What you always wanted to know about Freemasonry
Ritual & Secrets
Is Freemasonry a secret society?
No. It is sometimes said that Freemasonry is a “Society with secrets, not a secret society.” In point of fact, however, any purported Masonic “secrets” were made public several centuries ago in London newspapers, and today on the Internet, and in many books on the subject. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “The great secret of Freemasonry is that there is no secret at all.”
What about secret handshakes and passwords?
Freemasonry, often called the “Craft” by its members, is founded on metaphors of architecture. Following the practice of the ancient stonemason guilds, Freemasons use special handshakes, words, and symbols to not only to identify each other, but to help, as William Preston said in 1772, “imprint upon the memory wise and serious truths.”
Although every new Freemason takes an oath – and vows to keep secret the metaphors of Masonry – the metaphors are only used to help Masons become better men; and there’s certainly no secret surrounding what it takes to be good and true.
Masonry & Religion: Is Masonry a Religion?
Is Masonry a Religion? Masonry is not a religion. But it is one of the few platforms where men of all faiths – Christians (including Catholics), Jews, Muslims, and every other religion – can come together because it is open to all men who believe in a Supreme Being; but religion is not discussed at Masonic meetings. Although Lodges open and close with a prayer and Masonry teaches morality, it is not a church or a religion. Masonry does not have a theology or dogma, it does not offer sacraments, and it does not offer the promise of salvation.
What is Masonic "ritual"?
The nature of Masonic ritual is both complex and beautiful. “Ritual” is a formal ceremony of initiation which recites certain tenets and truths that have been passed down for generations – mostly from mouth to ear. This “Ritual” takes the form of lectures and theater in the Lodge, and is used to teach new Masons the value of true friendship, the benefits of knowledge, and the necessity of helping those in need. It speaks to the power and impact our ritual has on men’s hearts and minds because it has stood the test of time for more than 300 years. Although our world has changed dramatically during that time, our ritual is virtually the same.
Not everyone will want to learn the ancient ritual – as it takes great time and study – but those Masons who chose to learn it are rewarded with the satisfaction of upholding a powerful tradition and helping their fellow brothers further their Masonic understanding.
What is Freemasonry
Freemasonry is the world’s oldest and largest fraternity. It is comprised of adult men (21+) of good character from every country, religion, race, age, income, education, and opinion, who believe in a Supreme Being. Its body of knowledge and system of ethics is based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to improve himself while being devoted to his family, faith, country, and fraternity.
Freemasonry (often simplified to “Masonry”) enhances and strengthens the character of the individual man by providing opportunities for fellowship, charity, education, and leadership based on the three ancient Masonic tenets: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. We strive to “make good men better.”
Where to get more information?
The best way to learn more is to talk to a Mason – either in person or electronically. You can also request information online through this web site.
What are the requirements?
Anyone meeting the following primary requirements may petition a Freemasonry lodge for membership:
- 1. You are an adult male (21 or older) of good character and recommended by a Mason.
- 2. You believe in a Supreme Being – no atheist or agnostic can become a Mason – but we are not concerned with theological distinctions or your particular religious beliefs.
- 3. You are interested in becoming a Mason because of you hold a favorable opinion of our institution; and, your decision to apply is based on your “own free will and accord” – no one compelled you to join.
How to become a Freemason? Ask!
Because Masons have not traditionally recruited members, and do not hold public meetings, there has long been confusion about how to join Freemasonry. Does someone invite you? Do you ask? For a man who meets the requirements listed above, it is really quite simple:
Most men can become a Mason by simply asking – like Benes, Mucha, Churchill, Washington, Franklin, and most every Mason from the past to the present day. Each lodge manages the membership process for its candidates. In general, men seek out a Lodge near their home or work, or they will ask a Mason to recommend a lodge to them. Once you’ve found a lodge you would like to join, let them know of your interest and they will provide you with a petition.
If you are unanimously elected by the members of a lodge, joining the Fraternity involves going through three “degrees”: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. Every man accepted into the Fraternity goes through the three degrees, thereby making each an equal to the others in the lodge. Typically they are conferred during a lodge’s monthly meeting over the course of three months.
You don't know a Mason?
It is quite possible you know a Mason but you just don’t realize it. If your father, uncles, or grandfathers aren’t Masons, they probably know someone who is. You might also want to ask around your workplace or school, church, or gym – anywhere that you find a group of men, you might find a Mason. Although Masons tend to be very proud of their association with the Fraternity, they are often uncomfortable talking about it. It is particularly difficult for them to speak with their friends or family members because they don’t want to push Masonry on them. They might very well be looking forward to the opportunity to speak with you; more importantly, they would be honored to sponsor you for membership.
If you don’t know anyone who is a Mason and you are a complete stranger to all of the members of the lodge, you are going to want to take some time getting to know them. But they are going to want to take some time getting to know you too. Once you are ready to Ask, a member of the lodge will sign your petition.
What are the commitments?
Becoming a Mason may take several years from the time you complete your petition until you have finished your degrees. Until you begin taking your degrees though, very little is asked of you. Once the degree work begins you will need to attend your lodge’s monthly meeting. There is also one additional meeting per month called the “Lodge of Instruction,” where you will receive further explanation about the degree you just experienced. There is also some side work that you will need to complete that amounts to a little bit of homework. Every member of the Fraternity has gone through this process and your lodge will assign a Brother to help you.
Once you have completed your three degrees, we expect our members to attend their lodge’s monthly meeting. Sometimes there will be a special meeting on a second night in a month. Beyond that, there are other activities going on: community service, family and social outings, etc. that take place throughout the year. We hope our members will participate in the events that their time and interest allows. Like many things, you get out of Freemasonry what you choose to put into it. We also recognize and understand the need for a balance between your family, work or school, and other interests and commitments.
There is a one-time initiation fee set by each lodge. There are annual dues, which also differ from lodge-to-lodge. Some lodges will charge more than these amounts and some charge less, although they are the exception rather than the rule.
Not a Czech citizen?
Our current lodge is a reflection of the international presence that is Freemasonry. As an English speaking lodge in the Czech Republic, we have members from almost every continent, of many nationalities, faiths. A person’s citizenship status is not an obstacle to joining Freemasonry. Do not hesitate to contact us, we will welcome your inquiry.
Why this interest in Masonry?
Over the last four centuries, Freemasonry seems to have flourished during times of great enlightenment and change. It is no coincidence that Freemasonry rose to prominence during the Age of Enlightenment in both Europe and America – where a new generation believed it could discover ways to gain personal improvement, bring order to society, and understand the whole universe. T his statement is perhaps even stronger today than it was in the 18th century.
Today, men seek out Masonry for the same reasons – to better themselves and improve society in the company of like-minded Brothers. As we learn more about how our physical world works, there’s also new interest in those things we don’t understand – especially things bound around tradition or that have a more mystical nature. Also, books like The Da Vinci Code and movies like “National Treasure” have brought up both new interest and renewed speculation about the nature of the Fraternity. Though these books and movies are a product more of a vivid imagination than fact, the real history of Masonry is perhaps the best story of all – one learned only by Asking – and becoming a Freemason.
Prepare for greatness?
No organization can guarantee to make anyone great – the capacity and motivation must come from the individual – but the powerful values and important truths that are taught as part of the Masonic tradition has proven to inspire, challenge, and develop leadership in men. Benjamin Franklin may have said it best, describing the Fraternity as a place to “prepare himself.”
Today, men are preparing themselves for greatness in Lodges the world over. If you think there’s greatness in you, we invite your interest.
What are the benefits?
There are numerous benefits to becoming a Mason, but they tend to be personal and they are also quite varied. And they can only be truly discovered by becoming a member. But to try and give you an idea: without question the opportunity to experience camaraderie and fellowship with a group of likeminded men across the boundaries of age, race, religion, culture, and opinion is a fundamental aspect of the Fraternity; many find great value and knowledge in our ritual ceremony that uses symbolism and metaphors to encourage and remind us to appreciate principles, ethics, and morality, and to live our lives accordingly; others find great satisfaction in our charitable efforts, community service, and the support we provide our members and their families; finally, for those who take on leadership positions within their lodge, they develop or further very practical management skills.