What is Masonry?
Freemasonry is the world’s largest and oldest fraternal order and the most successful and widespread initiatic society in the world. Masonry is a universal, philosophical, and ethical institution composed of free-thinking men who work for the good of humanity. Its fundamental structure is based on a traditional and symbolic system of instruction that is carried out through a process of personal improvement. With more than 300 years of existence, Masonry’s ultimate objective is to encourage the moral and intellectual perfecting of men and peoples in search of obtaining universal brotherhood, or, more succinctly, Masonry is a formative school for men.
Masonry is a fraternity that unites its members in a bond of harmony, truth, and brotherly love; that works tirelessly toward the conquest of progress and liberty; that is dedicated to a study of the laws of nature with the goal of being useful to our fellowmen; and that contributes to the perfecting of mankind. It invites its members to tackle the fundamental questions of existence in harmony with nature and society, of which each Mason is a part.
Masonry seeks to teach its members the values of rectitude, personal responsibility, personal moral betterment, and, through these, the betterment of humanity. It accomplishes this task through the rituals of each degree. It develops a traditional, initiatic method founded on a rite (a collection and arrangement of degrees) and based on the teachings of ancient wisdom, to reveal the mysteries of human consciousness in a process of introspection that is realized in a fraternal, supportive, and convivial space.
The Order bases its principles on the ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. In Masonry, the virtue and dignity of the human being is exalted to promote solidarity and justice, and links are established to connect thought, speech, emotion, and action for the benefit of society.
Freemasonry proclaims as its fundamental principle a belief in the existence of the Grand Architect of the Universe, the origin of all things, and in the immortality of the soul, but it does not accept any difference among men other than merit or demerit and does not reject anyone for his beliefs or opinions. It respects the particular religious and political opinions of each of its members, who with absolute freedom may embrace the beliefs that best contribute to his enlightened conscience. Masonry extols the virtue of tolerance and for this reason, dispels from its temples discussions of partisan politics and all religious sectarianism.
Masons are organized into fraternal communities called Lodges, which in turn are organized into a Grand Lodge, an institutional, regulating body, independent in each state or country, which exclusively governs the territory in which the activity of its Lodges extends.
What is not Masonry?
Masonry is not a social club solely for fun, even though it cultivates brotherly love and fellowship. Masonic work has two primary aspects, one philosophic-symbolic and the other social, both necessary. It may be that a particular Mason may be more inclined toward one aspect than the other, but each is free to contribute to the work that he may prefer.
Masonry is not a benefit or insurance association, although it makes charitable donations and considers these practices as a duty.
Masonry is not an association to obtain personal benefits, since it does not procure its members advantages in business or politics. It is not a job placement agency, much less a trafficker in influence.
Masonry is not a secret society, since it does not deny its existence and what are its purposes and goals, and normally the names and addresses of Lodges are found enrolled in the public register of each Grand Lodge. More than 25,000 books on Freemasonry have been written, some of which may be found in your local public library.
Masonry is not a religion, because it does not impose on its members any specific religious belief. Masonry does not have a position for or against any religion. Masons may practice the religion of their preference, so long as they respect the opinions of others.
Masonry is not a sect or denomination; it does not proclaim or accept dogmas of any type. It entirely respects the beliefs of its members, who can abandon Masonry at any moment, if they so desire.
Masonry is not atheistic, as it is a condition that all Masons believe, by their free and natural will, in a Supreme Being, which we call the “Grand Architect of the Universe.”
Masonry is not anti-Catholic, because it has a clear principle of respect toward all religious and philosophical beliefs that aspire to the improvement of the human being.
Masonry is not a center for witchcraft, Satanism, or occultist practices.
Masonry is not a political party, even though many of its members are or were involved in political or social events or movements of the greatest transcendence in human history. As an ideologically diverse association, it does not propose any specific action with regard to society but instead proposes values in society: values of tolerance, liberty, peace, philanthropy, and the defense of human rights.
Cervantes Lodge No. 5
Originally constituted as Friends of Order Lodge No. 5 on September 24, 1842, the Lodge consolidated with Silence Lodge No. 9 in 1883, thereby forming Cervantes Lodge No. 5. For that reason, Cervantes Lodge No. 5 is one of the oldest Hispanic organizations in the United States and the only Spanish-speaking Lodge in Louisiana. Throughout its rich history, many prominent Latin merchants, manufacturers, doctors, lawyers, and diplomats have been members of our Lodge.
Today, the Lodge continues to promote the betterment of the Hispanic community and broader world through the practice of Masonic virtues. In addition, the Lodge keeps alive the rare and unique traditions of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, in which it works. To read more about the Lodge’s history, click here.
What is the origin of Masonry?
The heritage of modern Masonry derives from organized guilds or unions of stonemasons that constructed the cathedrals and other majestic structures throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. The skill and architectural genius of these artisans and their commitment to the highest standards of ethical and moral values were universally applauded, and, unlike other people, they were permitted to travel without hindrance from country to country practicing their trade, including the carving of “freestone.” Thus, during that period, the word “free” was prefixed to the word “mason,” those artisans and the generations of stonemasons that followed them being called “freemasons.”
Until about the 16th century, masons dedicated themselves strictly to an operative profession: masonry and the architecture of those magnificent cathedrals and palaces, many of which still adorn the landscape of the European countryside. At the beginning of the 17th century, the number of members of those active unions or “lodges” of stonemasons began to decline, and, probably to compensate for the loss, they started to accept within the society prominent men who were not artisans or stonemasons.
This class of members was initially considered the patrons of the Fraternity, and with time they called themselves “accepted masons.” At the end of the 17th century, a radical transformation took place: the accepted masons predominated, and the oldest lodges of stonemasons began to emphasize and teach more moral philosophy than the technical or operative art of previous centuries. In this way, there appeared modern or “speculative” Masonry, which has often been described as “a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” The instruments of stonemasons are still today used in the Fraternity, but only to symbolize moral virtues, not to build cathedrals or castles.
Frequently Asked Questions on Masonry
What is the profile of a Mason?
The profile of a Mason matches that of a man who adheres to the principles of perfectibility and transcendence, who is ready to take part in a knowledge of himself, and, therefore, to study subjects as diverse as philosophy, science, and humanism. This demands an open mind, a critical viewpoint, and the deepest conviction that personal growth is founded upon tolerance and work.
What activities are there to attract members to the Lodge?
Masonry does not advertise nor engage in any recruitment activity to attract members. A man who feels attracted to its altruistic ideals seeks contact with the Institution through one of its members, and, after his petition has been investigated and approved, he is received by a Lodge by means of a ceremony of reception called an “initiation,” in which the teachings of the Order begin to be imparted.
How is Masonry organized?
Masonry is organized into Lodges and Grand Lodges, which constitute the central nucleus and focal point of its activities, purposes, and aspirations. In the sphere of instruction, Masonry is structured into three levels or “degrees”: Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason, in which are captured the traditional teachings on which its humanizing ideals are based.
What are Masonic degrees?
In Freemasonry, members are divided into degrees or, put another way, into different levels of progress and of commitments, obligations, and rights. Each degree is differentiated by a particular ritual, by certain modes of recognition, and by moral lessons specific to each one.
In what do Masons believe?
Masons believe in the perfectibility of man and the comprehensive development of all the capabilities with which man is endowed. They believe in the power of reason as the illuminating tool of truth and in fraternal sentiments as the tool of cohesion, so that human beings improve themselves, complementing their individualities, sensibilities, and thought.
Why do Masons take oaths (or “obligations”)?
The philosophical and ethical meaning of taking oaths refers to a promise, an affirmation that is made concerning the faithful performance of some moral, material, and spiritual obligations that are freely accepted and that a Mason owes to himself and to his Brothers from that moment forward.
If it is an organization with such excellent teachings and good qualities,
why is Masonry so secret? What is the secret?
Masonry is not secret in the sense of hiding its existence or its identity. The work done by Masons jointly or individually are known and respected by the community. Nevertheless, like all organizations, we have some confidential elements, such as the esoteric teachings of the Order, the modes of recognition between Masons, and some privileges that the Fraternity does not have to disclose publicly and that are reserved only for its members. This system permits Masonry to protect itself from its numerous, unjustified enemies throughout the ages, while at the same time advancing its activities that are needed for the good of humanity and in fulfillment of its principles.
What is the relation between Masonry and religions?
Freemasonry does not seek to occupy the place of religion nor to substitute the religious beliefs of its members, but an essential requirement for an applicant to be admitted into Freemasonry is the belief in the existence of a Supreme Being. Throughout the history of the Masonic Order, members of the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths, as well as the Hindu, Zoroastrian, Muslim, Buddhist, and other faiths, have found nothing in Masonry that may be incompatible with their own religious beliefs. Masonry promotes among its members the unceasing search for truth, without any type of formulas or exclusions for finding it. Its members have full liberty to prosecute their pursuit in accordance with their private, personal convictions, with the goal of freeing themselves from the chains of ignorance, prejudice, and the dogma of appearances, thereby understanding the purpose of existence and, with it, giving meaning to life.
What is the relation between Masonry and politics?
As a universal institution, Masonry practices an open humanism that exalts tolerance and rejects all dogmatic statements and all fanaticism, dispelling from its temples partisan political discussions. Among its ranks are found members of different social and political groups, all coexisting in wholesome fraternity and practicing the purest tolerance.
Why does Masonry not accept women?
Masonry does not exclude women from its humanitarian and social activities, but the Fraternity must respect many ancient traditions that give it its character. Among those traditions is that of admitting only men whose preparation shall train them to defend its principles.
Who can become a Mason?
Any free-thinking man without prejudices and dogmas of any sort and who possesses the personal and moral conditions that may permit him to progress in the process of constructing his own project of individual realization can be a Mason.
If you possess the required qualifications (listed below) and speak, read, write, and understand the Spanish language, or if you are already a Mason, please fill out our membership inquiry form or contact the Secretary of our Lodge at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will be happy to assist you.
What is required in order to be a Mason?
There are five basic requirements to be eligible to be a Mason:
Believe in a Supreme Being;
Be a man;
Be at least 18 years old;
Possess a few indispensable physical, intellectual, and moral qualities that allow a candidate to understand and comply with the principles of the Order; and
Be accepted as meeting these requirements.
Are studies prior to acceptance as a member of a Lodge necessary?
Previous studies are not necessary. A candidate only should have enough general instruction and intellectual capacity to assimilate Masonic teachings and, as he advances through the degrees, to continue receiving instruction corresponding to each one until he has completed his basic Masonic training and familiarized himself with all the tenets of the Fraternity.
How are Lodges supported financially?
Like many organizations, the members of Lodges pay dues and make donations that make up the assets of each Lodge and each Grand Lodge. These means are used by our Institution to advance philanthropic community projects that, for our part, are principally related to education and medical care, such as scholarships for students and clinics to help children with dyslexia.