When a new Entered Apprenticed Mason is initiated, the Worshipful Master grants the Senior Warden the authority to invest the newly initiated brother with the “distinguishing badge of a Mason.” Taking pride in his duty, the Senior Warden makes sure that the new apron fits the invested Brother just right. It is snug, square and neat.
The Brethren of the Lodge stand in admiration of this newly initiated Brother who is proudly adorned in his perfect fitting “Badge of Honor.” Upon his Third Degree, the newly raised Master Mason takes pride in putting away that apron as he heads home, elated and happy, if not somewhat overwhelmed by the lessons he has learned about his new apron and the Craft.
Then what happens?
For some the study of Freemasonry, the practice of its rituals, and the contemplation of the lessons learned become a lifelong pursuit. The badge of honor with which they were invested is but the beginning of a long and wonderful Masonic journey for them.
Some Brethren keep the same apron for the rest of their lives doing their best to make sure they always fit the apron. By helping whenever needed, being good men and upright citizens, exemplary husbands and fathers; their conduct as men and Masons ensures that they always fit the apron.
Some truly dedicated craftsmen seem to fit the apron so well that other, more colorful, aprons start to seek them out. These are the Masons that other Masons revere as our leaders and who, by following their example, all Masons become better men. This type of dedicated Mason fits every apron they will ever wear.
For some however that “Badge of Honor” once so proudly worn and carefully put away after each meeting, begins to get a little loose on them. They stop attending Lodge for any number of reasons or they do not want to do the important duties they were charged to fulfill when they were first given their apron.
Perhaps they only joined for the apron, or the right to say they belong to the Masonic Fraternity. This type of Brother will pay his dues to keep up his membership thinking he is doing his part, but sadly will do nothing more. It is often said, “we get more out of Masonry than we put into it,” which is obvious to those many members who get so much out of Freemasonry and yet put little or nothing back. One cannot continuously make withdrawals from the Bank of Freemasonry without being willing to make at least the occasional deposit. These members do not fit their aprons.
Most of us know how well our apron fits when we put it on. Sometimes the apron belt needs to be stretched, but sometimes we need to stretch too. You can stretch to fit your apron by becoming active in your community through service on a local school board, serving the homeless, participating in your church / synagogue / mosque, coaching a youth sports team. And yes…by coming to Lodge and participating in the activities there.
The question should not be how well does our apron fit us, but how well do we fit our Masonic apron.
Does your apron still fit?
by Shawn Donohugh
The author is a Past Master of Moneta Lodge No. 405 (now Gardena-Moneta Lodge No. 372) and a four-time Past Master of Los Angeles Harbor Lodge No. 332. He currently serves as the Secretary of Los Angeles Harbor Lodge No. 332, Secretary of the Southern California Past Master’s Association, is a member of the Grand Lodge of California’s Lodge Support Committee, and served as Senior Grand Deacon for the Grand Lodge of California in 2014-2015.