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 things we
do keep to ourselves - but there's nothing in them that would interest
anyone except a Mason. Almost all of the so called "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 and can be found in any library together with the so
called "secret" words and grips. 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 service 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 lodge meeting is followed with what we call a
"festive board" where a meal or snacks are enjoyed and the members enjoy
the fellowship of each others company.
The other type of meeting is a committee
meeting at which all members of the lodge may attend and where the
planning takes place and prospective members are met for the first time.
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 or "funny". A newly
initiated brother mostly comes away from the ceremony impressed.
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 obligations 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. And we
number many ministers and religious leaders of many different
Are there any churches or religions
whose members you won't accept as Masons?
No. A man's belief is his own business,
and Masonry has no right to approve or disapprove of his belief. In fact
freemasonry encourages it's members to actively follow their faith in
pursuance of his own perfection. Provincial Grand Lodge of Natal attend
an annual church service which in recent time has been held at an
What about those "Secret Vows" I hear
so much about?
The exact words of the vows are kept
confidential. 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 in his heart the certain signs and words of
freemasonry. These words and signs conflict in no way with the
individuals religious faith nor his allegiance to his country and if
they were made known publicly they would certainly not make any person
any wiser for having the information.
Why don't you let women join?
We're a Fraternity, a Brotherhood. The
essence of a fraternity is that it is for men. 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 thing.
But that doesn't mean that there is no place for women in Masonry. In
fact, Masons wives play an important roll in freemasonry. Some lodges
actively encourage the Ladies to attend Masonic lectures with their
husbands and to attend the Lodge festive board.
Just what is a "Lodge?" What does it
look like? Who runs it?
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 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 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 Room.
If that is the Lodge, what is the
"Provincial or a District Grand Lodge?"
Just what do Masons do?
Charity is the most visible Masonic
activity. Each year Masons worldwide give many millions 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. . A fact never publicized and thus hardly known.
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 better men.
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. 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!
for more information
Review of Freemasonry