Worshipful Master, Most Worshipful the Past Grand Master, District Deputy Grand Master, my Brethren.
First and foremost I would like to thank you, W. Bro. Di Nardo for inviting me here tonight and affording me the
privilege to share with the brethren present some of my personal observation of our beloved fraternity.
Freemasonry, we learn in the book of the work; is a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated
by symbols, and I would like to invite all of you to pause for a moment and ponder the meaning of those words.
For anyone who will read those words in the front pages of the Book of the Work, it is natural to expect in the
following pages the unfolding of some instruction or plan outlining a protocol to achieve this task.
In fact, our book of the work is intended to guide or point the Freemason toward a task.

When we observe how Freemasonry has developed in our Lodges, we can either agree or disagree on the
achievement of the day, but no one will disagree on the fact that this task is presented as a challenge to the brother who
possess “the little black book”.

There was a time, when the Book of the Work was only given to Past Masters of the Lodge and was guarded
jealously to be used only for the purpose of precisely instructing Brethren who had not experienced the chair of
King Solomon.

In present day, the Book of the Work is placed into the hands of a newly minted Master Mason so he may begin to
memorize parts and participate in the work.

Some could then ask; is there a hidden task in the Book of the Work that Freemasonry wishes us to achieve?
Is this Book all we need to fulfill our mandate as Masons?

Among Masonic and non-Masonic scholars this question has been the subject of an endless debate ever
since the conception of our first Grand Lodge of England in 1717.

Over the years, I have listened to and read the opinions of many learned Masons including those of my Father and
Grandfather, to formulate my own conclusions. Though not the first, I believe that the Book of the Work is a road map;
that if understood properly, and given the opportunity to be embedded in our daily affairs will permit a Brother to choose
in total freedom the manner in which he shall promote the morals and principles to which he has sworn obedience too
in open Lodge.

This important expression of freedom that we are called upon to exercise should be addressed with enthusiasm and
the view and sense of a special individual. I believe that this is of fundamental importance in order
to assure that the virtues outlined the Book of the Work can be transmitted in an enriched but uncorrupted manner to our
future generations.

Today we are living in a society where answers to a question are expected within seconds and if we are
searching for any kind of an answer on whatever topic, we only have to address the issue to our smart phone or
personal computer.

In this age of wi-fi do we really take the time to fully understand the answer to our question?
Do we immediately accept the first answer presented? Based on the former statement, the question begs to be
asked; do we truly understand the issue?

Have we explored all avenues and are we completely satisfied with the answer? The true meaning of the morals we will find between the
two black covers of the Work cannot be googled, cannot be speed read, or simply disregarded. They must be learned
and fully understood based on serious thought, reflection, and mentorship.

I must add, that our ancestors fully understood that not all men are created equal and that therefore it was
necessary for some Brothers to take longer than others in digesting and fully understanding the teachings, and that
many would start the journey but not all of would be able to complete it. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t feel that
Masonry has something for everyone. It’s not a fit for every man.

The records from our Grand Jurisdiction indicates that over the last forty years our numbers have been steadily
declining and that many Lodges have been returning their Charters.

The reality is that yes, we are experiencing a downwards trend in membership, but it is also true that in
many districts there are lodges that are experiencing a significant resurgence.

So what is the secret formula that allow those lodges to growth and prosper?
Are they using the same Book of the Work?
What are they doing different?

I remember well, that at the beginning of my first mandate as Grand Treasurer, I was speaking with the late
Brothers R.W. Bro. Charlie Reid and M.W. Bro. Raymond Daniels about the downturn in membership in our
jurisdiction. I asked R.W. Charlie Reid what the Brethren of the Chinguacousy Lodge were doing different and M.W. Bro.
Daniels jumped in and replied: “It seems that those Brethren are finally starting to work in harmony.”

Since then when visiting lodges in our jurisdiction and beyond, I have noticed that the Lodges that work with a good
level of harmony have not been as badly affected by the decline in membership, and that many of those members are
actively involved in their community.

During the 1980’s, a genius in the automotive industry Lee Iacocca, was able to revive the Chrysler Corporation by
simply inculcating positive messages to all of his workers. One of his great quotes was: “In times of great stress or
adversity it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.” On another
occasion, he was asked how he was able to turn around Chrysler, and his reply was: “Management is nothing more
than motivating other people.”

I’m sure that if we are to apply those principles to our modus operandi of our lodges we can be confident in
retaining our members and attracting future likeminded candidates.

Our Masonic philosophy over the last three centuries has been credited for having changed the landscape of our
world for the better and the Brethren engaged in that process were not afraid or ashamed to be identified as

Today we are to do the same. Let it be known to the world that you are a Mason, be proud to be a Mason, and don’t hide the fact that you are a

Our Craft has survived many crises over the centuries, and has done so because of the quality of its membership
and the support that we have given each other.

Worshipful Master, before I conclude my remarks, I would like everyone to think of those few paragraphs from
our General Charge that portray the ideal of a Freeman. I believe that in these few lines, we can clearly see the real
task that our ritual is outlining for all us to follow and strive for as men and as Masons.

Worshipful Master, my brethren, again I thank you for this opportunity to share some of my views with you this


Bro. Tom Hogeboom
Grand Treasurer

Read the letter of Bro. Hogeboom for Chingcousy Lodge 738 ⇒ Thanks – Chinguacousy

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