Volume LVNovember 2008Number 4

From the Northeast Corner
An occasional periodical on Masonic Knowledge published by the Pennsylvania Lodge of Research
Bro. Stephen Gardner, R.W. Grand Master • Bro. William D. Hartman, Worshipful Master, 2008

When the Secretary of the lodge stands to read the Minutes from the previous meeting, he begins by giving the date of that meeting, which may be, for example, June 8, 2008, A.L. 6008. Have you ever wondered why the "6008"? What's the significance of the double date? And what is "A.L."?

Centuries ago, scholars tried to date the beginning of the world. These scholars researched the Old Testament to determine, with the knowledge they had at that time, just when our world was created. One of the foremost scholars in this field was an Anglican Archbishop by the name of James Ussher (1581-1656), who was Archbishop of Armagh, in Ireland, and Primate of all of Ireland, which was still under English rule. Archbishop Ussher, in his scholarly work, "Annals of the Old Testament" (Annales Veteris Testamenti), determined that Creation began on the night preceding Oct. 23, 4004, B.C. (Julian Calendar), which corresponds to the Gregorian calendar (our present usage) of Sept. 21, 4000, B.C.E. (Before the Common or Christian Era)

Masonry, devoted to "enlightening" its members, places great value on light, symbolized by an initiate being brought "out of darkness into true Masonic light." The first act of Creation was light, as we are told in Genesis 1:3: "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." Since Freemasonry links its origins "from time immemorial," the Blue Lodge represents the beginning of light, and so symbolically dates itself, using Bishop Ussher's chronology, from the beginning of Creation. Therefore, modern-day Freemasonry uses this dating, adding 4,000 years to the present date. The "A.L." is Latin for Anno Lux, meaning "in the year of Light."

Other Masonic groups within the Masonic family use this same method to date their own origins. Our modern Knights Templar date their origin from the founding of the original Order of Knights Templar, which was founded in 1118 A.D. Hence, the Record (Minutes) of a Commandery of Knights Templar would be dated, for example, June 8, 2008, A.O. 890, or the 890th year of the Order.

So the next time you are in your lodge, and hear the Secretary begin reading the Minutes, giving the "double date," you now know why it is done that way. It is a reminder, both of our symbolic origins as a fraternity, and your own journey "from darkness to true Masonic light."

We, as Masons, have each pledged to pursue Masonic knowledge. The Pennsylvania Lodge of Research stands as a fountain of Masonic knowledge to all who would attend. Any Pennsylvania Freemason, in good standing, may join the Pennsylvania Lodge of Research, and any Freemason, in good standing, may attend any of its meetings. For further information on how you can join or when and where the next meeting will be held, just go to the Grand Lodge Web site, www.pagrandlodge.org, and click on the PA Lodge of Research link. You can also contact its Secretary, Bro. Charles S. Canning, 2938 W. Chew Street, Allentown, PA 18104, or via e-mail.


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