From the Venerable Master (July, 2012)

posted May 23, 2015, 5:44 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 23, 2015, 6:09 PM ]
Chuck Cowden
I am excited about the Grand Master’s visit to the Valley of San Jose on July the 10th.  Following our regularly scheduled stated meeting we will host a reception for the Grand Master and members of his Grand Lodge family and then conduct a Festive Board of Fellowship. We did this last year and it was an outstanding evening enjoyed by all in attendance. Make your reservations as soon as you can. More information and details on this event can be found elsewhere in the Rite Word.
Planning ahead, our August the 14th Stated Meeting Dinner is our annual BBQ. Dress for the meeting and dinner is casual.
As you probably already know, Worshipful Jordan Yelineck, 32 Degree presented a paper on the Chamber of Reflection during our May 29th Scottish Rite Night of Instruction and Agape Dinner. It was well received by all and generated an interesting round of questions and discussion. For the benefit of those of you who could not be with us, I am going to include a portion of his talk in my article this month and then the remainder in my August column.

The Chamber of Reflection

“Popular culture has made Masonry into a mythic organization. In Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, the uninitiated eye would believe that in homes, offices, and even the United States Capitol, Masons around the world were daily retreating to personal Chambers of Reflection to consider the work at hand. The Chamber of Reflection, however, is a piece of Masonic ritual rarely practiced in the United States, with only a handful of Lodges utilizing it in Louisiana, New England, California, and other pockets across our country. To brethren in Latin America and Europe, the Chamber of Reflection is a familiar aspect of our Craft, and perhaps it should be considered for more regular use in our Lodges.
The Chamber of Reflection, as defined by Mackey in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, is “...a small room adjoining the Lodge, in which, preparatory to initiation, the candidate is enclosed for the purpose of indulging in those serious meditations which its somber appearance and the gloomy emblems with which it is furnished are calculated to produce. It is also used in some of the advanced degrees for a similar purpose.” 
Freemasonry is an initiatic society, and her rituals are transformative.  The cultivation of the prospect for our Craft should be the utmost care of our Lodges, and when that prospect is made into a candidate for the mysteries of Freemasonry, it is our duty to ensure that he is indeed duly and truly prepared. The Brethren, on the candidate’s entrance into the Lodge, can readily examine the physical preparation of the candidate, yet the mental preparation of the candidate too must be addressed. All too often, a candidate is rushed from the his daily, dull cares of life, into the preparation room, where he is physically prepared, but carries with him, into the Lodge, the worries of his day. 
An interstitial space between the profane and the initiated, the Chamber of Reflection provides an opportunity for our candidates to separate from the profane world, and ready their hearts and minds for the great work in which they are about to engage themselves. 
The form of the Chamber of Reflection varies greatly between different jurisdictions. The most familiar are adorned with alchemical and arcane symbols, together with those of mortality. Still others are adorned with pieces of modern art, and some are quite plain. In all, the candidate for the Entered Apprentice degree spends some thirty minutes to an hour in the Chamber previous to his Initiation. The end result, in all three cases, if executed with attention and care, is the due and true mental preparation of the candidate. “

Chuck Cowden - Venerable Master