Being Quoted in “A Light in the Darkness”

One of the coolest moments in my Masonic career so far. A mysterious package arrived for me, but at the Fort Worth Temple, where I (almost) never receive mail. In it, I found a book titled Loge Liberté chérie: A Light in the Darkness.

Alexander P. Herbert, a brother from Ohio, wrote a book about Loge Liberté chérie, the secret lodge chartered by Belgian Resistance fighters inside Esterwegen concentration camp during the Holocaust. He quoted me in the book’s introduction!

The book is a quick read, but incredibly moving. It captures both how positively heartbreaking their conditions were, but also how powerful and uplifting the resilience of the human spirit can be.

I have written a letter of thanks back to him – this has floored me.

A Pentecost Blessing

Happy Pentecost, brethren.

Today, in the Western Christian Church, it is Pentecost – the great feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the disciples of Christ after the Ascension. While it is a Christian holiday, I think that all brethren, regardless of their faith, can appreciate the allegorical and alchemical symbolism involved, much in the same sense as the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite does.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

Acts 2:1-6

I don’t want to connect the dots too much for y’all, because it’s more fun to sit and contemplate individually. However, I encourage meditation on the idea of  “I N R I” as a spiritual process of regeneration through the sacred fire of truth and love (AASR 18°).

May Love and Truth purify us all, helping us to become our higher selves while growing in the knowledge of the Divine, and may we all find ways to live and serve the glory of the Great Architect of the Universe.

Pax.

The Legalities of Masonic Learning

This was a Junior Warden’s Law Talk for the November 2019 stated meeting of Fort Worth Lodge № 148, AF&AM.


There are many laws that the Grand Lodge has laid down about teaching & and learning. These laws establish a set of rules that we have to follow to stay out of trouble.

Article 127 states that “no ritual other than that promulgated by this Grand Lodge shall be taught or used in this Jurisdiction.”1 To “promulgate” something is to promote it or make it “widely known.”2

This means that we can’t:

  • teach you an alternative trial lecture, or
  • use the ritual from another Jurisdiction, or
  • make up our own work.

There’s a grand tradition in Masonry of pointing out how different Grand Lodge laws don’t work. The most literal interpretation of this law’s phrasing is a good example of this. At face value, it means that teaching a candidate incorrect work by accident is also against the law! It also begs a few questions:

  • How do we define “ritual?”
  • The full-form degree lectures are no longer made “widely known” by the Grand Lodge. Are the full-form lectures legal?
  • Are the funeral services considered ritual? If so, are the services that are no longer included in the Monitor, and thus no longer promulgated, legal to use?

Article 138 states that if the holder of an esoteric certificate asks a lodge or Mason(s) to “employ or accept his services to teach or exemplify the work” shall lose his certificate. 3

Two things worth noting are:

  • there’s no mention of receiving compensation.
  • “Employ or accept his services” isn’t defined in the text.

Let’s use another literal interpretation. If I walk up to an Entered Apprentice and tell him, “let me teach you the work,” I am breaking the law.

Article 139 states that you can’t exemplify ritual or be compensated for it unless you hold an esoteric certificate.4 This means that you can’t lead a floor school if you don’t hold a certificate. It may also bar you from instructing students. The language of “receive compensation therefor” also seems to imply that you can be paid for leading a floor school. Article 142 supports this, in that no compensation can occur for a floor school unless the lodge authorizes and pays for it to happen in a lodge room. <sup>5</sup>

Article 140 states that we can ask any member of the Committee on Work or any certificate holder to teach the work. <sup>6</sup>

There several types of Masons who may not receive instruction in the work:

  • Someone suspended for non-payment of dues. <sup>7</sup>
  • An Entered Apprentice or Fellowcraft whose advancement was protested. <sup>8</sup>
  • An Entered Apprentice or Fellowcraft who is required to petition for advancement due to lapse of time. <sup>9</sup>

Article 439.2 states that a Master Mason who goes ninety days without during in his proficiency is automatically suspended. It also states that he can still receive instruction and be examined in an open lodge. <sup>10</sup> Master Masons will want to pay close attention to that point. This article means that Grand Lodge law allows for members of the lodge to or, sit in lodge with a suspended Mason. That would be a violation of our obligation.

It shall also be a Masonic disciplinary violation for a Lodge, a committee or any combination of Masons, or an individual Mason to possess, or use a cipher/code book on a Lodge premises, or to use a cipher/code book or access a cipher/code book in any form, including electronic access, in the presence of a candidate when instructing the candidate in the esoteric work of a Masonic Degree. <sup>11</sup>

Title V, Chapter 2, Article 508.24

That one speaks for itself.

In short, there’s a lot of ways to be unpleasantly surprised, legally speaking, when instructing or learning. It’s important that we pay attention to these kinds of laws. We don’t want anyone to get in trouble just for trying to progress in Masonry, or participating in lodge activities.

Notes

  1. Grand Lodge of Texas. The Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas A.F. & A.M. Containing the Corporate Charter, the Constitution and Ancient Charges, the Statutes and Masonic Forms. Revised 2019. Title I, Chapter 17 “Committee on Work”, Article 127 “Ritual”.
  2. Merriam-Webster, s.v. “promulgate,” accessed November 11, 2019, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/promulgate
  3. Grand Lodge of Texas. The Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas A.F. & A.M. Containing the Corporate Charter, the Constitution and Ancient Charges, the Statutes and Masonic Forms. Revised 2019. Title I, Chapter 17 “Committee on Work”, Article 138 “Certificates: Forfeiture.”
  4. Ibid. Article 139 “Esoteric Work: Who May Exemplify.”
  5. Ibid. Article 142 “Esoteric Work: Schools of Instruction.”
  6. Ibid. Article 140 “Esoteric Work: Employing Instructor.”
  7. Ibid. Title II, Chapter 18, Article 323 “Effect of Suspension.”
  8. Ibid. Title IV, Chapter 4, Article 434 “Procedure After Rejection.”
  9. Ibid. Article 434a “Procedure After Lapse of Time.”
  10. Ibid. Article 439.2 “Examination in Master’s Degree.”
  11. Ibid. Title IV, Chapter 2, Article 508.24 “Certain Other Masonic Disciplinary Violations.”

Who Says You Can’t Afford a Beautiful Lodge?

https://dwightlongenecker.com/who-says-you-cant-afford-a-beautiful-church-2/

Here’s a great article I found about building a beautiful budget-minded church. Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Greenville, SC. They had to build their building on a fairly limited budget (for a church), and still did a really great job. If you want to read the detailed version of his ten-point article, click through, but these are the points (in short):

  1. Use modern building techniques.
  2. Use church salvage companies.
  3. Decide that the building will be beautiful.
  4. Beautiful buildings are possible in the modern age.
  5. If you’re building a church, you’re going to spend several million.
  6. Convert a Protestant building.
  7. Use experts.
  8. Money isn’t everything.
  9. Build a church suitable for your people.
  10. Spend money on what matters.

How can we apply this to masonic lodges? Obviously, as non-sectarian fraternity chapter, a masonic lodge will have different needs than a Roman Catholic parish, but there’s a lot of cross-applicational value to what Fr. Longenecker is proposing. In fact, the following points are applicable to masonic lodge buildings without any commentary or modification:

  • Use modern building techniques.
  • Decide that the building will be beautiful.
  • Beautiful buildings are possible in the modern age.
  • Money isn’t everything.

Let’s talk about Fr. Longenecker’s other points, and how they would apply to a masonic lodge building.

2. Use church salvage companies.

Fr. Longenecker recommends using church salvage companies such as King Richard’s Liturgical Design for large items and Used Church Items for small items. It is entirely possible to also procure items for a masonic lodge from companies like this. In particular, pew-style seating and altars come to mind. Many lodges have had great success when renovating their buildings by ripping out the commonly-used theater-style seating and replacing them with elegant pews – why not try this with new construction?

The Grand Lodge of your jurisdiction can also be very helpful in this case. Many times, when a lodge demises, consolidates, and so forth, there is simply nowhere for its furniture, regalia, etc, to go. Because of this, many Grand Lodge buildings are home to closets filled to the brink with useful lodge furniture that just needs to be rehabilitated. Auction houses are a very viable solution as well, as useful paraphernalia can often be acquired at very reasonable prices.

It is also possible for furniture to be made by members of the lodge. Creating a full set of lodge furniture would be a very involved task, but fortunately, the vast majority of it can be built out of wood using designs that are both simple and elegant. It could be a fantastic opportunity for team-building and casual hangouts in a brother’s workshop.

5. If you’re building a [lodge], you’re going to spend several million.

Brethren, there’s no bones about it: it is not cheap to build a new lodge building. Let’s use the 1921 blueprints (by architect David Castle) for Breckenridge Lodge #492. Those plans show a two-story building with exterior dimensions of 100′-0″ by 33′-4″ and an interior space of approximately 6000 sqft.

Based on current construction cost estimates that I was available to find online, I estimate that in 2019, it would cost anywhere from $1.5 million to $2.8 million to construct and finish-out this building prior to furnishing it, and not including the cost of land. I encourage you to do your own math on this – I’m just working off of the back of a napkin, so to speak.

A larger building will, of course, cost more. This is where we start to see the real advantage of temples being used by multiple bodies. Sure, this might be impossible for most lodges on their own, but what if you pooled together the resources of any combination of:

  • One or more lodges
  • A Royal Arch Chapter
  • A Cryptic Council
  • A Commandery
  • A Scottish Rite Club
  • A Shrine Club
  • An Eastern Star Chapter
  • A Grotto
  • and so forth?

Looking at spending upwards of $2-3 million is daunting, but if it’s a group effort, it’s more feasible to accomplish it.

6. Convert a Protestant building.

Obviously, Fr. Longenecker’s article is discussing this for the purposes of converting a Protestant church into a Roman Catholic church, but the same can be applied to lodges. There is a long history of lodges meeting in converted former churches. Outside of my jurisdiction (Grand Lodge of Texas), there are even lodges that meet within current functioning churches! Webb Lodge № 1454, AF&AM, located in Arlington, Texas, meets in a former church. It’s a modestly-sized space that’s been adapted extremely well for the needs of both Webb Lodge and Webb Chapter (OES).

There is also the possibility of buying a building from another fraternal order. The Knights of Pythias, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and so forth, are all suffering from the same membership issues as Freemasonry. If a local non-masonic fraternal body is selling their building, it may be possible to adapt for masonic use with relatively few changes.

7. Use experts.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who can I talk to who has built a lodge building within the past few years?
  • What are our practical needs as a lodge, and how to we build the lodge to fulfill those?
  • What are our ritualistic needs, and how to we build the lodge to fulfill those?
    • Know your ritual and how to confer it.
    • Consider reaching out to a member of the Committee on Work.
  • From a masonic perspective, what are the legal requirements of my lodge building?
    • Read your lawbook.
    • Talk to your DDGM. He’ll either know, or refer you to someone that does.

9. Build a [lodge] suitable for your people.

ADA (TAS in Texas) compliance is a no-brainer. You’ve got to do it. Even when not legally required to, it is a duty to all of our brethren to make sure that our buildings are safe and accessible. However, this is, or should be, a given, so it’s not the focus of this point.

What do your members want to see in your new lodge building? We are taking point #3 seriously and deciding that the building will be beautiful. What kind of beautiful building do you want to build? Modern? Classic? Flexible? Themed? Remember, this will be a group decision. I’m personally a huge fan of brutalist architecture, but a lot of brethren are probably looking for something a little more classic. Look to cathedrals, museums, and palaces. Find places of beauty, no matter what style. Find what your brethren want and need, not only in form, but in function, and design your lodge accordingly.

What will your lodge members use the building for? We surely want the lodge to be used for more than just ritual work. Here are spaces that, in Texas, we are required to have as a bare minimum:

  • A lodge room
  • An anteroom for candidate preparation
  • An anteroom for the Tiler

And that’s it. But what about a dining room? Here are some spaces/rooms you may want to consider including in your design, based off of the needs of your lodge:

  • Restrooms
    • Restroom anterooms for privacy
  • Family restroom with a changing table
  • Dining room large enough to rent out for parties
  • Kitchen large enough to serve said dining room
  • Coat rooms!
    • To leave personal suits in
    • To store degree costumes in
  • Royal Arch “Basement”
  • Prelate’s Apartment
  • Showers & locker rooms for brethren that work in the heat
  • Walk-in storage closets for each lodge and body that meets in the building.
    • Minimize the amount of stuff stored in the lodge room itself!
  • Conference room with a projector
  • Lounge with couches, a coffee counter, a wet bar (if legal), a pool table, etc
  • Admin office spaces with working space and storage for each secretary/recorder and a shared private room for phone calls

The possibilities are endless, really.

Consider building retail space into your design. A traditional model for lodge buildings that is still used with great success today is to rent out the first floor of the temple as restaurant or retail space, and use the upper floor(s) for masonic purposes. There are some lodges out there that are able to completely cover their operating costs in this manner.

10. Spend money on what matters.

What matters to your lodge? What are you going to use most? Make sure that the elements of your lodge that will see the most use are your highest priority in quality:

  • Seating for members and officers
  • The secretary’s desk
  • Doors
  • The altar
  • The dining area

What’s your priority?

Giving Thanks for Pilate’s Accusation

This was an educational talk for the October 2019 stated meeting of Worth Commandery № 19, KT.


Giving Thanks for Pilate’s Accusation:

A Perspective from the Maltese Priory

Context

According to the Gospels, when Pontius Pilate sentenced Jesus of Nazareth to execution by crucifixion, he ordered that a sign be placed over Jesus’ head while on the cross. The exact phrasing of the sign is unclear, but the most famous rendition is from John 19:19-20, which reads as follows:

Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

This title, which was a criminal accusation from Pilate, has survived to present day, and evolved into a title of unparalleled honor among Christians for Jesus of Nazareth, now Jesus the Christ. It is represented by the Latin initialism INRI.

History of the Term

There are two primary terms related to INRI. The first is the title “King of the Jews,” which was used exclusively by Gentiles such as the Magi, Pilate, the Romans, and so forth. The Jewish population of Judea instead used the term “King of Israel.” Each group objected to the other group’s epithet towards Jesus for different reasons, while Pilate himself objected to the use of the term “King,” due to the implication of revolution against his governorship of Judea. The author of the Gospel of Mark himself makes a careful and conscious distinction between the two terms, and who uses them.

The first reference to “King of the Jews” that we see is in Matthew 2:1-2, when the Magi talk to Herod, asking “where is the child who has been born King of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” This sets a terrible series of events into movement. Herod tries to interrogate the Magi, but fails. His failure to discover the identity of the perceived pretender to the throne leads to a genocidal edict to kill all Bethlehemite males under the age of three.

The first reference to either term in the Passion Narratives occurs during Jesus’ interrogation by Pilate. In each of the Gospels, Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (Matthew 27:11, Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3, John 18:33). In the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, & Luke), Jesus replies, “You say so.” However, in John 18:33-37, the exchange is substantially different:

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

After interrogating Jesus, Pilate has him scourged and humiliated. The soldiers clothe him in purple robes and a crown of thorns, mocking his status as a “king” (Matthew 27:29-30, Mark 15:17-19, John 19:2-3). The primary criminal charge leveled against Jesus is claiming to be a king (John 19:12). Once Jesus is crucified, some version of “The King of the Jews” is placed over his head (Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38, Matthew 27:37, John 19:19-20). According to some translations of Luke 23:28, such as the ones found in the 1599 Geneva Bible and the King James Version, it was specifically written in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. The last use of “King of the Jews” occurs in Luke 23:36-37 and Matthew 27:42 when the Roman soldiers mock Jesus as he is dying on the cross.

Use by the Church

The Early Church often referred to Jesus as the “King of the Judeans.” This was a huge risk for members to take, as this was tantamount to treason, and by calling themselves “followers of Jesus,” they were essentially associating themselves with a revolutionary agent. This was more strongly emphasised by Christ’s name, which we have Romanized as “Jesus,” but was originally Yeshua or “Joshua,” and meant “liberator.” 1

As the Early Church evolved into the Western Church and the Eastern Church, so too did the initialism used on representations of the cross. The Western Church uses INRI, which stands for the Latin phrase IESUS NAZARENUS REX IUDAEORUM. The Eastern Church instead uses INBI, which is the initialism of the Greek phrase, IESUS HO NAZORAEOS HO BASILEUS TON IUDAEON. 2 The Greek word basileus means “monarch,” usually in reference to a king or an emperor. 3 The Eastern Church also frequently uses the variant INBK, for IESUS HO NAZORAEOS HO BASILEUS TU KOSMU, which translates to English as “Emperor of the Universe” instead of “King of the Jews.” According to Catholic tradition, Saint Helena (who is revered by both the Western and Eastern Churches) brought the tablet with the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew inscriptions to Rome. 4

Esoteric Latin Interpretations

There are a number of Latin sayings or mottos that have been generated from INRI. 5 Among them include:

  • In Necis Renascor Integer – In Death I Am Reborn Intact and Pure.
  • Iustum Necare Reges Impios – It is Just to Kill Impious Kings
  • Igne Nitrum Roris Invenitur – By Fire, the Nitre of the Dew is Discovered
  • Intra Nobis Regnum Iehova – The Kingdom of God is Within Us

Of note are two particular versions which have been carried into many esoteric traditions, including some degrees in Freemasonry 6:

  • Igne Natura Renovatur Integra – By Fire, Nature Renews
  • Insignia Naturae Ratio Illustrat –  Reason Illuminates Nature’s Symbols  

Esoteric Hebrew Interpretations

Esoteric traditions often tie the letters of INRI to the Hebrew words yam, nur, ruach, and yebeshas. 7 Yam translates to “vast body of water,” and represents the element of water. Nur translates to “fire.” Ruach translates to “breath” or “wind” and represents air. According to Albert Mackey, yebeshas was translated by Jean Baptiste Marie Ragon to mean “earth” 8, although there is little evidence that this is even a real Hebrew word. Regardless, if this is the correct interpretation, then the word INRI is a representation of Jesus Christ as the Creator of all.

One of the more interesting interpretations of INRI is drawn using letter-based correspondences from an esoteric Hebrew text called the Book of Formation, written some time between the 2nd Century BC and the
2nd Century AD. The Book of Formation describes correspondences between Hebrew letters, elements, numbers, planets, and Zodiac signs. From Formation, we can draw this cycle, as described in Modern Magick by Donald Kraig 9:

  • “I” is tied to Yod, which corresponds to Virgo. It represents untouched nature and birth.
  • “N” is tied to Nun, which corresponds to Scorpio. It represents death.
  • “R” is tied to Reesh, which corresponds to the Sun. It represents light and resurrection.
  • The final “I” once again represents untouched nature and birth.

This correspondence gives us the basic function of man’s journey to Christ. We are born in our natural state. We choose to die in Christ and be resurrected in Christ. We are reborn as new beings. This applies to both our emotional and spiritual journey in Christ while on Earth as well as our journey to and past Judgement Day. This is the process of INRI.

Exactly What it Says on the Tin

The most important of the inscriptions above Christ’s head, however, may have been the one in Hebrew. It read, Yshu Hnotsri Wmlk Hyhudim, which, when initialized, gives us the letters “Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh,” the ineffable Hebrew name of God. Pilate, probably unknowingly and unintentionally, declared exactly who Jesus was to the world at large. When challenged by the Jewish leaders to change the inscription, he gave us the famous response, “Quod scripsi, scripsi,” or, “what I have written, I have written.”

Sources

  1. Wren, Brian A. Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany: Liturgies and Prayers for Public Worship. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.
  2. Doornbos, Daniel. “Definition and Meaning of INRI.” Research Paper, Golden State College, Masonic Societas Rosicruciana In Civitatibus Foederatis, 2008.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Weiss, Roberto. The Renaissance Discovery of Classical Antiquity. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1969.
  5. Zeldis, León. Masonic Symbols and Signposts. Lancaster, VA: Anchor Communications, 2003.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Mackey, Albert G, and Charles T McClenachan. An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences. 2nd ed. L. H. Everts & Co., 1884.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Kraig, Donald Michael. Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2011.

The How & What of Petitioning

This was an educational talk on Grand Lodge law for the September 2019 stated meeting of Fort Worth Lodge № 148.


This month’s Grand Lodge Law presentation is focused less on interpretation, and more on the summary & explaination of seventeen laws that affect petitions, petitioners, and petitioning. There is some overlap with jurisdictional law, investigation committees, etc, but those will be discussed at a different time.

Gabe’s Notes on Petition Law

Article 308 1

You can change your dues and degree fees as you need to, but you can’t collect more from or rebate a petitioner once he’s turned in his fees if they were the correct amount at the time of his petition.

Article 393 2

A man has to be “free-born,” mentally sound, morally good, and eighteen years old. It’s worth noting here that he has to be eighteen when the petition is received, not when he makes the petition. In theory, your lodge could legally be petitioned by a seventeen-year-old, you just can’t read his petition in lodge until he’s eighteen.

He also must disclose any physical limitations or disabilities that preveent him from earning his own living, or limit his ability to give or receive anything Masonically, as required by ritual.

Any person that has been found Guilty of (or pleaded No Content to) any criminal charges related to pedophilia is completely disqualified from even submitting a petition. You can’t even read his petition in lodge.

Once those basic ground rules are met, the candidate’s mental, moral, and physical qualifications are up to the lodge.

Article 393a 3

You can extend a “neutrally-worded invitation” to a guy you think would make a good Mason. You have to let him make his own decision once you answer his questions and explain how to petition.

Article 394 4

Petitioners must have lived within Texas and the jurisdiction of the lodge for six months, and “be known” to at least three members of the lodge (who are in good standing), neither of whom can be the two recommenders.

There’s also a number of take-aways regarding how the location of your domicile is GENERALLY defined:

  • Your domicile is where you have the right to vote, sit on juries, etc.
  • If you’re married, your domicile is where your wife resides (unless you’re permanently separated).
  • If you temporarily move away, with the intent to return, you are still considered domiciled wherever you moved from and intend to return to.
  • With exception of military personell, transient people cannot lawfully petition.
  • Someone who hasn’t been domiciled in the jurisdiction of this state and a lodge for at least six months is “Masonically speaking, a man without a country,” and can’t petition.
  • EAs/FCs must be domiciled within the state, but not necessarily in the jurisdiction of a lodge.

Article 395 5

Military personell and people living in countries with no Grand Lodge are excempt from domicile requirements.

Article 399 6

If a petitioner that he has previously petitioned a lodge, the process must immediately stop until your lodge gets a full copy of all records related to that petitioner from the other lodge, and can verify that he can legally take the degrees.

Article 400 7

If your lodge has reason to believe or even just suspect he has been rejected before, the same applies as in Article 399.

Article 403 8

Key take-aways:

  • Petitions must be in writing.
  • Petitions can only be received at stated meetings.
  • Petitions must include all information requested on Form No. 26.
  • Recommenders must sign in person – a scanned copy is not sufficient.
  • If one (or both) of the two recommenders is suspended, expelled, or dies before the petition is received, the candidate will need a replacement recommender.
  • Petitioners need to provide a certified or photocopied copy of their birth certificate with their petition. If they don’t have one, then the Grand Master may issue a certificate of approval.
  • Any legal name changes must be disclosed and explained, with relevant documents attached to the birth certificate.

Article 404 9

The candidate must answer six specific questions addressing his willingness to follow fraternal regulations, his motivations, his religious beliefs, and whether or not he has petitioned before.

Article 405 10

Petitions are considered “received” when they are read in open lodge. If a petition is legally sound, then it must be referred to an investigation committee and follow the normal process of investigation and balloting, unless the petitioner provides a written statement requesting withdrawal. If a petitioner withdraws, he must still disclose this as an attempt to petition a lodge on any future petitions.

Article 405a 11

You can’t publish the names of a petitioner in a lodge newsletter or any “news media.”

Article 406 12

Unlawful presentations of petitions must be returned to the petitioner. A lodge not having jurisdiction over a petitioner may let the petitioner withdraw, or apply for a waiver of jurisdiction.

Article 410 13

If a petitioner dies or becomes mentally incompetent before the report of the investigative committee is made, this should be reported to the lodge, the committee discharged, and all fees returned to whoever is authorized to receive money on behalf of the petitioner, with no further action taken.

Article 411 14

If a petitioner is found to be totally disqualified in the investigation, this should be reported to the lodge, and the fee returned, with no further action taken.

Article 452 15

An eligible petitioner may petition any constituent lodge of the Grand Lodge of Texas.

Article 508-16 16

It is a masonic offense to lie about or not disclose having been previously blackballed.

Article 508-17 17

It is a masonic offense to lie about or not disclose having previously petitioned.

Footnotes

  1. Art. 308. Lodge May Fix Fees Above Minimum. A Lodge may by its by-laws fix, or by amendment thereto from time to time raise or lower the fees for the degrees or any of them in any amount equal to or above the minimum prescribed in the foregoing Art. 307; provided that the fees in effect at the time a petition for the degrees or advancement is filed with the secretary shall be charged to the petitioner.
  2. Art. 393. Qualifications. A candidate for the degrees of Masonry must be free-born, sound in mind, of good moral character, a full eighteen years of age on or before the day his petition is received by the Lodge, and disclose any known physical limitations or disabilities which will render him incapable of earning his own living or receiving and imparting, Masonically, all that is required by the ritual of the several degrees. However, an individual who has been found guilty of, or has pleaded no contest to charges of pedophilia (such as Indecency with a Child by sexual contact or any other means, Aggravated Sexual Assault with a child by any means, Sexual Assault with a Child by any means) shall be disqualified to submit a petition for the degrees of Masonry. After the foregoing requirements have been strictly met, the question of the candidate’s mental, moral, and such physical qualifications is one to be decided within the sound discretion of the members of the Lodge petitioned. (Revised 2019)
  3. Art. 393a. Solicitation. This Grand Lodge supports and practices the ancient custom and usage among Masons that a man is required to present himself for the Degrees of Masonry of his own free will and accord. At the same time, it acknowledges to all Masons of its obedience, that it is permissible and proper to extend a neutrally-worded invitation to petition for the Degrees of Masonry to a man whom you have strong reason to believe is of good moral character and reputation, who is otherwise qualified to petition under the Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas. After answering the non-Mason’s questions about the Fraternity (those proper to be discussed) and explaining the procedure for petitioning, the potential candidate should be left to make his own decision and to proceed of his own free will. (Adopted 1992)
  4. Art. 394. (431). Domicile Requirements. Every candidate for the degrees of Masonry must have been domiciled within this Grand Jurisdiction for six months; and within the jurisdiction of a Lodge for six months before the date of his petition, and be known to at least three members in good standing of a Lodge or Lodges chartered by this Grand Lodge or a Grand Lodge duly recognized by this Grand Lodge, none of whom may be either of the two required recommenders. (Revised 1995)

Note: In determining the place of a man’s domicile for Masonic territorial jurisdictional purposes, the following general rules apply:

  1. Domicile means the place of a person’s permanent residence; where he has the right to vote, to sit on juriesand to exercise other rights and privileges of citizenship.
  2. A married man’s domicile is usually where his wife resides, but where there is a permanent separation, the husband’s domicile is governed by the rules applicable to an unmarried man.
  3. When a man (married or single) moves away from his domicile for the purpose of attending school, educating his children, engaging in business or other purpose, but does not intend to abandon his domicile, but intends at some time in the future to return to it and retains his rights of citizenship there, he does not thereby lose such domicile, regardless of the length of his absence therefrom. In like manner, if such person’s business takes him from place to place for short or long periods of time, his domicile is not thereby changed.
  4. When a person moves away from his domicile for any purpose, with the intention of not returning thereto, he thereby ceases to be domiciled in that place. He may acquire a domicile in his new place of abode by residence there with the intention of making it his domicile, and exercising or acquiring the right to exercise his rights and privileges of citizenship.
  5. When a person has never lived in one place long enough to acquire a domicile, but is a transient person, moving from place to place, he cannot lawfully apply to any Lodge in this State for the degrees in Masonry, since no Lodge has territorial jurisdiction over him. The only exception to this rule is that provided in Art. 395.
  6. A person domiciled in this State who has never received any degree in Masonry and who has not been domiciled in this State at least six months and in the jurisdiction of a Lodge for the last preceding six months, is ineligible, during any such period, to apply to any Lodge anywhere for the degrees. He is, “Masonically speaking, a Man without a country.”
  7. Rule 6 and the provisions of this article regarding the length of time one must be domiciled in this State and in the jurisdiction of some Lodge do not apply to an EA or FC seeking advancement. He must, however, be domiciled in this State, unless some Lodge in this State holds personal jurisdiction over him.
  1. Art. 395. (432). In Armed Services: Countries Without Grand Lodge. The foregoing requirements regarding domicile do not apply to residents of countries having no Grand Lodge: nor to a person having no domicile, who, at the time his petition is received is on active duty as a soldier, sailor, marine or air- man, either commissioned or non-commissioned in the Armed Forces of the United States, and furnishes evidence that he has no domicile, and documentary evidence of such service; all such evidence to be retained by the Lodge with his application.
  2. Art. 399. (436). Former Petition. If the candidate should answer that he has heretofore petitioned another Lodge, all action of the Lodge toward conferring a degree shall be suspended until it shall be shown that the candidate is legally entitled to receive the degree. The Lodge receiving the petition shall request full information from the Lodge theretofore petitioned, and the Lodge theretofore petitioned shall furnish under seal of the Lodge all information shown by the records of said Lodge to the Lodge inquiring.
  3. Art. 400. (438). Suspicion of Former Rejection. A Lodge having reason to believe or to suspect that a candidate has once been rejected, must not proceed with conferring the degrees until the matter has been thoroughly investigated. If it is discovered that a candidate has a prior rejection from any regular Lodge, and if that Lodge still possesses jurisdiction, all action upon the petition must cease. All fees that have been prepaid shall be refunded, and the facts of the matter shall be disclosed at the next stated meeting and noted in the minutes. (Revised 2012)
  4. Art. 403. (440). Petition for Degrees: Requisites. A candidate for the degrees must file with the Secretary of the Lodge a petition in writing, which must be presented to the Lodge at a stated meeting only. The petition must state the name of the petitioner in full; his age; date and place of birth; his domicile during the preceding twelve months; and shall contain all other matters required by law and Form No. 26. Said petition shall be signed by the petitioner in person and shall be recommended and the application personally signed by not less than two members of the Lodge. In the event of death, expulsion or suspension of either or both signers before the petition is received, it will be necessary to obtain other qualified signers. A certified or photostatic copy of petitioner’s birth certificate must accompany the petition, which shall be retained as a permanent record of the Lodge, or withdrawn by petitioner upon substituting a photostatic copy thereof; provided that, upon being furnished with satisfactory documentary evidence, the Grand Master may issue his certificate of approval in lieu of birth certificate, which certificate shall accompany the petition and be retained as a permanent record of the Lodge. When a petitioner’s name has been changed by law or other proper means from that shown in the birth certificate, and a full explanation thereof deemed satisfactory to the Lodge is attached to the birth certificate, the petition may be voted upon if satisfactory in all other respects.
  5. Art. 404. (441). Petition for Degrees: Answers to Questions in Art. 398. The petition for the degrees must contain the questions of Article 398 with the answers of the candidate thereto.
  6. Art. 398. (435). Questions Answered by Candidate. Before a candidate can be initiated he must answer, in writing, each of the following questions:
  1. Do you promise, upon your honor, to strictly adhere to and be governed by the Constitution and Laws of The Grand Lodge of Texas and the by-laws of this Lodge?
  2. Do you sincerely declare, upon your honor, that, unbiased by friends and uninfluenced by mercenary motives, you freely and voluntarily offer yourself as a candidate for the Mysteries of Masonry?
  3. Do you seriously declare, upon your honor, that you are prompted to solicit the privileges of Masonry by a favorable opinion conceived of the institution, a desire for knowledge, and a sincere desire to be of greater service to your fellow men?
  4. Do you seriously declare, upon your honor, that you will cheerfully conform to all the ancient established usages and customs of Masonry?
  5. Do you seriously declare, upon your honor, that you firmly believe in the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and in the divine authenticity of the Holy Scriptures?
  6. Do you seriously declare, upon your honor, that you have never before petitioned any Lodge of Masons for the degrees or any of them?
  1. Art. 405. (442) Petition for Degrees: (Withdrawal Permitted Before Ballot.) A petition for the degrees, or any of them is “received” when it is read in open Lodge at a stated meeting upon direction of the Master presiding, usually by the Secretary. If the petition is one that may lawfully be received, it must be referred to an Investigation Committee and follow the procedure hereinafter provided, but may be withdrawn by the petitioner by written request at any time prior to the ballot thereon. Notwithstanding such withdrawal, any subsequent petition for the degrees shall state that the petitioner has previously petitioned a Lodge for the degrees or any of them. (Revised 2001)
  2. Art. 405a. Publication of Names Prohibited. The names of Petitioners, Candidates, Entered Apprentice Masons and Fellowcraft Masons shall not be published in a Lodge newsletter or any news media public or private. (Adopted 1990)
  3. Art. 406. Unlawful Presentation: Waiver of Jurisdiction. A petition unlawfully presented to a Lodge must be returned to the petitioner. If the Lodge is without territorial or personal jurisdiction over the petitioner, the petition may be withdrawn or the Lodge may apply to the proper Lodge for waiver of jurisdiction under the procedure provided in Article 456.
  4. Art. 410. Petitioner’s Death or Mental Incompetence. When a candidate dies, or becomes mentally incompetent, before the report of the investigating committee is made, his death or mental incompetence shall be reported to the Lodge and noted in the minutes, the committee discharged, and no further proceedings shall be taken thereon; and all fees paid shall be refunded to the person properly authorized to receipt therefor. (Revised 1992)
  5. Art. 411. Petitioner’s Total Disqualification. If the investigating committee finds the candidate totally disqualified for any reason, the facts should be reported to the Lodge, such report entered in the minutes, the fee returned, and no further action taken.
  6. Art. 452. (476m). Petitioners: To What Lodge They May Apply. A petitioner who is eligible to apply for the degrees or for advancement in this Grand Jurisdiction may present his petition therefore to any Lodge in this Grand Jurisdiction.
  7. Art. 508-16. Certain Other Masonic Disciplinary Violations To conceal from, or fail to reveal to, a Lodge to which he has applied for any of the degrees of Masonry, the fact that he has been previously rejected by it or any other Lodge.
  8. Art. 508-17. Certain Other Masonic Disciplinary Violations To represent in his petition for the degrees that he has never petitioned any other Lodge for the degrees, when such representations is false.

Let’s Talk About Booze

This was an educational talk on Grand Lodge law for the August 2019 stated meeting of Fort Worth Lodge № 148.


Context

There are three times that alcohol is mentioned in the 2018 edition of Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas.1 Alcohol is mentioned once in the 2009 edition of Grand Master Decisions and Annotations to the Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas,2, 3 but it’s in reference to a candidate’s ability to consent to the obligation while under the influence, which is outside of the scope of this discussion.

Title II, Chapter 6, Article 224

Art. 224. (264). Use of Lodge and Anterooms. Masonic Lodgerooms and anterooms opening directly into Lodgerooms (other than club rooms designated to be used for social purposes) shall not be used for other than Masonic purposes, except as hereinafter provided in this Article nor shall they be used by any group or organization, secular or religious, except as otherwise provided in the Laws and Edicts of Grand Lodge. Other than the Lodgerooms and immediate anterooms mentioned in the foregoing sentence the Lodge building and premises may be used by the other organizations enumerated in Article 2253 of the Laws of Grand Lodge and by the families of the members of the Lodge. The use of said building and premises other than the Lodgerooms and immediate anterooms by such organizations and family members shall be encouraged to the end that Masonic Lodge buildings and premises will become the nucleus for family social activities. The organizations enumerated in Article 225 of the Laws may also, subject to the consent of the Masonic Lodge and subject to such rules and regulations as are from time to time announced by the Grand Master, use portions of the Lodge building, other than the Lodgerooms and immediate anterooms, to promote, encourage and accomplish such objectives, including, but not limited to, such specified fund-raising activities as are authorized by the Grand Master which funds are to be used exclusively for any purpose consistent with the principles and purposes of Masonry, or the Laws of the Grand Lodge, which said principles and purposes of Masonry are noncontroversial, nonsectarian, nonpartisan, patriotic and/or community character. The portions of the Lodge building hereinabove authorized to be used in the preceding manner, may be open on Sundays for use by those authorized organizations, subject to the conditions set forth in Article 225 but shall not be used when the Lodge is open for business or for degree work or while funerals are being conducted by the Lodge or in any manner which would interfere with or detract from the security of, or the work being conducted by the Lodge. (Revised 1996)

The Lodgeroom and anteroom may be on the ground floor, in a rented building, or one owned jointly with another, or one in which portions, other than the Lodgeroom and anteroom, are occupied or used by others; provided that, in each such case, the requirements as to security and all other matters required herein are complied with. Food may be consumed or served in the Lodgeroom when the Lodge is not at labor. (Revised 1996)

Constituent Lodges may meet in buildings where alcoholic beverages may from time to time be served. Constituent Lodges of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas may meet in buildings where other appendant Masonic organizations may, from time to time, serve alcoholic beverages, so long as such service is not in progress while the Lodge is open there; and further, be it enacted, that Constituent Lodges may let, lease, or rent portions of their buildings to other appendant Masonic organizations who may, from time to time, serve alcoholic beverages, so long as such service does not occur in the Lodgeroom of the building. (Adopted 2000)

Title II, Chapter 19, Article 335, Paragraph B, Part 5:

Art. 335. Lodge Funds Under Its Control.

[ . . . ] B. Subject to the provisions of Article 224, Lodges may conduct projects to raise funds for a Lodge’s
general fund, charity fund, endowment fund, needy individuals, any recognized Masonic charity or foun-
dation, disaster relief, public schools, educational scholarships or other similar funds. All such funds must be of a noncontroversial, nonsectarian, nonpartisan, patriotic and/or community character. All fund raising activities are subject to the following restrictions: [ . . . ]

[ . . . ] 5. No alcoholic beverages shall be distributed, sold, purchased, possessed or consumed during
a fund raising project on Lodge property. [ . . . ]

Title V, Chapter 2, Article 508, “Certain Other Masonic Disciplinary Violations”, Paragraph 3:

Art. 508. Certain Other Masonic Disciplinary Violations. It shall also be a Masonic disciplinary violation for a Lodge, a committee or any combination of Masons, or an individual Mason: [ . . . ]

[ . . . ] 3. To consume, possess, have in possession, or sell intoxicating liquor5 in any portion of the Grand Lodge Memorial Building, or of any building or portion of any building occupied or used by any Lodge, provided, however, that this prohibition does not apply to small quantities of any such beverages or liquors required by existing rituals of such organization in the conferring of its degrees or orders, or in the ceremonies in observance of special occasions required by existing regulations of such organizations; and further, this prohibition shall not apply to space properly leased for commercial purposes. Constituent Lodges may meet in buildings where alcoholic beverages may from time to time be served. Constituent Lodges of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas may meet in buildings where other appendant Masonic organizations may, from time to time, serve alcoholic beverages, so long as such service is not in progress while the Lodge is open there; and further, be it enacted, that Constituent Lodges may let, lease, or rent portions of their buildings to other appendant Masonic organizations who may, from time to time, serve alcoholic beverages, so long as such service does not occur in the Lodgeroom of the building. (Revised 2000) [ . . . ]

Summary of Source Text:

  • Article 224 says:
  • we want the lodge building to be a “nucleus” of family activities.
  • we “may meet in buildings where alcoholic beverages may from time to time be served.”
  • we may meet in buildings where appendant bodies serve alcohol, or rent our building to those bodies, as long as we don’t meet when they’re serving alcohol.
  • Article 335 says we can’t have booze anywhere near a fundraiser on lodge property.
  • Article 508 restates Article 224’s points and says it’s a Masonic disciplinary violation to have or drink alcohol anywhere in a building used by a lodge unless:
  • it’s a small amount used in part of existing ritual.
  • it’s required for observances required by existing organization regulations.
  • or it’s happening in a commercial space.

The Problem

Article 224 and 508 both clearly state that it is acceptable for a lodge to meet in a building where alcoholic beverages may be served from time to time. Legally, what is the definition of “from time to time?” There’s obviously real definitions for this term, but there’s multiple interpretations of what that means. The lawbook doesn’t define what “from time to time” means, so we will have to go with an interpretation of our own, that most people agree is reasonable: “occasionally but not often.” How do we quantitatively define what’s occasional and what’s often? We simply can’t – at least not in an objective manner.

Article 508 raises even more questions:

  • How far reaching are we defining “occupied or used by any Lodge?”
  • Is this for any building, that’s been used by any lodge, for any purpose whatsoever, at any time?
  • Is this only for lodges that permanently meet in a building on a consistent basis?
  • How do we define “small quantities?”
  • When we say, “observance of special occasions required by existing regulations,” what do we mean?
  • How do we define what a special occasion is?
  • Are Shrine stated meeting dinners a special occasion that is required to be obvserved?
  • What about Scottish Rite Burns dinners?
  • What does it mean if a space is “properly leased for commercial purposes,” and what is the range of “commercial purposes?”
  • Does this include a one-time dining hall contract for a wedding reception?
  • Does a non-profit company count?
  • Is the space required to be leased to one business or organization exclusively?
  • Can a lodge be the owner of a business that is properly leasing space from a lodge for commercial purposes?

Gabe’s Take

My personal take on this is that Article 224 and 508 are filled with language that is vague and unenforceable, requiring significant changes, either in the form of definition additions, or wholesale deletion.

Footnotes

  1. Hereafter referred to as “the laws,” “Grand Lodge Law,” or “the lawbook.”
  2. Hereafter referred to as the “Grand Master’s Decisions.”
  3. Grand Master’s Decision № 6, 1955
  4. The full text of Title II, Chapter 6, Article 225 reads as follows:

Art. 225. Use of Lodge and Anterooms by Other Organizations: (a)Allied Masonic Degrees, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Council of Royal and Select Masters, Daughters of the Nile, DeMolay, Grotto, “High Noon Clubs,” High Twelve International, Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests, Knights Templar, Knights of the York Cross of Honour, Ladies of the Oriental Shrine of North America, Order of Beauceant, Order of the Eastern Star, Order of the Amaranth, Order of Knight Masons, Order of Rainbow, Order of Red Cross of Constantine, Order of Saint Thomas of Acon, Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, Royal Arch Masons, Royal Order of Scotland, Scottish Rite Bodies, Sojourners, The Daughters of Mokanna, The Masonic Rosicrucians (S.R.I.C.F.), York Rite College, The Worshipful Society of Free Masons, Rough Masons, Wallers, Slaters, Paviors, Plaisterers, and Bricklayers (otherwise known as “The Operatives”) and any degrees, Honorary Degrees and authorized groups authorized, recognized, permitted or commonly used by any of the above named orders, with the approval of the Lodge, and in the event more than one Lodge regularly meets in the Lodgeroom, then with the approval of all such Lodges, may be permitted under such conditions as may be specified by resolution of the Lodge or Lodges, to meet in the Lodgeroom, to place its charter on the walls of the Lodgeroom, and to leave its fraternal paraphernalia in the Lodgeroom, so long as such organization is permitted by the Lodge or Lodges to use the Lodgeroom.

Members of the families of members of such organizations may be authorized by the Lodge to use portions of the Lodge building and premises other than the Lodgeroom and the immediate anterooms, for family social activities and for the other activities authorized in Article 224. (b) Such organizations may be permitted to hold open meetings in the Lodgeroom for the purposes and on the conditions stated hereinafter, and such open meetings may be held for any of the following purposes only; (i) Installation of Officers; (ii) Memorial Services; (iii) Observance Services of anniversaries of such Order and only under the following conditions: (1) The Lodge, by formal action, recorded in its minutes, has authorized the said Order to hold its closed meetings in the Lodgeroom; (2) That no meeting be held on Sunday or on June 24th or December 27th; except that with the permission of the Worshipful Master of the Blue Lodge, or if there be more than one Subordinate Blue Lodge which meets regularly in the Lodge Hall then with the permission from all Worshipful Masters of all subordinate Blue Lodges which meet in the Lodge Hall, such Lodge Halls may be used on Sunday afternoon between the hours of 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., for the purpose of studying and practicing Masonic work; (3) That any such meeting held must comply with the usual Masonic customs and under the restrictions in Article 224 of our Laws and the decisions there under; (4) The Worshipful Master of the Lodge may authorize the meeting (unless there is more than one Lodge meeting in said Hall, then it will be necessary for the Master of each Lodge to approve), and report to the District Deputy Grand Master of the District in which the Lodge is situated, advising him of the purpose and time of such meeting. Permission may also be so granted by any Lodge for Easter Sunday Ceremonies, and Knights Templar Ascension Day and Christmas Ceremonies on December 25th and 27th even when these days fall on Sunday.

Art. 225a. Other Organizations, predicating membership on Masonic membership, recognized. In addition to those organizations recognized in Art. 225, next above, as being entitled to use Lodgerooms and Anterooms of Subordinate Lodges, the Grand Lodge of Texas may recognize and authorize other organizations which predicate membership on Masonic membership. Recognition and authorization must take place by approval of the Grand Lodge in Grand Communication. After an organization has been recognized and authorized by the Grand Lodge of Texas in Grand Communication, pursuant to this Art. 225a, Texas Masons may participate in, and be a part of, such organizations. Organizations recognized and authorized by Article 225a are not to use the Lodgeroom and/or Anteroom of a Subordinate Lodge under the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge. The organizations recognized and authorized pursuant to this Art. 225a will be published in the annual proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Texas and a listing will be maintained in the office of the Grand Secretary for reference thereto. This Grand Lodge has always had and retained the right to withdraw, at its pleasure, approval of any organization heretofore approved by it, and this Grand Lodge continues to reserve that right. (New 2005)

Art 225b. North-American Interfraternity Conference. Use of the Lodgeroom and Anterooms for Fraternity Chapters belonging to the North-American Interfraternity Conference must meet the following conditions: (1) that the fraternity seeking permission to use such facilities can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Worshipful Master of the Blue Lodge, that its formal ritual of initiation was written or influenced by a Master Mason; (2) the ceremonies of initiation, of the requesting fraternity, are consistent with Masonic customs; (3) a Master Mason, in good standing with the Grand Lodge of Texas, who is also a member of the requested Lodge and the requesting fraternity, and who is approved by the Worshipful Master, must be present, at all times that the fraternity members are present in the Lodge or its Anterooms; and (4) that the requesting fraternity agrees to abide by and be governed by any and all rules set forth by the granting Lodge. In instances where the building is owned by the Blue Lodge and other York Rite Bodies, there being two (2) distinct Lodgerooms available and the requesting fraternity desires to use the York Rite room, then permission must be granted also by the Most Excellent High Priest, the Thrice Illustrious Master, and the Eminent Commander with a York Rite Companion or Knight being a member of the fraternity and also present. (New 2005)

Article 225c. New and Existing Texas Organizations. Any organization located in Texas which predicates its membership on Masonic membership, having Masonic purposes, and one or more Texas Masons as part of its membership or governance (other than a Lodge and other than those Masonic organizations described in Article 225) (“affiliates”) shall adhere to the Masonic principles as set out in the Constitution and Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas.

Any new Texas Masonic organization which desires acceptance and recognition by the Grand Lodge of Texas under Article 225a (“new affiliate”) shall submit the information about its Masonic purposes, governance, expected financial support and structure on forms provided by the Grand Secretary. This information must be provided by the new affiliate to the Grand Secretary by June 30 of the year of its submission to the vote of the Grand Lodge of Texas in Grand Communication.

Any existing Texas organization which is accepted and recognized by the Grand Lodge of Texas under Article 225a (“affiliate”) shall submit an annual report about its purposes, governance, structure and financial position on forms provided by the Grand Secretary. This report shall be due in the Grand Secretary’s office by June 30 of each year. Failure to submit the report shall subject the affiliate to revocation of its recognition and by the Grand Lodge of Texas. (Adopted 2012)

  1. From Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed: Any liquor used as a beverage and which when so used in sufficient quantities ordinarily or commonly produces entire or partial intoxication; any liquor intended for use as a beverage or capable of being so used which contains alcohol either obtained by fermentation or by the additional process of distillation in such proportion that it will produce intoxication6 when imbibed in such quantities as may practically be drunk.
  2. From Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed: The state of being poisoned; the condition produced by the administration or introduction into the human system of a poison. But in its popular use this term is restricted to alcoholic intoxication, that is, drunkenness or inebriety, or the mental and physical condition induced by drinking excessive quantities of alcoholic liquors, and this “is its meaning as used in statutes, indictments, etc. See Sapp v. State, 116 Ga. 182, 42 S. E. 410; State v. Pierce, 65 Iowa, 85, 21 N. W. 195; Wadsworth v. Dunnam, 98 Ala. 610, 13 South. 599; Ring v. Ring, 112 Ga. 854, 38 S. E. 330; State v. Kelley, 47 Vt 296; Com. v. Whitney, 11 Cush. (Mass.) 477.

We Are Not Alone

TXMC 2019 Festive Board Remarks

What does it mean to you when you hear or think these words?

  • “We are not alone.”
  • “You are not alone.”
  • “I am not alone.”
Poti

For many Freemasons, the idea, “I am not alone,” is a revolutionary and heartening concept. It bolsters our self-worth, our spirits, and our enthusiasm for the Fraternity.

Chengti

Why is it important to remember that we are not alone? I’ve talked with many brethren who almost, or have, lost their passion for the Craft. They felt their interests weren’t found in the Fraternity. There’s more that I would have met and known, had they not left the Craft before I had the chance to meet them. These are men who have not found, are not finding, or did not find, their deeper needs provided for by the Fraternity.

Qijiang

I recently heard something in a private conversation that feels worth repeating. A brother, who is here tonight, shared a quote he’d heard that gave him some inspiration:

I do not share my thoughts to try to convince the ignorant to change their minds. I share my thoughts so that others who think clearly know they are not alone.

You are not alone, I am not alone, and we are not alone.

Qigu

“Don’t rock the boat, it’s not worth it” is the tale we have heard many times. At the same time, we hear, often from the same mouths, “wow, this guy is revolutionary,” when a boat-rocker beats the odds.

We have the opportunity to remain quiet and study in silence. We also have the opportunity to reach out to others and study together.

Neither you, nor I, nor any of us have to ever say anything, or reach out to anyone. Yet, if none of us make the first move, then we will remain lost, together in the same predicament, while being alone.

We each have a message that we can choose not to share, avoiding the trouble and headaches that come with doing so. What we may find though, is that the trouble and headaches may very well be worth it.

Zhonggu

What’s it worth to us, not to spread education? I’m not saying that those who seek a meaningful education are somehow a persecuted class. You do, though, know what I’m talking about. Each one of us has had encounters where we have walked away, stunned, at willful ignorance. This happens in all places. Any person, who has worked any job, anywhere, can tell you that. Where it’s the most tragic, though, is within Freemasonry.

There’s no need for us to count the instances of this within our own masonic experiences. It’s something that most, if not all, of us have seen and shaken our heads at.

Hougu

That’s why we’re here this weekend. We are here because we thirst for knowledge and hunger for wisdom.

We are here because we want to meet other brothers who feel the same way that we do about learning and growing. Texas MasoniCon is a chance for us to share and share alike in education and friendship.

All it takes is for one person, one lodge, one group of guys to make their mark and let others know that they are not alone. This happened for us when we found out about the original Masonic Con hosted by Ezekiel Bates Lodge in Massachusetts.

It’s not easy to for us to put this on, or for y’all to travel so far, or for our speakers to create their work. That’s why we do it, though, isn’t it – for the precise reason that it isn’t easy?

Shugu

We can choose:

  • to study in silence by ourselves,
  • to avoid the headache,
  • to not rock the boat,
  • and to not reach out,

Or we can choose:

  • to study together and publicize our success,
  • to put in the effort, hard as it may be,
  • to rock the boat and make a splash,
  • and to build a stronger community and culture of education within Freemasonry.
Dajie

That’s why we’re right here, right now. That’s why Texas MasoniCon exists. We are not alone.

The Texan Chamber of Reflection

This was an educational talk on Grand Lodge law for the July 2019 stated meeting of Fort Worth Lodge № 148.


Context

Let’s say your lodge wants to use a continental-style “Chamber of Reflection.” Let’s also say that one of your officers decided to post about this in an open online forum. This is the post that started the latest discussion:

Alright Brethren, need your help. As Master of Ceremonies this year, I want to turn our Anteroom/Storage room into a legit Chamber of Reflection. Can I see your Lodge’s chamber or do you have any suggestions on what it should contain? Definitely going to put a Bible and maybe an hour glass.

Key Points to Consider:

  • Using a typical Chamber of Reflection is not legal in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Texas.
  • There is no precedent in the history of Preston-Webb ritual for using a Chamber of Reflection.

This is a Grand Lodge law talk, and not a ritual talk, so we’ll stick to discussing the former and not the latter.

Grand Master’s Recommendation № 2, 2013

In 2013 the M∴W∴ Grand Master, Walt Rogers, made several Grand Master’s Recommendations. One of them banned the Chamber of Reflection:

A summary of the justification for the recommendation goes as follows:

  • Some lodges and masons are breaking the rules by performing unapproved ritual.
  • Nobody has the right to perform unapproved ritual.
  • You can’t use paraphernalia other than that listed in Title II, Chapter 6, Article 223.

His recommendation added a clause to the existing text of Article 127. This clause bars using paraphernalia other than that listed in Article 223. The vote to accept this recommendation passed, and only one person spoke against it. The entirety of Article 127 now reads as follows:

Art. 127. Ritual. No ritual other than that promulgated by this Grand Lodge shall be taught or used in this Jurisdiction, nor shall paraphernalia except as listed in Article 223 be used, nor shall preparation of Candidates include other than that provided in the Monitor of the Lodge or otherwise required by any provision of the laws of this Grand Lodge, provided however by special dispensation of the Grand Master, a degree team from another Grand Jurisdiction in fraternal relations with this Grand Lodge may confer a degree on one of their own candidates using ritual as approved in the degree team’s home jurisdiction, provided said ritual is in English. (Revised 2013)

Article 223

Article 223 contains a set of lists of the minimum required paraphernalia for a lodge to be set to work:

There is one list for the lodge room in general, one list for each degree, and one list for the funeral. It appears that based on Article 127, for the purposes of conferring, this is also the maximum permitted paraphernalia.

What We Can’t Do

Nowhere in these lists do we see any of the items often used in a Chamber of Reflection:

  • a skull
  • bread and water
  • stuffed roosters
  • sulfur
  • salt
  • alchemical symbols
  • an hourglass
  • a last will and testament
  • and so forth.

Any of the above or more, are impermissible to use when preparing a candidate.

What We Can Do

It is worth noting that the actual design of the anteroom is up to us. This includes how we paint the walls and what we paint on them, how the room is lit, and so forth. We can include a mirror in the room to help the candidate change clothes, but not to “prepare” him for the degree. Article 223 requires and permits the use of a lecture chart, slides, or film. That makes them permissible paraphernalia which we can include in the anteroom.

What can we do to improve an anteroom?

  • remove anything irrelevant to the degree that is being stored in the room.
  • provide dim lighting using a candle or fire-safe equal.
  • paint the walls of the anteroom in a neutral-to-dark earth tone.
  • include individual lecture slides or a lecture chart on the wall.
  • disperse air freshener, incense, or essential oils in the anteroom before using it.
  • most of all: be serious, professional, and imposing when dealing with the candidate.

Protected by the Cherubim

1 Kings 6:14,19:

“So Solomon built the house, and finished it. And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the LORD.”

When Solomon finished the Sanctum Sanctorum with the help of Hiram Abiff, he seated the Ark of the Covenant beneath the extended wings of the Cherubim. When he completed and dedicated the Temple to the glory of God as we witnessed in the Most Excellent Master’s degree, the glory and name of God manifested itself as a cloud of flame and black smoke. This fulfilled the promise that God made to King David.

What do the Cherubim and the fiery presence of God on their wings mean for us as masons, though?

The Cherubim in Scripture

The cherubim fulfilled several functions: they protected the ark of the covenant, they touched the inner walls of the temple, and they supported the presence of God. In 1 Chronicles 28:18, they are referred to as God’s chariot. This was known as the “Mercy Seat,” and in Greek was called the hilasterion, or “that which removes sin.”

Chapters 1 & 10 of the book of Ezekiel explain that the Cherubim are used by God as his chariot to move around Chaldea and to leave the temple in Jerusalem. The concept of God’s chariot was and is considered so important in Judaism that there is an entire school of thought known as Merkabah Mysticism or Chariot Mysticism

The central theme of Chariot Mysticism is stories of ascent to heaven, and God’s presence on His throne. This theme manifests in the school’s primary practice, which is called the Work of the Chariot and focuses on meditation and contemplation. In the Work of the Chariot, practitioners go through a series of veils, each guarded by an angel, and secured by a password and sign. The password and sign for each veil was the name and signet of the angel guarding it.

As the practitioner passes through each veil, he unfolds more and more of God’s divine revelation, and re-joins his soul with God. This process, including passing the veils using passwords and signs, should be very familiar to us as Royal Arch Masons.

The process of reintegration with God is also a central theme of Jewish and Christian mysticism. Revelation  22:14 states

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

This ties back to Genesis 3:24:

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Once again, we see the Cherubim as guardians – this time, as guardians of the Garden of Eden. The Tree of Life is the key to both the Garden of Eden and the city of New Jerusalem (assuming they are not, in fact, the same place). In order to enter New Jerusalem, or reintegrate with God, we must follow its path.

The Tree of Life details ten different stages that man must reach in order to reintegrate with God, followed in a specific order (as detailed by the flaming sword of Genesis). Traveling through ten stages means that there are nine veils, gates, or archways to pass, much like the nine arches that we learn about in the Royal Arch Mason and Select Master degrees. 

The Cherubim in Ritual

In the Royal Master degree, the Cherubim are involved from the start. The candidate is received by walking into the room, under the extended wings of the Cherubim, and around the Ark of the Covenant. This is different from his reception in the Capitular degrees in that it he is not formally received, and his conductor does not give him an explanation of how and why he is being received in the way that he is. It is also more of a symbolic act on the candidate’s part than an instruction from the conductor. 

The cherubim that extend their wings over the Ark of the Covenant are a representation of God’s strength and protection, because they both support God’s presence, and protect the Ark of the Covenant. For a candidate, every degree is a request for further light. When the candidate passes under the wings of the Cherubim, and into the circle of angels, he is showing that any quest for more truth must first start by placing oneself in the strength and protection of God.

We know that while they supported the name and fiery presence of God with one set of wings, the Cherubim also touched the inner walls of the Temple with their other set of wings, but could not be seen from outside the Sanctum Sanctorum. This is very important to us as Freemasons, because King Solomon’s temple represents us as human beings. As the strength, protection, and chariot of God, the Cherubim connect the inner walls of our mental, emotional, and spiritual temple to the presence of God that is inside each and every one of us, even though nobody can see that from outside of our hearts. Our inner spiritual lives are guarded from the world.

The Tree of Life can be divided into three pillars that are named Severity, Mercy, and Harmony. The two Cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant can be seen as representing Severity and Mercy, while the fiery presence of God represents the pillar of Harmony. The top of the pillar of Harmony in the Tree of Life is known as the Crown, and represents total integration with God. The Cherubim and Ark from Scripture and our ritual are a reminder that the Tree of Life – which is our key to Eden and New Jerusalem – is inside of us.

In Conclusion

As Royal Arch Masons and Royal & Select Masters, we are performing our own Work of the Chariot. Every degree we have taken, and every degree we confer, is one more veil that we leap through. The more we learn about ourselves, and the more we improve ourselves through Freemasonry, the closer and closer we come to reintegrating with the Divine fire that lives both inside of us and all around us. 

The Cherubim remind us that God lives in every one of us. Our hearts are filled with his fire and presence. We know the name of God – we just have to look within ourselves and surrender to His strength and protection.