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What is Freemasonry?

No one knows with certainty how or when the Masonic Fraternity was formed. A widely accepted theory among Masonic scholars is that it arose from the stonemasons’ guilds during the Middle Ages. The language and symbols used in the fraternity’s rituals come from this era. The oldest document that makes reference to Masons is the Regius Poem, printed around 1390, which was a copy of an earlier work. In 1717, four lodges in London formed the first Grand Lodge of England, and records from that point on are more complete.

Within 30 years, the fraternity had spread throughout Europe and the American Colonies. Freemasonry became very popular in Colonial America. George Washington was a Mason, Benjamin Franklin served as the head of the fraternity in Pennsylvania, as did Paul Revere and Joseph Warren in Massachusetts. Other well-known Masons involved with the founding of America included John Hancock, John Sullivan, Lafayette, Baron Fredrick von Stuben, Nathanael Greene, and John Paul Jones. Another Mason, Chief Justice John Marshall, shaped the Supreme Court into its present form.

Over the centuries, Freemasonry has developed into a world-wide fraternity emphasizing personal study, self-improvement, and social betterment via individual involvement and philanthropy. During the late 1700s, it was one of the organizations most responsible for spreading the ideals of the Enlightenment: the dignity of man and the liberty of the individual, the right of all persons to worship as they choose, the formation of democratic governments, and the importance of public education. Freemasons supported the first public schools in both Europe and America.

During the 1800s and early 1900s, Freemasonry grew dramatically. At that time, the government had provided no social “safety net.” The Masonic tradition of founding orphanages, homes for widows and homes for the aged provided the only security many people knew.

Today’s Freemasons are widely involved in a range of charity and community service activities. In fact, the Masonic Fraternity gives almost $1.5 million each day to both Masonic and non-Masonic charities locally, nationally and internationally. The causes they support range from operating children’s hospitals, providing treatment for childhood language disorders, treating eye diseases, funding medical research, contributing to local community service, and providing care to Freemasons and their families at Masonic Homes.

How to Become a Freemason

Freemasons come from all walks of life, but in order to become a Mason you must meet a few simple criteria:

1. You must be a male, at least 18 years of age (varies by state)
2. You must profess a belief in a Supreme Being
3. You must be a man of good morals and reputation
In order to join you must seek admission by your own free will, and you must be recommended by a current Freemason, unanimously elected to membership and willing to assume an obligation to the fraternity.

To get started simply go to The Next Step and fill out basic information. A virtual mentor will assist you and introduce you to a local lodge.

Degrees of Masonry

As you follow the path of Masonry you will have the opportunity to earn three symbolic degrees representing the lessons of Masonry.

1. Entered Apprentice: Beginner
2 .Fellowcraft: Intermediate
3. Master Mason: Expert

All Shriners are Master Masons, but not all Freemasons go on to become Shriners.

If you are not a Freemason, you must pursue that first. Ask for a virtual mentor who will assist you on that journey by clicking on the virtual mentor here or the link below. Also see the Mason Roadmap section and click on Freemason for details on that process. Once you are a Master Mason you will then be eligible to petition to become a Shriner. See Roadmap section and click on masons for details. Your virtual mentor will assist you with every step along the way.

Web Site Links

DeMolay International
Masonic Service Assoc. of N. A.
Illinois Grand Lodge
Scottish Rite - Main Site
Scottish Rite - Belleville, IL
Great Lakes Shrine Assoc.

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