We Are Not Alone

TXMC 2019 Festive Board Remarks

What does it mean to you when you hear or think these words?

  • “We are not alone.”
  • “You are not alone.”
  • “I am not alone.”

For many Freemasons, the idea, “I am not alone,” is a revolutionary and heartening concept. It bolsters our self-worth, our spirits, and our enthusiasm for the Fraternity.


Why is it important to remember that we are not alone? I’ve talked with many brethren who almost, or have, lost their passion for the Craft. They felt their interests weren’t found in the Fraternity. There’s more that I would have met and known, had they not left the Craft before I had the chance to meet them. These are men who have not found, are not finding, or did not find, their deeper needs provided for by the Fraternity.


I recently heard something in a private conversation that feels worth repeating. A brother, who is here tonight, shared a quote he’d heard that gave him some inspiration:

I do not share my thoughts to try to convince the ignorant to change their minds. I share my thoughts so that others who think clearly know they are not alone.

You are not alone, I am not alone, and we are not alone.


“Don’t rock the boat, it’s not worth it” is the tale we have heard many times. At the same time, we hear, often from the same mouths, “wow, this guy is revolutionary,” when a boat-rocker beats the odds.

We have the opportunity to remain quiet and study in silence. We also have the opportunity to reach out to others and study together.

Neither you, nor I, nor any of us have to ever say anything, or reach out to anyone. Yet, if none of us make the first move, then we will remain lost, together in the same predicament, while being alone.

We each have a message that we can choose not to share, avoiding the trouble and headaches that come with doing so. What we may find though, is that the trouble and headaches may very well be worth it.


What’s it worth to us, not to spread education? I’m not saying that those who seek a meaningful education are somehow a persecuted class. You do, though, know what I’m talking about. Each one of us has had encounters where we have walked away, stunned, at willful ignorance. This happens in all places. Any person, who has worked any job, anywhere, can tell you that. Where it’s the most tragic, though, is within Freemasonry.

There’s no need for us to count the instances of this within our own masonic experiences. It’s something that most, if not all, of us have seen and shaken our heads at.


That’s why we’re here this weekend. We are here because we thirst for knowledge and hunger for wisdom.

We are here because we want to meet other brothers who feel the same way that we do about learning and growing. Texas MasoniCon is a chance for us to share and share alike in education and friendship.

All it takes is for one person, one lodge, one group of guys to make their mark and let others know that they are not alone. This happened for us when we found out about the original Masonic Con hosted by Ezekiel Bates Lodge in Massachusetts.

It’s not easy to for us to put this on, or for y’all to travel so far, or for our speakers to create their work. That’s why we do it, though, isn’t it – for the precise reason that it isn’t easy?


We can choose:

  • to study in silence by ourselves,
  • to avoid the headache,
  • to not rock the boat,
  • and to not reach out,

Or we can choose:

  • to study together and publicize our success,
  • to put in the effort, hard as it may be,
  • to rock the boat and make a splash,
  • and to build a stronger community and culture of education within Freemasonry.

That’s why we’re right here, right now. That’s why Texas MasoniCon exists. We are not alone.

The Texan Chamber of Reflection

This was an educational talk on Grand Lodge law for the July 2019 stated meeting of Fort Worth Lodge № 148.


Let’s say your lodge wants to use a continental-style “Chamber of Reflection.” Let’s also say that one of your officers decided to post about this in an open online forum. This is the post that started the latest discussion:

Alright Brethren, need your help. As Master of Ceremonies this year, I want to turn our Anteroom/Storage room into a legit Chamber of Reflection. Can I see your Lodge’s chamber or do you have any suggestions on what it should contain? Definitely going to put a Bible and maybe an hour glass.

Key Points to Consider:

  • Using a typical Chamber of Reflection is not legal in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Texas.
  • There is no precedent in the history of Preston-Webb ritual for using a Chamber of Reflection.

This is a Grand Lodge law talk, and not a ritual talk, so we’ll stick to discussing the former and not the latter.

Grand Master’s Recommendation № 2, 2013

In 2013 the M∴W∴ Grand Master, Walt Rogers, made several Grand Master’s Recommendations. One of them banned the Chamber of Reflection:

A summary of the justification for the recommendation goes as follows:

  • Some lodges and masons are breaking the rules by performing unapproved ritual.
  • Nobody has the right to perform unapproved ritual.
  • You can’t use paraphernalia other than that listed in Title II, Chapter 6, Article 223.

His recommendation added a clause to the existing text of Article 127. This clause bars using paraphernalia other than that listed in Article 223. The vote to accept this recommendation passed, and only one person spoke against it. The entirety of Article 127 now reads as follows:

Art. 127. Ritual. No ritual other than that promulgated by this Grand Lodge shall be taught or used in this Jurisdiction, nor shall paraphernalia except as listed in Article 223 be used, nor shall preparation of Candidates include other than that provided in the Monitor of the Lodge or otherwise required by any provision of the laws of this Grand Lodge, provided however by special dispensation of the Grand Master, a degree team from another Grand Jurisdiction in fraternal relations with this Grand Lodge may confer a degree on one of their own candidates using ritual as approved in the degree team’s home jurisdiction, provided said ritual is in English. (Revised 2013)

Article 223

Article 223 contains a set of lists of the minimum required paraphernalia for a lodge to be set to work:

There is one list for the lodge room in general, one list for each degree, and one list for the funeral. It appears that based on Article 127, for the purposes of conferring, this is also the maximum permitted paraphernalia.

What We Can’t Do

Nowhere in these lists do we see any of the items often used in a Chamber of Reflection:

  • a skull
  • bread and water
  • stuffed roosters
  • sulfur
  • salt
  • alchemical symbols
  • an hourglass
  • a last will and testament
  • and so forth.

Any of the above or more, are impermissible to use when preparing a candidate.

What We Can Do

It is worth noting that the actual design of the anteroom is up to us. This includes how we paint the walls and what we paint on them, how the room is lit, and so forth. We can include a mirror in the room to help the candidate change clothes, but not to “prepare” him for the degree. Article 223 requires and permits the use of a lecture chart, slides, or film. That makes them permissible paraphernalia which we can include in the anteroom.

What can we do to improve an anteroom?

  • remove anything irrelevant to the degree that is being stored in the room.
  • provide dim lighting using a candle or fire-safe equal.
  • paint the walls of the anteroom in a neutral-to-dark earth tone.
  • include individual lecture slides or a lecture chart on the wall.
  • disperse air freshener, incense, or essential oils in the anteroom before using it.
  • most of all: be serious, professional, and imposing when dealing with the candidate.