Traditional Lodge Model

“A Return to the Traditional Lodge Model”

published in the 2011 edition of the Scottish Rite Research Society’s Journal Heredom¬†1:

It is a tradition of Freemasonry that the fraternity is, above all else, an initiatic order whose main purpose is to teach good men to subdue their passions, become masters over themselves, and grow in life to be better men.

It is a tradition of Freemasonry that only those who are duly and truly prepared are eligible to be admitted as members. In keeping with the Masonic statement “to make good men better,” a man should only be initiated into a lodge if he is already good and capable of being made better. Determining the qualifications of men in seeking admission is an essential aspect of upholding the integrity of our ancient institution.

It is a tradition of Freemasonry that its ceremonies should be conducted with the utmost reverence and solemnity. Masonic ritual ceremonies should always be performed in a solemn and dignified manner. All efforts pertaining to the presentation of the degrees of Craft Freemasonry should be focused on the candidate, providing each with the most profound and transformative initiatic experience possible.

It is a tradition of Freemasonry that every Mason should be desirous to learn and apt to teach. Sufficient time between degrees should be given to each candidate so as to enhance his self-transformation through personal intellectual study, reflection and contemplation. It is incumbent on every lodge to be aware of the progressive nature of its teaching curriculum, and to provide its candidates with a ritual coach and the mentorship of well informed brethren.

It is a tradition of Freemasonry that each candidate should demonstrate his proficiency in learning at each individual stage or degree before he can be advanced to the next stage. Traditionally, Masonic learning includes a demonstration of the candidate’s understanding of the journey from darkness to light, ignorance to knowledge; and his insight into the uses and applications of Masonic symbols, allegories and myths introduced by the ritual ceremonies. The aspirant should be able to articulate to his lodge brethren some positive changes in his character and demeanor as he advances in his understanding and proficiency. Every newly raised Master Mason should feel that he has grown intellectually and spiritually by his Masonic experience.

It is a tradition of Freemasonry that members of Masonic Lodges should be actively engaged in Freemasonry. Historically, attendance at Masonic meetings and functions was mandatory, with fines paid for absences not excused by the lodge. Active participation in the business and purposes of Masonry by a large majority of those who belong is essential to the growth and vitality of a lodge, and in carrying out its role in improving society.

It is a tradition of Freemasonry that Masons come together to seek fellowship and fraternity in a common pursuit of virtue and moral improvement. This has historically best been accomplished in small and intimate gatherings of fraternal association. Lodges should be large enough to be efficient, but small enough for all the brethren of the lodge to closely know each other. Fraternal ties must always be stronger than social.tie~ Masonic relationships are expected to be forged between members in the same way a brother grows close to a sibling.

It is a tradition of Freemasonry that, through the exercise of genuine brotherly love, men become better enabled to regard humankind as one family. Charity, being the chief of all social virtues, encumbers Masons to aid, support and protect each other, relieve the distress and misfortune of family members, and consciously contribute to the betterment of society at large.

It is a tradition of Freemasonry that Lodges should make regular time for feasting, communal dining, and embracing the social enjoyment of their members. Holding an Agape or Festive Board after meetings has long been a traditional element of Masonic evenings. Table Lodges and Feasts of St. John offer opportunities to observe this important Masonic tradition with the larger Masonic community. The fellowship of men is best embraced in the convivial environs of sociability.

It is a tradition of Freemasonry that its formal and tyled assemblies should be dedicated to the attainment of a deeper knowledge and understanding of Freemasonry by all members. To this end, the presentation of lectures, poetry, music; discussions of the arts, philosophy, and history; and the interpretation of symbols, allegories and myths of Masonic ritual all play an important role in furthering the aims and growth of a Masonic lodge and its members. Each tyled meeting should be devoted, at least in part, to the realization of this profound purpose.

It is a tradition of Freemasonry that only the ablest among us should serve in an office of Masonry. Serving in a Masonic office is a privilege and not a right. Officers of Masonic lodges should be elected and appointed based solely on their merit. Officers who are invited to progress in the offices of Masonry should be able to demonstrate their qualifications to lead and execute the duties of their office.

It is a tradition of Freemasonry that the Master of a Masonic Lodge must be well versed in Masonic teachings and traditions; be a proven leader of men; possess a character worthy of respect; and be the kind of man who cultivates in all his undertakings the tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.

Above all, the most important tradition of a Freemason is self improvement. The improvement of the individual is the most fundamental aspect of improving society. Thus, the most important tradition of Freemasonry is societal improvement made manifest through the best efforts and examples of its members.

Brother Normand concludes his article with the following, which coalesces the very essence of East Denver Lodge No. 160’s approach:

“I hope I have given you some insight into the traditional movement in America and in Freemasonry worldwide. Whether these lodge models described here appeal to you or not, let me tell you that they do appeal to today’s educated young men of quality. This new generation of Freemasons is not interested in the lodge dinner that resembles a church social or a potluck supper. They are not interested in a Masonic experience that resembles a domino tournament down at the Moose Lodge. I would venture that we have already lost tens, if not hundreds of thousands of members because the vast majority of our Masonic lodges simply do not give them the quality Masonic experience that we promise, and they expect. Quality men will seek out quality Freemasonry, and quality Freemasonry will create quality Freemasons. It is my belief that numbers will follow quality, not the other way around.

This paradigm shift back towards a more traditional and higher quality Masonic experience is the result of a few inspired members who, rather than become inactive or go suspended as so many others have done, have rolled up their sleeves and created their own quality experience. A s we have seen, this determination and commitment toward quality is growing among men. A number of lodges have already begun to do more than simply offer their members’ encouragement. We should become pro-active in the creation of these kinds of lodges in every major city and regional economic center on the North American continent. By creating an environment and Masonic culture that practices Freemasonry as a transformative art, we become a part of the true heritage of Freemasonry that has already been established over hundreds of years and been energized through hundreds of rituals, repeated thousands of times.

Such places are truly focused on a single, foundational hope – the improvement in the individual man and Mason. I strongly believe a committed and disciplined focus on a quality fraternal, educational and social experience for each individual Mason is the real uniqueness, and effectiveness of the Masonic Lodge. Such attention to detail can leap to much success for American Freemasonry in our time.2

1,2¬†Normand, Pierre G. “Pete”, Jr. 2011. A Return to the Traditional Lodge Model. Heredom 19:209-27. Copyright -2011 by the Scottish Rite Research Society. All Rights Reserved.