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Before You Enter....

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 you.

    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 reform.

    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.

    As 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 lodge.

    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.

    Freemasonry 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 from you?

    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.

The Importance of Symbolism

    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

 

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