“You are never to solicit anyone to a participation in our privileges… “
To become a Mason, a man must first ask a Mason about joining the organization. We will not approach him; he must show a distinct initial interest “of his own free will and accord”, based on his having formed a “favorable opinion of the Craft”. Once he has broached the subject of joining us, however, the prospective Candidate will suddenly find Masons to be remarkably open, supportive and helpful in his search for “Light”.
“Masonry and religion… “
It should be especially noted that Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for a religion. There is no test of religious affiliation in the qualifications to become a member. Aside from needing to satisfy the Brethren that he is willing to take his solemn obligations to heart, the Candidate’s choice of church is of no matter to us.
“Application process… “
The prospective Candidate will complete a written application form addressed to the Lodge of which he hopes to become a member. Two members of the Lodge must sign the petition and it must list other character references. The salient points of the petition will be read in Lodge at its next Stated Meeting, the monthly business meeting. The Master will appoint a committee of three members to investigate the applicant. The investigators are not known to the Lodge nor to one another. They may wish only to meet the applicant and talk for a few minutes, or look more seriously into his background, as they wish. They will often ask to meet him and his family in their home. The three investigators will report their recommendations to the Master. At the next Stated Meeting, the Master will announce the recommendations of the committee in very general terms and the membership will ballot on the petition.
Once his application is approved, the Candidate for Freemasonry will participate in a ceremony called the “Degree of Entered Apprentice”, or “First Degree”, in which he will be Entered into the Lodge and made an Apprentice Mason in due and ancient form. He will receive preliminary instruction on the nature of his new association and an important lesson in Masonic Charity. He will be assigned to a Candidate’s Coach, who will meet with him as often as it takes to teach him the question-and-answer summary of the Degree. When his Coach is satisfied with his command of the Work, he will be scheduled to perform the Proficiency in Lodge. If done well enough, he will receive the Second Degree.
The “Degree of Fellowcraft”, or “Second Degree”, is widely regarded as the most poetic and instructive of the Masonic degrees. In it, the Apprentice is Passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft Mason in due and ancient form. He learns many of the more expressive symbols of his Craft and hears references to the philosophical basis for his conduct as a Mason. The importance of the study of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, especially of Geometry, is emphasized. He will again meet with a Coach to learn the summary of the Work and will pass a Proficiency examination.
In the “Degree of Master Mason”, the famous “Third Degree”, the Fellowcraft will be Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in due and ancient form. He will take part in a traditional reenactment intended to emphasize the importance of the virtue of Fidelity. Upon completing this Degree, the Brother is a fully qualified Master Mason, entitled to all of the rights and privileges of that Degree. Among us, there is no higher rank than that of Master Mason.