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What is Masonry?

Masonry, or Freemasonry, means many things to many people. This is true not only of the person who is not a Mason, but applies as well to Masons themselves. Some of those who have been members of the Masonic Craft for may years are afraid to mention even the things which almost everyone knows about the fraternity. Others amongst us are convinced that Freemasonry is a secret society and they, as members, are forbidden to talk about it to others whom they do not know to be Masons. Most of this is far from the truth and a word of explanation concerning this Fraternal organization may not be amiss.

Freemasonry is a Fraternity
Learning
Organization
Membership
Joining
Origins of "The Gentle Craft"
Freemasonry: What is it?

What sets this Fraternity apart?

Freemasonry is a Fraternity

Freemasonry is a traditional initiatic order. It is not a secret society, but rather, a society with secrets. While it took its modern form during the Enlightenment, its traditions, symbols, and lessons reach back to pre-modern times.

Learning

The general work associated with the initiatic tradition and the purpose of Freemasonry, put simply, is to provide an environment where good men can come together to pursue meaningful intellectual and spiritual growth. It is often said that Freemasonry "makes good men better." One of the underlying tenets of the initiatic tradition is the belief that with each individual that becomes a better person, the entire world profits.

Organization

Being part of the initiatic tradition is what distinguishes Freemasonry from purely social or philanthropic organizations. While there are many different organizations that contribute large sums of money to charity, offer fellowship with like-minded men, or provide education, Freemasonry is unique in that it embodies all these things, but is actually focused on offering men a traditional initiation into the mysteries of life and death. The initiatic tradition is the core, defining characteristic of Freemasonry, without which there would be nothing to differentiate Masonry from other social or philanthropic organizations.

Membership

Initiation is a slow and sensitive process and requires great effort on behalf of both the candidate and the existing members of the lodge. For the initiatic experience to be meaningful and enriching, great care and attention must be afforded to each individual candidate. If the new Freemason is to become worthy of the title, he must spend time and energy learning about the history, symbolism, and philosophy of the Craft. There is no way around it.

Joining

The process of experiencing the initiatic tradition, becoming a part of it, and improving oneself through its lessons is known as "Masonic Formation." This is an ever-continuing process of spiritual and intellectual formation that all Freemasons must continuously undergo. Masonic Formation is the process of fitting the Rough Ashlar of our imperfect being into the Perfect Ashlar fit for the Divine temple. It is a constant transformation through the use of Masonic symbols, rituals, and teachings on a journey of return to the center of our being. W. L. Wilmshurst, in his book Meaning of Masonry, writes, "the very essence of the Masonic doctrine is that all men in this world are in search of something in their own nature which they have lost, but that with proper instruction and by their own patience and industry they may hope to find."

Origins of "The Gentle Craft"

On 24 June 1717, the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist, the members of four old Lodges in London, England, met together in Grand Assembly to form the Grand Lodge of England. That this was a speculative Lodge is evidenced by the election of one styled "Anthony Sayer, gentleman," as Grand Master. All modern Freemasonry traces its beginning under the Grand Lodge system of government to this Grand Lodge.

Freemasonry: What is it?

It has a different connotation in different situations. Someone has written that Freemasonry is honesty in business; that it is fairness in work; courtesy in society; compassion for the sick and unfortunate; forgiveness for the penitent; love for our fellowman and reverence for God.

Yes, it is all of these, but is more, for Freemasonry is a philosophy to live by, the shadow of a mighty rock in a weary land.

What Freemasonry IS
What Freemasonry IS NOT
It is a voluntary association of men. It does not solicit members.
It is a system of moral conduct. It is not a "benevolent society."
It is a way of life. It is neither a cult, a religion, nor a religious order.
It is a fraternal society. It is not a charitable organization, but makes charity a duty.
It is religious in its character. It is not organized for profit.
It teaches the "Golden Rule." It dictates to no man his religious or secular beliefs.
It seeks to take good men and makes them better. It seeks no advantages for its members through business or politics.
It teaches morality through symbolism. It is not a forum for discussion of religion, politics or other partisan affairs.
It uses rites and ceremonies to instruct its members It is not a secret society, as it does not conceal its existence nor its purposes.
It is based on a firm belief in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Immortality of the soul.



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