Benevolent Order of Deer
Ritual of the Degree of Service


1913


President: Messengers, you will retire to the anteroom and ascertain if there are any Candidates in waiting to receive the Degree of Service.
Messengers, after saluting the President, will pass to the ante-room and take the names of those in waiting for the Degree of Service. Will re-enter the hall and pass to the altar and salute the President and say:
Brother (Sister) President, we find Ö giving the names of Candidates who are waiting to receive the Degree of Service.
President:
By virtue of the authority vested in me, I now declare the Degree of Service opened for the transaction of business in this Degree.
All:
It is our pleasure, so be it.
President:
Messengers, you will prepare the Candidates, dress them in blue robes and present them for this degree.
Guard of Purity:
Brother (Sister) Vice-President, our Messengers are at the door with Candidates who wish to receive this Degree of Service.
Vice-President:
Admit them.
Messenger takes Candidates to the altar and says:
Brother (Sister) president, we present these candidates who are desirous of taking this Degree of Service.
President gives three raps. All members rising and forming around the candidates in a ring, and joining hands with each other, with the President, Vice-President, Past President and Chaplain in the ring with the Candidates.
President:
Behold Candidate, look around in every direction and you see the strong hand of protection thrown around you. This is what we strive to do for our brothers and sisters, to ever throw our protecting care around them. As we stand here bound together in one band of brothers and sisters, may we realize what it means to belong to the Benevolent Order of Deer.
Vice-President:
Candidates, behold; look around you and see these, your brothers and sisters bound together in one endless chain; what does it mean? It means that you are bound together with these, your brother and sister for the betterment of humanity.
Past-President:
Candidates, behold; look around you and see these, your brothers and sisters, joined together by an endless chain. Remember your obligation. Keep it! Keep it!
Chaplain:
Candidates, behold; look around you and see these your brothers and sisters bound together by an endless chain. Some things God gives often; some things He gives only once. The seasons return again and again, and the flowers change with the months, but youth comes twice to none. While we have it, we think little of it, but we never cease to look back to it fondly when it is gone. You will pass this way but once. You may live and will live again; then while passing this way, do all the good you can. Help your fellowman to carry the burdens of life. Do your duty and do it well.
President gives one rap. All pass to seats, except President, Messengers and Candidates.
Messengers:
Brother (Sister) President, I present these Candidates to you for further instructions in this Degree.
President:
You will take the Candidates to the ante-room and prepare them for further test in this degree. Messengers and candidates march out. Arrangement for Degree. Messengers and candidates march in.
Have some one to represent an aged man─to be called "Pilgrim."
Let him be in a room (this room can be arranged with canvas on frames), sitting in a rocking chair reading the Bible. While the aged Pilgrim continues to read a Prophet appears before him. Let the Prophet be clothed in a long black robe with a black hat and a shepherdís crook in his hand. After saluting the aged Pilgrim, the Prophet says:
Pilgrim, I greet thee. The Holy One bath observed thy noble service, and commissioned me to appear unto thee and say "What wilt thou have?"
Pilgrim rises and says:
Oh thou holy man of God, peace be unto thee. I crave not that which is perishable, I ask not for the trumpet of fame, that my praises to the winds may be given. I ask not for the golden dust as a boon to my poverty bestowed, I ask not for pleasant fields and skies without a storm. I ask not for a palm to wave in my hands and a crown to wear on my head. I only crave to do good without knowing anything about it. Oh, Prophet, of the Most High, I wish above all human joys, a visit from Him whom I have served during all these years without compensation or reward.
Prophet:
Pilgrim, your desire is divine. He is fond of all who seek Him not in service. Before another sun has set, thine eyes shall see Him. Be not as countless thousands who pass Him by day by day without knowing Him. Thou shalt know Him through sobbing tears, harrowed hearts, broken pinion, and disappointed ambitions. Pilgrim, farewell, God speed thee.
The Prophet retires and Pilgrim says:
I must set my house in order for the Lord will pass this way today.
Pilgrim, in a natural way, arranges his room and then sits down to read the Bible again. After a few minutes of silent reading, Pilgrim arises and says:
Strange the Lord has not come as He promised. I wonder what has detained Him.
At this time a poorly dressed, destitute widow knocks at the door of the Pilgrimís room and says:
Pilgrim, forgive a broken-hearted wife and the mother of three dependent children for holding out her hand for alms. Unless some one has pity on us, we shall starve.
Pilgrim, after giving the woman money, says:
It is better to give than to receive. God be merciful unto thee.
Pilgrim sits down again and resumes his reading. Soon a young man knocks at his door and says:
Pilgrim, I have not come asking for cold charity, for I am strong and can work. I only ask for a chance to make good. Can you assist me?
Pilgrim:
What recommendation have you?
Young Man:
I have but this one. Young Man draws Bible from his pocket. My mother gave it to me and it is my most sacred trust.
Pilgrim:
Young man, thou art well recommended. Come with me and thou shalt find work.
(Pilgrim takes him by the arm and walks around to several, asking them in a natural way to give him a position. After several have refused, they walk to meet a man to whom the Pilgrim says):
Brother, here is a young man who comes well recommended. He is a stranger in a strange land. The young man asks not for cold charity, but For employment. Iíll stand sponsor for him.
The stranger accosted by the Pilgrim promises the young man a position and both retire. Pilgrim proceeds on his journey. While walking around the hall, he runs up against a man stretched out on the floor dead drunk. Pilgrim, in a dramatic way, exclaims:
A poor drunkard. I wonder who he is. Drunk, he is some motherís child. Oh, God, when will drink cease to slay its thousands. It demands our jails, asylums, almshouses. It widows wives and orphans children. It is the inspiration of the gambler, the exhilaration of the prostitute, the nerve of the robber, the fire of the incendiary. It honors infamy, disregards obligations and reverences Fraud. It defames charity, hates love, scorns chastity, slanders innocence and culminates virtue. It urges the father to murder his offspring, aids the husband to massacre the wife of his bosom, and stimulates the child to grind the paricidal axe. It bums man and consumes woman. It suborns witnesses, nurses perjury, defiles the jury box and stains the judicial ermine. It debases the citizen, dishonors the statesman and disarms the patriot, and with the malignity of a demon, it calmly surveys its terrible ravages without a blush of shame. Let us establish a vigilant quarantine against it as an emigrant more to be dreaded than the deadliest plague or the most loathsome leprosy, and thus protected, let sobriety reign supreme, without a drunkard to menace the peace of the home, the safety of the street, the security of the highway, the sanctity of the shrine, or the incense of the altar. Poor son of passion and lust, there is an angel as well as a devil in thee and I am going to find the angel.
Pilgrim reaches down and assists the man to his feet and takes him out. When Pilgrim returns to the hall he goes to his room and again reads the Bible. Soon there is a knock at his door. There stands a well dressed, middle-aged man, who says:
Pilgrim, I come not as one who has felt the cold pinches of poverty. I have tasted every cup of pleasure and I have been behind all scenes. I can write my check for thousands. I represent a new kind of beggars: soul beggars; I am heart hungry. I have spent my life hunting for the bag of gold at the end of the rainbow. I have many houses, but no home. I have existence, but no life. I have flesh and blood, but no heart. Oh, Pilgrim, is life worth living?
Pilgrim:
Man, thou are indeed poor, successful but not happy. Is life worth the living? It all depends upon how you live. To be great is to be good. 1 have known human hearts to break and bleed even when covered with diamonds and pearls. Thou canst not reach Jerusalem by the Jericho road. It is not the things which a man owns, but the things which own the man which block his way. The only life worth living is the life that forgets itself, empties itself, goes out of itself in the interest of humanity. The incense which God and man love the best is not that which is burned in Golden censers, wasting its perfume on the barren air, but that which is burned in the habitations of the needy to brighten and cheer wayworn hearts. Unhappy Candidate for immortality, if thou wouldst find the way to the throne, go and be as the dew which falls silently at night, unseen, unheard, trampled upon by the foot of man, yet forever blessing and refreshing all forms of life. Thou shalt then find a rest which bath no tire. A joy which will never ebb, a life which has no regret.
Then shall the man say:
Oh, Pilgrim, thou hast opened my eyes. I feel a new divinity asserting itself within. I am entering a larger world and a wider experience. Hereafter, I shall serve God by serving man.
He retires and leaves the Pilgrim sitting in his chair reading his Bible. After a few minutes, Pilgrim muses:
It seems strange the day has passed and the Master has not come. I wonder if I have displeased Him. This has been an eventful day. First there came a poor broken-hearted woman, then a young man asking for work, then a poor drunkard, down and out, and last but not least, saddest of all, a rich fool. Strange that all has come but the Lord.
Pilgrim again reads aloud and his eye falls upon Matthew 25; 35 to 40. Reads this aloud:
"Oh, I understand it all now, the Lord has passed my way today. He came to see me in the persons of these poor souls whom I tried to help and I did not recognize Him. Blessed are they that have not seen, yet believed.
The Messengers present the Candidates to the President and say:
We present these Candidates to you, Brother (or Sister) President, for final instructions.
President:
Candidates, before you can receive the final instructions, in this Degree, there is a test for this Degree that we require each Candidate to take. Messengers, you will take the Candidates to the ante-room and prepare them for the test.
While the Messengers and Candidates are in the ante-room all preparations must be made for the side Degree according to the one selected. After the side Degree is over, the Messengers will present the Candidates to the President for final instruction.
Messengers:
Brother (Sister) President, we present the Candidates who have taken the Degree test and are now ready to receive the final instructions.
President:
In each degree we have tried to teach you a lesson, a lesson that you could carry away with you and remember in your daily avocations.
Dare to do right, dare to be true,
You have a work no other can do;
Do it so bravely, so kindly, so well,
Angels will hasten, the story to tell.
I welcome you in behalf of this Association as brothers and sisters, we hope to have you in attendance here at each stated meeting. I will explain the work of our Association.
The Degree Password for this degree is Truth and is to be lettered at all times, when used for working your way into an Association thus: T ─ R ─U ─T, the sign of this degree is: left hand over heart and right hand extended toward heaven. The answer is the same as the sign. It means remember your obligation.
The color of this degree is blue: the emblem of fairness of this Association in admitting both sexes. We have a voting sign to be used when voting on all subjects where the ballot is not used. which is made thus: the three last fingers of right hand closed in palm, thumb resting on same, with fore-finger jointing upward from the shoulder.
We have a recognition sign to be used in traveling or whenever you want to find a brother or sister; you will use this sign: right hand resting on left arm between elbow and shoulder.
The answer is the same with the left hand. On observing this sign, you should answer it at once, and the one giving the sign should advance and clasp the otherís hand and say: I have been to the fountain of fraternity, and you will say: Purity; he or she will say: Truth; then you may know that you have met a brother or sister. This sign should be used cautiously only when it is absolutely necessary to find a brother or sister. We have a distress sign to be used whenever you are in distress and need help. It is made thus: with the last two fingers of the left hand closed in palm with the first two and the thumb resting on the shoulder at the point.
The answer is the same with the right hand. This sign should be answered at once, and under no circumstances are you to fail to answer it and lend help, if in your power to do. Or should you be so situated that you could be heard and not seen, you can use the following words: for sake me not.
The answer is: I am coming, or to go at once to the assistance of a brother or sister, as though they were blood relation.
Messengers, you will conduct our Brothers and Sisters to the ante-room, and assist them to re-enter the hall.
Messengers will conduct the Candidates to the ante-room and assist them to re-enter the hall by giving the passwords and signs.


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