What is an Almoner?
The word “ALMONER” is an officer elected or appointed in the Continental Lodges of Europe to take charge of the contents of the alms-box, to carry into effect the charitable resolutions of the Lodge, and to visit sick and needy brethren. A physician is usually selected in preference to any other member for this office. An Almoner may also be appointed among the officers of an English Lodge. In the United States the officer does not exist, his duties being performed by a Committee of Charity.
ALMS-BOX – is a box which, toward the close of the Lodge, is handed around by an appropriate officer for the reception of such donations for general objects of charity as the brethren may feel disposed to bestow. This laudable custom is very generally practiced in the Lodges of England, Scotland, and Ireland and universally in those of the Continent. The newly initiated candidate is expected to contribute.
Brother Hyde Clarke says in the Freemasons’ Magazine (London, 1859, page 1166) that “Some brethren are in the habit, on an occasion of thanksgiving with them, to contribute to the box of the Lodge more than on other occasions.” This custom has not been adopted in the Lodges of America, except in those of French origin.
ALMSGIVING – Although almsgiving, or the pecuniary relief of the destitute, was not one of the original objects for which the Institution of Freemasonry was established, yet, as in every society of men bound together by a common tie, it becomes incidentally, yet necessarily, a duty to be practiced by all its members in their individual as well as in their corporate capacity.
In fact, this virtue is intimately interwoven with the whole superstructure of the Institution, and its practice is a necessary corollary from all its principles. At an early period in his initiation the candidate is instructed in the beauty of charity by the most impressive ceremonies, which are not easily to be forgotten, and which, with the same benevolent design, are repeated from time to time during his advancement to higher degrees, in various forms and under different circumstances.
“The true Freemason,” says Brother Pike, “must be, and must have a right to be, content with himself; and he can be so only when he lives not for himself alone, but for others, who need his assistance and have a claim upon his sympathy.”
The same eloquent writer lays down this rule for a Freemason’s almsgiving:
“Give, looking for nothing again, without consideration of future advantages; give to children, to old men, to the unthankful, and the dying, and to those you shall never see again ; for else your alms or courtesy is not charity, but traffic and merchandise. And omit not to relieve the needs of your enemy and him who does you injury”
~ Author Unknown