What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is a secular fraternal organisation originating in Europe dating from the middle ages. Its roots are found in the trade guilds in which young men wanting to join a specific trade, masonry in our case, were taken on as an apprentice and over time learned the skills necessary to become a master mason … commonly called a journeyman today.
Masons, like other skilled tradesmen, moved from city to city working on various buildings. When arriving at a new location, they needed a way to prove that they had the necessary skills. It was for this reason that the guilds of old developed a way to communicate secretly with one another so that they could demonstrate that they were in fact Masons and qualified to do the job. In doing so, they also prevented imposters from posing as Masons.
Over time, these guilds evolved from ‘operative masons’ to an organisation of ‘speculative masons’, or Freemasons. Freemasons used the tools and methods of the operative masons as metaphors and developed allegories to guide their members how to live productive lives and live harmoniously in society. Freemasonry is not a secret society, but like their brethren of old, and indeed like many modern organisations, they regard some of their internal affairs as private matters for their members.
What do Freemasons do?
Freemasons consider one another as brothers; and, like all families, they put emphasis on taking care of their family members. They show tolerance and respect for the opinions of their brothers, are expected to be truthful, and practice charity, not only within their brotherhood but within their community and society as a whole.
The activities within closed meetings, to some extent, deal with the typical ongoing matters of any organisation (membership, finances, minutes, etc.) but the essence of each meeting is learning and practicing Masonic principles and ritual, all with the aim of ‘making good men better’.
Charity is also an important aspect of Freemasonry. Each Lodge donates to various charities of their choice. Indeed, at each monthly meeting, a collection is raised specifically for charity. Twillingate gives to various local groups annually; and, part of our annual membership fee is earmarked for charitable causes managed by the Grand Lodge of Newfoundland and Labrador, notably the Patrick Tasker Educational Scholarship Fund and the Grand Lodge Benevolence Fund.
What is the Criteria for Joining?
Men wishing to join Freemasonry must believe in a supreme being, be at least 19 years of age or older,
and be of high moral standards and free of any criminal record or awaiting the outcome of similar proceedings.
Why should I join?
Making good men better: Like everything in life, you get out of Freemasonry what you put into it. The essence of Freemasonry is learning how to become a better man. The three great principles of Freemasonry are brotherly love (respect and tolerance toward all), relief (charity, benevolence) and truth. Freemasonry offers members the opportunity to learn and practice these principles in a structured and interesting Masonic context.
Social: Formal Masonic meetings are often followed by a casual social in the Square and Compass Club (downstairs). On different occasions throughout the year, we hold functions such as a dinner, barbecue or dance. Partners, family, and friends are welcome and encouraged to attend. It’s a great way to meet new people and grow lasting friendships.
Community Involvement: Twillingate Lodge puts a lot of effort into fundraising activities that are largely oriented to restoration and maintenance of our historic building, but other activities are focused more towards the community in general. We decorate a float each year for the Santa Claus parade; we donate to various worthy causes, award a scholarship each year to a graduating student at JM Olds High School; and cater lunches to special groups for free from time to time. We also ensure we are represented at the cenotaph each year on Memorial Day and Remembrance Day.
What is my commitment?
Attendance: Masons are expected to attend all formal meetings, held monthly from September until June. Ill health, work, and family commitments are legitimate reasons for not attending but every Mason is expected to do his best regarding attendance.
Attire: The preferred attire for a Mason while attending formal Masonic meetings is a black business suit with a white collared dress shirt and conservative necktie, black socks and shoes.
Fees: There is a one-time initiation fee of $50 for new members. Annual dues are $100, payable in advance of each fiscal year, starting April 1st. If, after some time, you think that Freemasonry is not for you, you may request a demission which honourably releases you from any Masonic commitment but permits you to rejoin in the future should you desire. To receive a demission, your annual dues must be paid in full.
Okay, I want to join, what's next?
It is important that you first discuss your intention to join Freemasonry with your partner. As noted previously, there is a commitment on your part and it is wise to have the support of your partner. The next step is to contact a local Mason and express your desire to join. If you do not know one, contact the Lodge Secretary. Your Masonic contact will meet with you and provide you with an application form. When complete, return it to your contact person. Representatives from the Lodge will meet with you soon thereafter to discuss in greater detail your application and Freemasonry in general. It’s a great opportunity to pose any questions you have and meet a few members at the same time.
If you meet the criteria for joining, as noted previously, your application will be presented in the following Lodge meeting and voted on. You will be notified of the result; and, assuming it is positive, you will be advised of the first meeting to attend and be initiated into our ancient craft. The whole process typically takes two to three months.
Your Masonic journey begins now!