This chapter is not written with a thought in mind merely for the 1036 Brethren who, in our Jurisdiction, today occupy the important Office of Junior Deacon. It is written as well for the other thousands who will come after them, and for that still greater body of Brothers who, though they will never enter the line, enjoy the ritualistic work of the Lodge directly in proportion as they comprehend and understand the function of each Officer taking part in the work. Add to this those Brethren who have already seen service in this and other stations of the Lodge, and just about every-body is included in the audience which I envisage for these paragraphs.
First let us run over in our minds the duty of the Junior Deacon as he relates and analyze it. It is four-fold:
1. To Carry Messages
2. To Attend to Alarms
3. To Report the Same
4. To See That the lodge Is Duly Tiled
Now for the first duty - to carry messages. The Senior Deacon, the "Top Sergeant of the Lodge," carries, he it remembered, orders. The Junior Deacon carries messages, he is an aide to the senior Warren, not only in this respect, but also in tiling the Lodge, and we shall consider later. The two deacons our proxies for the Master and Wardens - we read in the installation ceremony found in the Standard Monitor that "it is your duty to attend on the Master and Wardens, to act as their proxies in the active duties of the Lodge, such as the reception of candidates, and the introduction and accommodation of visitors." A little contemplation will bring to mind a number of places where the Deacons act as proxies.
Then again it is the Junior Deacon who attends all alarms at the outer door and reports them to the Worshipful Master. The Worshipful Master must instruct the Tyler never to permit Brethren to enter through the Inner Door. Brethren are admitted only on order of the Master of the Lodge. I suppose all doors look alike to some Brethren, but actually they are not used alike. We have but to recall a certain passage in the ritual to realize that for Brethren to enter in any but the pre scribed manner is a breach of Lodge etiquette.
Here let me say that the Junior Deacon and the Tiler should require Brethren and to leave light smokes outside the Lodge-room. And not the least unpleasant detail of the picture often is an array of cuspidors along the side of a Lodge-room - along with the odor of stale tobacco smoke - out of place with the Holy Bible on the altar in the Center of the room. A Master Lodge is not a Social club. It is the gathering place of a group of dignified men, assembled for a constructive solemn business - the building of character.
I do not permit smoking in a District Convention. There we try to do things in all their correctness, and smoking in a Masonic Lodge is not only the breach of Masonic etiquette, but is entirely out of harmony with the serious purposes and principles of our ancient institution.
In the tiling of the Lodge within, the Junior Deacon plays an important part as proxy of the Senior Deacon. He first ascertains and then reports to the West that all present are Master Masons. And I would like to suggest it to the Junior Deacon and to the Tiler that before the Lodge opens, and during refreshment, they remain at the outer door, that those who would enter, but for whom neither can vouch, be caused to remain outside until properly vouched for or examined. This procedure will save much time later on.
That this chapter may be of the greatest possible value in a practical way, it may not be amiss to point out some of the most frequent errors detected in the work of the Junior Deacons. While it is true that he has only a few lines as compared with all the other Officers, with the exception of the Senior Master of Ceremony, the average Junior Deacon may be depended upon to commit one or more standard or hereditary errors. Two reasons may be given for this almost universal condition at the outer door. First his carelessness in the performance of the work, a fault by no means confined to this Officer, and second is a failure on the part of the better informed Brethren in the Lodge to show him the error of his way. It is difficult to understand why we are so quick to detect the slightest mistake made by the Senior Master of Ceremony in his small part in the ritualistic work, and yet allow the responses and the instructions coming from the Junior Deacon to pass unnoticed in the face of many errors.
Let us examine one of the most apparent of these errors - the air of deep mystery that prevails when the Junior Deacon addresses the Tiler, with conferences in low whispers. No one has ever been able to give a satisfactory explanation of all this secrecy - certainly no Junior Deacon or Tiler has ever given me a reason for it. Anyhow, when the affair is over both appear entirely satisfied with whatever has passed between them, the door is closed, and no person in the Lodge knows what has been said.
May I, then, point out to our Junior Deacons and Tilers that no part of their work is ever to be repeated at low breath. Only one portion of our secret work is communicated in that way, and that portion is not given at the outer door. Each Brother has a right to hear every word of every dialogue passed between these two Officers and certainly whispers are not easily distinguishable in the more remote corners of the Lodge-room.
Again, a common error in the Junior Deacon's place is the useless and frequent repetition of a little word of three letters - "Now"! This of course is not a vital mistake when placed against the background of the entire ritual. And yet - it marks the difference between right and wrong, and should be corrected, especially since, in spite of repeatedly being pointed out in the Grand Lecturer's Conventions, the habit persists and the old familiar "now" is heard again and again.
Let us, then, put this down as inflexible rule: The word "now" never occurs in the work of the Junior Deacon. If Junior Deacons will remember this they will not only do their bit toward bringing about a more perfect rendering of the ritualistic work in their Lodge, but also will save the vast amount of time and talking at the District Convention.
Another frequent error is observed in the announcing of visitors who enter late. The Junior Deacon always informs the Worshipful Muter of the presence of Grand Lodge Officers. I remember an evening in any grounded Lodge-room when the District Deputy Grand Master was to they his official visit. In announcing the presence of this official, the Junior Deacon told the master that the District Deputy was "without an grave admission."
What was it, if we may paraphrase an old jest, that the Deputy was "without"? Nor does he ever crave admission. The District Deputy Grand Master must be announced as "about to enter," for he may come in at any time he chooses, take the gavel from the Master, and preside over the meeting. It Is visiting Brethren that the Junior Deacon announces.
What we may speak of as a sort of negative
error is the Junior Deacon's frequent failure to put expression
into the delivery of his part of the ritual work - a statement
that applies as well to the other Officers. We are unable to give
proper expression to any part of the work unless we understand
the thought underlying it, and it is just as true that a careful
rendering of the ritual, with each word given its proper coloring
and emphasis during utterance, also helps to render clear the
thought contained within the ritual. The wording of the ritual
readily lends itself to proper expression. In it are found some
of the finest examples of English construction. Its sonorous phrase
when skillfully uttered ring like the beautiful tones of an organ.
Thus it becomes a perfect tool for impressing on the minds of
the candidates those truths then make for an upright life, and
for re-impressing the members of the Lodge with the significance
in the beauty with what's the ritual of the craft is fraught.
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