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About Unity Lodge #18

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Events

The Ogden Masonic Meetup Group
Meets every Wednesday
at 6:00 PM at the
Masonic Temple in Ogden
See Tresleboard
for dates


Bethel #2 Installation
June 10th, 2017 -  11:00 AM


Ogden DeMolay Installation June 17th, 2017 - 1:00 PM


 Table Lodge
June 21st, 2017 - 6:30 PM
RSVP by 6/17



Who:  Unity Lodge #18, Free  and Accepted Masons
When: 1st Wednesday  of the Month
What Time: 7:30 PM
Where: Ogden Masonic  Temple, 20th and Harrison  Blvd, Ogden Utah

Frequently  Asked Questions

  • What is Freemasonry?
  • Who is the head of  all the Masons?
  • Are there dues, fees,  etc. associated with  being a Mason?
  • What is a Masonic  Funeral?
  • Isn’t Masonry  just a place where businessmen  make deals?
  • Is Masonry is a secret  society?
  • Is Masonry a religion?
  • Are Masonic rituals  demeaning or embarrassing  to the candidate?
  • Can you be a Mason  no matter what your  religion?
  • Do I have to be invited  to become a Mason?
  • I am interested, but  how do I proceed?
  • What is Freemasonry  (Masonry)

Have additional questions?  Please ask us.

What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is the world’s  oldest and largest Fraternity.  Its history and tradition  date to antiquity. Its  singular purpose is  to make good men better.  Its bonds of friendship,  compassion, and brotherly  love have survived even  the most divisive political,  military and religious  conflicts through the  centuries.

Freemasonry is neither  a forum nor a place  for worship. Instead,  it is a friend of all  religions which are  based on the belief  in one God.

Freemasons are respectable  citizens who are taught  to conform to the moral  laws of society and  to abide by the laws  of the government under  which they live.

They are men of charity  and good works. They  remain unchallenged  as the “world’s  greatest philanthropy".

Only individuals believed  to be of the finest  character are favorably  considered for membership.  Every applicant must  advocate his belief  in the existence of  a Supreme Being (atheists  are not accepted into  the Fraternity).

One must ask a Masonic  friend to recommend  him for membership.  He must sign a petition,  stating his age, occupation  and place of residence.  Members of the Lodge  vote by secret ballot.

The candidate receives  three Masonic Degrees,  concluding with the  Third (or Master Mason’s)  Degree.

The Degrees are solemn,  enlightening and an  enjoyable experience  with no uncomfortable  or embarrassing moments.  It is here where the  principles of Freemasonry  are taught and where  the new member learns  that his family and  his own necessary vocations  are to be considered  above Freemasonry.

Every Master Mason  is welcomed as a “Brother”  in any of the thousands  of Regular Masonic Lodges  throughout the world.

Who is the head of  all the Masons?
No one. Each Grand Lodge  has its own jurisdiction  and is the supreme authority  within that jurisdiction.

Obviously, many Grand  Lodges have regular  communication with each  other, but official  policy in one has no  effect in another.

Are there dues, fees,  etc. associated with  being a Mason?
Yes. Like all organizations,  Lodges must be able  to pay their light bills.  There is a one-time  fee for the three degrees  of Masonry, as well  as regular annual dues.  These vary widely depending  on the number of members,  the actual physical  facilities of the Lodge,  etc. The fees and dues,  however, are not prohibitively  expensive.

What is a Masonic Funeral?
Any member who was in  good standing at the  time of his death is  entitled to a Masonic  funeral if he or his  family requests it.  Such a request should  be made to the Master  of his Lodge who will  make the necessary arrangements  with the family, the  mortuary, and the minister.  A service is authorized  by the jurisdiction  in which you are located,  and consists of participation  at the mortuary, the  beginning at the mortuary  and the closing at the  graveside, or graveside  only. Pallbearers will  be furnished at the  request of the family.  In general, the Lodge  will do as much or as  little as the nearest  relative wishes it to  do

Isn’t Masonry  just a place where businessmen  make deals?
No. In fact, most Masons  believe that to trade  with a Brother Mason  only because he is a  Mason is unmasonic.  Even more importantly,  anyone who attempts  to join a Lodge solely  for business reasons  will not be given a  petition.

Masons, however, are  friends, and it is not  surprising that many  Masons do trade with  Brothers. For one thing,  they are dealing with  people that are of good  character and can be  trusted, which is no  small statement in the  modern marketplace.

But Masonry is not  a “place to network".  Yes, some men do view  one of the benefits  of membership as an  additional source of  customers or partners,  but few would say that  is the only reason they  became Masons. The work  involved in the degrees  alone would make this  a poor investment -  better to join the Rotary  Club or other business  group.

Is Masonry a secret  society?
No. Secret societies  are generally defined  as organizations which  are unknown to the public  and whose existence  is denied. The Bavarian  Illuminati and the Mafia  would be examples of  secret societies.

Masonry, on the other  hand, is well-known  and proudly displays  its existence. Masonic  Temples are clearly  marked as such, and  many Lodges are listed  in the phone book (usually  under “Fraternal  Orders"). Members  often wear rings or  tie-clips that identify  themselves as Masons,  and Masons often participate  in community charity  work. Finally, some  Masonic functions are  open to the public.

Masonry is not a secret  society, but rather  a society with a few  secrets. These are mainly  modes of recognition  - the signals, grips,  signs, and phrases by  which Masons recognize  each other. The actual  degree rituals are considered  secret as well, not  because there is anything  that would harm Masonry  by their revelation,  but rather because they  are more meaningful  if the candidate does  not know what is going  to go on during them  beforehand.

It should be pointed  out that many other  organizations have a  similar class of secrets.  College fraternities  (a.k.a. “Greek  letter organizations")  often have small secrets  known only to their  members, allowing them  to travel from house  to house and still be  known.

Is Masonry is a religion?
No.

Masonry is not  a religion by the definitions  most people use. Religion,  as the term is commonly  used, implies several  things: a plan for salvation  or path by which one  reaches the after-life;  a theology which attempts  to describe the nature  of God; and the description  of ways or practices  by which a man or woman  may seek to communicate  with God. Masonry does  none of those things.  We offer no plan of  salvation. With the  exception of saying  that He is a loving  Father who desires only  good for His children,  we make no effort to  describe the nature  of God. And while we  open and close our meetings  with prayer, and we  teach that no man should  ever begin any important  undertaking without  first seeking the guidance  of God, we never tell  a man how he should  pray or for what he  should pray. Instead,  we tell him that he  must find the answers  to these great questions  in his own faith, in  his church or synagogue  or other house of worship.  We urge men not to neglect  their spiritual development  and to be faithful in  the practice of their  religion.

“Freemasonry  has no dogma or theology.  It teaches that it is  important for every  man to have a religion  of his choice and to  be faithful to it. A  good Mason is made even  more faithful to the  tenets of his faith  by membership.”  Rev. Norman Vincent  Peale, who was also  a Mason.


Are Masonic rituals  are demeaning or embarrassing  to the candidate?
Nothing could be further  from the truth. The  rituals (degrees) are  designed to reinforce  virtues that the Craft  finds desirable, such  as Justice, Brotherly  Love, Truth, and the  like. The rituals are  actually quite beautiful  and filled with ancient  language and much symbolism.  At no point, however,  is the candidate asked  to do anything that  would embarrass or demean  him, nor anything that  would violate his obligations  to his faith, country,  or the law.

Can you be a Mason  no matter your religion?
The only religious requirement  is that candidates believe  in the Supreme Being.  If you can in good faith  profess a belief in  the Supreme Being, you  are eligible to be a  Mason. No atheists will  ever knowingly be made  a Mason.

There are Christian  (Catholic, Protestant,  Mormon), Jewish, and  Muslim Masons. It would  be tedious and pointless  to go into a religion-by-religion  (and then denomination-by-denomination)  discussion. The key  points to remember are  the requirement of belief  in the Supreme Being  and the fact that Masonry  is a fraternity, not  a religion.

Do I have to be invited  to become a Mason?
Don’t wait to  be invited. Historically  Masons were prohibited  from actively recruiting  or asking non-Masons  to join the fraternity,  to insure that candidates  come of their own free  will. Still, you don’t  need to be invited,  if you’re interested,  act.

I am interested, but  how do I proceed?
If you know a Mason,  ask him about membership.  He will be glad to tell  you all about the Craft  and the local lodge,  and give you a petition  if you wish to join.

If you do not know  a Mason, drop us an  e-mail We will talk  to you and find out  if you happen to know  any Masons but you just  don't know they are  Mason's

Typically, the process  is as follows:

  • The applicant fills  out a petition. The  petition asks for two  sponsors, one of which  has to have know the  applicant for 6 months.  If you do not kow anyone  in the lodge you can  meet and talk with the  officers, they can usually  find sponsors or act  as sponsors themselves.
  • The petition is read  at the lodge during  the next business meeting,  which for many lodges  is during the first  week of the month. A  committee is formed  to investigate the candidate.  The petition also asks  for two character references.
  • The committee meets  with the candidate to  answer questions, ascertain  that he meets the criteria  for membership, and  find out a little about  him. This is not a “grilling  session” but  rather a friendly and  casual chat to make  certain that the candidate  has been properly informed  about Masonry and was  not improperly solicited.  The committee also contacts  the character references  listed on the petition  (typically asking if  they know any reason  why the candidate should  not be accepted, etc.)
  • The committee reports  back to the lodge during  the next business meeting  and the candidate is  voted on. If accepted,  someone from the lodge  (often the Secretary)  contacts the candidate  and informs him that  he has been accepted  and schedules a date  for the Entered Apprentice  degree.

What  is Freemasonry (Masonry)

What’s a Mason?
That’s not a surprising  question. Even though  Masons (Freemasons)  are members of the largest  and oldest fraternity  in the world, and even  though almost everyone  has a father or grandfather  or uncle who was a Mason,  many people aren’t  quite certain just who  Masons are.

The answer is simple.  A Mason (or Freemason)  is a member of a fraternity  known as Masonry (or  Freemasonry). A fraternity  is a group of men (just  as a sorority is a group  of women) who join together  because:

  • There are things  they want to do in the  world.
  • There are things they  want to do “inside  their own minds.”
  • They enjoy being together  with men they like and  respect.

(We’ll look at  some of these things  later.)

What’s Masonry?
Masonry (or Freemasonry)  is the oldest fraternity  in the world. No one  knows just how old it  is because the actual  origins have been lost  in time. Probably, it  arose from the guilds  of stonemasons who built  the castles and cathedrals  of the Middle Ages.  Possibly, they were  influenced by the Knights  Templar, a group of  Christian warrior monks  formed in 1118 to help  protect pilgrims making  trips to the Holy Land.

In 1717, Masonry created  a formal organization  in England when the  first Grand Lodge was  formed. A Grand Lodge  is the administrative  body in charge of Masonry  in some geographical  area. In the United  States, there is a Grand  Lodge in each state  and the District of  Columbia. In Canada,  there is a Grand Lodge  in each province. Local  organizations of Masons  are called lodges. There  are lodges in most towns,  and large cities usually  have several. There  are about 13,200 lodges  in the United States.

If Masonry started  in Great Britain, how  did it get to America?
In a time when travel  was by horseback and  sailing ship, Masonry  spread with amazing  speed. By 1731, when  Benjamin Franklin joined  the fraternity, there  were already several  lodges in the Colonies,  and Masonry spread rapidly  as America expanded  west. In addition to  Franklin, many of the  Founding Fathers -  men such as George Washington,  Paul Revere, Joseph  Warren, and John Hancock - were Masons.  Masons and Masonry played  an important part in  the Revolutionary War  and an even more important  part in the Constitutional  Convention and the debates  surrounding the ratification  of the Bill of Rights.  Many of those debates  were held in Masonic  lodges.

What’s a lodge?
The word “lodge”  means both a group of  Masons meeting in some  place and the room or  building in which they  meet. Masonic buildings  are also sometimes called  “temples”  because much of the  symbolism Masonry uses  to teach its lessons  comes from the building  of King Solomon’s  Temple in the Holy Land.  The term “Lodge”  itself comes from the  structures which the  stonemasons built against  the sides of the cathedrals  during construction.  In winter, when building  had to stop, they lived  in these lodges and  worked at carving stone.

While there is some  variation in detail  from state to state  and country to country,  lodge rooms today are  set up similar to this  diagram.

If you’ve ever  watched C-SPAN’s  coverage of the House  of Commons in London,  you’ll notice  that the layout is about  the same. Since Masonry  came to America from  England, we still use  the English floorplan  and English titles for  the officers. The Worshipful  Master of the Lodge  sits in the East. “Worshipful”  is an English term of  respect which means  the same thing as ‘Honorable”.  He is called the Master  of the lodge for the  same reason that the  leader of an orchestra  is called the  “Concert  Master.”  It’s simply an older term  for “Leader.”  In other organizations,  he would be called “President”.  The Senior and Junior  Wardens are the First  and Second Vice-Presidents.  The Deacons are messengers,  and the Stewards have  charge of refreshments.

Every lodge has an  altar holding a “Volume  of the Sacred Law.”  In the United States  and Canada, that is  almost always a Bible.

What goes on in a lodge?
This is a good place  to repeat what we said  earlier about why men  become Masons:

  • There are things  they want to do in the  world.
  • There are things they  want to do “inside  their own minds.”
  • They enjoy being together  with men they like and  respect.

The Lodge is the center  of these activities.

Masonry does things  in the world.
Masonry teaches that  each person has a responsibility  to make things better  in the world. Most individuals  won’t be the ones  to find a cure for cancer,  or eliminate poverty,  or help create world  peace, but every man  and woman and child  can do something to  help others and to make  things a little better.  Masonry is deeply involved  with helping people  - it spends more  than $1.4 million dollars  every day in the United  States, just to make  life a little easier.  And the great majority  of that help goes to  people who are not Masons.  Some of these charities  are vast projects, like  the Crippled Children’s  Hospitals and Burns  Institutes built by  the Shriners. Also,  Scottish Rite Masons  maintain a nationwide  network of over 100  Childhood Language Disorders  Clinics, Centers, and  Programs. Each helps  children afflicted by  such conditions as aphasia,  dyslexia, stuttering,  and related learning  or speech disorders.

Some services are less  noticeable, like helping  a widow pay her electric  bill or buying coats  and shoes for disadvantaged  children. And there’s  just about anything  you can think of in-between.  But with projects large  or small, the Masons  of a lodge try to help  make the world a better  place. The lodge gives  them a way to combine  with others to do even  more good.

Masonry does things  “inside”  the individual Mason.
“Grow or die”  is a great law of all  nature. Most people  feel a need for continued  growth as individuals.  They feel they are not  as honest or as charitable  or as compassionate  or as loving or as trusting  or as well-informed  as they ought to be.  Masonry reminds its  members over and over  again of the importance  of these qualities and  education. It lets men  associate with other  men of honor and integrity  who believe that things  like honesty, compassion,  love, trust, and knowledge  are important. In some  ways, Masonry is a support  group for men who are  trying to make the right  decisions. It’s  easier to practice these  virtues when you know  that those around you  think they are important,  too, and won’t  laugh at you. That’s  a major reason that  Masons enjoy being together.

Masons enjoy each other’s  company.
It’s good to spend  time with people you  can trust completely,  and most Masons find  that in their lodge.  While much of lodge  activity is spent in  works of charity or  in lessons in self-development,  much is also spent in  fellowship. Lodges have  picnics, camping trips,  and many events for  the whole family. Simply  put, a lodge is a place  to spend time with friends.

For members only, two  basic kinds of meetings  take place in a lodge.  The most common is a  simple business meeting.  To open and close the  meeting, there is a  ceremony whose purpose  is to remind us of the  virtues by which we  are supposed to live.  Then there is a reading  of the minutes; voting  on petitions (applications  of men who want to join  the fraternity); planning  for charitable functions,  family events, and other  lodge activities; and  sharing information  about members (called  “Brothers,”  as in most fraternities)  who are ill or have  some sort of need. The  other kind of meeting  is one in which people  join the fraternity - one at which  the “degrees”  are performed.

But every lodge serves more than its own members. Frequently, there are meetings open to the public. Examples are Ladies’ Nights, “Brother Bring a Friend Nights,” public installations of officers, cornerstone laying ceremonies, and other special meetings supporting community events and dealing with topics of local interest.

What’s a degree?
A degree is a stage or level of membership. It’s also the ceremony by which a man attains that level of membership. There are three, called Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. As you can see, the names are taken from the craft guilds. In the Middle Ages, when a person wanted to join a craft, such as the gold smiths or the carpenters or the stonemasons, he was first apprenticed. As an apprentice, he learned the tools and skills of the trade. When he had proved his skills, he became a “Fellow of the Craft” (today we would say “Journeyman"), and when he had exceptional ability, he was known as a Master of the Craft.

The degrees are plays in which the candidate participates. Each degree uses symbols to teach, just as plays did in the Middle Ages and as many theatrical productions do today. (We’ll talk about symbols a little later.)

The Masonic degrees teach the great lessons of life – the importance of honor and integrity, of being a person on whom others can rely, of being both trusting and trustworthy, of realizing that you have a spiritual nature as well as a physical or animal nature, of the importance of self-control, of knowing how to love and be loved, of knowing how to keep confidential what others tell you so that they can “open up” without fear.

Why is Masonry so “secretive"?
It really isn’t “secretive,” although it sometimes has that reputation. Masons certainly don’t make a secret of the fact that they are members of the fraternity. We wear rings, lapel pins, and tie clasps with Masonic emblems like the Square and Compasses, the best known of Masonic signs which, logically, recall the fraternity’s early symbolic roots in stonemasonry. Masonic buildings are clearly marked, and are usually listed in the phone book. Lodge activities are not secret – picnics and other events are even listed in the newspapers, especially in smaller towns. Many lodges have answering machines which give the upcoming lodge activities. But there are some Masonic secrets, and they fall into two categories.

The first are the ways in which a man can identify himself as a Mason – grips and passwords. We keep those private for obvious reasons. It is not at all unknown for unscrupulous people to try to pass themselves off as Masons in order to get assistance under false pretenses.

The second group is harder to describe, but they are the ones Masons usually mean if we talk about “Masonic secrets.” They are secrets because they literally can’t be talked about, can’t be put into words. They are the changes that happen to a man when he really accepts responsibility for his own life and, at the same time, truly decides that his real happiness is in helping others.

It’s a wonderful feeling, but it’s something you simply can’t explain to another person. That’s why we sometimes say that Masonic secrets cannot (rather than “may not") be told. Try telling someone exactly what you feel when you see a beautiful sunset, or when you hear music, like the national anthem, which suddenly stirs old memories, and you’ll understand what we mean.

“Secret societies” became very popular in America in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There were literally hundreds of them, and most people belonged to two or three. Many of them were modeled on Masonry, and made a great point of having many “secrets.” Freemasonry got ranked with them. But if Masonry is a secret society, it’s the worst-kept secret in the world.

Is Masonry a religion?
The answer to that question is simple. No.

We do use ritual in meetings, and because there is always an altar or table with the Volume of the Sacred Law open if a lodge is meeting, some people have confused Masonry with a religion, but it is not. That does not mean that religion plays no part in Masonry – it plays a very important part. A person who wants to become a Mason must have a belief in God. No atheist can ever become a Mason. Meetings open with prayer, and a Mason is taught, as one of the first lessons of Masonry, that one should pray for divine counsel and guidance before starting an important undertaking. But that does not make Masonry a “religion.”

Sometimes people confuse Masonry with a religion because we call some Masonic buildings “temples.” But we use the word in the same sense that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court a “Temple of Justice” and because a Masonic lodge is a symbol of the Temple of Solomon. Neither Masonry nor the Supreme Court is a religion just because its members meet in a “temple.”

In some ways, the relationship between Masonry and religion is like the relationship between the Parent-Teacher Association (the P.T.A.) and education. Members of the P.T.A. believe in the importance of education. They support it. They assert that no man or woman can be a complete and whole individual or live up to his or her full potential without education. They encourage students to stay in school and parents to be involved with the education of their children. They may give scholarships. They encourage their members to get involved with and to support their individual schools.

But there are some things P.T.A.s do not do. They don’t teach. They don’t tell people which school to attend. They don’t try to tell people what they should study or what their major should be.

In much the same way, Masons believe in the importance of religion. Masonry encourages every Mason to be active in the religion and church of his own choice. Masonry teaches that without religion a man is alone and lost, and that without religion, he can never reach his full potential.

But Freemasonry does not tell a person which religion he should practice or how he should practice it. That is between the individual and God. That is the function of his house of worship, not his fraternity. And Masonry is a fraternity, not a religion.

What’s a Masonic Bible?
Bibles are popular gifts among Masons, frequently given to a man when he joins the lodge or at other special events. A Masonic Bible is the same book anyone thinks of as a Bible (it’s usually the King James translation) with a special page in the front on which to write the name of the person who is receiving it and the occasion on which it is given. Sometimes there is a special index or information section which shows the person where in the Bible to find the passages which are quoted in the Masonic ritual.

If Masonry isn’t a religion, why does it use ritual?
Many of us may think of religion when we think of ritual, but ritual is used in every aspect of life. It’s so much a part of us that we just don’t notice it. Ritual simply means that some things are done more or less the same way each time.

Almost all school assemblies, for example, start with the principal or some other official calling for the attention of the group. Then the group is led in the Pledge of Allegiance. A school choir or the entire group may sing the school song. That’s a ritual.

Almost all business meetings of every sort call the group to order, have a reading of the minutes of the last meeting, deal with old business, then with new business. That’s a ritual. Most groups use Robert’s Rules of Order to conduct a meeting. That’s probably the best-known book of ritual in the world.

There are social rituals which tell us how to meet people (we shake hands), how to join a conversation (we wait for a pause, and then speak), how to buy tickets to a concert (we wait in line and don’t push in ahead of those who were there first). There are literally hundreds of examples, and they are all rituals.

Masonry uses a ritual because it’s an effective way to teach important ideas – the values we’ve talked about earlier. And it reminds us where we are, just as the ritual of a business meeting reminds people where they are and what they are supposed to be doing.

Masonry’s ritual is very rich because it is so old. It has developed over centuries to contain some beautiful language and ideas expressed in symbols. But there’s nothing unusual in using ritual. All of us do it every day.

Why does Masonry use symbols?
Everyone uses symbols every day, just as we do ritual. We use them because they communicate quickly. When you see a stop sign , you know what it means, even if you can’t read the word “stop.” The circle and line mean “don’t” or “not allowed.” In fact, using symbols is probably the oldest way of communication and the oldest way of teaching.

Masonry uses symbols for the same reason. Some form of the “Square and Compasses” is the most widely used and known symbol of Masonry. In one way, this symbol is a kind of trademark for the fraternity, as the “golden arches” are for McDonald’s. When you see the Square and Compasses on a building, you know that Masons meet there.

And like all symbols, they have a meaning.

The Square symbolizes things of the earth, and it also symbolizes honor, integrity, truthfulness, and the other ways we should relate to this world and the people in it. The Compasses symbolize things of the spirit, and the importance of a well-developed spiritual life, and also the importance of self-control – of keeping ourselves within bounds. The G stands for Geometry, the science which the ancients believed most revealed the glory of God and His works in the heavens, and it also stands for God, Who must be at the center of all our thoughts and of all our efforts.

The meanings of most of the other Masonic symbols are obvious. For example, the gavel teaches the importance of self-control and self-discipline. The hour-glass teaches us that time is always passing, and we should not put off important decisions.

So, is Masonry education?
Yes. In a very real sense, education is at the center of Masonry. We have stressed its importance for a very long time. Back in the Middle Ages, schools were held in the lodges of stonemasons. You have to know a lot to build a cathedral – geometry, and structural engineering, and mathematics, just for a start. And that education was not very widely available. All the formal schools and colleges trained people for careers in the church, or in law or medicine. And you had to be a member of the social upper classes to go to those schools. Stonemasons did not come from the aristocracy. And so the lodges had to teach the necessary skills and information. Freemasonry’s dedication to education started there.

It has continued. Masons started some of the first public schools in both Europe and America. We supported legislation to make education universal. In the 1800s Masons as a group lobbied for the establishment of state-supported education and federal land-grant colleges. Today we give millions of dollars in scholarships each year. We encourage our members to give volunteer time to their local schools, buy classroom supplies for teachers, help with literacy programs, and do everything they can to help assure that each person, adult or child, has the best educational opportunities possible.

And Masonry supports continuing education and intellectual growth for its members, insisting that learning more about many things is important for anyone who wants to keep mentally alert and young.

What does Masonry teach?
Masonry teaches some important principles. There’s nothing very surprising in the list. Masonry teaches that:

Since God is the Creator, all men and women are the children of God. Because of that, all men and women are brothers and sisters, entitled to dignity, respect for their opinions, and consideration of their feelings.

Each person must take responsibility for his/her own life and actions. Neither wealth nor poverty, education nor ignorance, health nor sickness excuses any person from doing the best he or she can do or being the best person possible under the circumstances.

No one has the right to tell another person what he or she must think or believe. Each man and woman has an absolute right to intellectual, spiritual, economic, and political freedom. This is a right given by God, not by man. All tyranny, in every form, is illegitimate.

Each person must learn and practice self-control. Each person must make sure his spiritual nature triumphs over his animal nature. Another way to say the same thing is that even when we are tempted to anger, we must not be violent. Even when we are tempted to selfishness, we must be charitable. Even when we want to “write someone off,” we must remember that he or she is a human and entitled to our respect. Even when we want to give up, we must go on. Even when we are hated, we must return love, or, at a minimum, we must not hate back. It isn’t easy!

Faith must be in the center of our lives. We find that faith in our houses of worship, not in Freemasonry, but Masonry constantly teaches that a person’s faith, whatever it may be, is central to a good life.

Each person has a responsibility to be a good citizen, obeying the law. That doesn’t mean we can’t try to change things, but change must take place in legal ways.

It is important to work to make this world better for all who live in it. Masonry teaches the importance of doing good, not because it assures a person’s entrance into heaven – that’s a question for a religion, not a fraternity – but because we have a duty to all other men and women to make their lives as fulfilling as they can be.

Honor and integrity are essential to life. Life without honor and integrity is without meaning.

What are the requirements for membership?
The person who wants to join Masonry must be a man (it’s a fraternity), sound in body and mind, who believes in God, is at least the minimum age required by Masonry in his state, and has a good reputation. (Incidentally, the “sound in body” requirement – which comes from the stonemasons of the Middle Ages – doesn’t mean that a physically challenged man cannot be a Mason; many are).

Those are the only “formal” requirements. But there are others, not so formal. He should believe in helping others. He should believe there is more to life than pleasure and money. He should be willing to respect the opinions of others. And he should want to grow and develop as a human being.

How does a man become a Mason?
Some men are surprised that no one has ever asked them to become a Mason. They may even feel that the Masons in their town don’t think they are “good enough” to join. But it doesn’t work that way. For hundreds of years, Masons have been forbidden to ask others to join the fraternity. We can talk to friends about Masonry. We can tell them about what Masonry does. We can tell them why we enjoy it. But we can’t ask, much less pressure, anyone to join.

There’s a good reason for that. It isn’t that we’re trying to be exclusive. But becoming a Mason is a very serious thing. Joining Masonry is making a permanent life commitment to live in certain ways. We’ve listed most of them above – to live with honor and integrity, to be willing to share with and care about others, to trust each other, and to place ultimate trust in God. No one should be “talked into” making such a decision.

So, when a man decides he wants to be a Mason, he asks a Mason for a petition or application. He fills it out and gives it to the Mason, and that Mason takes it to the local lodge. The Master of the lodge will appoint a committee to visit with the man and his family, find out a little about him and why he wants to be a Mason, tell him and his family about Masonry, and answer their questions. The committee reports to the lodge, and the lodge votes on the petition. If the vote is affirmative – and it usually is – the lodge will contact the man to set the date for the Entered Apprentice Degree. When the person has completed all three degrees, he is a Master Mason and a full member of the fraternity.

So, what’s a Mason?
A Mason is a man who has decided that he likes to feel good about himself and others. He cares about the future as well as the past, and does what he can, both alone and with others, to make the future good for everyone.

Many men over many generations have answered the question, “What is a Mason?” One of the most eloquent was written by the Reverend Joseph Fort Newton, an internationally honored minister of the first half of the 20th Century and Grand Chaplain, Grand Lodge of Iowa, 1911-1913.

When is a man a Mason?
When he can look out over the rivers, the hills, and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope, and courage – which is the root of every virtue.

When he knows that down in his heart every man is as noble, as vile, as divine, as diabolic, and as lonely as himself, and seeks to know, to forgive, and to love his fellowman.

When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrows, yea, even in their sins – knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds.

When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them, and above all how to keep friends with himself.

When he loves flowers, can hunt birds without a gun, and feels the thrill of an old forgotten joy when he hears the laugh of a little child.

When he can be happy and high-minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life.

When star-crowned trees and the glint of sunlight on flowing waters subdue him like the thought of one much loved and long dead.

When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid without response.

When he finds good in every faith that helps any man to lay hold of divine things and sees majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of that faith may be.

When he can look into a wayside puddle and see something beyond mud, and into the face of the most forlorn fellow mortal and see something beyond sin.

When he knows how to pray, how to love, how to hope.

When he has kept faith with himself, with his fellowman, and with his God; in his hand a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song – glad to live, but not afraid to die!

Such a man has found the only real secret of Masonry, and the one which it is trying to give to all the world.

This document, in pamphlet form, is available from the Masonic Information Center.

The Masonic Information Center is a division of The Masonic Service Association. The Center was founded in 1993 by a grant from John J. Robinson, well-known author, speaker, and Mason. Its purpose is to provide information on Freemasonry to Masons and non-Masons alike and to respond to critics of Freemasonry. The Center is directed by a Steering Committee of distinguished Masons geographically representative of the Craft throughout the United States and Canada.

To obtain copies of “What’s A Mason?” write:
Masonic Information Center
8120 Fenton Street
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4785

Tel (301) 588-4010; Fax (301) 608-3457

Copies cost $0.25 each with a 40% discount for orders in lots of 50 or more copies, plus shipping/handling.

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