Freemasonry Explained

How will I benefit from being a Mason?
Masonry gives you the opportunity to work together with your fellow Masons to make more of a difference in the world.  Masonry teaches that each person has a responsibility to make things better in the world and is deeply involved with helping people.  Masons fund raise and donate more than $1.4 million dollars every day in the United States. The great majority of that help goes to people who are not Masons. With projects large or small, the Masons of a lodge try to help make the world a better place.

Masonry helps you continuously grow as an individual. Sometimes everyone feels that they are not as honest, charitable, compassionate, loving or as trusting as they ought to be. Masonry reminds its members of the importance of these qualities. It lets men associate with other men of honor and integrity who believe that things like honesty, compassion, love and trust are important.

Masonry provides you a network of trusted friends from all walks of life.  It’s good to spend time with people you can trust completely, and most Masons find that in their lodge. While much of lodge activity is spent in works of charity or lessons in self-development, much is also spent in fellowship. Lodges have picnics, camping trips, and many events for the whole family. Simply put, a lodge is a place to spend time with friends.

What’s a lodge?
The word “lodge” means both a group of Masons meeting in some place and the room or building in which they meet. Masonic buildings are also sometimes called “temples” because much of the symbolism Masonry uses to teach its lessons comes from the building of King Solomon’s Temple. The term “lodge” itself comes from the structures that the stonemasons built against the sides of the cathedrals during construction. In winter, when building had to stop, they lived in these lodges and worked at carving stone.

What happens in a lodge meeting?
The most common is a simple business meeting. To open and close the meeting, there is a ceremony whose purpose is to remind us of the virtues by which we are supposed to live. Then there is a reading of the minutes; voting on petitions (applications of men who want to join the fraternity); planning for charitable functions, family events, and other lodge activities; and sharing information about members (called “Brothers,” as in most fraternities) who are ill or have some sort of need. The other kind of meeting is one in which people join the fraternity — one at which the “degrees” are performed.

Why is Masonry so secretive?
It really isn’t secretive, although it sometimes has that reputation. Masons certainly don’t make a secret of the fact that we are members of the fraternity. We wear rings, lapel pins, and tie clasps with Masonic emblems like the “Square and Compass.” Masonic buildings are clearly marked, and are usually listed in the phone book. Lodge activities are not secret as events are often listed in the newspapers, especially in smaller towns. But there are two traditional categories of secrets. First are the ways in which a man can identify himself as a Mason: grips and passwords that are unique for any fraternity. Second are Masonic ceremonies, which are private (for members only) but are not secret.

Why does Masonry use symbols?
Symbols allow people to communicate quickly. When you see a red light, you know what it means. When you see a circle with a line through it, you know it means “no.” In fact, using symbols is probably the oldest method of communication and teaching.
Masons use symbols for the same reasons. Certain symbols, mostly selected from the art of architecture, stand for certain ethics and principles of the organization. The “Square and Compass” is the most widely known symbol of Masonry. In one way, this symbol is the trademark for the fraternity. When you see it on a building, you know that Masons meet there.

Source: The Grand Lodge of Maryland, A. F. & A. M.