AND NOW ABIDETH FAITH, HOPE, CHARITY, THESE THREE; BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS CHARITY. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Philanthropy is an inseparable part of the Masonic Fraternity. An almost universal feature of Masonic organizations is their sense of duty in supporting charity. When food and shelter were both immediate and regular concerns, Masons responded with firewood and the fruits of the harvest. When care of widows, the aged and orphans were worries, Masons erected retirement homes and orphanages. When education was needed, Masons built schools and established scholarships, and as these requirements became improved upon, Masons turned their philanthropy to more specific needs within the community such as crippled children, cancer patients, burn victims, those whose speech, language, sight or hearing is impaired, the homeless, the mentally ill and many others.
Why Masons are so concerned with Philanthropy can be explained by considering what Masonry is. While there is no agreement on the actual origins of Freemasonry, the nature of the Order that has grown from the first Grand Lodge of 1717 is clear: it has become a worldwide Fraternity teaching universal principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. In a broader sense it teaches and promotes borderless brotherhood, moral improvement, mutual support, religious tolerance, civic betterment, freedom of thought and universal charity. The latter, as if echoing the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians 'the greatest of these is charity' is undeniably the most noticeable activity of Freemasonry.