The ancient Pagans knew of what we know and call the Cardinal Virtues; Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude, and Justice; they gave them a prominent place in their system of ethics. “Faith, hope, and Charity”, which we know as the “Theological Virtues are very old and come from the writings of Paul in the New Testament. The Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity are intimately connected with the relationship of man to God; it was the Christian writers who gave them the name; Theological Virtues. These Theological Virtues have become a vital part of Freemasonry, which every Mason will recall from the lecture of his first degree.
A study of every virtue included in the Cardinal and Theological Virtues will significantly add to the knowledge and enjoyment of Freemasonry for every Masonic student. Today we will concentrate on the virtue known as “Charity.”
When thinking of “Charity” many will think of giving money to worthy causes. But with study and understanding we are more likely to think of ‘Love;’ Brotherly Love and love for our fellow man.
Reference books on the virtues have an illustration symbolizing “Charity”; it’s an illustration of a beautiful woman surrounded by children: This symbol could easily represent the unconditional love a Mother has for her children. The figure of the woman represents Pera, a Roman maiden who is also referred to as caritas humana, she is referred to as that because the word Charity comes from the Latin Caritas.
When we read the scripture relating to Jacob’s Ladder (Genesis 28:12) and the three Theological Virtues (1 Corinthians 13:13) in the Authorized or King James Version of The Holy Bible we read about the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, but in more modern translations Charity is translated as Love. The figure of a woman surrounded by children teaches us that caring love extends beyond the grave through the boundless realms of eternity.
Charity as it is known in today’s society with the giving of various forms of support from goods, to volunteering, to monetary donations, is agreeable to the word charity as it is used in Masonry and in the Bible. What Masons do with their donations of time, talent, and treasure, are done as a result of brotherly love for those less fortunate. And what is done for love of others is manifested in the visible through organizations such as Minnesota Masonic Charities, the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, and the Grand Lodge Funds used to help where help is needed. Money, time, and man power, donated by Masons is given freely to all who need and can benefit from help – the help is not restricted to only certain people or groups. A good book you might like to read is; “Masonic Charities – A tradition of Caring” by S. Brent Morris.
From Three – Five – Seven by Ed Halpaus, Minnesota
“There is no virtue in a promise unless it be kept.” Danish Proverb
Norm Leeper, PM, HA
Southern California Research Lodge