Although Masonic ritual varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, a consistent message conveyed to every candidate is that charity is an essential part of Freemasonry. In some rituals, in fact, reference is made to the wide-breadth of the star-decked canopy of Heaven and that a Mason’s charity should be equally extensive. This concept has remained throughout the centuries of Freemasonry’s existence.
“To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent on all men, but particularly on Freemasons, who are linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection. To soothe the unhappy, to sympathize with their misfortunes, to compassionate their miseries, and to restore peace to their troubled minds, is the great aim we have in view. On this basis we form our friendships and establish our connections.
[ Illustrations of Masonry, p. 72 William Preston, Printed 1772 ]
From this philosophy comes much of a ‘”Mason’s work,” given freely and willingly. Charity comes in many forms, both large and small. Whether it’s something as simple as a holiday basket delivered to a shut-in by local lodge officers, something much larger such as a donation of funds to support a community project or an on-going program such as the Grand Lodge of Colorado Benevolent Scholarships, or something as enormous as a chain of 22 hospitals which provide totally free care to burned and crippled children, Masons regularly engage in charitable work as part of their Masonic membership. No web site could fully and completely list all of the charitable work done by Freemasons. There are many which are local and private. In fact, much Masonic charity occurs in this quiet way. Other activities, however, are so broad that they cannot be hidden and we’ll point you to some of them right here.
Masonic charity has often been ‘quiet’ as compared to civic charities whose presence is flouted in order to garner additional contributions. Thus a researcher can only capture the data from formally organized and public Masonic activities and even this doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, the Masonic Service Association quietly oversees a Hospital Visitation Program with a goal that every Veteran’s Administration Hospital in the United States have a Masonic volunteer working with patients. How can a value be placed on the more than 500,000 hours a year spent on this work?
In 2006 American Masonic Philanthropy was $525 million or $1.4 million per day.