I AM FREEMASONRY
I was born in antiquity, in the ancient days when men first dreamed of God. I have been tried through the ages, and found true. The crossroads of the world bear the imprint of my feet, and the cathedrals of all nations mark the skill of my hands. I strive for beauty and for symmetry. In my heart is wisdom and strength and courage for those who ask. Upon my alters is the Book of Holy Writ, and my prayers are to the One Omnipotent God, my sons work and pray together, without rank or discord, in the public mart and in the inner chamber. By signs and symbols I teach the lessons of life and of death and the relationship of man with God and of man with man. My arms are widespread to receive those of lawful age and good report who seek me of their own free will. I accept them and teach them to use my tools in the building of men, and thereafter, find direction in their own quest for perfection so much desired and so difficult to attain. I lift up the fallen and shelter the sick. I hark to the orphans\’ cry, the widows tears, the pain of the old and destitute. I am not church, nor party, nor school, yet my sons bear a full share of responsibility to God, to country, to neighbor and themselves. They are freemen, tenacious of their liberties and alert to lurking danger. At the end I commit them as each one undertakes the journey beyond the vale into the glory of everlasting life. I ponder the sand within the glass and think how small is a single life in the eternal universe. Always have I taught immortality, and even as I raise men from darkness into light, I am a way of life. I Am Freemasonry.
-Ray V. Denslow
WHAT DOES FREEMASONRY ACCOMPLISH
Freemasonry teaches lessons of practical morality using symbolism derived from the “builder’s art” or operative stone masonry, including working tools such as the plumb, square, and level, and basing much of its teaching on the story of the building of the Temple of Solomon, as recounted
in the Hebrew Scriptures. By practical morality is meant knowing what to do in life, rather than being concerned with mere idle speculation about what one should do.
Freemasonry is the world\’s oldest and largest fraternal organization. Its members may be found in every free country in the world. There are over one milion Freemasons in the United States alone.
The Symbolic Lodge (or Blue Lodge)
The Symbolic Lodge (also known as the Ancient Craft Lodge, the St. John\’s Lodge, and most commonly as the Blue Lodge) is the fundamental body of Freemasonry. No other part of Masonry is accessible until one has received the three degrees of the Symbolic Rite. Excelsior Lodge #261 is a blue lodge.
Admission to membership in the Lodge, as in any body of Masonry, is by petition. Freemasons do not recruit members. (Some jurisdictions have allowed a very limited form of inquiry by a Mason to a friend who might be qualified to become a Mason.) A man who wishes to join the Lodge must
request a petition from a Brother. The basic qualifications for membership are that a man be of lawful age (which depends on the jurisdiction; in some states it is 18, and in others, 21), believe in a Supreme Being, be of good character, and request the privilege of membership of his own free choice. There is a fee for the degrees (not unlike tuition for other kinds of instruction), and at least a portion thereof must accompany the petition in most jurisdictions.
Once a petition has been received, the applicant’s character will be investigated by a committee appointed for that purpose. After the committee’s report is received, the candidate will be ballotted on at a meeting of the Lodge. A unanimous ballot is required for election to receive the degrees.
(In some jurisdictions, no more than one negative vote.) Not everyone is elected. (It is for this reason that traditionally the applicant must request the privilege of petitioning; in case of rejection, he cannot claim that his friend solicited his membership but was unable to keep his promise.)
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