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The symbolic degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason, as conferred in the United States, are degrees of the York Rite.
According to Masonic legend, every man raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason received “substitute secrets”, as the “true secrets” were lost. It may prove a surprise to the average man, believing his work is completed, to be told that the secrets pertaining to the ceremony will not be given to him! This is unfortunate, but the veil is lifted in the degree of the Royal Arch, and in that degree only. Hence, no man actually becomes a Master Mason until he is exalted to that holy order.
The Past Master degree teaches the candidate the important duties and responsibilities of the Oriental Chair, and is qualification for advancement.
It is commonly known that the symbolism of Freemasonry surrounds the building of the Temple. In symbolic Free-Masonry, the Temple is never completed. In the Most Excellent Master degree, we are taught the lessons of the completion and dedication of the Temple.
In the degree of the Royal Arch, the epitome of Masonic symbolism is found. It has been said “the Royal Arch is the root, heart and marrow of Masonry, without knowledge of which the Masonic character cannot be complete”.
The Royal Arch degree is the completion of the whole system of Freemasonry. Having begun regular advancement through the Symbolic Lodge, it is the duty of each Master Mason to complete the degree series. He who has sought further Masonic education should return to the Symbolic Lodge, retrace his steps and advance through the Rite until he can receive the climax of Masonic symbolism, as taught in the Royal Arch.
Only those who have attained the Royal Arch may be said to have completed their Masonic Work.
ROYAL AND SELECT MASTERS, CRYPTIC MASONRY More Info - General Grand Council "Cryptic Mason". The Councils of Cryptic Masons operate under the jurisdiction of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of each state and most Grand Councils operate under the General Grand Council of the United States. They confer the following three degrees:
Without the Royal and Select Master degrees, neither the Master Mason degree nor the Royal Arch degree is complete. These two degrees account for the concealment and preservation of the treasures revealed in the Royal Arch.
KNIGHT TEMPLAR MASONRY - Membership Booklet
Local Commanderies are governed by the Grand Commandery of each jurisdiction, and they in turn by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the U.S.A.
In the Commandery, the Chivalric Orders of Christian Knighthood are conferred as follows:
The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross
The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross is founded upon Truth – a divine attribute, the foundation of every virtue.
Knights of Malta. First called Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem are known to have been in existence as early as 1099 A.D. It was the first organized body whose avowed purpose was the aid and care of those injured on a battlefield. The teaching of Christian applications of Masonic precepts begins with this Order.
The Order of the Temple is the crowning glory of York Rite Masonry. It is widely regarded as the most solemn and impressive experience in Masonry. Here the aspirant progresses in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth. At the empty tomb grows a sprig of acacia, teaching that we shall dwell forever in the realms of life and light eternal.
Freemasonry demands only a belief in a monotheistic God, where Hindu, Muslim, Jew and Gentile may together worship around its alters. The Christian Freemason alone has at his disposal a branch of the fraternity where he is free to interpret the teachings of the Symbolic Lodge according to his religious belief. The Masonic Orders of Christian Knighthood are the logical outcome of the Christian Mason´s belief in Christ as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. That Mason believes Christ´s hand will raise the dead to life, and in His Holy Name the True Word is found and restored at last. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.
WHAT DOES YORK RITE MASONRY OFFER?
The noble heritage of York Masonry is yours to take. The regular meetings of the various grades are conducive to firmer relationships and a closer spirit of brotherly love. Being a York Rite Mason does not mean you are elevated to a “higher rank´. It is an educational tool to help you realize the Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Man in your own life. We trust the foregoing has increased your interest in the York Rite.