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Baron Steuben Lodge #264 

Freemasonry Explained

It may be that some of our visitors would desire more knowledge concerning the Masonic Fraternity; what it stands for, and what it strives to do. The roots of Freemasonry are lost in antiquity, but our recorded history extends backward well over six hundred years. We would have you know, then, that Freemasonry is a moral institution founded on the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of man. It is not just social, not merely ritualistic, but it is also educational and patriotic. 

Contrary to the belief of many in the past, it is neither a secret society, a religion, nor a substitute for religion. Freemasonry can’t be called a "secret society" in a literal sense. A truly secret society forbids its members to disclose that they belong to the organization, or that it even exists. Much of the Masonic ritual is in books called "Monitors" that are widely available, even in public libraries. Most Freemasons wear rings and lapel pins which clearly identify them as members of the fraternity. Masonic lodges are listed in public phone books, Masonic buildings are clearly marked, and in many areas of the country Masonic lodges place signs on the roads leading into town, along with civic organizations, showing the time and place of meetings.

We do have a few signs and words of recognition which we like to keep to ourselves, but Freemasonry itself is not secret. The tradition of using handshakes and passwords was very common in the Middle Ages, when the ability to identify oneself as belonging to a building or trade guild often made the difference in getting a job or in obtaining help for yourself and family. Today, Freemasons make the same pledge to every member that he will be offered assistance if he, or his family, ever requests it. 

The whole world is aware of Freemasonry. The Square and Compasses are known and respected from Pole to Pole; no effort is made to hide their existence. Masons are proud to be known as such. Masonry teaches no secret truth, the mysteries of Masonry are those eternal truths upon which is built and which are common to all men, those of faith and duty, of life and death. It is a private society set apart from the turmoil and pressures of life, where reverence, friendship, and love teach manhood and character building. 

Fundamentally, Masonry is educational and endeavors to teach men about the elements of life that are worthwhile and of lasting value, of the relationship that men should stand, one to another, that he who gives to those around him those things that are the best and the richest in him, receives back in return those same values with added measure.

Nor let us forget that our fraternity is intensely patriotic; and, though definitely not a religion, it is religious in that it urges every man to be steadfast in the faith of his acceptance. A Masonic Temple is a gathering place of men who believe in God and Country, men who uphold the principles and ideals revealed in the Book of Law, and the American ideals of Liberty and Freedom.

"In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. The Earth was without form, and void. And darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved across the waters, and God said: 'Let There Be Light', and there was Light". This quote from Genesis 1: 1-3 is powerful, and it is also ironic that it is also read, to every Masonic candidate, during the very first Masonic Degree. It is suiting to a Fraternity, like Freemasonry, to have the new member start his path of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, with the word of God.


Grand Lodge of the State of New York 



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