In the Footsteps of Freemasonry Tour – 2010

Joe Haffner PresentationIn the Footsteps of Freemasonry Tour – 2010

by

Joe Haffner

Our Craft is above all else an educational institution.

And this aspect, I found most appealing when I became a Mason.

Later, I tried to get involved as much as I could in the educational process of young masons, published Masonic Newsletters and served as a Grand Librarian of this Grand Lodge for almost 6 years.

During my service, I encountered many, too many Masons who did not had the opportunity to study and discover the beautiful teachings Freemasonry offers.

In publishing later my newsletter, the “PILLARS of LIGHT” I entered correspondence with our readers and discovered how difficult it was for them to put in context, our teachings with the breathtaking legends that were the source of inspiration for our Rituals.

Listening to preaching in Church, on Sundays or at Sundays Schools, everyone of us has learned the happenings depicted in both the Old and the New Testaments. We all heard about the Temple of Solomon, King of Israel, whom his father, King David has instructed to build a Temple to the Almighty at Jerusalem, to be the House of God. We all have learned about the ancient people of Israel of which a son, Jesus of Nazareth had to endure the Calvary, carrying on his shoulder the heavy Cross that would become the Symbol of Christianity, along the sinuous Via Dolorosa to his place of execution.

We have all heard about the destruction of the first Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, the exile of the Jews to Babylon, their return to Jerusalem to reconstruct the Temple only to be burned to the Ground   by Titus in the year 70 and to remain a desolated ground until the building of the Dome of the Rock and El Aksa Mosques in the 7th and 8th centuries. –that is 1700 years after the construction of the Original Solomonic Temple on the top of Mount Moriah,  the place were Abraham took his son Isaac to sacrifice him to God, but was stopped in time.

That is only a small part of the History of the Promised Land who became in the eyes of Humanity the Holyland as the United Kingdoms of Judah and Israel under King Solomon, became Judea Capta (Captive Judea) under the Romans who gave it finally the name Palestine.

All the ancient history of this part of the world, the homeland of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Kings David and Solomon and later the spiritual principal figure of Christianity – Jesus of Nazareth, is known to all, but the chronological history, the profound teachings and their natural implementation in the minds of all the followers of the 3 Great Monotheistic Religions, remained always blurred and for many – somehow vague. This is the main problem encountered by many of us…. The difficulty of putting in context our teachings and their source of inspiration.

Some 22 years ago, when realising the facts, I decided to create a clearer coherence between our Rituals and the Teachings presented to us under the  form of Ritual, Charges and Symbolism.

I decided that a visit to the Cradle of our Symbolic Traditions would better uncover the Legends used by the creators of our Masonic Rituals, to convey to us the practical sense of trying to improve ourselves and thus improve the moral qualities in the generations of Masons to come.

I had to wait over two decades, to reach the point where convincing my Brethren to join me in “the Footsteps of Freemasonry “became a feasible proposition.

During the last 18 months, I planed and created Itinerary after Itinerary, only to change and complete again.

The result, I reached, was far from being perfect but when I became convinced that it is the best I can produce and offer, I started to contact Brethren and asked them to express their interest in participating to such a tour.

To my astonishment the response was overwhelming. A first Bus of over forty participants, was completed in the first days, and I was ready to go,.

But before I realized the situation, 15 other participants were ready to join without delay. I couldn’t refuse the flux and soon a second bus was full.

We started the Tour as a Group of  83 participants, amongst them the GM and Judith and 20 Grand Lodge Officers and their Ladies and I had to close registration 2 months before the departure of the group. An optional Module of 5 days in Egypt was adopted by 50 participants.

A comprehensive correspondence started between the Participants and me and a meeting, to better know each other was organised at the SMC.

It was an instant success and I was overwhelmed to see the members of our group binding friendship – so important for the success of our Voyage of Discovery.

I obtained the best of practical Help from good friends at my Mother Grand Lodge of Israel and they confirmed to me the details of their involvement and practical commitment to the success of our group.

A Twinning ceremony was planned between Lodge Harold Herman Unity and Lodge Holy City N0. 4 in Jerusalem, an  especially great event, only the second such occurrence in Australia.

Several Masonic meetings and Banquets were organised with the active participation of Israeli Masons and the Israeli GM himself warmly insisted to host some of our meetings.

We had a very peculiar event, during this Tour. A couple who previously married some 7 years ago in a civil Marriage Ceremony in Sydney, decided to wed in a religious ceremony in Jerusalem. This had a great significance for the young or not so young couple and I obtained at 7.30 in the morning, before the Buses departed, the blessings of our Past Grand Chaplain, Rabbi Raymond Apple who is now living in Jerusalem. He celebrated a most impressive and moving Ceremony

There is no better report than pictures and due to severe limitation in space, I chose only a tiny number out of the thousands taken, to present to you here as a memento of the great time we all shared, the itinerary having been already widely published , I believe there is no need to repeat the details.

In conclusion, I will mention that since my return, I have received tens of expressions of Interest for a next Tour including a request to organise a Bus with French Guiding for our Brethren of Tahiti and New Caledonia.

That only proves that our craft’s education stood as a beacon on the shores of ignorance and that Instruction about the great ideals of morality and philosophy permeates our Rituals, our writing, unencumbered by sectarian doctrine differences in language and in education.

It also proves that the practical taking of contact with the inspiring traces of our past can only enforce our sense of belonging and of participating to a common effort of enlightenment.

The Tour offered the contemplation of proofs that events of the Testaments were real and that on them can be built a common ground of various philosophical approaches to belief, in order that men might be more tolerant and united in the standards of right and wrong and their understanding of the reality of God.

And if we, as a group, have succeeded even if only partially in creating this common spirit, my Masonic wages were amply paid and my reward was fully received.

Joseph V. Haffner PAGM

Past Grand Librarian

Our thanks to Angela Arduca for the beautiful rendition of “Time to Say Goodbye” and to RW Bro Jack Garside and VW Bro Michael Pajor for the photos.

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