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Generosity Across the Centuries: A Changing Landscape

03 November 23

The meaning of Generosity has changed over the past 500 years, just as Freemasonry has changed.

If someone was generous in the sixteenth century, he wasn’t necessarily charitable or giving, he was noble. The usage of generous was almost exclusively attributed to nobility, or those of noble birth.

During the seventeenth century the meaning slowly came to mean people who acted like they were of nobility, mother nature and some animals were said to be generous, if a horse carried itself well it was generous. Overtime this came to mean the horse had supplied increased progeny and so the word was applied to bulls and rams etc. and meant a type of giving.

By the eighteenth century the meaning was much closer to the way we use generosity today, but the feeling of nobility wasn’t lost. We expect someone of noble character to be generous and there is a real sense that being generous has increased the standing of a person and they are much to be admired.

When we “endeavour to awaken the generous feelings of every newly-initiated brother”, we do so in order to admit him to our ancient and honourable institution in the expectation that his character will nobly be enhanced by acts of generosity.

Generosity when witnessed can be very uplifting and restores our confidence in our fellow man. It inspires us to do likewise and awakens our own generous nature. I have recently had the privilege of witnessing enormous generosity by a lodge and group of brethren.

Lodge Blacktown Kildare recently held their centenary celebrations and installation, the lodge took the occasion as an opportunity to say thankyou to everyone who over many years has supported their lodge. The Grand Master, Immediate Past Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master and Assistant Grand master were all presented with personal gifts, as well, everyone who attended were given a coffee table style book of the Lodges’ profile, a special whiskey glass suitably engraved and gold commemorative coin.  The raffle of a Peter Brown original painting on the evening raised over $4,000.

A week later, the lodge held a charity bike ride and were able to raise with the help of the Grand Charity, MasoniCare $6,000. Just two weeks following the Bike ride the Lodge held its December meeting. This is usually a presentation evening for the lodge to its special supporters and those who have made exceptional efforts throughout the past year to ensure the lodges success. This year RW Bro Bro Tom Bell PAGM was presented with a Plaque and Whiskey Decanter set for supporting the lodge’s Annual Golf Day and many other events over many years by providing banners and pullups provided free by his company Aussie Banner and Flag.

All the sponsors that gave generously to the many events the lodge runs each year were presented with certificates of appreciation and a cheque for $6,000 was presented to Blacktown Carevan, (the lodge’s chosen charity). After the presentations everyone retired to the south for the Annual Charity Darts Competition. The defending champion (Grand Master MW Bro Les Hicks) was defeated in the playoffs by EAF Benjamin Macabante who couldn’t hold off the keen eye and steady arm of his fellow EAF Paul Polley.

Its was a great way to finish a successful year for the lodge with even more money being raised for their charity and matched by MasoniCare.

We all thought the year was complete, but as we were finishing the evening, tidying up, and having a couple of last drinks the brethren started sharing stories of the terrible circumstances that were unfolding in the Philippines. Indeed, in the same local towns and provinces where many of them grew up and still had families and friends, there Typhoon Odette had wiped everything out. There was no power, no fresh water and many had already been without food for days. Immediately the WM started an appeal, organised brethren to coordinate it and lodges in the Philippines had been contacted to ensure the money went to the neediest.


In just four days nearly $4,000 was ready to be transferred to help those in need.

Generosity has certainly changed its meaning over the years, it has perhaps lost its association with nobility and replaced that association with Humility and Kindness. Generosity has touched the lives of the members of Lodge Blacktown Kildare, it has also changed the lodges’ relationship with other lodges (eight lodges brought fraternal delegations to their installation), it has changed the relationship of the lodge and the community, non-freemasons actively participate in the lodge’s charity events. This year the lodge looks forward to being generous, it will run the Grand Master’s Cup Golf Day, Annual Charity Bike Ride and Darts competition as well as several other events. With utmost Humility we hope you will be Kind enough to join them as they continue to practice Generosity in the community.

Supplied by the Assistant Grand Master - RW Bro Paul Shultz



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