FREEMASONRY - GENERAL

68. Who was St. John the Evangelist?

One of the Apostles, born in Galilee and known for his effective preaching in Asia Minor and at Ephesus. A man of great energy and poetic fire, he became one of the Patron Saints of Freemasonry, earning that distinction because of his constant cultivation of Brotherly Love. The day consecrated as the Festival of St. John the Evangelist, December 27th, at High Noon, is the beginning of a new Masonic Year in Pennsylvania.

69. What do A.D. and A.L. mean and why?

A.D. is an abbreviation for the Latin words Anno Domini, meaning "in the year of our Lord," and is the Christian method of designating the number of years following the birth of Christ. Freemasons' nomenclature in this respect comes from the old belief (entirely erroneous) that the world was created 4,000 years before Christ, and therefore calculates the date as 4,000 years plus the current year, for instance, 1999 A.D. or 5999 A.L., which is an abbreviation for the Latin words, Anno Lucis, meaning "in the year of Light" or the time of Creation.

70. What is meant by the Volume of the Sacred Law?

The holy book of one's prevailing faith and the Great Light in Freemasonry.

71. Which Grand Lodge removed the Volume of the Sacred Law from the altar, and why?

The Grand Orient of France in 1877 to stress its adherence to the basic principle of universality. Practically all other Grand Lodges withdrew their official recognition of the Grand Orient.

72. Must all Masons be obligated on the Bible?

The primary requirement of a Freemason is a belief in a Supreme Being, whether He be called God or Allah or Jehovah or any of the names by which the Supreme Architect of the Universe may be designated. Hence a candidate for Freemasonry should be obligated on a book he considers to be a Volume of the Sacred Law of his religious faith, (e.g. Holy Bible, Torah, Koran).

73. Who was the first non-operative Masonic member of record?

John Boswell, Laird of Auchenleek, who was present at a meeting of Mary Chapel Lodge of Edinburgh on June 8, 1600.

74. Why are we called Freemasons?

The name definitely dates back to the days when Masonry was almost wholly operative in character. Numerous explanations have been suggested, such as (a) masons worked in free stone (which could be carved), and hence were called "free-stone masons", later shortened to "freemasons" (b) they were free men, not serfs; (c) they were free to move from place to place as they might desire; (d) they were given the freedom of the towns or localities in which they worked; (e) they were free of the rules and regulations that were usually imposed upon members of guilds.

75. When does a candidate for the Degrees of Freemasonry become a Member of a Lodge?

Although not entitled to all the rights and privileges of the Lodge until he is Raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason, in Pennsylvania the candidate becomes a member of the Lodge at the time he receives his Entered Apprentice Mason's Degree.

76. Who are the Members of Grand Lodge?

The Grand Lodge Officers, Past Grand Masters, Past Deputy Grand Masters, Past Masters by one year's service and the Worshipful Masters and Wardens of all Symbolic Lodges lawfully Warranted and duly Constituted by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and under its Jurisdiction.

77. Where can additional information concerning Freemasonry be obtained?

Write to: The Grand Lodge Committee on Masonic Education, Masonic Temple, One North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107-2598. Pennsylvania Masons may also use this website to borrow books from the Grand Lodge Library's Circulating Library.

78. Is Freemasonry a charitable organization?

It is not a charitable organization as such, but it engages in many acts of charity. In Pennsylvania three outstanding examples of this are the Masonic Villages (located in Elizabethtown, Warminster, Sewickley, Dallas and Lafayette Hill), the Masonic Children's Home at Elizabethtown, and the Pennsylvania Masonic Youth Foundation. Individual Lodges assist needy members, their widows, orphans, and community cases as need arises and funds are available. Additionally, the appendant Masonic bodies all have tremendous charitable outreaches which are well known for treating crippled and burned children, providing eye and dental care, leading medical research in the areas of schizophrenia and mental illness, providing training for children with dyslexia and support for kids with muscular dystrophy, to name just a few.

79. Is there any reason that a Roman Catholic cannot be made a Mason?

There is nothing in the Constitution, rules, regulations, edicts or customs of Freemasonry that prohibit a Roman Catholic from becoming a member of the Masonic Fraternity.

80. When and where did African-American Freemasonry start in the United States?

On March 6, 1775, in Boston, when the degrees of Masonry were conferred upon Prince Hall and fourteen other African-American men in a Military Lodge (No. 441 on the Irish Register) in the English Army attached to the 38th Regiment.

81. Who was Prince Hall?

It is recorded that he was born in Barbados, British West Indies. He came to Boston, became the leader of the free African-Americans of that city, and was an ordained minister.

82. Did these African-American Masons have a Lodge of their own?

On September 29, 1784, the Grand Lodge of England issued a Charter for African Lodge No. 459 of Boston. It was instrumental in forming the first African-American Grand Lodge in the United States.

83. What is a recognized Grand Lodge?

From the standpoint of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, it is one which is considered as being accepted as regular and legitimate. The Grand Lodges of the United States have different ideas on this subject, and as a result, some Grand Lodges in other countries are recognized by some Grand Lodges in our country but others are not.

84. What Lodges may be visited?

Only Lodgesthat are under the jurisdiction of Grand Lodges your Grand Lodge recognizes as being legitimate. When traveling in other jurisdictions and planning Lodge visits, it is important to make inquiries of your Lodge Secretary, and your District Deputy Grand Master, before starting on your trip.

85. What are the "Higher Degrees" in Freemasonry?

There are none, although there are additional degrees other than the three of Symbolic Masonry. The degrees of the Scottish and York Rites are dependent on the Three Degrees of the Symbolic Lodge.

86. To what extent may a Mason talk about Freemasonry to those who are not members of the Fraternity?

Masons need not be reticent in speaking about Freemasonry to those who have an honest desire for knowledge. Three informative folders, "Friend to Friend" "ASK!, " and "Freemasonry--A Way of Life," published by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, are available to be given to interested non-Masons. Questions asked in sincerity for the purpose of obtaining reasonable information concerning Freemasonry should be answered in the spirit in which they are asked. (Your attention is directed to Question No. 100.)

87. Why are Lodges in some Jurisdictions known as A.F.& A.M. and others as F. & A.M.?

There were two Grand Lodges in England between 1751 and 1813, one was called "Moderns" (actually, the older of the two) and one was called "Antients." The latter used the title Ancient Free and Accepted Masons (A.F. & A.M.) while the original Grand Lodge used Free and Accepted Masons (F.& A.M.). Warrants to Lodges in the United States were granted by these two Grand Lodges and thus the differences. Twenty-four Grand Jurisdictions in the United States use A.F. & A.M., twenty-five use F. & A.M., South Carolina uses A.F.M. and the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia uses F.A.A.M.

88. How is a Lodge formed in Pennsylvania?

Fifteen or more Master Masons, having resigned from the Lodges to which they belonged, may petition the Grand Lodge for a Warrant to form a Lodge and practice the Rites of Freemasonry. The petition must be signed not only by the applicants, but by three well-known Masons, Members of a subordinate Lodge, by the District Deputy Grand Master, and must be recommended by another Lodge. After the petition has been approved by Grand Lodge, the Lodge is duly Constituted by the Grand Master or by someone delegated by him to perform that duty.

89. What is the oldest existing Lodge record?

That of Edinburgh Lodge No. 1 dated July 30, 1599.

90. What is a "Moon Lodge?"

In former times when roads were poor and traveling difficult, numerous Lodges met on the date of the Full Moon or, in some instances, a certain number of days before or after the Full Moon so that those going to and from Lodge Meetings might have the light of the moon to make the journey safer and easier. In recent years a number of former "Moon Lodges" have changed their Meetings to a specific date. Some Lodges, however, still meet on, or a certain number of days before or after, the Full Moon.

91. What was the origin of the expression "Blue Lodges?"

There are several theories, of which two have the most adherents. Some believe that operative Masons felt that blue, the color of the sky both by day and by night, was associated in their minds with the purity of Deity, which Masons attempt to emulate. Others refer to the change made by speculative Masons shortly after the establishment of the original Grand Lodge of England when blue was substituted for white as the official Masonic color, presumably because it was the color of the Order of the Garter of which a number of Masonic leaders were members.

92. What are the qualifications of a petitioner for Freemasonry?

That he believes in the Supreme Architect of the Universe (by whatever name He may be called); that he applies for initiation and membership of his own free will and accord; that he is recommended by two Master Masons, one of whom must be a Member of the Lodge to which he desires to apply; that he is of good character; that he be a man, freeborn, and of mature age (18 in Pennsylvania.)

93. What is the meaning of the letters G.A.O.T.U?

Grand, or sometimes, Great Architect of the Universe.

94. What is the Cerneau Rite of Freemasonry?

A clandestine, spurious and irregular order of men claiming to be Masons with various degrees of success in its organization from the year 1807. It is believed that this Rite no longer exists.

95. What is an Edict?

In Pennsylvania, a ruling issued by the R.W. Grand Master that has the effect of Masonic Law.

96. What is Ancient Craft Masonry?

The Three Symbolic Degrees-- Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason.

97. What is a Lewis?

The son of a Mason who becomes a member of the Craft before he reaches lawful age. In England the term "Lewis" is a symbol of strength, a man's strength being represented in his son.

98. What is Esoteric?

The unwritten work of the Ritual, which is not to be revealed, except to one entitled to receive it.
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