Teahings of Freemasonry
One of Freemasonry's objectives is the making of better men. This it endeavors to do by teaching. It aims to inculcate in the minds of those who come into it some of those virtues which are recognized as prerequisites for a better life. Its teachings include brotherhood, morality, justice, tolerance, citizenship, education, and freedom of ideas, of religious choice, and of expression.
The worth of the individual in society is another of its prime objectives, but it believes that this worth is only achieved by the recognition of the corresponding responsibility which must accompany each privilege the individual enjoys. Upon this premise, right may be exercised properly only as long as they do not infringe upon those belonging to one's neighbor. This principle finds its highest expression in the term "brotherly love" which teaches us to regard the whole human race as one common family, who are sent into the world to aid, support and protect each other.
We speak a great deal about your study and assimilation of the teachings brought to you in the degrees. There is no better way for you to learn the Art of Masonry than by attending your Lodge meetings regularly. As you see the degrees conferred over and over again you will find more and more Freemasonry being unfolded to you. If so inclined, you might even go a step further and participate in the conferring of the degrees. In fact, you cannot find a better teacher than that of working in the degrees themselves. We mention this because while attendance at our communications is not compulsory, we do urge you to make every effort to attend. You will find it most worth-while.
As part of the Work you will be required to demonstrate your knowledge of each of the three Degrees. This will be done through a series of questions and answers, taught you by a member designated by the Worshipful Master. It will then be necessary for you to stand a satisfactory examination in open Lodge on this memory work after each Degree.
Don't be frightened by this requirement or doubt your capacity to learn; every member before you has had to do the very same thing. One of the purposes of learning these proficiencies is to enable you to visit other Lodges. You cannot attend another Lodge unless there is a Brother present who has sat in Lodge with you and therefore can vouch for you, or unless you stand a satisfactory examination on your Masonic knowledge before a committee. This examination is based on the memory work. After receiving the Third Degree, feeling you have reached the end, you might be inclined to neglect learning the Third Degree proficiency. This would be regrettable, first, because it would impair your ability to visit other Lodges and to converse intelligently with your Brethren. Secondly, you are required by law to learn it.
Stemming from the "Blue Lodge" are two sets of degrees, commonly referred to as Rites. One of these is the York Rite, consisting of Royal Arch, Cryptic and Knight Templar Masonry. The other is the Scottish Rite, which confers from the Fourth to the Thirty-second Degree. Each of these Rites has oftentimes been alluded to as a college course in Masonry, as each expounds and elaborates on the basic doctrines of the Order and each is a recognized Masonic Body. There are many other organizations which are recognized by us. All of them predicate their membership on some form of Masonic membership, and all of them subscribe to some worth-while purpose. Some of the most commonly-known of these are the Shrine, Grotto, Eastern Star, DeMolay, Rainbow, etc. We most earnestly recommend that you acquire a thorough knowledge of our basic doctrines before becoming involved with any of the other groups.
Earlier, you were informed that Masonry would be presented to you symbolically. To close this discussion, we feel that an explanation of Symbolism would be of benefit to you; and because of his eminence in present-day Freemasonry, we would like to give you the interesting thoughts written some years ago by Brother H. L. Haywood.