Exploring ritual meaning.

by Steve Laurvick

For me memorization of the ritual comes faster with comprehension and so I will post my first Trestleboard article on research I’ve done into the part of the ritual I’m currently struggling to understand.

In the lecture of the first degree we are taught that the perfect points of entrance are illustrated by the four cardinal virtues. We are not told why, or even whether the perfect points of entrance are into the candidate, the lodge, the fraternity or something else.

However the lectures of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice all allude to the necessity of remembering to remain alert and wary of any physical weakening of the mind or body which might cause a man to lapse in the maintaining of his obligation.

Though I am no expert in it, I do not see this correlation spoken of or elaborated upon anywhere else in the ritual. If anyone else has please make me aware of it.

As I recall from catechism classes these virtues were first exemplified by the ancient Greeks and first written down by the philosopher Socrates student Plato.

The obvious virtue of pursuing temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice in one’s daily life was passed by Roman roads to all corners of what was to become the Holy Roman Empire and was perpetuated in Western society by influential writings of intellectuals of the early Catholic church such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.

The word cardinal is derived from the Latin word for “hinge” or “cardin.” In fact every Pope now comes from the ranks of the “Cardinals” and there is little doubt of the symbolism and importance that these virtues represent in the Christian world.

A metaphor for these four virtues: Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice; is that they are the hinges upon which the door morality is hung, and swings.

This thread brings us back to another quite obvious reference to first admission, and a specific passage of scripture that started with a request and resulted in entry into the ancient and honorable fraternity.

So on this point I will lean toward the perfect points of entrance being related to the granting of admission. Perhaps the cardinal virtues illustrate the only possible way to enter and progress in freemasonry.

An ability to maintain the sanctity of the obligation being the “nails” in “il cardino” or the hinges of the door upon which the four cardinal virtues open or close might be a way to envision the perfect points of entrance.

The guttural, pectoral, manual and pedal as illustrated by signs and words, symbols and steps are meant only for individuals with the ability or desire to control their base impulses and strive to live a just, temperate, and prudent lifestyle while having the fortitude to live by the courage of their convictions.

Agree or not, these thoughts will I hope stimulate discussion and will help me get through this proficiency.

Filed under: California IX Masonic Division

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