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Freemasonry in Maine

A Handbook for all Masons

Introduction

Congratulations on becoming a Master Mason, a member of the oldest and largest fraternal order in the world and an organization revered for centuries. The future of Freemasonry depends upon men like you, men interested in applying and sharing the tenets of the Craft.

As a Mason, you have become familiar with the Fraternity, its ritual, symbolism and teachings. You have learned about the organization of the Lodge and at least some of the many acts of charity and service performed by Masons. This book is intended to expand your knowledge of the Fraternity and prepare you for an exciting and wholesome lifetime journey in Masonry. The book is conveniently organized to facilitate its use as you become more active in Freemasonry.

Our Masonic Fraternity -- You already know that Freemasonry is special to its members and all those affected by its teachings and charities. Your Fraternity is special because it teaches the principles of personal responsibility and righteousness, by having each Brother understand and feel its works of relief and charity. It encourages each member to put these lessons into practice in his daily life.

Among the first lessons learned by you and every new Mason is the importance of the tenets of the Craft: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. These Masonic principles may be as old as man himself and they are universally accepted, as are the Fraternity's ancient Landmarks which are the unalterable boundaries of the Craft.

The Mason and His Lodge -- For you and every Brother, the Masonic journey begins in a Lodge located near home or work. You discussed Freemasonry with a friend who is a member of the Lodge and asked him to recommend you for membership. It is here that you took your degrees, first became active in the Masonic family of organizations and truly learned "what it means to be a Mason".

The obligations which you took upon the altar bind new Masons to a moral and contractual relationship with the Lodge, whereby they will perform certain duties and the Lodge will provide certain rights and privileges. One of the greatest privileges of membership is knowing that wherever you travel in your Masonic journeys, whether in this country or abroad, you will find Brothers who are ready to extend their hands in friendship and fellowship.

Maintaining friendships, respect and harmony within the Lodge requires every Brother to be watchful of his thoughts, words and deeds. It requires living within established rules of protocol, and with temperance towards others. All Masons should practice the rules of proper Masonic protocol, that formal code of Lodge etiquette that encompasses standards for the conduct of Lodge business with dignity and decorum, thereby promoting harmony and respect within the Lodge. Rules of protocol represent standards for officer and member attire within the Lodge, the proper wearing of aprons and jewels, how officers and members are addressed during meetings, and how the Master is recognized when entering and leaving the Lodge.

Harmony within the Lodge also results from Freemasonry being a positive organization in which relationships between men are strengthened by their common beliefs, and where their differing views are tolerated. Each Brother is entitled to his own beliefs, and where their differing views are tolerated. Each Brother is entitled to his own beliefs, and he may follow his own convictions as dictated by his conscience. However, to promote harmony within the Lodge, meetings should be free of discussions unrelated to Lodge business, particularly where strong differences of opinion might exist, such as about religious dogma, politics and business ventures.

The Masonic Degrees -- As each Masons has come to experience, the Masonic degrees present serious and solemn lessons important to a Mason's quality of life and his service to family, church, community and country. It is vitally important that degree work is conducted with a high level of proficiency and decorum and candidates are properly prepared for the Masonic degrees about which they are in darkness. The proper preparation of candidates for the Masonic degrees is the duty of every Mason.

The world of Masonry is a new and different experience for the newly initiated. If you were like most new Masons entering a Lodge for the first time, you probably listened to the words spoken by the officers, you began to understand some of the symbolism conveyed during the degrees and you became familiar with the work of the Lodge. Not readily apparent, however, was the fundamental religious and philosophical concept contained in the degrees, that there exists a Supreme Being who created this world and to whom all mankind is the instrument and servant.

Masonry is not concerned with either the particular attributes of this Supreme Being or the manner and form in which He should be worshipped. It emphasizes three fundamental ideas; that God exists, that men are to exercise their faculties and work as God's instruments, and that the work of men is to be performed in accordance with the principles of morality and justice.

You and each Masonic workman should understand that the successful completion of the Temple depends not only on his individual effort but also on the united cooperation and harmony of the Craft. The Masonic lessons portrayed in the building of the Temple represent more than the construction of a grand edifice. The Temple that is being build is the Temple of character.

Enjoying Freemasonry Beyond Your Lodge -- You should experience, early in your Masonic membership, the benefits of traveling to Lodges in Maine and other Masonic jurisdictions and become aware of the opportunities for fellowship, charity, education and leadership, thereby improving the individual members, their families and communities. Each organization provides opportunities for its members to experience brotherhood, wherever their journeys may take them in the United States and abroad. There are many similarities in how these bodies use symbols to teach the lessons important to the members of these Masonic organizations.

There are two ways in which you can gain admission to a Lodge for the first time. You can be avouched for by someone who has sat with you in Lodge, or you will need to "work your way into a Lodge." Don't hesitate to visit a Lodge when traveling on business, vacation, or in retirement. It provides an enjoyable opportunity to associate with men known to share common values and interests, thereby building many new friendships.

This Grand Lodge recognizes the supreme and subordinate bodies of the Scottish and York Rites and the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. In addition to these collateral bodies, you may join many additional organizations that have membership in Freemasonry as a prerequisite condition for membership. These organizations include the Order of the Eastern Star, the Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, and the Order of the Amaranth. Masons are also encouraged to actively support the various youth organizations associated with the Masonic Fraternity, including the Order of DeMolay for young men and the Order of Rainbow for girls. The Masonic family of organizations shares numerous symbols, many of which have similar meanings; some symbols are unique to a particular organization or may have different meanings.

The Grand Lodge -- No one can speak with assurance about the ancient origin of our order, but it is clear that many of our symbols and ceremonies had their counterparts in the ancient mysteries of the East, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Organized operative craftsmanship can be traced definitely to the eighth century B.C. The art and influence of the Craft carried through the operative guilds or lodges of the Middle Ages to the cathedral builders of the Renaissance.

When the need for operative masons lessened after the completion of the great cathedrals, speculative masons began to be accepted by the order. After a transition of about 200 years, the present Grand Lodge system of regular and duly constituted Masonry was instituted in London in 1717. This was the first Grand Lodge under our system of speculative Masonry. Massachusetts Masonry was born in 1733 with the chartering of St. John's Grand Lodge through a commission to Henry Price from the Grand Master of England. The thirty-three Maine Lodges chartered under the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts combined to form the Grand Lodge of Maine when Maine became a separate state in 1820. William King, the first Governor of Maine was also simultaneously the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Maine.

The Grand Lodge is the sovereign Masonic authority to which every Lodge and every member owes allegiance; each Grand Lodge is autonomous in its own jurisdiction. The Grand Lodge is composed of the permanent members and officers, as well as representatives of all subordinate Lodges. The Grand Master governs the Grand Lodge and has almost absolute Masonic power within this Masonic jurisdiction.

The Grand Lodge jurisdiction is divided into twenty-four Masonic districts within Maine. A District Deputy Grand Master is appointed as the personal representative of the Grand Master to the district and is responsible to him for maintaining efficient communication with the Lodges in his district as well as the proper conduct of those Lodges.

The Grand Lodge Membership Program was created to communicate to Masons and non-Masons alike the message of who we are, what we are, and what we do. The importance of this program cannot be overemphasized to each new Master Mason. Each member of the Craft has an important role in spreading Masonic information and attracting new men to the Fraternity.

Masonic Charities -- Throughout the Masonic degrees, candidates are taught the value Masons place on Charity. Freemasons across America donate nearly two million dollars each and every day to the benefit of mankind, in particular to the youngest members of our society - our children. Charity takes many forms and is provided by health care and research professionals, and by Brethren who continuously give of themselves to help someone in need. Most of Masonic charitable efforts are extended without regard to whether the recipients have ties to Masonry. The charities care for those in need, without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex or national origin.

Questions Frequently Asked About Freemasonry - Several questions are often posed to Masons about their Fraternity. You should be comfortable addressing the questions from prospective Masons or members of the general public.

The issues pertain to what in Freemasonry is secret, whether Freemasonry is a religion and if people with certain religious beliefs may join the Fraternity. Other questions pertain to whether it is permissible to ask a man to join the Fraternity, if a Mason can belong to more than one Lodge, and for whom may Masonic funerals be held.

Of all these questions, perhaps the most important to the future of our Craft is whether a man may be asked to become a Mason. The answer? It is clearly permissible to ask a friend if he is interested in becoming a Mason. The words "Free Will and Accord" mean that the non-Mason was not coerced against his will to join.

Masons have often broached the subject of membership with their friends and relatives, but refrained from specifically asking if the man was interested in joining the Fraternity. You may be waiting for your son, father, brother, co-worker or neighbor to ask, "How do I join?" Don't wait! If you have a friend who should be a Brother, don't hesitate to ask him -- he may have been waiting a long time to be asked.

We trust that your active use of the information in this manual will strengthen your appreciation of the beauty and symbolic teachings of the Craft. As a new Master Mason, take this opportunity to read the Manual in search of answers to questions raised while you took the degrees. Identify how you might become involved in your Lodge; as an officer, as a participant in our philanthropic efforts, and as a spokesman for the Craft by introducing your family members, friends and others to this outstanding organization. Add it to your personal Masonic library and refer to it often, that you might attain more light in Masonry.

Again, we congratulate you on becoming a Master Mason and wish you a rewarding lifetime journey in Freemasonry.

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