(by Midnight Freemasons Founder Todd E. Creason, 33°)
Just like any muscle in the human body, character traits also grow stronger when they are exercised. Of these, I think most will agree that self-discipline is key to many of those most desirable traits. It’s also the most difficult to master—if we ever really do master it. If you look at just a few of the virtues a Mason strives towards, temperance, fortitude, and prudence, you’ll realize that without self-discipline there is little hope of making progress in any of those virtues.
Temperance is not about abstinence as many believe today, it’s about moderation. It’s about maintaining a balance, and applying due restraint to our passions so that we aren’t tempted by the allurements of excess. Masons are taught to avoid excess in all things, and temperance is that virtue that reminds us to practice all things in moderation. That requires a level of self-discipline.
Fortitude is that virtue that provides us with strength. As we’re taught, fortitude is that steady purpose of mind that enables us to withstand any pain, peril or danger. It allows us to stand strong in our words and deeds and not stray off the noble path. Again, this requires a mastery of self-discipline because standing strong in the face of danger or even criticism is a very difficult thing to do.
Prudence is a virtue closely related to both temperance and virtue. It is a virtue that helps us regulate our lives by applying reason and wisdom to any given situation to help to determine the proper path. It is the wisdom to know when to act, and when not to act. It is the wisdom to know when it is best to speak, and when it is best to remain silent. It is the wisdom to know when to fight, and when to flee. Prudence is the balance between temperance and fortitude. And without question, prudence requires a great deal of self-discipline.
I’m an impulsive person by nature—self-discipline is not something that has come easy to me. It’s something I’ve worked very hard on since I’ve become a Mason, and I’ve made tremendous progress over the last thirteen years. Much of the progress I’ve made is because…