In Freemasonry the authority of the Lodge resides in the Worshipful Master. He is elected by the Masters to direct it and is assisted by two other officials: the Senior and the Junior Warden. He represents, symbolically King Solomon and that is one of the reasons why he sits in the East and holds a gavel and a sword. In large Obediences, the Master is the representative of the Grand Master or the District Grand Master. The W:.M:.’s authority is based on wisdom, reason, knowledge and the capacity to judge others. As in any group of men his authority can be challenged but a well educated Master knows when that challenge is positive or negative. A positive challenge helps him to grow as a leader and helps the Lodge to fortify its columns. A negative challenge is an invitation to disrupt, to protest and, in time, a pretext for the split. Lodges are human institutions: they are born, they grow up and sometimes they died. There is nothing troubling in that. Freemasonry is not an easy experience as it depends in what it is, truthfully. If one takes FM as a gentlemen’s club probably is no more different than other amusing experiences. It will last until the group feels that there is a reason to be together. But as an esoteric institution a Lodge is more than that: is a space of human improvement, of being frank to another and pursue in the Lodge (and beyond it) a spiritual path that may lead to more illumination. Men are different from each other and the Master must have the capacity to use each one abilities according with their qualities and limitations. But the Master has one duty: not allowing the quality of works to deteriorate to such a level that there is no more speculative freemasonry and work with symbols, but a pretext to be together, telling some jokes and having some beers. He may not be understood (at the beginning) if he takes this path, but this is the philosophy of Masonic command. The Master must see beyond the appearances, see the forest and not the isolated trees. If the Master trains himself to be a leader like that, others will follow and look to imitate him. There is nobody indispensable in Freemasonry. The Master of the Lodge needs to know when the collective needs him and does not need him, anymore. In very mature (and rare) Lodges the Master becomes, after some time, the Inner Guard, the humblest of the functions in a LODGE. But still there, in that position, he is appreciated as the spirit of the Lodge, exhibiting an authority that is natural and logic. A recent elected Worshipful Master will feel a privilege to learn from the old Master, to ask his advice. In more modern Obediences this succession is not completely understood and the new elected W:.M:. uses his acquired powers to project authoritarianism and vanity as he sits in the chair of the Master. In a few months he would destroy what has been build, brick by brick, by the previous Masters of the Lodge.
by A.M.A. Goncalves
The Worshipful Master is, in any Masonic organization, the guardian of the tradition and of the Masonic law and a reference for the Brothers. He represents the history of the Lodge and embodies the causality of its creation. Lodges are founded all the way through different in-puts: some for reasons associated with the development of the Craft, in a certain territory; others as a platform for Brothers, which are displaced, to meet and continue to practice their art. No Lodge is identical to other. In this sense, the Venerable Maitre, as the French call it, has an important role to perform as the guider, the pilot, the commander-in-chief of the ship. In most of the Obediences this function is rotative and the Master elected to assume this duty serves one term of one single year. This happens, mostly, in Lodges with a somehow extensive history of 40 until 100 years. In younger Lodges, the need to assure a lucid leadership of the project of the Lodge requires a longer mandate as the Master of the Lodge is obliged to assure the survival of the Lodge, in the long-run. He guarantees also that the education of the new members is performed, systematically, and respecting some sort of planning. This necessity depends on the sort of Rite that the Lodge practices, as some rites are more demanding than others. Freemasonry is ritualistic in the sense that encloses a set of ceremonies and dramatizations that are inspired by well-known fables of the Ancient Testament but is not (or should not) be over dependent on them. More than empty ritualisms, Freemasonry prioritizes the cut and polish of the rough stone, expression that means that the human spirit is still gifted to make fresh progresses if attention is dedicated to it. Humans are not blank sheets of paper where all possible meanings can be written but are personalities and individualities formed by genetic content and by the experiences they go through along their lives. The Craft believes that this work is not completed and that within the Lodge and in dialogue between Brothers this process of positive modification can be achieved. It depends, essentiality, in the quality of the leadership and the theoretical preparation of the Worshipful Master. Lodges are organizations of Men, with all their qualities and wrong-doings, but is their connection and symbioses that makes that experience rewarding. When the collective of the Lodge is able to incorporate this design and exigency the Lodge becomes a reference. There are many distractions, nowadays. Many Lodges turn to be clubs where middle-age men pursue some ritualism before running into a late meal, where they tell bad jokes and drink a lot. This is a perversion of Freemasonry and, absolutely, distorts the organization purposes and traditions. The Master of the Lodge that allows this kind of perversion is responsible, in the middle-term, for the profanization of works, the grime of the aprons and of the white gloves of the Brethren. So some attention ought to be directed to the style of work and how directives are accomplished. Some members seem too susceptible when corrections are address to them by the Master of the Lodge and look at them as personal humiliation. Freemasons practice an art that has almost three centuries and as in any art correction is required if perfection is designated as a goal, a collective goal. The exemplary practitioners of today are the competent leaders of tomorrow. The opposite is also true.