The American Rite of
The American Rite
Universality of the Rite
American in the arrangement of symbolic, capitular, cryptic, and chivalric degrees into one system.
American in that its history coincides with that of the American Republic. The General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was established in 1797.
American in that its bodies are to be found in every State of the American Union, as well as in every city and town of consequence throughout our broad Domain.
American in that its highest offices are open to any man of character and ability.
American in its ideals, its philosophy and its government.
American in that it teaches true patriotism and Love of country.
American in its support of those fundamental institutions the home, the church, the state, and the school.
American in its democratic organization, for in its council halls each member has a right to be heard. Wherever the American Flag flies, will be found branches of the American Rite.
The American Rite Is Ancient Craft Masonry
The American Rite
Are You a Freemason? Then you must be interested in what this pamphlet has to say.
It is the story of the American Rite of Freemasonry. Is this some new rite recently developed? Something added to the Masonic system? It is not. It is the grouping of degrees according to the best American traditions, of some of the oldest and most beautiful degrees of the whole Masonic system.
The American Rite of Freemasonry is a system of degrees which includes those of the lodge, chapter, council, and commandery, often erroneously referred to as York Rite Masonry. While most of the degrees of this rite were born and nurtured in England, yet it is in North America that they have attained their highest development, and it is only in America that there is a regular arrangement of the degrees which makes the name-American Rite of Freemasonry---particularly applicable. Many writers and students of the fraternity believe that in the degree of Royal Arch Mason the climax has been reached in Masonic symbolism.
As a Master Mason you should be interested in Masonic advancement, not that you will thereby become a better Mason, but that you may have a better understanding of the Masonic system, additional Masonic contacts, and an explanation of that great symbolism upon which the fraternity has built a glorious superstructure. Masonic degrees are not merely degrees but are exemplifications of homely virtues often neglected and lost sight of in the busy lives we now Live. For each Masonic degree teaches some specific virtue and exemplifies it in a dramatic way intended to make deep impressions on those who witness or receive it. Some men spend their entire lives learning the lessons necessary to make them living stones in the great spiritual temple. Others may, and do, learn these lessons in other ways --- and so the lessons exemplified in the degree --- lessons of honesty, charity, harmony, justice spirituality, service, fortitude, hope, prudence, fidelity, truth, religion, faith, love, and toleration --- become part of one's life - evading the harder method of learning by experience.
Before going further, may we place before you the regular graduations of this American Rite of Freemasonry, the names of the various degrees or orders, and other pertinent facts.
1. The Lodge, often referred to as the "blue lodge," consisting of the three degrees of (a) Entered apprentice, (b) Fellowcraft, and (c) Master Mason.
2. The Chapter members are referred to as Royal Arch Masons. Chapters confer the four degrees of (a) Mark Master, (b) Past Master, (c) Most Excellent Master, (d) Royal Arch Mason.
3. The Council members are referred to as Royal and Select Masters. Councils confer the three degrees of (a) Royal Master, (b) Select Master, (c) Super Excellent Master.
4. The Commandery, members are termed Knights Templar. Commanderies confer Orders, instead of the usual term Degree and these Orders are (a) Order of the Red Cross, (b) Order of Malta, (c) Order of the Temple.
It is not necessary that you receive an invitation to petition for any of these Masonic degrees. In fact these bodies will be pleased at the opportunity of adding a member to their ranks. No restriction as to religion, political belief, or nationality is imposed, except in commanderies of Knights Templar which restrict their membership to those who believe in the practice of the Christian virtues, although they do not require membership in any church.
All bodies of the American Rite of Freemasonry abstain from discussion of political, religious, or controversial matters, these matters being prohibited by the parent organizations. The American Rite makes war on no church, religion, political party, class or racial group. It confines its activities to the sole purpose of making better men and Masons. It is not an "anti" organization.
There are more Royal Arch Masons in the world than in any other Masonic group. While recent figures are not now available, they number more than one million members. American Masons will swell with pride to learn that the largest Masonic group under one banner is the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the United States of America, which numbers approximately one-half million members.
Royal Arch Masonry is universal Masonry, its thousands of chapters dotting all sections of the earth, although temporarily obscured for the time in some places because of the world war. In Europe, in Africa, in Asia, in Australia, in North and South America and in many of the islands of the seas, are to be found Royal Arch Masons and chapters of Royal Arch Masons, all of which are recognized as regular Masonic bodies. England alone has 1,751 chapters, 467 of them being in the City of London. Our own General Grand Chapter has subordinate chapters in Alaska, China, Philippine Islands, Hawaii, Chile, Canal Zone, Cuba, the Isle of Pines and Puerto Rico. In Africa are 166 chapters, located in such out-of-the-way places as the Gold Coast, Cape of Good Hope, Egypt, Transvaal, Orange Free State, North and South Rhodesia, Nigeria, Tanganyika, Natal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Isle of Mauritius, Cape Province, Morocco and Nyasaland.
In other sections of the world we find chapters in such places Arabia, Syria, Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Malay States, Fiji islands, Mexico, Gibraltar, India (142 chapters), Cyprus, Isle of Malta, Japan, Madeira Islands, New South Wales, New Zealand, Australia, Palestine, Queensland, St. Helena, Siam, Tasmania, Turkey, Victoria, Western Australia, Jamaica, St. Thomas, Cuba, Isle of Pines, Trinidad, Argentina, British Guiana, Uruguay, and Peru.
Suppose that you, a citizen of the United States, were called into the military service and sent abroad. Would not the fellowship of Royal Arch Masons in some of these countries furnish some splendid contacts? Or probably your son, or brother were called? Whether your grand Lodge recognized, or did not Recognize, some foreign grand lodge, a Royal Arch Mason is a Royal Arch Mason wherever he may be.
The American Rite does not consist of a large number of degrees. Its degrees are conferred -- never communicated, believing that if a degree is worth anything at all it is worth the effort necessary to confer it. Your Masonic education will not depend so much upon how Many degrees you may receive, but upon how well you understand and practice those you have received.
The American Rite of Freemasonry may be likened to a school. When you have received the three craft degrees of the lodge, you have received the "Three R's." By advancing you take up the high school and college courses of the fraternity. There is nothing more interesting, more tragic nor more educational than the periods of history which furnish the background for the chapter and council degrees, and in the Commandery is brought to light not only some of the old Jewish history, but the principles enunciated by the Great Teacher who gave to the world the New Dispensation of Love, Truth, and Toleration-those virtues most needed in the world today.
Once there was a time when all of what is known as Freemasonry was contained in one degree. This was followed by a natural development resulting in a system of degrees known as Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. In the latter degree was a beautiful tradition explaining much of the Masonic symbolism. But when two rival grand lodges in England united more than a century ago, a vital and essential part of the third degree was removed and placed in a degree known as the Royal Arch. The Mother Grand Lodge was confronted with a large series of degrees and rites which it regarded as superfluous, causing it to make the following official edict:
"Ancient Craft Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, namely, those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft and Master Mason, including the Holy Royal Arch."
Thus did the Mother Grand Lodge set out Royal Arch Masonry as something to be attained by those who were interested in Masonic advancement. Why? Because in Royal Arch Masonry is found the essentials of symbolism and philosophy necessary for a Master Mason to understand that which he has received only in part.
There is nothing higher in Freemasonry than the Royal Arch. When you have attained that degree you will have Attained by regular gradations to the summit of the Royal Arch. While the degrees of the Council will assist you in the understanding of the chapter degrees, they are not regarded as superior degrees. Nor is the Order of the Temple a higher Order. It is intended only to explain the Christian interpretation of the Masonic system. You may attain or receive other degrees and orders, but in the attainment of the Royal Arch degree you have reached the summit of Ancient Craft Masonry.
You learned early in
your Masonic career that Freemasonry was a progressive science. By the
word progressive is meant advancement. The statement means that one who is
a Freemason should never be satisfied to remain in a static condition, but
that he should take every opportunity for self-improvement.
The Degree of
Mark Master: The opening degree of the
Royal Arch Chapter is highly regarded by Masonic students and ritualizes
as being one of the most beautiful degrees in all, teaching lessons which
have proved of value in all walks of life. The scene of the degree is laid
in one of the workshops erected near King Solomon's Temple, and the
candidate is taught many interesting historical facts, as well as given
practical demonstrations of the value of Honesty and Charity.
of Past Master: For many years this degree we conferred upon those who had
served as Masters of Masonic Lodges. In some states this practice is still
maintained, yet in America, with probably one exception, it is conferred
upon all those who have attained the degree of Mark Master. In English
lodges the degree is known as that of Installed Master. There is no past
Master degree in English, Scottish or Irish chapter. The degree deals
primarily with administration, retaining some of the old Instruction once
given to those who were actually chosen to preside.
The Degree of Most Excellent Master: This is by far the most spectacular degree in all Freemasonry. It is the only degree which brings forcibly to our attention the completion and dedication of King Solomon's Temple, the very idea upon which all Masonic symbolism has been based. In 1922 the degree was conferred in Convention Hall in Kansas City, Missouri. The class numbered one thousand candidates. There was a men's chorus of two hundred voices, an orchestra of fifty pieces, and a processional made up of five hundred. It was estimated that nine thousand Royal Arch Masons were in attendance. This serves to demonstrate the immense possibilities and value of the degree. The degree is built around the emblem of the keystone and the great lesson conveyed is the necessity for things Spiritual.
Degree of Royal Arch Mason: The climax of Ancient Craft Masonry and Masonic symbolism; it is a
complete story of Jewish history during some of its darkest hours. While
based upon the subject of love of Home and Country, yet its lessons are
those of Service and Fortitude. It teaches the ultimate triumph of Truth
over all forms of superstition and error, proper respect for the Deity and
His works, and the worship of the one true God, under what-so-ever name He
may be worshipped.
of Royal Master: Believed by many to include in
its ceremonies one of the most beautiful sections of Masonic ritual to be
found in any degree. It fully explains many of the symbols of Freemasonry
and conveys in a dramatic way an incident which occurred during the
building of the Temple. It teaches the great lesson of right living and
the building here on earth of that superstructure necessary for the
erection of our spiritual temple.
The Degree of
second in the series of three dramatic degrees conferred by the Council.
The degree ends with the great tradition which runs all through
Freemasonry, and constitutes an explanation satisfactory in all details as
to certain traditional happenings, a knowledge of which is necessary for a
proper understanding of the Story of Freemasonry. It teaches a wonderful
lesson-that of overlooking the failings of those who through ignorance or
curiosity may often overstep the bounds of propriety.
Degree of Super Excellent Master: Referred to by many as the most dramatic and
impressive of all the degrees of Freemasonry. Whether you agree or not,
there is no question as to its historical and Masonic value, teaching a
great lesson in Fidelity. While the scene of the degree is laid many
centuries ago, the lessons portrayed are just as essential in the present
age. The degree requires the largest cast of characters of any of the
degrees, and ends with a climax never to he forgotten. It teaches that
while men may continue to build, the only permanent temple is that
spiritual temple which each erects within himself.
The Order of the Red Cross: The Order has no
connection with the American Red Cross. It is a degree - termed Order in
this series - connecting the Capitular system of degrees (the Chapter) with
the Chivalric or Templar system. It continues the story of the Jewish
people from their darkest hour to the time of the rebuilding of the
Temple. The lesson taught is that of Truth, which often crushed to earth
will rise again, for in the end it is might and will prevail over all
forms of error and superstition.
The Order of Malta: The Order is
strictly Christian in origin and character, and while there are no
restrictions as to who may receive it, yet one who did not believe in the
practice of Christian principles would be embarrassed in petitioning for
the Order. For its locale is laid among scenes and characters referred to
in the New Testament, and it constitutes a Masonic interpretation along
Christian lines of the New Dispensation. The Order receives its name from
the island of Malta, whose name has been in the headlines from the period
of the Crusades until the present day. A priory of Knights of Malta still
exists on this ancient Isle.
The Order of the Temple: Often referred to as Knight Templar and the climax of the
Christian Orders of Knighthood. It still retains in its ritual some of the
ancient ceremonies of the original order. Like the Order of Malta, it is
founded upon the principles enunciated in the New Testament teaching that
Love is the great characteristic of those who would aspire to immortality,
Love which suffers Long and is kind, Love which overcomes all hate and all
difficulties and which will eventually, in a time we hope not too far
distant, make of all mankind - Brothers. The Order received its name from
those Crusaders who were sworn to protect pilgrims and uphold the Cross
and who became the first Christian protectors of Jerusalem, their exploits
thrilling all Christendom for ages.
Why Not Petition Today?
If you plan
to advance in Masonry why not petition now and begin to receive at once
the satisfaction of membership in the fraternity. The fee for the
degrees is nominal. Dues are small. The advantages of membership are
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