Probably the finest definition ever devised for Freemasonry is: "It
is a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by
symbols..."  This system of morality, or ethics, is as old as
civilization.. One must penetrate the allegorical veils, with the aid of
symbolical emblems, and practice the moral precepts which have been
therein revealed to prepare ourselves, spiritually, "as living stones for
that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."  Freemasonry is "a
Way of Life."

     Freemasonry is a progressive science.  A Mason only advances by
taking every step.  He must acquire and apply the knowledge available to
him on each level and perfect his skills so that each stone designed
for that Spiritual Building might be square, level, and plumb.

     Candidates for Freemasonry must come of their own free will. 
American Grand Lodges prohibit the solicitation of members.  The applicant
must have a sincere desire to unite with the fraternity dedicated to
"Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth."

     Many centuries ago the craft so successfully protected its trade
secrets, consisting primarily of architectural and geometrical lore, that
it developed stron attachments to the precepts of Truth, Justice and
Liberty, and the religious establishment instituted the "Inquisition",
the Freemasons became a secret society in fact.  Today this description no
longer applies.  What Freemasonry teaches is written out for all to read. 
Masonic halls are listed in local directories.  The members wear
emblems publicly.  The only secrets of the craft today are the manner in
which the degrees are conferred and the means of recognition among the members.

     Freemasonry is neither a religious nor a political organization.  It
has been called the "handmaiden of religion"as it encourages all members
to be active in the church of their choice.  No theological dogmas nor
creeds exist in Masonic practice, other than a reverence for God and
a spiritual concern for our fellowman.  While the Masonic craft does not
support political candidates nor issues, it inspires each member to
fulfill his civic responsibilities as an American citizen.  The discussion
of sectarian religion or partisan politics is prohibited in all branches
of Freemasonry in the United States except the Christian Orders which
are not denominational.

Excerpted by permission from:
The York Rite of Freemasonry A History and Handbook by Frederick G.
Speidel, page 7
Copyright purchased by Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United
States of America 1989 5097 
Elston Avenue, Suite 101
Chicago, Illinois 60630-2460
Full text copies available from the above address

     The degrees of the Symbolic Lodge are those of Entered Apprentice,
Fellowcraft and Master Mason.  The Entered Apprentice symbolizes youth and
the attainment of knowledge.  The Fellowcraft symbolizes manhood and the
application of knowledge, particularly the liberal arts and sciences and
architecture.  The Master Mason degree symbolizes age and the preparation we 
should all be making for the world to come.

     Each Grand Lodge and local Lodge have their own list of charities
which they support.  The Grand Lodge of Ohio sponsors the Summer Games of
the Ohio Special Olympics which are held June each year.  They also
provide child protection booklets which local Lodges use in
child fingerprinting programs which give parents information to use when a
child should be lost or kidnapped.  The Grand Lodge of Ohio also provides
a large amount of support to the Ohio Masonic Home located in Springfield,
Ohio.  Destitute Masons, their widows and orphans may be able to reside there.
Many Ohio Lodges participate in the Ohio Department of Transportation's
"Adopt-A-Highway" program. 

The International Guild Of M@sonic Webmasters
Jeff Slattery, MPS, KYCH, Fellow Webmaster
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