Even though people refer to a lodge as a place where lodge meetings are held and degrees are conferred, a lodge is wholly made up of its members. The members, themselves, constitute the lodge because without members, the lodge is simply a building or place where a lodge of Freemasons meet.
(1) Entered Apprentice degree
(2) Fellowcraft degree
(3) Master Mason degree
Lodge meetings are held regularly on the third Tuesday of the month and like any organization there is a business element with minutes, accounts and plans for forthcoming events and charity activities to be addressed and discussed amongst members. Lodge meetings are also ceremonial and involve a series of formalized and symbolic presentations that use drama to highlight the codes of conduct by which a Freemason strives to live.
The dress code for Lodge Meetings is coat and tie or a suit.
Previous to the start of a Lodge Meeting, members and family share an enjoyable meal together.
Apart from these meetings, most Lodges organize regular social activities for families and friends, such as dinners, sports days and picnics.
A "Grand Lodge", or "Grand Orient", is the governing body of Freemason subordinate lodges in a specific geographical area, which is called a jurisdiction.
No. This is a misconception. There is nothing ‘secret’ about Freemasonry. Until recently the policy was for members to be rather discreet about the organisation, their community work and even their membership but times have changed.
The so called ‘secrets’ of modern Freemasonry are used solely as a ceremonial means of demonstrating that one is a Freemason when in Lodge Meetings. The real point of a Freemason promising not to reveal them is basically a dramatic way of testing the good character of those who join – to become a Freemason requires a person to continually observe, with total sincerity, the high ideals of integrity, goodwill and confidentiality.
What are the Freemasons Secrets?
The passwords, grips, steps, penal signs and the wording of the rituals.
What are passwords?
A form of recognition between members.
What are grips?
A second form of recognition between members.
What are penal signs?
A third form of recognition between members.
Worldwide, Freemasonry has varying degrees of secrecy. In English-speaking countries, affiliation with the fraternity is public. Masonic buildings are usually clearly marked, many lodges are listed in the telephone books or can be found online, and meeting times are generally a matter of public record or may be found on lodge websites.
No. Freemasonry universally embraces men from all religions. Freemasonry has no specific religious dogmas, (established beliefs or doctrines which are denomination-specific within different religions), does not teach theology, does not offer sacraments and does not offer the promise of salvation.
The fraternity encourages and brings men together in brotherhood, to simply focus upon the Supreme Being, the creator of mankind (God)
No. Freemasonry believes in and universally upholds religious freedom for all men. It believes that a man's relationship with God is undisputedly, a private and very individual relationship which is sacred in nature.
In order to maintain a spirit of universal brotherhood and provide harmony within the lodge, both politics and individual religions are discouraged from being discussed.
Typically, for Protestant, Christian members in English speaking countries, the King James version of the Christian Bible or another standardized translation, resides upon the altar.
However, depending upon the personal religious beliefs of the lodge members, holy books of other major religions may also be placed upon the altar when the obligation is conferred upon the candidate, such as the Torah, (also known as the Hebrew Bible) for Jewish members. (The Torah contains the first 5 books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).
Volumes of the Sacred Law from other major religions for those members who are of other faiths, such as Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism may also be found upon the lodge altars around the world at the time the candidate takes his obligation.
Yes. Non-denominational prayers are performed before and after the lodge meets and before refreshments are offered. This means that prayers are offered to the Grand Architect of the Universe, rather than to specific religious figures such as Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Buddha or others.
Non-denominational prayers are not meant to exclude these specific religious figures from a man's personal beliefs, but are, instead, directed to God, to provide members from all religious faiths a common ground upon which to find brotherhood.
Freemasons promote voluntary and charitable efforts
• Charity - Collectively, Freemasons fund Masonic homes for the elderly and fund programs which assist in child welfare. Locally, lodges hold charity events which provide scholarship funds for youth as well as funding for other worthy local charitable causes.
• Education - Freemasons provide college scholarships to worthy young men and women, for both members of the fraternity and non-members. To find more information about Masonic scholarships, go to the World Grand Lodges page, click on your state or country and, once on the Grand Lodge website for your jurisdiction, search for the details about the Masonic scholarships which are available.
• Volunteer Support - Freemasons contribute to blood banks, the funding of medical research and support and maintenance of hospitals for crippled and burned children in the United States, Canada and in Mexico. Freemasons in North America, alone, give over 1.5 million dollars each day to charities.
• Masonic Child Identification Programs (CHIP) - Working hand-in-hand with law enforcement officials, in the United States, Freemasons offer free child identification kits (physical description, photos, fingerprints, tooth prints, and DNA sample,...video and audio are also offered in some locations) to children under the age of 18 years old.
These child ID kits are compiled by volunteers at CHIPS events held in many different cities. CHIP events are open to the public.
Should a child be abducted, time is of the essence. Parents can immediately give this CD or DVD with their child's full information to law enforcement officials. When each child identification event ends, and the child's parents are in possession of the CD or DVD, all personal data on the computer hard drives used to produce these CDs are erased.
The fraternity keeps no copy nor any personal data about the child, whatsoever. Parents are advised to keep their child's CD/DVD identification information in a safe place because the fraternity does not keep a back-up copy.
In addition to lodge membership, Freemasonry has a diverse number oforganizations which also contribute their charitable efforts to local communities. Each of these organizations consist of Master Masons and their families.
To become a member of any of these organizations, a man must first join a lodge and become a Master Mason.
There is no higher degree in all of Freemasonry than that of a Master Mason. Each of these subsequent degrees explain the meanings of the first 3 degrees in greater depth.
There are numerous appendant bodies within Freemasonry. These are the 3 primary appendant body Masonic organizations in the United States:
• Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry - The Scottish Rite is also known as the "University of Freemasonry" because it offers an additional 29 degrees, all of which build on the first 3 degrees which are received in the Masonic lodge.
The culmination of these degrees is the 32nd degree of the Scottish Rite. The 33rd degree is an elected degree which is conferred upon a select few members who have made major contributions to society or to the fraternity.
For a more detailed explanation of the Scottish Rite, see their website at ScottishRite.org
• York Rite - The York Rite consists of 3 bodies: Royal Arch Chapter, Council of Cryptic Masons-Royal and Select Masters and the Commandery of Knights Templar. Colloquially, they are known as Chapter, Council and Commandery.
All Knights Templar must profess a belief in Christ. Each of these 3 bodies offer additional explanation of the meanings of the first 3 degrees.
For a more detailed explanation about the York Rite, its degrees and its similarities and differences across the world, see their website at YorkRite.org.
• Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine - also known as "Shriners" - The A.A.O.N.M.S. or "Shrine" is a social organization for Master Masons and their wives. "Shriners" wear fezzes and donate their time to collecting donations for the many charities which the "Shrine" funds.
They hold Shrine Circuses for children and support their local communities in a number of ways.
For more information about Shriner's International, see their website at ShrinersInternational.org
What are Rites?
A Rite is a series of progressive degrees which are conferred by various Masonic organizations.
Each of these appendant bodies of Freemasonry operate separately and each body is under the control of its own central authority.
In 1775, an African American named Prince Hall was initiated into an Irish Constitution Military Lodge, along with fourteen other African Americans.
When the Military Lodge left the area, the African Americans were given the authority to meet as a Lodge, form Processions on the days of the Saints John, and conduct Masonic funerals, but were not given authority to confer degrees nor to do other Masonic work.
After applying for and obtaining a Warrant for Charter from the Grand Lodge of England in 1784, these fourteen African American individuals formed African Lodge # 459 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Worshipful Master of the lodge was Prince Hall.
Due to many difficulties such as the length of time for a Charter to be received from the Grand Lodge of England in this post-American Revolutionary War era, (the American Revolutionary War also called the War of Independence, lasted from 1775–1783), questions arose about the validity of Prince Hall Masons.
Today, Prince Hall Masonry, which is comprised almost solely of African Americans, remains as a separate entity from Mainstream Freemasonry. However, increasingly, Prince Hall Freemasonry is now becoming recognized by many Mainstream, Regular Grand Lodges and is slowly achieving full recognition from Mainstream Freemasonry.
Yes. “The Order of the Eastern Star” is for women and it operates with similar characteristics to Freemasonry.
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