Most Worshipful Grand Master, Right Worshipful and Worshipful Sirs and my Brethren all,
Tonight our Most Worshipful Grand Master, Tommy Frank Chapman, joins the ranks of a long standing tradition that on May 18th, 1838, just a few months shy of 180 years ago, Anson Jones, while serving as our first Grand Master, made his first official visit to Holland Lodge. In his own words, “In pursuance of the duty prescribed in the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas, the Grand Master and his officers have this evening the pleasure of making their first annual visitation to this worshipful and respectful Lodge.” He goes on to say, “…Go on as you have begun, and each succeeding year, when the Grand Master shall make his official visitation, may he find you happy, prosperous and useful, as now in your labors for your own welfare and that of the human family in general. And may Heaven, from its endless goodness, ever continue to prosper and to bless you, individually as Masons, and collectively as a Lodge. “
Most Worshipful Grand Master I hope you find this Lodge happy and prosperous and useful as we celebrate your visit tonight! Brethren – we are here tonight to celebrate a great man! All you needed to know about our Grand Master was summed up in his words directly after being voted into the Grand East, “Brethren thank you, today you have made an average man very happy.” Now, it is probably not wise to disagree with the Grand Master this earlier into his year but brethren I would argue that our Grand Master is far from average! If you’ve ever had the chance to meet him, you have to like him, and if you’ve had the opportunity to get to know him, you can’t help but love him! He is a man who lives Freemasonry as a way of life and so much of our great ritual reminds me of him. Sincerity and plain dealing distinguish him and he may be the brightest example within this Grand Jurisdiction of who can best work and best agree!
Tonight we honor you Grand Master!
We are here tonight to celebrate the glorious courts of Holland Lodge No.1 – “the only one established in Texas prior to the revolution which separated her from Mexico.” The only Lodge founded under the Lone Star of the Republic of Texas. Anson Jones described,
“Holland Lodge has arrived at its present step of prosperity and usefulness through many and various difficulties.- Originally established at Brazoria, it had begun to shed its benign influence over a small band of devoted Brethren when the revolution commenced. By this disastrous event its members were scattered and dispersed and for near two years this labor was interrupted. The unfortunate Fannin, one of these, was murdered on the plains of Goliad by the tyrant who opposed our country…” “The temple consecrated to your labors was ravaged by the enemy, and its records, jewels, and furniture destroyed. The Scattered fragments which desolation had spared, were gathered together in this City in October last: and, by the aid of a few brethren, a new Lodge has arisen like the fabled Phoenix from her ashes, and as if purified by the fire through which she has been doomed to pass, now shines with a brighter luster and promises long to continue a light and a beacon to the hearts of those who worship at the altars of Masonry in Texas.”
Brethren, whether you are a member of this Lodge of not, whether you are from the greater Houston area or not, this Lodge is the cornerstone of Freemasonry in Texas and as such was the first stone in the foundation upon which all future Lodges rose!
Tonight we honor Holland Lodge!
We are here tonight to celebrate the Brotherhood of Freemasonry which flourished even though PGM Jones informs us that “Every moment in Texas was watched at that time with jealousy and distrust by the Mexican Government, and already had its spies and emissaries denounced some of our best citizens as factionists and disaffected persons; already were the future intended victims of a despotic power being selected.” “The dangers therefore, attendant upon an organization of Masons, at this time which was ‘trying men’s souls,’ were neither few nor unimportant. But zeal for a beloved institution, a belief that it would be beneficial at a period when society seemed especially to need some fraternal bonds to unite them together, predominated and all fears of personal consequences were thrown aside…”
Brethren, while Masonry today may be better suited to shelter itself from the inclemency of the political weather, I urge you not to view our enemies as afar off.
Today our enemies, while not as obvious or immediate are just as perilous. Our current society fraught with endless notifications, unnecessary worries and more than a myriad of ways to waste one’s time, creates a powerful undercurrent that can steadily move a man away from his true purpose until, at the end of his life, he realized he lived for the wrong purposes. But we few, we who have been initiated, we Masons know that the most important thing is to fear God and keep his commandments and a daily recourse of our Masonic lessons and the Great Light we derive them from will lead us to the steps of happiness where we may hear our welcome plaudit!
Tonight we honor the Brotherhood!
But no matter how extraordinary the Grand Master, no matter how hallowed the ground, no matter how august the body, when viewed through the lens of time, mingled with the ebbs and flows of eternity, are but a drop in the vast body of water that is Freemasonry.
The scope of history reduces everything to simple truths, the Grand Master representing the Craft, this Lodge representing its foundation and those of us assembled here tonight represent the annual occourence – signifying the cyclical return of the craft to its beginnings; this solemnity becomes a rebirth, a renewal or rather a rededication of great men to our Sacred cause!
A drop started 180 years ago created a ripple that continues today and brethren I pray, sincerely pray, that it will continue far beyond this mortal putting on immortality and this dust retuning to the earth as it was. And in so doing, Masonry and her traditions shall stand, true as the tide, destined to deliver great men to those distant shores of eternal truth.
And, in the words of our first Grand Master shall “…continue as a beacon to guide and cheer worthy Masons on their journey of life and against which the wasting storms of time shall beat in vain, and the restless waves of persecution dash themselves to destruction in angry foam; while the presiding genius of the Institution, from its lofty walls, shall ever continue to exclaim in emphatic tones to be heard by all,- East, West, North and South-
“Procul! O Procul! Este profani’ ‘Tu que invade viam.’ ‘ Far hence, ye profane! Welcome, ye initiated, to these glorious courts! Tread ye them aright!”
And so mote it ever be!
***Quotes were taken from Anson Jones’ first official visit to Holland Lodge No. 1 and from an early recollection of the History of the Grand Lodge given by the same in said Lodge.***