unique institution with global membership
from all walks of life become Freemasons for a variety of reasons.
Some are attracted by the valuable work that the movement performs
in raising money for charity. A proportion of these funds is used
to assist Freemasons and their dependents in times of need, particularly
the sick and the elderly, but the greater part goes to non Masonic
charities - local, national and international. Freemasons also assist
the community in more direct ways, such as carrying out voluntary
work. Others become Freemasons because of the unique fellowship
it provides. Visit a Masonic lodge anywhere in the country –
or indeed, the world – and you are greeted as an old friend.
Freemasonry is the ultimate leveler, a community where friendship
and goodwill are paramount.
satisfaction not personal gain
been said that some people become Freemasons for personal benefit.
This statement is true, but for the wrong reasons. The personal
gain is in experiencing the warmth of an honorable society and being
part of an organisation that works hard to help the less fortunate
of the world. Freemasonry does ask its members to give as freely
as they can to charity. How often have we told ourselves that we
really should send money to help with some famine or other disaster
we have seen on TV, only to forget all about it in the rush of everyday
life? Freemasonry provides a structured channel for fundraising
from its members and reacts quickly when help is needed urgently,
as in the case of the tsunami disaster.
symbolism has a purpose
about the so-called funny handshakes and the outlandish dress styles?
Freemasonry has been in existence for over 300 years and over this
time has developed a pattern of rituals. They are no more outlandish
than ceremonies such as the State Opening of Parliament but, like
this event, they perform a valuable function in reminding members
of the heritage and standards they are expected to maintain. Once
people have become Freemasons and understand the context of the
rituals and symbolism, they no longer seem quirky.
don’t give an unfair advantage
are signs used within Masonic ceremonies. Certainly they can be
used in everyday society, but to expect preferential treatment or
some other sort of advantage from fellow Freemasons met in this
way is both misguided and contrary to one of the basic principles
of the organisation. Rather than spend your money on Masonic membership
fees, you’d be better off buying a lottery ticket.
Has anyone ever used their membership of Freemasonry to try to gain
personal benefit? Of course there have been cases. But that is true
of just about every group, society or body where men get together.
How many business deals are cooked up on the golf course? The difference
is that, unlike the golf club, Freemasonry has a system of morality
that says no to this.
has nothing to hide, why the mystery? The ‘mysteries’
that are revealed to members as they progress are nothing more sinister
than sound advice that helps them to lead a balanced life, for example
through thinking about things like the welfare of others. Similarly,
Masonic passwords are simply keys to the doors of the different
levels within Freemasonry. Learning these principles on a step by
step basis makes them easier to absorb and understand. Masonic ceremonies
are like short morality plays in which members play different parts.
Like any form of theatre, it demands the learning of words and the
movements on stage. Through taking part in these ceremonies, Freemasons
come to understand the truths that they contain.
what is involved?
So do you
need the acting skills of a West End star to become a Freemason?
Certainly not. In the convivial atmosphere of a Masonic meeting,
members soon learn to relax and enjoy taking part in something rather
special. It’s a place where everyone can be themselves and
contribute in a way that suits their own personality. Many members
actually find that learning and performing these rituals is a useful
programme of self development. For those that want to do it, Freemasonry
also provides the opportunity to practise after-dinner speaking
with a totally friendly audience.
time consuming is it?
all this take up a great deal of one’s time? The majority
of lodges in the Province of Middlesex meet four times a year. The
formal part of the proceedings (the ceremonies) usually start towards
the end of the afternoon and are followed in the evening by a dinner
and a few (hopefully short) speeches. Additionally there are weekly
instruction meetings where members learn more about the principles
of Freemasonry and to master the ritual performed in the ceremonies.
Freemasons also gain great pleasure in visiting lodges other than
their own, making new friends and seeing different traditions followed.
While there are numerous opportunities to engage in Masonic pursuits,
Freemasonry encourages its members to live well rounded lives and
always stresses that one’s family and personal affairs must
always come first.
and partners matter to Freemasons
interests of domestic harmony, people interested in becoming Freemasons
are strongly recommended to bring their wife / partner into the
picture at the earliest possible stage. All of the Masonic Centres
in the Province of Middlesex are happy to give guided tours to the
general public. Visitors can see inside the Masonic temples where
the ceremonies take place and ask about the issues discussed in
this leaflet. There are also entertaining lectures, held inside
a lodge or chapter rooms, for anyone interested in learning more
about Freemasonry. These are usually followed by an informal dinner.
just for the well heeled
the cost? Membership subscriptions compare favourably with everyday
sports and social clubs. Freemasonry is not a rich man’s hobby
but an affordable and rewarding pastime for the many.
is involved in becoming a Freemason? You have to be male, aged 21
or over and be of good character (which means not having any criminal
convictions). You must also believe in a Supreme Being, but Freemasonry
is not a religion; men from a variety of faiths belong.
approximately 7,600 Middlesex Freemasons in some 270 lodges and
125 Chapters meeting at the five Masonic Centres located at Harrow,
Southgate, Staines, Twickenham and Uxbridge.
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