The Three Great Pillars
WISDOM, STRENGTH AND BEAUTY Three, a number that has, from time immemorial, represented divinity and creation. One father and one mother joined to create a third, creation at its most fundamental form. It also represents Body, Soul, and Spirit, which closely relates to the three essential emanations of creation; the thought, the word, and the act. Even before the Christian trinity, the early mono-theists like the Zoroastrians and Mithras's as well as the pantheons of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and even the Hindus had their essential three. So, it's not surprising that our craft, though not a religion but a faith based fraternity, would find the number three in much of its work. Three is also the first number that stands on its own. It has a beginning, and middle and an end. A stool will not stand without at least three legs; it also represents the superfice of geometry with dimensions of length, breadth and thickness. Tonight, I'm going to speak for a few moments about one of the threes in our work. When a candidate is first initiated he is released from the cable tow and then he is brought from Darkness to see the light by which Masons work. The first objects presented to his view are the three Great Lights of Masonry visible by aid of three lessor lights representing the Sun, Moon, and Master of the lodge. He will also likely notice that all of the brethren of the lodge are standing in two columns on either side of the altar. The initiate is told that there are Three Great Pillars that support every lodge, denominated Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty because we are taught that there should be Wisdom to Contrive, Strength to Support, and Beauty to Adorn every great and important undertaking and from the perspective of Freemasonry there is no greater or more important undertaking than that of making a new mason.
We also learn that these three pillars are represented by the three principle officers of the lodge the Worshipful Master, Senior and Junior Wardens. What he may not notice is that surrounding him at the altar is a physical representation of those columns. The row of men to his right representing the Pilar of Beauty, those to his left representing the Pillar of Strength, but also the Master of the Lodge, the Senior Warden and himself representing the Pillar of Wisdom, as he kneels at the alter receiving his first taste of Masonic wisdom from the Worshipful Master. In the opening of every lodge we hear that our three principle officers of the lodge, as with any great and important undertaking, represent these pillars. The Junior Warden being the Beauty and Glory of the Day; the Senior Warden bringing harmony which is the Strength and Support of all societies, especially of ours, and the Master of the lodge who gives the craft the necessary instructions whereby they may pursue their labors. Not all beauty in creation is pleasing to the senses. Take the dragon tongue plant with its blood red and black bloom that smells of a rotting corpse. Isn't it non-the-less beautiful in its stark otherworldly differences to what we might call beautiful? Creation, like the creator himself, is in many cases ineffable to us. Yet, as the Junior Warden calls the craft from labor to refreshment, we are afforded many opportunities to admire the beauty of creation in all of its stark contrasts. Strength is more easily understood by the human condition. It comes in many forms, such as courage, for what is courage but the strength of character to overcome ones fears in order to act. Strength is essential for us to serve mankind and our creator. We do not become wise upon ascending to the Oriental Chair. In fact, there has been a few times, since my installation, I have cursed myself a fool for not seeing that which was right before my eyes. To be honest, the wisest thing any man can learn in the east is that he can't do it all himself. In other words, it takes real strength to ask for help and be willing to accept it when its offered. Given the best intentions, any man can err yet with the strength of his brothers and the beauty of brotherly love we can, each of us, overcome our personal flaws and serve our brothers with the dignity that is afforded us through wisdom, strength and beauty. Wisdom, Strength and beauty also do not stand alone. There is wisdom in beauty as there is strength in wisdom. Take that dragon tongue plant. There is wisdom in the awful smell as it attracts flies that serve to carry its pollen to others of its kind, thus resulting in the continuation of its species. There is wisdom in harmony, which is the strength and support of all societies. Just as there is strength in the wisdom of knowing one's self. Thank you for this opportunity, my brothers. May you all discover the wisdom, strength and beauty within your own lives.
Thomas L. Pryor, 32º
Commander of the Council of Kadosh