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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions - Free & Accepted Masonry

1.What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry is the world’s oldest and largest Fraternity. It aims to promote Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love among its members; men from every country, religion, race, age, income, education, and opinion who are brought together as Brothers to develop and strengthen the bonds of friendship. There are more than 3 million members meeting in nearly every free country in the world. Freemasonry proposes to “make good men better” by teaching – with metaphors from geometry and architecture – about building values based on great universal truths. Finally, charity and community service is fundamental to Freemasonry and something we actively take part in.

2.How can I get more information about the Freemasons?

The best way to learn more is to talk to a Mason - either in person or electronically. This website has the name and contact information of a Brother for every lodge in the state. He will answer your questions and provide you with additional information; and, if you would like, find a convenient time to meet, introduce you to some other members, and tour their building. You may have some of the same questions as those below – so take a look at the FAQ's. You can "Ask a Freemason" by submitting your question by email. Finally, you can also request information online through this web site.

3.What are the requirements to become a Mason?

Anyone meeting the following primary requirements may petition a Mississippi lodge for membership:

A. You are an adult male (18+) of good character and recommended by a Mississippi Mason.

B. You believe in a Supreme Being – no atheist or agnostic can become a Mason – but we are not concerned with theological distinctions or your particular religious beliefs.

C. You are interested in becoming a Mason because of you hold a favorable opinion of our institution; and, your decision to apply is based on your “own free will and accord” – no one compelled you to join. Not all men can become Masons, however. Masonry does not purport to make “bad men good,” only “good men better.” This distinction is critical in that from its early days the Fraternity took itself out of the “rehabilitation” game – which is the purview of religion and the criminal justice system. Only men of good character are accepted into the Fraternity. Masonic lodges review every applicant’s character – and the centuries-old “blackball” system is still in place; candidates for the degrees must be voted by a 100% vote of the lodge members present.

4.How do I become a Freemason?

Ask! Because Masons have not traditionally recruited members, and do not hold public meetings, there has long been confusion about how to join the Fraternity. Does someone invite you? Do you ask? For a man who meets the requirements listed above, it is really quite simple: Men can become a Mason by simply asking. In general, men seek out a Lodge near their home or work (the Lodge Locator feature will help you locate the closest lodge), or they will ask a Mason to recommend a lodge to them. Once you’ve found a lodge you would like to join, let them know of your interest and they will provide you with a petition. If you are unanimously elected by the members of a lodge, joining the Fraternity involves going through three “degrees”: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. Every man accepted into the Fraternity goes through the three degrees, thereby making each an equal to the others in the lodge. Typically they are conferred during a lodge’s monthly meeting over the course of three months.

5.What if I don't know a Mason who can recommend me?

It is quite possible you know a Mason but you just don’t realize it. If your father, uncles, or grandfathers aren’t Masons, they probably know someone who is. You might also want to ask around your workplace or school, church, or gym – anywhere that you find a group of men, you might find a Mason. Although Masons tend to be very proud of their association with the Fraternity, they are often uncomfortable talking about it. It is particularly difficult for them to speak with their friends or family members because they don’t want to push Masonry on them. They might very well be looking forward to the opportunity to speak with you; more importantly, they would be honored to sponsor you for membership. If you don’t know anyone who is a Mason and you are a complete stranger to all of the members of the lodge, you are going to want to take some time getting to know them. But they are going to want to take some time getting to know you too. Once you are ready to Ask, a member of the lodge will sign your petition.

6.What are the time and/or financial commitments of being a Mason?

Becoming a Mason takes several months from the time you complete your petition until you have finished your degrees. Once the degree work begins you will need to attend your lodge’s monthly meeting. There is also some side work that you will need to complete that amounts to a little bit of homework. Every member of the Fraternity has gone through this process and your lodge will assign a Brother to help you. Once you have completed your three degrees, we expect our members to attend their lodge’s “Stated Communication,” or monthly meeting. Sometimes there will be a special meeting on a second night in a month. Beyond that, there are other activities going on: community service, family and social outings, etc. that take place throughout the year. We hope our members will participate in the events that their time and interest allows. We also recognize and understand the need for a balance between your family, work or school, and other interests and commitments. There is a one-time initiation fee set by each lodge, which generally runs between $100 and $150. There are annual dues, which also differ from lodge-to-lodge, with $30 being the average.

7.The "Lodge Locator" feature only lists lodges in Mississippi. How do I find a lodge if I live somewhere else?

MSGrandLodge.org was developed by the Grand Lodge of Mississippi.If you do not live in Mississippi, the best resource for the information you need is the Grand Lodge that presides over your jurisdiction (your state of province in North America, your country most everywhere else in the world). Enter the term Grand Lodge of (Your Jurisdiction) in any search engine and the first entry will likely be your Grand Lodge. Do not hesitate to contact them. They will welcome your inquiry.

8.Why is there so much interest in Masonry today?

Over the last four centuries, Freemasonry seems to have flourished during times of great enlightenment and change. It is no coincidence that Freemasonry rose to prominence during the Age of Enlightenment in both Europe and America – where a new generation believed it could discover ways to gain personal improvement, bring order to society, and understand the whole universe. Today, men seek out Masonry for the same reasons – to better themselves and improve society in the company of like-minded Brothers. As we learn more about how our physical world works, there’s also new interest in those things we don’t understand – especially things bound around tradition or that have a more mystical nature. Also, books like The Da Vinci Code and movies like “National Treasure" have brought up both new interest and renewed speculation about the nature of the Fraternity. Though these books and movies are a product more of a vivid imagination than fact, the real history of Masonry is perhaps the best story of all – one learned only by Asking – and becoming a Freemason.

9.Can Freemasonry actually prepare me for greatness?

No organization can guarantee to make anyone great - the capacity and motivation must come from the individual - but the powerful values and important truths that are taught as part of the Masonic tradition has proven to inspire, challenge, and develop leadership in men. Benjamin Franklin may have said it best, describing the Fraternity as a place to “prepare himself.” Today, men are preparing themselves for greatness in Lodges the world over.

10.What are the benefits of becoming a Mason?

There are numerous benefits to becoming a Mason, but they tend to be personal and they are also quite varied. And they can only be truly discovered by becoming a member. But to try and give you an idea: without question the opportunity to experience camaraderie and fellowship with a group of men across the boundries of age, race, religion, culture, and opinion is a fundamental aspect of the Fraternity; many find great value and knowledge in our ritual ceremony that uses symbolism and metaphors to encourage and remind us to appreciate principles, ethics, and morality, and to live our lives accordingly; others find great satisfaction in our charitable efforts, community service, and the support we provide our members and their families; finally, for those who take on leadership positions within their lodge, they develop or further very practical management skills.


The questions and answers provided here are writings courtesy of the Grand Lodge of Mississippi, under the  "Frequently Asked Questions" section of the website.

Please visit the Grand Lodge website for additional information on Freemasonry in Mississippi.

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