Sunday, November 6, 2011

What is a Mason?

Almost 2 years ago I decided that I would explore my interest in freemasonry. After talking with a good friend, I decided to petition a local lodge and began the journey. Earlier this year I was raised to the degree of Master Mason (3rd degree). The most difficult question often posed to members of our Fraternity is – “so what is Freemasonry anyway?”

This is one of the questions I've had the hardest time answering. While doing some reading, I ran across an interesting response... There are so many ways to answer this question: It is a Brotherhood, where we learn about each other and enjoy fellowship. It is an organization that has contributed millions of dollars to Charity. It is a school where we learn self- development and morality. It is a spiritual and philosophical school based upon the Mystery Schools and Traditions of ancient times. It is many of these things and more. Sometimes the answer to “so what is Freemasonry anyway?” is deeply personal because the teachings of the Fraternity can affect each Brother Mason in a different way. This is largely because of the way in which Masonic Teachings are presented.

The Masonic teachings can be best described as “Mysteries.” Our Rituals and Initiations are designed to communicate our teachings in parable, allegory and symbols. The Mysteries are presented in a very subjective way, leaving the Initiate to contemplate their meaning. The more deeply and honestly the Mason studies the Mysteries of his craft, the more profound wisdom he will attain and the more he will develop as a human being. If a man is a true Mason, a Master of his Craft, he not only contemplates the Mysteries, but actively practices the moral and philosophical teachings in all aspects of his life. The Masonic Fraternity is rooted in friendship, morality and Brotherly Love. Tolerance and freedom of religion are some of its main tenets. Belief in God is an important foundation of the rituals within the Fraternity and all Masons must profess a belief in a Higher Power, yet we do not impose any religious doctrine upon our members other than to stress the importance of religious study in general. Any good man is eligible to apply for membership, regardless of race, religion, political affiliation or nationality. As our ritual states, we are interested in the “internal, not the external” aspects of a man. Our modern world is filled with distractions that often keep our focus outside of ourselves – on our job, on the television, etc. Freemasonry provides us with unique opportunities to look within, to develop ourselves and to contribute to the aid of others in need.