Centuries ago, stonemasons wore leather aprons to carry their tools and to protect their skin and clothing. Today, Masons wear lambskin or cloth aprons, often elaborately decorated or embroidered, as a symbolic connection to those medieval craftsmen from whom we derive our Masonic tradition.
Degrees of Masonry
Degrees denote level of membership and knowledge of Masonic principles. The basic degrees of Masonry are Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason.
The word "free" was added to "mason" during the Middle Ages. The origin is uncertain, but it may be related to stonemasons who worked as advanced stone carvers in "freestone."
The administrative body in charge of Freemasonry in a specific geographic area. The United States has Grand Lodges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The elected leader of the Grand Lodge. In California, the leader in this position changes annually in October.
This refers to both a unit of Masons as well as the room or building in which they meet. There are approximately 13,000 lodges in the United States.
A member of the Masonic fraternity.
The elected leader of the local lodge. This is also the title a Mason acquires upon completeing the third degree of membership.
The monthly lodge meeting to conduct regular business, receive new members, and vote upon the Application for Degrees.
Another name for a Masonic building. The word is used in the same sense that Justice Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court a "Temple of Justice." Most California lodges now refer to their buildings as Masonic Centers.
Masonic organizations for young people. Youth groups include DeMolay International for boys 12 to 21; Rainbow for Girls, for ages 11 to 20; and Job's Daughters, for young women age 11 to 20.
The beginning In the middle Ages, the term “freemason” was awarded to highly skilled stonemasons who were hired as free agents to build castles and cathedrals in England and Scotland. Because of the inherent danger of their work, stonemasons formed local organizations, called lodges, to take care of sick and injured members as well as the widows and orphans of those who were killed on the job. Eventually, men who were not skilled stonemasons wanted to join the group for the many advantages it offered. These men were known as accepted masons rather than working masons. This is how the group began to shift from a craft guild to a fraternity.
The first Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was established in 1717 in London. In 1718, English Freemasonry spread to France and Spain, and after 1729, to India, Italy, Poland, and Sweden. Freemasonry spread to other parts of Europe and eventually made its way to the American colonies. In 1733, the first American lodge was established in Boston, under the authority of the Grand Lodge of England. The United States now has grand lodges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Masonry in California
Masonry has been an integral part of California for more than 150 years. During the Gold Rush of 1849, thousands of settlers came to California in search of fortune. Many of these men were Masons and brought with them Masonic values and traditions. Not surprisingly, some of California’s first Masonic lodges were established in the mining towns of the Gold Country. In 1850 - the same year that California became a state - the Grand Lodge of California was established in Sacramento.
Within 10 years, the number of Masonic lodges in the new state had grown from 11 to 130, while membership soared from 258 to more than 5,000. Over the years, the Masons have played a key role in shaping the history of California. To date, 19 California governors have been Masons, and at least four California Masons have been elected to the U.S. Senate. Today there are more than 60,000 members and about 340 lodges, making the Grand Lodge of California one of the largest in the world.
Who Are The Masons?
Masons (also known as Freemasons) belong to the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world. Today, there are now more than two million Masons in North America. Masons represent virtually every occupation and profession, yet within the Fraternity all meet as equals. Masons come from diverse political ideologies, yet meet as friends. Masons come from varied religious beliefs and creeds, yet all believe in one God.
Many of North America's early patriots were Masons. Thirteen signers of the Constitution and fourteen Presidents of the United States, including George Washington, were Masons. In Canada, the Father of the Confederation, Sir John A. MacDonald, was a Mason, as were other early Canadian and American leaders.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Freemasonry is how so many different walks of life, can meet together in peace, always conducting their affairs in harmony and friendship and calling each other "Brother."
Freemasonry (or Masonry) is dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. It uses the tools and implements of ancient architectural craftsmen symbolically in a system of instruction designed to build character and moral values in its members. Its singular purpose is to make good men better. Its bonds of friendship, compassion, and brotherly love have survived even the most divisive political, military, and religious conflicts through the centuries. Masonry is a fraternity which encourages its members to practice the faith of their personal acceptance. Masonry teaches that each person, through self-improvement and helping others, has an obligation to make a difference for good in the world.
No one knows just how old Freemasonry is because the actual origins have been lost in time. Most scholars believe Masonry arose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the majestic castles and cathedrals in the Middle Ages. In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization when four Lodges in London joined to form England's first Grand Lodge. By 1731, when Benjamin Franklin joined the Fraternity, there were already several Lodges in the Colonies, and in Canada the first Lodge was established in 1738.
Today, Masonic Lodges are found in almost every community throughout North America, and in large cities there are usually several Lodges. A Mason can travel to almost any country in the world and find a Masonic Lodge where he will be welcomed as a "Brother."
What Do Freemasons Do?
The Masonic experience encourages members to become better men, better husbands, better fathers, and better citizens. The fraternal bonds formed in the Lodge help build life-long friendships among men with similar goals and values.
Beyond its focus on individual development and growth, Masonry is deeply involved in helping people. The Freemasons of North America contribute over two million dollars a day to charitable causes. This philanthropy represents an unparalleled example of the humanitarian commitment of this great and honorable Fraternity. Much of that assistance goes to people who are not Masons. Some of these charities are vast projects. The Shrine Masons (Shriners) operate the largest network of hospitals for burned and orthopedically impaired children in the country, and there is never a fee for treatment. The Scottish Rite Masons in the Southern Jurisdiction maintain a network, as of 2001, of 150 Childhood Language Disorder Clinics, Centers, and Programs. Other Masonic organizations sponsor a variety of philanthropies, including scholarship programs and perform public service activities in their communities. Masons also enjoy the fellowship of each other and their families in social and recreational activities.
Several Masonic Principles
Faith must be the center of our lives
All men and women are the children of God.
No one has the right to tell another person what he or she must think or believe.
Each person has a responsibility to be a good citizen, obeying the law.
It is important to work to make the world a better place for all
Honor and integrity are keys to a meaningful life.
What Is The Masonic Lodge?
The word Lodge means both a group of Masons meeting together as well as the room or building in which they meet. Masonic buildings are sometimes called "temples" because the original meaning of the term was "place of knowledge," and Masonry encourages the advancement of knowledge.
Masonic Lodges usually meet once or twice a month to conduct regular business, vote upon petitions for membership, and bring new Masons into the Fraternity through three ceremonies called Degrees. In the Lodge room, Masons share in a variety of programs. Here the bonds of friendship and fellowship are formed and strengthened.
Who Can Qualify To Join?
Applicants must be men of good character who believe in a Supreme Being. To become a Mason, one must petition a particular Lodge. The Master of the Lodge appoints a committee to visit the applicant prior to the Lodge balloting upon his petition.
So Who Are The Masons?
Masons are men of good character who strive to improve themselves and make the world a better place. They belong to the oldest and most honorable Fraternity known to man. If you think you might be interested in becoming a member, you can begin by contacting a Lodge in your area or speaking to a Mason.
Men Of Character And Integrity Join The Masons
Most are men who go about their jobs and professions with no hint they Chula Vista Masonic Lodge 626are Freemasons except for the way they lead their lives. Many are readily recognizable by name, face, or accomplishment. George Washington and 13 other Presidents, 8 Vice Presidents, and 42 Justices of the Supreme Court have been Masons.
Some Notable Masons:
Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin
L. Van Beethoven
Richard E. Byrd
George M. Cohan
Cecil B. deMille
Sir Alexander Fleming
Gerald R. Ford
Hubert H. Humphrey
John Paul Jones
Marquis de Lafayette
George C. Marshall
Charles W. Mayo
Wolfgang A. Mozart
Dr. Norman V. Peale
Franklin D. Roosevelt
John Philip Sousa
Harry S. Truman
Thomas J. Watson