Freemasonry is the largest and most highly respected Fraternal
Order in the World. We hope that
after reading this exciting brochure, you will be much more familiar with our organization -- who we are,
where we came from, what we've done in the past and what we're doing now to make this place a better
and brighter world.
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is kindness in the home; honesty in business; courtesy toward others;
dependability in one's work; compassion for the unfortunate; resistance to evil; help for
the weak; concern for good government; support for public education; and above all, a
life-practicing reverence for God and love of fellow man.
It encourages good citizenship and political expression but is not a political
organization. Its charitable activities are manifold, yet, it is not a welfare or benefit organization.
Fifty years ago, a prominent Freemason referred to our Gentle Craft as "an organized association of
men, symbolically applying the principles of operative Masonry and architecture to the science and art of
character building." That observance was true in 1937 -- it is just as true today.
For the most relevant definition of our Fraternity, it is suggested that you consider the personal
attributes of your Masonic friend who has made this brochure available to you.
Where did it start?
The background of today's Masonry is found deep in the time when men built the
cathedrals, abbeys, and castles of medieval Europe. The stonemasons who constructed
these awe-inspiring Gothic structures formed craft guilds to protect the secrets of their
building trade and to pass on their knowledge to the worthy and desreving apprentices.
By the time the need for this type of "Operative" mason declined in the Seventeenth
Century, the practices and customs of the operative craft had left such an impression that
men wh had no inclination of being operative builders sought membership. These speculative builders
were learned and well-thinking men, men of integrity and good will. With their admission, "speculative
Masonry" evolved. This speculative Fraternity of Freemasons used the symbols (tools) which the
operative Masons used in Cathedral building as symbols in character building.
The two principal tools were the Square and Compass -- which together form the most familiar
Masonic "trademark" in the world to this day. The letter "G," in the very center of this emblem, reflects
the true Masonic belief that God is the very center of ALL life.
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.
Twenty-two words describe the most important prerequisite to becoming a Mason.
"...we receive none, knowingly, into
our ranks who are not moral and upright before God
and of good repute before the world..."
Under Indiana Masonic law, a person seeking admission must be
a man, at least 18
years of age and a resident of Indiana for at least one year immediately prior to petitioning.
Further, he must profess his belief if the existence of a Supreme Being, by whatever name he may be known. Membership in the Fraternity must be of one's own free will and accord.
A man possessing these qualifications and being desirous of becoming a Freemason need only ask his
Masonic friend for a membership petition. The petition having been completed and signed by two
members of the Lodge petitioned, is read at a meeting of the Lodge. A committee of three is appointed
to call on and visit with the petitioner and his family that they might become acquainted with the
organization and its activities. After the committee reports back to the Lodge, the petition is voted on by
the members and, if accepted, the aspirant begins the process of becoming a Mason.
How does a man become a Mason?
Some men are surprised that no one has ever asked them to become
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 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.
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.
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.
What happens at the initiation?
An applicant, whose petition has been accepted by the Lodge,
is advised of the date
his Entered Apprentice Degree has been scheduled. On that date, following a brief
ritualistic opening, the petitioner is properly prepared and introduced to the Lodge. The
solemn process is an enlightening experience and the candidate need never worry that
embarrassing or compromising situations will arist during this (or any other) degree --
they will not!
After receiving the Entered Apprentice Degree, you will be expected to memorize several key
passages of the Ritual and help will be extended in the teaching/learning process.
Having learned the required Ritualistic work and satisfying the Lodge of that proficiency, you will be
asked to return for the conferral of your Fellow Craft Degree. Following a proficiency examination on
that Degree, you will advance to the "last and highest grade of Ancient Craft Masonry -- the Sublime
Degree of a Master Mason."
Only after completing these three symbolic degrees will you truly understand the oft-quoted statement,
"Freemasonry builds its Temples in the Hearts of Men."
Is Freemasonry a religion?
No! Religion can best teach a man faith, hope, and charity.
endeavors to reinforce those teachings. Masonry is not a religion -- nor is it a substitute
for or a rival of any doctrine. It is an aid to religious development in that it builds
character and stresses righteousness. It is significant that many clergymen are active members of the
Fraternity. A Mason respects and is tolerant of that which is sacred to his brother, be he Christian,
Muslim, Jew, or of some other faith in God.
The Fraternity is essentially an institution providing moral instruction, and the rules of right conduct a
member must follow are acceptable to all religions.
How do Masons help others?
The basic premise of Freemasonry is "The Brotherhood
of Man -- under the
Fatherhood of God." With that thought uppermost in mind, Masons strive to learn how
better to serve that "brotherhood of man" -- charitably -- not just with money (although a
recent curvey revealed that over two million Masonic dollars are contributed EVERY
DAY to philanthropies) but also through actions and deeds. The over 100,000 Masons of Indiana own
and operate one of the finest Masonic Homes in the world, which over the past three-quarters of a
century has extended the hand of brotherly love and concern to thousands of men women and children.
At the other end of the spectrum, Masons help, believe in, and support our young people through
scholarship and student load programs, sponsored by the Grand Lodge, the Grand Commandery, and
the Scottish Rite Valleys in Indiana. Each year the Grand Lodge of Indiana alone awards over $500,000
in college scholarships to deserving children and grandchildren of Indiana Masons.
So, is Masonry education?
Yes. In a very real sense, education is at the center of Masonry.
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
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 responsibly 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
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
Beyond Lodge Membership
Lodge members may join Masonically-related organizations outside
of the Symbolic Lodge. These
groups include the York Rite (Royal Arch Masons, Cryptic Masons, Knights Templar), Scottish Rite,
Shrine, and the Order of the Eastern Star.