What Is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry (or simply, Masonry) is a fraternal order whose basic tenets are brotherly love, relief (philanthropy), and truth. We strive to enjoy the company of our brother Masons, assist them in times of personal trouble, and reinforce essential moral values.
Who are Freemasons?
Many of our nation’s early patriots were Freemasons, as well as 13 signers of the Constitution and 14 Presidents of the United States including George Washington. Today, the more than two million Freemasons around the world come from virtually every occupation and profession. Within the Fraternity, however, they all meet as equals. They come from diverse political ideologies, but they meet as friends. They come from virtually every religious belief, but they all believe in one God. One of the fascinating aspects of Freemasonry has always been: how so many men from so many different walks of life can meet together in peace, never have any political or religious debates, always conduct their affairs in harmony and friendship, and call each other Brother.
Why are we called Freemasons?
The name definitely dates back to the days when Masonry was almost wholly operative in character. Numerous explanations have been suggested, such as (a) masons worked in free stone (which could be carved), and hence were called “free-stone masons”, later shortened to “freemasons” (b) they were free men, not serfs; (c) they were free to move from place to place as they might desire; (d) they were given the freedom of the towns or localities in which they worked; (e) they were free of the rules and regulations.
What was the origin of the expression “Blue Lodges?”
There are several theories, of which two have the most adherents. Some believe that operative Masons felt that blue, the color of the sky both by day and by night, was associated in their minds with the purity of Deity, which Masons attempt to emulate. Others refer to the change made by speculative Masons shortly after the establishment of the original Grand Lodge of England when blue was substituted for white as the official Masonic color, presumably because it was the color of the Order of the Garter of which a number of Masonic leaders were members.
Why are Lodges in some jurisdictions called A.F. & A.M. and others F. & A.M.?
There were two Grand Lodges in England between 1751 and 1813, one was called “Moderns” (actually, the older of the two) and one was called “Ancients.” The latter used the title Ancient Free and Accepted Masons (A.F. & A.M.) while the original Grand Lodge used Free and Accepted Masons (F. & A.M.). Warrants to Lodges in the United States were granted by these two Grand Lodges and thus the differences. Twenty-four Grand Jurisdictions in the United States use A.F. & A.M., twenty-five use F. & A.M., South Carolina uses A.F.M. and the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia uses F.A.A.M.
What are the qualifications of a petitioner for Freemasonry?
That he believes in the Supreme Architect of the Universe (by whatever name He may be called); that he applies for initiation and membership of his own free will and accord; that he is recommended by two Master Masons, both of whom must be a Member of the Lodge to which he desires to apply; that he is of good character; that he be a man, and of mature age (18 in Kentucky.)
What benefits will I enjoy if I become a member?
Masonry is not about getting benefits. Masonry is about what you can do for others. As brothers we offer each other fraternal affection and respect. Together we will support each other in adherence to this creed, so that we and our communities will be the better because of our fraternity and its principles.
Why are your meetings secret?
Our meetings aren't secret, they are private. All of our meetings are listed on our calendar. 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 men become a part of 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: public installations of officers, cornerstone laying ceremonies, and other special meetings supporting community events and dealing with topics of local interest.