Operative Masons received their Master’s wages in coin. Speculative Masons content themselves with intangible wages and occasionally have a hard time explaining to new initiates what those wages are. There can be two types of wages paid in Masonry. First are the rights a Mason receives as a result of his initiation and the payment of dues.
The first right an initiate is conscious of is passing the Tyler and entering his Lodge as opposed to being conducted into his Lodge through the West gate. He also has the right, albeit with restrictions, to visit other Lodges. Many think of the opportunity to be welcomed and find friends whereas they otherwise would be alone, are wages of substantial character. The opportunities to see and hear beautiful Masonic ceremonies, to take from them again and again are wages not to be lightly received. For him with open ears and an inquiring mind, the degrees lead to a new world as familiarity with the ritual evolves into reading an endless stream of literature about Masonry.
Second are those wages which are his if he will just stretch out his hand and take. There are Brethren to be taught. Learning all of the work should not be done in a hurry, but is indeed worth doing. Many instructing officers and learning candidates have found a quiet joy which Master’s wages are pressed down and running over. Service leads to the appointment or election to the line offices. There is little to say about the Master’s wages this opportunity pays because only those who have sat in the East know what they are. The outer experience may be told, but the inner spiritual experience cannot be told because the words are yet to be invented. But Past Masters know. To them is issued a special coinage of Master’s wages which only a Worshipful Master may earn.
There is always something to do in a Lodge. There are always committees to be served, events to be planned, and programs to be put on. He who cannot find his payment in his satisfaction of a job well done will receive no Master’s wages for his labors.
No Mason worries about getting aid. In all large areas there’s a Board of Masonic Relief to hear his story, investigate his credentials, and start the machinery by which his Lodge may help him. The ability to prove himself a Mason is wages indeed. All Brethren hope to support their own and provide for their loved ones, but misfortune comes at any time to anyone. Masonry is strong in the defense of the helpless. The widow and orphan need only ask once for aid. To be one of a worldwide brotherhood in which a widow and a child may call is one of untold comfort.
Master’s wages are more precious than gold. Master’s wages are paid in acquaintances. A Mason will become acquainted with many men of many minds which is always a welcome addition to the joy of life. They are far greater than the effort put forth to earn them. Far greater than any amount of coin.