The Chapter of Royal Arch Masons

The Chapter degrees are a natural extension and culmination of the tale begun in the Blue Lodge. The first three Chapter degrees, Mark Master, Past Master, and Most Excellent Master, develop more fully and expand on the theme of the Temple of King Solomon. The Royal Arch degree concerns itself with the destruction of this Temple by the Babylonians, the "Babylonian Captivity" of the Jews, and their return to Zion after seventy years to begin building the Second Temple, that of Zerubbabel. In the course of this reconstruction, that which was lost at the death of the Architect of the First Temple is recovered. Let us look at each degree in turn:



The candidate represents a young Fellowcraft, who, finding a particularly beautiful piece of work, attempts to pass it off as his own and is detected as an impostor. In due time, he is taught the proper manner of receiving his wages. This degree especially teaches two striking lessons: (1) to relieve a Brother's needs when possible; and (2) to be satisfied with one's wages. The first lesson bears a close affinity to the Rite of Destitution performed in the Entered Apprentice degree, with the difference here being the timely rendering of assistance as well as a rational explanation of the purpose of the "mark". The second lesson, occurring as it does at the conclusion of the degree, blends a well-known New Testament parable with the reception of wages by the Craftsmen on payday at the First Temple, and gives allusion to the value inscribed on the "mark".The symbols peculiar to this degree are the keystone, the chisel, and the mallet. The keystone is explained as the crowning piece of excellence wrought by GMHA for use in completing the Temple. Symbolically, it may be taken to represent the culmination of our efforts in erecting the moral-spiritual temple of our lives; that pure soul which we present to the Supreme Grand Overseer for His final inspection upon the Day of Judgement. The symbolism of the chisel and mallet are explained during the course of the degree. However, they be also be symbolized by the mallet as that thoughtfully applied intellectual force which we can use to free our minds and thoughts from common and trivial errors and vices, and by the chisel as the sculpturing of our minds thus freed into that keystone whose excellent virtues are faith, hope and charity.

past mastr


This degree teaches the candidate the important duties and obligations that he must assume before he can preside over a lodge. In some states, this degree, or one very similar to it, is conferred on a Master-elect before he can be installed. Since in most Masonic bodies, the presiding officer serves because he has been freely elected by his brethren, he must not take advantage of their trust by governing in an arbitrary or haughty manner. He also has a duty to use his best efforts to strive to improve the organization, both through growth and program. What good is a leader who doesn't lead? How does the organization grow or prosper without interesting and timely programs and activities? The lesson implicit in this degree is one of dynamic leadership. The principal symbol is the Holy Bible, which should be the wise counselor and intimate friend of every Masonic leader, as well as the blueprint for conducting his Lodge and his life.



This degree consists of two sections. In the first section, the candidate assumes the obligation and is made aware of the loss of GMHA. In the second section, the candidate witnesses the completion and dedication of King Solomon's Temple. He marches in procession to the Temple, sees the keystone placed,hears the sublime dedicatory prayer of King Solomon, witnesses the Sanctum Sanctorum adorned and consecrated, observes the holy Ark of the Covenant placed in position and the acceptance by the Lord of the sacrifice offered unto Him. He, along with the other Temple workmen, is promoted from Fellowcraft to the rank of Most Excellent Master, a surrogate for the Master Mason degree. This degree teaches that he who would achieve his dreams and goals must persevere steadily along the paths of knowledge and virtue, coupling these with diligent industry and a firm reliance upon God. The dominant symbol of this degree is the Temple itself, symbolic of the spiritual building which we are constantly laboring upon each day of our lives, and which will be completed only upon our death and dedicated when we present the record of our lives and actions unto the Judge Supreme.

RA Chap



This degree completes the Chapter. It also consists of two sections. The first section presents a narrative, usually accompanied by slides, telling of Moses' experience at the Burning Bush and progressing in time to the edict of Darius freeing the captive Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. The candidate represents one of those sojourners returning from Babylon to the Holy City. After travelling over difficult and dangerous ways he reaches his goal. In the second second, he gains admission into the presence of the Grand Council comprised of Jeshua (High Priest), Zerubabbel (King) and Haggai (Prophet, or Scribe). Upon expressing his desire to aid in the labor of reconstruction, he toils among the ruins of the Temple and makes several valuable and significant discoveries, which include a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, the Lost Word, and the Royal Arch Word. Two important symbols of this degree are the Burning Bush in the First Section, symbolic of the power of God to intervene directly in our life and change its direction as suits His divine will; and the Underground Vault in the Second Section, which symbolizes those latent moral and spiritual qualities lying deep within us which are discovered and brought to view by means of the working tools (degrees of Freemasonry): crowbar (EA degree), pickax (Fellowcraft degree), and spade (Master Mason degree).

A Royal Arch Chapter has 13 officers, in order of rank: High Priest, King, Scribe, Capt. of the Host, Secretary, Treasurer, Chaplain, Principal Sojourner, Royal Arch Captain, Master of 3rd Veil, Master of 2nd Veil, Master of 1st Veil, Sentinel. Some jurisdictions also have a Marshal. Members are styled "Companions". At least 9 Companions must be present to open a Chapter. Chapters usually meet monthly. The state governing body is the Grand Chapter. The national body, to which Grand Chapters voluntarily belong, is the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, International.

Past HP


This is a side, or "chair" degree, and is conferred on present or past High Priests, usually during the time of the state Grand Chapter meeting. It tells the story of Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and his encounter with Melchizedek, High Priest of Salem. The candidate participates in a breaking of bread and sharing of wine, assumes an obligation to preside justly over his Chapter, and to regard all Companion High Priests as true friends and brothers. He is then solemnly anointed, consecrated and set apart to the Holy Order of High Priesthood.