Author Unknown: Reprinted District #20 AF & AM, GRA; Original Masonic Temple 345 West Monroe, Phoenix, Arizona 86003. PRINTED IN GRAND LODGE BULLETIN; G.R.A.; April, 1979.
Reprinted CANMAS 29th September, 2006.
THE FRATERNITY OF FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS: WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?
Fundamentally it is a voluntary organization of men who support morality in public and private life. It requires a belief in a Supreme Being, endorses free public education and free choice of religious and political preference. It endeavors to improve society by self improvement of the individual, promotes patriotism and respect for the Constitution, equal rights under the law and practices good will toward all men, by Love, Relief and Truth and the cardinal virtues: Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice. It is a teacher of morality in its highest sense. There is no conflict between Masonry and Religion. It does not pretend to take the place of religion, nor serve as a substitute for religious beliefs of its members.
IS MASONRY A SECRET ORGANIZATION? Contrary to claims and beliefs of many it is not a secret society. In all free countries it neither hides its existence nor its membership. Its philosophy, history, symbolism, aims, and principles are published in periodicals and books, many of which are found in public libraries. Its meetings and meeting places are advertised in public newspapers. The Temples are well marked for identification by visitors. It is a well Known, world-wide fraternity whose members proudly proclaim their membership. It is true that Masonry has modes of recognition and ceremonies with which the world is not acquainted. In this regard, all family groups and institutions have private affairs.
HISTORY. It is impossible to accurately trace its origin. Some eminent scholars have attempted to trace it back to biblical times and beyond. The craftsmen of Operative Masonry were the cathedral builders of the middle ages. However, Masonry as we know it today, dates from the formation of the Grand Lodge in London, England in 1717. While its ceremonies are fairly recent vintage, its teachings and symbolism dates back into antiquity. It is the oldest and the largest fraternal organization in the world.
MEMBERSHIP. Its membership is limited to men of good character and reputation, each of whom has voluntarily sought admission. No one is solicited. The applicant must be recommended by two members of the Lodge to which he is seeking admission. A unanimously favorable ballot is required and, in Arizona, the two sponsors must have been personally acquainted with the candidate for a minimum period of six months.
GENERAL INFORMATION. The basic tenets of Freemasonry are taught in three degrees, namely, Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason. The ceremonies are of a serious and dignified nature, without levity or horse play. Each candidate takes part with dignity and solemnity and is required to memorize portions of each degree through the assistance of some member of the lodge, usually at the candidate’s convenience. The lessons are taught, not by the direct method, but by the use of symbolism. This provides an interesting course of study for those who are industrious and are so inclined. An entire life time can be occupied in its pursuit.
Toleration toward the beliefs of others is one of the important lessons of Freemasonry, but it seeks no armistice with bigotry or dictatorship. It teaches love and kindness in the home, honesty and fair dealing in business, courtesy in human contacts, help for the unfortunate and needy, resistance to evil practices, forgiveness toward those who are penitent, love for one another, all under the cover of a faith and reverence for the one Supreme Being. In short, it is a splendid way of life.
Submitted by D. Roy Murray
King Solomon Lodge, No. 58 GRS
Victoria Lodge, No. 13, GRA