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 created these awe-inspiring Gothic structures formed craft guilds to protect the secrets of their building trade and to pass on their knowledge to worth and deserving 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 who 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?
Twenty-two words establish 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 in 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.
Will I Be Asked To Join?
NO! Hopefully, if the concepts and principles of Masonry as enumerated in this folder interest you, you will not need to be asked to join. You must ask to become a Freemason. Unfortunately, many men who would like to become Masons never do because they are unaware of the above-mentioned requirement (that it be of your own free will and accord, and you must ask to join the Fraternity). If you desire to learn more about Masonic membership, feel free to contact a Mason to satisfy yourself concerning Freemasonry. As Freemasons, we believe that membership in an organization such as ours must come from a "sincere wish of being serviceable to your fellow creatures" and not because of coaxing, coercement, or of any promise of material gain of any kind.
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 arise 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. Freemasonry only 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, Mohammedan, 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 survey 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 loan programs, sponsored by the Grand Lodge, the Grand Commandery of Indiana.
The 1985-86 restoration of the Statue of Liberty was given a $2,000,000 boost by the Masons of America. The Masons of Indiana claimed approximately $5,000 of that boost.