A quick Overview of Freemasonry for Those Who Would Like
To Know A Little More About Us.
If there is one thing most people are sure they know, it's that Masons
are never supposed to talk about Masonry.
- Not true. Oh, there are some secrets - but there's nothing in them
that would interest anyone except a Mason. Almost all of the "secrets"
deal with ways of recognizing each other.
But as far as Freemasonry, what it does, what it teaches, how it's organized,
where it came from, what goes on in a Lodge meeting - that's open for discussion.
Given a chance, we'll probably tell you more than you really wanted to
know. We're excited about the Fraternity, we get a lot out of it, and we
really want to share that with others.
Then why hasn't anyone ever asked me to join? People have asked me
to join Rotary, Lions, and other clubs.
- It's no reflection on you. There is a rule in Masonry that a person
must seek admission himself. We aren't allowed to go out and twist arms.
There is a reason for that. A person needs to come to Masonry because he
really wants to, not because he's been talked into it. Masonry is a real
commitment. If you are a Mason and you need help, every Mason in the world
MUST help you, if he possibly can. By the same token, you must be willing
to help any Mason who needs it. And then there is another reason - a person
has to be ready for Masonry. Masonry isn't a civic club, although we do
a lot of civic projects. It is a Fraternity. We're dedicated to the growth
and development of our members as human beings. A person has to be ready
to grow, has to suspect that there is something more to life, and wants
to know what that is, before he is really ready to become a Mason.
What goes on in a Masonic Meeting?
- There are two types of meeting agenda. The first is like the business
meeting of any other organization. It takes us just a bit longer to call
the meeting to order, because we use a longer opening ceremony or ritual
than most civic clubs do. But, it reminds us of some of the most important
lessons in Masonry.
Then, when the lodge is "open", we hear the reading of the minutes,
vote to pay bills, take care of old and new business, and plan projects,
just like everyone else. The other type of meeting is one in which new
members are received. This is done with a beautiful ritual, centuries old,
which is designed to teach some important lessons and to start the person
thinking about his own nature as a spiritual being.
What's the initiation like?
- The Ceremonies of Masonic Initiation are meaningful and historic. Nothing
humorous or embarrassing is permitted. In fact, it is a very serious Masonic
offense to allow anything to happen during an initiation which is undignified
I've heard that Masonry is a religion. Is it? Can a man be a Mason
and a Christian at the same time?
- Masonry acknowledges the existence of God. No atheist can become a
Mason. Prayer is an important part of the Masonic ritual. Masonic vows
are taken in the name of God, but Masonry never tries to tell a person
how he should think about God, or how he should worship God, or why he
should believe. We offer no plan of salvation. We teach that man should
live a good life, not because that alone will earn him entrance into heaven,
but because anything else is destructive, both to himself and to those
around him. It is good to be good. As to whether a man can be a Mason and
a Christian, the best answer is that most us are. There are many Free Masons
who belong to other faiths, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism,
but the majority in America are Christian. And we number many, many ministers
of many different denominations. As Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, an active
Freemason himself, once remarked: "Masonry encourages men to be good
and that can never conflict with Christianity".
Are there any churches or religions whose members you won't accept
- No. A man's belief is his own business, and Masonry has no right to
approve or disapprove of his belief.
What about those "Secret Vows" I hear so much about?
- The exact words of the vows are secret. That's one of the ways we recognize
each other. The contents of the vows are not. In less formal language than
we use in the Ritual, a Mason promises: "to treat women with deference
and respect, to help a Brother when he asks for and needs help, to remember
that people are entitled to dignity and respect and not to treat them as
if they were things, to follow the directions of the Grand Lodge in things
Masonic, and if he disagrees, to use the proper channels to express that
disagreement and seek resolution, to respect the traditions of the Fraternity,
and to keep secret the few things that are secret".
Why don't you let women join?
- We're a Fraternity, a Brotherhood. The essence of a fraternity is that
it is for men, just as the essence of a sorority is that it is for women.
That's the primary reason. Recent developments in psychology and sociology
have discovered another reason. There is a new thing called "male
bonding." That's the new technical way of saying something that has
been known for thousands of years. It's important for men to have a few
things they do by themselves, just as it is for women to have the same
But that doesn't mean that there is no place for women in Masonry. In fact,
there are several Masonic organizations for both women and men. The order
of the Eastern Star, with one of the most beautiful rituals anywhere, is
one. So are the White Shrine of Jerusalem, the Order of Amaranth, the Social
Order of Beauseant, and several others.
Just what is a "Lodge?" What does it look like? Who runs
- A lodge is both a meeting place for Masons and the Masons who meet
there. You could actually say "The Lodge is a meeting at the Lodge."
It's a Middle English word. When the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages
were being built, the masons had special, temporary buildings built against
the side of the cathedral in which they met, received their pay, planned
the work on the cathedral and socialized after work. This building was
called a lodge. The term has simply remained down through the ages.
As to the officers, the leader of the Lodge, the President is the "Worshipful
Master". That title doesn't mean we worship him, although some people
have thought that is what it means. The titles we use come from Middle
English, about the time of Chaucer. Just as mayors in England and Canada
are addressed as "Your Worship", the Master of the Lodge is called
"Worshipful Master", meaning "Greatly Respected." The
First Vice President is the Senior Warden. The second Vice President is
the Junior Warden. We have a Secretary and a Treasurer, just like any other
organization. Assisting the Master are the Senior and Junior Deacons. They
carry messages and help with the ritual work. The Senior and Junior Stewards
help guide the new candidates in the initiation and also traditionally
set out refreshments. Finally, the Tiler sits at the door to make sure
that the Lodge is not interrupted and to help visitors get into the Lodge
If that is the Lodge, what is the "Grand Lodge?"
- The Grand Lodge is the State Organization of Masons. The local Lodges
are members of the Grand Lodge. The Grand Master is the same as the State
Just what do Masons do?
- Charity is the most visible Masonic activity. Each year Masons give
many millions of dollars to charity. Some are large projects, some are
small. Among the hundreds of local projects, we sponsor large programs
such as Children in Crisis, and Blindness Prevention programs, testing
thousands of school children and senior citizens for vision problems. We
have strong commitments to public education. Many Lodges have programs
in which they recognize outstanding students. We have essay contests, awards
for outstanding teachers and even programs to help teachers get supplies.
The Fraternity gives hundreds of college scholarships to students each
year. Nationally, throughout the United States, the Masons give an average
of $1,500.000.00 (that is one and a half million) EVERY DAY to charitable
causes, most of which are not Masonic. A fact never publicized and thus
All those things are external, and they are important. But the real things
the Masons do are far more difficult to describe. In essence, we try to
build ourselves into better men, better fathers, better husbands and better
citizens. We strive for self development and self improvement. We try to
learn more about what it means to be human and what it takes to become
How does a man become a Mason?
- As we said earlier, no one will ever twist your arm. If you decide
you want more information, we'll be happy to provide it through the Grand
Lodge in your jurisdiction. If you want to join our Fraternity it works
this way: "Ask any Mason for a petition (to join). Fill it out and
return it to him. He'll take it to his Lodge and turn it in. A committee
(of about three) will be appointed to talk with you and with people you
may list. Its purpose is to ascertain that you are a man of good character
and that you believe in God. Atheism and Freemasonry are not compatible.
The committee will report its recommendation back to the Lodge. The Lodge
will vote. If your petition is accepted, the Secretary will contact you
about a date for the first of three degrees. There is some study and a
bit of memory work required with which your Lodge Brothers will always
help you. After the Third Degree you will be a full-fledged Master Mason
and will have joined the oldest global brotherhood in the world!
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