WHO WE ARE
The order is thought to have arisen from the English and Scottish guilds of practicing stonemasons and cathedral builders in the Middle Ages. Certain Masonic documents actually trace the sciences of geometry and masonry to the time of ancient Egypt, and some historians say that Masonry has its real roots in antiquity.
The formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717 marks the beginning of the Modern (or “Speculative”) era of Freemasonry, when members were no longer limited to actual working stonemasons. These “Accepted” Masons adopted more enlightened philosophies, and turned what was a tradesmen’s organization into a fraternity for moral edification, intellectual recitation, benevolent service, and gentlemanly socialization.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE INITIATION?
An applicant, whose petition has been accepted by the lodge, is advised of the date his Entered Apprentice Degree has been scheduled. On that date, following a brief Ritualistic opening, the petitioner is properly prepared and introduced to the lodge. The solemn process is an enlightening experience and the candidate need never worry that embarrassing or compromising situations will arise during this (or any other degree)-THEY WILL NOT! After receiving the Entered Apprentice Degree, you will be expected to memorize several key passages of the Ritual and help will be extended in the teaching/learning process.
Having learned the required Ritualistic work and satisfying the lodge of that proficiency, you will be asked to return for the conferral of your Fellow Craft Degree. Following a proficiency examination on that Degree, you will advance to the “last and highest grade of Ancient Craft Masonry-the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason.” Only after having completed these three symbolic degrees will you truly understand the oft-quoted statement, “Freemasonry Builds Its Temples in the Hearts of Men.”
IS FREEMASONRY A RELIGION
NO! Religion can best teach a man faith, hope, and charity. Freemasonry only endeavors to reinforce these teachings. Masonry is not a religion nor is it a substitute for or a rival of any doctrine. It is an aid to religious development in that it builds character and stresses righteousness. It is significant that many clergymen are active members of the Fraternity.
A Mason respects and is tolerant of that which is sacred to his brother, be he Christian, Mohammedan, Jew, or of some other faith in God. The Fraternity is essentially an institution providing moral instruction and the rules of right conduct a member must follow are acceptable to all religions.
HOW DO MASONS HELP EACH OTHER
The basic premise of Freemasonry is “The Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God.” With that thought uppermost in mind, Masons strive to learn how better to serve that “brotherhood of man”-charitably-not just with money (although a recent survey revealed that over two million Masonic dollars are contributed EVERY DAY to philanthropies) but also through actions and deeds.