The Grand Masters of Masons in Massachusetts have frequently offered opinions and made declarations from the Oriental Chair of Grand Lodge which have the force of Masonic law within the jurisdiction. This page lists those that appear in the pages of the Proceedings.
Page II-59, 09/10/1794: In response to requests and petitions from outside of Massachusetts where Grand Lodges had been erected, the Grand Master directed a letter to be sent to the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island in particular "informing them that it is the intention and full determination of this Grand Lodge, not to grant any charter of erection to any Lodge out of this commonwealth, where another Grand Lodge has jurisdiction: hinting to them the absolute necessity of the measure, and requesting them to join in a plan so likely to operate to the benefit of Masonry in General." (This ruling was confirmed on 03/08/1802, Page II-197, by Grand Master Samuel Dunn, in response to a petition from Columbian Lodge in Norwich, Connecticut; the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts resigned authority of this lodge when the Grand Lodge of Connecticut was erected. A similar petition from Masons in New Brunswick was withdrawn in 1807; Page II-352.)
Page II-328, 03/10/1806: "It was moved by the Most Worshipful Timothy Bigelow to know the opinion of this Grand Lodge, if a blind man can, or cannot, be made a Mason, such an one having applied for admission to King Solomon's Lodge in Charlestown; and on motion, Voted, That it is inconsistent and incompatible with the Constitutions of Masonry." (This was reconsidered in the 1843 Grand Constitutions, with the following text: "where the deformity does not amount to an inability honestly to acquire the means of subsistence, it constitutes no hindrance to initiation." (Part 4, Article 3, Section 4. )
Page II-345, 12/08/1806: "In pursuance of a vote of the Grand Lodge at the last Quarterly Communication, submitting the question to his decision, it pleased the Most Worshipful Grand Master to give his opinion, that with respect to such candidates for initiation and other degrees, as have conscientious scruples about taking an oath, the act of affirmation is equally valid as swearing in receiving the obligations of Masonry."
Page II-410, 06/12/1809: "On motion, Voted, that the jewels and regalia of this Grand Lodge be entrusted in future to the Grand Stewards, for the time being, and that they be answerable for the same." (This was enshrined in the By-Laws in 1819; see Chapter 4, Section 3; the Senior Grand Steward was given charge of these items.)
Page IV-587, 03/09/1843: "The Most Worshipful Grand Master stated that he had been called upon for his opinion as to the propriety of the Lodges conferring more than one degree on the Same individual at one and the same meeting, and that he had expressed his conviction that the practice was irregular and injudicious, and ought not to be resorted to except in cases of pressing emergency, and then only by dispensation. Whereupon the Recording Grand Secretary offered the following order:
"Ordered. That from and after the passage of this order, it shall not be regular for any Lodge to give more than one degree to a Brother on the same day, nor at a less interval than one month from his receiving a previous degree, unless a dispensation shall be obtained therefor." (Adopted 06/14/1843, Page IV-598; referred to the committee on the Grand Constitutions, but this ruling was not included in the 1843 edition, and therefore should be considered as an edict in force. Note that a motion was proposed in March 1845, on Page V-22, to rescind this order and to reduce the month of elapsed time between degrees; this was not adopted.)
Page V-51, 12/10/1845: "Brethren of eminence out of this State, who have rendered important services to the Craft, may, by a vote of this Grand Lodge duly confirmed, be constituted honorary members thereof, with such rank as the vote constituting them members shall designate." (This order was first applied at the December 27 meeting of that year, when Rt. Wor. George Oliver, D.D. was elected with the rank of Past Deputy Grand Master, and Rt. Wor. Robert Thomas Crucefix, M.D., was elected with the rank of Past Senior Grand Warden.)
Page V-217, 12/27/1848: By order of the Grand Master, a Form of Summons was adopted and ordered to be printed. This summons was directed to be used by subordinate Lodges when issuing summons to Brothers, per the provision in the 1843 Grand Constitutions.
Page VI-196, 09/08/1858: Resolution based on the Grand Master's 1857 Address. "Resolved: That the fee for a restoration of a Charter shall be the same, as that required for issuing a new Charter unless otherwise ordered by a vote of this Grand Lodge."
Page VI-212, 12/08/1858: By order of the Grand Master, District Deputies were directed to meet. "Ordered: That the District Deputy Grand Masters be authorized to hold Quarterly meetings for the purpose of consulting upon any questions that may arise in the several districts for the discussion or action of the several District Deputy Grand Masters, and that the expenses of such meetings and of the officers attending the same shall be paid by the Grand Lodge."
Page VI-486, 12/10/1863: "Ordered: That it shall not be regular hereafter for any Lodge, which does not usually issue written or printed notification of its meetings to ballot upon any application for the degrees where there is a dispensation therefor, at any but stated monthly meetings without written or printed notifications to the members of the Lodge, with the name of their Candidate borne thereon."
Page 1870-228, 12/14/1870: "Resolved, That it is the privilege of every affiliated Mason, in good and regular standing, to visit any Lodge, when not engaged in the transaction of private business; but that it is also the right of a sitting member of the Lodge, to object to the admission of a visitor, giving his reasons therefor, if required by a majority-vote of the members to do so; or, as the alternative, declaring, upon his honor as a Masons, that his reasons are such that he cannot with propriety disclose them to the Lodge."
Page 1871-72, 06/14/1871: "Ordered, That any Lodge neglecting to present its returns and Grand Lodge dues to the District Deputy Grand Master, at the time of his official visit to such Lodge, when demanded by him, shall not be permitted to work in any of the degrees of Masonry until such returns and dues are placed in the hands of the District Deputy Grand Master." (This order was developed as a result of the dispute between Grand Lodge and Star in the East Lodge the previous year, which resulted in the revocation of that Lodge's charter for several months.)
Page 1871-75, 06/14/1871: "Voted, That a fee of fifteen dollars be hereafter required from every candidate for healing, the same to be applied toward the extinguishing of the debt of the Grand Lodge."
Page 1872-19, 03/13/1872: "It is hereby ordered that no one be admitted into any of our Lodges who is not known to be a Mason in good and regular standing, unless he is vouched for by some well known Brother, or produces the Certificate of some Grand Lodge and passes a strict examination."
Baalis Sanford, Grand Master
Page 1904-109, 09/14/1904: "Voted, That no Lodge within the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge shall admit any visitor to any of its meetings, unless said visitor shall first produce a Grand Lodge Certificate, or his original diploma, and then be vouched for by some Brother present, or pass a strict examination." This was in response to concerns about clandestine soi-disant "Masonic" bodies communicating Masonic secrets for a small fixed fee, and because of the work of the Cerneau rite in establishing a spurious Grand Lodge in Ohio. The committee also expressed concern regarding laxity of brethren vouching for visitors.
Melvin M. Johnson, Grand Master
Page 1914-153, 06/10/1914: "While a Lodge is at labor, every one who enters must approach to the West of the Altar and there salute the Master. The only exception is when the entrant acts by or under the authority of the Grand Master, i.e. the Grand Master, himself, or a Deputy acting under his warrant; their Marshals and suite, while in actual attendance. . . It applies not only to visiting Lodge delegations, but must be strictly observed also at "Military Nights," so-called, and other similar occasions. There is no objection to visitors being received in procession provided proper formation and halt is made West of the Altar for Masonic salute."
Page 1914-154, 06/10/1914: "Under no circumstances, whatever, must any visitor (save only the Grand Master or his Deputy) be covered while in the Lodge."
Page 1914-154, 06/10/1914: "The wearing of side-arms (save only by Sword-Bearer and Tyler) is forbidden. It is not Masonic to carry weapons of offense or defense into the Lodge."
Page 1914-155, 06/10/1914: "Dispensations to confer degrees in less than the constitutional interval of four weeks should be granted only in cases of necessity or extraordinary emergency. They should not be granted merely for convenience, either of the candidate or of the Lodge." The Grand Master noted that a number of dispensations had been declined, "though in some cases such declination has not been pleasantly received." He further noted that no dispensation would be granted without the approval of the District Deputy Grand Master, nor "to receive the third degree upon the same day as the second."
Melvin M. Johnson, Grand Master
Page 1915-112, 06/09/1915: "Instances have recently been brought to my attention where a Lodge has worked two different degrees simultaneously in separate halls, or where a portion of the degree has been omitted and given to the candidate at a sodality. Such practices are absolutely forbidden."
Page 1915-218, 09/08/1915: "The Master of a particular Lodge cannot resign his office. If the Master dies or demits, or is suspended, deposed, disabled or absent, the Senior Warden forthwith fills the Master's Chair.
"No dispensation will issue to fill the vacancy. A new election of Master must await the next annual meeting of the Lodge. The Senior Warden does not become Master. He is 'Senior Warden, Acting Master.' He appoints Wardens and other officers, if necessary, to fill the vacancies created by his occupancy of the Oriental Chair and by the appointments so made. Such appointments are not made, however, for the balance of the year, but merely from meeting to meeting, and should be recorded each meeting by the Secretary.
"If the Senior Warden also be disqualified, the Junior Warden becomes acting Master with like powers.
"In the event of a Lodge being without any one of these three officers the facts should forthwith be made known to the District Deputy Grand Master for the District, who will fill the chair himself or, if that be impossible, the Grand Master will preside or commission a special deputy for the purpose."
This declaration was reinforced by Grand Master Abbott in 1918 due to the absence of lodge officers due to the wartime draft (Page 1918-176), regarding the powers and authority of the Senior and Junior Wardens in the absence of the Master, and interim appointments of other officers. "Installed officers are not, except in case of extreme necessity, at liberty to resign. . . In case a vacancy in office actually occurs, it cannot be filled without a Dispensation from the Grand Master."
Page 1915-221, 09/08/1915: Recommendations of the passage to which the Holy Bible should be opened. "I recommend that when the Lodge is opened upon the First Degree the Holy Bible should be displayed at Psalm 133, or as an alternative at Ruth 4:7. When opened upon the Second Degree, at Judges 12:6, or as alternatives 1 Kings 6:8 or 2 Chronicles 3:17. When opened upon the Third Degree at Ecclesiastes 12:1-7, or as an alternative 1 Kings 7:13 and 14."
Melvin M. Johnson, Grand Master
Page 1916-17, 03/08/1916: On chain letters. "The attention of the Brethren is called to the unwritten law that no attention whatever should be paid to chain letters or circular appeals except such as bear the official approval of the Grand Lodge or the Grand Master of the jurisdiction." The Grand Master gave the example of the so-called 'McKinley chain letter' to raise funds for a memorial for the late President. "The proper place for chain letters and all other unapproved circular appeals for Masonic aid is the waste basket."
Page 1916-172, 06/14/1916: On suspended members.
"If a Brother has been suspended for non-payment of dues he may at any time pay the amount which was due the Lodge at the time of his suspension. He is then clear upon the books. He can not be charged with dues for the period of his suspension. If upon paying such amount he applies for a dimit he is entitled to the dimit as a matter of right. If he desires to regain his membership in the Lodge it is the duty of the Lodge to vote upon the question and determine the matter of reinstatement by a majority vote of those members of the Lodge present when action is taken. Notice that action wil be taken on the application for reinstatement should be borne upon the notice of the meeting by all Lodges issuing notices. If the Lodge does not issue printed or written notices the Lodge should be advised of the application for reinstatement at one meeting and the matter should lie over until the next regular meeting.
"If the Brother, instead of having been suspended, has been discharged for non-payment of dues he has not the same righs. If his dues up to the time of his discharge, but not including the period of discharge, have been paid or remitted, he is not entitled to a dimit. He is entitled to a receipt or certificate from the Secretary of the Lodge that his dues have been liquidated, but to nothing more. If he desires to regain his membership in the Lodge he must apply for such membership de novo. His application is then dealt with just as if it had come from one who was never a member of the Lodge. All the formalities usually attending admission to membership must be observed, as in the case of any candidate."
Page 1916-174, 06/14/1916: On "baiting and bantering". The Grand Master criticized ceremonies "characterized by fun and frolic, if not by farce and buffoonery. . . How much more our teachings will sink into his heart and mind if he has no thought except that he is to be received as a gentleman into the company of gentlemen; nay more, as a neophyte into the company of those who are about to take him by the right hand and call him a brother."
"Bantering and baiting of candidates is all wrong. It injures the reputation of Masonry; it decreases our opportunity of service to the candidate; it reacts upon the thoughtless Brother who utters the ill-timed jest; it lowers the moral tone of all concerned."
Page 1916-272, 06/14/1916, regarding the wearing of Henry Price Medals.
"Resolved: That hereafter the Henry Price Medal may be worn only by members of Henry Price Lodge; by Permanent Members of the Grand Lodge; by those who have been members of the Fraternity for fifty years or more; and by such others as may be selected by the Most Worshipful Grand Master as worthy of this special Masonic recognition."
Page 1916-306ff, 09/13/1916, regarding Masonic Burials.
"When a Master learns of the death of any member of his Lodge in good standing and learns from any credible source that the Brother has requested a Masonic funeral, it is that Master's duty forthwith to offer the services of the Fraternity to those who are nearest and dearest to him who has passed into the blessings of that immortality so eloquently taught by our esoteric rites. And if those services are accepted, the Master who does not bend his every energy to comply and who does not conduct or cause to be conducted the prescribed ceremonies if humanly possible is derelict in his duty and unfaithful to his obligations."
"It has been shown that the Right of Burial exists only when the request has been made by the decedent and communicated to his own Lodge.
"The Privilege of Burial exists in two other cases, viz.:
- First. If a Lodge, other than his own, is requested and voluntarily consents to perform the service: and
- Second. If the request has not been made by the decedent but does come from his family.
"In the first case, Masonic jurisprudence fails to impose any obligation or duty upon such Lodge. It may act or not according as the circumstances impress the Master or Acting Master, who is governed only by the dictates of his heart and conscience.
"In the second case, where the decedent has not himself expressed the wish for such a service yet his family request it of his own or another Lodge, interment can not take place with the formalities of the Order except by Dispensation from the Grand Master (Constitutions, Part Fifth, Section 7). When such a request is made not for display but because of a real reaching out by the bereaved and sorrowing for sympathy and comfort, Dispensation has never been refused a Master seeking to ease the burden of the afflicted."
Page 1916-575ff, 12/13/1916, on the Precedence of the Grand Master. An extended essay on this subject, followed by the declarations starting on Page 1916-584:
"When, therefore, the Grand Master is officially present at any Masonic function whateer within the limits controlled by his Grand Lodge, he is the ranking Masonic officer present and must be received and accomodated accordingly.
"There is a clear distinction between his official and personal attendance. The Grand Master of Massachusetts cannot attend a Lodge within this state, while it is open on the First, Second or Third Degree, without being Grand Master, but it is possible that he could not attend a Chapter, for instance, at all. Within the Symbolic Lodge he is never shorn of his prerogatives, but he might not be able to pass the Sentinel of a Commandery, and, if he did, he could not take the chair at will. If he is entitled to enter these other bodies, it is by virtue of the practices of those bodies. . . But it is otherwise when the Grand Master as such is invited to attend. Then it is not the humble Brother who enters, but it is the head of the supreme Masonic jurisdiction who enters in his official capacity and garb. Then no other Mason outranks him. He takes precedence over all. No matter who else is there received, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge must be received last."
The rules listed on Page 1916-586 apply:
- That, within a particular lodge holding a Charter of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge is always such;
- That, in any other body recognized by the Grand Lodge as Masonic and meeting within this Commonwealth the person who happens to be Grand Master for the time being may attend in his personal capacity according to his rank which he may hold there in and (with immaterial exceptions) without other privileges and duties;
- That, in any other body recognized by the Grand Lodge as Masonic and meeting within this Commonwealth the Grand Master may, if thereunto invited, attend in his official capacity and regalia of office, in which case he takes precedence over all present, though without thereby acquiring authority to exercise any official function pertaining to that body;
- That, without the territorial jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge, the Grand Master of Massachusetts receives only such Masonic recognition as may be accorded through Fraternal comity. It has invariably been the practice, that where various visiting Grand Masters are received in order appertaining to the seniority of their several jurisdictions, recognition has been given to Massachusetts as the senior Grand Lodge of America.
Page 1916-595, 12/13/1916, regarding giving information on Masonic standing.
The Grand Master adopted the following recommendation of a committee appointed to consider this subject and answer the following question: "Is it a Masonic offence for the member of the Craft to disclose his standing or the standing of any member of his lodge, to a person or persons not members of the Craft?"
- If the Brother's report, so far as Masonic standing is concerned, states merely the fact as to whether the petitioner is affiliated with a Masonic Lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, the Brother so reporting has not committed a Masonic offence.
- If said Brother in his said report discloses or tends to disclose the priate affairs of a Masonic Lodge under the jurisdiction of said Grand Lodge he commits a Masonic offence.
This ruling arose as a result of a communication from a presiding Master to the Grand Master, regarding petitions for membership in the Order of the Eastern Star, which had certain Masonic membership requirements as prerequisites.
Leon M. Abbott, Grand Master
"Again it seems necessary to call your attention to another epidemic of chain letters . . . Chain prayer letters seem to be the present most popular form and are being widely circulated in addition to those seeking money for various objects. Such letters are unmasonic and prohibited in this jurisdiction. They are calculated to appeal to the superstitious and are a rank imposition upon those to whom they are sent. Every loyal Masonic officer and member should use every reasonable effort to rid the Fraternity of this pernicious practice so contrary to Masonic ethics and authority."
Page 1917-294, 12/12/1917, on participation in parades and public demonstrations.
"The last year has brought many requests for permission to Lodges to participate in public processions of a general character, flag raisings, fairs, and the like, all of which have been refused.
"Any such participation is entirely opposed to the long established rules and usages of the Fraternity. It is one of the oldest and best established principles of our conduct that we participate publicly in nothing that is not strictly Masonic.
", , , When the Masters of Lodges are asked to participate in these affairs they should remember that from the beginning Freemasonry has done its own peculiar work in its own way. It does not challenge any comparison with others. It does not advertise itself. It does not seek for the applause of the general public and it is indifferent to criticism. . .
"I reaffirm the principles held by my predecessors and I shall continue to refuse dispensations to participate in public demonstrations."
Grand Master Abbott reviewed the rulings of previous Grand Masters on this subject.
Leon M. Abbott, Grand Master
Page 1918-21, 03/13/1918, on qualifications for the Master of a new Lodge.
The Grand Master was asked to rule whether a Brother who had only served one year as a Warden would be qualified to serve as a Master of a Lodge acting under Dispensation. The requirement for a Master to have previously served as Warden is in the 1722 Ancient Charges; the discussion also includes exceptions noted in Mackey's Masonic Jurisprudence.
"Taking into account the wording of our Regulation and the other considerations that I have outlined, I rule that service as regular Warden for the period one year in a Lodge acting under Dispensation makes such member eligible for election as Master."
Page 1918-23, 03/13/1918, on solicitation of new members.
"I am impressed that our Brethren ought to be reminded that it is one of our most sacred traditions that no one shall be solicited or invited to join our Fraternity.
"A candidate's appliction must come of his own free will and accord, of his own initiative, and unbiased and uninfluenced by any member of the Craft.
"Our Order occupies an enviable position in the eyes of the world. It is regarded as a pioneer in advancing civilization, a bulwark of civic righteousness, liberty loving and God serving. Such a reputation has been earned and won by generations of constant loyalty and devotion to the traditions, purposes and fundamental teachings of Masonry.
"The prohibiting of proselyt[iz]ing and importuning of men to join our ranks has been a great contributing factor in the enduring success of our organization. Quality not quantity is our life blood. Every newly admitted member should be early advised by the Master, Officers, or Committee of Instruction as to the duty of every Mason with respect to applicants and new members. This is all-important.
"I am laying especial emphasis upon this charge to you because of recent and intimate knowledge of the need, and of an innocent transgression of this exclusive precept of Freemasonry."
Leon M. Abbott, Grand Master
Page 1919-65, 03/12/1919, regarding the powers of Wardens.
"I hereby rule that a Warden has no right to raise a candidate or occupy the Master's Chair except in his own Lodge.
"Under Masonic law, in the absence of the Master the Senior Warden is to govern the Lodge. But this is his own Lodge and gives him no authority to preside in any other. He has not taken the oath nor qualified as Master. A Warden acting as Master of his Lodge and raising a candidate, is still a Warden and acting simply in the discharge of one of the duties of his office.
"Only one who has qualified and been installed as a Master can raise a candidate or occupy the Master's Chair in a Lodge other than his own."
Page 1919-346, 12/10/1919, regarding degree work.
"It has been called to my attention that it has become the practice in some Lodges to abbreviate or omit the lectures in the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft degrees. There is absolutely no warrant whatever for this and it must not be permitted under any circumstances. The MAster of any Lodge permitting such violation of Masonic duty and requirement is liable to severe discipline. It only needs a casual thought to convince any one that the whole plan and purpose of Masonic degrees is seriously threatened by any deletions, omissions, substitutions, or additions to the ritual as it is laid down by duly and legally constituted Masonic authority."
Arthur D. Prince, Grand Master
Page 1920-90, 03/10/1920, regarding solicitation for membership.
"It should be borne in upon the minds of our members, old and young, that solicitation is strictly forbidden. While not a landmark, the law against solicitation is so ancient that it takes on the full force of one. Many times in the past this warning has issued from the East, but it is necessary constantly to reiterate, and the Masters should continually remind the Brethren that "our portals are open to all the good and true, but we ask no man to enter."
Page 1920-91, 03/10/1920, regarding secrecy.
A lodge notice was found "in the desk basket of a certain Boston lawyer who was not a Mason; was indeed a member of a sectarian order whose unfriendliness to Masonry is of common report. . . it at once emphasizes the importance of keeping our Lodge notices from the eyes of those who have no right to see them. . .
"Masonic matters are freely talked over on the street, in the trolley cars, and in the home. News of rejection is often heard of by the man affected and from the lips of non-MAsons before he receives his official notice . . .
"Every presiding Master should impress upon the initiate in the strongest terms that proselyt[iz]ing or exposing the action of the Lodge are Masonic offenses of a serious character and would subject the one found guilty of them to severe discipline."
Page 1920-181, 06/09/1920, regarding funeral ceremonies.
"The right of every Mason to be buried according to the rites and ceremonies of the Craft is well established. It is sad and sometimes shameful to witness the unwillingness of Lodge officers to perform this service and to note the meager attendance of the Brethren on such occasions.
"The officers of a Lodge should consider it a solemn duty and sad privilege to officiate at the funeral of one of our Brethren. They should consider attendance upon this duty as binding as any other and the Brethren ought at least to show their respect for the Institution by giving a few moments of their time in attendance on the last rites over one whom they have been pleased to call their Brother."
Page 1920-182, 06/09/1920, regarding chain letters.
"Several times within recent years Grand Masters have called attention to the pernicious practice of circulating chain letters and have advised the Brethren that in all cases such letters, no matter what their purport, should be discouraged, and in no case should any attention be paid to such a chain letter by its recipient. My attention has been called to the recurrence of one of the worst of those offenders. The silly and superstitious so-called 'Masonic Prayer' is again in circulation. It is probably impossible to stop these things at their source, but I reiterate the advice which I cannot put in too strong terms that any Brother receiving this absurd communication should immediately destroy it and if he knows the source from which he received it should call the attention of the writer to the impropriety of his action in giving circulation to anything so contemptible."
At the September Quarterly communication (09/08; 1920-258) the Grand Master directed "that every Lodge insert with monthly notices a warning against the chain letter of every description, but more particularly this so called Masonic prayer."
Arthur D. Prince, Grand Master
Page 1921-46, 03/09/1921, regarding jurisdiction over soldiers and sailors.
"I rule that Section 405 is to be interpreted strictly and literally and that the permission given to certain persons to apply in certain Lodges without the preceding six months' residence is not to be taken as implying more than it says. Such persons may apply in the places specified, but not elsewhere. The Section does not confer upon the Lodge to which they may apply any jurisdiction that can be waived."
Page 1921-153, 06/08/1921, regarding the use of lodge mailing lists.
"Requests for membership lists, addresses of Masters or Secretaries, permission to send representatives into our Lodges to address them, or any endorsement of non-Masonic movements are uniformly denied. Even in the stress of war, when the temptation to relax established rules was at its peak, the policy of the Grand Lodge remained unchanged. The merit of the appeal and the worthiness of the cause have no bearing on this policy. The only question to be answered is whether the object is Masonic or not. Masonry in Massachusetts, with its great membership and efficient organization, must not be used for purposes and propaganda which arenot Masonic."
Page 1921-154, 06/08/1921, regarding degree work.
"There is no authority anywhere outside of the Grand Lodge which permits or can permit any deviation or omission in the Standard Work adopted by the Grand Lodge and it is positively incumbent upon the Master to see that the mandates of the Grand Lodge are complied with in full."
Arthur D. Prince, Grand Master
Page 1922-197, 06/14/1922, regarding the Ku Klux Klan.
The Grand Master indicated in a circular letter that any organization that did not support such constitutional principles as protection of the law, trial by jury under duly constituted authority, and freedom of worship was un-American and un-Masonic; and that Grand Lodge would take no interest in an organization such as the Klan, whose objects were "political, sectarian and racial" as exposed by a Congressional investigation, except for the claim by "officers and organizers" that its membership was largely Masonic and that it had Masonic approval and support. "This statement is absolutely false, as the Klan has no connection with and neither does it have the support of any Masonic jurisdiction." While not imposing the threat of Masonic discipline for membership, the Grand Master issued the following statement.
"Without hesitation, I declare the Ku Klux Klan an un-Masonic organization, utterly without Masonic support or sympathy.
"Its avowed principles violate Masonic law at every point and it would be impossible for me to conceive of a Mason who could so far forget his Masonic teachings as to affiliate with an organization which advocates taking the law into its own hands, condemning men and women in secret trials, and imposing the punishment of the whip, the tar bucket, or unlawful banishment.
"How long will it be before the law-abiding people of this Commonwealth visit dire punishment upon those who forget or flout the sovereignity of the law?
"This is not an edict against the Ku Klux Klan. We cannot prevent misguided men from joining it and the arm of the law will soon reach those who join in its overt acts. But we must protect the fair reputation of Freemasonry from being spotted by any connection, official or otherwise, with such an organization. No Masonic Temple or Apartments must be used for their purposes and let every Mason who is tempted to join the Klan consider well if he can harmonize his obligations as a Mason with the principles of the Klan."
Dudley H. Ferrell, Grand Master.
Page 1923-55, resolution regarding Masonic utterances.
This was in response to activities of publications, "some of them bearing Masonic names, which profess to be the organs and exponents of Masonic sentiment and opinion."
"Resolved: That this Grand Lodge speaks only through its Most Worshipful Grand Master, through its official Proceedings and other instruments issuing under the attestation of its Right Worshipful Grand Secretary, and through Brothers especially deputed by the Grand Lodge or the Grand Master to the extent of their authority; and further
"Resolved: That this Grand Lodge maintains no representative in Washington or elsewhere; that no person and no paper, magazine, newspaper or other publication has the right officially to voice or represent the principles, opinions or attitudes of this Grand Lodge except as heretofore provided."
Page 1923-159, regarding begging letters.
"It has been brought to our attention that a number of begging letters have recently been circulating through our Lodges. These letters are from Masons outside of our jurisdiction, and may at first glance seem worthy. But we desire to call the attention of the Brethren to this fact: 'Begging letters or similar appeals from any source, domestic or foreign, shall not be entertained unless they have been approved by the Grand Lodge or Grand Master.' In deciding disposition of these appeals the Lodges and the Brethren must bear in mind the law just quoted, Section 707 of the Grand Constitutions."
Page 1923-320, regarding investigating committees.
"Most of the difficulties that meet us in administrating the affairs of the Craft, are not faults of our system of administration nor due to vagueness in the wording of our Constitutions, or difficulty in interpreting the regulations which are our law.
"They come either from the ignorance or carelessness of our members, often in an attempt to perform some service for their Lodge; and there is no occasion which permits a greater display of ignorance or carelessness on the part pf the Brethren than when a Committee of Investigation makes a report upon an applicant.
"Several cases recently brought to our attention impel me to speak as Grand Masters have spoken in the past, but with the added force of a definite promise. It has been called to our attention that committees have present applications that were incompletely filled out. This, Brethren, cannot be tolerated. The questions on the application blank are in no sense idle inquiries. They are for the purpose of furnishing the Lodge vital statistics and necessary facts about the one who is a potential member, and in no case is it fair to the candidate, the Committee of Investigation, or the Lodge to preent incomplete data. This does not serve as a proper introduction for any applicant.
"Again, and this is more serious, some committees are in all essentials false to their duty by the careless fashion in which the investigation is made. When an investigating committee is appointed, it has but one duty, not to get the applicant into the Lodge, but to investigate the applicant's worthiness to enter. Committees should never be guilty of making a favorable report upon the basis of an inability to discover anything against the applicant. A report should be favorable only when by the widest search of circumtances in which the applicant is involved, by the frankest questioning of those with whom he is associated, something is found in both character and actions that urges his acceptance, that promises an addition of definite value to the personal resources of the Lodge.
"Too often favorable reports and favorable action by the Lodge have rested upon negative conclusions, and thus there is always present the danger that we are assuming what will prove a liability rather than an asset. In the entire process of making additions to our membership there is just one thing that should be our guide, and that is our zealous regard for the purposes and good name of Masonry. Personal considerations of either friendship or comity do not enter the case. One question and one alone should be asked - 'What will this applicant's election mean to this Lodge?' - What will his entrance mean to those resources of character upon which we draw to meet the needs of society? It is sad commentary when such conditions, existing as they do, call for official pronouncement, but I wish to assure the Brethren that from this time forth ignorance or carelessness displayed by Brethren in their capacity as sponsors, or investigators, or by Masters or Secretaries in their official reception and handling of petitions, will be considered inexcusable, and when such fact is proved discipline will be administered according to the provisions of the Constitutions. The life of our Fraternity demands this."
Dudley H. Ferrell, Grand Master.
Page 1924-29: On lotteries and games of chance.
The Grand Master reported that the Brethren in Cambridge were planning a carnival to reduce indebtedness on its Temple, which included a lottery "for pecuniary profit." The lottery was abandoned at the request of the Grand Master.
"A lottery or a raffle as we well know is a financial operation forbidden by the law, and the nature of the action on the part of those who participate is of such a peculiarly fundamentally ethical character that the practice is not merely a transgression of the written statute but a crime against the personal integrity of those who indulge. But without taking into consideration the latter phase there is enough in the first phase, a lottery's position in the pronouncements of law, that should challenge our attention and direct us toward a determining decision on the matter. . .
"[The] Brethren should be informed that the operation of lotteries and the sponsoring of financial methods that partake of the character of gambling by the Masonic Lodges of this jurisdiction will be adjudged a Masonic offense; and for the sake of the good name and character of our Fraternity, such practice must cease as a method of Masonic financing. I may add as a matter of general information that the employment of the above interdicted methods by organizations composed of Masons, regardless of size or character, cannot be viewed by Grand Lodge of Massachusetts with any sentiment but the most profound disapproval."
Page 1924-32: On entertainments.
"The lighter hours of our association as Brethren when feasting and fun are the items on the programs are as essential and helpful as the more serious times when together we labor for a deeper understanding of the idals and purposes of our profession. Let us see to it that nothing is introduced into these hours of refreshment that will dissipate their benefit. . .
"Brethren, I give it you strictly in charge to see to it that this entertainment is in no sense inconsistent with the serious business that has gone before or is to follow. Questionable jokes, songs of doubtful significance, are both a poor preparation for and valueless as a supplement of the reception or witnessing of a Masonic degree. . .
"The other phase of Lodge practice . . . is the matter of addresses made before the Lodge either during the hour of refreshment or within doors that are tiled. It is practically a universal custom to select a speaker, invite him to come, and leave the selection of topic and the formulation of subject matter entirely to him. As a general rule this may be a safe procedure, but there are enough exceptions to the rule to warrant us in discarding this practice. I am more than ever confirmed in the opinion that Section 338 of the Grand Constitutions which forbids any Lodge from encouraging, promoting or permitting the delivery of any Masonic lectures which have not be authorized by the Grand Lodge is interpreted in too limited a fashion. . .
"It would be well if the Masters of our Lodges developed the practice of acquainting themselves with the subject matter to be presented by lecturers whom they invite; many a false impression upon new members would not then be made, the real purpose of our association would not be clouded; it would be impossible for any political, sectarian, or religious dogma to invade those portals within which they could never, in very nature of the case, be anything but stranger."