Curtis N. Lancaster, 33°

We sometimes speak of family values as if they were a thing apart, but the values which build strong, healthy families are the values the Scottish Rite has always taught.

The symbol of the 18° is one of the most powerful of the Scottish Rite. Enclosed in the Compasses is a pelican, tearing her breast to feed her young. The symbol comes from an ancient belief that the pelican fed her young on her own blood. Later symbolism perceived the Pelican as the Redeemer who "feeds" the world by His own sacrifice. Both concepts are appropriate to the Scottish Rite today.

If we, as Scottish Rite Masons, do not "feed" our families on what we learn in Masonry, our families cannot grow in strength and purpose. Seldom in history has the family been under more stress than today. The great ordeals of the past—war, famine, illness, natural disaster—actually served to strengthen the family. Survival was a matter of cooperation. Interdependence was necessary. Simply making it through these ordeals required both the strength of the young and the wisdom of the elderly.

The stresses of today, in contrast, serve to tear the family apart. Drugs touch almost every family in America in one way of another. The drug culture first destroys the relationships of the drug user, and then destroys the user. Television, even in advertisements on children’s programs, teaches the young that their parents are pawns to be manipulated, not sources of strength to be respected. Traditional values, prized only a few years ago, seem almost as remote as the horse and buggy.

Overcoming these pressures on the family is an enormous challenge. First of all, parents, and perhaps especially the father, must be tolerant. So many things in the life of a young person, from choice of hair style to choice of clothing, music and friends, can become a source of contention in the family. Fortunate is the family whose father learns the great Masonic lesson of Toleration, makes it part of his very blood and body, and then, by example, "feeds" that Toleration to his family.

Second, parents must provide Equilibrium. This essential Masonic lesson, taught in so many of the Degrees of the Scottish Rite, may be even more important in the life of the family than in the life of the individual. Today’s family is torn in many different directions by numerous outside influences and conflicting demands on the time of family members. These demands can become so chaotic that the family has no central base, no sanctuary of calm into which one can retreat. Fortunate is the family whose father has learned the Masonic lesson of Equilibrium, a man who has a constant center, a moral and personal anchor giving him and his family a sense of stability, no matter how upsetting things become. Only the man who has found Equilibrium in himself can give it to his family.

Third, parents must teach—by thought, word, and example—the great lesson of Integrity. One of the strongest and most dangerous temptations for the family members today is the temptation to choose the quick, cheap, and easy way for every situation. In one recent survey, more than a third of high school students interviewed saw nothing wrong with cheating on tests, if that’s what was needed to get ahead. Others see nothing wrong with taking drugs "as long as you don’t hurt someone else." They, however, do not realize that such irresponsible behavior is always and ultimately going to hurt someone else. Fortunate is the family whose father is a man of Integrity, a man who realizes, as the Rite teaches, that all actions have consequences which reach to eternity and who teaches that Integrity to his family.

Fourth, a family must be founded on the great lesson of Charity. Children who do not learn a concern for the welfare of others have a life which is essentially selfish. People, whether children or adults, who cannot put others ahead of themselves cannot build relationships which are strong and enduring. Instead, relationships become a matter of exploitation. No group, be it a family or a nation, can survive when it operates on exploitation rather than caring. Fortunate is the family whose father has learned the great lesson of Masonic Charity. We sometimes speak of family values as if they were a thing apart, but the values which build strong, healthy families are the values the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry has always taught. It is not surprising that many a Masonic wife has said that Masonry has made a better man of her husband.

Just as the pelican was thought to feed itself and then share that food, through its blood, with its young, so the Scottish Rite Mason feeds his inner self and then shares that strength with his family. The highest service Masonry performs for its members is that it allows them to be a source of strength for others and, in so doing, to grow even stronger themselves.

Curtis N. Lancaster
currently serves as Intendant General, Red Cross of Constantine; Worshipful Master (third time) of Amity Lodge No. 23, Brigham City, Utah; and is a member of the following Supreme Council Committees and Subcommittees: Family Life Program, Ritual and Ceremonial Forms, Fraternal Relations, Strategic Planning, Nominations, and 2001 Bicentennial. Past offices have included: Grand Master of Utah (1983–84), Presiding Officer of all three Grand York Rite Bodies in Utah, Potentate of El Kalah Shrine Temple, and Executive Officer, Order of DeMolay.