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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

Brother, wistfully.

"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.

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