Who Are The Masons?
Masons (also known as Freemasons) belong to the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world. Today, there are more than two million Freemasons in North America. Masons represent virtually every occupation and profession, yet within the Fraternity, all meet as equals. Masons come from diverse political ideologies, yet meet as friends. Masons come from varied religious beliefs and creeds, yet all believe in one God. Many of North America's early patriots were Freemasons. Thirteen signers of the Constitution and fourteen Presidents’ of the United States, including George Washington, were Masons. In Canada, the Father of the Confederation, Sir John A. MacDonald, was a Mason, as were other early Canadian and American leaders. One of the most fascinating aspects of Freemasonry is how so many men, from so many different walks of life, can meet together in peace, always conducting their affairs in harmony and friendship and calling each other " Brother."
What Is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry (or Masonry) is dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. It uses the tools and implements of ancient architectural craftsmen symbolically in a system of instruction designed to build character and moral values in its members. Its singular purpose is to make good men better. Its bonds of friendship, compassion, and brotherly love have survived even the most divisive political, military, and religious conflicts through the centuries. Freemasonry is a fraternity that encourages its members to practice the faith of their personal acceptance. Masonry teaches that each person, through self-improvement and helping others, has an obligation to make a difference for good in the world.
Where Did Freemasonry Begin?
No one knows just how old Freemasonry is because the actual origins have been lost in time. Most scholars believe Masonry rose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the majestic castles and cathedrals of the middle ages. In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization when four Lodges in London joined in forming England's first Grand Lodge. By 1731, when Benjamin Franklin joined the Fraternity, there were already several Lodges in the Colonies, and in Canada the first Lodge was established in 1738. Today, Masonic Lodges are found in almost every community throughout North America, and in large cities there are usually several Lodges. A Mason can travel to almost any country in the world and a Masonic Lodge where he will be welcomed as a "Brother."
What Do Freemasons Do?
The Masonic experience encourages members to become better men, better husbands, better fathers, and better citizens. The fraternal bonds formed in the Lodge help build lifelong friendships among men with similar goals and values. Beyond its focus on individual development and growth, Masonry is deeply involved in helping people. The Freemasons of North America contribute over two million dollars a day to charitable causes. The philanthropy represents an unparalleled example of the humanitarian commitment of this great and honorable Fraternity. Much of that assistance goes to people who are not Masons. Some of these charities are vast projects. The Shrine Masons (Shriners) operate the largest network of hospitals for burned and orthropaedically impaired children in the country, and there is never a fee for treatment. The Scottish Rite Masons maintain a nationwide network of over 150 Childhood Language Disorder Clinics, Centers, and Programs. Many other Masonic organizations sponsor a variety of philanthropies, including scholarship programs for students, and perform public service activities in their communities. Masons also enjoy the fellowship of each other and their families in social and recreational activities.
Several Masonic Principles Are:
Faith must be the center of our lives. All men and women are the children of God. No one has the right to tell another person what he or she must think or believe. Each person has a responsibility to be a good citizen, obeying the law. It is important to work to make the world a better place for all. Honor and integrity are keys to a meaningful life.
What Is The Masonic Lodge?
The word "Lodge" means both a group of Masons meeting together as well as the room or building in which they meet. Masonic buildings are sometimes called " temples" because the original meaning of the term was " place of knowledge" and Masonry encourages the advancement of knowledge. Most Masonic Lodges usually meet once or twice a month to conduct regular business, vote upon petitions for membership, and bring new Masons into the Fraternity through three ceremonies called degrees. Howard Lodge meets every Monday. In the Lodge room Masons share in a variety of programs. Here the bonds of friendship and fellowship are formed and strengthen.
Who Can Qualify To Join?
Applicants must be men of good character who believe in a Supreme Being. To become a Mason one must petition a particular Lodge. The Master of the Lodge appoints a committee to visit the applicant prior to the Lodge balloting upon his petition.
So Who Are The Masons?
Masons are men of good character who strive to improve themselves and make the world a better place. They belong to the oldest and most honorable fraternity known to man. If you think you may be interested in becoming a member, you can begin by contacting a Lodge in your area or speaking to a Mason.
Thanks to Brother Nick Marks of Florence Lodge No. 87 in Woodbury, NJ for supplying information for this article.
What are Masonic Ceremonies or Rituals?
The experience of becoming a member of a Masonic Lodge is divided into three ceremonial stages that Masons call "degrees". These three degrees are loosely based upon the journeyman system, which was used to educate Medieval craftsmen. Symbolically the degrees represent the three stages of human development: youth, manhood, and age.
The first degree of Freemasonry is the Entered Apprentice degree. It is a candidate's first experience with the ceremonies of the fraternity and like all Masonic ceremonies is a solemn and meaningful event. Though new to Freemasonry, an Entered Apprentice enjoys the title of "Brother".
The Fellow Craft degree is the second ceremony and exposes a Brother to more of the symbolism and philosophy of the fraternity. For skilled craftsmen this degree would have marked one's progress from an apprentice to a journeyman.
The Master Mason degree is the last of the Lodge ceremonies and with it a candidate becomes a full member, enjoying both the rights and responsibilities of membership.
During all three ceremonies, a candidate is treated with complete respect. At no time, is he ever made to feel uncomfortable or harassed in any way. Masonic ceremonies are a wonderful tradition shared by men such as George Washington, Harry S. Truman, Dave Thomas, and other men of integrity. These ceremonies are always conferred in such a way as to bring pride to the candidate and the members of the Lodge.
A Masonic Lodge is:
1. A place where you can confidently trust every person and you can trust your family with them also.
2. A place where, within moral and civil guidelines; free thought, free speaking, and the spiritual growth of man, can grow to its fullest potential.
3. A place to meet outstanding individuals from all walks of life, that a person would not otherwise have the opportunity to know or call Brother.
4. A place to be part of an organization which has for its principal tenets - Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.
5. A place that provides self-development opportunities, leadership training, and to improve public speaking skills.
6. A place you can go to seek support as well as give it.
7. A place where moral virtues are taught, and through these teachings a regular reinforcement of the moral virtues are experienced.
8. A place to spend time with a group of Brothers, who by acting as good men, make me want to become a better man. Not better than others, but better than I would have otherwise been.
9. A place to become better equipped to serve the Community.
10. A place to meet with established members of the community and to become part of the community.