The Masonic Widows Program of the Grand Lodge of Maine was initiated by the 19th Masonic District, inspired by the late Mrs. Ralph J. Pollard and approved at the one hundred and sixtieth annual communication.
The Program is endorsed, but not regulated, by the Grand Lodge of Maine. It is a voluntary project adopted by the local Lodge to fit its own needs, and is voluntary from the bottom up, and not compulsory from the top down. Adoption and implementation remain a Lodge’s special privilege.
It was developed to extend the hand of fellowship and guidance to the widow of a Master Mason, specifically to let her know that she is remembered, not forgotten, and that she belongs to our Masonic Family.
This Manual comprises material and ideas derived from programs and publications of our Sister Grand Lodges. We are particularly grateful to the Grand Lodges of California, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Washington. We have drawn upon their material frequently and have adopted a likeness of the format of their excellent work. Our intent is not to seek credit for anything previously implemented, but rather, to utilize the talent, expertise and material existing in all Grand Jurisdictions.
We would urge the use of this manual with care. It is not perfect. Time and experience will enable us to produce a document that could become the basis for a viable productive program, the continuation of which throughout successive years could conceivably perpetuate a bond which should inevitably inure to the credit and honor of our fraternity.
4.1 Special Committee
— Masonic Widows Program
4.2 Regional Directors
4.3 District Coordinators
4.4 District Representatives
4.5 Lodge Chairman
4.7 Widow’s Pin
4.8 Grand Chaplain’s Letter (Condolence)
4.9 Lodge Letter (Condolence)
4.10 Master File
5.1 What is it?
5.2 What does it do?
5.3 How does it function?
5.4 Why is it needed?
5.5 How can I help?
5.6 What are its services?
6. General Requirements
6.1 Committee Masonic Widows
6.2 Regional Directors
6.3 Area Coordinators
6.4 Lodge Program Chairman
6.5 Worshipful Masters
6.6 Grand Chaplains
7. Special Requirements
7.1 Grand Secretary
7.2 Lodge Secretary
8.1 Basic Instruction
8.2 Existing Widows
8.3 New Widows
8.4 Schedule of Activities
9.1 Special Committee
9.2 Worshipful Masters
10.1 Grand Lodge Master Files
10.2 Lodge Widows File
1. Organization chart
2. Certificate of Remembrance & Lapel Pin
2a. Order Form
3. Grand Chaplain’s Letter of Condolence
4. Lodge Letter of Condolence
5. Master Record Card
6. Lodge Guidelines
7. Suggested Social Events
8. Grand Master’s Authorization Letter
9. District Deputies Association’s Promotional Letter
10. Special Ladies Night
a. Invitation to Widows;
b. Sample Program Trestle Board Article
11. Recently Widowed
12. Widow Eligibility
13. A Master Mason’s Family
b. PERMANENT CONFINING ILLNESS
14. Letter to Sojourner’s Lodge
15. Financing Widows Pins
6. General Requirements
|7. Special Requirements
7.1 Grand Secretary
7.2 Lodge Secretary
1. Organization chart
To provide a program with appropriate material that will enable each individual Mason in the State of Maine to demonstrate his fidelity to the obligation he took upon himself to help, aid and assist our Masonic widows.
2. Effective Date
May 2, 1979
This manual concerns the widows of Master Masons of the Grand Lodge of Maine, wheresoever located. It also includes the widows of Master Masons (sojourners) residing within this Grand Jurisdiction. Further, it provides the procedures and suggested responsibilities for the implementation of a viable Masonic Widows Program.
Terms used in this manual are defined as follows:
4.1 Special Committee — Masonic Widows Program — Team of four past masters; i.e., a chairman and an appointee for the northern central and southern sections of the State. (Attach. #1).
4.2 Regional Directors — Three appointees, as noted in paragraph 4.1 above.
4.3 District Coordinators — Individuals selected to coordinate the program within their respective Masonic Districts.
4.4 District Representatives — Individuals selected to assist the coordinators noted in paragraph 4.3 above.
4.5 Lodge Chairman — Program leader consisting of an appointed member other than secretary or master.
4.6 Sojourner — A Master Mason residing within the jurisdiction of a Masonic Lodge but holding membership in another jurisdiction within or without this state.
4.7 Widow’s Pin — A gold-plated, small diameter laurel wreath encircling the symbolic “broken column’. (Attach. #2)
4.8 Grand Chaplain’s Letter — Official Grand Lodge letter of condolence forwarded to each Master Mason’s wife at widowhood. (Attach. #3)
4.9 Lodge Letter — Official letter of condolence from presiding Master to newly-widowed Master Mason’s wife (Attach. #4).
4.10 Master File — Official Grand Lodge card file, listing essential data of each widow, i.e. name, address, telephone number, Lodge number, etc. (Attach #5)
5.1 What is it? — It is a planned program, structured and organized to manage and effectively utilize the knowledge and expertise existing in this Grand Jurisdiction. It has been developed to enable each individual lodge to be of greater service to its membership. It provides an opportunity for each member to participate in a viable expression of concern for our Masonic widows.
5.2 What does it do? — It provides each lodge with suggested minimum standards, including appropriate language, that may assist each member in fulfilling his often repeated obligation to the widow. It extends the hand of friendship and concern to the wife of our deceased brother
5.3 How does it function? — A lodge which participates will utilize and call upon the special committee on Masonic Widows Program to provide the essential details. Each Worshipful Master shall appoint a lodge chairman who shall constitute a lodge committee of not less than three other members to implement this program.
5.4 Why is it needed? — How often has your lodge conducted a Masonic funeral service for a deceased brother, sent the widow a card of sympathy (if at all) and then discontinued further contact until someone reports that she is in need of help? Does your lodge remember the widows of your departed brethren, extend the hand of friendship to the widows of sojourners, make an effort to show them that you even care?
How many lodges have made a list of the widows to whom their members are bound, complete with addresses and telephone numbers, and set out on a program to call upon each one to determine first hand whether the brethren can do anything to be of assistance, and then to follow up from time to time? How does your lodge identify and determine those of its widows who may be in need of assistance?
5.5 How can I help? — Every Mason has an obligation to ascertain if his lodge is participating in the program, specifically the following:
Bring the message contained herein to the attention of the membership.
Compile a list of Masonic widows residing within your lodge jurisdiction, however incomplete it may be at this time.
Demonstrate individually and collectively that Masonry “does care for its own”.
Adopt a positive attitude that may stimulate interest and improved attendance, encourage more applications and retard the trend of declining membership.
Start waking up this maligned, but much too often unchallenged “Masonic sleeping giant”.
Begin practicing Masonry-in-action by implementing the subject Widow’s Program.
Acknowledge and eliminate the criticism “that we have neglected our Masonic widows much too long”.
Ensure that your wife’s future (as a possible widow) will not be one of loneliness and neglect.
5.6 What are its services? — Friendship and guidance to let the widow know that she has been remembered, not forgotten, and that she still belongs to our Masonic family, specifically:
Certificate of Remembrance and lapel pin (Attach. #2) Grand Lodge recognition (Grand Chaplain’s letter, Attach. #3) Invitations to all lodge social events (Attach. #7) Transportation to doctor, dentist, hospital, store, etc. Personal visits and attention. Personal notes — birthdays, holidays, special events. (Stress — other than Secretary) Lodge trestle boards Additional services unlimited.
6. General Requirements
6.1 Committee Masonic Widows Program — This special committee is composed of four past masters, a chairman and three regional directors insofar as the State of Maine has been divided into three regions. Lodges that comprise a region are designated on Attach. #l. This team is responsible for the following functions:
Administer the statewide Widows Program. Coordinate all levels of program organizations structure. Maintain current the master copy of this manual. Conduct regional workshops when advisable. Provide direction and guidelines as requested. Maintain a master file of program correspondence. Maintain a master widows’ file. Prepare consolidated evaluation reports for the Grand Master. Provide liaison services as required. Coordinate through the Grand Lodge and Lodges of Instruction in each district.
6.2 Regional Directors — Duties as noted above.
6.3 District Coordinators — Provide:
Administrative support to lodges within their district. Grand Lodge promotional programs when requested. Liaison services as required.
6.4 Lodge Program Chairman — Provides:
Performance reports to Worshipful Master. Lodge Widows’ File (establish and maintain current). Direct supervision for lodge program (Attach. #6).
6.5 Worshipful Masters — Provide:
Overall supervision of lodge team. Performance evaluations to special committee. Coordination services, with lodge social activities team. Constructive recommendations.
6.6 Grand Chaplains:
Receive notification of deceased from Grand Secretary. Prepare and forward official letter of condolence. (Attach. #3) Forward copy to special committee (6.1).
7. Special Requirements
7.1 Grand Secretary –
Notify Grand Chaplain of deceased brethren. Provide liaison support at all levels. Provide clerical support services when available. Provide computer data when needed.
7.2 Lodge Secretary — (May or may not delegate these duties to Lodge Program Chairman.)
Notify Grand Secretary of deceased (Attach. 2a). Prepare and forward lodge letter of condolence (Attach. 4) Provide administrative services when available. Notify home lodge of deceased sojourner of our program. (Attach. #14).
Following endorsement of program by Grand Lodge May 2, 1979.
8.1 Basic Instruction — Master invites special committee (Para. 4.1) representatives to explain program at lodge meeting or when ladies are present. At subsequent meeting lodge decides whether to adopt the program. Lodge committee is appointed, number of members dependent upon size of lodge. Details (Attach. #6) are utilized, but may be revised to special needs of each lodge. Article regarding program is placed in trestleboard to inform brethren. Special instructions will be given through Lodges of Instruction and other contacts by the Grand Lodge through its District Deputies in coordination with the District Chairman and Lodge Chairman and committees.
8.2 Existing Widows — Letter is sent to each widow to familiarize her with lodge activities (follow-up calls are suggested.) When “Remembrance certificates” and pins are presented (Attach. #2), brief explanation should be made by letter and follow-up phone calls, after presentation of pin. (Note: This is an opportunity for pin presentations at a Widows night.)
8.3 New Widows — When the decease of a brother has occurred, it is suggested that a letter of condolence be mailed, requesting permission to meet with his widow to present to her the certificate (Attach. #4).
8.4 Schedules of Activities — A listing of each year’s social events to which widows are invited is prepared and forwarded to each (Attach. #7).
9.1 Special Committee to Grand Master — See team functions (Para. 6.1).
9.2 Worshipful Masters to special committee (see Para. 6.5).
10.1 Grand Lodge master files — (See Para. 6.1).
10.2 Lodge Widows file — (See Para. 6.4).
11.1 Coordination — Special committee is composed of four past masters to act as chairmen, and regional directors in each of the three Masonic districts. In response to a written committee request, each District Deputy Grand Master shall appoint and select a past master to represent his district as a “District Coordinator”. Letters are sent to each designated past master by District Deputy Grand Master soliciting their assistance and explaining their duties.
District Coordinators workshop will be conducted throughout the jurisdiction for review and exchange of ideas including special efforts at each Lodge of Instruction as the program becomes implemented.
Upon request of Master, the District Coordinator will make presentation to lodge, distribute a copy of manual and when requested will assist in coordinating the program.
11.2 Promotion — Newsletters mailed to Coordinators, representatives and Worshipful Masters. Grand Master’s letter to Worshipful Masters (Attach. #8). During Grand Lodge communication a display booth will be manned to answer questions and distribute printed material.
11.3 Expenses — Special committee costs involve printing, distribution of printed material and postage. Individual lodge expenses could include remembrance certificates, widows’ pins and admission costs to activities. Grand Lodge will obtain pins for Lodges to purchase and present to their widows. Lodges may utilize lodge charity funds or solicit from members the cost of pins.
11.4 Inquiries — Address questions on organization, implementation as well as recommendations to your District Coordinator, or write to:
Masonic Widows Program
Grand Lodge of Maine
PO Box 430
Holden, ME 04429
|Special Committee – (4)
District Coordinator – (24)
District Representative – (24)
Lodge Chairman – (193)
|Chairman and three Regional Directors.
One for each Masonic District.
One for each Masonic District.
One for each lodge.
CERTIFICATE OF REMEMBRANCE & LAPEL PIN FOR
WIDOW OF A DECEASED MASTER MASON
CERTIFICATE OF REMEMBRANCE & LAPEL PIN FOR
WIDOW OF A DECEASED MASTER MASON
| ………………..………………………………………………………. Lodge No. ……………………… , 20……….
I hereby certify that Brother
died on the…………………………….. day of ……………………………………………., 20…………..
He was, on the date of his death, a Master Mason in good standing and a Member of this Lodge.
He has left a *Widow (not now remarried) (address is essential)
*Child or Children (not married)
for his benefit a Grand Lodge Certificate and pin is desired.
(*Cross out the one which does not apply.)
SEAL OF LODGE Attest…………………………………………… Secretary
Attachment No. 3
GRAND LODGE OF MAINE
Any Street, Box 04000
Anywhere, ME 04000
As Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Maine, I write you on behalf of the Most Worshipful Grand Master, We express our deepest sympathy and distress in the loss of your beloved husband, our friend and Brother.
Brother was a credit to the Craft, who by precept and example exhibited to his fellow man, as well as to his brethren, the true meaning of Freemasonry. His loss will be noted by all who knew him, and most especially by those who walked by his side in fraternal life.
(This space is left to encourage personalized comments relative to the decedent or his family.)
Our thoughts and concerns are with you at this time, and we hope that you will continue to find the strength and refuge you need from our Heavenly Father.
Most sincerely, in the name of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Maine.
God love you, and grant you peace,
Attachment No. 4
LODGE LETTER OF CONDOLENCE
(Your Lodge Letterhead)
Mrs. Jane Doe
000 Any Street
Big City, ME 04000
Dear Mrs. Doe:
On behalf on all the members of this Lodge, please accept our condolences at this time of your great loss.
As Masons, we are concerned with the general welfare of our brother members, their wives, widows and families, and hope that you will allow this Lodge to continue to be a part of your life. There are events which have been especially planned to include the ladies. You. will be informed of them from time to time and we encourage you to participate.
(This space is left to encourage personalized comments relative to the decedent or his family.)
Brother _______, who is a member of our Lodge, will phone you in the near future to give you additional information.
MASTER RECORD CARD
|Lodge 001John J. Doe
Team: Lodge _____________________No. _______________________Widows’ Team
At least three plus a chairman for each lodge.
Do not assign Lodge officers (solicit and utilize their ideas and talents). Remember, we are attempting to give members who are not ritualistically inclined an opportunity to practice Masonry.
Select individuals who are interested, dedicated and compassionate and are not necessarily presently active in lodge affairs, service organizations, educational, church groups, etc.
Identify Masonic widows in your jurisdiction. Include widows of sojourning Masons. (Utilize secretary’s records, Eastern Star, churches, etc.)
Prepare a 3×5 index card file of Masonic Widows (Attach. #4) in duplicate.
Schedule personal visits, at least four or five times a year.
Note health of individual, conditions of buildings, property, car, needs, etc.
Note circumstances where Lodge can assist. Visitor should never give any indication of charity (remember their personal pride). This is a social call. State that you are a member of the Lodge Widows’ Team, whose function is to visit widows. Remind them that they are still members of our Masonic family and restate our offer of assistance and service.
Observe if transportation problems exist, such as to doctors, dentist, hospital appointments, etc., identifying any special needs.
Recommend lodge assistance or services to the Worshipful Master only. Do not discuss in Lodge for this might be considered an invasion of privacy.
Locate the burial place of the deceased Brother (record on index card – Attach. #4). Periodically check the gravesite for care, markers, baskets, etc.
Obtain widow’s birth date (record on index card – Attach. #4). Send card, preferably a handwritten note, each year. Consider a note for Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.
Be ever alert for Masonic widows other than those of your Lodge residing in your jurisdiction. Include them on your list and serve accordingly. Notify her husband’s Lodge as to her present address, our program, etc.
When the Lodge learns of the death of a brother, send the duplicate index card to the Grand Lodge office, attention of the Grand Lodge Committee on Masonic Widows. This requirement is a team function and should not become an added burden or be assigned to the Lodge Secretary. (NOTE: Unless the secretary desires to do this.)
Submit a written report at each stated meeting listing accomplishments, specifically names of widows visited, those receiving cards, etc. This report is intended to inform the Brethren on the progress of the program and, hopefully, solicit additional names of widows. Attendance at stated meetings could be enhanced by this report-type approach. Team attendance at the stated meetings is not mandatory. One member should attend to read the report, make recommendations when needed, answer questions, etc.
Suggested revision, additions, etc. should be forwarded to the Grand Lodge Committee on Masonic Widows for incorporation and distribution. Interchange of ideas, deeds, etc. is vital.
Attachment No. 8
GRAND MASTER’S AUTHORIZATION LETTER
All Grand Masters have definite goals that we hope to attain during our term of office. One that we hope to pursue is the Masonic Widows Program. Details of that plan are now available at the Grand Lodge office, the preliminary acceptance of which is heartwarming and rewarding.
In that vein, I would ask the following personal favor of each individual lodge. Specifically, compile a list of known Masonic widows residing in your jurisdiction and then write a personal handwritten Christmas note to each one prior to that date. (Delegate this job to other than line officers, then follow up for compliance.) Utilize as many individuals as necessary; our intent is to involve as many as possible. Seek out wives if penmanship is a problem. Inexpensive paper is fine. It is the personal touch that is important. If several persons are involved, sign the note (Lodge No. , Masonic Widows Team).
Maine Masons have been characterized as diffident, apathetic, victims of changing times, etc. Maine Masons, when given the tools, guidelines and the cause to aid others, especially in their own Masonic family, will respond to that need.
Let’s become involved in the Widows Program. We have neglected them much too long. Show me that my faith in Maine Masons is not an idle dream; reassurance is a vital factor. I’m depending on you.
Fraternally and sincerely,
We here in (Lodge No. ) are thinking of you today because it is Christmas and we wish you much happiness, and tomorrow because it will be the day after Christmas, we shall still wish you happiness and so on through the new year.
“We may not be able to tell you about it every day but that makes no difference; the thought and the wish will be here just the same.”
Attachment No. 9
DISTRICT DEPUTIES ASSOCIATION LETTER
Dear Right Worshipful Brother:
Prior to our District Deputies Association meeting, I wrote to the Grand Master, offering him the talent and expertise of our membership in any program he felt worthy that would help make his term a more meaningful and productive one. We think we have found a terrific program that needs our support.
At that meeting, the Grand Lodge Committee on Masonic Education detailed a course of action that will ensure that all facets of ritual, symbolism, protocol, etc. will be presented to the lodges. However, there did not appear to be any organized program designed to extend the hand of fellowship and guidance to widows of lodge members. Specifically, to let her know that she is remembered and that she belongs to our Masonic family.
Observing this deficiency, our Grand Master informed me that he had authorized the development of a Masonic Widows Program, the continuation of which through successive years could conceivably perpetuate a bond which would serve to establish an image of which the brethren could be rightfully proud.
The program. is endorsed, but not regulated, by the Grand Lodge of Maine. It is a voluntary project adopted by the local lodge to fit its own needs, and is voluntary from the bottom up and not compulsory from the top down. Adoption and implementation remain a lodge’s special privilege.
Based on the above details and the Grand Master’s appeal for the assistance of this Association, I stated that we would take an active part in the establishment, coordination and implementation of the Maine Masonic Widows Program. Specifically to assist the (to be appointed) special Grand Lodge Committee on the Masonic Widows Program.
Are we willing to accept this challenge and set the example? It must start somewhere, why not here? This is an opportunity for us to collectively do something. Let’s implement the Widows Program. Make it our program, make it work! If you would like to help, please let me know right away. The written material and other details are being developed and we need assistance with many details on the local and district levels.
Sincerely and fraternally,
MAINE DISTRICT DEPUTIES ASSOCIATION
Attachment No. 10
SPECIAL LADIES NIGHT
Guidelines that may help Lodges in planning a program:
Select individuals to carry out the following planning functions:
Invitations – (Attach. #l0a) Mail at least one month prior to the date of the event (they may have commitments). Hand write (optional), do not use a form letter. Make it personal. Have wives help you write them.
Transportation – Arrange for personal “follow-up” wherever distance is not a problem. Ensure that transportation to and from their home is provided. Have friends, relatives, etc., (not strangers) bring her to the event. In your follow-up visit (noted in your invitation) to those that have written they will not be able to attend, see if you can determine the reason. It may be physical, hardship, etc. and may bring to light instances where the widows team can help in their future lodge program. However, anticipate mixed reactions. Some widows may be real cool and even outspoken. Remain calm, listen, and remember we have not been near many of them for years. Explain that your Lodge is now a member of a statewide Masonic program that intends to correct our past unorganized concern for our special ladies. Try to mend fences, even though your “ears may be ringing”.
Program – Prepare a simple program booklet, attractive enough for a souvenir. (Attach. #l0b – need not be this elaborate.) Select greeters to meet our honored guests at the door, pin corsages or (your choice) nameplates and programs. Introduce them to others that have arrived, make them feel at home, encourage them to socialize.
Entertainment – Provide an enjoyable evening, limit time to one hour or so. Barbershop groups and musical interludes have worked well. Avoid long speeches, slides, plays, etc. Consider the ages of your guests.
Dinner – Prepared by Lodge officers (more meaningful to all); endeavor to involve as many members as you can. Be selective of menu (consider digestion problems).
Tickets – Keep price within reason (this is not to make money). Expenses may be correctly taken from general expense account. Free tickets to honored guests (widows, Grand Master or Deputy Grand Master, Minister, and their wives).
Seating arrangements for dinner – Arrange tables, place settings, table decorations, etc. Do not crowd seats (never use paper plates or plastic utensils). Provide place cards for head table only. Honored guests should be seated with their friends and wherever they wish.
Lodge Hall – Arrange special seats for the guests, facing the East, and in front of the Altar. Seats should be tagged in alphabetical sequence. Arrange seats in semi-circles, allowing aisle space for Grand Master and Worshipful Master to personally greet each widow. Master of Ceremonies will call roll as widows are greeted. Those not able to attend will have their letter read, or their address given or some “chit-chat”.
Follow-up (day after event) – Assign team or lodge member to visit widows who did not attend. Present her corsage, nameplate, program and a list of all the lodge widows and their addresses. Tell her about the occasion, who was there, people she might know, etc. Leave a card with names and phone numbers of whom to call in case of need or information. Do not say “call so and so”. Provide a business-type card so that they may carry it or leave by a phone.
You have now taken the initial step — follow the program guidelines for each lodge (Attach. #6).
Remember, the widows’ program is not a “once a -year event”. It is a well-defined program of year-round attention and concern. Do not engulf your widows for a short time and then ignore them the rest of the year. Do not wait for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. Visit them, as we have found that their prime concern is loneliness and to whom they can turn when needed. Try to erase their possible feeling that we are too busy to care, or as we. have been called, “diffident”.
Attachment No. 10a
INVITATION TO WIDOWS
As a special member of our “Masonic Family”, you are cordially invited to the Masonic Temple in on the th, at 6:00 p.m.,as a special guest of (Lodge) #
A dinner and informal evening of entertainment has been planned for your enjoyment. A Lodge member will be in touch to provide details on transportation and other questions.
Fraternally and sincerely,
Team Chairman or Wor. Master
To widows residing in other states, etc., add the following paragraph:
As distance is a vital factor in your situation, and you are unable to attend, a note of your activities, health, etc. would be greatly appreciated. It will be included with the roll call introductions of our local guests.
TRESTLE BOARD ARTICLE
On th at 6:00 p.m., we will honor our (#) known Masonic widows with a dinner and informal evening of entertainment. M.W. (Grand Master) or Deputy Grand Master, etc. will be the guest speaker.
This occasion affords the membership an opportunity to show our special guests that we really care. Let us make this evening an outstanding success. A robust sale of tickets will ensure it.
Attachment No. 10b
XXXXXXXX LODGE NO. XXX
A. F. & A. M.
Greeters Welcome – Social Period 6:00-6:30 p.m.
WIDOW’S TEAM, XXXXX LODGE # XXX
Attachment No. 11a
(Dr. William D. Brown, 32°, VA)
Often we are at a loss as to what we should say to one recently widowed, usually mumbling something like, “Call me if there’s anything I can do.”
Following the frenzied activity during the first few weeks of widowhood, the widow needs more understanding and assistance than ever in making a transition to life without her beloved mate. Visitation by Masons and their wives can prove most helpful at this time, with our listening as the bereaved goes about working out her sojourn through the Valley of the Shadows. Occasionally it may even be appropriate to offer counsel, if we are qualified.
Many newly bereaved report an intense awareness of loneliness during the first major holiday season following the death of a mate. The fragility of life appears most real then, when for the first time total awareness of being left alone may crash down upon the senses.
There is no more difficult situation confronted in life than when the once happily married is required to adjust to life without the presence of a beloved mate. On occasion it seems more than one can bear. Yet, we underestimate our ability to adjust to change. Though this adjustment is among life’s most difficult, there are steps which when followed will make it easier for the remaining spouse to adjust to her first holiday season alone.
We can best fulfill our Masonic responsibility by emphasizing the following with a Brother’s widow as she is assisted in making adequate adjustment to her heartfelt loss during this first holiday season. She should be helped –
- To avoid placing undue emphasis on the absence of-her loved one: Special holiday practices previously enjoyed with her spouse should not be dwelt upon to the exclusion of all else. Too- much emphasis in recalling significant practices shared with him over the years is not helpful. In attaching undue emphasis to past memories, opportunities are forever lost to make this a meaningful holiday season in spite of a heavy heart.
- To avoid the temptation to ignore her loss. This may sound contradictory with the above but attempts to ignore the absence of a loved one during the holidays is both superficial and futile. While the widow should not place “undue” emphasis on the void in her life, she should never ignore it. Denial of the reality of her loss will only delay the necessary process of reality adjustment. Some time should be spent reflecting on the past, but ample time should be allotted for experiencing the joys present in this current holiday season. New experiences significantly aid the adjustment to this next era of life.
- To run–at all costs–from the entrapment of self-pity. Fondly recalling love once shared during holiday seasons may cause wistful feelings of self-pity. Far better to avoid pandering to her worst, rather devoting attention to establishing new holiday traditions, as difficult as this may be. Indeed, the ability to make satisfactory adjustments to future holiday seasons is directly dependent upon establishing new patterns of responding to the holiday during this first holiday season spent alone.
- To recognize the necessity of refusing no invitations during this holiday season. In recent years the couple may not have accepted many invitations during the holiday season due to failing health of the deceased. Providing her health is good,.this practice should now be reversed, with her accepting (within reason) every invitation extended. If invitations are few, she should be encouraged to host some events this season. This would assure quick reciprocity from friends, further easing her return to increased holiday involvement with friends and loved ones. Masons should take special care to see that our widows are included in festive activities during the season.
- To discover the joy in doing something to make the holiday season more meaningful to another. Moving away from her own sorrow in reaching out to help another is perhaps the best therapy available for the bereaved. She might be encouraged at last to carry out some act of kindness for another only considered in the past. Crippled children confined to Shriners Hospitals have many needs that could best be met by mature adults. Others facing their first holiday season alone may be even more lonely than she. Truly we begin to find ourselves as we lose ourselves in service to another. Ample opportunities exist, waiting for someone to reach out and take advantage of them.
Helping widows of our fallen Brethren make this traumatic adjustment through using these steps will not cause loneliness to disappear but its impact can be softened in this manner. For the secret to discovering fulfillment in life is found in reaching beyond ourselves to help another more distressed than are we.
This is when we enjoy the first fruits of Masonry being lived, as we help our widows make this important adjustment in their lives. It begins to dawn upon us that all the good things life has to offer will be ours if we will but first help enough other people achieve what it is they most need.
Let us seriously consider our obligation to care for the needs of our widows.
Attachment No. 12
Implementation of the Masonic Widows Program has posed several questions concerning eligibility. The questions are valid, the situations exist and are thought-provoking. Every Mason and Mason’s wife should read these through. The value of a paid-up dues card is never more evident. Demits and suspensions (NPD) deprive members and families of a valuable possession.
- A Mason is suspended for non-payment of dues. He is never reinstated because he never paid his back dues. He subsequently dies. Is his widow a Masonic Widow, for the purposes of the Widows Program?
Ans. No. Suspensions NPD, without reinstatement unfortunately leave his wife ineligible.
- A Mason demits “in good standing” that is, he owes no dues. He does not affiliate with any other lodge. He subsequently dies. Is his widow a Masonic Widow, for the purposes of the Widows Program?
Ans. No. Demit means dismissal. He is a non-affiliate and as such is not entitled to any Masonic rights or privileges. Thus the widow is ineligible.
- A Masonic widow marries a non-Mason. Do we assume she loses her Masonic Widow’s status?
Ans. Yes: Widow loses her eligibility.
- If the answer to #3 above is “yes”, but her non-Mason husband also dies, would she then revert back to her former status as a widow of her first Masonic husband?
Ans. No. Widow of former husband is ineligible by reason of remarriage.
- A Mason and his wife are divorced. He subsequently dies. Do we assume she is not a Masonic widow?
Ans. Yes. Widow is ineligible by reason of divorce (a legal dissolution of a marriage contract).
- A Mason and his wife are divorced. He subsequently remarries another woman and later dies. Do we assume the first woman is not a widow, as in #5 above, but that the second woman is the widow, and therefore a Masonic widow for purposes of the Widows Program?
Ans. Yes. The second wife is the widow.
Symbolic Masonry and our appendant bodies here in Maine can be rightfully proud of our Masonic charities. Each group addresses specific and vital needs. The scope of concern for all groups should now encompass a situation developing so gradually that it is well-established before becoming apparent. The nemesis is loneliness and neglect. The Widows Program affords a viable means of alleviating, if not eliminating, this dreaded concern of our several thousand widows, hopefully in our lifetime.
Attachment No. 13a
THE COOPERATIVE EMISSARY A MASTER MASON’S FAMILY
The Fraternity of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons has an eminent place in the world’s community as an active and beneficial society, placing high among its purposes the well-being of its members.
Unfortunately there are some, having inadequate data, who are critical of this large and old Fraternity. And some of our critics appear to be justified …their censure stemming from an apparent lack of concern, by Masonic Lodges, of Masons in need of assistance.
Lest there be numbered among these some of our own families, this booklet is written for the express purpose of enlightening the Master Mason’s family and friends as to the part they can play in eliminating any basis for criticism of this Fraternity, so well loved by husbands, sons, brothers, relatives and friends.
Accordingly, this booklet will be given on the evening when the Master Mason degree is conferred. The new M.M. will be requested to have his family read it, thoroughly understand it, and keep it available for future reference.
We ask that the family act to provide a communication link with the Lodge so that it can fulfill its obligations to its members and their families.
ILLNESS INJURY NEGLECT
Specifically mentioned early in these pages is “a communication link” since Lodges find that the Master Mason is himself reluctant to report to his Lodge that he is ill, injured, in financial distress or in need of spiritual encouragement.
All too often does the Lodge hear of a member who has been confined or hospitalized ….but not until he has recovered …and is at home. “This situation is one in which the Lodge cannot render assistance when it is so essential to the member since it was unaware that the member was indisposed or in need.”
The Lodge wants to know of any confining illness (physical, mental or spiritual); or any serious injury; or any financial requirements for normal living …promptly. Help is provided in many ways.
The Lodge wants to hear …promptly…about and act upon any form of incapacitation or confinement of the M.M. at home, in a hospital or convalescent home, or elsewhere in any state or country. (A Lodge can be located nearby to act as our ambassador.)
Nor does the Masonic Fraternity’s assistance stop at the local level. Through affiliated bodies, access is obtainable for crippled children’s programs, eye therapy and surgery, scholarship funds, etc.
We are aware, of course, that all Masons are not outstanding husbands or fathers. In the occasional incidence of family neglect by a Mason, report it to his Lodge and assistance to the family will be taken under advisement …financially or through social service.
Attachment No. 13b
PERMANENT CONFINING ILLNESS
In some cases, an illness or injury may result in permanent confinement in the Mason’s home or in some nursing-type facility to obtain proper attention and care. Should this occur, the Lodge should be notified promptly.
While the Fraternity has emphatically impressed upon each petitioner for Masonry that he is not applying to an insurance or benefit society, it does nevertheless inform him of the probability of gratuitous benevolence from the Lodge and/or his Brothers if circumstances and finances permit. In this type of distress, many members are reluctant to make their needs known and, once again, it is urged that the Lodge be informed so that it can fulfill its obligations.
The most trying of family situations comes to all of us ….. death… and with it the need for many quick decisions. When death occurs, please notify the Lodge immediately. It will be its duty to assist in any way possible.
The Lodge will offer to conduct a dignified and consoling Memorial Service and will assist in any possible way with the interment.
It is customary for the deceased Mason to wear the apron which was presented to him by his Lodge; therefore it is advisable that the family know where the apron is stored and at the time of the Mason’s death be given to the funeral director for proper placing. This should be done whether a Masonic Memorial Service is conducted or not.
HOW TO CONTACT THE LODGE
The most direct line to the Lodge is through the Worshipful Master or the Secretary. Ask your Master Mason for the name, address and phone number of each and keep it handy…do it once a year in December as the incumbent in these offices may change.
Not knowing the Master’s or Secretary’s name (or any officer in the Lodge), turn to the Yellow Pages “Fraternal Organizations” listing where you will find listings of the specific Lodge name and/or “Masonic Lodge” and/or “Masonic Temple” with its street address. Call and give the necessary information. Also check the white pages for Lodges not listed in the Yellow Pages.
If there is no answer to your daytime call to the Lodge, call during the evening as most Lodges do not have personnel to man phones during the day.
If you are still unsuccessful in contacting his Lodge, call any Mason you know and ask him to relay your message …or ask him for the Secretary’s phone number.
In case of change of address, please notify the Lodge Secretary of the new address as soon as possible in order that the communication link from the Lodge to member be uninterrupted.
THE COOPERATIVE EMISSARY IN ACTION
Preceding paragraphs have noted several ways in which you, the Master Mason’s family, can share in shaping the Brotherhood side of Masonry: exposing the avenue by which the Lodge may promptly concern itself with a Mason or family in temporary need and opening the door for your greater appreciation of the Fraternity which wants to do more.
The fullness of the spirit of Masonry will depend somewhat on the communication link between you, the Emissary and the Lodge. You can be the Lodge’s partner in bringing assistance to our needy Brothers.
We have freely expressed our concern over the communication gap between a Mason and his Lodge. We have left undone many acts of Brotherly Love because we have not known soon enough of the need.
We ask the response of you, the family, to initiate this needed communication link as necessary to become our Lodge’s Cooperative Emissary.
SUMMARY FOR THE FAMILY
- In case of sickness or injury of the Master Mason: notify the Lodge giving nature of confinement, place of confinement, home or hospital, and special needs, blood, financial, etc.
- In case of death of the Master Mason: notify the Lodge, place of funeral, locate M.M.’s apron, request Memorial Service if desired, request bearers from Lodge if needed.
Courtesy, Grand Lodge of Connecticut
LETTER TO SOJOURNER’S LODGE
Dear Lodge Secretary:
Just a few words to say hello, wish you well, and forward this information. Mrs. Jane Doe, the widow of a member of your Lodge, now resides on Lane here in ,Maine.
We have included her in our (Lodge & No.) Widows’ Program that includes visits, birthday cards, Christmas gift, Special Ladies Night, etc. She is presently in good health.
We are keeping an eye on her for you and will keep you posted from time to time. She was pleased with our concern and her “Masonic Family” status.
FINANCING WIDOWS’ PINS
Some lodges may be financially able to purchase pins from Lodge funds.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT:
- Ask for volunteers to sponsor one or more widows’ pins. Some Brothers may favor a particular widow and wish to present her with a pin. Others may be able to afford contributions toward several pins.
- Another method may be to ask all Brothers who would like to have their wives included in the program, to purchase a pin and place it on deposit with the Lodge so that should he pass through the East Gate, a pin would be hers. Pins could be awarded from this pool.
- If the Lodge so desired, this could be voted on as a ‘once in a lifetime’ assessment to the members of the Lodge, including all future members, participation thereby creating a perpetual program.
PINS AND CERTIFICATES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE GRAND SECRETARY