Saturday, October 30, 2010

DeMolay International

DeMolay International (properly known as the Order of DeMolay), founded in Kansas City, Missouri in 1919, is an international youth organization for young men. DeMolay derives its name from Jacques De Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar. It is a Masonic-sponsored youth organization for boys ages 12–21. DeMolay was incorporated in the 1990s.

DeMolay is open for membership to young men between the ages of 12 to 21, and currently has about 18,000 members in the United States and Canada and several thousand more world wide. It uses a model of mentoring; adult men and women called advisors, often past DeMolay members or fathers and mothers of DeMolays, mentor the active DeMolay members. An advisor is referred to as 'Dad Smith' instead of 'Mr. Smith', in respect of Frank S.Land and his fatherly role to the founding members. The mentoring focuses on the development of civic awareness, leadership skills and personal responsibility.
Founded by a Freemason, DeMolay is closely modeled after Freemasonry. With the sponsorship of a Lodge, the chapters normally meets in a Masonic Lodge room. DeMolay is considered to be part of the Masonic Family, along with other youth groups such as Job's Daughters and the Rainbow Girls. Like the Rainbow Girls, a young man does not need to have a family tie or sponsor in a Masonic organization to join DeMolay.
DeMolay has seven Cardinal Virtues, which are the sole structure of what its members follow. 
These Cardinal Virtues are:
  • Filial love (love between a parent and child)
  • Reverence for sacred things
  • Courtesy
  • Comradeship
  • Fidelity
  • Cleanness
  • History
DeMolay was founded in 1919 by Frank S. Land, a successful businessman in Kansas City, Missouri. During World War I, Land had become concerned with the plight of boys who had lost their fathers in the conflict. He decided there was a need for an organization where they could associate with others of their age and learn responsibility and other important life skills. A fatherless boy named Louis Lower and eight of his friends became the first DeMolay members.
Frank S. Land first met with Louis Lower in January 1919. The original founding date of the order was February 19, 1919. That was later changed to the official launching date of March 18, 1919 to commemorate the death of Jacques DeMolay.
The organization is named after Jacques De Molay, a knight and crusader who was the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar. He was taken prisoner by King Philip IV of France, who wanted to seize the Templars' wealth. De Molay was tortured repeatedly to force him to admit to charges of heresy. However, he later recanted his statements and declared both himself and his Order innocent. He was therefore executed by being burned at the stake. Members are encouraged to model their conduct after Jacques De Molay's example of loyalty and fidelity.
The organization grew rapidly, and by the end of 1921, Land realized he had to devote full time to it. Interest developed in the Masonic fraternity, and official recognition and approval by Masonic groups began in many states. Today, many members of DeMolay go on to become Masons when they are of legal age.
DeMolay continued its growth, initiating new members and instituting new chapters in every state of the USA. It then went international and now exists around the world, including chapters in Mexico, Canada, Australia, Germany, the Philippines, Portugal, Paraguay, Italy, Serbia, Japan, Aruba, Brazil, Panama, and Bolivia. There are also chapters which have no Supreme Council, including those in England and France.

Original Members
The Order Of DeMolay originally had nine members. The crest of the order contains 10 rubies. Each represent one of the original nine or Dad Frank S. Land. A pearl denoted one of the original ten who was living. When one of the original founders died, that pearl was changed to a ruby. Today, all of the original founders have died and all pearls are rubies.
Ivan M. Bentley - He lived in Louis Lower's neighborhood. Created a Chevalier in 1920. Died in an accident in 1921. His death made him the first ruby in the emblem.
Louis G. Lower - The first DeMolay and the first Active DeMolay Legionnaire (LOH). Created a Chevalier in 1920. He was gunned down by an intoxicated security guard on July 18, 1943. He was the second of the original nine to die, became the second ruby.
Dad Frank Land - The third ruby on the DeMolay crest was for Frank Land himself. Doctors diagnosed his disease as scleroderma. Doctors advised Land to slow down but he continued to work at his frenetic pace telling them, "My work must go on. DeMolay must go on." Although he had begun to show signs of fading, Frank Land's death on November 8, 1959 came as a shock, especially to his beloved organization. The fraternity successfully made the transition to new leadership but mourns his passing to this day. Every DeMolay around the world honors Dad Land's memory every year on November 8.
Edmund Marshall - He lived next door to Elmer Dorsey. Created Chevalier in 1920. Graduated from University of Missouri. President of the Kansas City Board of Trade. He died on November 8, 1966 and became the fourth ruby.
Clyde C. Stream - Cousin of Gorman McBride. He was a technical engineer with the Sagano Electric Company. Retired to Bradenton, Florida. He died on May 3, 1971 and became the fifth ruby.
Gorman A. McBride - He lived in the neighborhood with Louis Lower. Second Obligated DeMolay. First Master Councilor of Mother Chapter. Created a Chevalier in 1920. Became an Active Member of the International Supreme Council. Received the Founder's Cross from Dad Land, the only one of the original nine to do so. He was a lawyer by profession and was Director of Activities at ISC Headquarters in the 1960s. He died on November 10, 1973 and became the sixth ruby.
Ralph Sewell - He lived in the home of Louis Lower and became the credit manager for H. D. Lee Mercantile Company, makers of Lee jeans. Mr. Sewell was a skilled pianist and organist. He died in July 1976 and became the seventh ruby.
Elmer V. Dorsey - He lived just behind Louis Lower. He became a successful businessman and moved to Texas and became an Advisor to Richardson Chapter. He died in November 1979 and became the eighth ruby.
William W. Steinhilber- He lived in the neighborhood with Louis Lower. Mr. Steinhilber became a successful stock and bond broker. He was captain of the first DeMolay baseball team. He died on October 28, 1992 and became the ninth ruby.
Jerome Jacobson - He lived one block from Louis Lower. Mr. Jacobson graduated from University of Kansas, admitted to the Missouri Bar as a lawyer, and had an outstanding career in law and finance. He lived in Kansas City all his life. He died in May, 2002 and became the tenth and final ruby.

Structural Organization
A local DeMolay organization is known as a Chapter and is headed by the Master Councilor. The Master Councilor is elected by members of his Chapter and is usually among the older members of the group. The Master Councilor is assisted in his duties by a Senior Councilor and a Junior Councilor. The Senior Councilor is usually considered to be next in line as Master Councilor and Junior Councilor to follow, though two people can run against each other. The remaining officers of a Chapter, which are appointed, are done so by the Master Councilor, except for the Scribe, who is appointed by the Chapter's Advisory Council.
Senior DeMolays (former members now 21 or older), Masons, or other adult mentors supervise the Chapter and are usually referred to by the moniker "Dad," a term harkening back to one of the first members, who thought of founder Frank Land as the father he never knew and called him "Dad Land." In recent years, women have also served as advisors for the group and are referred to as "Mom".
Above the individual Chapter, the DeMolay organization has an officer structure at the state level. A State Master Councilor or Jurisdictional Master Councilor is the head of a statewide DeMolay organization. In countries outside of the United States, DeMolay may have a national level organization, headed by a "National Master Councilor". There are also other state or jurisdictional positions, based on the officers of a chapter, which vary for each jurisdiction. The lead advisor (always a Master Mason and a member of the Supreme Council) in a state, jurisdiction, or country, is called an Executive Officer and the lead advisor (always a Master Mason) internationally is known as a Grand Master who governs the International Supreme Council. There are also Active DeMolay officers at an international level as well; the International Master Councilor and International Congress Secretary are the heads of the International DeMolay Congress and serve on the Board of Directors. These officers are always past State Master Councilors.
In some countries outside of the United States, the International Supreme Council of DeMolay has ceded control to an independent Supreme Council created to govern DeMolay in that country. Such a Supreme Council has its own Grand Master and officers. (Examples are Australia, Brazil, and the Philippines.)

Honors and Awards
The Degree of Chevalier is the highest honor an active DeMolay can receive. It may also be granted to a Senior DeMolay. The degree is granted for outstanding DeMolay service and activity. To receive the honor, a DeMolay must be at least 17 years old on January 15 of the year nominated, have been a member for at least two years as of that date, be nominated by his chapter's Advisory Council, and have the approval of the Executive Officer of his jurisdiction, and of the of the Supreme Council. 

The Legion of Honor Degree is the highest honor conferred by the DeMolay Supreme Council. The award was approved in 1925 and first conferred upon Louis Lower. With amendment of the Supreme Council's statutes in 1985, the minimum age for nominees for the Legion of Honor was dropped from 20 to 25 as of January 15. The Supreme Council may confer the Legion of Honor upon a Senior DeMolay for outstanding leadership in some field of endeavor, for service to humanity, or for success in fraternal life, including adult service to the Order of DeMolay. The Supreme Council may also confer it upon a Freemason who was not a DeMolay, but who has performed unusual and meritorious service in behalf of the Order of DeMolay, or who has evidenced a spirit of cooperation and appreciation for the Order of DeMolay.

The Representative DeMolay Award is the highest self-achievement award active and Senior DeMolays can earn. It's a self-assessment program where the member progresses toward goals set for him by himself. The member completes a detailed survey of his interests, achievements, general knowledge, and habits. Land said it was his dream that every DeMolay should be a Representative DeMolay. The "RD" program was first established in 1924, and for many years was a competition to select outstanding DeMolays. In 1935, the program was redesigned to fill a growing need for self-evaluation by every DeMolay.

Order of Knighthood
The Order of Knighthood (KT) is an appended organization of older DeMolays. The Knighthood program is for active DeMolays between 17 and 21 years of age. A Knighthood Priory has its own ritual and officers, separate from the chapter system.
The official name of the Order is The Chivalric Knights of the Holy Order of the Fellow Soldiers of Jacques DeMolay. It is not an honorary degree or award, but a working body whose purpose is to extend fellowship and serve the Order of DeMolay.
The Order of Knighthood made its debut in 1946, when Dad Land wrote the Knighthood ritual. This ritual was not exemplified before the Grand Council, now known as DeMolay International's Supreme Council, until 1947, as Dad Land held off on its implementation.
Through the years, the Knights' activities have consisted of social and educational programs geared to older DeMolays, with a special emphasis on career planning and coed activities.
The main functions of a Priory are to:
  • Extend and assist the Order of DeMolay and its Chapters.
  • Maintain the active interest of older DeMolays.
  • Provide an interesting program for the Priory members.
  • Above all to provide and maintain a proper example for all DeMolays. 

Friday, October 29, 2010


The Holy Royal Arch is a degree of Freemasonry. It is present in all main masonic systems, though in some it is part of 'mainstream' Freemasonry, and in others it is an 'additional' degree.
In the United States, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Paraguay, Philippines, and parts of Scotland & Western Australia the Holy Royal Arch degree forms part of the York Rite system of additional degrees. In England it is a stand alone degree, but mainstream, being defined as part of "pure ancient Masonry" along with the three Craft degrees; a candidate for Exaltation into an English Holy Royal Arch Chapter is required to have been a Master Mason for four weeks or more. In Scotland the candidate must also be a Mark Master Mason, a degree which can be conferred within the Chapter if required. Once exalted a candidate becomes a companion, with Royal Arch meetings being described as a convocation.
The exact origins of the Holy Royal Arch are unknown except that it dates back to the mid 18th century. 

The precise history of the Royal Arch is unclear, but from historical documentation it can be shown that Royal Arch existed in London, York and Dublin in the 1730s. At that time the degree was an appendage of the Master Mason's degree, but as with the Craft Freemasonry of the time, the Antients and Moderns held very different views on the Royal Arch. The Antients then regarded it as a fourth degree and conferred it as such together with various other degrees within their Lodges, maintaining that a Lodge Charter or Warrant empowered them to carry out any Masonic work.
The Moderns, however, regarded it as being separate from Craft Freemasonry and as early as 1766 constituted the Grand and Royal Chapter of the Royal Arch of Jerusalem, parent of the present Supreme Grand Chapter.

The First Grand Chapter
Earliest records indicate that HRA members of the premier Grand Lodge of England formed the first Grand Chapter by signing the Charter of Compact at its meeting on 22 July 1766. The Grand Chapter became The Excellent Grand and Royal Chapter of the Royal Arch of Jerusalem, the first Grand Chapter in the world.

The Oldest Chapter
According to Supreme Grand Chapter of England, the oldest surviving Chapter in Royal Arch masonry is Chapter of Friendship No 257 (originally number 3), in Portsmouth, warranted in 1769.

Orders and Degrees
The Holy Royal Arch is affiliated to many different constitutions worldwide, many of which place different emphasis on the order.

England, Europe and Australasia: A Holy Royal Arch Chapter is required to be sponsored by a Craft Lodge and bears the same number (and in almost all cases the same name); however, the HRA is a separate Order from Craft Freemasonry. Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter is governed from the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England, but the administration remains distinct - though many officers of the Grand Lodge hold the equivalent office in the Grand Chapter. In these countries the Order of the Royal Arch consists of a single 'Royal Arch' degree, although there are three related ceremonies, one for the installation into each of the three Principals' chairs. As a compromise, at the union of two rival Grand Lodges in 1813 (one of which considered the Royal Arch a 'Fourth Degree', whilst the other almost totally ignored it) English Freemasonry recognised the Royal Arch as part of "pure, ancient masonry", but stated that it was not an additional degree, but merely the "completion of the third degree". However, this was merely a compromise position, and one which was in opposition to normal masonic practice, and consequently on 10 November 2004 (after much deliberation by a special working party) the Grand Chapter (at its regular meeting in London) overturned this compromise position, and declared the Royal Arch to be a separate degree in its own right, albeit the natural progression from the third degree, and the completion of "pure, ancient Masonry", which consists of the three 'Craft' degrees, and the Royal Arch. Words in the ritual which propounded the earlier compromise position were removed, by mandatory regulation. The English system of Royal Arch Masonry is found in most European states (outside Scandinavia, which has a unique system), and is currently being introduced to many eastern European states, including Russia and Serbia. 

Scotland: The degree is conferred in a Royal Arch Chapter which is within a wholly different administrative structure (the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland). Due to a difference in ritual, Royal Arch Masons exalted in England may not attend Scottish Royal Arch Chapters without completing the Scottish exaltation ceremony. Before receiving the Holy Royal Arch Degree the Candidate must first have the Mark Degree and the Excellent Masters Degree. However, those Exalted in Scotland may attend Chapter in England, or indeed any Chapter, provided it be in Amity. Although English Royal Arch masons may also hold the Mark Degree, it is not guaranteed; the Excellent Master Degree is not practiced in England.

Organisational Structure
Chapters are ruled over by three Principals, who conjointly rule the Chapter, sitting together in the east of the assembly.

Chapters in England are grouped as either a Metropolitan area or Provinces (based on the old Counties), and Chapters overseas are grouped in Districts. Metropolitan, Provincial, and District Grand Chapters are ruled over by a Grand Superintendent who is appointed by the 'First Grand Principal' (see below) as his personal representative for the particular area. The Grand Superintendent is usually assisted by a Deputy, and always rules conjointly with a Second Provincial Grand Principal and a Third Provincial Grand Principal (the word 'Provincial' being replaced with the word 'Metropolitan' in a Metropolitan Area such as London, or the word 'District' in an overseas area controlled from England).

The Supreme Grand Chapter is ruled over from London by three Grand Principals, with a Pro First Grand Principal when the First Grand Principal is a Royal Prince, as is currently the case.

Chapter Officers
In addition to the three Principals, who rule conjointly, a Holy Royal Arch Chapter has elected and appointed officers with individual responsibilities within the Chapter. Similar offices exist at the Supreme Grand Chapter (national) level, and also at the intermediate level (Metropolitan, Provincial, or District), with appropriate prefixes to the titles.
  • Zerubbabel - Prince of Jerusalem
  • Haggai - the Prophet
  • Joshua - the High Priest (Josiah in Bristol and Irish Chapters)
  • Scribe Ezra
  • Scribe Nehemiah
  • Treasurer
  • Director of Ceremonies
  • Principal Sojourner
  • 1st Assistant Sojourner
  • 2nd Assistant Sojourner
  • Assistant Director of Ceremonies
  • Organist
  • Steward (there may be several Stewards)
  • Janitor

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What does Freemasonry Offer the World ?

While Freemasonry in its present form has existed less than 300 years, there have always been associations resembling this great Fraternity. Such groups were formed at various times and in many places because man is fundamentally a social creature; he has an inherent need for friendship, love, and association with others.
What is Freemasonry? A brief definition is: an organization of men believing in the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, using the builder's tools as symbols to teach basic moral truths, thereby impressing upon the minds of its members the cardinal virtues of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth which threy should apply to everyday activities.
If this description seems out of place in the cynical world of today, let us remember that "Man does not live by bread alone." There is a real need for what is derisively called "the old-fashioned virtues."
Rosco Pound, one of the great men of USA, laid down the working tools of life after ninety-four years of distinguished labor on this earth. Many years ago he made a significant observation: "Masonry has more to offer the twentieth century than the twentieth century has to offer Masonry."
Why did he make this statement?
At the dawn of history man was confronted with many problems: hunger, the elements, disease, and other dangers. But God gave him memory so that he could profit from his experiences; later came the gift of communication which enabled him to pass on his experiences from generation to generation. Over the intervening centuries we have increased our means of producing food, conquered many diseases, and solved most of the problems concerning the practical things of life. Yet with all this progress in technological skills man has not kept up his moral advancement. In spite of all the comforts afforded us in this modern world, we do not find happiness, peace, and tranquillity.
As we look around us today, what do we find? Frustrated individuals, unhappy people, everyone demanding more "rights", everyone seeking more "security", a desire for more gadgets, an increase in community problems and undeclared wars in many places. Everyone thinks "BIG" about the production of things, accomplishing a program, or handling community matters.
What can we learn form Freemasonry which will help the modern world?
First, Freemeasonry is not a "mass medium". It works with and through the individual member. We do not have group initiations; each member is taken alone and taught the lessons of a good life. Each new member is prepared as an individual; he is the one important person who is initiated, then passed to the higher grades as he acquires proficiency in the tasks at hand. Certain members spend time with him alone so that he may learn the lessons exemplified by the degrees.
In Freemasonry the individual is all important. We consider the individual member the most important thing in the world. Bear in mind that in every community we have plural persons; you cannot have a happy community unless the individuals who form that community are individually happy. Under our form of government the individual is glorified; he is part of the nation's governing body. Unlike other political ideologies which preach that the person is merely a means of serving the government, we as Americans and as Masons say that the government exists to serve the people.
Freemasonry offers to the world today the basic ideal that is being slowly forgotten: that each individual is important and that his personal welfare counts.
Second, Freemasonry is among the agencies which offer the world the prin- ciple of the Fatherhood of God. In too many places God is the forgotten element. Many of the prevailing "isms" cast aside the idea of God as oldfashioned, superstitious, an opiate. Freemasonry has God as its sole foundation stone.
Freemasonry does not concern itself with the dogmas, forms of worship, or the theology of any church. A Mason must profess a belief in God and immortality; but Freemasonry does not teach him how God manifests himself to man or how man is reconciled with God. It is true that Freemasonry tries to enrich a member's belief in God by instructing him in the moral law and the hidden secrets of nature and science. It tries to do that for every member.
Freemasonry therefore offers a tolerance for the religious beliefs of all men,to the point that they can meet and pray together in complete harmony. There is only one God, no matter what name we give Him. Freemasonry has for centuries afforded men of all creeds a chance to meet together and to understand each other's belief in the Fatherhood of God. It is the only world-wide organization where there is no political or religious discussion permitted.
Third, Freemasonry also offers the world the principle that follows logically from what has just been said, "The Brotherhood of Man". If we have a common Father, are we all not brothers? Today we hear too little about this ideal.
At every turn we hear of demands for "rights" of one kind or another. How often do we hear of duties or obligations? Freemasonry teaches the duties we owe to others; it teaches obligations that its members owe their families, their communities, and their country. With every "right" there is a corresponding duty or obligation. The world today is emphasizing its demands for "rights", but is conveniently forgetting its corresponding duties. Freemasonry says nothing about "rights", but has much to say about the duties and obligations that each member owes. If all of us do our duty, all will profit; and there is no need to discuss "rights' where men do their duty, because justice will prevail.
Fourth, Freemasonry evolved from the builder's guilds of the Middle Ages, and therfore the word "work" plays an important part in our philosophy and our ceremonies.
Today, there seems to be too much desire to get something for nothing. We have trading stamps, quiz programs, horse races, and other gambling activities catering to this desire.
Wealth is the result of working with natural resources and creating something useful. Wealth is not something which comes from the government. This may sound like a modern heresy to many of you. All the government does is collect its money from the taxpayers and then distribute it; and the handling charge is enormous!
Our immediate ancestors, the operative masons, were workers with their hands. They built structures of wood and stone. The had an apprentice system to teach young men to work and develop their natural skills. The idea of" work" is woven into the very fabric of Freemasonry. The world today needs to be taught all over again that work is honorable, that work is necessary, and that work makes for happiness.
Freemasonry takes this idea of work from the operative Masons and converts it into a symbol.No longer do Freemasons build structures that are visable, but we build a symbolic structure of character, that house not built with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Our Constitution assures us that we are entitled to the pursuit of happiness. Too many people overlook the word "pursuit" and place the stress on the word "happiness."This great charter of government does not guarantee happiness;that is an individual matter. It merely guarantees the "pursuit"; or to put it in a different way,it offers opportunity to use your God-given skills so that you can work with them and secure happiness.This also is the aim of Freemasonry.
Fifth, Freemasonry offers the world an opportunity for social contacts and the development of friendships.
The feeling of "belonging" is a vital part of every man's being. No one can be an island unto himself. To be happy, we must belong to a family, a community, a country club, or a large number of associations.
Freemasonry is the best group for this purpose because of its glorious past, the great men who have been Masons, the lessons it teaches to its members, and the opportunity it affords to the service of Mankind. The constant bringing together of its members in worthwhile activities helps to promote this feeling of "belonging".
Related to this element is what psychologists call the feeling of importance. In order to be happy each person must feel "important" to someone to something. Freemasonry affords many opportunities for the development of this feeling, not only from the pride of belonging to the greatest fraternal organization in the world, but also from the many, many opportunities to serve as officers, to do charitable work, to visit sick members, etc., all of which gives the member a sense of being important to his fellow members and the organization. Here again we are stressing the importance of the individual rather than the group.
This is one of the intangible, subtle, but necessary elements of Freemasonry in making individuals happy. As it has already been observed, if the individual is happy, the community is happy. If communities are happy, the nation is happy; and if nations are happy, the world will be at peace.
Sixth, Freemasonry offers the world the philosophy of life. The Masonic degrees are designed to teach each member certain basic moral truths. No man ever became a Mason without becoming a better Man. The lessons are taught in a unique manner which makes the principles more effective.
Sometimes we are presented with a pertinent question: if the lessons of Freemasonry are so beneficial, why are they taught behind closed doors? The answer lies in the nature of man himself. That which is open to constant view becomes commonplace and attracts no attention. That which is hidden is sought, is searched for, is attractive and creates interest. The idea is illustrated by the detective story; who dunnit?
Added to this is the fact that all the lessons are taught with symbols. This is an effective teaching method; it causes the student to learn more easily. A moral lesson can be told in a few effective words describing a symbol. With the use of the builder's tools Freemasonry teaches moral lessons. Many Masonic expressions have found their way into everyday conversation. We use the square to illustrate honesty in our dealings with one another: "He's on the square," or "He is a square dealer." Teenagers have a different conception of the word "square" today, but that is a passing phase.
Each candidate for the degrees receives this philosophy of life in a most impressive manner. Suffice it to say here that this Way of Life contains all the lessons or rules adopted by all good men. It covers the Golden Rule. It teaches us that we are our Brother's keeper. It teaches that we can best worship God by renderring service to our fellowmen. We are taught tolerance in all things. We are taught that honesty is the only policy.
It is true that these moral lessons are taught in the schools and in the churches, but the method of teaching used in a Masonic lodge is unique. Furthermore, these lessons can be taught without reference to sectarian creeds or dogmas. Masonic teaching is not restricted by practical considerations such as exist in a political organization. Freedom of thought and expression can be taught and practiced without any reference to the results of the next election. Freemasonry has blended together many of the characteristics of churches, schools, social clubs, and ethical societies; but while resemblances with such organizations can be noted, none is exactly like the great organization the world knows as Freemasonry.
To summerize all this in just a few words, let us answer the question in the title as briefly as possible. Freemasonry offers to mankind an emphasis on the importance of the individual, the belief in the brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God, the concept of the dignity of work and its necessity for the pursuit of happiness, the opportunity to realize one's social aspirations in a morally contructive way, and a philosophy of life which can lead to individual, and therefore community happiness. And the twentieth century really needs what Freemasonry offers. 

A talk given on the 100th Anniversary of 
Burns Lodge #173, Monticello, Iowa June 15, 1965 
by W Bro Alphonse Cerza

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What Is A Mason?

This question is asked by those who are not yet freemasons and often by those who have been in Lodge for some time. This question is often a difficult one to answer. We know that we enjoy being Masons but do not know how to explain this.

Before we can we need to understand that the number one thing that people ask about any organization in which they may become involved is: "What's in it for me?" This is one of the things that is always the same in life. No one wants to become involved in something unless they benefit from it. This question must be answered because if we do not know what we want and can obtain from the organization then nothing else matters.

If each of us thinks back to when we petitioned the Lodge we will find that there are striking similarities in the reasons that we did so. Some of these are:
  • Many of our male relatives were Masons and it was the family thing to do.
  • Many of the men we worked with and associated with were masons.
  • People that we admired and respected were masons and we wanted to emulate them.
  • We wanted to belong to the most respected fraternity in the world.
  • We researched the aims of the Fraternity and wished to become part of it and learn with like minded men

Freemasonry affords men the opportunity to be with others who have the same interests. These men support one another. This applies, not only to the activities of the Lodge, but also, to the activities of daily life. The first degree teaches that we should "Promote each others welfare and rejoice in each others prosperity." When brothers meet away from the Lodge at an impromptu gathering we see much of this type of activity. The friendliness and genuine feeling we have for one another is evident at these affairs.

Freemasonry is one of the few places that we can gather in confidence that we will leave with all that we arrived with. An example that is easily understood on this subject is that we would never take advantage if one of our ladies leaves her purse unattended or one of us loses his wallet. They are never bothered and if a freemason finds them they are quickly returned intact.

How many places can this occur in todays world? Not very many. We are selective and do not, knowingly, accept any man who would take advantage of others.

The teachings of Freemasonry afford the member a better chance to live a happy life, with his chosen mate, without joining the ranks of the throw away spouse society. We learn how to work through our tough times and make our lives better and more productive.

If disaster should befall us we can turn to our fraternity in the hope that help will be given. If financial aid is needed there are avenues open to the membership that are not available elsewhere. The Lodge will help to the best of its ability. If this is not enough there is the Grand Lodge and it will do all that it can for the distressed Brother.

Occasionally, one of our widows will need assistance. All she needs to do is call the Secretary of the Lodge and the Brothers will do all that they are able to do for her. This affords a measure of security for the mates of our departed Brothers.

Freemasonry does not promise anyone any kind of aid or financial assistance but the membership cares about the welfare of one another. freemasons feel good when they can help.

These are some of the things about Masons that make them different from members of many other fraternal organizations. These things are good to know but most of these are peripheral to what and who we are.

Freemasonry is a story of life. It carries joy, heartache, failure and triumph. In books one can read its teachings, symbols and ambitions. We do not practice our craft in the dark, but rather in the full light of day. We are required to practice the teachings and love we are taught by the lights of our Fraternity. No greater thing can be said of the Fraternity that that it is an ideal way of life.

No other Fraternity offers the lessons contained within our ritual. Every word and act in our ceremonies carries a lesson to each of us. If we will just open our eyes, hearts, and ears as we are taught to do by the second degree of Freemasonry.

We can study Freemasonry for years and each time we think about the things we see and hear we will find new meaning and inspiriation. Each time this happens we see more of what Freemasonry is and for what it is intended. Great men have devoted many years to the cause of Freemasonry and when their work is finished they have realized that they have only begun to see the light and that they have only started to uncover the truths contained within our ritual. I do not believe that any man has fully understood all of the lessons that it teaches.

The meaning of being a Mason rests in education and character forming. While it may be accepted as an innermost desire, followed by obligations that makes us members, yet in a larger sense, a man is never a Freemason until he truthfully and loyally lives up to his obligations. He cannot do this until he understands them and begins to learn their scope and meaning.

There is something inherently good about being a Mason. Freemasonry has stood through the years with the shining light of its membership as a beacon to the world. The greatness of the fraternity is not due to secret teachings, mysteries, or deeds. It is due to the lessons taught to its members by its ritual and the comfort, inspiration, and enlightenment brought to all who will study it.

Through this study men learn more about how to live up to the obligations that they have taken when they became members of the Fraternity. They learn to better control their passions, prejudices, angers, and tongues. The Freemason is different than most of the people around him for he has the lessons of the Fraternity within him as he walks through life. He must truly learn who he is and what he is on this earth for.

Freemasonry offers comfort to those who sorrow, hope for those who despair, counsel for those who err, and joy and contentment to all who genuinely practice it. The philosophies of the Fraternity provide a simple, but profound, solution to the problems of human relationships. It is accepted that it is a way of life to the Master Mason who is interested enough to appraise and value what is his, and his alone, simply because he is a Master Mason.

Freemasonry has a solid foundation in unchanging principles. It is an excellent training ground for ethical living and moral behavior. The true Mason's word is his bond. What he says, he means. He practices fairness and honesty in all his dealings.

There are three kinds of honesty practiced in this world. Cash register honesty, business honesty and personal honesty. The Master Mason makes no distinctions. He only knows one honesty. That is the lesson taught by all religions: Do unto others as you would that they do unto you. This makes the Mason different from most people in this world. He is respected and revered by those around him. It matters not whether he is a maintenance worker or the president of the company. the actions are the same.

This is important to the Mason as the world around him has no clear sense of purpose or firm spiritual foundation. To many people, the Mason's vision of life is ludicrous. These modern times seem to be seeking the lowest common denominator where the only question people want answered is: "What can we get away with?" this society is fast going toward self regulation. Self-seeking is becoming increasingly prominent. Allegiance is becoming secondary to the selfish pursuits of the individual. In other words, society is falling apart.

We see around us high unemployment, people who are worried about holding on to their jobs, shrinking buying power, continual warfare in the streets, commercialized sex, drugs being sold in every neighborhood, crimes of every kind are on the rise, rampant consumerism that works on people to buy things they do not need that put them into debt and homeless people are in every major downtown area. We are living in a throw away society where values count for less and less.

We see people more and more who do not think of the dignity and feelings of others. They have forgotten the virtues of temperance and prudence. These virtues can not be legislated but must be practiced for the good order of society. Good men practice them in Freemasonry.

Justice seems to take a back seat to rights in our society. Without justice our way of life is doomed also. We must get our society back to the basics of doing good to one another and working together to build a better tomorrow.

My brothers, if you listen closely you will hear the good men in our society calling out: "Masonry, where are you?" Freemasonry can help good men to withstand the pressures of our run away society. Freemasonry can help good men to renew the values that are needed to rebuild our society. Freemasonry can help good men to gain the knowledge to make our cities safe again. Freemasonry can help good men to become better men.

Freemasonry teaches that the road to happiness is found in the journey towards perfection of spirit, intellect and soul. Freemasonry teaches men to reach their fullest potential. The Freemason works toward these goals each day of his life. to aid in his journey he studies the book of religion, the history of man, and the philosophy of life. He cares for his family and his church. He puts forth his best efforts for the payment he receives in the workplace. He helps his neighbor and his community and he attends his Lodge so that he may fellowship with others with the same aims and goals.

From the time the Entered Apprentice Mason stands in the Northeast corner of the Lodge and is told that he "Now stands as a just and upright Mason," he becomes a worker on the building of Freemasonry and a guardian of the foundation stones. As society digs the earth from under the stones of civilization he stands, ever watchful, guarding the foundation of Freemasonry so that the fraternity will always stand tall for what is right and good in the world.

The Freemason is a builder. The building he works on is never finished. With every stone he lays there is another to be shaped and set. We work together as a Fraternity to build a strong building. The more men work and learn together, the better the building. We must impress upon the young men of today that this building is in danger of crumbling from age and may collapse without the labor of their hearts and hands.

We offer them brotherhood, understanding, help, encouragement and moral support. Unless men are properly influenced and guided by principles there is no hope for a brighter tomorrow. Not for society, not for freedom, not for democracy, and certainly not for Freemasonry.

Our fraternity is a bastion of morality. perhaps the last one outside of the secular churches. We have an advantage over them because we cross all religious boundaries and bring together men of every country, sect and opinion in peace and harmony. We enjoy each other and the families of one another. We have family get togethers to promote the togetherness of our Fraternity.

When we were young and going to school, most of us had a circle of friends with whom we did and shared everything. As we grew older and the concerns of the world began to hem us in we became distant from this sharing. Freemasonry affords the opportunity to regain this important part of life. To have friends with whom we can share our innermost secrets without fear of ridicule or reprisal is something that we can not get in most places. We can get it from our Brothers for Freemasonry truly regards the whole human race as one family. As we progress through life with our brothers we find that our lives are richer, better and more fulfilling.
When we put all of these things together we arrive at the bottom line. This is the simple explanation that a Mason is a good man who, by the teachings of the Fraternity, is working to become a better man. And the Fraternity is all the members working, one with the other, toward the same goal. 

By W Bro Charles H. Tupper
St. John's Lodge No. 9
Seattle, WA

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What Do Masons Do?

To really answer the question, "What do Masons do?," we need to answer the seldom asked question, "Why do Masons do what they do?" Then perhaps we go on to those other journalist questions, "where" do we do it, "when" do we do it, and "how" do we do it?

Why are we Masons? Freemasonry for a long, long time has attracted men to the fraternity who want to "subdue" their passions. We want to exert a control over our own attitudes, thoughts, and actions. We want to do right by others, because it is the proper thing to do. We relish our association with one another, with men who have the same desire to subdue their passions, who want to be a part of a greater humanity, who are children of the same God and therefore true brothers who not only ought to, but want to "aid, support and protect each other."

Why are we Masons? Because we want to "improve ourselves in Masonry." Through Masonic principles and tenets, we can learn to be better men When we examine and re-examine those principles, we stretch our imagination. We challenge our attitudes. And when we challenge our attitudes, we can more easily challenge our thoughts, words, and deeds. We become better men because we have associated with others who also want to become better men. Our fraternity lets men associate with other men of honor and integrity who believe things like honesty, compassion, love, trust, and knowledge are important.

Yes, "guilt by association" can also be "enrichment by association!"

Why are we Masons? Because in Freemasonry we are able to do things in the world that most of us cannot do alone. Masonry teaches that each person has a responsibility to make things better in the world. Together, we do that. Masonry is deeply involved with helping people. It spends more than $1.4 million every day in the United States just to make life a little easier for those who are sick, handicapped, or crippled.

Why are we Masons? Because Freemasonry enables us to spend time with friends. We enjoy being together with men we like and respect. While much of a lodge activity is spent in works of charity or in lessons in self-development, much is also spent in fellowship. We have picnics and golf outings and many events for the entire family.

So, "What do Masons do?" We identify where efforts are needed to make this a better world. We identify how our efforts can make a difference. And we work at making life a little better for those who are afflicted in a greater measure than ourselves.

And if we improve ourselves a little in the effort, we are better for it.

"Where" do we do what we do? In the lodge and in our hearts.

"When" do we do it? Once a month and every day.

"How" do we do it? By being ever watchful and guarded in our thoughts, words, and actions. By being alert to the needs of our neighbors and wider community. By working together to make good things happen.

"What do Masons do?" We exercise Brotherly Love. We extend welcome Relief. We promise to be honest and reward Truth in our daily quest for eternal Brotherhood.

That's just what we do. 
By VWBro. James Russell

St. John's Lodge No. 9

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What does Freemasonry stand for ?

Freemasonry, as we know it today, is so complex so many sided, so varied in its activities, presents itself in so many different ways, may be viewed from so many different stand points, that it is well, now and again, to ask the question "What does Freemasonry really stand for?" and endeavor to find some answer to the question, in order that we may ascertain its position in human society, and properly estimate the influence for good which it has exerted, and still exerts in this great and wonderful world in which we live.

I think it may be taken for granted, that Freemasonry does not present itself in exactly the same manner to any two Masons. Each one has probably a slightly different idea of what it is generally, and of what it means especially to him. To one man the outer aspect is the most prominent and the most important, the Lodge and its activities taking the first place in his regard; to another it is the inner meaning of Freemasonry, the spirit that underlies all the outward forms and ceremonies, which appeals most strongly, and which fascinates him most intensely.

To some the Lodge is a haven of rest, whither they may retire for an hour's quiet, from the rush and turmoil of everyday life, and I know of no better place for the proper restoration of body and mind, except perhaps some sacred edifice, than an orderly, well regulated and harmonious Masonic Lodge. To others Freemasonry affords an opportunity for social intercourse, for the making and strengthening of human friendships, and indeed, no truer friends can be found anywhere, than those which may be obtained by a judicious selection from the members of the Masonic fraternity. To others, again, it is the symbolism of Freemasonry which proves the most attractive. They find in the Masonic ritual and ceremonial ample food for thought and reflection, which prompts them to apply the tenets and principles therein inculcated, to their own betterment and for the uplift of those among whom they live and labor.

But whilst this diversity is apparent to every Mason, there are certain features, certain principles, certain distinguishing characteristics, which are perhaps not evident to all, but which, when pointed out, are acknowledged by all and appeal to all, and it is to a few of these that your attention is here directed.

Freemasonry stands for many things besides Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, although these must ever occupy an important place in its activities, as the Grand Principles upon which the Order is founded. Indeed, the beneficent work and influence of Freemasonry may now be seen in very many spheres of life and labor, and the Masons have left numerous marks in the world besides those made with mallet and chisel. For it may be truly said, that there is no Society in the universe, except perhaps those that are of a purely religious character, whose influence is as worldwide, and whose ramifications are as extensive, as those of the Society of Freemasons, or whose fundamental principles are as noble, as beautiful, as sublime, as those upon which the Brotherhood of Masons is established.

Amongst other things. Freemasonry stands for Patriotism, the love of one's native land, devotion to its interest and welfare and a determination to spend one's self in its service if necessary. Those who possess this Masonic virtue to the fall are willing to sacrifice all personal interest, to go out and do all that is possible to establish and maintain the rights of their native land, against any other power whatever, whether it be the internal power of corruption in high or low places, or the power of a foreign aggressor. Masonry has ever stood for that kind of patriotism and, we believe, will ever stand for it.

Freemasonry stands for Tolerance for the opinions and views of others, for each one has a perfect inalienable right to form his own opinion, and to hold it tenaciously. It demands mutual respect for each others feelings, mutual regard for each others rights, mutual desire for each others welfare, and mutual regret for each others misfortunes.

It stands for Equality, for there is probably no more democratic body in the world than the Masonic fraternity, alike in its constitution, laws and government. It draws its members from every rank, and from every honorable occupation in which men engage, while every Installed Master and Warden can vote annually for a Grand Master, and even the youngest Entered Apprentice has a voice in the annual election of a Master for his Own Lodge.

Freemasonry stands for a Self-respecting Manhood, a manhood that rejoices in its freedom, while knowing and accepting willingly the limitations and responsibilities which freedom brings.

It stands for Friendship, for all mankind, no matter what country, language or color, provided only that, upon examination or inquiry, they are found to be good men and true, obedient to the moral law, and observant of the golden rule.

Freemasonry claims Civil and Religious Liberty for all men. Perhaps in no respect has the Masonic influence been exerted in days gone by to better and nobler purpose, than in the age-long struggle for liberty and freedom in the world. The Masons were ever champions of the oppressed individual, people and nation, and for centuries past every movement which has had for its object the emancipation of mankind from every form of tyranny, whether civil or religious, has received encouragement and support from the members of the Masonic fraternity. The consistent Mason will never be found engaged in plots or conspiracies against any government based upon the Masonic principles of liberty and equal rights. But (declares Albert Pike, the great American Freemason), "with tongue and pen, with all our open and secret influence, with the purse, and if need be, with our personal service, we will strive to advance the cause of human progress, labor to enfranchise human thought, to give freedom to the human conscience, and equal rights to the people everywhere. Wherever a nation struggles to be free from an intolerable tyranny of either body or soul, wherever the human mind asserts its independence, and people demand their inalienable rights, there shall go, not only our warmest sympathies, but also our personal help."

Again, Freemasonry stands for a true 'Brotherhood. This is one of the words which to-day is on everybody's lips. There is a universal craving, a deep seated urgent longing for a real, genuine Brotherhood of Peoples, which shall promote and establish good-will, peace and harmony in this sorely troubled world. Now Freemasonry stands for Brotherhood, both within and without the Order. But what do w-e mean by Brotherhood, and what does it involve? It means putting on one side the primary thought of self, and ceasing to struggle exclusively for our own individual interest and welfare recognizing that others have rights as well as ourselves. It means that we acknowledge it as a duty to others, to act upon the square in all our dealings with them, never to take advantage of their ignorance to our own profit, but to deal with them in as honest and straightforward a manner, as we would wish others in similar circumstances to deal with us, ever remembering that we are all members of one family, whose father is the G.A. of the U. Brotherhood means that we must be just, but must temper justice with mercy, that we must be merciful, but must supplement mercy with justice. Brotherhood involves taking the Masonic Principles, inculcated and nourished in the quiet, serene atmosphere of the Lodge, out into the busy world, right into the turmoil of the daily life of humanity, and promptly and intelligently applying them to the uplift of the needy, the oppressed and the downcast, by assisting the weary to carry their heavy burdens, by raising those who have been beaten down in the battle of life, by bringing hope to those who have lost what little hope they once had, and by directing some rays of warm and cheery sunshine upon all who sit in the darkness. True Brotherhood is all this, and it is more, infinitely more, for when Brotherhood and Charity encompass the earth, then indeed will the true spirit of Freemasonry prevail, and humanity be well on its way to ultimate perfection.

Freemasonry stands for Systematic Benevolence. Benevolence may not be a natural feeling of the human heart. By nature man is more prone to be selfish than generous, more inclined to get for himself than to give to others, more ready to claim help from others than to sacrifice himself on their behalf. But from our very first introduction into Freemasonry, the duty, the necessity, the praiseworthiness of systematic giving is so constantly impressed upon us, that at length Benevolence and Charity have come to be considered the distinguishing characteristics of a Freemason's heart. Although the Order is not, strictly speaking, a Benevolent Society, yet Benevolence is really the very breath of its nostrils, while Freemasonry and Charity are almost synonymous terms. It is, I think, an indisputable fact, that no organized body of persons, of equal numbers, gives or has of late years given so much time and money, towards charitable and philanthropic objects, as the Freemasons of English-speaking Grand Lodges. There are no institutions anywhere, which can put into the shade those established by the Masonic fraternity, and supported by the Brethren with a generosity which knows no bounds save those of prudence. Nor is the benevolence of the Brethren by any means confined to what are designated "the Masonic Charities," but recognizing the duty of helping all who are in want and distress, the Masons' charity breaks down every barrier of nation, language, color or creed, and flows in a generous stream even to the very ends of the earth.

Freemasonry exemplifies the Dignity of Labor. The whole of our ritual and ceremonial has always been, and still is, referred to and spoken of as "work." The duties of the Master and his officers, which are carried out in the regular routine of a Lodge, are as truly their "work," as "squaring stones" and building churches was the work of the Masons of long ago. We are proud to acknowledge our descent from the operative masons of centuries past, who beautified and adorned the world with many stately and superb edifices, and we still retain the outward and visible sign of our connection with them, in the apron which we wear. For although we decorate and adorn it with ribbons and emblems, almost out of all recognition, we would ever remember that its foundation and basis is the leather apron of the worker, the badge of the man who does things. Labor is honorable in all men, and the aprons we wear as Masons are the outward symbol and expression of our faith in work, and our participation therein, for without work there would be no progress, all arts and crafts would stand still and die. The world would then be no place for living folk, for an idle world would be a dead world.

Freemasonry stands for a Simple Religious Faith. We have but one dogma, a belief in God, but this is so firmly established as the principal foundation stone of the Brotherhood, that no one can ever be admitted a member of an English speaking Lodge, without a full and free acceptance thereof. In all references to the Deity, God is reverently spoken of as the G.A. of the U., the creating and preserving power of all things in heaven and earth, the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent father of all mankind. Upon this foundation stone we construct a simple religious faith, viz., the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Immortality of the Soul, — simple but all-sufficient. By reason of this simple creed. Freemasonry has been able to attract as members of the Order, adherents of every religious faith in the world, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Mohammedans, Parsis, Buddhists and others are freely admitted to the Fraternity — atheists alone being rigidly excluded. If any member of the Order honestly acknowledges his faith in a Supreme Being, whose law is his guide, and to whom he looks up for inspiration and guidance in all times of difficulty, danger and doubt, and strives honestly to live by his faith, we care not what the other articles of his creed may be, for we believe that when summoned from this sublunary abode, he will be received into the all-perfect, glorious and celestial Lodge above, for he will, by his life, have made of earth the porch-way entrance into heaven.

Freemasonry stands for a "Bright Outlook on Life. If looked at aright, the Masonic allegory of the Master's death is an incentive to keep a bright outlook in all the checkered experiences of life. In all our changing circumstances, whatever inspires hope and courage, and enables us to face all the problems of life with a quiet mind and an enduring fortitude, should be welcomed with gratitude and thankfulness. And the Master Mason's degree, properly viewed will, I think, be a means of lessening the anxieties of life, and inspiring us with an abundant hope. We see, in our beautiful Masonic Allegory, the Master smitten, the Builder slain, the work arrested, and the emblems of mortality in evidence. But at the close there is the sprig of acacia, the emblem of immortality, and a promise of final reunion. In the gloom there is grief and distress, but afterwards there come joy and exultation. Now Freemasonry stands for a bright outlook. It teaches that in men there is something that cannot die, that this "something" is akin to the divine, that it can be given the rule of a man during his earthly pilgrimage, and that it is the purpose of Freemasonry to discover and to crown this divine element in human life. Call it by what name you please, it is the life of the G. A. of the U. in the soul of man, lived in the bounds of rime and space, and under human conditions. Of all this the sprig of acacia is the symbol. Should not these thoughts, deeply rooted in the mind, enable us to keep life's horizon bright?

And lastly, but by no means of least importance, Freemasonry stands for the exercise of Faith, Hope and Charity, the three cardinal virtues in the Freemasons' creed. These are the principal rounds of that many-staved ladder, of which every stave represents an active virtue, which links earth to heaven, and which, though invisible, is a reality to the true Mason. Indeed, no man can be a true Mason without the exercise of these virtues in his daily life, for having Faith in God and His promises, he has the Faith which banishes doubt. He has also Faith in himself. Faith in his fellow-man. Faith in the boundless possibilities for a regenerate humanity, Faith in the ultimate happiness of all mankind, Faith in the enjoyment of perfect bliss throughout an endless life. With this Faith in his soul, the consistent Mason has hope. Hope for that in which he has Faith, Hope for himself. Hope for his fellows, Hope for all mankind—Hope for the present, Hope for the future — a Hope so firmly rooted in his soul, that it is steadfast, immovable, enduring to the end. And Charity, that perfection of all virtues, the choicest, rarest of all the jewels which adorn the life of a perfect Mason, that too Freemasonry stands for, although each Brother well knows the difficulty of its full attainment in this world of conflict, error, sin and tears. To bring help to a suffering humanity, to relieve the distressed stricken in body or mind, to shelter those whom a censorious world has cast out, and to throw a veil over the faults and failings of all weak and over- tempted souls—that is the Charity placed before us in a Freemasons' Lodge.

And now. Brethren, I have enumerated some of the things for which Freemasonry has stood, and still stands, and I am sure we shall all agree that they are worth living for, and worth working for, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength

By Bro. John. T. Thorp
St. John's Lodge No. 9

Monday, October 11, 2010

Masonic Lodge Officers

Every Masonic Lodge elects or appoints Masonic Lodge Officers to execute the necessary functions of the lodge's life and work. The precise list of such offices may vary between the jurisdictions of different Grand Lodges, although certain factors are common to all, and others are usual in most.

All of the lodges in a given nation, state, or region are united under the authority of a Grand Lodge sovereign to its own jurisdiction. Most of the lodge offices listed below have equivalent offices in the Grand Lodge, but with the addition of the word "Grand" somewhere in the title. For example, every lodge has an officer called the "Junior Warden", whilst the Grand Lodge has a "Grand Junior Warden" (sometimes "Junior Grand Warden"). A very small number of offices may exist only at the Grand Lodge level - such offices are included at the end of this article.

There are few universal rules common to all Grand Lodge jurisdictions of Freemasonry (see Masonic Landmarks for accepted universal principles of regular Freemasonry). However, the structure of the progressive offices is very nearly universal. While the precise hierarchy or order of various officers within the "line" of officers may vary, the usual progression is for a lodge officer to spend either one or two years in each position, advancing through "the chairs", until he elected as Worshipful Master. In addition, there are some offices that are traditionally not considered to be part of the "line", and which may be held by the same brother for many years, or be held by Past Masters.

Offices common to all Masonic jurisdictions

Worshipful Master

The senior officer of a Masonic Lodge is the Master, normally addressed and referred to as the "Worshipful Master" (in Scotland, and in Lodges under the Scottish Constitution, the "Right Worshipful Master"). The Worshipful Master sits in the East of the lodge room, directs all of the business of his lodge, and is vested with considerable powers without further reference to the members. He also presides over ritual and ceremonies.

The office of Worshipful Master is the highest honor to which a lodge may appoint any of its members. The office is filled by election, generally by means of a secret ballot. However, in most lodges the progression is such that the post will almost always be filled by the previous year's Senior Warden.

It should be noted that the honorific Worshipful does not imply that the Master is worshiped. Rather, use of the word implies its original meaning, "to give respect", similar to calling a judge "Your Honor" or a mayor "Honorable". In fact, mayors and judges in parts of England are still called "Worshipful" or "Your Worship." French Masons use the word Vénérable as the honorific for their Masters.

The corresponding grand rank is Grand Master. The Grand Master may preside over his Grand Lodge when it is in session, and also has certain rights in every lodge under his jurisdiction. Grand Masters are usually addressed as "Most Worshipful".

Past Master

At the conclusion of his term of office, a Worshipful Master becomes known as a Past Master. The duties and privileges of Past Masters vary from lodge to lodge and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, in some jurisdictions Past Masters are considered voting members of the Grand Lodge, while in others they are not. In most jurisdictions, a Past Master continues to be addressed with the honorific "Worshipful" (as in "Worshipful Brother Smith"), however there are a few jurisdictions where this honorific is used exclusively for sitting Masters.

Senior Warden

The Senior Warden (sometimes known as First Warden) is the second of the three principal officers of a lodge, and is the Master's principal deputy. Under some constitutions, if the Worshipful Master is absent then the Senior Warden presides at meetings as "acting Master", and may act for the Master in all matters of lodge business. Under other constitutions, including Grand Lodge of England and Grand Lodge of Ireland, no mason may act as Worshipful Master unless they have previously been a Master, and so the Senior Warden cannot fulfil this role unless he is a Past Master. In many lodges it is presumed that the Senior Warden will become the next Worshipful Master.

Junior Warden

The third of the principal officers is the Junior Warden (or Second Warden). The Junior Warden is charged with the supervision of the Lodge while it is in recess for meals or other social purposes. In some jurisdictions the Junior Warden has a particular responsibility for ensuring that visiting Masons are in possession of the necessary credentials. In others, this is the job of the Tyler. In some jurisdictions the Junior Warden presides if both the Master and the Senior Warden are absent.

The Wardens are regular officers of the Lodge, meaning that the positions must be filled.


The role of the Treasurer is to keep the accounts, collect annual dues from the members, pay bills, and forward annual dues to the Grand Lodge.

The annual presentation of accounts is an important measure of the lodge's continuing viability, whilst the efficient collection of annual subscriptions is vitally important, as any lapse in payment (deliberate or unintentional) can lead to a member losing voting rights, being denied the opportunity to visit other lodges, and finally even being debarred or excluded from his own lodge.

It is common for the Treasurer to be an experienced Past Master, but this is not required.


The Secretary's official duties include issuing the summons (a formal notice of an impending meeting, with time, date and agenda), recording meeting minutes, completing statistical returns to the Grand Lodge, and advising the Worshipful Master on matters of procedure. Many individual lodge bylaws add to these duties by mandating, for example, that the Secretary serve on specific committees.

Although any member may hold the office of Secretary, it is typically held by an experienced Past Master.


A Deacon is a junior officer in the lodge. In most jurisdictions, a lodge has two Deacons, styled Senior Deacon and Junior Deacon (though First Deacon and Second Deacon are sometimes encountered as an alternative.)

The principal duties of the Senior Deacon are to conduct candidates around the Lodge and speak for them during certain ceremonies, to assist the Worshipful Master as needed and to carry messages between the Master and the Senior Warden.

The office of Junior Deacon is similar in many respects to that of Senior Deacon. The principal duties of the Junior Deacon are to assist the Senior Warden, and carry messages between the two Wardens. In some jurisdictions he is also responsible for guarding the inside of the main door of the lodge and ensuring that the lodge is "tyled" (in other jurisdictions this duty is given to the Inner Guard or Inside Sentinel).


Stewards fulfill a number of junior assistant roles. There is considerable variance, even within the same jurisdiction, as to the precise roles played by Stewards. Some of their common duties could include the following:

* Stewards are often tasked with an understudy role to fill the position of the Senior Deacon or Junior Deacons, in their absence.
* When a degree ceremony is performed, one or more Steward(s) may be required to assist the two Deacons in conducting the candidates around the temple.
* Stewards have a traditional role in many jurisdictions of serving wine during any meal served after the lodge meeting. This is often extended to a general supervision and planning of catering and refreshments.

Some jurisdictions specify that each lodge has two Stewards, known as the 'Senior Steward' and 'Junior Steward'. Other jurisdictions put no limit on the number of Stewards who may be appointed, and in this respect the office is unique. The Worshipful Master may appoint any number of Stewards, according to the size and requirements of his lodge. These additional stewards are commonly given the title of 'Associate Steward.'

Although newer members usually fill the office of Steward, in some lodges it is traditional for a Past Master to be appointed to supervise the work of the Stewards.


The 'Tyler' is sometimes known as the 'Outer Guard' of the lodge. His duty is to guard the door (from the outside), with a drawn sword, and ensure that only those who are duly qualified manage to gain entry into the lodge meeting. In some jurisdictions, he also prepares candidates for their admission. The Tyler is traditionally responsible for preparing the lodge room before the meeting, and for storing and maintaining the regalia after the meeting,

In some Jurisdictions the Tyler is a Past Master of the Lodge while in others he may be an employed brother from another lodge.

Officers found in some jurisdictions and not in others

There are many officers that are found in some jurisdictions and not in others. Depending on the jurisdiction, some are "progressive" others are not. The more common ones include:

Inner Guard or Inside Sentinel

The office of 'Inner Guard' (or Inside Sentinel) is common to UK lodges, but is rare in American lodges. This position is commonly assigned to a fairly junior member, as it provides an opportunity for him to observe ceremonies and learn.

The task of guarding the door is shared with the 'Tyler' (see above). The Inner Guard is on the inside of the door, and in some jurisdictions is armed with a poignard, or short dagger. In those jurisdictions which do not appoint an Inner Guard (and even in some that do), this duty is given to the Junior Deacon (see above).


In most Masonic jurisdictions, each lodge will have a 'Chaplain'. The principal duty of the Chaplain is to lead prayer before and after the lodge meeting, and to say grace while the lodge is at dinner. In many lodges this position is filled by a clergyman (an ordained minister, priest, rabbi, imam, etc.) who is a brother of the lodge. However, it is not required that the Chaplain be a clergyman, as prayers are non-denominational. In some lodges the tradition is for the immediate Past Master to act as Chaplain.

Director of Ceremonies / Ritualist

The title 'Director of Ceremonies' is used in the United Grand Lodge of England and its subordinate lodges, as well as in many other jurisdictions. However, other titles found in other jurisdictions include, 'Lecturer', and 'Ritualist'.

Whatever the title, this officer is responsible for the smooth flowing of ceremonial and ritual and may hold rehearsals. He may be responsible for prompting other officers who forget their lines. In some jurisdictions, he directs proceedings during the installation of a new Worshipful Master. He is also responsible for forming processions and introducing visitors, except in those jurisdictions which appoint a 'Marshal' for these latter purposes.


The office of 'Marshal' is quite common in the United States, but not in other countries. In some jurisdictions where it is found, the title is simply an alternative for 'Director of Ceremonies'.

However, there are jurisdictions in which the office is distinct from any other, in which cases the duties of the office revolve around the organisation of processions and ensuring the correct precedence and etiquette in formal proceedings, including the introduction of visitors to the lodge. This is distinct (in such jurisdictions) from the role of the Director of Ceremonies in supervising the ritual of the lodge's degree ceremonies.

Masters of Ceremony

The offices of 'Senior and Junior Masters of Ceremony' appear in some jurisdictions. Their primary duty is to prepare candidates prior to each of the three degrees. They also help conduct the candidates during the degree conferrals.


The 'Almoner' (sometimes called the 'Caring Officer') is responsible for the well-being of lodge members and their families. He remains in contact with members who are unwell, and also maintains a discreet presence in the lives of widows of former members, so that the lodge may readily assist them should they find themselves in any particular need.

Of necessity the Almoner must be well versed in local and national Masonic charities and the scope of their charitable work, so as to offer advice to those who might qualify for such assistance.

In some jurisdictions, these duties are handled by a committee (under various titles).

Organist / Director of Music

The 'Organist' or 'Director of Music' provides musical accompaniment to lodge proceedings, although there is no set form. Many lodge rooms are equipped with a pipe organ or electronic organ, and in others, there is provision for a wider range of instruments. In other places the Director of Music operates recorded or digital music systems, such as at the Grand Lodge of Austria in Vienna.

Additional (less common) Offices

There are certain offices which exist only in particular lodges, or only in the lodges of one particular jurisdiction. As far as possible, the following list seeks to record all such offices that are either reasonably widespread, or else have been made notable by some other means, such as being held by famous people.


In some jurisdictions there is a strong tradition of Masonic research and education, and the presentation of papers by members is as common as degree ceremonies or other business. In such cases the 'Orator' may present papers, or be responsible for their presentation by others. The Orator may also be called upon to present a paper to celebrate milestones in the life of the lodge.

The term Grand Orator refers to a similar office within Grand Lodges.


Most lodges have a senior member who holds a particular interest in the lodge's history. In some jurisdictions, this interest may lead to appointment to formal office as the lodge's 'Historian'. The office involves the archiving of documents and artifacts, and the publishing and updating of historical information.

Charity Steward

All lodges are charged with maintaining an appropriate level of charitable giving to good causes. In some jurisdictions the office of 'Charity Steward' exists. He is responsible for encouraging the members to give generously, as well as leading discussions about the appropriate recipients of the lodge's charitable donations.

Poet Laureate

This particular office is believed to be unique to one Scottish lodge, the 'Lodge Canongate Kilwinning' No 2. In 1787 the lodge appointed Robert Burns as 'Poet Laureate', an investiture later immortalised in a painting by Stewart Watson, the original of which hangs in the Grand Lodge of Scotland building in Edinburgh. The painting incorporates a certain amount of artistic license, which may possibly extend to the presence of Burns himself, for although he was certainly a member of the Lodge, it is not clear that he was present at the meeting at which he was appointed Poet Laureate. Many years later (in 1905), the office of Poet Laureate in this lodge was awarded to Rudyard Kipling, who was made an honorary member for that purpose.

There is no known Grand equivalent to this office in any other jurisdiction.

Offices generally found only at Grand Lodge level

The offices in a Grand Lodge are generally derived from the corresponding offices in its subordinate lodges. However, there are certain offices that must necessarily be filled in Grand Lodges, but have no private lodge equivalent. These are outlined below.

Grand Master

A Grand Master is the leader of the lodges within his Masonic jurisdiction. He presides over a Grand Lodge, and has certain rights in the constituent lodges that form his jurisdiction.
Just as the Worshipful Master of a lodge annually appoints lodge officers to assist him, so the Grand Master of each Grand Lodge annually appoints grand lodge officers to assist him in his work. Grand Lodges often elect or appoint Deputy Grand Masters who can act on behalf of the Grand Master when he is unable to do so. In English Freemasonry, where a member of the Royal Family is often the Grand Master, he may also appoint a Pro Grand Master to deputise for him when he is involved in affairs of State. The Pro Grand Master has no function when the Grand Master is present, and is distinct from the Deputy Grand Master.
There are two distinct traditions in connection with the office of Grand Master. Generally speaking the European practice is for the same Grand Master to be re-elected for several consecutive years, maybe even several decades, whilst in other countries a Grand Master serves a set term of only one to three years, and then retires.

Deputy Grand Master

In some jurisdictions, a Deputy Grand Master serves as the Grand Master's assistant, and is given the authority to act in the Grand Master's name in his absence.

In England, under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England, should the Grand Master be a member of the Royal family, a Pro Grand Master is elected to officiate as Grand Master in his absence on Royal duties.

Grand Chancellor

The Grand Chancellor is responsible for external relations and formal interaction with the Grand Lodges of other jurisdictions. The United Grand Lodge of England changed its constitution in 2007 to allow for the appointment of a Grand Chancellor for the first time. Only a few jurisdictions have Grand Chancellors. In most jurisdictions, the Grand Secretary fulfills these duties.

The Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No 4, in England, is a rare example of a lodge that appoints a Chancellor as one of its officers. It appears that when the office was created in the nineteenth century it was intended to be similar to the role of Chaplain. However when revived in the early twentieth century, the role was more directed towards external relations. By the late twentieth century it appears that it had become customary for the office to be awarded to the longest serving member of the Lodge.

Grand Registrar

In some jurisdictions a 'Grand Registrar' is appointed to be the principal legal officer of a Grand Lodge. The role is generally held by a qualified lawyer or judge. In other jurisdictions, there is no official title given to the holders of these duties.

Grand Superintendent of Works

When this office exists, the 'Grand Superintendent of Works' is a Grand Lodge officer responsible for the Grand Lodge building, and as such, the office is usually awarded to a qualified architect or builder. Responsibility for individual Lodge buildings usually falls to a committee.

Grand Sword Bearer

Many Grand Masters are preceded in formal processions by a ceremonial sword. In such cases a 'Grand Sword Bearer' is appointed to carry the sword.

Grand Standard Bearer or Grand Banner Bearer

Many Grand Masters or Grand Lodges have an official standard which is carried behind the Grand Master in formal processions. In such cases a 'Grand Standard Bearer' or 'Grand Banner Bearer' is appointed.

Grand Pursuivant

It is the Grand Pursuivant's duty to announce all applicants for admission into the Grand Lodge by their names and Masonic titles; to take charge of the jewels and regalia of the Grand Lodge; to attend all communications of the Grand Lodge, and to perform such other duties as may be required by the Grand Master or presiding officer.