What is Freemasonry

What is Freemasonry

FAMILY AFFAIR

The Blue Lodge is the bed-rock of the Masonic family, yet there are several appendant organizations which a Mason’s family members can join to share many more of their common interests and activities.

Family-oriented activities include a range of social and entertainment programs, family outings, and community service projects, as well as numerous occasions for statewide or regional travel.

Among the appendant groups for adults, both men and women may be welcome as members, but women typically hold the principal offices. These groups include, among others, the Order of the Eastern Star, Order of Amaranth, and Ladies Oriental Shrine.

Groups for young people build self-esteem and prepare them for citizenship through successful experience with responsibility and leadership. Masonic youth groups include the Order of Rainbow for Girls, the Order of Job’s Daughters for young women, and the Order of DeMolay for young men.

With many opportunities for growth and friendship, these family-centered groups typically develop active social calendars, so the “Masonic family” truly is a family affair

FREEMASONRY: THE CRAFT

For centuries, millions of men of every race, color, creed, and political persuasion throughout the world have found in the Symbolic Lodges of Freemasonry the light to guide their search for answers to eternal questions: What is the meaning of life? The nature of God and man?

Freemasonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory, illustrated by symbols. Not a religion but religious in character, it is a philosophy of ethical conduct which imparts moral and social virtues and fosters brotherly love. Its tenets have endured since man turned the first pages of civilization. They embody the understanding by which man can transcend ordinary experience and “build a house not made with hands” in harmony with the Great Architect of the universe.

Yet Freemasonry can never conflict with a man’s relationship to God or fellow man. Sectarian religious or partisan political discussion in a lodge is strictly prohibited. Every Mason stands equal among his brothers, regardless of walk of life, and none is turned away for financial need.

The purpose of ANCIENT CRAFT OF FREEMASONRY is to unfold a message where “truth abides in fullness,” invoking greater understanding of the inward life and a spirit of fellowship in which every Mason can also lead a better outward life.

BROTHERHOOD AT WORK

Freemasonry has been characterized as a fraternity devoted to high ideals and admirable benevolence. Community service and charitable work are, in fact, principle Masonic activities.

Easily the best-known is the world’s largest single charitable institution, the Shriner’s Hospitals for Crippled Children and Burns Institutes, which are located throughout Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

Other Masonic bodies support their own statewide and national foundations for research, teaching, and treatment or rehabilitation services for children with learning or speech disorders, cancer, visual problems and need of dental restoration.

Masons everywhere assist distressed brother Masons and their families. They also sponsor or support local projects ranging from the recognition of the achievements of others to scholarship programs. Masons support community volunteers and quietly extend help for countless thousands – from providing a child with shoes to assisting the handicapped.

Altogether, the budgets for these community services exceed two million dollars per day, which Masons support without regard to the Masonic affiliation of their recipients. With this spirit of working together to serve mankind, brotherhood works well, indeed.

Altogether, the budgets for these community services exceed two million dollars per day, which Masons support without regard to the Masonic affiliation of their recipients. With this spirit of working together to serve mankind, brotherhood works well, indeed.

A PROGRESSIVE SCIENCE

Once raised to the “sublime degree” of Master Mason in his “Blue” Lodge, a Freemason steps onto a broad vista of opportunity for fellowship and advancement.

First, concordant bodies of the York Rite and the Scottish Rite offer ritual instruction for advanced degrees. Then, every Shriner is a Mason first… as are members of other Masonic groups, each serving a particular need or interest.

Advancement through these concordant bodies not only invites participation in this Masonic network, but also promotes a more comprehensive understanding of its sacramental system of ceremonies, doctrines, and symbols.

A statewide Grand organization governs every Masonic body, and all but the Blue Lodge have national governing councils as well. These offer further opportunity for growth and responsibility.

No Mason is required to advance beyond his Blue Lodge or participate actively in its ritual or business affairs, but those who do so find personal fulfillment in the rewards of public speaking, teaching, community work, and even music and the dramatic arts.

Whether their commitments are to Masonic ritual, study or organizational and charitable work, most active Masons simply speak of the camaraderie among trusted friends and a satisfying sense of purpose.

ANCIENT TRADITIONS

Through its heritage in antiquity is unmistakable, modern speculative Freemasonry was founded more recently upon the structure, ceremonies, and symbolism of the lodges of operative or working freemen stonemasons, who built the magnificent Medieval Gothic structures throughout much of Europe and England.

Dated in 1390 A.D., the Regius Poem details the charter of a lodge operating in the 900s A.D. “Masonry” then meant architecture and encompassed most of the arts and sciences. Because lodges held knowledge as competitive secrets, only trusted, capable companions were instructed in the craft – and then only by degrees, orally and through symbols, because of widespread illiteracy.

In the late Renaissance, lodges of freemason began to accept as speculative masons those educated men who were attracted by the elegance of Masonic traditions for their philosophic expression. In time they were passed through the inner circles.

Thus, the framers of speculative Freemasonry began to describe a code of conduct through the symbolic nature of architecture and the stonesmason’s craft. Signaling modern speculative Freemasonry, the first Grand Lodge was chartered in 1717. Constituent Symbolic Blue Lodges were soon established thoughout the world.

The first Lodge in the Colonies was chartered in Boston in 1733, and the first Masonic Lodge communication was held in the Ohio Territory at Marietta in 1790.

FREQUENTLY  ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?

Freemasonry means different things to each of those who join. For some, it’s about making new friends and acquaintances. For others it’s about being able to help deserving causes – making a contribution to family and for society. But for most, it is an enjoyable hobby.

Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organization. It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a progression of ceremonies. Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.

WHAT HAPPENS AT A LODGE MEETING?

The meeting, which like those of other groups, are open only to members, is normally in two parts. First, there are normal administrative procedures such as:

  • Minutes of the previous meeting
  • Proposing and balloting for new members
  • Discussing and voting on the annual accounts
  • Masonic news and correspondence
  • News about charitable work

Second, there are the ceremonies for:

  • Admitting new members
  • The annual installation of the Master of the Lodge and his officers

WHY DO FREEMASONS TAKE OATHS?

New members make solemn promises concerning their behavior both in the Lodge and in society. Members also promise to keep confidential the way they recognize each other when visiting another Lodge. Freemasons also promise to support others in time of need but only so far as it does not conflict with their family and public obligations.

ARE FREEMASONS EXPECTED TO GIVE PREFERENCE TO FELLOW MEMBERS?

Certainly not. This would be unacceptable and may lead to action being taken against those involved. On joining, each new member states that he expects no material gain from membership.

WHO DO THE MASONIC CHARITIES DONATE TO?

Whilst there are Masonic charities that cater specifically, but not exclusively, for Masons or their defendants, others make significant grants to non-Masonic organizations.

WHAT IS FREEMASONRY’S RELATIONSHIP WITH RELIGION?

All Freemasons are expected to have a religious belief, but Freemasonry does not seek to replace a Mason’s religion or provide a substitute for it. It deals in a man’s relationship with his fellow man not in a man’s relationship with his God.

WHY DO SOME CHURCHES NOT LIKE FREEMASONRY?

There are elements within churches who misunderstand Freemasonry and its objectives. They confuse secular rituals with religious liturgy. There are many Masons in churches where their leaders have been openly critical of the organization. Masonry has always actively encouraged its members to be active in their own religion.

WHAT IS FREEMASONRY’S RELATIONSHIP WITH POLITICS?

Freemasonry, as a body, will never express a view on politics or state policy. The discussion of politics at Masonic meetings has always been prohibited.

IS FREEMASONRY AN INTERNATIONAL ORDER?

Freemasonry exists throughout the world. However, each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent. There is no international governing body for Freemasonry.

HOW MANY DEGREES ARE THERE IN FREEMASONRY?

Basic Freemasonry consists of three degrees:

  • Entered Apprentice
  • Fellowcraft
  • Master Mason