News From The Ninth Arch

The Chain of Friendship

The Chain of Friendship
By Most Illustrious Companion John D. Barnes
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master and Grand Treasurer, Grand Council of New Jersey

MIC John D. Barnes
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master of New Jersey


My Companion:

In the opening of your Council, the Deputy Illustrious Master talks about polishing the chain of friendship. When most people think about chains, they have very negative connotations. There are chain gangs to punish prisoners; chain link fences to keep people out; chains are stretched across driveways to stop vehicles, or used to lock a gate.. If you visit West Point, you can see a portion of the chain that was stretched across the Hudson River to keep British vessels for getting past the forts Washington placed there. Movie villians are often shown wearing chain mail, as if that marked them as bad guys. Chains are dirty and rusty, hanging loosely in the way of progress. Chains of gold or silver can bind you as firmly as the basest iron ones.

But the chain of friendship is different. This chain is first explained to you in the Entered Apprentice lecture, as the chain of sincere affection that links all Masons together. Polishing that chain removes the rust and dirt, the contentions and personal foibles that get in the way of working together for the promotion of Masonry as a way of life and code of conduct. A well polished, well maintained chain will continue to link things together for many years.

We are each a link in the chain. We have added many new links to the Cryptic chain this year, both at the Festival and in the individual Councils that have conferred the Degrees. We have lost links to death. In between being added and being lost, you must be strong in your Cryptic Masonry. The old proverb about the weakest link is as true for us as for a physical chain.

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