Acting As Chaplain
Originally Published in Carl H. Claudy's Old Tiler Talks - 1925
"I was embarrassed in lodge tonight!" announced the
New Brother to the Old Tiler. "I don't think the Master
ought to make me feel that way!"
"That's too bad," answered the Old Tiler, with ready
sympathy. "Did he call you down for something?"
"Oh, no. The Chaplain was absent, and the Master
asked me to act in his place."
"Why should that embarrass you?" asked the Old
Tiler, still sympathetic.
"It embarrassed me horribly to say I wouldn't."
"Oh, you refused?"
"Of course I refused! My embarrassment was bad
enough as it was, but to get up in front of the Altar
and offer a prayer! Man, I couldn't do that!"
"You surprise me!" answered the Old Tiler. "But let
that pass. Who did act as Chaplain?"
"The Master asked the speaker of the evening, some
brother I never saw before. He made a beautiful
prayer, too. I heard him tell the Master he didn't know
the prayer in the ritual, but the Master said that didn't
matter, which I thought rather odd."
"Can you remember what the stranger said?" asked
the Old Tiler.
"Pretty well, I think," answered the New Brother. "It
was not long. He went to the Altar and kneeled, and
then said 'Almighty Architect of the Universe, we, as
Master Masons, standing in a Masonic Lodge erected
to thy glory, humbly petition that Thou look with favor
upon this assembly of Thy children. Open our hearts
that the eternal Masonic truth may find ready entry
that we be enabled to make ourselves square stones,
fitting in Thy sight for the great Temple, eternal in Thy
heavens. We ask it in the name of the All-seeing Eye,
"That was a pretty prayer," responded the Old Tiler.
"But it wasn't the ritual prayer," objected the New
"No, nor it wasn't by the appointed Chaplain," retorted
the Old Tiler. "What difference does it make to God
whether we pray the same prayer at every lodge
opening? It must be the sincerity and the thought
behind the prayer which count in His sight, not the
words. But in your refusal to act as Chaplain, it seems
to me you put yourself in an unfortunate position. You
shave yourself, don't you?"
"Why, er, yes! What has that got to do with it?"
"Tomorrow morning, when you shave yourself, you'll
look in the mirror and you'll say 'Hello, coward!' and
that's not nice, is it?"
"Do you think I was a coward?" asked the New
"Scared stiff!" smiled the Old Tiler. "So conceited, so
filled with the idea of all your brethren admiring you,
you couldn't bear to forget yourself, lest they falter in
their admiration. Sure, that's cowardly. You ducked a
duty because of conceit!"
"Old tiler, you use strong words! It was not conceit. It
was modesty. I didn't think I was able."
"Don't fool yourself! You told me you were embarrassed.
Why is a man embarrassed in public?
Because he is afraid he won't do well, won't make a
good appearance, won't succeed, will be ridiculous.
So you refused the pretty compliment the Master paid
you, and refused your brethren the slight service of
being their mouthpiece."
"But I have never prayed in public!"
"Neither has any other man ever prayed in public prior
to his first public prayer!" grinned the Old Tiler. "But
please tell me why a man should be embarrassed
before God? We are taught that He knoweth all
things. If we can't conceal anything from Him, He
knows all about you! A man may be ashamed of
himself, sorry for what he is and has been, but
embarrassed, in prayer? As for being embarrassed
before you brethren, that's conceited. Almost any man
is a match for an army if he has God with him. The
man on his feet who talks aloud to God has no need
to consider men. If men laugh, shame to them. In all
my many years as a Mason, I never yet saw any man
smile or say a word of ridicule at any one's petition to
Deity out loud which touched the hearts of all present
who admired their fearlessness in facing the Great
Architect and saying what was in their hearts. I never
heard a man laugh when a Chaplain, ordained or
substitute, made a petition to Deity. Whether it was
the petition in the ritual, or one which came from the
heart, be sure the Great Architect understood it. As
for asking a blessing in the name of the All-Seeing
Eye, what difference does it make to God by what
name we call Him? That is a good Masonic name,
sanctified by the reverent hearts of generations of
men and Masons.
"For your own peace of mind, tell your Master you
made a mistake and that you are sorry, and that if he
will honor you by giving you an opportunity to pray for
yourself and your brethren, you will, in the absence of
the Chaplain, do your reverent best. And when you
kneel before that Altar you will forget, as all Chaplains
must who mean what they say, that any listen save
the One to whom the prayer is addressed!"
"Old Tiler, I'll try to do it!" cried the New Mason.
"Humph!" grunted the Old Tiler.