The Fit Foil Foul Fits Fitly.
The seepage of one’s assumptions permeates thoroughly all that one views. How one views "Perfection" is included in this thought’s basin. Freemason’s Rituals are activities intended to reveal paths that show how to Perfect men. How men see this "Perfection" affects all that they shall do. More importantly, it affects all that they shall be.
š ¾ ¾ œ ™ ˜ ¾ ¾ ›
If it hasn’t happen to you already, it’ll happen to you soon enough. At one point in your Fraternal experience, at least one of your Brothers will proclaim, "no one is perfect" while alluding to a very strong belief that "no one will ever be perfect until they have passed beyond this physical realm". Immediately following this proclamation, a physical and verbal showing of support will usually radiate from all who are present.
It’s interesting to view these exchanges. Often times the individuals most animate to affirm this adage are least likely to show any significant signs that they have Worked toward improving themselves. It’s almost as if adages like this one support an unworldly stasis intended to preserve their status quo.
Unfortunately, this status quo is antagonistic to Freemasonry’s ends. Freemasonry opens up men to improvement possibilities often never imagined before they Entered into the Craft. Its Ritual is intended to show men what is entirely possible for them, should they invest themselves toward Betterment. Craft activities, those pointed toward by Freemasonic Rituals but not the activities of Rituals themselves, are transformative in nature, when applied. Status Quo is the very antithesis of this. Improvements to men require corruption of their Status Quo, in value-adding ways.
There’s a perceptual ironic twist in this. Craft activities, designed to bring about Order, inundate every Candidate’s current Order with seemingly overwhelming Chaos – at least, to the uninformed mind. "The Storm before the Calm" is an experience that every Candidate goes through. No exacting Preparation shall ever prevent this internal whirlwind. It’s the natural effect of awakening to the world without and within each of us.
Not understanding fully all that is offered in Rituals causes these storms of confusion, especially when the pace of Ritual information delivery is far faster than what information is normally offered in life. Absorption only occurs at the rate governed by each Candidate’s ability to comprehend. Far too many Candidates, whelmed by these experiential floods, ride them out supported only by encouragement to sort them out when these floods recede. That sorting out shall never occur without further support from within or without.
The activities that follow each Degree continually separate the Fraternal Wheat from its Chaff. Brothers Properly focused take hold of their Working Tool and busy themselves in the Business of Working their Ashlar. Those remaining whelmed by each of their Degree experiences, may flounder in an unfocused stupor, engaging in rote engagements without ever lifting any Tool whatsoever, much less applying them. It would do all Candidates well to have Coaches and Mentors consciously aware that Candidates depend upon sound guidance wrought by Working Experience at every Step of their Journey.
One piece of sound guidance involves that word mentioned earlier – Perfect. Experienced Coaches and Mentors know that misunderstanding this word’s application to the Speculative activities of Masons can maneuver them towards hopelessness. The typical Candidate who depends upon others for support in this area might be directed down a path of darkness rather than Light due to its meaning being "high jacked" by many well-intentioned Brothers that truly don’t know better. It’s important for Coaches and Mentors to convey meaning that provides a viable target. Anything that suggests or conveys an improbability of success is hostile toward motivating Brothers seeking to improve themselves.
There are things that you can do to improve the odds that your support efforts are successful.
Cunningly crafted clues to Craft Perfection are alluded to within the Apprentice’s Working Tool Presentation and the description of the Rough and Perfect Ashlars within the Apprentice’s Movable Jewels Lecture. In the Working Tools Presentation, the Apprentice is told that Operative Masons used the Common Gavel to break off the corners of Rough Stones, the better to Fit them for the Builder’s Use. In the Movable Jewels description, Apprentices are told that the Perfect Ashlar is a stone made ready by the hands of the workman, to be adjusted by the working tools of the Fellow Craft. Each provides Perpending Brothers opportunities to see through Veils antagonistic to the Light Masonry offers to those who do its Work.
From the moment they Obligate themselves, Apprentices are involved in a Fitness program, or at least they should be if they are to remain true to their Intent. Their task is to bring themselves to a Suitable state for the Builder’s Use. The word used to convey this Suitability is "Fit" and its roots reflect exactly that: a meaning of "being suitable", "being the Right shape" and "being Suited to the circumstance; proper". All Apprentices who make effort to do the Work should understand this fully.
It is known by many Freemasons and any Perpending Mason that the Apprentice level of the Craft represents its Youth. This is an appropriate classification in that, in the Eyes of the Craft, Apprentices have yet to Mature. The activities they each engage in, should they actually do the Work that Ritual directs them toward, are intended to bring them to Maturity at an accelerated rate. The time required by each individual varies but should each endeavor to engage in these activities fully and completely, Fruition is likely to come sooner rather than later. Coaches and Mentors should be careful to avoid assigning completion times to such activities since it is "Character" that indicates completion and not "time served".
Maturity is an ideal word to Characterize the Fitting process offered to Apprentices. Scripture backs this up. Research shows that the multitude of words most commonly and generically translated to the word "perfect" reflect more accurately a general meaning of Complete, Mature, Healthy, Sound, and Sane rather than the very often specific and misguided claim of Flawless. This is an important distinction and insight toward which Coaches and Mentors should draw all Apprentice’s Work attention and intention.
It should also be pointed out to Apprentices that Maturity doesn’t require flawlessness. Equally flawlessness doesn’t require any Maturity whatsoever. Perpending whether Maturity or flawlessness has more value to a Builder would be a good exercise for all those involved in Apprentice activities.
Apprentices are asked to Use their Working Tools in a Directed Fashion to break off or divest themselves of what is metaphorically termed "Rough Corners". These features of their Stone are unnecessary and excessive to what any Builder needs. It is a Maturing process that Speculatively "shapes" men toward uses more Suited to civil societies.
The Symbol of the Mature man and Mason that is commonly used within Freemasonry is the Perfect Ashlar. It is most unfortunate that a select swath of Brothers insist that such a man and Mason could only exist in death. You’ll hear them claim that they shall forever be a Rough Ashlar, never understanding that the Stone to which they refer would never be called, "a Rough Ashlar", once any Work has been done upon it whatsoever. The transition from Rough to Perfect is Commonly known to Masons who do the Work. Those who don’t know, realize not that they proclaim arrogantly their ignorance and earnestly believe that they have properly Characterized themselves; they have not.
The Work that Apprentices do is to Perfect their Ashlars. It is only after this Work is completed that the Fellow Craft adjust this Perfect Ashlar. That adjustment is movement only. It involves Raising and Positioning the Perfected Ashlar only and in accordance to the Builder’s Use. This occurs in both in an Operative and a Speculative sense. Specific Steps direct that movement and each requires staged Masonic movement. However, this is only after achieving Maturity.
Points to Perpend
- What are synonyms for the word "Perfect"?
- What is your understanding of the word "Perfect"?
- What have you and haven’t you done to "Perfect" your Ashlar?
- What must you continue to do to "Perfect" it?
- How differently would this article sound to you if you replaced the word "Perfect" with the word "Mature"?
- How would this change affect your view of the Work that you think you should be doing?
-- Brother John S. Nagy
 Short Talk Bulletin - Vol. IX July, 1931 No.7
 Short Talk Bulletin - April 1979
 fit (v.) "be suitable," probably from early 15c.; "to be the right shape," 1580s, from fit (adj.). Related: Fitted; fitting. Fitted sheets is attested from 1963.
fit (adj.) "suited to the circumstances, proper," mid-15c., of unknown origin, perhaps from M.E. noun fit "an adversary of equal power" (mid-13c.), which is perhaps connected to fit (n.1). Survival of the fittest (1867) coined by H. Spencer.
 (Hebrew) םימת tamiym taw-meem’, םת tam tawm, םמת tamam taw-mam’, םלשׁ shalem shaw-lame’, םולשׁ shalowm shaw-lome’ or םלשׁ shalom shaw-lome’, הלכמ miklah mik-law’, רמג gamar gaw-mar’, תילכת takliyth tak-leeth’, לילכ kaliyl kaw-leel’, ללכ kalal kaw-lal’, רמג g@mar (Aramaic) ghem-ar’, (Greek) τελειος teleios tel’-i-os, τελειοω teleioo tel-i-o’-o, ακριβεια akribeia ak-ree’-bi-ah, ακριβηστερον akribesteron ak-ree-bes’-ter-on, ακριβως akribos ak-ree-boce’, καταρτιζω katartizo kat-ar-tid’-zo, ολοκληρια holokleria hol-ok-lay-ree’-ah, τελειοω teleioo tel-i-o’-o, επιτελεω epiteleo ep-ee-tel-eh’-o