One of the joys of being a former Provincial Secretary is that I have access to all the old documents and official information. In the days before Solomon there were Official Orations provided by Grand Lodge. These orations were expertly delivered by VW Bro Mike Davies, formerly Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Gloucestershire. Mike was Initiated in Loyal Welsh Lodge (in 1955!) and returned to West Wales when he retired. All the Orations were very interesting, but I particularly like this one which takes the form a toast to the Initiate. Let me know what you think.
A WELCOME TO THE INITIATE
[This is suitable for delivery at the Festive Board, perhaps as a Toast
to the Initiate]
I bid you welcome to Freemasonry: that is to say, I am expressing a welcome to
you from the Worshipful Master and all the brethren of this Lodge and their
visitors this evening, but not only that, the welcome is from all the Brethren
who meet in this building, in this county, in the whole of the United Kingdom
and throughout the world, for it is a world-wide organization you have joined
It is part
of my very pleasant task to indicate to you what Freemasonry is and that can be
very difficult. It is much easier, I find,
to tell you what it is not. For example
not a club, although you will find like-minded men who will welcome you
wherever you go in the world
not an insurance company, although you may be assured that if you are in
distress or need, you will ever find consolation or assistance among Masons.
not a Religion, although we call the room we meet in temple, and many of the
lessons we teach ourselves are based on narratives from the Bible, which we
call the Volume of the Sacred Law. Yet the ethical and spiritual foundation of
Freemasonry pre-dates Christianity by at least two millennia and amongst our
members you will find Hindus, Sikhs, Moslems, Buddhists and those of other
religions who acknowledge One Supreme Being as their Godhead.
not a Secret. Society, as you need make no secret of being a Freemason. Indeed, you
should be proud to be known as such. It is, of course, a society which has
certain secrets in it, but that is merely a safeguard for our membership.
not just the repetition of ritual although all you heard this afternoon was
learned by heart, like the words of a play. But what we memorise teaches us the
valuable lessons which the words contain.
not a restricted association of aristocratic or intellectual snobs, for any man
in the world may join, with only three provisos. Firstly, he must believe in a Supreme
Being. Next, he must be honest and prove worthy on examination and, thirdly he
must be able to take an obligation to keep certain words secret, providing his
religious beliefs permit him to do so. Yet there have been very many eminent
Masons: several American Presidents English Kings, Mozart, Hogarth, Rudyard
Kipling, Robbie Burns, Alexander Fleming, the list goes on and on.
lastly, Freemasonry is not just a ‘Bunch of the Boys’ getting together for a
convivial drink and a meal. Yes, that is an important part of our meetings, the
Festive Board afterwards, but we place greater emphasis on what happens in our
ceremonies, and the relaxation and jollity afterwards are partly a winding-down
and partly the opportunity to get to know one another better.
is what I welcome you to - a Way of Life, a way to regard life squarely, to
follow Masonry's precepts and to lead a life you can be proud of, a way to be happy
in yourself, and to be able to communicate that happiness to others.
James Ross on Duty
Well, we're all getting the hang of using technology to keep in touch, but it does present some unforeseen problems for a fashion victim like myself. Unless I'm at a meeting, or somewhere special, I wear my favourite sweatshirt and jeans all the time in the Winter and my favourite shorts, t shirt and crocs in the summer. This doesn't matter on the telephone, but once you're on video conferences, what you are wearing is clearly visible to eveyone else on the call.
James Ross off Duty
This creates a bit of a dilema as far as I'm concerned. It's one thing to go round looking like Worzel Gummidge in private, quite another when everyone's looking to you for leadership. The obvious solution to the problem - Google of course. Here's what I found.
"Choose solid, bold colors.
Simple jewelry is best. Avoid earrings that dangle or any
accessory that makes noise when you move. For most conference calls, you can wear whatever you want from the waist down -- unless you think you might need to stand up for some reason."
I haven't had my ears pierced and I don't own any accessories. To be fair, I have been into Claire's Accessories with my daughter occasionally, but I've never seen anything I fancy. It's too late now, Claire's is closed until further notice along with all the piercing shops. I am obviously going to have to focus on the "Bold Colour" part of the advice, so I Googled that:
"Bold colors are colours that are rich, bright and even extremely vibrant which can basically be primary or even secondary hues (colours) without the need of affecting their tint."
I'm not sure I'm cut out for Video Conferencing, all my clothes are grey, blue or black. I guess everyone will just have to take me as they find me.
Enjoy the weekend as far as you can,
We've all made it through the first week and I think we all deserve a pat on the back for following the guidelines. If you click on the picture above, the link will take you straight to the Government Website, so that you can check the latest advice.
Here in West Wales, the Provincial Grand Almoner and his team have been working hard to contact all our members and make sure that everyone is safe and well. They are holding regular video conferences to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need. Remember if you need to contact the Province directly for support, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on 01267 243402. We have had a least one confirmed case of the virus in the Province, but I am pleased to report the brother in question is on the mend.
The Mackworth Club for newer freemasons deserves a special mention. Not only have many of them volunteered to support brethren in the at risk categories who might need assistance, they have also been providing detailed advice and support for their members who need to access the government support packages for businesses, the self-employed and individuals. Seeing them work so closely together makes me very proud to be a freemason and their Provincial Grand Master.
The Provincial Executive will be holding a further "COBRA" meeting on Monday morning to discuss the developing situation and I will update you in one of my blogs next week. I suspect it will still be too early to make any firm decisions about the Autumn.
The #TimetoToast initiative continues to cause amusement on Twitter at 9 O'Clock every evening. There's plenty of banter across the Province and also between Provinces. If you have a Twitter account, it's worth having a look by searching #TimetoToast.
This clip made me laugh, partly because it's funny and partly because it was sent to me by Rhodri Evans, the owner of Ffoshelig Coaches. He's always got his eye out for money making schemes LOL.
All the best,
James Ross (WM Cleddau Lodge) and Chris Harding (WM Cambrian Lodge) pictured in 2008
I have been really enjoying my role as Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent, but when I started thinking about what sort of thing I could post in my Blog and what people might be interested in, I thought, what about fun things from the past? I have been very fortunate to have had more opportunities than most during my time in freemasonry, but what a great time I have had on the way.
As you can see from the photo, W Bro Chris Harding (ProvGMent) and myself were WM of our respective Haverfordwest lodges at the same time. We had a great year organising and taking part in various social and ceremonial events. Our wives, Helen and Sue were integral parts of the team and, as a by product of our joint efforts, we raised £10k for Ward 10, the cancer ward at Withybush Hospital.
At the time, Freemasonry in Haverfordwest was held in a Masonic Hall in St Mary's Street, Haverfordwest and the then ProvGM, RW Bro Dr John B Lloyd attended a special luncheon to unveil a plaque. It seem almost surreal looking at these old photos that I have followed in Dr John's footsteps and become Provincial Grand Master.
l to r Jim Roberts, James Ross, Derek Price, Dr John Lloyd & Chris Harding
Over the course of the year we held a number of Sunday lunches and various themed evenings. I think my personal favourite was the Curry Night. We provided food and entertanment and made nearly £1000. I looked back through my records for the actual bar takings from the evening. We used to produce a cash sheet for each event and I was amused to see that one of the events was billed as "Charity Wife Swapping." I can honestly say I have no recollection of that event at all! Probably just as well LOL.
There is a photo of the Curry Night organising committee below.
l to r, Helen Ross, James Ross, Sue Harding & Chris Harding
It was lots of hard work, but what a lot of fun we had. If you're wondering whether to make your way towards the Chair of your Lodge, Chris and I can thoroughly recommend it! We knew for several years that we would be Master at the same time and the friendship we forged all those years ago is as strong now as it was then.
James and Chris enjoy a pint at the end of the evening.
Well it has to be said that Astrid the cat isn't very happy about having a house full of people! I'm training her to be like the cat in the video below!
My two sons have returned from Cardiff University and a work placement in Slough and my 14 year old daughter is obviously home from school. Everyone is working from home, swallowing the bandwidth on the internet and generally getting in each other's way.
Looking on the bright side, we are amongst the lucky ones, we have each other, we have enough space so that we're able to have our own private time and none of us fall in to the high risk categories.
It has been suggested by the Provincial Grand Organist that CV-19 might be a deliberate ploy to stop me making unannouced visits to lodges:
ProvGM has a
habit of turning up at domestic meetings unannounced, anyone got any ideas how
to put a stop to it 🤔🤔🤔⛔⛔⛔🤣🤣🤣
Thank you Rhodri LOL! I am sure we are all looking forward to when we can return to meetings again.
All the best,
Well what funny times we find ourselves in. I've gone from being really busy, travelling here, there and everywhere, to having a clear diary. The only things left to do are from my wife's "wish list" and I'm running out of excuses fast!
With Freemasonry suspended, my inbox is pretty empty, well when I say pretty empty, I mean completely empty. We've done our best to keep the West Wales website up to date with the latest Government Guidance, but I am sure that we're all sitting at home watching the television, so no one is short of guidance, quite the reverse. All we have to do is make sure we follow it and keep our fingers crossed that the situation improves.
We haven't made any firm decisions about when and where to reschedule the events which we have had to postpone. I think the time for that will be when the situation is a bit clearer. If you're one of the lucky ones who has received an appointment or promotion in Provincial Grand Lodge, your new rank will be effective from Tuesday 30th June 2020 and I hope to be able to invest you all in the Autumn.
Those of you who are on Twitter have been having fun with the #TimetoToast initiative from UGLE. We have been raising a glass (or mug) at 9pm every day, to the hard working staff in the NHS and other key services, as well as to Absent Brethren.
Stay safe and look after each other,