Masonic Lodge #52
A.F. & A.M.
1350 N.W. Carden Ave.
is a Freemason?
A man who has taken an obligation to make of himself the best he can,
for himself, his family, and his community.
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is the oldest and the largest fraternal order in the world.
It is a universal brotherhood of men dedicated to serving God, family,
fellowman and country.
Freemasonry is not a charity; although it promotes charity in its
members -- in North America, masons contribute some two and a half
million dollars a day to operate children's hospitals, cancer clinics,
burn wards, senior's homes and other such facilities.
One of the better known Masonic charities is the Shriners
Hospitals for Children where children under the age of
18 receive excellent medical care absolutely free of charge. These
"Centers of Excellence" serve as major referral centers for children
with complex orthopaedic and burn problems.
Masonic membership is restricted to men over the age of 21 who are
prepared to profess a belief in God. The expression in some rituals
is "freeborn, of mature age and under the tongue of good report".
Some jurisdictions have a language or literacy requirement. Of a candidates
beliefs, only three questions are allowed: Do you believe in the existence
of a Supreme Being? Do you believe that the Supreme Being will punish
vice and reward virtue? Do you believe that Supreme Being has revealed
His will to man? Of these three, only the first must be answered in
the affirmative, and in many jurisdictions it is the only one asked.
First, a bit of history. Records strongly suggest a lineage to operative
stonemason's lodges or guilds of fourteenth century Scotland and an
inner fraternity of the London Company of masons. The records of the
Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) show lawyer and writer, John Boswell
of Auchinleck, signing the minutes of a meeting held in 1600, although
the first recorded admission of a non-operative doesn't occur until
1634. The oldest surviving Minute Book, that of the Lodge of Aitchison's
Haven, is dated 9th January 1598.
It is theorized that their need to travel at a time when travel was
uncommon required the need to create a sense of community. This included
means of identifying themselves and proving their standing in the
group, and a culture of mutual support. Whether operative and non-operative
lodges existed concurrently or if operative lodges slowly accepted
non-operative members into their ranks is still debatable. By the
end of the seventeenth century most lodges were speculative, not operative,
and the ritual which involved the tools of stonemasonry as symbols
was all that remained. Author John J. Robinson, a historian and non-Mason,
makes a strong case for a lineage between the Freemasons and Knights
Templar in his book titled "Born in Blood". While all Masons
may not agree on the content of Robinson's book, the author does make
a compelling case and raises some interesting questions.
It was in the 16th century that the first anti-masonic tracts appeared.
Most attacks on the craft have taken the position that any society
with a secret ritual must be up to no good. Having evolved in a Christian
nation, its foundations would certainly have been Christian but the
masonic claim to equality, fraternity and liberty quickly put the
Craft at odds with the established churches when a requirement of
membership, a belief in God, did not require the definition of that
God. Further, all Masonic oaths contain nothing conflicting with a
man's duty to God, his country, his neighbor, or himself.
Masonry has been labeled atheistic and pagan since it removed Christian
references at the Union of the Grand Lodges of England in 1813, and
dangerously radical because it would not support oppressive regimes.
History shows that Freemasonry has always been outlawed under totalitarian
regimes. Both the Church of England and the Southern Baptist Church
have recently completed studies of the Craft and have decided that
it is eccentric but neither dangerous nor in conflict with Christianity.
Various Roman Catholic Popes have published condemnations of masonry,
including Pope Leo XIII in 1887, who had been dupped by hoaxster Leo Taxil.
Taxil had authored several documents claiming that the Masons regularly
committed a variety of unmentionable acts and Taxil claimed that the
papers had been written by Masonic author Albert Pike. Taxil later
admitted the papers to be false and part of his hoax but the documents
he produced continue to be mis-attributed to Albert Pike by certain
people. For more details on the story, click
Although Roman Catholic Canon Law does not specifically mention
Freemasonry, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
of the Roman Catholic Church still views association with the Masons
and other rotary groups as a serious sin.
What attracts a man to Freemasonry?
Every man comes, of his own free will and accord, with his own individual
needs and interests. One man may join so that he can associate with
other men who believe that only by improving themselves can they hope
to improve their world. Another man may join because he is looking
for a focus for his charitable inclinations. And yet another may be
attracted by a strong sense of history and tradition. Many join simply
because they knew a friend or relative who was a Freemason and they
admired that man's way of living his life. All who join and become
active discover a bond of brotherly affection and a community of mutual
support; a practical extension of their own religious and philisophical
Most North American masonic lodges are composed of less than two hundred
members of which perhaps thirty are active and will come out regularly
to the one or two meetings a month. One meeting, run to a certain
ritual which is not much more than a form of Robert's Rules of Order,
is a business meeting to keep the membership apprised of the workings
of the lodge: paying of accounts, charitable works in progress, assistance
to sick or distressed brethren, and the like. The second monthly meeting
is used for the conferring of degrees. Before an initiate receives
a degree, and takes an obligation of secrecy, he is assured that the
mysteries are founded on the purest principles of piety and virtue
and that any vows are not inconsistent with his civil, moral or religious
Some lodges meet monthly, others only four times a year. Many lodges
also organize socials, dances, outings, dinners and sporting events
for their members and families.
Each lodge is chartered by a regional Grand Lodge. There are some
200 recognized Masonic jurisdictions around the world and no central
authority, although all can trace their history from either the United
Grand Lodge of England (or its precurser Grand Lodges), the Grand
Lodge of Scotland or the Grand Lodge of Ireland. They operate under
a system of mutual recognition, working within a set of Landmarks
of what qualifies as recognized Freemasonry.
Why are the rituals and ceremonies secret?
Tradition, more than anything -- there have been times and places
where promoting equality, freedom of thought or liberty of conscience
was dangerous. Also, a lesson that must be earned may have a greater
impact. Most importantly though is a question of perspective. Each
aspect of the ritual has a meaning. Freemasonry has been described
as a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.
Such characteristics as virtue, honor and mercy, such virtues as temperance,
fortitude, prudence and justice are empty clichés and hollow words
unless presented within an ordered framework. The lessons are not
secret but the presentation is kept private to promote a clearer understanding
in good time.
But the true secrets of a mason are not contained in the ritual. A
mason who is true to his obligation will not reveal the modes of recognition
but they are not truly secret; this is demonstrated by the number
of exposures that have been published over the centuries. The secrets
of a mason are those personal, private, and lawful, aspects of a man's
life that he may choose to share with a brother, a brother who will
keep those secrets. This is not secretiveness, this is discretion.
There is also that secret which is not kept secret but is only revealed
to those who realize the happiness that comes from living a good life.
The symbols have all been taken from stonemason's tools and endowed
with certain meanings. The square "teaches us to regulate our lives
and actions by the masonic rule and line, and so to correct and harmonize
our conduct as to render us acceptable to the Divine Being, from Whom
all goodness emanates..." The compasses "remind us of the Divine Being's
unerring and impartial justice..."
Women are not allowed to join recognized lodges of Freemasons. By
contemporary standards it may not appear easy to justify this exclusion
and most masons would simply claim tradition. As a private group accepting
no money from the public they are under no legal obligation to accept
anyone but are entitled to chose whom they wish to associate with.
If masonry is a power elite then women could and should feel justifiable
outrage at being excluded. But Freemasonry's goal is not the consolidation
of power but rather the education of good men. If they wish to do
this privately and without the involvement of women, it is no concern
of others. One might justify this exclusion, in contemporary terms,
as a form of male bonding; meeting a group of like minded men from
a broad social, economic and cultural background to practice a ritual
derived from those practiced hundreds of years ago. Then, to also
"emulate what is seen as praiseworthy in others" by practicing charity
to the betterment of family and society in general can only be seen
as an added benefit.
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