BEYOND THE THRESHOLD
In every degree of the Symbolic lodge, we affirm our personal commitment to the search for more Light in Masonry. It is the fundamental object of our Order.
As Master Masons, we should be interested in Masonic advancement; not that we will thereby become better Masons, but that we may have a better understanding and insight into what Masonry teaches and how the whole fabric of the Masonic system working together can facilitate our own betterment as men. After all, to a Mason, self development and personal improvement are two very important goals in life.
It is also a remarkable thing to be numbered among the millions of men from all walks of life, on every continent, and across every culture who have made the mythic journey of Hiram and walked the hero’s path. You stand, as they have stood, for all that is noble, loving, and right about humankind.
But the journey of Craft Masonry does not end with the Master Mason degree. There is a well-traveled and deeply rewarding road still ahead that is rich in experience, wisdom, insight, understanding, and beauty. Thousands of Brothers have also walked this road before, and thousands more will travel it in the future. As a Master Mason, you are now on the threshold of many more beautiful lessons which will add immeasurably to what you have already received; Masonic truths that can literally distinguish you as a better-informed and more thoughtful Mason to your Masonic peers; and to the world.
The Enduring Question of the Third Degree
When you were raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason, it may have seemed extraordinary that the degree was styled “sublime,” or that what was purported to be the “last and highest grade of ancient craft Masonry” would leave a question of remarkable importance unanswered. It must have seemed bizarre to be promised that you would someday find the Lost Word when there were reportedly no higher degrees in Masonry.
Indeed, it surprises a lot of Masons to learn that what they have received in Craft Masonry is a kind of substitute secret, while the true secrets have been lost. It is astonishing to the average Mason, believing his work to be complete, to be told that the secrets pertaining to the ceremony will never be given to him!
How could this have happened?
ROYAL ARCH MASONRY
The answer rests in one of the oldest landmarks of Freemasonry. The Foundational laws of Masonry required that every Master Mason receive the Royal Arch degree. It is a degree that has been practiced in the Ancient Gand Lodge from the beginning!
Our Masonic Founders believed the Royal Arch degree to be essential to understanding the Master Mason degree. The Royal Arch completes the story of ancient, symbolic Masonry. It was even decreed by the United Grand Lodge of England that the required degrees of Masonry are the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Master Mason, including the Holy Royal Arch.
It is the terminal degree of completion for ancient craft Masonry. It completes the story of Hiram and the building of King Solomon’s Temple. Thus, it completes the mythic journey of what is commonly called Blue Lodge Masonry.
Having finally discovered the missing link to the Master Mason degree and recovered the foundations of our Craft, the journey to personal enlightenment continues in two additional degrees of the York Rite system styled the Royal and Select Masters. Just as the story of ancient craft Masonry centers around the loss and discover of a Word that presents a man’s search for life’s purpose and the nature of God, the degrees of Cryptic Masonry explain the importance of the Word and its initial preservation. These important degrees have been in existence in Masonry for two hundred years. They are essential to a full understanding of the quest of Hiram, and how this quest applies to each Mason today.
THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR
Templarism is one of the engaging reasons why men for centuries have joined the York Rite of Freemasonry. To be a Knight Templar attaches us to the earliest customs of knighthood. More than that, it enables us to express through Masonic ritual the lasting appeal of merging the traditions of knighthood with faith; the ultimate expression of Christian love of Brotherhood.
There is an exploding interest in Templarism today, especially in America. With the popularity of movies and books with Templar themes, it is perhaps surprising to a lot of people when they learn the Knights Templar still exist.
But we do because we think it important that the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God be expressed every time we meet.