John A. Caton, 32°

Masonry offers a Brother’s family a man made better by the Craft.

For many years, the Fraternity has gone to great lengths to provide involvement for the families of Freemasons. The Lodges and Valleys have had some success at Family Nights as well as other projects. This has brought many families together that might not other-wise have had the opportunity to become acquainted with Masonry. These occasions may include Potluck Dinners, Widows Nights, Masonic Pin Presentations, and sometimes special musical, seasonal, or other exceptional events.

But what has Freemasonry given to the wife and children of the Master Mason? The obvious answer is: a man changed for the better because of his involvement with the Craft. And one of the major benefits of that is in the way he treats his family. As a Mason comes to understand and live Freemasonry, he becomes a more positive influence on everyone around him, including his family.

Most Freemasons don’t explain the teachings of Masonry to their family because they are worried that they might inadvertently disclose some Masonic "secret" they have mistakenly been taught exists. One example is the Working Tools.

They are not and never have been esoteric. And yet, many Masons treat them as if they were. The Square, Level, Plumb, and Compasses have been widely used as teaching tools for centuries, yet we, as Free and Accepted Masons, do not communicate their meanings to anyone, much less our families, for fear that some nonexistent bogeyman will strip us of our membership in the Fraternity.

I am not suggesting we explain everything about the Degrees of Masonry to our family members and friends, but I do think we need to take a long look at what is esoteric and what is not.

As we prepare to take Masonry into the new millennium, more and more people are looking for answers to why Masonry is so important to its members. The real "secrets" of our Craft are not in its Ritual but in the hearts of each man who diligently follows the teachings of Freemasonry.

So, the next time members of your family ask "What is Masonry?" don’t be afraid to tell them what it is and what you get from being a member of the world’s oldest Fraternity. That is not a secret!

The above article is reprinted with permission from the January 1998 Trestleboard of Garfield Lodge No. 501, Enid, Oklahoma.

John A. Caton
is Senior Warden of Garfield Lodge No. 501, Enid, Okla. Both he and his wife, Arlett, are ardent students of Freemasonry, and Arlett has spoken about Masonry to both Lodges and women’s groups around the state. John acts in the 20th, 21st, and 27th Degrees in the Guthrie Valley and is a member of the Communications Team and of Tri-Square Productions, a group producing Masonic educational materials.