Frequently Asked Questions
Husband, Father, Wage Earner, Jogger, Church Member --
A Mason is a member of the world's oldest and largest fraternity. Masons join together because:
Masonry is a worldwide fraternity with the singular purpose of making good men better. It is neither a forum nor a place for worship. Instead, it is a friend to all religions which are based on the belief in one God.
Masonry, or Freemasonry, is a fraternity so old that its origins have been lost in time. It probably started with the guilds of stonemasons who built the great castles and cathedrals of the Middle Ages and might have been influenced by the Knights Templar, a group of Christian warrior monks formed in 1118 to help protect pilgrims making trips to the Holy Land.
Masonry was formalized in 1717 when the first "Grand Lodge" was formed in England. Today, there are about 13,200 Masonic lodges in the U.S.
What is a Masonic Lodge?
The word "lodge" refers to two things: a group of Masons meeting in a particular place and the place in which they meet. The term, "lodge," comes from the structures which the medieval stonemasons built against the sides of the cathedrals during construction. During the winter, when construction work was stopped, they lived in their lodges and worked at carving stone.
Masonic buildings are sometimes called "temples," because much of the symbolism Masonry uses to teach its lessons comes from the building of King Solomon's Temple in the Holy Land.
What do Masons believe in?
All Masons believe in one God and in respect for each other.
What do Masons do?
Masons are men of charity and good works. In fact, Masonry is the world's leading charitable organization, contributing nearly $2 million a day to charitable causes which they have established themselves. Our hospitals for burned and crippled children are known worldwide and are just part of the work we do.
What are the qualifications to become a Mason?
We're proud of our philosophy and practice of "making good men better." Therefore, only men of high character are considered for membership. Every applicant must state his belief in the existence of a Supreme Being. Atheists are not accepted into our fraternity.
How do I become a member of the Masons?
You must ask a Masonic friend to recommend you. You must then sign a petition, stating your age, occupation and place of residence. Members of the Lodge will then vote on your admissions after careful consideration of your character and reputation. See How to Become a Mason for more information.
Why is Masonry so secretive?
Actually, Masonry isn't very secretive at all, although it sometimes seems to have that reputation. We make no secret of our membership --- we wear rings, lapel pins and tie tacks with Masonic emblems. Our buildings are clearly marked and are listed in phone books. Lodge activities are even listed in newspapers in smaller towns!
Like most fraternities, however, we do have some secrets, and these fall into two categories:
Ways to identify ourselves to each others as Masons.
We have special grips and passwords (like many other fraternal organizations) which we keep secret so that unscrupulous people can't pass themselves off as Masons to obtain assistance under false pretenses.
Why is Masonry called a secret society?
When you truly accept responsibility for your own life and realize that real happiness comes from helping others, you experience certain changes. It's almost impossible to put these changes into words, to describe them to others. (It's like trying to describe a sunset or the feeling you get when you hear our National Anthem.) It's not that these "secrets" may not be told, but that they simply cannot be put into words.
Frankly, if we're a "secret society," then we're the worst-kept secret in town!
Is Masonry a religion?
No. Religion plays an important part in Masonry, but Masonry itself is most definitely not a religion.
As we've already mentioned, our members must have a belief in God. No atheist can ever become a Mason.
We open our meetings with prayer. And one of the first lessons we teach is that one should pray for divine counsel and guidance before starting an important undertaking. But we are not a religion. We believe strongly in the importance of religion and encourage our members to be active in the religion and church of their choice. We teach that without religion, a man is alone and lost and cannot reach his full potential.
If Masonry isn't a religion, why does it use ritual?
We all use ritual every day. Shaking hands when you meet a friend is a ritual. Standing for the National Anthem before a baseball game is a ritual. Our lives are filled with ritual.
Masonry uses ritual because it's an effective way to teach the important values we talked about earlier. Masonry's ritual is very rich because it's so very old. It has developed over centuries to contain some beautiful language and ideas. But when you think about it, there's nothing unusual about ritual. It's part of everyday life!
What is a degree?
A degree is a stage or level of membership in the Masons. It is also the ceremony by which you attain the three levels of membership:
Our degrees teach the great lessons of life-the importance of honor and integrity, of being a person on whom others can rely, of being both trusting and trustworthy, of realizing that you have a spiritual nature, the importance of self-control, of knowing how to love and be loved and of knowing how to keep confidences so that others may open up to you without fear.
As a candidate, you'll attend three meetings to receive the three Masonic Degrees. The Degrees are solemn, enlightening lessons and are an enjoyable experience with absolutely no uncomfortable or embarrassing moments.
It is through the Degrees that the principles of Masonry are taught and where you'll learn that your family and your own necessary vocations are to be considered above Masonry.
Once you become a Master Mason, you will be welcomed as a "Brother" in any of the thousands of Masonic Lodges throughout the world.
Do you think the Masons of Texas might have something special to offer you?
We all have many roles to fill in our lives. We're husbands, fathers, employees, neighbors and friends. We're all trying our best to be better men. What better way to live a life of service to others while making yourself a better man than in the company of your fellow Masons of Texas?
Ask a Mason.
If you would like to know more about the Masons of Texas, contact us and someone at the Sam P. Cochran Lodge will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.