History Of Freemasonry
Many of our nation's early patriots were Freemasons, as well as thirteen signers of the Constitution and fourteen Presidents of the United States, beginning with George Washington.
Today, there are more than six million Freemasons around the world that come from virtually every occupation and profession. Within the Fraternity however, they all meet as equals. They come from diverse political ideologies, but they meet as friends. They come from virtually every religious belief, but they all believe in one God.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Freemasonry has been how so many men, from so many different walks of life, can meet together in peace, never have political or religious debates, always conduct their affairs in harmony and friendship, and call each other "Brother!"
Freemasons are respectable citizens who are taught to conform to the moral laws of society and abide by the laws of the government under which they live. They are men of charity and good works. They remain unchallenged as "the world's greatest philanthropy!"
The Freemasons of America contribute almost two million dollars every day to charitable causes, which they alone have established. These services to mankind represent an unparalleled example of the humanitarian commitment and concern of a unique and honorable Fraternity.
HISTORY OF FREEMASONRY
A Mason (or Freemason) is a member of a fraternity known as Masonry (or Freemasonry). A fraternity is a group of men who join together because there are things they want to do in the world, there are things they want to do "inside" their own minds and they enjoy being together with men they like and respect.
Masonry (or Freemasonry) is the oldest fraternity in the world. No one knows just how old it is because the actual origins have been lost in time. It arose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the castles and cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Possibly, they were influenced by the Knights Templar, a group of Christian warrior monks formed in 1118 to help protect pilgrims making trips to the Holy Land.
In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization in England when the first Grand Lodge was formed. A Grand Lodge is the administrative body in charge of Masonry in some geographical area. In the United States, there is a Grand Lodge in each state. In Canada, there is a Grand Lodge in each province. Local organizations of Masons are called lodges. There are lodges in most towns; the large cities usually have several. There are about 13,200 lodges in the United States.
The word "lodge" means both a group of Masons meeting in some place and the room or building in which they meet. Masonic buildings are also sometimes called "temples" because much of the symbolism Masonry uses to teach its lessons comes from the building of King Solomon's Temple in the Holy Land. The term "lodge" comes from the structures which the stonemasons built against the sides of the cathedrals during construction. In winter, when building had to stop, they lived in these lodges and worked at carving stone.
Masonry has a reputation of being “secretive.” Masons certainly don't make a secret of the fact that they are members of the fraternity. We wear rings, lapel pins and tie tacks with Masonic emblems like the Square and Compasses, the best known of Masonic signs which, logically, recalls the fraternity's roots in stonemasonry. Masonic buildings are clearly marked, and are usually listed in the phone book. Lodge activities are not secret picnics and other events are even listed in the newspapers, especially in smaller towns. Many lodges have answering machines which give the upcoming lodge activities. But there are some Masonic secrets, and they fall into two categories. The first are the ways in which a man can identify himself as a Mason; grips and passwords. We keep those private for obvious reasons. It is not at all unknown for unscrupulous people to try to pass themselves off as Masons in order to get assistance under false pretenses. The second group is harder to describe, but they are the ones Masons usually mean if we talk about "Masonic secrets." They are secrets because they literally can't be talked about, can't be put into words. They are the changes that happen to a man when he really accepts responsibility for his own life and, at the same time, truly decides that his real happiness is in helping others. “Secret societies" became very popular in America in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There were literally hundreds of them, and most people belonged to two or three. Many of them were modeled on Masonry, and made a great point of having many "secrets." And Masonry got ranked with them. But if Masonry is a secret society, it's the worst-kept secret in town.
Pictured above are some famous Masons: (left to right) President & Brother George Washington, Brother Benjamin Franklin, Brother Jose Navarro, Brother William B. Travis, Brother Sam Houston, Brother Lorenzo de Zavala, Brother Stephen Austin, President & Brother Theodore Roosevelt, Brother Charles Lindbergh, President & Brother Franklin D. Roosevelt, Brother Will Rogers, President & Brother Harry S. Truman, U.S. General & Brother Douglas S. MacArthur, Brother Norman Vincent Peale, Brother John Wayne and U.S. Lunar Astronaut & Brother Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin.
Q: How many Masons does it take to unscrew a light bulb?
A: It's a secret!
Q: How many Masons does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Three. One to screw it in, one to read the minutes of the previous light bulb replacement, and one to sit on the sidelines and complain that this wasn't the way they used to screw in light bulbs.
Q: How many Masons does it take to change a light bulb? A: After much research this tricky question can now be answered. It takes 20, as follows:
2 to complain that the light doesn't work.
1 to pass the problem to either another committee, the Temple Board or the Master of the Lodge.
3 to do a study on light in the Lodge.
2 to check out the types of lights the Knights of Columbus use.
3 to argue about it.
5 to plan a fund-raising dinner to raise money for the bulb.
2 to complain that "that's not the way we did it before."
1 to borrow a ladder, donate the bulb and install it.
1 to order the brass memorial plate and have it inscribed.
In the days of the old west, a young fellow held up a bank, and in so doing shot and killed the teller. Several people in the bank and outside saw him well enough to identify him as he rode out of town. A posse was formed and in short order had captured him and returned him to jail. He was duly tried and sentenced to hang for his crime. On the appointed day a scaffold had been erected outside the jail. The fellow was lead up the steps to the scaffold, the Judge read his sentence, and asked the fellow if he had anything to say. "I sure do, Judge. If it wasn't for the damn Masons I wouldn't be here." The Judge inquired to what he referred. "Well, the Sheriff who pursued me is a Mason, as were most of the posse. The jury was mostly Masons, and you, Judge, are a Mason. If it wasn't for the damn Masons I wouldn't be here." That being all he had to say, the Judge ordered the hangman to proceed. The hangman put a HOOD over his head, a ROPE around his neck, took him by the right arm and said, "Take one regular step forward with your left foot."
A postman, on his route, picked up a letter from a mailbox that was addressed to God. The postman seeing that the letter was not sealed, and there being no postage on it, opened and read it. It was from a man who was down on his luck and was asking God for help. The letter asked for $50 to get his family through the next week. The postman, being a Mason, took the letter to Lodge that evening, read it, and asked for donations for the unfortunate fellow. The Masons, wanting to help, took up a collection, and received twenty five dollars from the brethren. The Secretary placed the cash in a Lodge envelope, and gave it to the postman to deliver the following day, which he did. Another day passed, and the postman again found an unsealed letter in the mailbox addressed to God. Again he opened and read the letter, which thanked God for the money, but instructed him to send it through the Knights of Columbus next time as the Masons kept half.
A Doctor and Plumber are in the same Lodge. On Sunday Morning the Doctor wakes up to find his toilet blocked. So he rings the Plumber. "But I don't work Sundays! Can't it wait until tomorrow?" The Doctor said "I don't like working Sundays either but if you were in trouble, and felt unwell, Brother, I would come round to see you." "OK" says the Plumber and goes round to the Doctor. He goes upstairs and looks at the toilet, takes two aspirins from his pocket and throws them down the bowl. "There" he says If it's no better tomorrow give me a ring and I will call round.
Have you heard of the Lodge that was holding it's meetings in the ballroom of the local hotel while it's building was undergoing renovations? One night a traveling salesman asked the desk clerk who all those men going into the room were. The desk clerk replied "Oh, those are the Masons." The salesman said Oh, I've always wanted to join that lodge. Do you think they would let me in?" "Oh no," said the clerk, they're awful exclusive. Why, you see that poor guy standing outside the door with a sword? He's been knocking for six months and they still won't let him in!"
A man is walking through the recreation ground of his local park when he notices a huge fight in full fury on the football field he is passing. "What's going on?" he asks a spectator watching from the sidelines. The other replies "It's a match between the Masons and the Knights of Columbus." What's the score? asks the first man. "I don't know, it's a secret."
While visiting a newly initiated brother at home one day, his wife took me to one side and said her husband had started behaving very strange since joining. I enquired "In what way?" He locks himself in the bathroom for hours on end mumbling to himself with his little blue book. As the evening proceeded I turned the talk to lodge, and asked him how he was getting on. "Oh fine" was his reply. I asked him about his behavior and if there was anything wrong. "No" was his reply. So why read the book there? Well, he said "Its the only TYLED room in the house."
It seems a Jewish family had rented an apartment that sat directly under the Masonic Temple, and at least once a month they would always hear this stomping from above. One day Izzy told his wife he was going to drill a hole in the ceiling and see what those Masons were up to. After doing so, one evening, he heard some stomping coming from above, so he got his ladder, climbed up and decided to take a peek. After a few moments, he flew down the ladder and ran in and told his wife to pack all their belongings. "Let's get out of here and fast!!!" When she asked why, Izzy told her that he was just peeking in on the Masons above and saw them kill a man and said they were going to blame it on the "JEW-BELOW".
A little before Lodge is about to open an old man totters up to the Tyler and says, "I'm here to receive my 2nd degree." Well, they all look at this guy, who really is older than dirt, and they ask him to explain. "I was entered on July 4, 1922. Now I'm ready for my 2nd degree." So they go scurrying for the records, and sure enough, there was his name, entered on July 4, 1922. "Where have you been all these years? What took you so long to be ready for your 2nd?" they ask. He replied "I was learning to subdue my passions!"
A Candidate for initiation was to be picked up and driven to the Lodge, but before this could happen the car broke down. The Candidate said as no great distance was involved, he would go on his bicycle. Just when he reached the top of the hill his chain broke. As the Lodge was at the bottom of the other side and all he needed was a backpedal brake, so he repaired the chain with a cord he had in his pocket and free-wheeled downhill to the Lodge. Later that evening in reply to a toast in his honor, he said how proud he was to be a Freemason but could not understand, as he had told no one, how the Worshipful Master knew that he had come on his own free wheel and a cord.
There's a man, walking down the street at 1am in the morning and he's very drunk. A policeman stops him and asks "Where are you going in that condition?" The man says "II'mm on mmyy waayyy to a lectttuurre on FFreemmassonnrrry." The officer asks "Where can you possibly get a lecture on Freemasonry at this time of night?" The man responds "Frromm mmyy wifffe, wwhenn I gget homme!
Pat & Bill had been Lodge Brothers for many years. They had promised each other long ago that the first to go to the Grand Lodge above would return to tell the other whether there really were Lodges in Heaven and what they were like. By and by, it came to pass that Bill went first. One day shortly after, Pat was working in his garden when he heard a whispered voice, "Pssst Pat!" He looked around but saw nothing. A few moments later he heard, now quite clearly "Pat! It's me, Bill!" "Bill" Pat exclaimed, "are you in Heaven?" "Indeed I am" said Bill. Pat paused for a while to get over the shock and then said "Well, Bill, are there Lodges up there in Heaven?" "There certainly are, Pat. There are Lodges all over and they are quite magnificent, equal or better to Great Queen Street. The meetings are well attended, the ritual is word perfect, the festive board fantastic and the spirit of Masonic Fellowship is all pervasive." My goodness, Bill, said Pat, "It certainly sounds very impressive but for all that you seem rather sad. Tell me old friend, what is the matter." "Well, Pat, you are right. I have some good news and some bad." "OK, What's the good news?" "The good news is that we are doing a 3rd this coming Wednesday." "Great" said Pat. " What's the bad news then?" "You're the Senior Deacon!"
Some few years back, just after the introduction of Random Breath Testing, the police officers of a small country town had to show the community that the DUI Task Force was working. They decided to stake out the local Masonic Hall. As the night wore on, eventually a mason slowly came down the stairs and got into his car. The moment he started the engine the two officers approached him and asked him to "blow into the tube". He did, of course, but to the amazement of the officers proved negative. Fearing a faulty tube, they tried again, with the same results. Sure of a possible conviction they then escorted him to the police station to do a blood test, with it also proving negative. Being upset with this they then asked him what had gone on and what he had done that evening, to which he answered, "The Grand Master was there, the Grand Secretary was there, the Grand Stewards were there and we all had a great time, as to my job...I was the Grand Decoy".
A mason who had just been installed as Master of his lodge and was duly attending all the functions he could was having a hard time with his wife who said, "All those men have to do is click their fingers and you would be there wouldn't you? I wish I was master!" After due thought, he said, "So do I, we swap them for a new one every year!"
A small Lodge had had a string of bad luck. It was preparing to initiate a candidate on a steamy evening in June and it's air conditioner had stopped working. After sweating their way through part of the work, the Master had asked the candidate what he most desired. The candidate replied "a beer". At this juncture the WM, being startled, whispered "light" to the candidate. "OK," the candidate replied, "a lite beer."
A Mason was having trouble with his ritual, and was telling a fellow mason in a pub one day, and his friend said "I know a man down the road who sells parrots who know the ritual and prompt you when you have any trouble." So the next day, off he went to the shop, and the man said "yes I have three". He pulled a curtain across and there were 3 parrots, one with a mm apron on, one with a masters apron, and one with a grand lodge apron on. He asked "How much is the one with the masters apron on?" $2,000 and he knows all the ritual including the inner workings, and will always prompt you when you get stuck. "No", he said "too expensive." "What about the one with the MM apron on?" Well, that one is $1,000 and he knows all the ritual, but not the inner workings, but will always prompt you when learning it. "No, still too much...what about the one with the grand lodge apron on?" You can have him for $10. "Why so cheap? He must know all the ritual and the inner workings?" Oh yes, he knows all the ritual, but when you make a mistake all he does is sit there and goes tut! tut! tut!