Bro Jose Rizal’s Masonic Speech delivered in 1883 at Solidaridad Lodge No. 53, Madrid, Spain

October 31st, 2014

Bro. Jose Rizal

When we… knock at the portals of the Temple to be initiated into the mysteries of Masonry…three reassuring words are dinned into our ears: Science, Virtue, and Labor…

“Science?” You may ask, what science is found in the Masonic Temple? Science might have taken refuge in it during barbarous epochs in order to erect the sublime architectural monuments of the past centuries, just as the fine arts did in the quiet peaceful cloisters of the monasteries, but today science is free, open to all…Science is free as the light which is its inspiration! Masonry has been its wet nurse, has guarded it like a sacred flame while the storm raged, and when calmness returned, it surrendered it to the world to illumine it with its rays!…
“Virtue, Virtue! You are nothing but a name!” said Cato nineteen centuries ago…let us see what we understand by virtue, because it embodies an idea which is on the lips of everyone and on which not all peoples are agreed.

To the Chinese, virtue is respect for the elders…To the Indian it is…considering a saint one who can remain in a fixed posture for months…To the Persians it is purity of life…To the Hebrews it consists of fear of Jehova…To the Greeks virtue consists of stoicism…and for this reason the Spartan consecrated to it all his dearest sentiments…To the Buddhists it is kindness and love for one’s fellowmen. On the other hand, to Rome virtue is integrity…to die for the laws, the name, and the glory of Rome. Christianity, the essence and sum total of all religions, reflected in her virtues all the merits of the others and sanctified humility, stoicism, purity, adding to these, like a true Oriental, charity – a virtue that later Mohammedanism elevated to a sublime height.
Later on the doctrines were adulterated, faith weakened, the religious spirit fermented into sects…Then virtue was confused with intolerance and fanaticism…ignorance itself became a virtue, though wisdom is a divine attribute, intelligence is a gift, and man can redeem himself only through his profound studies.

Barbaric centuries, dear brethren, were those when the emanations from the cloisters confused human intelligence…and greater and deeper still was the fall of reason. These were then called virtues: To hate men who do not profess the same faith, to destroy and burn them; to recite words after words, nonsense after nonsense and perhaps blasphemies after blasphemies before the images of sanctified and deified men. They called virtue the belief in the impossible and the rejection of science and of experience; virtue, faith in the absurd, to give to the Pope for the support of his pomp the money denied to the young man for his education; virtue, the madness, the senseless, the ridiculous and even vices provided they are cloaked with religion…

The duty of modern man to my way of thinking is to work for the redemption of humanity, because once man is dignified there would be less unfortunate and more happy men that is possible in this life. Humanity cannot be redeemed so long as there are oppressed peoples, so long as there are some men who live on the tears of many…Humanity cannot be redeemed while reason is not free, while faith would want to impose itself on facts, while whims are laws, and while there are nations who subjugate others…

Thus Masonry preaches and practices the sacred principles of liberty, equality and fraternity among all men and they compose the Masonic virtues, the only virtues whose practice would banish among men wars and abuses and bring about that state which all great reformers dream. In this concept…virtue has no other temple but the Masonic temple from which emerge some gleams of light that illuminate the minds of many lay thinkers…for what is more beautiful than the liberty, equality, and fraternity of all men?…

Later, a Religion, pretending to be the sole possessor of the Truth, desired to control and tyrannize science…That religion was powerful and science suffered a long captivity. Who liberated it? Masonry, proclaiming the freedom of human reason and working for its recognition…

With respect to the word “Labor”, do not smile when you think of what we do in our weekly meetings of three hours at most…

Only man remains the enemy of man, tyrannizes his fellowmen, oppresses everyone…A cry announces his birth, misery, and battles darken the tortuous path of his life with tears, blood, and gall; vices, diseases, and passion suffering, and…man, the lord of creation, envies the fate of the insects, the fate of the butterfly which, flying from flower to flower, feeds on nectar, is born at dawn and dies with the day without luckily seeing the sad shadows of the night!