In 1983, the Education Department of the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts, AF&AM in conjunction with their 250th Anniversary as the
oldest regular and duly constituted Grand Lodge in the Western Hemisphere under
the leadership of Grand Master J. Philip Berquist published a series of booklets
titled "Discovering Freemasonry". Below is Book I of the series:
BEFORE YOU ENTER
(or AT THE THRESHOLD)
Welcome to the door of Freemasonry. You have
been approved for membership in our fraternity, and we look forward to greeting
As you know, an application for the degrees
in Masonry must be voluntary and unsolicited. It is an unwritten Masonic
law that no one be asked to become a Mason. The sole motive of the
applicant must be a sincere desire to improve himself and to serve his
fellowmen. His vows are made of his own free will, and he agrees to
conform to the established usages of the fraternity.
What should you expect from Masonry?
The Masonic fraternity is not a club, a
mutual benefit society, a means of entertainment nor an organization for social
It is a joint effort for individual
self-improvement. It seeks to cultivate the art of living and the building
of character. It teaches a philosophy of life which seeks to bring peace
and happiness to all mankind through the building of our own spiritual temples
on solid foundations.
Do not accept Freemasonry as a substitute for
religion. Masonic teachings will reinforce your belief in a Supreme Being
but your religious convictions are your own.
of your own volition you made application for
the degrees. You sought the recommendation of a friend whom you know to be
a Mason. You were thoroughly investigated. You were found
worthy. You are now an Apprentice.
soon as you have received your first degree, you will be known as an Entered
Apprentice. Throughout the ceremonies you will also be termed a Candidate,
a title you will retain until you are fully qualified for membership in your
In your progress through the degrees of
the Symbolic Lodge you will be "initiated" an Entered Apprentice,
"passed" to the degree of Fellowcraft, and "raised" to the
sublime degree of Master Mason.
countenances no horseplay in its ceremonies. The degrees are of a serious
nature, and you need have no apprehensions whatsoever about the manner of your
reception into each degree.
What does Freemasonry expect
Prepare your self for
initiation. Your primary duty is to approach each degree calmly and
solemnly. Come with an open and receptive mind, eager to learn and
confident that you will be in the hands of real friends, with nothing to fear.
In each degree you will note a significant characteristic of the ritual is in
its use of symbols. These express ideas visually through comparison and
are more impressive than words. Seeing these symbols in the degree will
help you to understand the purposes of Freemasonry.
Importance of Symbolism
plays a vital role in the Masonic ritual. You will find that the symbols
will help you to understand the precepts of Masonry.
When you knock at the door of Freemasonry, may it open for you a new meaning for
your life filled with opportunity.
Those who are preparing for their initiatory degree may wish to
read the article on this site titled Preparation.
In addition, we've added a short piece, famous for many decades, which talks of
the true friendships of Freemasonry and resonates with Masons both then and now:
The Lodge Room Over Simpkins' Store