Category: Masonic Education

A category for grouping all blogs that pertain to Masonic Education so it can be more easily referenced

Masonic Etiquette – Part 7

Masonic Etiquette Continues! 

This Evening we will cover Jewels, The Master’s Hat…and the Marshall!

Jewels ~ In most rituals in the world, the jewels are six in number: three movable and three immovable. The immovable jewels, as we remember from the Entered Apprentice Degree, are the Holy Bible, Square and Compasses. The movable jewels are the square, level and plumb rule, called movable because they are worn by the Master and Wardens. 

The Treasurer, Secretary, Marshal, Deacons, Stewards and Tyler, like other officers, then pass theirs on to their successors when they come to the end of their term of office. We know these jewels and their symbolic import from their significations as the working tools in the Second or Fellowcraft degree. Yet as jewels, the qualities and virtues attributed to them here are far more intricate and arresting:

The Level; worn by the Senior Warden reminds us that we travel along the Level of time. Time moves on. (As we age it moves even more quickly! – reminds me of the cartoon clock spinning! I’m starting to use mine as a fan.) An hour ago, I just graduated High School. 30 minutes ago my children got Married and had children of their own. 10 minutes ago I retired from my working career. If we look at our behaviours, while travelling on the level of time, we wonder…were we “On the Level” with all we met? The Level signifies fair and honest conduct as well.

The plumb; worn by the Junior Warden, which, like Jacob’s Ladder, connects heaven and earth, is the criterion of rectitude and truth. It teaches us to walk justly and uprightly before God and man. In operative Masonry, it sways left and right til it settles in the middle. Haven’t we all swayed some in our lives? It is said that the plumb is a rule which claims our attention as that Masonic emblem most deserving to be studied for the moral advantages it can impart to our lives.

The Square; worn by the Worshipful Master, teaches us … to harmonize our conduct in this life, To Square our actions –  so as to render us acceptable to that Divine Being from whom all goodness springs.

Next are the Deacons’ and Stewards’…

The Senior Deacon wears the Sun, The Junior Deacon The Moon… most noticeably from The three lesser lights. As the sun rules the day, and the Moon governs the night…the duties of the deacons are obvious, but their stations represent continuity of life and the passage of time, industrious labor, and rest at night. The Stewards’ jewels are the horn of plenty, as they serve the Craft, either by food and drink, care of the Lodge, or attention to detail. The Jewels are essential and honored. They are significant reminders in Freemasonry of all our ideals, and should be treated with respect, courtesy and care of handling.

Next is the Worshipful… 

Master’s Hat ~From an etiquette standpoint, throughout history, a head covering denotes several things. It signifies honor and respect, formality, and distinguished behaviors. The Master’s hat is an emblem of rank. It distinguishes him as the Just Presiding Officer and head of the Lodge, and signifies that due honor be accorded him. It is not to be whimsical, attract attention out of oddity, or be by any means common. It must be black, wholly in good taste, and appropriate to an office of distinction. 

The words Top Hat, were designated, in history, to the “Top” dignitaries at diplomatic and State affairs, and lesser officers wore hats lower in height, as a sign of respect. The wearing of a hat while presiding in the East…is NOT optional, at all affairs of the Lodge, including Open Installation of Officers, and is removed for prayer, The Obligations to show deference to their importance and authority, and when the Grand Master is present in person.

Last is:

Marshal ~ In Masonic Etiquette, the Office of Marshal, is an appointed Officer, usually a Past Master, and is accorded respect and honor as one who has served the Lodge in every capacity. It should never be considered a “Ceremonial” position. He’s NOT the new Sheriff in town – He’s the Old one! He’s “The Guy” who has ‘Been There-Done That’ – and done it very well.

His charge reads: “The good order of the Lodge depends upon your skill, care, and assiduity (diligence). You should always be near to execute the orders of the Worshipful Master.” He presides over the “Good Order” of the lodge, as well as all the processions. He understands that the conducting of all processions properly, will greatly enhance the dignity, orderliness, and beauty of all work in the Craft.

He introduces and / or accompanies visiting dignitaries such as Grand Line Officers, and lends his advice to keep processions from looking like a straggle! He’s The Worshipful Master’s Sergeant at Arms! ( he does, after all, have a Billy club…er…baton!)

Worshipful master, this concludes my presentation for this evening, and I will “Marshal the courage to “straggle” back to my seat.

Thank You Worshipful master!

Masonic Etiquette – Part 6

                                FLAGS, FUNERALS and GRANDS!

We continue Masonic Etiquette this evening with Flags, Funerals and Grands! When last we met, we covered Elections and Emblems. Tonight we add a few more letters, beginning with:

Flags ~ Our national Flag has its place of honor, in its own stand and placed in the East to the right of the Worshipful master.  It should be given precedence over all other banners or flags, including the Lodge Banner. A Lodge Banner if there is one, should be placed behind the secretary’s desk on the Worshipful Master’s left. Our National Flag should never be used as an altar drape or bunting on furniture.

Funerals ~ Masonic Etiquette concerning Masonic Funerals is quite strict. There is no ceremony more Dignified, Honorable or Solemn, than that of paying tribute to a Masonic Brother at his death. During the ceremony, the procession, and rites of interment, Solemnity and Decorum are to be observed, just as in the Lodge room.

No one may join or leave the proceeding, without permission form the Worshipful master. Proper clothing for attendance is a dark suit, white gloves, and a plain white apron.  A band of black crepe around the left arm and a sprig of evergreen in the coat breast pocket will be worn as well. 

ALL Masons, regardless of current or former rank, must be clothed with white apron and white gloves if in the service or procession.

At the death of a Brother, the Worshipful Master may order at his discretion, the Charter and Altar draped for a 30 day period, as well as his gavel, the Warden’s Columns, and the Deacons and Stewards’ staffs. The Tyler’s sword and the Marshal’s baton should be trimmed in black crepe tied with a white ribbon. The Grand Master, at his choosing, may order the drapings at the death of any distinguished Brother.

It is proper that the Worshipful Master hold practices to assure that the ritual is well learned in advance, so as to not create an unfavorable impression to the bereaved. The service should be recited by the Worshipful master or his appointed designate – not read.

We are engaged in the simple and dignified ceremony of burying our dead. The white Gloves and apron are simply symbols of the equality within the Craft, and that death is the leveler of all men.

The Deceased Brother’s apron should be laid upon the casket – not tied upon the body. It is the badge of a Mason at labor, and the deceased has finished his Labor and has entered into Eternal Refreshment.

If the deceased was in Military service and military honors and protocol are observed, the apron is placed on the casket first, Under the flag.

The many words and phrases of the Masonic Funeral are difficult in pronunciation and rendition, and must be practiced with thought, care and dignity. In so doing, it will honor him and bring warmth and comfort to the bereaved in its beauty.

Now to the Grands!

Grand Honors ~ They are Inherited from the Past, and have been accorded those deserving, for generations. They are to be given to Grand Lodge Officers, past and present, to Worshipful masters at their installation, and 50 year Masons or higher at presentation. They are to only be given in a tyled meeting in the Lodge or Grand Lodge, and never in public ceremony.  

The Worshipful Master should inquire of a visiting present or past Grand Line Officer of another Jurisdiction if he desires to be formally received with Grand Honors. They must always be led by the Worshipful master in Lodge, and no Brother should be received after Grand Honors are given to the Grand Master. Applause is not to be offered, as this demeans the Honor of Grand Honors.

Grand Lodge ~ is the great source of power in the Craft. It has legislative, administrative and executive jurisdiction overall matters pertaining to the fraternity. Respect and deference is to be accorded to Grand Line Officers, using their correct titles. Moving about, talking, and failure to address the Grand Master or use his proper title, are gross violations of gentlemanly conduct. Decorum at the Grand Lodge should be the model, and be taken seriously by the individual lodges.

And I will make…My GRAND exit.

Thank you Worshipful master!

Masonic Etiquette – Part 5

Masonic Etiquette continues… again – alphabetically…

Tonight we will only have time for 2 “E”s – Elections and Emblems 

The first,  and of utmost importance,  is:

Elections ~ Elections to office. What better time to talk about this – with nominations due… We decide as a Brotherhood, who we feel will best represent us, just as in a civic election. For the Lodge, our nominations for offices are made with – respect, honor, and reverence to the Craft… toward whomever we feel… can best carry out the duties of that office, without regard to personality or familiarity.

Elections really fall under Jurisprudence…but make no mistake – it also falls under Masonic Etiquette, due to Decorum – that manner of conducting ourselves appropriately – and ALL else that seeks to preserve harmony in our brotherhood. 

It should be an occasion of Solemnity but Joyful as well, WHY? because it advances the Lodge into the future, with great expectation of success. Elections have always been the Province… and the  Right of Free Men, to determine the course or direction of their lives. We, as Free and Accepted Masons hold dearly to that right, and take seriously, the election of officers to our Lodge, as to whom can “Best Work and Best Agree” for the betterment of the Lodge itself!

In our elections, the main point at issue in the Lodge… has to do with the advancement of an Officer at the time of the annual elections… or with his appointment, if he is to be an appointed officer. 

This custom Must work to the advantage of the Lodge, and does so, only if the officer’s fitness for that office is manifest.

Please Understand that There is NO Masonic Rule, Law or Tradition that gives an officer of the Lodge – any officer – a “Right” to be advanced. 

While there is no “Advancement by Right”, an officer should not be dropped from the line for frivolous reasons. 

However, if an Officer should NOT be advanced, Neither He Nor his friends should take any offense. It is for the good of the order, ONLY.

At times, A Brother may be, in some way. unqualified to hold a Masonic Office… for any number of reasons…all of them creditable to himself.  

Such a thing could be said of many excellent Masons. They are not cast for Office-Holding, due to – again – any number of reasons… 

and would, themselves, be far happier, and the Lodge more the gainer, if they use other opportunities for their service.

If a Lodge could not drop from the line, any incumbent of proved 

unfitness, or due to lack of effort,  – without engendering ill feelings thereby, it would become necessary to reinstill in its members a clearer conception of  our Masonic System, and a better understanding of a greater loyalty to its welfare.

Emblems ~ Very few of us give a lot of thought to the significance… or importance of …the Emblems and Symbols of our craft. Yet there is something in our psyche that generates a sense of pride, pleasure and honor… the moment we see them – in the lodge, or out it the world, especially when worn by another.

Time Honored,… Revered,… they stand for all the qualities that make us – 

and all men who have traveled our path – better, stronger, kinder, more compassionate, and more selfless…in a world filled with anger, hatred, selfishness, greed and envy.

How indeed, do the Emblems and Symbols of the Craft fall under Masonic Etiquette? Simply because each part or detail belongs to a whole system, and if any part is misused or omitted, it affects the whole.

The Symbolical system itself is absolutely Essential to Freemasonry. 

It is the Craft’s ONE method of teaching its principles to its members. Without this method, the teachings are rendered weak. If the method is manipulated, the teachings suffer.

It is of Utmost Importance that each Lodge takes great pains to see that the Emblems and Symbols ~ are of the correct design, well cared for, and are placed in the correct positions.

The Altar, for example, should be in the center of the room, its sides square with the sides of the room. The 3 Great Lights should be placed in the Center of the Altar, and Square and Compasses should never be placed upon the Holy Bible when it is closed. They should be of silver, and in good working order. The great Pillars should be of adequate height to the room, correct design, and placed on the correct sides of the Inner Door. The Pillar bearing the Celestial Globe is always to be at the Candidate’s Right as he enters.

The Ashlars should be on the Master’s platform or on one of its steps, one on either side, with The Perfect Ashlar near the Southeast corner, the Rough Ashlar toward the Northeast.

The Letter “G” should be prominently displayed in the East, and be of a tasteful design, neither gaudy or diminished.

The degree appurtenances should be of dignified appearance, correct design, and replaced if they become worn or shabby.

Jewels, rods and aprons should be kept in good order, and never suffered to be handled carelessly.

The KEY to Masonic Etiquette concerning Emblems and Symbols is this:

NO man having private opinions or theories of how the Emblems or Symbols should look or be placed, should be permitted to violate the requirements of the Craft. 

From Antiquity, Freemasonry belongs to ALL men, not one Individual. It is of supreme importance that we all use the Realm of Good Manners – Masonic Etiquette – to revere and adhere to the rules and guidelines set down long before us. 

Private opinion cannot be imposed, nor should any individual’s name be engraved, stamped, or embroidered upon, any of the Emblems or Symbols of the lodge including the Altar, Great or Lesser Lights, or Ashlars.

It is the desire and demand of the Order that Exemplification – another “E” – be the rule and guide to Emblems and Symbols. We will be the richer for it.

And my “E” is now……EXIT.

Thank you Worshipful Master!

Phoenix Lodge 346

Established Under the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida

240 S Tuttle Ave, Sarasota, FL 34237

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