My studies this past month lead me to a short paper, written by Worshipful Brother Alphonse Cerza, Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M. titled, “Our Most Valuable Asset: Friendship”. It would be a bit lengthy to present to you here, but I assure you it is a swift, uplifting and informative read, and I will be certain to provide a route to it through our internet platforms; but I would like to share an excerpt with you here:
“…the greatest asset in Freemasonry is the spirit of friendship that exists between Freemasons in their relationship with one another and their attitude of thoughtfulness for the welfare of others. For example, many years ago the words “Mason” and “friendship” were often used synonymously…Many years ago an English periodical had a contest and offered a prize to the person submitting the best definition of the word “friend.” Here are a few of the definitions which were sent to the publication: “One who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is inviolable.” “One who understands our silence.” “A watch which beats true and for all time and never runs down.” And here is the definition that won first prize: ‘A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.’”
Indeed, there are as many ways of understanding friendship as there are reasons to desire to have or be a friend. I think I’d have given the blue ribbon to that last definition too, had I been the judge. For now, I will content myself to working daily to show everyone I meet that this is what it is to be a friend. And that a Mason is everyone’s friend.
Thank you for your time and consideration, Brethren. I pray this year has brought you more joy than sorrow, justly-earned refreshment for your labors, peace and wisdom; for these are the precious gifts you have given me. They are every bit as dear as your continuing friendship.