The Four Cardinal Virtues – Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude and Justice feature prominently in the Entered Apprentice degree. They are considered to be essential as the foundation for any good mason.
For Masons, Temperance is that due restraint upon our affections and passions which renders the body tame and governable, and frees the mind from the allurements of vice. When practiced and perfected, a Mason is able to abstain from actions that may impair his faculties and perceptions. By this self-restraint, he shall not materially err.
Prudence enables us to regulate our lives and actions agreeably to the dictates of reason. Simply, it is the practice of good judgment, common sense, and the wisdom we acquire in our journey through life. Prudence is among the most exalted objects that demand every Mason’s special attention, for it is the rule which governs all other virtues.
Fortitude is that noble and steady purpose of the mind, or courage in the face of pain or adversity. It is how we build our character, improve our moral fiber, and strengthen our minds to manage the challenges of life. In the absence of this virtue, no person can perform his duty, either to God, his neighbor, or himself, in an acceptable manner.
Justice is that standard or boundary of right which enables us to render to every man his just due without distinction. Justice must always dictate fairness, honesty, morality, and neutrality in the treatment of all of mankind, more especially a Brother Mason. The exercise of this virtue incites us to act toward others in a manner that we wish they would act toward us.