From the Venerable Master (May 2023)
Seal of Authentication: While we are unsure of the exact date that Masonic rings began to be worn by the fraternity, Signet rings have been a part of religion in many cultures throughout history.
In past eras, Signet rings were worn by Kings, Popes, Bishops, Roman Emperors and other high ranking church officials and noblemen as a sign of their nobility, importance, and power. Probably the most famous religious signet ring in the world, today, is worn by the Pope. Sacred Seal: His ring is called the "Fisherman's Ring", a massive and ornate gold seal ring, which denotes the seal of his authority. Upon the Pope's death, the Cardinals break his ring, and a new signet ring is created for each new succeeding Pope. Status Symbol and Rank: These signets, or seals provided visual and symbolic "certification" which validated acts executed in their name.
In other words, they provided a visual "Plumbline of Authenticity" proving that the wearer was not only truly who he said he was, but they symbolized his power in the community. The theft of a signet ring was, many times, punishable by death.
How to Wear a Masonic Ring:
Q: On which finger should I wear my Masonic Signet ring?
A: There is no right or wrong finger or right or wrong hand on which to wear your Masonic Signet Ring. Most married men wear them on the opposite hand from which they wear a wedding ring...usually on their 3rd finger.
Q: Which direction should the Square and Compasses face?
A: This subject is one on which Grand Lodges have made no regulation. Popular opinion seems to be widely divided. But let's look at this more closely. When the emblem of the square and compasses is displayed on a building, or a button, universal custom requires that the points of the compasses point downward. When displayed on the Altar they point away from the Master. While you may wear your ring with the 2 legs of the compasses pointing toward you, as some say, to help you remember your obligation, historically your Masonic Signet Ring is an outward showing to others denoting your "Seal of Authenticity" as a Master Mason. The 2 legs of the compasses should, therefore, face away from you, just as the original signet rings did, which were used to imbed the image of their "seal". Fraternal Masonic Signet Rings: Modern day Freemasons proudly wear their Freemason rings as a symbol of their ongoing obligation of loyalty, their brotherhood and as a visual statement that they are a member of the oldest fraternity on Earth. Some Freemasons may be unaware that a Master Mason ring can also be called a Blue Lodge Masonic ring or a Masonic Signet Ring because the word "signet" denotes the actual construction of the face of the ring.
How should I wear my Masonic Ring?
Answer 1: If the ring is worn to remind the wearer of his masonic obligation, the tips of the compasses should point toward the wrist. If the ring is worn to advise those who see it that the wearer is a mason, the tips of the compasses should point toward the fingertips. There is no "Required" or "Approved" Form.
Answer 2: The correct way to wear your ring is: With PRIDE, for being part of the oldest and greatest fraternal organization on earth. With LOVE, for the children in our hospitals, for the widows in our widow's homes, and for the recipients of the millions of dollars PER DAY of our Masonic (and affiliated) charities. With JOY, for knowing that you are "at home" in Masonic lodges throughout the world. With recognition of the fact, that whenever you wear a Masonic ring, you are identifying yourself to the rest of the world, both Mason and non-Mason. The lessons of ethics, charity, morality, and rectitude of conduct are to be practiced by you, as a Mason, in all your dealings with outside world. Remember, when you wear a Masonic ring, YOU ARE MASONRY! But about your original question, of which direction you should wear your ring, I am going to leave that to you. For in the final analysis, the direction of the ring doesn't matter. The only thing that matters, is the direction of the man who wears the ring.
Answer 3: One common idea is to wear it with the square and compass opening into yourself, or rather, pointing at yourself, so it appears upside down to the rest of the world., reminding you of all your dealings, or the tenets of Masonry. Another point of view, of course, (oh yeah...you can see this coming) is to wear it outward, sharing the light of Masonry with the world, and proclaiming your membership in the craft. This is how I wear my Brotherhood ring, as I, quite honestly, like to show it off to everyone, and am proud to display my membership in the craft. I believe that my actions speak for themselves and want to create an image associated with the Square and Compasses of uprightness, true dealing, and fair judgement. These are the ideals I strive for.
San Jose Lodge of Perfection Naresh Rampershad, 32° 2022-2023 Venerable Master
From the Wise Master (May 2023)
When I look at the Mother of my children, I see one of the strongest women I know. She is the glue that holds a lot of the pieces together and the chief caretaker of our children. Prepandemic, her favorite thing for us to do for Mothers Day was to attend the Irish Flaedh (pronounced “flaw”), or Irish Festival, in Mountain View. It was often that our kids would dance at the festival which really made it even better.
As we have the opportunity to celebrate our moms this year, let’s take some time to really convey why we love them so much and do something special for them. As busy as we all usually are throughout the year, this special day really needs to help us convey how much we love the moms in our lives.
San Jose Chapter of Rose Croix Timothy M. Lynch II, 32° 2022-2023 Wise Master
From the Commander of Kadosh (May 2023)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Freemasonry The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a longstanding policy of maintaining no official position on Freemasonry. Some people, however, see links between the two movements in practice, structure, and symbolism, which go back to the church's origins.
Although the impact of Freemasonry in LDS Church doctrine is the subject of intense debate, it is known that Joseph Smith Sr., the father of the church's founder and first president, Joseph Smith, became a Freemason in 1816. Joseph Smith, likewise, became a Freemason in 1842, when the church was headquartered in Nauvoo, Illinois.
He and hundreds of his followers—including his first four successors as church president—all became Freemasons. Shortly after becoming a Freemason, Smith introduced the church's temple endowment ceremony, which contained some symbols and language closely paralleling some of the rituals of Freemasonry.
When the church relocated to Utah in 1847 after Smith's death, Brigham Young was unsuccessful in establishing masonic lodges in the Utah Territory. This was due to several factors, but the church's practice of polygamy and the strong anti-Mormon sentiment of the era greatly contributed. Distrust between members of the church and Masons grew throughout the second half of the 1800s.
Many Freemasons who were not members of the LDS Church harbored strong anti-Mormon sentiments that started in Nauvoo. Soon after Smith and his followers were initiated, the Grand Lodge of Illinois was compelled to revoke the charters of several predominantly Latter-day Saint lodges due to anti-Mormon sentiment and rumors of irregularities. In 1872, the Grand Lodge of Utah was formed and immediately implemented an anti-Mormon policy prohibiting members of the church from become Masons or from associating with Utah lodges from out-of-state. The church also began discouraging its members from joining any "oath-bound" fraternities or "secret societies" without naming Freemasonry specifically, eventually codifying it in the Church Handbook of Instructions.
In 1984, the Grand Lodge of Utah and church leadership, under church president Spencer W. Kimball, mutually agreed to drop their antagonistic positions. The Grand Lodge of Utah rescinded its ban on members of the church, and the church removed language from the Church Handbook of Instructions that discouraged members from joining oath-bound fraternities. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, a quasi-official 1992 publication, clarified the church's position by stating that "the philosophy and major tenets of Freemasonry are not fundamentally incompatible with the teaching, theology, and doctrines of the Latter-day Saints."
Unlike many American Christian churches in the 21st century, the LDS Church does not currently have an anti -Masonic position. Although some lingering suspicion continues on both sides, there is no formal barrier preventing a male from being both a member of the church and a Mason, and many have elected to do so. In 2008, Glen Cook, a practicing Latter-day Saint, was made the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Utah. Another prominent Latter-day Saint Freemason is Mark E. KoltkoRivera, who has authored a popular and accessible introduction to Freemasonry entitled "Freemasonry: An Introduction."
San Jose Council of Kadosh David M. Kampschafer, 32° 2022-2023 Commander of Kadosh
From the Master of Kadosh (May 2023)
Say! Have you seen our See? At the opening of the Stated Meeting, the ritual of the four Masters refers to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction’s See being in Charleston, South Carolina. We are all familiar with the House of the Temple of the Southern Jurisdiction in Washington DC but our See in Charleston? This begs two questions: what is a See and why Charleston?
A “See” is defined as the jurisdiction or diocese of a church’s bishop. See comes from the Latin “sedes” which denotes the seat or chair. It is also refers to the town where a bishop resides, or his cathedral is located. An example of this is the Catholic Church’s use of “Holy See” referring to the See of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.
On to the second question, why Charleston? In 1783 a Sublime Grand Lodge of Perfection, for the first time in the United States, was established in Charleston conferring the 4th through 14th degrees.
The 33 Degrees of the present Scottish Rite existed in parts of the previous degree systems but came into being with the founding of the Mother Supreme Council in Charleston in May 1801. Those Founding Fathers are known at the “eleven Gentlemen of Charleston”. They met in the Shepheard’s Tavern in Charleston, where in 1754, was where Freemasonry was founded in South Carolina. The Southern Jurisdiction later met in the Charleston Masonic Hall.
The Civil War was not kind to Charleston. During the War, the Southern Jurisdiction’s records and rituals were burned in the conflagration of Charleston. During the last couple of years of that War, the Illustrious Sovereign Grand Commander, Albert Pike, 33rd Degree, was revising our rituals, aided by Albert Mackey, M.D., 33rd Degree (one of the authors of the “History of Freemasonry Illustrated”).
Much material for this piece came from a book that can be found online, “A Brief History of the A. & A.S. Rite of Freemasonry” by Edwin A. Sherman, 33rd Degree. Several years ago, I wrote a piece about him and his founding of what became the Scottish Rite Valleys of Oakland and San Jose. Under the direction of Albert Pike, Brother Sherman founded over 20 additional, what would become, Scottish Rite Valleys. He was a resident of Oakland and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.
San Jose Consistory Richard M. Fisher, III, 33° 2022-2023 Venerable Master of Kadosh
From the Chief Knight (May 2023)
Over the last few months, several knights have taken the time to get out and be social with their lodges and multi-lodge gatherings. The main conclusion came down to how important our social discourse is to our fraternity and how little we actually have that meaningful time. We certainly have time at dinner to talk or just before a meeting … but actually connecting during a non-structured, non-time constrained window of Brothers gathering and just talking about anything… Masonic and non-Masonic is what we really need. Connecting on the human level and not just the Masonic level.
For SJSR body events and other Masonic body gatherings, try to create that time and space where these interactions can happen. Don’t just show up to “put an ‘x’ in the box”, but show up expecting to commit the time to connect with your Brothers.
KSA is a service based organization that helps support activities throughout the Valley. Most of our work is done while we are at the monthly stated meetings which keeps the load light while helping things run smoother. During important visits, KSA provides an Arch of Steel salute to dignitaries as well as providing a Flag Presentation team. The Flag Presentation team is also often called upon for blue lodge installations. No kilt is needed and we have a cooler hat than the other bodies. Come out and see what we are about.
San Jose Knights of St. Andrew Timothy M. Lynch II, 32° 2022-2023 Chief Knight, KSA