GREETINGS FROM THE EAST
Greetings my Brothers,
Happy New Year, and I wish you all good health, joy and Brotherly Love in 2023.
Reflecting on my role as Worshipful Master in 2022, it made me think of what responsibility entails. Merriam-Webster defines it as: “…the quality of being responsible, such as a moral, legal or mental accountability; reliability, trustworthiness; something for which one is responsible: burden.”
Since I was 10 years old, I’ve had obligations. I hated delivering newspapers on a cold, snowy day at 5 AM, but it was my responsibility to do so. At 14 I worked my entire summer at a gas station, 12 hours a day. I took 2 buses to the Bronx since that was the only place that would hire me at that age. I hated the pay, but I still did the job to the best of my ability since that was the agreed upon wage. With devotion came reward. My unemployed friends didn’t have what I was able to buy, and all that was due to my responsibility to my job. Even though it was not the best job in the world, it made my life easier and nicer.
After these experiences, I was more appreciative of jobs that came afterwards. At 18 I left the gas station and started working for UPS, a union job which provided me guaranteed raises, benefits, and a pension. That job led me to my current position while earning my master’s degree full-time. Thirty-two years later (with 4 promotions), it’s a job I love, all thanks to the foundations of accountability I had developed earlier.
I have always taken my duties to heart and do the best I can. As a Mason, isn’t that what’s expected? As an officer I was sometimes unable to make certain events since I was working as a first responder on a rotating shift, but I made it a point to miss the fun occasions in my life so that I could attend important Masonic affairs.
As Worshipful Master I am in charge of our Lodge, which is to make sure that polices I put forward benefit the Lodge not only during my term, but in the future. This is certainly true with my Wardens and Deacons since my actions will affect their terms. Add to all of this, numerous officers’ meetings.
As Junior Warden it was not immediately possible to cook for my Brothers during COVID and lockdown. That ended in February. In the meantime, I decided to make my newsletter articles lengthier than previously to compensate for the lack of our meeting in Lodge. With time this became something I love to do and one of my agreed upon responsibilities in which I take great pride.
One of the joys of a line officer is to pass on my knowledge quietly to an officer moving up, as I have also done at work. I always pull fellow Brothers and fellow workers aside when a basic question is asked that is done daily or often and speak to them in a low voice so that others don’t hear me, preventing embarrassment. Others in charge may find this a burden and become unkind to those who may have erred.
In Lodge, I have made errors in the roles I’ve held, and Brothers have whispered to correct me since they felt it was their responsibility to tell me in a low voice what had gone awry. They also told me what a good job I had done even when mistakes were made. Isn’t that what learning is all about, trying something new and perhaps erring along the way? Being a Mason is making a responsible commitment to the Craft, doing everything possible to make what we do as perfect as possible. But if minor mistakes occur, we should remember an honest attempt was made and best of luck next time.
Responsible commitment means showing up for practice, studying, working out difficulties yourself, asking for help when needed, and embracing our agreed upon assignments. For me as Worshipful Master, that means writing monthly articles for this newsletter, having substantive communications, visiting other lodges, and representing our Lodge so that its light shines brightly.
As we advance in the different officers’ chairs, responsibilities grow. The Senior Deacon is one of the greatest responsibilities when performing degrees. He has to coordinate what positions need to be filled months in advance, set up practices, meet and greet visiting Brethren, and lead the candidates/Brothers on their next Masonic journey. This is the make-or-break seat for a Brother moving up the line. I loved this chair when I held it, but there were also nervous and trying nights when presenting degrees.
With responsible commitment comes growth, an inner, satisfying beauty as well as accomplishment. Your lines may not always be perfect, but it is the attempt that counts because you are meeting your deadlines responsibly. Don’t be afraid to ask for help but be afraid of not meeting your commitments. Most important of all is to never undermine anyone, maliciously or with false kindness, or say to him, “This isn’t the way it’s done.” It’s unfriendly and unwanted. In this case a brother should show Masonic Brotherly Love and say to this Brother quietly and as an aside, “I’ve been down this road before. Do you need help from me to help you get to where you need to go?”
Never do I address any of my Brothers as “friend.” That is unworthy when speaking of our Brothers. When I see or address a Brother it is always as, “My Brother.” When I went to hear Brothers Anthony Colonna and Walt Willems’ band play, they introduced me to the lead singer, and she asked if we were friends. I said, “No, I am their Brother.” She didn’t understand at first, but it became clearer when I told her we were all Masons. The word “Brother” is used with pride, and it is our responsibility to do so because we all fulfilled the same obligation and proficiency when we became Brothers.
I would like to thank all my Brothers for accepting their commitments and responsibilities, and for all you do to improve your lives and our Lodge. Let us remember in fulfilling our own responsibilities to help those who may need help in fulfilling theirs, and to do so quietly, with Brotherly Love.
Always remember, it’s up to each one of us to continuously show how brightly our light can shine.
Sincerely and fraternally,
Michael S Crispino, Jr
And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), Austrian poet and novelist