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Masonic News Special - "Will you be off or from?"
April 29, 2012
"Will you be off or from," is a question we hear quite often in our Masonic ritual. It is used to progress the state of a Lodge from one degree to the next.
The Master asks, "Will you be off or from?"
And the answer comes, "From."
The Master continues, "From what and to what?"
And, an example of the answer, "From the present degree to the next."
The series of questions and answers continues that the Brother being asked may prove himself as qualified in that next degree. Through this progression the state of the lodge is eventually changed from the lower degree to the higher.
The question is also used in the conferral of a degree upon a candidate as he is being taught the manner of passing from his current state of being to that of the next. The Master asks,
"Will you be off or from?"
"From what and to what?"
And, as an example, "From the grip of this degree to that of the next."
So the question, "Will you be off or from," is used in Masonic ritual as a tool to begin the process of changing or transmuting the Lodge or candidate from the current state of being to the next or higher state of being.
But what of, "off?"
In most Masonic jurisdictions the answer to the question, "Will you be off or from," is never, "off." Perhaps, this is because if the response, "from" is used to move us from one state of being to the next then the response, "off" would rationally be the opposite of that. And in Masonry, as in life, we should never allow ourselves to be stagnant or without purpose.
However, in some Masonic jurisdictions, "off" is sometimes the proper response. It is used to determine a Brother's level of enlightenment. If he is not yet a Master Mason he eventually reaches a point in the catechism where he responds, "off, until further instructed," which is the acknowledgement that he has not yet received the enlightenment of the higher degree(s).
In Scottish Lodges the question is often used in a short method of moving the Lodge from one state to another whether it be higher or lower. When the Lodge is being moved to a higher degree the answer is, "from," and conversely when moving to a lower degree the proper answer is, "off." This method of raising or lowering the state of the Lodge is largely reserved to times of conferring differing degrees on multiple candidates, such as passing a Brother to the degree of Fellow Craft on the 2nd Degree and then moving the Lodge to the 1st Degree so as to initiate an Entered Apprentice.
So, if "off" is never the proper response in most Masonic jurisdictions why is it in the question? Is it simply an example of ancient tradition unchanged because our fraternity is resistant to change, or does it have meaning and purpose in our Masonic ritual?
I believe it to be an excellent example of Masonic symbolism. It is just five little words phrased as a question which serves as a tool to symbolically elevate us from our current state of being to that of the next. It reminds us that we should live our lives purposely and with forward and upward motion. It teaches us that enlightenment is the result of labor, and that labor is preparation for the Light.
And when I hear the question, "Will you be off or from," It always puts me in mind of the wise old Brother who would greet me with a warm smile, a firm grip, and ask, "Are you just travelling, or are you going somewhere?"
And now, the news........................
Tuesday, May 1, 2012: Billings Lodge No. 379 will meet in Special Communication for work in the 3rd Degree of Freemasonry. Brother Phillip Lucero will be presented for advancement to the sublime degree of Master Mason. Refreshments at 6:00 PM and Lodge will be duly Opened at 6:30 PM. We hope to see you there.
Saturday, May 5, 2012: Friend Lodge No. 352 will host a MOCHIP (Missouri Child Identification & Protection) Event from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the OTC Richwood Valley Campus located on Missouri State Highway 14 between Ozark and Nixa. This event will be in conjunction with the Christian County Optimist Safetypalooza. For more information on the Safetypalooza click here to visit the Christian County Optimist Web site.
Saturday, May 5, 2012: The Grand Master's C2A (Chance-to-Advance) One Day Class will be held today at the Masonic Complex in Columbia, MO. The day will begin with breakfast at 7:00 and the class will begin at 8:00 AM. This is an opportunity for all Missouri Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft Freemasons to advance to the sublime degree of Master Mason. Certain conditions do apply.
Saturday, May 12, 2012: The Missouri Lodge of Research continues the Truman Lecture Series with an enlightening presentation and discussion led by Masonic Scholar, Arturo de Hoyos. Worshipful Brother de Hoyos is the Grand Archivist and Historian for the Supreme Council 33rd Degree, for the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. He holds the 33rd Degree and Grand Cross of Honor. For more information on WB de Hoyos see this recent article: MOLOR presents Masonic Scholar Arturo de Hoyos
Tuesday, May 15, 2012: Friend Lodge No. 352 will meet in Special Communication for work in the 3rd Degree of Freemasonry. Brother Ed Rooker will be presented for advancement to the sublime degree of Master Mason. Dinner will be served at 6:30 and Lodge will be duly Opened at 7:00 PM. All Master Masons are invited in.
Thursday, May 17, 2012: Gate of the Temple Lodge No. 422 welcomes the Widow's Sons to their regular communication. If you have an interest in motorcycles or just want to see what this fun and energetic band of Brothers is up to come to supper at 5:30 and the Lodge will be duly Opened at 6:30 PM.
Saturday, May 19, 2012: Lamar Lodge No. 292 will host a Regional School of Ritual Instruction. RWB Tim Couch, Region 'F' Grand Lecturer, will instruct. Lunch will be ready at Noon and the school will begin at 1:00 PM. All Master Masons are invited in.
Saturday, June 9, 2012: The Brethren of O'Sullivan Lodge No. 7 proudly present the 9th Annual Pickin in the Park Bluegrass and Country Music Festival. This event will be held in the City Park in Walnut Grove, Missouri. Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy fourteen Country and Bluegrass Bands playing from 11am to 10pm. Come out for a great day and night of music. Adults $6.00; Family $15.00. All proceeds go to charities in the area. For more information call WB Steve Gilkey or contact any member of O'Sullivan Lodge No. 7.
Saturday, June 9, 2012: It's time for the annual Good Times BBQ & Music event on the grounds of Sparta Lodge No. 296, 7702 State Hwy 14 East, Sparta, MO. Music will be provided by:
There will be a small auction somewhere about the middle of the event. Several new hand tools and power tools along with various other items. Please plan on attending; don't forget mark this down on your calendar. Tickets can be purchased that day or you can call John Van Slyke to purchase in advance.
As you can see there's lots of Masonry going on in Missouri. See the links below to keep up with the latest or to submit information for your upcoming meeting or event.
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