At its second Regular Communication of February, the Roswell Masonic Lodge 165 conducted a moving and meaningful Public Closing of its Lodge of Sorrow [LoS]. It was attended by the families of several Brothers who were being Honored and Remembered. Grand Line Officers were in attendance as well.
We were grateful in receiving the Grand Master’s Dispensation #28, which permitted an early Lodge Opening. The declared uniform of the day for Lodge Officers was black suits and white gloves. There was a somber and reflective mood for this ceremony.
A short Welcome and orientation for the Guests was given by new Roswell WM Scott Childress. Thereafter, the Chaplain, standing west of the Holy Altar, raised one unblemished lambskin apron to the Altar as the Secretary read the name of each deceased Brother in chronological order.
The apron was displayed first to the East, then the South (where most of the visitors were seated) and then to the West, before being literally ‘marched’ by Chaplin Pro-Tem, Matthew Mazzella (USN), to the North. There, the apron was again presented and displayed under the portrait of WB George Washington. The Master and Wardens then simultaneously struck their gavels once. Thereafter, the Chaplin neatly laid the apron out flat upon a raised, arched table, facing South and the Holy Altar.
This process was followed and completed for each Brother being Remembered through the Ceremony. If the Brother had been a Master, a Past Master’s apron was presented and displayed at the calling of his name.
When the last apron was laid and smoothed, an almost mourning, haunting version of Echoing Taps was played through the lodge’s PA system. The assemblage quietly rose to its feet as all the Brothers placed their right hands over their hearts. The Chaplin then gave a short public Devotion before kneeling at the Altar, there bringing a Prayer of healing and assurance. Several tears were shed.
Then, the WM directed the Sec’y to remove the Veil of Sorrow from the Lodge Charter located on the east wall near his station and bring it to the podium in the North, where he stood at attention near the
stack of aprons, facing the Altar, while holding and displaying the Lodge of Sorrow Veil across his white gloves, his arms bent at 90 degrees.
At that point, the Stewards and Deacons were directed to attend their symbolic staffs. At the order of the WM, the floor Officers undid /released the tied, black ribbons adorning each staff and performed
an about-face when directed. Each Officer was also carefully holding the ribbons on top of the palms of their gloves. At that point, all the floor Officers and the Secretary were there at attention, facing the
Holy Altar. It was a beautiful, respect-FILLED sight to watch and experience.
Upon the Order of the WM, the Secretary then turned and placed the Veil on top of the stack of aprons. Each Steward and Deacon followed in succession, solemnly, carefully placing their ribbons upon the top apron to form a version of the Square and Compasses.
The Ceremony ended with a prayer and few words of appreciation from the WM. Visitors were encouraged to move to the North to have a time of reflection. Quiet, familiar church hymns were played from the PA in the background until Lodge was called back to order.
Slowly the families left with an assigned escort to guide them downstairs and eventually – only when THEY were ready – out of Lodge facility.
Thereupon, the WM called the Lodge on again and formally Closed the Lodge of Sorrow with a version of Orders that Georgia WMs are known to give in lodge.
The grateful Officers who conducted this Ceremony remembering their Brothers were:
Fred Swain, Tyler;
Matthew Mazzella, JS (dbl. duty);
WB Michael Roman, SS;
Mark Post, JD;
Sean Murray, SD;
Matthew Mazzella, Chaplin;
Tanner Wilson, Secretary;
Jesse Allen, JW;
Mark Iannacone, SW; and
**PM Scott Childress, WM [Team Leader]. [see ** at end]
The Lodge was blessed to have two Grand line Officers attend. First, our well appreciated and steadfast DDGM for the 5th Dist., WB Jack Bell. And, our own WB Gary Monk, a very dedicated Brother with roles as Past Grand Chaplain, the Leader of the District Deputies for
the 5th District, and the Masonic Charities Foundation’s President and Chairman. Thank you, Brothers, for sharing your time for the families of our Brothers.
Note: WM Childress reports that the ceremony was created locally from the most memorable practices of, and information on how, other local and not so local Lodges conduct their own Lodge of Sorrow Closings. Bro. Childress’ entire nuclear family has a military background and is proud of how the ceremony shows the “correct amount of Courtesy, Manners and Respect to the Fraternity, its Brothers and their families.” He has agreed to share the detailed ‘script’ in written form to be amended, adjusted, etc. to meet other Lodges’ needs and personalities.
Please contact the lodge for more information.