CONCLAVE OF REMEMBRANCE –
EXPLANATORY OUTLINE OF THE CEREMONY
Most Worthy Grand Supreme Ruler, Ladies, Gentlemen and Brethren,
Tonight we will all be part of a unique ceremony in freemasonry to celebrate the lives of our brethren who have passed to a higher life during the last two years. Besides the ceremonial and beautiful singing by the soloists and choir, all of us have the opportunity to sing the ‘odes’ appropriate to the occasion, having already sung “Praise my Soul the King of Heaven”.
Freemasonry is a FRATERNITY of MEN who BELIEVE in a DIVINE BEING. Freemasons are TOLERANT men, who accept as members men from every faith and religion. Freemasonry has NO DOGMA. It is not a religion, and is definitely not a substitute for religious activities.
We are in a Temple of the Order of the Secret Monitor or Brotherhood of David and Jonathan, where temple means a place of learning. The red central carpet represents Holy Ground. The central two interlaced, equilateral triangles symbolically represent characteristics of God. The coffin symbolises our mortality!
Four lights, emblematical of lighting the pathway to wisdom, stand at the four corners of the holy Ground. A Bible rests open on the pedestal in front of the Grand Supreme Ruler together with a principal symbol of Monitor Masonry, the bow and arrow.
The column, or altar, in the centre of the Holy Ground represents a natural stone, or pile of stones, somewhere in the desert south of Jerusalem. Monitor Masons consider the temple oriented with the four principal points of the compass.
Our leader, deputy leader and chaplain sit in the East and our good organist is in the West. Sitting in front in the West are six brethren, the two Directors of the Ceremony and four Emblem Guards. I am speaking to you from the North-east part of the temple.
The moral teaching of the Brotherhood of David and Jonathan is based on the Old Testament story of the outstanding friendship between Prince Jonathan, the son of King Saul, and David, who rose from shepherd boy to King of Israel. We place great emphasis on an active concern for all our brethren. The four men seated at the corners of the Holy Ground are called Visiting Deacons, and are responsible to search out and visit all brethren (in their conclave).
In a Conclave of Remembrance, our leader represents David, who is very concerned for the ailing health of his ‘brother’ Jonathan. Naturally, his questions are directed to the Visiting Deacons. The ceremonial in basically processional.
Jonathan’s position is in the South East., but his chair is vacant! You see a cushion on the chair supporting emblems of mortality- a sprig of Acacia, together with a mason’s apron and a Brotherhood of David and Jonathan jewel, both tied with red ribbon.
We Australians, with our mostly arid continent, can empathize with the ancient brethren from the Middle East who looked on the evergreen acacia, or wattle, plant as an emblem of immortality.
The first procession is by the Emblem Guards who will escort the Grand Chaplain to the column or altar in the centre of the Holy Ground, where he places the cushion bearing the three emblems.
After prayer, the three mourners are escorted to stand around the Holy Ground. They are then joined by the four Visiting Deacons. Finally, our leader stands in the East at the head of the coffin, and asks the whereabouts of Brother Jonathan.
Then the first of four perambulations occurs. During each circuit a Visiting Deacon, who carries the lighted censor, gives a quotation from the bible, after which the Grand Supreme Ruler summarises the worsening situation in verse, finally mourning the loss of Brother Jonathan.
The smoke of the incense rising from the Thurible represents our prayers rising to God. All then sit.
After prayer, the four Visiting Deacons in turn express the results of our belief in eternal life. The Grand Chaplain will then deliver an Oration, followed by the deputy leader addressing us on the mercy and care of God, looking to that life which is to come.
With the Grand Supreme Ruler leading our meditations from the head of the coffin, and the Guards and Visiting Deacons reversing swords and arrows, the solemn moment arrives when the Grand Guarder breaks an arrow to symbolize the end of life. He then covers the emblems on the altar.
The Last Post then sounds, followed by Reveille. This completes a sincere and impressive ceremony to mark the passing of our brethren.
Very Worthy Brother W. H. Whitford, G.Lectr.- Southern Australia