The Common Gavel, as we all know, is an instrument made use of by operative Masons to break off the corners of rough stones the better to fit them for the builders use. We as Free and Accepted Masons are taught to make use of them for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting our minds and consciences of the vices and superfluities of life.......
How often has each of heard that familiar lecture? How many times have we really "heard" it and "listened" to it? I would guess the two numbers do not match. While we have often heard it, I would guess most of us don’t really "hear" it.
Our ritual is a beautiful work of art, we all know that. Our ritual has important lessons to impart to each and every one of us. Yet, as we hear the ritual over and over, I believe that we tend to forget to listen and not search for the meaning beyond the lines and words.
In this simple explanation we are told that we are to use this common gavel as an instrument to improve our lives. Improvement by divesting our minds of the vices and superfluities of life. While I am sure we all know what vices are, I am not so confident that collectively we know what superfluities are. Vices are moral lapses that we as humankind have. Some of us take them to the extreme of course. Our society today is filled with more vices than we can count. Just look in the daily paper and stories confront you with persons in society that have fallen victim to many vices. We are all guilty of having our vices!
Superfluities are merely flaws in our character and personalities. Again, we all have flaws. There was only one perfect person on earth and he was crucified on a cross. We are all human and all suffer from the superfluities of life. We will never be perfect, but we as a human being, and more specifically a Mason have an obligation to improve ourselves at every opportunity.
Our ritual, as I stated, is a beautiful piece of work. Let us all of take time to listen to what is being said and what it means! There is something to be gained from ritual, every time you hear it, afford yourself that opportunity.
The above was written by Most Excellent Companion Tom Dean, Past Grand High Priest (1992-93) of Iowa.