Information originally published in a brochure by the
Masonic Information Center
8120 Fenton Street, Silver Springs, MD 20910-4785
Permission for use granted by Mr. Dick Fletcher of the Masonic Information Center 1/30/2009

Who Are The Masons?

Masons (also known as Freemasons) belong to the oldest and largest philanthropic men's organization in the world. Today there are more than two million Freemasons in North America. Masons represent virtually every occupation and profession, yet within the Brotherhood, all meet as equals. Masons come from diverse political ideologies, yet meet as friends. Masons come from varied religious beliefs and creeds, yet all believe in one God.

Many North America's early patriots were Freemasons. Thirteen signers of the Constitution and fourteen Presidents of the United States, including George Washington, were Masons. In Canada, the Father of the Confederation, Sir John A. MacDonald, was a Mason as were other early Canadian and American leaders.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Freemasonry is how so many men, from so many walks of life, can meet together in peace, always conducting their affairs in harmony and friendship and calling each other "Brother".

What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry (or Masonry) is dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of GOD. It uses the tools and implements of ancient architectural craftsman symbolically in a system of instruction designed to build character and moral values in its members. It singular purpose is to make good men better. Its bonds of friendship, compassion, and brotherly love have survived even the most divisive political, military, and religious conflicts through the centuries. Freemasonry is a Brotherhood which w=encourages its members to practice the faith of their personal acceptance. Masonry teaches that each person, through self-improvement and helping each other, has an obligation to make a difference for good in the world.

Where did Freemasonry begin?

No one knows just how old Freemasonry is because the actual origins have been lost in time. Most scholars believe Masonry rose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the majestic castles and cathedrals of the middle ages. In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization when four Lodges in London joined in forming England's first Grand lodge. By 1731, when Benjamin Franklin joined the Fraternity, there were already several Lodges in the Colonies, and in Canada the first Lodge was established in 1738.

Today, Masonic lodges are found in almost any community throughout North America, and in large cities there are usually several Lodges.

A Mason can travel to almost any country in the world and find a Masonic Lodge where he will be welcomed as a "Brother"

What Do Freemasons Do?

The Masonic experience encourages members to become better men, better husbands, better fathers, and better citizens. The bonds of Brotherhood formed in the Lodge help build lifelong friendships among men with similar goals and values.

Beyond its focus on individual development and growth, masonry is deeply involved in helping people. The Freemasons of north America contribute over two million dollars a day to charitable causes. This philanthropy represents an unparalleled example of the humanitarian commitment of this great organization. much of that assistance goes to people who are not Masons.

Some of these charities are vast projects. The Shrine Masons (Shriners) operate the largest network of hospitals for burned and orthopedically impaired children in the country, and there is never a fee for treatment. The Scottish Rite masons maintain a nationwide network of over 150 Childhood Language Disorder Clinics, Centers, and programs.

Many other Masonic organizations sponsor a variety of philanthropies, including scholarship programs for students, and perform public service activities in their communities. Among the other related organizations are the Royal Arch Masons, Cryptic Rite Masons, Knights Templar, Order of the Eastern Star for women, Order of Amaranth for women, The International order of BRainbow for girls, the Constellation of Triangle for girls and the Order of DeMolay for boys. Here in New York we take great pride in the work and accomplishments of the world famous Masonic Medical Research Laboratory (MMRL) and their close to 50 years of pioneering research into causes and cures for cardiac arrhythmias.

Our Masonic Care Community in Utica offers a state-of-the-art complex in a rural setting offering a continuum of medical support from independent living facilities, to assisted living apartments, to skilled nursing with the finest of care and compassion.

Masons also enjoy the frllowship of each other and their families in a wide variety of social and recreational activities.

Several Masonic Principles Are:

Faith must be the center of our lives

All men and women are the children of GOD.

No one has the right to tell another person what he or she must think or believe.

Each person has a responsibility to be a good citizen, obeying the law.

It is important to work to make the world a better place for all.

Honor and integrity are keys to a meaningful life.

The Masonic Compact

Because I am a Freemason ...

... I believe that Freedom of Religion is an inalienable right and Tolerance an indispensable trait of human character; therefore, I will stand in my Lodge with Brothers of all faiths, and respect their beliefs as they respect mine, and I will demonstrate the spirit of Brotherhood in all aspects of my life.

... I know that Education and rational use of the mind are the keys to facing the problems of humanity; therefore, I will bring my questions and ideas to my Lodge, and strive to advance the growth of my mind alongside my Brothers.

... I know that the rich tradition of Freemasonry and its framework of Ritual are important platforms for growth and learning; therefore, I vow to stand upon these platforms to improve myself as a human being, and I vow to help in the mission of the Craft to provide tools, atmosphere, challenges and motivation to help each Brother to do the same.

... I know that charity is the distinguishing human virtue, and that personal comunity service is the best demonstration of one's commitment to humanity; I acknowledge that words without deeds are meaningless, and I vow to work with my Lodge to provide service to the community, and to promote charity, friendship, morality, harmony, integrity, fidelity and love.

... I know that my obligation to community extends beyond my local sphere and is partly fulfilled in my patrioism: love of my country, obedience to its laws and celebration of its freedoms and opportunities it symbolizes.

... I know that leasdership is best demonstrated by commitment to serving others; I will therefore participate in, and help work at improving indivdual leadership skills, and serve the Brothers of my Lodge to the best of my ability.

... I know that friendship, fidelity and family are the foundations of a well-lived life; I therefore vow to be a faithful friend to my Brothers, as I expect my Lodge to respect my personal obligations, and to treat my family as though my family were their own.

... I know that the last great lesson of Freemasonry- the value of personal integrity and the sanctity of one's word- is a lesson for all people in all times; I therefore vow to be a man of my word.

... I know that Masonry's power is best exercised when its Light is shared with the world at large; I therefore vow to bring the the best of myself to my Lodge, in order that my growth might be fostered and nurtured, and to present myself to the world as a working Freemason, on the path to building a more perfect temple.

Because I am a Freemason, these values and aspirations are guideposts for my progress through life.

Who Can Qualify To Join?

Applicants must be men of good character, age 21 years or older, who believe in a Supreme Being. To become a Mason one must petition a particular Lodge. The Master of the Lodge appoints a committee to visit the applicant prior to the Lodge balloting upon his petition.

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