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.)