Category Archive: Masonic Tips – The Complete Collection

Dec 29

Musical Chairs!

At our December business meeting, we elected and appointed the new officers for 2009, and I was elected into the Junior Warden seat. It is quite an honor, as in doing so, I unexpectedly skipped a couple seats. For 2008, I was appointed as a Steward. The natural progression is to move the Junior Deacon seat, however the current Junior Deacon who has held that position for quite a number of years didn’t want to move up, so next in line is the Senior Deacon seat. The current Senior Deacon decided to step out of the rotation due to personal scheduling issues, so that left his seat and the Junior Warden seat open. The brother who was passed and raised with me was appointed Senior Deacon, and I was nominated and elected to the Junior Warden seat. I think it’s going to be a great fit because I have had to serve as Junior Warden pro-tem on several occasions, so I already know what is required.

Anyway, I look forward to serving in 2009 along side some new as well as familiar faces!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/musical-chairs

Dec 28

Faster, faster, faster!?!

I had the opportunity to attend the Order of the Temple work at another local lodge, and I must say that I was very impressed. There were about 25 people with three candidates, and the work was done very well. One of the older men had been doing his part for many years, and he had everything memorized–very impressive. It was nice to see the work done again since I went through it. Every time I attend degree work, I learn and understand a lot more. One of the

But one thing struck me as very disappointing. Prior to the work, the Chapter/Council/Commandery conducted their regular monthly business meeting. Wow! It was the fastest business meeting I have ever witnessed. After the work was finished, I was talking with the secretary, a very nice older man, and after some introductions and some chit-chat, he said, “Be sure to join us any time for our monthly business meetings. We make sure they’re done quickly, so we get in and out fast.”

Hmmm. Maybe it’s just because I’m new to all this, but to me it’s a real shame that so many people just want get-in-get-out-as-fast-as-you-can events. What’s the rush? Isn’t there more to talk about, lecture about, or discuss? Why not take the time to go over some of the finer points that we can all so easily forget like modes of recognition or the like? Why not talk about the history of the lodge, of Freemasonry, or of the various appendent bodies? (Did you know that there is WAY more to Freemasonry than just the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, and the Shrine?)

I spoke with some newer brothers about this, and they feel the same way. We’re not going to start up some coup or anything, but we are considering trying to put together some simple presentations that would be interesting and informative.

As with many things, it seems that we may be the ones who can bring about some positive change.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/faster-faster-faster

Dec 27

York Rite Degree Work – Some ponderings

The local York Rite membership is a very dedicated group of Masons, but like so many Masonic groups, it tends to be somewhat “older-leaning” in its membership. The group that with which I went through the degree work is a bit younger than most of the membership (though I don’t know if my age of 42 constitutes being young or old!) Anyway, we all expressed a desire to join, the members were very excited that a new group of younger men were interested in getting involved. They enthusiastically told us that once we complete the Degrees that they would love for us to participate in future Degree work. I am very interested in getting involved.

One thing that I really enjoyed about the Degree work was that we all had the opportunity to participate in the Degrees in some form. Like the Blue Lodge degrees, it wasn’t just a “sit back and watch” event. Being able to go through the work really makes it more interesting, enjoyable, and memorable. I honestly can’t conceive of sitting in a hall with hundreds of other men just watching.

We held 2009 Officer Elections at the November business meeting, and I had the honor of being elected as “Scribe” in our Royal Arch Chapter and “2nd Guard” in our Knights Templar Commandery. Both will allow me to become more involved with the York Rite. I look forward to a great upcoming year!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/york-rite-degree-work-some-ponderings

Dec 26

Seeking More Light – Part Two

After completing the Royal Arch and Cryptic Masonry degrees, the final steps on the path of the York Rite are the “Chivalric Orders”. These Degrees (called Orders in this group) include the the “Illustrious Order of the Red Cross” which is an Order that emphasizes the lesson of truth; the “Order of Malta” which emphasizes the lesson of faith; and the “Order of the Temple” (also called Order of the Knights Templar) which emphasizes the lessons of self-sacrifice and reverence.

The final three Orders were conferred in November, 2008. The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross and the Order of Malta were conducted in short form, and the Order of the Temple was conducted in long form. (Some day, I’d love to see the first two done in long form.) The work took most of the morning, and it was impressive, interesting, and absolutely unforgettable.

It is very refreshing for me as a Christian to see a Masonic group that is wholly devoted to supporting and defending the Christian faith.

So my degree work in the York Rite is now complete, but as is so true with all of Freemasonry, my journey is now just beginning. I look forward to the upcoming year!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/seeking-more-light-part-two

Dec 25

Seeking More Light – Part One

Since my journey in Freemasonry began, I have always been interested in Freemasonry’s Appendant Bodies, specifically the York Rite. My father was a Master Mason, went through the Scottish Rite, and eventually became a Shriner. (In his day, it was a requirement that to become a Shriner, you had to go through either the Scottish Rite or the York Rite. This requirement has since been lifted.) After some reading and research about the Scottish and York Rites, I decided to pursue the York Rite as I felt that it aligned more closely with my Christian walk.

I was raised to a Master Mason in November of 2007, and in October 2008, one of my Masonic brothers and I, along with others, went through the first six of nine Degrees that make up the York Rite. In the united States, the York Rite is divided into three organizations. Each is independent, yet all are intimately connected. Collectively, these are called the “York Rite Bodies”. Some jurisdictions confer single Degrees over time, while others confer them either all together or in groups. Our local York Rite Bodies have a limited membership, so conferring Degree work has to be carefully planned. They decided to confer the multiple Degrees and Orders over two Saturdays.

The first Saturday consisted of the degrees of the Capitular Degrees and the Cryptic Degrees, and the second Saturday conferred the Chivalric Orders. The Capitular Degrees consisted of the four degrees of Royal Arch masonry which include the Mark Master, Past Master (Virtual), Most Excellent Master, and The Royal Arch Degrees. The Cryptic Masonry Degrees conferred were the Royal Master and Select Master.

(Please see my article, The York Rite Background for more details on these Degrees.)

The degree work on the first Saturday was long and exhausting, but it was well done and very impressive. It was certainly just as impressive as the Blue Lodge degrees, and was very engaging as many of the degrees built upon the foundations laid in the first three Degrees. From Mark Master through Select Master, the broader story of Freemasonry was revealed and was very memorable.

The remaining three Orders of the Chivalric Orders were conferred in November, 2008.

(Please see part two of this article for my experience in the Chivalric Orders.)

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/seeking-more-light-part-one

Dec 24

The York Rite Background

yorkrite_01The York Rite, like the Scottish, is one of Freemasonry’s Appendant Bodies which is open to a Master Mason to join to further his knowledge of Freemasonry. While Freemasonry officially culminates with the third degree of the Blue Lodge, the nine additional degrees of the the York Rite are considered to expand upon and complete the Blue Lodge degrees.

The York Rite is broken down into three “bodies”, each governing and controlling the degree work related to that body. The bodies are Royal Arch Masonry, Cryptic Masonry, and Knights Templar (also called the Chivalric Orders.) The intent is to confer additional Degrees or Orders, each building upon the foundations laid by the Blue Lodge Degrees. The order in which they are received is not necessarily historically chronological.

Here is a brief synopsis of the various Degrees or Orders conferred by each of the York Rite bodies:

royalarch_01Royal Arch Masonry

The degrees of the Royal Arch center on the construction phases of Solomon’s Temple. This York Rite Body is governed by a “Chapter”, and it consists of the following four Degrees:

Mark Master

This Degree emphasizes the lessons of regularity, discipline, and integrity. It is a most impressive Degree centered on the story of the Fellowcraft of the quarry and their role in the building of the Temple.

Past Master (Virtual)

This Degree emphasizes the lesson of harmony. This Degree is conferred because ancient custom required that a Mason must be a Past Master in order to be exalted to the Royal Arch. In some Grand Jurisdictions this Degree is conferred upon all sitting Masters of the Blue Lodge. The Degree confers no actual rank upon the recipient, but is exemplified to maintain the ancient custom.

Most Excellent Master

This Degree emphasizes the lesson of reverence. This Degree is centered on the dedication of the Temple after its completion, particularly the consecration of the Sanctum Sanctorum and the descent of the Host into the Temple. It is complimentary to the Mark Master Degree and completes the symbolic lessons introduced in that Degree.

The Royal Arch

This is the completion of the Master Mason Degree and the summit of the original Degrees of the Blue Lodge as practiced in the Antients Lodges of England before 1820. The Degree explains the origins of the Substitute Word found in the Master Mason Degree, the recovery of the Ineffable Word, and its concealment within the Royal Arch Word. This Degree, together with the Master Mason Degree, may have once been exemplified as one large or “super” Degree, with the Master Mason Degree explaining the loss of the Master’s Word and the Royal Arch explaining the recovery of the Master’s Word.

cryptic_01Cryptic Masonry

The next York Rite Body is Cryptic Masonry which is governed by a “Council”. The Degrees get their name from a hidden or secret vault referenced in the degrees. The following degrees are conferred in Cryptic Masonry:

Royal master

This Degree emphasizes the lessons of patience and fortitude. The Degree centers around the Fellowcraft Masons who were artificers fabricating the fittings and furniture of the Temple. It is unusual in that the first part of the Degree depicts events taking place before the death of the Grand Master Hiram Abif, and the last part depicts events occurring after his death.

Select Master

This Degree emphasizes the lessons of devotion and zeal. The Degree centers on the construction and furnishing of a Secret Vault beneath the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple, and the deposition of those secrets pertaining to the Craft by the three ancient Grand Masters of the Craft. This Degree bridges the events surrounding the concealment and loss of the Ineffable Word and the events leading to the recover of the Word in the Royal Arch Degree.

Super Excellent Master

This Degree emphasizes lessons of loyalty and faithfulness. It centers around events leading to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple at the hands of the Chaldeans. This degree is an honorary one, and a member of the Council does not need to have it in order to hold membership or office.

knightstemplar_01Chivalric Orders

The Chivalric Orders confer three Orders, instead of Degrees, culminating in the grade of Knight Templar. This is the only recognized Masonic Body that has religious connotations since it is based on the Christian Religion and virtues. The governing body is the Commandery. The orders conferred are The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, The Order of Malta and The Order of the Temple. Prior to completing these Orders, the Companion must declare his belief in or loyalty to the Christian religion. These are the Chivalric Orders:

Illustrious Order of the Red Cross

This Order emphasizes the lesson of truth. Elements of this Order were practiced in Ancient Lodges before the final form of the Master Mason Degree came into use.

Order of Malta

This is an Order emphasizing the lesson of faith. This Order requires the Mason to profess and practice the Christian faith. It introduces the lesson and example of the unfearing and faithful martyr of Christianity. The Order is centered on allegorical elements of the Knights of Malta, inheritors of the medieval Knights Hospitaller.

Order of the Temple

Also known as the Knights Templar, this impressive Order emphasizes the lessons of self-sacrifice and reverence. It is meant to rekindle the spirit of the medieval Knights Templar devotion and self-sacrifice to Christianity. The history of this Masonic Order is long and convoluted, with the Order’s ritual differing between that conferred in England and in the United States. That practiced in the United States has a slight militant zeal to the lesson of Christianity, whereas the English ritual is more allegorical. However, the American ritual is most impressive, and more emphasis is placed on the solemnity and reverence associated with the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ. Today’s Knight Templar is a man dedicated to the living Christ, and the defense of the virtues contained in the practices observed by all true Christians.

Here are some links to some additional information on these degrees:

York Rite Degrees
York Rite Wikipedia article
Scottish Rite Wikipedia article
Masonic Appendant Bodies Wikipedia article

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/the-york-rite-background

Dec 04

Brother, take a seat!

Less than three weeks after being raised to the degree of Master Mason, I was installed as one of the Stewards of our Lodge. The new Junior Warden-Elect appointed me and the other brother who was raised with me as the new Stewards for 2008. I’m honored that the opportunity to begin moving through the chairs has come so quickly! I look forward to being able to participate in the degree work, the business meetings, and to provide cheerful service to the Lodge officers where needed.

The December business meeting was the first meeting I have been able to attend as a Mason, so it was exciting. Though the meeting was likely longer than usual because of the installation ceremony, I found it to be quite interesting. And it was impressive to watch representatives from the Grand Lodge performing the ceremony.

So I look forward to attending the next year’s meetings, getting more involved, and helping out as one of the new Stewards. I’m excited to see where Freemasonry takes me in 2008!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/brother-take-a-seat

Nov 19

Raised to Master Mason!

This past Saturday, another Masonic brother and I were raised to the degree of Master Mason, the Third Degree in the Blue Lodge. It was an interesting, informative, and certainly memorable degree. We had our Fellowcraft examination, followed by the Third Degree work. Our Fellowcraft examination went very smoothly despite not having spent any time together going over the questions and answers. I guess we were duly and truly prepared.

After the examination, we began the Third Degree work. Interestingly, this was conducted solely by Past Masters. I’m not sure if it is global to Freemasonry, or something specific to the Grand Lodge of South Carolina, but the first time that any Third Degree work is done in a lodge during a year, the work is conducted by Past Masters. (Which means, sad to say, that our first Third Degree work this year was done all the way in November. I hope that next year, we have more earlier.) Of the 24 or so people who attended, about nine or ten of them were Past Masters, and they did an excellent job with the degree work.

Obviously, I cannot go into any detail, but suffice it to say, the Third Degree degree work was impressive and very, very memorable. Initially, I had read a lot of information online about the various degrees, but after being initiated to Entered Apprentice and then passed to Fellowcraft, I decided not to read any more about the Third Degree so as not to “spoil” things. Fortunately, nothing was spoiled, and I have to say that experiencing the degree work was exciting. I’ve had the opportunity over the past several months to see about six First Degrees, and I can’t wait to see another Third Degree from the “other side” for a different perspective.

After I received my Third Degree, two key points were made to me by multiple people on different occasions:

“While this is the final degree in the Blue Lodge, this is really just the beginning of my journey in Freemasonry.”

“You will get out of Freemasonry what you put into it.”

So now, I am a Master Mason! I can attend regular business meetings, vote on new candidates, get more involved in the Lodge, join other Masonic organizations requiring a Third Degree prior to joining, wear a Masonic ring, and a host of other things. I look forward to continuing my journey in Freemasonry, and getting more involved!

This is my fifteenth article on my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/raised-to-master-mason

Oct 08

I Think I “Get It”

Obviously I still have a lot to learn about Freemasonry having only recently been passed to the second degree. So until I progress further, I can really only comment on my current knowledge and exposure to Freemasonry as a Fellow Craft. But of what I do understand now, I think I “get it” concerning just what Freemasonry is all about, and in many ways more importantly, what it is not.

I was driving home the other evening from some first degree work at another lodge, and I was thinking about the work. It got me thinking about all of the anti-masonic stuff I’ve read on the ‘Net. It got me thinking about what it’s all about…just what are the basics…the simple explanation. As I see it, once you pare it all down to its core, it all just seems so simple:

I see an organization comprised of men who have each taken the initiative to learn how to join the organization; who are ultimately granted membership through initiation; who obligate themselves to commit to the ideals of the organization and to not disclose its secrets; who commit to learn the material required to advance in the two remaining degrees; and who ultimately commit themselves to abide by a code of good conduct to improve their character, to embrace the pursuit of knowledge, and to help their fellow man. I believe that in knowing a man to be a Mason, you can be assured that he has experienced all of what I just described, and that he should be trusted to be held to what he has experienced. How that man conducts himself is ultimately his personal responsibility, so being a Mason is, by no means, a guarantee that he will improve himself, but he is provided with the tools to conduct himself in a manner that is very atypical, especially today. And so far, my impression of the men who I know to be Masons is much higher than I ever thought.

So that’s about it! Is there more to Freemasonry? Of course! But at its basic level, it just seems so simple. It’s unfortunate that so many seem to really complicate it.

This is my fourteenth article on my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/i-think-i-get-it-2

Oct 08

The George Washington Masonic Memorial

My wife and are taking a trip to Washington, DC later this month for a long weekend to just “get away”. Our focus is intended to be on several of the Smithsonian museums, but we’ve added the George Washington Masonic Memorial to the itinerary. I’ll be writing an article recapping our adventure, and I’ll include some pictures. I’m hoping that this will give us an excellent chance to see some examples of Masonic history and memorabilia, and to learn more about Freemasonry’s role in the foundations of this country. Stay tuned….

This is my thirteenth article on my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/the-george-washington-masonic-memorial

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