By J. E. C. Rafisura — Sr. Warden
Brethren, I am writing this article halfway around the globe in the Philippines. My lady and I had to scramble to book a flight due to the untimely passing of my father-in-law. In his heyday, he was a very active lawyer, a selfless statesman (Vice-Governor) a fierce advocate of justice (Judge) and a devout Catholic. He fought against the injustices of the Philippine Martial Law in the 70’s and championed the protection of human rights against the abuses of the cronies of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. My father-in-law had a colorful past, growing up as a boy during the Pacific World War II and eventually actively participated in the political and social activism of the Philippines as a Trial Lawyer, then a Judge. He has performed his civic and religious duties more than any other average Filipino. He was a successful man being able to provide for his family, relatives and friends, capitalizing on his good influence and honest sources of his decent fortune. He was 87 and is survived by my 89-year-old mother-in-law and his three children, including his only daughter, my wife. After all the accolades he has earned, his life was extinguished forever. We can only hope and pray that he is now in a better place.
Masonic teachings include the temporal nature of life – “From dust you came, to dust you shall return.” With the everyday grind and the noise of this world, most times we forget to think about our own mortality. Thinking about our eventual death has always been in the back burner of our daily reflections. We believe that we will all eventually pass from this world to the next. As I have mentioned in my previous article, “No one ever comes out of this world alive”. And yet, we are all laser-focused on living as if we will live forever. Such display of pride, arrogance, never-ending accumulation of wealth, insatiable material wants, hunger for power, prestige and vanity! Everyone wants to go heaven where, according to the Volume of the Sacred Laws, all things are pure and glorious. However, the thought of dying in this world is accompanied by fear and discomfort.
Masonic lessons teach us to live a full life, promote tolerance, humility, freedom of thought, and utter dependence and belief in God. We are encouraged to do good to others, spread the cement of love and affection and live a life of integrity, honesty, charity…truth! In so doing, we may be worthy to enter the Celestial Lodge above where the Great Architect of the Universe presides. The concept of death brings us to reflect upon the inevitable end. It allows us to strategize our decision-making process and make our priorities straight. In planning, Stephen R. Covey (7 habits of Highly Effective People) suggested that in every endeavor, we have to “begin with the end in mind”. Needless to say, the ultimate end is death. In living, we should always remember that all we have here in this world is temporary – relationships, possessions, financial status, physical attributes, beauty, success/failure, pride…our own mortal existence! Knowing our eventual demise, what would be the basis of our day-to-day decisions in life? If you have only one day, one week or one year to live, how would you spend your life? The sad truth is that we will not know when will death come for us. It comes like a thief in the night.
Having been reminded by all these, along with the rest of the masonic teachings, I am grateful that masonry has given us the opportunity to reflect more on the inevitable. Its symbolisms, allegories and the morals and dogmas, all point to the same end. I am honored that my journey in this mortal world is with my fraternal brothers who are tolerant, like-minded, ever-laboring in search for truth, justice and meaningful spirituality.
See you soon, my brothers!