About a week ago, Brother Dogood over at The Middle Chamber, posted about the atrocity that has befallen his jurisdiction regarding those sacred Modes of Recognition. As I read through his thoughts I began to think about the purpose of the Modes of Recognition in Freemasonry.
How many times do we hear in lodge, "Step off, give the due guard and sign!" Or hear those words that accompany our other modes of recognition. Perhaps we don't hear the words enough, but we should be seeing those due guards and signs quite regularly in lodge. Don't forget, those are modes of recognition as well as the grips. I will ask again though, what is their purpose?
Anciently, when illiteracy was the norm, there was no such things as a Dues Card. Theories abound that one way our ancient, operative brethren could tell a mason from a cowan was through the modes of recognition. Hopefully, the uninitiated would not know the modes of recognition and therefore not be admitted into the lodge. If there was an operative purpose to the Modes of Recognition, that is it!
Today, though, the Modes of Recognition tie us with the traditions of the past. One of the glowing aspects of Speculative Masonry is that it is something ancient. We mainatin the wording of the rituals, lectures, even the Landmarks are preserved because Masonry is Preserving. Many say we should let go of Washington, Franklin, and Roosevelt, that Today is Today. But, they forget that many are drawn to Masonry because it can historically be traced for centuries. And the Modes of Recognition help tie us through those centuries.
But, is there an actual pupose for Modes of Recognition today? We have Dues Cards, and if it's lost, a quick phone call, which could be made anywhere in the world would confirm our membership. So the ancient use of the Modes is outdated and serve no purpose. But we as Speculative Masons use them for a more noble and glorious purpose.
We are taught that the Modes of Recognition, specifically the grips, are used so a mason can tell one in the dark as well as the light. This makes me think immediately about the old quote, "What you are doing is screaming so loudly that I can't hear what you are saying." I personally believe that the Modes of Recognition help us remember to be men of integrity in the dark as well as the light. I was always taught that the type of man that I was, was who I was when I was by myself, or when I am in the dark! All of our symbols are well calculated to increase knowlegde and promote Virtue, our symbols are used to teach us how to be masons. Shouldn't we be masons in the Dark as well as the Light. Shouldn't we use the Modes of Recogntion as Speculative Masons.
Sincerely and Fraternally,