Very Illustrious Brother ARTHUR J. SMITH 33º
Sovereign Grand Inspector General
District of Western Australia, South West


In a previous paper entitled ‘The hour ofa Perfect Mason’I spent some time reflecting on the meaning of the ceremonial of Rose Croix Masonry and particularly the opening and closing ceremonies. Attention was drawn to the facts that:

  1. The opening ceremony with its emphasis on the ninth hour of the Day can be likened to the day of crucifixion of our Lord
  2. The search for the lost Word is a quest for the Saviour Himself who as St John reminds us is the Word
  3. The closing ceremony is a time of rejoicing for the name of Him who is the Word, the living Saviour, has been found.

Tonight I want to reflect with you about another aspect of our ceremonial which is what is known as the Third Point or as I prefer to refer to it as The Feast of  Fraternal Affection.
At the outset let me say that what is to follow must not be seen as the only interpretation of the symbolism of the Third Point in Rose Croix Masonry but simply as one man's reflection born out of thirty five wonderful years as a member of this Order. If it stimulates you to think about the meaning of the Third Point then it will have served its purpose.
Let me begin by emphasising that it is not a religious ceremony.  Though it has some similarity to the Eucharist or Sacrament of Holy Communion in that it uses elements or symbols to form the feast, it is not a religious ceremony.   It does not refer to the body and blood of our Lord, as does the Eucharist. This is the reason why it is laid down that the wine to be used in the Third Point shall be white wine and not red wine as is used in the Eucharist.
The Third Point is a time of rejoicing.   A symbolic feast whose prime objective is to point to that brotherly love and affection, which is the bond that unites Freemasons and particularly Rose Croix Masons.


Why then do we have such a feast?
Well mainly because we are human and feasting is part of human nature. When we have something to celebrate we have a feast.   Be it a wedding, a baptism, someone retiring from work, someone celebrating a birthday, a wedding anniversary, someone going or returning from overseas, someone graduating from University or a myriad of other reasons to celebrate we have a feast.    It’s our way of celebrating something important.

Of course the feast may vary in its nature. It may be a formal black tie affair with cordon bleu menu and si1ver service.    It may take the form of one of Mrs Bucket's candlelight suppers or it may be simply a backyard barbecue with the invitation to throw another shrimp on the Barby. It matters not the form that it takes its purpose is the same and that is to celebrate.    The early Christians had their feasts to celebrate the several anniversaries of those whom they regarded as being saints .It was a time to celebrate and give thanks.

As Freemasons too we hold our feasts. Many of the early meetings of Freemasons in England were held in taverns and often around a table where refreshments were served.   The business of the Lodge was interspersed with the taking of refreshments.   Today in all Orders of Masonry we conclude our meetings with what we call a Festive Board.   The word festive of course comes from the word feast .

The Festive Board is designed to promote fellowship and Indeed in many lodges when the candidate comes to his first festive board he receives a charge in which he is told inter alia that friendships that have their genesis in the lodge room are enhanced at the Festive Board.    It is there that, in a more relaxed atmosphere that we get to know our brethren and the ties of brotherhood are forged and grow stronger as the years go by.
So a Feast is a celebration.




Lets go back to the Third Point ... Why is it included in our ceremonial?   Why is it laid down that even if a ceremony of perfection is not worked we must still conduct the Third Point?     The answer to those questions is that the Third Point is both a celebration and an affirmation of our oneness or unity in Rose Croix Masonry.
What is it that we are celebrating?

First let us note that the Third Point comes immediately after the Second Point in which the candidate has symbolically passed out of darkness into the glorious light.   He has climbed the ladder, which leads to glory and perfection and has made the discovery of the name of Him who is the Word.    A little later he is told that it is on faith in this name, that is on faith in Christ alone that his eternal salvation depends. What a great discovery that is!   A discovery that every candidate has to make,  a discovery which every individual needs to make.
So the Third Point is a time of celebration. We are celebrating our discovery of the Redeemer of the world and our own personal Saviour.


Secondly we are celebrating the unity that binds us together as Rose Croix Masons.   In the Third point we meet as equals.   True it is that one senior member conducts or presides at the Third Point but this is a matter of function rather than implying any superiority.   Ranks have no importance at the Third Point. There we are sharing on an equal footing as brothers in a common feast of fraternal affection.


For me one of the most moving parts of our ceremonies comes as we assemble for the Third Point and join hands to form the living circle.  Then the circle is broken temporarily but is reformed again as the candidate is accepted into the circle and is told that he is received into the living circle of our hearts.  Surely that is the epitome of fraternal affection!!   To live in the hearts of others is to enjoy a vital and intimate, warm, loving, and caring relationship.
What is it that binds us together as Rose Croix Masons?   Is it not that we share a common faith in Christ, that we espouse a common morality, and that we have pledged ourselves to love and support one another in times of difficulty and doubt.   These are the elements that bind us together, which make those ties so precious to us and as the years go by make us love Rose Croix Masonry more dearly.

So the term Feast of Fraternal Affection is not an empty phrase but it is pregnant with meaning to the Rose Croix Mason.

Let us now think briefly about the elements that are used as symbols in the Feast of Fraternal Affection ...Bread, Salt and Wine.

Bread is as old as man himself.   In the Genesis story of the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden when Adam ate of the forbidden fruit he was told that ‘In the sweatof thy face thou shalt eat bread’. Bread then is identified with the basics of life.   Bread is that which sustains our life.   We speak about earning our crust.   In the prayer, which our Lord taught us we are taught to pray, ‘give us this day ourdaily bread’.   Our Lord Himself described himself on one occasion as being The Bread of Life.   What he was inferring was that belief in Him is as essential to spiritual living as is the eating of bread essential to our physical well-being.

Of course we are told in the third point that we break bread and eat salt according to oriental custom.  But it is more than simply an oriental custom.   It is an almost universal custom.  What this represents to me is that when we eat bread together in the third point we are symbolically sharing with each other of the very basis of our 'life together’.    We are reminding ourselves of the responsibility that we have undertaken to care for each other even to the extent of providing for each other’s most basic needs in times of difficulty and crisis.


Another thought about bread.   It is made from a number of ingredients. ...Flour, water, salt and yeast. But it is the effect of the yeast on the other ingredients that produces the texture of the bread.   In the Third Point we assemble as a varied group of individuals.  Just as the yeast transforms the other ingredients so as we receive the bread in the third point there is an indefinable unifying and transforming agent at work which unites us as one.     Call it what you will it is there.    Perhaps it is fraternal affection or as I like to think more likely the Spirit of God working out His purposes in us and binding us together in love.


The second element is Salt.   Again we know that an appropriate intake of salt is essential to our physical well-being.    Salt is also that which brings out the flavour of food.    Its absence can render an otherwise beautiful meal tasteless.   As I eat salt in the Third Point I hear again the call of our lord to Christians to be as salt in the world, and I am reminded again and again that the teachings of our Lord as exemplified in our Ritual bring meaning and purpose to my living.

Thirdly we pledge our fidelity and friendship in the goblet of fraternal affection. Wine, as the Scripture says, makes glad the heart of man.   It is a symbol of joy and happiness.   As I said earlier the Third Point is a celebration.   As we take the wine we are reminded of the great privilege we have of sharing friendship with so many fine Rose Croix Masons.    Friendship is one of the greatest privileges a person can have and sad indeed and lonely is the person who does not have a real friend.   The friends we make in Rose Croix Masonry become very precious to us and even more so as the years go by.   In the Third Point we renew those friendships and we pledge ourselves to do all that we can to be faithful to our friends and to the ideals of the Order.

One final thought about the Third Point and that relates to the words that are spoken as the goblet is passed around.   These words are quite significant in a Feast of Fraternal Affection.
The first word is Emmanuel meaning God with us.   How significant that is.   In his earliest days a Freemason is taught that wherever we go and whatever we do God is always with us.   


So God is with us as we share in this Feast of Fraternal Affection.

The second words are Pax Vobiscum meaning Peace be with you.   As we share in the celebration of the Third Point we invoke peace and we imply our desire that this peace shall go with us as we leave the Chapter Room.   Indeed the final dismissal of the Most Wise Sovereign as he closes the Chapter is contained in the words Depart in peace.

So for me the Third Point (or the Feast of Fraternal Affection as I prefer to refer to it as)  is a very important part of our ceremonial.    It is there that I am reminded of the very real ties that bind me to my brethren in Rose Croix Masonry.   It is there that I celebrate my oneness with them.




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