Freemasonry is the world’s oldest fraternal, non-political, non-sectarian society. It is concerned with high moral and spiritual values and is open to men of integrity, of any religion, who believe in a Supreme Being.
Who can join?
Men from all walks of life who are law-abiding and of good character may join. There is no social or financial distinction; neither would an applicant be rejected for his religious beliefs; the ranks of Freemasons’ Lodges around the planet are filled with Roman Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, the list goes on. The essential qualification for admission is belief in a Supreme Being.
Each member is encouraged to do his duty to his God (by his own tradition) and he is required to conform to the law of the land in which he resides and by which he is protected. Freemasons are ordinary men who try to live as good citizens with high moral principles.They do not claim a monopoly on these standards but, by joining together in Lodges, they practice and teach ideals of kindness, honesty, decency, fairness, courtesy, understanding and concern for others, and thus hope to become better members of society.
What happens at Lodge meetings?
As in any organisation, the meeting is first called to order. The ceremony of ‘Opening the Lodge’ then takes place; this is quite a formal operation and draws on elements of the very foundation of early Masonic ritual. It serves to remind members of the virtues by which they seek to live.
Once the Lodge is opened, the minutes and correspondence are read, projects are planned, and other business is conducted; very much like any other organisation. When new members are being received or when existing members are being advanced through the ‘degrees’ of ‘Craft’ Masonry, formal ceremonies are again used to teach and remind those present about important moral lessons. Degrees are conferred during the business section of the meeting.
The formal ceremony of ‘Closing the Lodge’ then ends the meeting which is followed by a semi-formal sit-down meal where the members meet socially, talk informally and greet friends and visitors from other Lodges.