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Shared on our site with permission from Freemason Information
Masonry does things in the world.
Masonry teaches that each person has a responsibility to make things better in the world. Most individuals won't be the ones to find a cure for cancer, or eliminate poverty, or help create world peace, but every man and woman and child can do something to help others and to make things a little better. Masonry is deeply involved with helping people -- it spends more than $1.4 million dollars everyday in the United States, just to make life a little easier. And the great majority of that help goes to people who are not Masons. Some of these charities are vast projects, like the Crippled Children's Hospitals and Burns Institutes built by the Shriners. Also, Scottish Rite Masons maintain a nation-wide network of over 100 Childhood Language Disorders Clinics, Centers, and Programs. Each help children afflicted by such conditions as aphasia, dyslexia, stuttering, and related learning or speech disorders.
Some services are less noticeable, like helping a widow pay her electric bill or buying coats and shoes for disadvantaged children. And there's just about anything you can think of in-between. But with projects large or small, the Masons of a lodge try to help make the world a better place. The lodge gives them a way to combine with others to do even more good.
Masonry does things "inside" the individual Mason.
"Grow or die" is a great law of all nature. Most people feel a need for a continued growth as individuals. They feel they are not as honest or charitable or as compassionate or as loving or as trusting or as well informed as they ought to be. Masonry reminds its members over and over again of the importance of these qualities and education. It lets men associate with other men of honor and integrity who believe that things like honesty, compassion, love, trust, and knowledge are important. In some ways, Masonry is a support group for men who are trying to make the right decisions. It's easier to practice these virtues when you know that those around you think they are important, too, and won't laugh at you. That's a major reason that Masons enjoy being together.
Masons enjoy each other's company.
It's good to spend time with people you can trust completely, and most Masons find that in their lodge. While much of lodge activity is spent in works of charity or in lessons in self-development, much is also spent in fellowship. Lodges have picnics, camping trips, and many events for the whole family. Simply put, a lodge is a place to spend time with friends.
Masonry is a fraternity, not a religion. Masonry acknowledges the existence of God, but Masonry does not tell a person which religion he should practice or how he should practice it. That is a function of his house of worship, not his fraternity.
Sometimes people confuse Masonry with a religion because we call some Masonic buildings "temples." But we use the word in the same sense that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court a "Temple of Justice." Neither Masonry nor the Supreme Court is a religion just because its members meet in a "temple." Most California lodges now refer to their buildings as Masonic centers.
It really isn't secretive, although it sometimes has that reputation. Masons certainly don't make a secret of the fact that we are members of the fraternity. We wear rings, lapel pins, and tie clasps with Masonic emblems like the Square and Compass. Masonic buildings are clearly marked, and are usually listed in the phone book. Lodge activities are not secret - events are often listed in the newspapers, especially in smaller towns. But there are two traditional categories of secrets. First are the ways in which a man can identify himself as a Mason: grips and passwords. This is the same for any fraternity. Second are Masonic ceremonies, which are private (for members only) but are not secret.
Everyone uses symbols every day because it allows us to communicate quickly. When you see a red light, you know what it means. When you see a circle with a line through it, you know it means "no." In fact, using symbols is probably the oldest method of communication and teaching.
Masons use symbols for the same reasons. Certain symbols, mostly selected from the art of architecture, stand for certain ethics and principles of the organization. The "Square and Compass" is the most widely known symbol of Masonry. In one way, this symbol is the trademark for the fraternity. When you see it on a building, you know that Masons meet there.
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.
Some men are surprised that no one has ever asked them to become a Mason. 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 with 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.
Here are a few important things you should know and consider before applying to join the Masonic Fraternity.
Masonry has in all ages insisted that men shall come to its doors entirely of their own free will; not from feelings of curiosity, but from a favorable opinion of the Institution and a desire to be numbered among its members.
Freemasonry is a fraternity which teaches ethics and morality. Although it is not in any sense a religion or a substitute for religion, we do require that men who join believe in God and in the brotherhood of man. No atheist can become a Mason.
Although we require that a member believe in God, we never try to tell a man how he should conceive of God, what faith he should practice or what worship he should follow. Those are questions of individual conscience, and the member must find those answers within his own faith. Masonry has for its foundation the great principles of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.
Freemasonry distinguishes between patriotism and partisanship. While patriotism is encouraged as an essential virtue both within and without the Lodge, no partisan or political discussion is allowed within the Lodge.
The essential purpose of Freemasonry is the further development of the individual Mason as an honest, ethical, moral, sincere, caring and charitable man, learning more about his own potential as a human being and developing his intellectual and spiritual character. A man should never enter the Fraternity in the hope of making business connections or for any other sort of professional or monetary gain. If he does, he will be disappointed, for they will not be found there. What he will find is a group of like-minded men, who are willing to treat him as a Brother and share in a deep and rewarding fellowship with him. He will find true friends and life-long companions.
We expect men who petition for the Degrees (Membership) to be good men, but not to be perfect. We know that all men have limitations and weaknesses. Our questions are: Does he care about others? Does he feel a responsibility to improve himself and to make the lives of others better as best he can? Is he willing to be open and honest with us and with himself?
We are glad that you are interested in the Masonic Fraternity, and we are willing to share it with you. If you decide that you wish to join the Masonic Fraternity you will be given an application form. Inside the application you will find several questions. They are not asked out of idle curiosity. When we accept a man as a Brother, we make a sincere promise to him that we will trust him completely and will treat his needs and his interests just as if they were our own. This application, and the visit some Lodge Brothers will make with you, will begin a process of sharing information which is vital if both you and we are to be comfortable in the relationship.
If you are interested in Freemasonry and would like to meet our members please RSVP for one of our dinners on the first wednesday of the month.
Greenleaf Gardens Lodge No. 670 F. & A.M.
|12001 East Beverly Blvd.|
|Whittier, CA 90601||Google Maps Map and Directions|