by Pete Tong, Provincial Grand Charity Steward
We have all stood in the north east corner and been invited to give to those who may be at the lowest ebb of poverty and distress. On that occasion the actions and symbolism suggest we are being invited to give money to help the poor, and all too often that is how we view charity.
However, true charity goes much further. It means giving our time, our skills and our talents in serving those less fortunate, perhaps by giving material things, by showing care and concern, by showing compassion and empathy, in fact by helping anyone in any way we can.
We have a ‘tradition’ in my Lodge that whenever we have an initiate we ‘persuade’ Past Masters and Provincial Officers to steward at the Festive Board. During the course of the meal the Director of Ceremonies reminds the new Brother of what happened earlier in the north east corner but also points out that charity is not just monetary, it is about serving others as is shown that evening by him being served his meal by Brethren who have been Masons for many years. Not only did it make the point to our new Brother, but it reminded everyone that we are in Freemasonry to serve and show charity to each other, to our community, and to the world of which we are a part and that charity extends much further than monetary offerings.
This pandemic has been challenging for each and every one of us, but in my twenty-two years in this Institution I have never seen so much genuine and meaningful charity. The Covid-19 appeal and the continued donating and fundraising initiatives for the #Lincs2025 Festival are showing your financial support for those in need, but within this Province we are also seeing examples of true and genuine charity; charity which is being given quietly and without seeking any recognition – genuine charity, charity in its true meaning. Many many of you are ensuring those in our community are fed, are protected and generally looked after. You are supporting those who support us by supplying PPE by raising money for the NHS and by raising money for charities and good causes. You are contacting others simply to have a chat and show you genuinely care. Never before have I seen such real charity and I am truly proud to be a member of this wonderful, caring Institution.
Benjamin Franklin is credited with having said ‘Out of adversity comes opportunity’. I hope that we will all view this time of difficulty as an opportunity to look at what we do, to decide what is important to us and resolve to do all we can to further the true meaning of Charity, a virtue which may justly be denominated the distinguishing characteristic of a Freemason’s heart and at the end of it, for each and every one of us to sit back and say in all humility, we did all we possibly could in the cause of charity. Then, and only then, can we truly claim to be Freemasons.