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April started with observances of Passover and Easter.  For those who observed, I hope these sacred days were of great meaning and blessing for you and your loved ones.

Last month, we remembered our Brothers in Scottish Rite who were forever called to refreshment from their labors.  On behalf of the Burlingame Valley, I thank Wise Master Joshua Cusing, Orator Joe Becker, First Warden Whit Stephens, Second Warden Roberto Diaz, Secretary Bill Price , and Sound Man Greg Mariel whose solemn, reverent and expert rendition of our annual observation was greatly appreciated by our Valley.

I hope you are looking forward to our April Stated meeting on April 30, when we will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a Mexican inspire buffet and a Mariachi Band.

Our Valley’s calendar is full. We are currently planning our annual Scholarship Award presentation, tentatively scheduled for June 2.  This date is a few weeks later than in prior years due to calendar conflicts.  Please stay tuned€¯ for further announcements.  Our annual Golf Tournament occurs May 20th, followed by Stated Meeting on May 21st.  Please look forward and mark you calendars for the conferral of the 4th through 32nd degrees at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center, with the Burlingame Valley conferring the 26th Degree, on June 29 through July 1st.  Please see full details for these events within this Trestleboard.

My allotment of print space in this Trestleboard, now being nearly exhausted, I will close with a brief thought:

That we each tirelessly seek Light and are ever willing to assist our Brother in his search for Truth, for as Scottish Rite Masons,  “human progress is our cause, liberty of thought our supreme wish, freedom of conscience our mission, and the guarantee of equal rights to all people everywhere our ultimate goal€”... The Scottish Rite Creed.

Dennis Mahoney, 32°
Venerable Master, Burlingame Lodge of Perfection

We all know there are four bodies€¯ in the Scottish Rite:  Lodge of Perfection, Chapter of Rose Croix, Council of Kadosh, and Kadosh of the Consistory. Each body€¯ is intimately interwoven with each other although each has its own hierarchy, own teachings, and own degrees.

The Lodge of Perfection is responsible for the 4th-4th degrees during the Reunions
The Rose Croix is responsible for the 15th-18th degrees
The Council of Kadosh is responsible for 19th-30th degrees
The Kadosh of the Consistory is responsible for 31st and 32nd degrees

Masonry teaches us many lessons through the use of allegorical plays in these degrees.

What is a Degree and its significance?
A Degree is a play, a type of didactic theatre which became popular in the Middle Ages in Europe.
It was primarily used to teach stories from the Bible to a populace which could not read.
A nearly universal use of theatre, this type of play is found in ancient China, India and Egypt as well as in Greece and Rome. You see it in the shadow puppets of Ceylon as well as in the storyteller’s stalls in Baghdad.

The Masonic degrees are plays in which the candidate participates or sometimes by observing it as it is performed. Each degree uses symbols to teach, just as plays did in the Middle Ages and as many theatrical productions do today.

But why do we have a Degree system at all?
Freemasonry relies on the shared experience of a series of ceremonies to bind its members together.  It uses drama, metaphor and symbolism to impress the principles and teachings of the Order on the mind of each individual joining member. Simply passing each one a handbook, in matter-of-fact modern language, would not be as meaningful.

The Rituals are in the form of a play, with cast members. This helps members of the fraternity to understand the message, both verbally and visually. Degrees give a person the chance to learn and to talk with others about the different symbols and allegories presented in these Degrees.  Degrees give parallel examples from earlier cultures,  they raise question, they challenge us to think.  Freemasonry, in each of its branches, is a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement.  In a nutshell, we learn by Degrees.

The Masonic degrees teach the great lessons of life -- the importance of honor and integrity, of being a person on whom others can rely, of being both trusting and trustworthy, of realizing that you have a spiritual nature as well as a physical nature, of the importance of self-control, of knowing how to keep confidential what others tell you so that they can ”open up”€¯ without fear.

In true Masonic fashion, none of the astronomical references are ever fully explained in our Rituals, but are left for the individual Mason to study and understand in his own way and in his own time.

The wondrous beauty of Masonic learning is that it allows every man to learn in a way that is within the compass of his attainments€¯ and reach his own conclusions in the light of his own beliefs, values, education and interests.  It also means that there are many individual interpretations of almost every paragraph, picture and symbol within Freemasonry.

“The word degree, in its primitive meaning, signifies a step. The degrees of Freemasonry are then the steps by which the candidate ascends from a lower to a higher condition of knowledge. The various degrees are generally called ”higher” because, with the exception of Mark man, to which fellow crafts may be admitted, they are only conferred on Master Masons.”  -Albert McKay 33rd Degree Freemason

Proud to be a Scottish Rite Mason, I remain.

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Chris 2017 web

The Latest News from the San Francisco and Burlingame Childhood Language Center

I’ve been contemplating this article for some time, trying to decide what bits of information I should share with all of you. Do I talk about our fundraisers? Of course I do - see below. What about the current state of the CLC? Or maybe the RiteCare conference in Los Angeles in August? All of these things are important, but I think the most important item (the one we need your help with) is this: spreading the word about the great work our CLC does.

If everyone knows about us (well, at least every Mason as a start. ), then our budgetary concerns go away. If every Mason knows about us, then we will be able to serve more kids and have additional clinicians to work with Jim Cartwright. People will remember our name when a friend mentions that their child is having trouble expressing themselves. People will tell stories about when they were in our program as a child and tell their friends what a difference we made in their lives.

One important aspect of my request is that this effort should extend beyond Scottish Rite Masons to our mother Lodges and to our friends and neighbors.

-What does the CLC do?
We improve the lives of kids who have difficulty expressing themselves.

-What does that mean?
 We offer free therapy for kids 5-18 covering speech (pronouncing words correctly), language (appropriate vocabulary for speaking/listening and reading/writing) and literacy (reading comprehension and writing/telling a story). Do you know anyone who needs our services? Does this sound like something you’d like to tell your friends about?

This is just one example of a conversation that you might have, but how could anyone not support this cause? As much as we like donations, we have to win people over to our idea first. If they believe then the cause, then they will support the cause. Support doesn’t only mean money, it means volunteering, spreading the word, collecting donations for a fundraiser auction or any other thing that helps improve and grow our CLC. Have an idea you’d like to share? Want to volunteer? Think you know what we need to do next? Call, email or text me so we can start the discussion!!

Parting thought: how can we better help the kids we serve? I look forward to your answers.

Reminder: fundraiser dates for our CLC: 1) Golf Tournament, 20 May, Crystal Springs Golf Course (sign up with Walter Ancheta, Whit Stephens or Alberto Jacinto), and 2) Fashion Show, 14 July, San Francisco Scottish Rite (sign up with Todd Herschberg).


Chairman, SFBRCCLC Board of Directors
Chris D. Smith, 32° KCCH
Chairman, SFBRCCLC Board of Directors

April 27th - Stated Meeting

May 2nd - Education Fete - Cancelled

Note it will be held on Stated meeting night

May 18th- Stated Meeting


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Want to know how you can support Scottish Rite Childhood Learning and Language Center? Click here!

Want to learn more about it, click read more below.            


Sunday, May 20th - Golf Event 
Crystal Springs Golf Course
See flyer for Sign Up 

Monday, May 21st - Stated Meeting
6:30 Dinner
Stated Meeting to follow

Saturday, June 2nd - Public Schools Night and Scholarship Presentation
4:00 Appetizers/Refreshments
Presentation following
See flyer