Greetings Friends & Companions,
When December rolls around I’m never quite sure if it feels like the longest or shortest month of the year. It can feel long when you think of all the holidays and winter events you have to prepare for but short when you realize you have to get it all done in a mere 31 days. For Masons we have Lodge and Council installations along with Lodge Christmas parties in addition the regular duties of the holidays. But as stressful it can be I love the holiday season.
And this season is particularly special as Hanukkah overlaps both Christmas and the Winter Solstice as it only does every few years creating a great opportunity for interfaith fellowship.
But as High Priest of this Chapter one of my primary duties involves visiting the surrounding lodges for their installations and presenting the incoming masters with their master’s pin for the insuring year. This yearly presentation is to remind us of the intimate connection between the lodge and chapter reminding companions to be involved in their local lodges and informing brothers of light that awaits those who chose to join the Royal Arch.
When attending these events you’ll see me in my full Royal Arch regalia and while many Royal Arch jewels are similar to those you’ve come to know in lodge I thought it might be nice to take time and explain the meaning of the High Priest’s jewel, which isn’t seen in any other Masonic body. As you may or not know the High Priest in Royal Arch is an allegorical representation of the Kohen Gadol, or Jewish High Priest, member of the order of priesthood descended from Aaron. Among the strict guidelines High Priests were required to follow there was a specific set of bigdei kodesh, or eight holy garments that the High Priest was required to wear when ministering at the Tabernacle, and in fact these men were not even granted the title of High Priest unless they were wearing their garments at that time. Among these holy garments was the mitznefet, commonly translated as miter, which could better be described as a broad flat topped turban upon which was attached the Tzitz, a golden plate inscribed with the words “Holiness to the LORD.” It is this particular vestment that was chosen as the jewel of a High Priest in the Royal Arch. The High Priest’s jewel often simply called the miter does in fact better resemble a western miter worn by bishops and abbots today with the exception of still including the Tzitz and being topped with the Triple Tau, symbol of Royal Arch Masonry, but putting the issue of translation aside the modern miter does find the roots of its design in the mitzenfet and is a commonly known western heraldic symbol which is likely why that particular design was still chosen as the High Priest’s jewel. Each part of the High Priest’s bigdei kodesh had a deep symbolic meaning and the miter was no different. The Miter was made to atone for haughtiness and the Tzitz to atone for arrogance, two similar but distinct concepts, but appropriate for the role of the Royal Arch High Priest as those are among the sins that come most often with leadership. And like in all Royal Arch jewels encompassing the jewel is the triangle which serves a symbol of the three attributes of deity. I hope this gives you a little more information on why we wear what we wear and gives you a little something to think about when I come for an installation visit.
Taking these visits into account along with the other business that comes with this festive month we will not be having a Chapter meeting as we usually would on the third Monday. However, Ann Arbor Council No. 86, R&SM will be meeting for their public installation so I greatly encourage all companions attend and show their support. Also as the month draws to a close at my Mother Lodge, Myrtle Lodge No. 89, F&AM I will be hosting a Brother Rudyard Kipling Night at the Belleville Masonic Temple on December 29th at 6pm. There will be a dinner, a viewing of “The Man Who Would Be King” and a reading of Kipling’s famous Masonic poetry. Come January we will return to our regular meeting schedule kicking off the New Year with a Past Master Degree with Allegory so expect more details on that to come soon.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s address, and have a merry Christmas, happy Hanukah and a joyous New Year.
Brandon Mullins, HP