Nearly 2000 years ago, the pagan Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote: “Excluding then the delusions of fame, what is there left to be prized? In my judgment, this: to work out, in action and inaction alike, the purpose of our natural constitutions. That, after all, is the object of all training and all craftsmanship; for every craft aims at adapting a product to the purpose for which it was produced.”
This, in my view, is the great objective of our Craft at the individual level – to teach, lead, encourage and help each Mason to adapt himself to the purpose for which he was “produced.” Of this, we are reminded by the second working tool, which teaches us, symbolically, to divest our hearts and consciences of all the vices and superfluities of life; thereby fitting our minds, as living stones, for that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
To this end, our Craft leads us down the path of the social and moral virtues, promising us that Freemasonry tends to make honorable – as Masons, Citizens and Individuals – those who are strictly obedient to the Craft’s precepts, mindful of the important duties which we owe to God, our neighbors and ourselves. Masonry reminds us, symbolically through four physical points, to practice those four great virtues, first identified as such by Plato in ancient Greece – Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice – and gently teaches each of us to maintain, in their fullest splendor, those truly Masonic ornaments, the three principal tenets of Masonry: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
By this means, we best adapt ourselves to the purpose for which we were created by one almighty parent.
Marcus Aurelius concluded: “This then is the prize for which we are looking…. Once make this truly your own, and no other objective will tempt you.”