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What is the Meaning of Freemasonry and it's Expectations?


Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest fraternal organizations. The lessons Freemasonry teaches in its ceremonies, are to do with moral values. Freemasonry's acknowledgement, without crossing the boundaries of religion, is that everything depends on the providence of God. Freemasons feel that these lessons apply much today as they did when it took its modern form at the turn of the 17th century.
Despite what many people claim, Freemasonry is not in any way a secret society. Freemasonry's so-called secrets are solely used as a ceremonial way of demonstrating that one is a Freemason. In any case, Freemasonry has been exposed by the media for almost as long as they have existed. The real point of a Freemason promising not to reveal their secrets, is basically a dramatic way of promising to keep one's word in general.
Other reasons why Freemasonry cannot be called a secret society, are that Freemasons do not promise to keep their membership or where they meet a secret. Where and when Freemasons meet are matters of public record.
It is ironic that Freemasons used to be quiet about their membership. They were and still are taught never to use it to advance their own interests. Critics have taken this the wrong way and think that there is something secretive and nasty because of the silence. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Masonic ceremonies are secular morality plays, which are learned by heart, by members of the lodge for the benefit of the person who is becoming a Freemason. Each ceremony has a message for the candidate. A further reason why Freemasons do not go around broadcasting their contents is simply because it would spoil it for the candidate. The same way you would not tell someone the ending of a good book or a film, you would not tell someone about the ceremony.
Freemasons are required to profess and continue in a belief in a Supreme Being. Their ceremonies include prayers, which are not in any way a substitute for religion. It has no theological doctrines, it offers no sacraments, and it does not claim to lead to salvation. By having prayers at its meetings Freemasonry is no more in competition with religion than, say, having a meal where grace is said.
Freemasons are not allowed to discuss religion or politics at meetings. Freemasonry's aim is to encourage its members to discover what people from all different backgrounds have in common. As is all too well known, debate about religion and politics can lead to heated discussion rather than enlightenment.
A Freemason is thus basically encouraged to do his duty first to his God, and then to his family and those who are dependent on him. He is to help his neighbors through charity and service.
None of these ideas is exclusive to Freemasonry, but all should be universally acceptable and Freemasons are expected to follow them.
There have been a great number of definitions of Freemasonry. Perhaps the best, and certainly the simplest, is Freemasonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.
The idea of teaching by allegories and symbols is not new. All great teachers have, more or less, followed this method.
The system of morality, referred to as Freemasonry, is that which every Freemason is bound to profess and practice. If it includes principles with which he was familiar before his entrance into Freemasonry, he will nevertheless find these presented in new ways and in forms different from those with which he was previously familiar. If he finds in Masonic teachings nothing startlingly new, he must remember that, in some respects at least, there is nothing new under the sun and that the essence of morality is to be found in the utter simplicity (though not the ease) of its requirements.
The elementary principles of Freemasonry are exemplified in the three degrees worked in every regular Masonic Lodge throughout the world.
Each Lodge has its own Officers, headed by a Master; its own Committees and, in many cases, its own building and property.
On the other hand, each Lodge is subject to the authority of the Grand Lodge under which it holds its Charter.
In becoming a member of a Lodge under a particular Constitution, one becomes subject not only to the general customs and usages of the Craft, but also to the Laws and Regulations of that Grand Lodge, as well as to the By-Laws and Regulations of that Lodge which one joins.
However, Freemasonry will never require anything which might conflict with ones duty to God, his Country, his neighbor or his family.
In the progress through Freemasonry, one is initiated as an Entered Apprentice; passed to a Fellow Craft and raised as a Master Mason. These are ritualistic ceremonies of a most serious character appropriate to each stage of advancement.
It may be noted that during the ceremonies, one will not be asked to promise anything which will conflict with ones religious, civil or other duties.
The first duty is to approach each ceremony calmly and solemnly, with mind and spirit attentive to the lessons which will be imparted.

What Freemasonry Is Not
So that one may not have a mistaken idea of what Freemasonry is, it may be well to point out some of the things which Freemasonry is not, and which it has never claimed to be.
1. Freemasonry is not a religion nor a substitute for religion. It requires a belief in a "Supreme Being" which it does not name as its members include men from all religions. It urges men to follow the teaching of and to regularly attend their choice of a church. It has a philosophy of its own which it believes to be compatible with the teachings of religious institutions. The teachings of Freemasonry transcend all denominational and sectarian divisions. In the field of human conduct, it is complementary to religion, but religious topics are not discussed in Lodge.
2. Contrary to the opinion held by many, Freemasonry is not a charitable institution, as such. It is true that one of the fundamental principles of Freemasonry is the practice of relief, and a Freemason will necessarily minister to the widows and fatherless in their affliction. But these and other similar modes of conduct, must proceed from that purity of life and conduct which is one of the great objectives of all Masonic teachings.
3. Freemasonry does not insure its members against the vicissitudes of old age; provides no sick benefits as such; issues no insurance policies on the lives of its members and pays no death benefits of any kind. Not that Freemasonry disbelieves in these and other means by which modern civilization undertakes to reduce suffering and privation-quite the contrary. But it confines the matter of individual relief to those cases where such relief becomes necessary, in spite of all the efforts of a Brother or his family to maintain their economic independence. The Masons part in this work is far more likely to be that of a contributor than a beneficiary, except in the larger sense, in which every man benefits from the fact that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
4. Freemasonry does not lend itself to the promoting of selfish or mercenary interests. Any underlying purpose of such a nature in one's mind will eventually become apparent to the other Brethren resulting in the inevitable loss of one's respect.
5. Freemasonry is not connected in any way with a political creed. A Freemason's political views are his own and a Lodge may well have members belonging to many different political parties. For that reason, no discussion of political matters is permitted in a Lodge.

Who May Become A Freemason
Not every man can fulfill the requirements that Freemasonry asks of it's aspirants.
The primary requirement, is of course, a sound moral character. One whose reputation in the Community is in any way questionable, cannot expect to become a Mason.
But there are other requirements which the petitioner must have, such as:
He must be a believer in God, The Supreme Being.
He must be a loyal citizen, willing to discharge his duties to God, to his neighbor and to himself.
He must be at least eighteen years of age in the Grand Jurisdiction of Maryland.
He must be in such financial circumstances that he can maintain himself as a Member of his Lodge, meeting the monetary obligations imposed by being a member, without detriment to his family or himself.
 A potential Freemason, like Masons in all ages before, comes of his own accord to knock at the door of the Craft.
Two Brethren are requested to recommend; indeed they have to vouch for the prospects character and sincerity of motives. In a very real sense they are Masonic sponsors and have the responsibility of seeing that they and others who have accepted their assurances will not be disappointed.
 
What Freemasonry Expects of You
The privileges of Freemasonry are no greater than the responsibilities of its members. The obligations will not conflict with those already assumed by virtue of ones membership in modern society. On the contrary, Freemasonry reiterates, reinforces and re-emphasizes them.
Thus, in asking Freemasonry to share its past, its present and its future and all the privileges of its Brotherhood, one must bear in mind the fact that the relationship is a reciprocal one and that certain things are expected of the prospect.
Remember always:
The calling of a Freemason is a high one and one should never suffer oneself to depart from it.
Loyalty to home, to country and to the Craft is expected at all times.
Patriotism is a bounden duty and one must not countenance disloyalty or rebellion.
Freemasonry recognizes that all men, whether Masons or not, are Brothers by birth, endowed with the same nature, and sharing the same hopes.
That Freemasonry champions the cause of the widow, the fatherless, the weak, and the distressed.
That the time-honored virtues cherished by our forefathers are to be observed among Masons and that humanity, patience, charity and gentleness are among the hallmarks of purity and integrity of character.

What is a Mason
A Mason is a Man and a Brother whose trust is in God.
He meets you on the Level and acts upon the Square.
Truth is his Compass and he is ever Plumb.
He has a true Grip on all that is Rite.
He is loyal to his order, and what ever his Degree.
He is Master of himself.
In the Lodge of life he wears unstained the white Lambskin of innocence.
From his Initiation as an Enter Apprentice he travels ever East toward the Light Of Wisdom until he receives  the final Divine Password that admits him to the
 Ineffable Presence of the Eternal Supreme Grand Master Of The Universe.