Alain Juillet’s first speech as newly installed Grand Master of the Grande Loge Maçonnique Française on April 28th in Tours drew a standing ovation from the more than 1500 brethren assembled for the historic occasion. With his authorisation LML in English reproduces it for you translated into English.
When I see so many of us assembled here today for the creation of the Alliance, I have faith in our future. Despite the menaces, pressure and lies, you had the courage to stand up and reply to the historic call of Universal Freemasonry. You had the courage to come because you refused to continue to accept the wayward route of a ship that was off course and had lost its destination. You were the first. You are the founders. We are the founders – and soon we will be joined by those Brethren who will have lost their last illusions.
By this free and responsible act we have placed ourselves at the heart of the rebirth of Traditional and Regular Freemasonry in our country. For all that, let us not forget our Brothers who left to join friendly foreign Obediences. We must make them understand their true place is also amongst us.
But make no mistake about it. Despite the work already done, we are going to experience exalting moments, but difficult ones. We must build and rebuild, trowel in hand and sword near at hand. Those who hoped to see us buckle, give up or disappear will do everything to crush the hope that we are making happen. Others who would have liked “to dare”, but lacked the ability or the will, are going to criticise by proposing other more or less illusory alternatives that hide their real designs. Finally, those who have never wanted to do anything, adepts of the non-masonic principle of precaution, are going to consciously defame us in order to justify their reticence and passivity.
Brethren, it is time to turn the page following a hard battle against a foe for whom fraternity is mere camouflage and the liberty to think and act, mere words with a single meaning. It is time to build our Masonic future by demonstrating to Brethren all over the world our attachment to Regularity and respect for Tradition. It is time to stand up for the reality of our practices and our authenticity when confronted by our adversaries’ criticisms. It is time to return to our Lodges’ paths, and leave conflict to others.
Now is the time to show we are neither a Grand Orient, nor a copy of our former Obedience. Let us not forget that Lodges in the form of associations are normal practice in virtually all the continental European Grand Lodges. It is time to demonstrate that we are not a federation of Rites. Each one forms part of our Grand Lodge, each has identical responsibilities no matter how many members there are in the Rite, but no single one directs it. With this spirit in mind, our relations with the Jurisdictions are going to develop, with mutual respect for the sovereignty and independence of each.
Contrary to what certain people claim, our Grand Lodge’s ambition is not to favour the hegemony of a single Rite. But we know, as all true Masons do, that a Rite can only develop in its purity, totally separated from all amalgam. Within the Grand Lodge, the multiplicity of Rites, each with its own specifics, will be a source of fruitful and productive exchanges. If we respect traditional founding elements, each of us will find in his heart the strength to labour and develop our knowledge. Let us be clear, it is by the eucmenism of the Rites that we will ensure the homogeneity of the Alliance and guarantee the freedom of conscience of each of the Brethren.
We have benefited from the formidable work done by those who have given their time and help freely over the past weeks to make possible today what seemed impossible back then. They merit all our recognition. Thank them and salute them, in particular those who studied the European Grand Lodges each of which was the source of ideas that will enable us to avoid the abuses and straying from the guidelines that have caused so much suffering.
Let us not forget that the Statutes, By-Laws and Constitutions that have just been approved will need to be improved with use. Although we have put in place checks and balances of various sorts, no doubt certain texts will need to be made more precise, we will need to deepen certain rules, correct errors and formulate where things were overlooked. As such, each day our Grand Lodge will respond a little more to the hope and the plan we have drafted
After these leaden years where, as victims of the image of a certain Obedience, we were considered to be the depositary of politicised business deals, now we can return to true Masonry. Masonry that is not selected by the level of dues, the glitter of the apron or the sound of the title. Masonry where we don’t undertake a second career, but devote ourselves to the service of the Brethren. Masonry where the Grand Master, guardian of the Grand Lodge’s harmony and guarantor of the values of Traditional Masonry, sticks strictly to his mission. Masonry where, as Kipling said it so well, we call each other « Brother » because we all speak from our hearts, regardless of origin or culture. It is time to return to our fundamentals because it in not only our word we have lost these past years
We don’t become Masons to gain proud satisfaction or power that escaped us in professional life. We don’t become Masons to make deals of every sort.
We become Masons to advance our self-knowledge, to continue our quest to understand the eternal world around us.
Within our Lodges, let us labour for a better future promising hope and fraternity. Let our ambition be that each of us finds the serenity necessary for always recognising the wisdom of a true son of the Light. In a world befuddled by crises and accusations we must be a shining beacon and a landmark for those who seek and those who have lost their way. Far from all dogmatism and constraint, let us practice true solidarity. Extend our hand and open the way so that each of us can find his path and live his humanity aided by his Brethren.
All of us have dreamed of the Alliance. All of us wanted this Grand Lodge to be what our forefathers imagined, to enable us to live in a better world without totally abandoning it.
Far from materialism which brings nothing, we must seek our values with the aid of the Landmarks. Far from the single line of thinking, our quest of principle, privileging the spirit, makes us go back to the sources of Knowledge.
We must learn to love the other who is our mirror despite his differences and know how to pardon those who have not had the chance to know choice.
Regular practice of our Rites pushes us to abandon the superficial and find humility, to develop the taste for personal labour in order to find our true inner being. In labouring upon ourselves with the aid of our Brethren, be we deist or theist, stardust or seed of eternity, gradually we become aware of the richness of our inner temple.
The Light which spreads within us opens the spiritual way. It gives birth again to faith in Man, hope in the future and the practice of charity which differentiates us from those who have not received the Light.
Brethren, you have designated me to assume the charge of Grand Master. More than an honour which touches me, I sense it as an urgent duty towards you all. After having had the honour of putting myself to the service of my country you give me the obligation of putting my ideas to the service of others. It is my duty to put our Grand Lodge on its perennial path, respecting Regularity and the practice of our Rites.
Fear not ! I will be neither a guru nor a little corporal. Besides, that will never again be possible for we have limited the powers and the length of mandate of this heavy charge so that no-one can take root. With the Grand Lodge College, the help and the opinion of the different elected and designated bodies on both the administrative and masonic levels I will endeavour to make the Obedience function to its optimum, so we can labour without rest in serenity and the silence of our Lodges.
At the same time, with the aid and advice of recognised and admired Brethren, I will give priority during my mandate to having us Recognised by the foreign Grand Lodges. For that to succeed we must provide proof and combat the lies spread by those who hate us for having told the truth and reminded them of the path to take. For this project I need your help. That is why I ask all those who enjoy fraternal relations with the dignitaries of foreign Grand Lodges to make themselves known, to contribute to and participate in the team which will win this fundamental stage of our future development.
Allow me to greet the Brethren who are unofficially representing the foreign Grand Lodges who have come to Tours to participate in our labour. During future Convents I hope to be able to welcome them with all the honours due to Grand Lodges that have Recognised us and who are the guarantors of Amity.
Brethren, on this solemn day for Regular Freemasonry, let us have a thought for those in history who confronted uncertainty to defend a certain idea of Freemasonry. I think of Edouard de Ribaucourt and his companions, including “L’Anglaise 204”, in 1913. I think of Charles Riandey and Marcel Cerbu in 1965. I remember Alexandre of Yugoslavia and my brother in arms Pierre Marion who were the first to denounce the emerging waywardness of the Obedience we have just left. Like all of you, I lived the refusal to kneel and I witnessed the rebellion of numerous Brethren and the sanctions which followed. For each of them, it required courage to stand up to the arbitrary, to abandon the calmness of facility, to rediscover the values dear to our Brethren of the Royal Society,from Désaguliers to Anderson or Robert Moray to Isaac Newton.
In the line and respect of their memory and strengthened by their heritage, it is up to us now to assume our link to them in the framework of the Alliance.
As the ancient Greek philosophers said, “The future will be as we make it for where there is a will, there is a way ». We lack neither the will nor the courage for we are proud to be Freemasons.
May the Great Architect of the Universe aid us.