Installation Inaugural Address to Internet Lodge 9659
16 March 2002 by WBro Ab Goedhals, Worshipful Master
The next item on the agenda mentions that I shall address you inaugurally. But before I do this, I would like to thank, and this on behalf of all the members of the Lodge, my predecessor, WBro Peter Lanes, for all that he has done for our Lodge during the past year. Ruling over a lodge, and certainly ruling over Internet Lodge, is not an easy task by any means, and is his case, as he resides in Florida, a lot of it had to do by "remote control".
Peter, it will be very difficult to find a member of the lodge whose cable tow had to be stretched to the extreme length to which your personal cable tow was stretched during the past year. Some moments ago I invested you with the collar and jewel of a Past Master of a Lodge under the United Grand Lodge of England. This is also the outward sign that you now are a member of Grand Lodge for as long you remain a member of a lodge under UGLE.
It gives me great pleasure to now also present you with the breast jewel of a Past Master of Internet Lodge no 9659. It is the tangible memento that will remind you of the recognition and the gratitude of the members of the Lodge for the guidance that you have gives us during the past year. But it will also serve to remind the members, whenever they see you wear this jewel, of the many happy memories we have of the past year. May we all see you proudly wear this jewel for many years to come!
Brethren, for our Lodge today a new year has begun. For those of you who have not recently looked at my manifesto, and the programme elements therein contained, I will briefly summarize the programme for next year.
Our next meeting will be in Kingston-upon-Hull, on the 8th August 2002. This meeting will also form the start of the Internet Lodge 2002 Festival. In the magnificent Masonic Hall in Dagger Lane, we will receive a lecture by WBro Evert Kwaadgras, the Archivist, Librarian & Curator at the Grand East of The Netherlands. He is a Past Master of Lodge "l'Age d'Or" 235 (NL) and also a full member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 (UGLE). His lecture will be entitled "Masonry with a Message and a Mission: Some remarks on the history of Freemasonry in The Netherlands".
Later that afternoon, those attending the Festival will embark the P & O ferry to sail to the Netherlands, where the Festival itself will take place on the following Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday August 10th, the members of Internet Lodge, together with their masonic guests, will gather in a Dutch Masonic Hall, together with brethren of the Dutch Lodge l'Age d'Or 235 (GENL), who will give us a demonstration of the ritual of Initiation of an Entered Apprentice according to the traditional Dutch working of their Lodge. Of course, for the partners and non-masonic guests a special programme will be devised.
Many freemasons, and I amongst them, have a penchant for cathedrals. I have therefore chosen the second meeting of our Lodge, on the 12th October 2002, to be held in the English cathedral city par excellence: the historic cathedral city of Canterbury. There, we will receive a lecture by WBro Prof Dr Jan AM Snoek (Universities of Leiden and Heidelberg). He is a Past Master of Lodge La Vertu 7 (GENL) and also a Past Master of Lodge Ars Macionica 30 (RGLB). His lecture will be entitled "The Masonic Method: Initiatory and Allusive". Those of you who attended the Cornerstone Society's Northern Conference on the 10th November 2001 in this very building (Bridge Street, Manchester) will no doubt remember his lecture 'The Lost Secrets' and I have no doubt that the lecture he will deliver in Canterbury will prove to be as exciting and instructive.
A third meeting, and this time an emergency meeting, is planned on the 30th November 2002, in the beautiful city of Bath. There, again, we will meet in a most striking historic Masonic Hall. The timing of this meeting, being on the last (fifth) Saturday of November, should be another good opportunity for those brethren who would like to perhaps bring their partner and/or family and stay one or two additional days in that charming city and perhaps do some advance Christmas shopping as well. I have been informed that the Christmas lights should already be up at that time.
It was originally anticipated that, at that meeting, we would receive a lecture by WBro Dirk van Peype, the founding Master of Lodge l'Age d'Or 235 (GENL). Unfortunately and unexpectedly, he suddenly passed away in September 2000, while he was the Master of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076, and it was a great pity that he could not finish his year in the Chair of that august Lodge. 'DCJ', as his lodge-brethren and friends affectionately knew him, was one of the most significant Dutch masonic scholars in the second half of the twentieth century. I know he had looked forward to being here with us today and I, as well as my fellow Dutch brethren who are here, miss him enormously.
Preliminary talks with two prospective lecturers for the November meeting have been initiated, and it is now anticipated that the lecture at this meeting will, at least for some part, have as its subject certain elements of the (full "in extenso") installation ceremony, which is one of the reasons that this lecture will be given at an emergency meeting of the lodgem, as parts of this talk will be for Installed Masters' ears only. This meeting, as are those in Hull and Canterbury, is subject to the necessary dispensations, of course.
And the year will finally be concluded, on the 15th March 2003, with our Installation meeting, traditionally held here in Manchester, where my successor will be installed.
It is my intention that during the coming year, special attention will again be given to that integral part of our physical meetings: the ritual. Indeed, the speaker at our previous meeting talked to us about the language of ritual of today.
According to one definition freemasonry is "a peculiar system, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols". In this definition we do not find the word ritual. This might seem odd as ritual forms such an integral part of freemasonry. So much so, that I for one would find it very difficult to envisage freemasonry without ritual.
Ritual is the aggregate of symbols, texts and actions through which we communicate with our initiates. I specifically say initiates (and this in the meaning of members) and not candidates, as it is my firm belief that our initiatory rituals, although they are of course centred around a candidate, serve to deliver a message to all those attending and participating therein.
The essence of freemasonry lies in the special collective, symbolic actions that are known by its initiates: by those who are privy to its mysteries. And these actions are far from arbitrary. On the contrary, they follow a fixed, set pattern, which is handed down from masonic generation to generation, and (dare I say it?) are sometimes even laid down in ritual books.
Ritual, of any kind, not only masonic, can only exist in an established system of external, tangible forms, which consist of significant objects, cultivated words and conscious actions. Of course, many if not all of these forms can and will be found in any civilized society, where they serve to support and maintain good relationships between people generally.
The forms employed in freemasonry, which are derived from, and allude to, the building trade, serve to strengthen the relationship of the individual freemason with himself, with his fellow man, and with the G.A.o.t.U. Jan Snoek will no doubt in his lecture in October elaborate on this very point.
We should always realize that our Order is a private, intimate circle of men: a brotherhood with special (and sometimes even unique) customs and usages. Any individual who is desirous, of his own free will and accord, of joining our brotherhood, and is willing (and able!) to accept and conform to our customs and usages is in principle welcome to do so.
To be able to attract these candidates we ourselves need to have a clear understanding of that which is essential to our gentle Craft. I hope that the programme for this year, which I have outlined at the beginning of my address, will help to contribute towards a better understanding of this peculiar system, which we all love so dearly.