What is Freemasonry?

Created: Saturday, 09 August 2008 Last Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2012 Written by Ian Fuchs

Freemasons are members of the largest and oldest fraternity in the world. A Mason is a member of the fraternity known as Masonry which is a group of men who join together because they want to do things in the community and enjoy being together with men they like and respect.

 

No one knows just how old it is because the actual origins have been lost in time. Freemasonry probably arose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the castles and cathedrals of the middle ages. Freemasonry was possibly influenced by the Knight Templars, a group of Christian warrior monks, formed in the early 12th century to protect pilgrims on their way to the holy land. In a time when travel was by horseback and sailing ship, Masonry spread with amazing speed. Men such as Benjamin Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington, Jesse Jackson, Robert Burns and Wolfgang Von Goethe were all masons.

 

Masonry and Masons played an important part in the Revolutionary War and an even more important part in the Constitutional Convention and the debates surrounding the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Many of those debates were held in Masonic Lodges. The word Lodge means both a group of Masons meeting in some place and the room or building in which they meet. The term Lodge comes from the structures which the stonemasons built against the sides of the cathedrals during construction. Much of the symbolism Masonry uses to teach its lessons comes from the building of King Solomon's Temple in the holy land.

 

Every Lodge has an altar holding a Volume of the Sacred Law. In Canada, that is always a Bible but since masonry is open to any religion and members of the craft might have another religion, there could be an additional Holy Book on the altar. We are teaching and are being taught that each person has a responsibility to make things better in the world. Every man, woman and child can do something to help others and to make the area we live in a better place. Masonry is deeply involved in helping people. Freemasons donate millions of dollars every year, and the great majority of that help goes to people who are not Masons (such as the Masonic Higher Education Bursary Fund in Alberta). Some of these charities are vast projects like the Crippled Children's Hospitals and Burn Institutes built by the Shriners in the US.

 

Some services are less noticeable, like helping a widow pay her electric bill or buying coats and shoes for disadvantaged children. And there is just about anything you can think of in-between. But with projects large or small, Masons try to help and make the world a better place to live. The Lodge gives us a way to combine with others to do even more good. Most people feel they are not as honest, as charitable, compassionate, as loving or as trusting as they ought to be. Masonry reminds its members over and over again of the importance of these qualities. It lets men associate with other men of honor and integrity who believe that things like honesty and compassing and love and trust are important. It is good to spend time with people you can trust completely, and most Masons find that in their Lodge. Much of the Lodge activity is spent in works of charity, self-development and in fellowship. Meridian Lodge holds barbecues, dance nights such Robi Burns or Ladies Night or an Open Air Lodge after which the families are invited for the festive board, are events for the whole family.

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