Freemansonry is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies, whose members are concerned with moral and spiritual values. No one knows with certainty how or when the Masonic Fraternity was formed. A widely accepted theory among Masonic scholars is that it arose from the stonemasons’ guilds during the Middle Ages. The language and symbols used in the fraternity’s rituals com from this ear. The oldest document that makes reference to Masons is the Regius Poem, printed about 1390, which was copy of an earlier work. In 1717, four lodges in London formed the first Grand Lodge of England, and records from that point on are more complete.
Masons are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms and use stonemason’s customs and tools as allegorical guides. The necessary prerequisite for acceptance into the Masonic fraternity is the belief in a Supreme Being and membership is open to men of all races and religions who profess belief in deity and are of good repute. Although it has a religious basis, Freemasonry is neither a religion in itself nor a substitute for religion. The use of honorifics, such as the Great Architect, is simply to enable men of different faiths to meet together, offer prayers and address their God without differences of religion obtruding.
Freemasonry is not a secret society. Its aims, principles, constitutions and rules are available to the public and its members are at perfect liberty to acknowledge their membership. The only secret in Freemasonry are solely used as a ceremonial way of demonstrating that one is a Freemason. 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.
A Freemason is taught that his prime duties are to his God, to the laws of the country in which he lives and works, and to his family. Any attempt to use his membership to promote his own or anyone else’s business, professionals or personal interests, and any attempt to shield a Freemason who has acted dishonorably or unlawfully, is contrary to the conditions on which he seeks admissions.
By following the three Great principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, a Freemason hopes to show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others; to practice charity within the community as a whole both by charitable giving and voluntary efforts; and to strive to attain truth and high moral standards in his own life.
Masonry teaches that each person has a responsibility to make things better in the world. In North America, the Masonic Fraternity is deeply involved with helping people by giving almost $1.5 million each day to causes that range from operating children’s hospitals, providing treatment for childhood language disorders, treating eye diseases contributing to local community service, and providing care to Masons and their families at Masonic Homes.
Masons do not regard Freemasonry as a secret society, merely one that is private that would lose some of its special significance and meaning to newcomers should every aspect of lodge business become widely known or be taken out of context. The four million Masons worldwide continue to help men and women face modern problems by building bridges of brotherhood and instilling in the hearts of men ideal for a better tomorrow.
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