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Information About Masonry-

In 17th and 18th Century England, Masons defined their fraternity as “a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” Today we might define it as “an organized society of men symbolically applying the principles or operative masonry and architecture to the science and art of character building.” What Freemasonry teaches is not at all secret. It teaches its members to be better men. However, based upon tradition, Freemasonry teaches through ritual, some of which is secret.

 

What is Freemasonry’s Purpose?

Basically, Masonry tries to build a better world by making “better men out of good men,” by strengthening their character, improving their moral and spiritual outlook and broadening their mental horizons.

It teaches men the Principles of personal responsibility and righteousness, understanding of and feeling for Freemasonry’s character, and how to put these lessons into practice in daily life.

The principals of personal responsibility and righteousness
Understanding of and feeling for Freemasonry’s character
How to put these lessons into practice in daily life
In short, Freemasons believe in universal peace made possible by teaching its doctrine through the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God.

 

How did Freemasonry Originate?

Medieval stonemasons were highly skilled craftsmen urgently needed at the various building projects in different countries. Therefore, the church and state gave them the unheard of privilege of traveling freely from project to project.

Masonic scholars are not sure of the exact time at which our Craft came into being and numerous theories have been advanced over the years. One of the more plausible is that modern Freemasonry originally came from the “lodges” which traveling stonemasons formed at building sites in Europe in the middle ages. They early established the apprentice-to-journeyman-to-master system of educating men in their craft. They also kept secret their methods of building and used passwords and other means to identify themselves to each other as masons. In addition, they gave apprentices and journeymen moral instruction.

With the growth of cities, the Renaissance, the Reformation and Counter Reformation, and the decline in demand for great building projects, the special privileges of stonemasons as traveling craftsmen disappeared. As a result, they began to take in non-masons as patrons. This led, in the 17th century, to large numbers of speculative or non-working-masons entering the masonic “lodges.” By the end of that century, Masonic lodges were almost wholly speculative, made up of Masons who never touched chisel to stone.

Freemasons kept the old traditions. Today, we still begin new members as Entered Apprentices, then make them Fellowcrafts (Journeymen) and finally Master Masons. We preserve some of the original secrecy of how we teach friendship, morality, brotherly love, relief and truth. And we still utilize the old passwords and signs.

1st Degree - Entered Apprentice

The first degree, Entered Apprentice, is intended to be a candidate's first introduction to Masonry.  Entering at his own free will and with confirmation of his belief in a Supreme Being, prospective Masons receive instructions and light about the fraternity through information provided on Operative and Speculative Masons, who Masonry teaches in symbolism, and how the lodge room represents the world and parts of King Solomon's Temple.
The symbolism of the Entered Apprentice degree emphasizes beginning, spiritual birth, the first steps of youth, and orientation to the light.  Here, candidates first learn the importance of a man's inner worth rather than his worldly wealth - or what it means to be "duly and truly prepared." They learn about kneeling at the alter, the significance of God's (however the individual defines him/her) place in Masonry and in every Mason's life. They can now articulate the three lights of Freemasonry - the volume of Sacred Law, the square, and compass - and how it guides Masons to become the best they can be.
At this stage, the Entered Apprentice is only a Mason in the sense that he is a rough Ashlar in the process of being made into a perfect ashlar.  To be "perfected," he must continue his journey of self-improvement and participate in the second and third degrees.
2nd Degree - Fellowcraft
Where the first degree encompasses the body and our actions in the world - or our duties to themselves, our neighbors, and God - the second degree addresses the mind and prepares men for spiritual enlightenment.
As such, the Fellowcraft degree emphasizes education through philosophy, intellectual enlightenment, and wisdom.  Candidates are called to learn, study, and revel in the education found in Freemasonry and liberal arts and seek the highest advancement in the Craft and consequently, their life.
Up-and-coming Masons are tasked with acquiring knowledge and applying it, using the working tools of the craft, to build his character and improve the society in which he lives.  It is during the second degree that candidates are introduced to Masons' beloved symbol, the winding staircase, and Freemasons' quest to continually elevate their knowledge and advance in their Masonic journey.  Upon completion of the second degree, Fellowcraft Masons understand the wages of the Fellowcraft are wealth in the form of mental and spiritual enlightenment.  For Brothers who love learning, there is a treasure trove of symbolism and history to indulge in during the Fellowcraft degree.
Once men have proven their commitment, understanding, and acceptance of these Masonic truths, they may take the third degree and complete their journey towards Master Mason.
3rd Degree - Master Mason
The third degree, Master Mason, is the pinnacle point in a candidate's blue lodge experience.  The crown of the blue lodge, the Master Mason degree is the culmination of all that has been taught as an Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft.
In the first two degrees of the blue lodge, men learn how to physically and mentally prepare for spiritual enlightenment through the teachings of the Craft.  In the third degree, candidates now learn how the soul may be brought to its perfection.  The Master Mason degree emphasizes the immortality of man's soul and the certain resurrection of his body to eternal life.
At this stage of the blue lodge, men find the Masonic trowel in their kit of working tools.  They expand their Masonic obligation to include the spread of brotherly love and they strengthen their connection to their soul by loving others.  Brothers, upon completion of the third degree, earn the right to travel in foreign countries - or continually search for truth, wherever it may be found.  Most importantly, they understand the importance of the legend of Hiram and Solomon's Temple.  Men can now see the symbolism of Solomon's Temple and Operative Freemasonry throughout the Craft.  They understand why steadfastly standing by our beliefs, even in the face of death and ruin, is the greatest personal distinction to be held.
The candidate is now ready to approach the portal of the Sublime Degree of Master Mason.
Throughout all of Freemasonry, both at the blue lodge, Scottish Rite, and our other appendant bodies, there are endless symbols, stories, and traditions to explore.  Many find as they advance in life and in the Craft new revelations and meaning to each of the degrees, despite having visited the degree in question numerous times prior.
So what makes a Master Mason? A lifelong quest to become the best they can be!
 
What is a Grand Lodge?

The structure of modern speculative Freemasonry as we know it today came into being with the formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717. Other Grand Lodges took their charter from this and other early Grand Lodges. Today, there are Grand Lodges in most of the countries in the world and each of the United States.

During the mid-18th century, the Grand Lodge of England began to introduce many innovations in their ritual which alienated many members, especially those who had migrated from Ireland. A schism was created splitting the Craft in two Grand Lodges. The original was labeled the “Moderns,” while those who hearkened to the traditional ritual were called “Ancients.” Long-suffering efforts brought about a merger of the two in 1813. However, we still see the effects today of the schism in the variations of the initial’s F. & A.M. Some Grand Lodges, such as Florida, are titled F. & A.M., Free and Accepted Masons. Other states use, A.F. & A.M., which stands for Ancient Free and Accepted Masons F. A.& A. M.. However, today, all Grand Lodges work toward the same end.
(Grand Lodge of  Florida)

 

What Does “Free and Accepted” Mean?

Here again, we are uncertain as to the exact origin. Some scholars believe the term “free” referred to the fact that the most skilled craftsmen worked in freestone, a softer material that permitted carving of the beautiful window tracery and other designs. Others suggest that the term comes from the medieval practice of allowing these valued artisans to travel throughout Europe without exacting the usual tolls for passage.

Because non-masons wanted to become affiliated with such skilled and privileged craftsmen as stonemasons, over the years stonemasons found it useful to accept them as members of their mason’s lodges. Such non-working (or speculative) masons thus became “accepted.” As the practice grew, the old stonemasons’ lodges likely transformed into the speculative lodges we know today.

 

Is Freemasonry a Secret Society?

 

Not at all. We make no secret of our existence. Our Masonic Temples are publicly marked. We often advertise, in advance, the times and places of our meetings. Our ritual books are copy righted, so the Library of Congress holds copies of them. Since they are thus already public, you will find them in bookstores and public libraries everywhere. Masons usually wear Masonic rings and lapel pins in public, and often appear in parades wearing their Masonic regalia.

As we said, what we teach is not secret. How we teach it is. In addition, we try to keep secret our modes of recognition and our obligation for the sake of tradition. Since we require that each prospective member profess his belief in a supreme deity, which atheists refuse to do, an atheist cannot become a Mason. Masonry takes no account of a man’s political beliefs. Masonry only requires that each member support his country’s government and obey its laws. In other words, members should be good citizens and perform their civic duties.


Can Political Beliefs Prevent a Man from Becoming a Mason?  How do Masons Behave in Lodge?

 

Inside a Masonic lodge, all men are equal and work on a common level toward the same purposes. The classes and distinctions of an outer world do not intrude there. In fact, only two subjects are banned from discussion in a lodge: religion and politics. These subjects create honest differences of opinion and sometimes cause friction between brethren. Discussions in the lodge should be kept strictly within the bounds of propriety and brethren are expected to show tolerance for the opinions of others. When a matter has been decided by vote, all members should accept the decision, regardless of how they voted.

 

Should Masons be Active in their Communities?

 

Absolutely. Whatever benefits the public good is consonant with Masonry’s objectives. Honorable civic service is one of our teachings. (However, a Mason running for public office should not attempt to take advantage of his Masonic affiliation by mentioning it in his campaign speeches or advertising.)

 

What Masonry Stands For-

Masonry stands for some important principles and beliefs. The primatey doctrines of Freemasonry are brotherly love, relief, and truth. Its cardinal virtues are temperance, fortitude, prudence, and Justice. These principles or beliefs cover a broad field, actually supplying the pattern to meet every experience in human life. In the United States Masonry is a strong supporter of constitutional government, of quality public education, of the freedom of religion and expression, of the equality of all men and women, of the need for strong moral character, and of meaningful charity.


Masonry, and the organizations that are within the Masonic family, contributes 400 million dollars every year to helping those with sight problems or aphasia, physically disabled children, and those with severe bums. Local Lodges work to help their communities and individuals within those communities. Masonry’s charity is always given without regard to race, sex, creed, or national origin.

 

The Mission of Freemasonry-

The mission of Freemasonry is to promote a way of life that binds like minded men in a worldwide brotherhood that transcends all religious, ethnic, cultural, social and educa-tional differences; by teaching the great prin-ciples of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth: and, by the outward expression of these, through its fellowship, its compassion and its concern, to find ways in which to serve God, family, country, neighbor.

What is Freemasonry- 

Freemasonry is older than recorded history, and has over two and one-half million followers in this country alone, has contributed immeasurably to the establishment and growth of our nation and has brought peace and happiness to countless millions, yet stands virtually unknown, unrecognized and unappreciated by many-yes, even by SOME of our own members. There are many things about our fraternity that are quite unique. There are many things about it that have been imitated by others. Yet, our organization has some weaknesses that need to be strengthened. Let us pause to take a closer look.

First, Freemasonry is very old. We cannot establish its age. We know that it is older than our other institutions- our state, our nation, our churches and many religious groups, our schools, our homes, our businesses, our social clubs, and even our democratic way of life. It was present when each of these institutions was established in this country and made a definite contribution to each. Without the influence of our gentle craft, at a key time in the history of the world, it is doubtful that we would enjoy the blessings of many of these institutions today.

Without Freemasonry it is doubtful there would have been a United States of America. It was Freemasonry which poured its teachings into the hearts of faithful patriots who wrote the Declaration of Independence and formulated the Bill of Rights for our new Constitution. A Freemason led the continental army to victory and became the first President of this Republic. Brother George Washington took his oath of office upon a Masonic Bible when he became President. And again, he acted in the capacity of a Master Mason when he laid the Cornerstone of our nation’s capitol according to ancient Masonic ceremonies. Another Freemason, Benjamin Franklin, led the establishment of our foreign policy, and based it on time-honored Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth, principles that continued to guide our country when it gave help, aid, and assistance to other nations of the world, especially during and after two world wars.

SO MOTE IT BE!