The musings of a previously unemployed Jewish Freemason. I write about the job search, about Judaism, and about Freemasonry.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Jewel P. Lightfoot's Manual of the Lodge.

Jewel P. Lightfoot was Grand Master of Masons of Texas in 1915. In 1934, he was asked by the Grand Lodge to prepare a manual about Freemasonry to go with the ritual monitor then being distributed in the Grand Lodge of Texas. The result was so outstanding that four decades of Texas Freemasons received the Manual of the Lodge when they were raised as Master Masons, and the profound effect of this remarkable book continues to resonate to this day. As far as I am aware, the last printing was in 1972. The full title of the book is Lightfoot's Manual of the Lodge: With Ancient Ceremonies and Commentaries. I bought my copy on, but your Grand Lodge library should have a copy.

Lightfoot begins with a ritual monitor, which includes the ritual for constituting and consecrating a new lodge, a corner-stone laying ceremony, a masonic burial service (including the graveside ceremony), and the installation ceremony both for Grand Lodge and for subordinate lodges. The second half of the book are assorted commentaries about the symbols of Freemasonry. Here is where we see Lightfoot shine as a Masonic author and orator. The commentaries begin with the following diagram:

I want to share with you an extended quote that Lightfoot shares with the reader in the section about The Temple. This is from an address he gave before a session of the Grand Lodge of Texas, when he was Grand Orator, in 1911.

"But stately and magnificent as [The Temple of Solomon] was, it but symbolized a grander and more wondrous Temple—the Temple of the Human Soul—a sublimer creation than ever arose on earth—a higher expression of creative skill, not only than the Temple of Solomon, but also than the temple of the material universe.

The soul possesses more resources of design; more intricate and wonderful harmonies are displayed in it, than in the inter-play of suns and systems. Orion, sculptured in light on the black walls of space, fades into a mere firefly pageant when compared to this matchless Temple which sprung from the Soul of the Infinite, is robed with His Own Beauty and Majesty, and endowed with His Own Immortality.

Not only is this Temple grander in structure and sublimer in outline than the Temple built by Solomon, but it transcends it in its nature. The Temple of Solomon had to stand as he built it. It could not enlarge itself; it could not enhance the stately ornamentation with which he had beautified it; it could not lift its mighty roof to the sky, and when its massive walls and polished pillars began to yield to the touch of time, it could not repair its wastes, or fill in its losses; but the living Temple of the soul does all this. It enlarges its sweep and sway, and even builds the imperfect work of the past into statelier achievements of the future.

But do you think we have yet seen its highest achievements and its qualities robed in their brightest glory?

Why, we have just began to mount the steps of the portico of this Temple and to catch dim visions of the transcendent glories within.

Language is of far too small a compass to voice its divinest harmonies, and only when transported from the imperfections of earth, we shall stand amid the circumstances and scenery, potent to awaken its latent susceptibilities, shall we ever know the slumbering, yet wondrous powers and capacities of the human soul."

Very inspiring.

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