become qualified to pass it on, for if he never becomes qualified, the teachings of Masonry will die with us.

The Entered Apprentice is charged with, first becoming qualified to receive this knowledge, second with receiving and understanding it, and third and most important, seeing that only those duly qualified receive it from him. In this manner the teachings of Masonry have been preserved over the ages. As the Corner-Stone of Masonry he is the link between those that have the knowledge and the ones that will come to Masonry in the future to find the knowledge.

I cannot too strongly impress upon you, Brethren, the fact that, throughout our rituals and our lectures, the references made to the Lodge are not to the building in which we meet. That building itself is intended to be but a symbol, a veil of allegory concealing something else. �Know ye not� says the great initiate St. Paul, �that ye are the temples of the Most High; and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?� The real Lodge referred to throughout our rituals is our own individual personalities, and if we interpret our doctrine in the light of this fact we shall find that it reveals an entirely new aspect of the purpose of our Craft.

It is after investment with the apron and the working tools, that the initiate is placed in the N.E. corner. Thereby he is intended to learn that at his birth into this world the foundation-stone of his spiritual life was duly and truly laid and implanted within himself; and he is charged to develop it; to create a superstructure upon it. Two paths are open to him at this stage, a path of light and a path of darkness; a path of good and a path of evil. The N.E. corner is the symbolical dividing place between the two. In symbolical language, the N. always signifies the place of imperfection and undevelopment, it represents the condition of the spiritually unenlightened man; the novice in whom the spiritual light latent within him has not yet risen above the horizon of consciousness and dispersed the clouds of material interests and the impulses of the lower and merely sensual life. The initiate placed in the N.E. corner is intended to see, then, that on the one side of him is the path that leads to the perpetual light of the East, into which he is encouraged to proceed, and that on the other is that of spiritual obscurity and ignorance into which it is possible for him to remain or relapse. It is a parable of the dual paths of life open to each one of us; on the one hand the path of selfishness, material desires and sensual indulgence, of intellectual blindness and moral stagnation; on the other the path of moral and spiritual progress, in pursuing which one may decorate and adorn the Lodge within him with the ornaments a jewels of grace and with the invaluable furniture of true knowledge, and which he may dedicate, in all his actions, to the service of God and of his fellow men And mark that of those jewels some are said to be moveable and transferable, because when displayed in our own lives and natures their influence becomes transferred and communicated to others and helps to uplift and sweeten the lives of our fellows; whilst some are immoveable because they are permanently fixed and planted in the roots of our own being, and are indeed the raw material which has been entrusted to us to work out of chaos and roughness into due and true form.

 This, my Brethren, is why we are placed in the north-east corner of the Lodge - as the Corner-Stone of Masonry.




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