teaches moral lessons and self-knowledge through participation
in a progression of allegorical two-part, plays which are learnt
by heart and performed within each lodge.
Freemasonry offers its members an approach to life, which seeks
to reinforce thoughtfulness for others, kindness in the community,
honesty in business, courtesy in society and fairness in all things.
Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount,
but importantly, Freemasonry also teaches and practices concern
for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
People became Freemasons for a variety of reasons, some as the result
of family tradition, others upon the introduction of a friend or
out of a curiosity to know what it is about.
Those who become active members and who grow in Freemasonry do so
principally because they enjoy it. They enjoy the challenges and
fellowship that Freemasonry offers. There is more to it, however,
than just enjoyment.
Participation in the dramatic presentation of moral lesions and
in the working of a lodge provides a member with a unique opportunity
to learn more about himself encourages him to live in such a way
that he will always be in search of becoming a better man, not better
than someone else but better than he himself would otherwise be
and therefore an exemplary member of society.
Each Freemason is required to learn and show humility through initiation.
Then, by progression through a series of degree he gains insight
into increasingly complex moral and philosophical concepts, and
accepts a Varity of challenges and responsibilities, which are both
stimulating and rewarding. The structure and working of the lodge
and the sequence of ceremonial events, which are usually followed
by social gatherings, offer members a framework for companionship,
teamwork, character development and enjoyment of shared experiences.
Freemasonry is not a secret society, but the lodge meetings, like
meetings of many other social and professional associations, are
private occasions open only to members.
Freemasons are encouraged to speak openly about their membership,
while remaining that they undertake not use for their own or anyone
else’s advancement. As members are sometimes the subjects
of discrimination, which may adversely effect their employment or
other aspects of their lives, some Freemasons are understandably
reticent about discussing their membership. In common with many
national organizations, Grand lodge neither maintains nor publishes
list of members and will not disclose names or member’s details
without their permission.
In circumstances where a conflict of interest might arise or be
perceived to exist or when Freemasonry becomes an issue, a Freemason
must declare an interest.
The rules and aims of Freemasonry are available to public. The Masonic
year book, also available for public, contains the names of all
national office-holders and lists of all lodges with details of
their meeting dates and places.
The meeting places and halls used by Freemasons are readily identifiable,
are listed in telephone directories and in many areas used by the
local community for activities other than Freemasonry. Freemason’s
Hall in London is open to the public and ‘open days’
are held in many provincial centers.
The rituals and ceremonies used by Freemasons to pass on the principals
of Freemasonry to new members were first revealed public in 1723.
They include traditional forms of recognition used by Freemasons
essentially to prove their identity and qualifications when enter
a Masonic meeting. These include handshakes, which have been much
written about and can scarcely be regarded as truly secret today;
for medieval Freemasons, they were the equivalent of a ‘pin
number’ restricting access only to qualified members.
Many thousands of books have been written
on the subject of Freemasonry and are available to the general
public. Freemasonry offers spokesmen and briefings for the media
and provides talks to interested groups on request. Freemasons
are proud of their heritage and happy share it.
From its earliest days, Freemasonry has
been involved in charitable activities, and since its inception
it has provided support for many widows and orphans of Freemasons
as well as others within the community.
All monies raised for charity are drawn from amongst Freemasons,
and their family friends, while grants and donations are made
to Masonic and non-Masonic charities alike.
Over the past five years alone Freemasonry has raised more than
Stg. Pds. 75 million for a wide range of charitable purposes including
those involved in medical research, Community Care, education
and work with young people.
Freemasonry has an enviable record of providing regular and consistent
financial support to individual charities over long periods while
at the same time making thousands of grants to local charities,
appeals and projects throughout the World each year. For the future,
opportunities to obtain to provide matched funding are periodically
examined with a view to enhancing the impact of the support Freemasonry
can give to specific projects. The personal generosity of Freemasons
and the collective fund-raising efforts of almost 8,000 lodges,
how ever, will continue to determine the contribution Freemasonry
makes within the community.