This Is Masonry: Builder of Society
Freemasonry is a fraternity of men bound together by vows of morality in public and private life, who believe in God and the constitutional rights of members to free choice of religion and political persuasion.
Masonry strives to make good men better — to teach its members to be "better than themselves." It accepts only men of high moral character.
The fraternity of Freemasonry endorses free public education, encourages self-improvement, promotes patriotism and respect for the Constitution, sanctions equal rights under law, practices god will towards all men, and contributes generously to philanthropies.
Masonry is a Charitable, benevolent, educational and religious society. Its basic tenets are Brotherly Love, Relief, (philanthropy), and Truth.
Through the improvement and strengthening of the character of the individual, Freemasonry seeks to improve the community.
Masonry is not a benefit society, or a charitable institution. It assists members by many means through times of hardship, but it is not an insurance society with sickness, death, disability or old age benefits.
Masonry is not a secret society. It is a well-known, nation-wide fraternity whose members proudly declare their membership. Masons meet in buildings plainly identified as Masonic Temples, and public announcements of their meetings are published in daily and community publications. There is no attempt to hide the names of community leaders who are Masons.
Masonic ritual is often considered by Masons as having been the most moving experience of their lives. Employing the tools of the stone mason as symbols of basic moral truths, Masonic ritual dramatizes a philosophy of life based on morality.
Masonry is voluntary! A Mason is forbidden by Masonic law to invite a friend to join. The friend must voluntarily seek membership by contacting a Mason and announce his desire to join.
Masons of the Blue Lodge, or any appendant body, may participate in varied activities. Degree presentations require ritualists and persons with dramatic abilities, musicians for orchestras, vocalists for choirs, stage crews, make-up men and service committees of all kinds.
Men take part in an active social life that includes their families and friends.
Besides national philanthropic activity, such as scholarships and medical research. Masons maintain many types of local charitable projects.
Non-Masons observe the social, civic and philanthropic activity of Masons and frequently comment on the close bond that exists among Masons and the obvious belief that they are their brothers' keepers. They notice that Masons are quick to assist their fellows in misfortune with encouragement, kindness and tangible assistance.
The bond of faith and confidence among Masons is largely the result of the common knowledge that all, having experienced the memorable rituals, accept the high ethical standards as guides to their conduct.
Within a Masonic Temple Masons do not discuss religion, or political matters, or any other subject likely to excite personal animosities. Masonry teaches men to be religious without advocating a particular doctrine, or creed. It requires its members to be good citizens, but free to choose their medium of political expression.
Masons support free schools. Throughout the history of North America the Masonic fraternity has supported free public schools in all possible unofficial and non-political ways ... as an expression of good citizenship "Let there be light" is a famous Masonic motto in support of this philosophy.
Masonry with its dedication to education, morality, brotherly love, non- sectarianism in religion and politics and equal rights is a steadying influence that balances and consolidates the social, religious and political life of America.
WHAT IS BLUE LODGE?
The Blue Lodge (Symbolic Masonry) confers the first three degrees — Entered Apprentice (first degree), fellowcraft (second degree), and Master Mason (third degree).
Promotion depends upon a Mason's proficiency in learning certain things about Freemasonry, its ethics, and its philosophy.
There is no higher degree in Masonry than Master Mason. However, a Master Mason may enter the Scottish Rite, or York Rite, to elaborate upon basic Masonic principles.
WHAT IS SCOTTISH RITE?
The Scottish rite confers the 4th through 32nd degrees in degree-conferring meetings. The degree work may be, but is not necessarily, completed at one time.
Any Master Mason in good standing may ask a Scottish Rite friend for a petition form, or may obtain one from a Scottish Rite secretary. He must be judged to be of good moral character, and be elected by the members.
WHAT IS YORK RITE?
The York Rite consists of nine degrees in addition to Blue Lodge degrees.
Ancient York Rite Masonry is considered by Masonic historians to have been "original" Masonry. It is not practised in its orginal form anywhere today. In the United States, the term York Rite has come to be applied to a number of degrees conferred only in this country.
York Rite degrees are divided into Capitular Degrees of the Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent MAster and Rotal Arch Mason; the Cryptic Degrees of the Royal Master, Select Master and Super Excellent Master, and the Chivalric Orders of the Order of the Red Cross, Order of the Knights of Malta and the Order of Knights Templar.
Scottish and York Rites are autonomous bodies, but members have in common their membership in the Blue Lodge, and all of the moral and philosophical teachings of Masonry that the two rites elaborate.
THE ORIGINAL 13 SHRINERS
Thirteen Masons organized the first Shrine Temple in 1872 — Mecca Temple in New York City. The 13 life enjoying Masons formed a luncheon group in 1870 at a time when the psychic significance of the number 13 was sweeping New York.
They knew they needed an appealing theme for their new Order, so they choose the Arabic (Near east) theme. To this day, this background has influenced the names of Shrine Temples, pageantry that accompanies the initiation of new Shriners, titles of Shrine offices and parade costumes.
The most noticeable sysmbol of Shrinedom is the distinctive red fez that all Shriners wear at official functions.
THE WORLD'S GREATEST PHILANTHROPY
Every Shriner is a Mason.
Members of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles the Mystic Shrine for North America are members of the Scottish Rite's 32nd degree, and/or Knights Templer of the York kite. However, the Order is not an appendant body of Masonry.
Shriners are distinguished by an enjoyment of life in the interest of philanthropy. The nearly 900,000 — member Shrine organization has a buoyant philosophy, which has been expressed as: "Pleasure without intemperance, hospitality without rudeness, and jollity without coarseness."
SHRINERS HAVE A MISSION
Shriners' buoyancy does not suppress a sense of mission, however. The Shriners who participate in the famous Shrine parades, and administer the Shrine circuses and numerous Shrine football games from coast to coast carry with them the vision of little children, who will know happiness because of their efforts. The money that Shriners raise supports the 22 Shriners Hospitals For Crippled Children, including three Shriners Burn Institutes. Special care is given to both orthopaedic cases and severely burned children. Valuable research is conducted to find more effective treatment and to train specialists in both fields.
I AM A SHRINER BECAUSE . . .
... It is the fulfiliment of my devotion to the principles of Freemasonry - through the prerequisite degrees to Shrinedom.
... It extends to me, in greater numbers, the warm hand of Fellowship and Brotherly Love — the priceless ingredients of man's quest for happiness.
... It furthers my Masonic adherence to Love of God, Love of Country, and Love of Freedom.
... It enables me to participate in one of the world's great monuments to humanitarian devotion — Shriners Hospitals For Crippled Children — that of caring for our crippled and burned young, regardless of race or creed.
... Through Fellowship and Service it strengthens my soul and adds inner-meaning to my dally life. It thus spreads a glow of joy through one's entire family.