- 1 EDICTS FROM 1900 TO 1949
- 1.1 EDICTS AND RULINGS FROM 1900 TO 1909
- 1.2 EDICTS AND RULINGS FROM 1910 TO 1919
- 1.2.1 1914
- 1.2.2 1915
- 1.2.3 1916
- 1.2.4 1917
- 1.2.5 1918
- 1.2.6 1919
- 1.3 EDICTS AND RULINGS FROM 1920 TO 1929
- 1.3.1 1920
- 1.3.2 1921
- 1.3.3 1922
- 1.3.4 1923
- 1.3.5 1924
- 1.3.6 1925
- 1.3.7 1926
- 184.108.40.206 Candidates (Proficiency)
- 220.127.116.11 Status of Suspended Members
- 18.104.22.168 Candidates (Advancement)
- 22.214.171.124 Waivers of Jurisdiction
- 126.96.36.199 Balloting By Mail
- 188.8.131.52 Waivers of Jurisdiction
- 184.108.40.206 Applicants (Names In Notice)
- 220.127.116.11 Balloting (Action By Master)
- 18.104.22.168 Master (Right to Preside)
- 22.214.171.124 Visitors (Inter-Jurisdictional)
- 126.96.36.199 Applicants (Withdrawal)
- 1.3.8 1927
- 1.3.9 1928
- 1.3.10 1929
- 1.4 EDICTS AND RULINGS FROM 1930 TO 1939
- 1.4.1 1930
- 1.4.2 1931
- 1.4.3 1932
- 1.4.4 1933
- 1.4.5 1934
- 1.4.6 1935
- 1.4.7 1936
- 1.4.8 1937
- 1.4.9 1939
- 1.5 EDICTS AND RULINGS FROM 1940 TO 1949
- 1.5.1 1940
- 1.5.2 1941
- 1.5.3 1942
- 1.5.4 1943
- 1.5.5 1944
- 1.5.6 1945
- 1.5.7 1946
- 1.5.8 1947
- 1.5.9 1948
- 1.5.10 1949
EDICTS FROM 1900 TO 1949
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.
EDICTS AND RULINGS FROM 1900 TO 1909
Baalis Sanford, Grand Master
Page 1904-109, 09/14/1904, regarding admission of visitors.
"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.
EDICTS AND RULINGS FROM 1910 TO 1919
Melvin M. Johnson, Grand Master
Page 1914-153, 06/10/1914, regarding saluting on entry and withdrawal from Lodge.
"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, on the covering of visitors.
"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, on the wearing of sidearms.
"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, regarding dispensations.
"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
Title of Past District Deputy Grand Masters
Page 1915-108, 06/09/1915, on the title of Past District Deputies.
The Grand Master was asked the following question by a Past District Deputy Grand Master:
"Does a Brother who has once received the title of 'Right Worshipful' as District Deputy Grand Master lose the title when he retires from office?"
"I reply in the negative. I rule that the District Deputy Grand Masters, past or in office, are as a matter of Masonic right to be called 'Right Worshipful'.
"The Grand Lodge itself has plenary authority to make a change in this title should it see fit so to do. This is not one of the matters where the decision of the Grand Master is final and may not be interfered with by the Grand Lodge. Unless and until, however, competent authority makes a change this decision will stand as a statement of the Masonic law of this Jurisdiction and Past District Deputy Grand Masters shall be styled 'Right Worshipful'."
Conferral of Degrees
Page 1915-112, 06/09/1915, on the working of multiple degrees.
"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, regarding successions of officers.
"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, on Bible passages to be displayed.
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."
Physical Qualifications of Applicants
From New England Craftsman, Vol. XI, No. 1, October 1915, Page 3:
The qualifications of candidates are thus defined in the Ancient Charges.
"The persons admitted members of a Lodge must be good and true men, free-born, and of mature and discreet age, no woman, no immoral or scandalous men, but of good report. No Master should take an apprentice unless he be a perfect youth, having no main or defect in his body that may render him incapable of learning the Art, of serving his Master's lord, and of being made a Brother, and unless he be descended of honest parents."
There is scarcely a subject of Masonic jurisprudence upon which there are so differing opinions in various Jurisdictions as upon this question of physical qualification. Some regard what is above quoted from the Ancient Charges as a Landmark of the Fraternity; others regard the Charge no greater than a rule of expediency adopted at a time when Masons were Operative and not Speculative. Some apply the very strictest interpretation and some apply the rule of reason.
The "Perfect youth" theory has become such a fetish in some jurisdictions that a petitioner is disqualified who has lost a portion of one of his ears, or is blind in one eye, or has lost a portion of a toe, or of a finger, or has a perceptible limp. It seems to the writer that insisting on such technicalities is not adherence to a Landmark, but is a preservation of a mummy. How many of us are absolutely perfect either in mind or body? The present Grand Master of Massachusetts, owing to the loss of a toe in his college days, could not have been made a Mason in Pennsylvania because of the interpretation in that jurisdiction of this "perfect youth" theory.
Even a strict interpretation of these Ancient Charges should not require absolute perfection. It is enough that the candidate should have no main or defect in his body that would render him incapable of learning the Art, of doing his duty, and of being made a Brother.
Fewer physical disabilities can be permitted, of course, when one is practicing his Art as an operative workman. These, however, are the days when Masonry does not regard one for his outward appearance, but it is the internal and not the external qualifications which recommend a man to be made a Mason. If he has the internal qualifications, and can couple to them such physical qualifications as render him capable of taking his degrees and of complying with the requirements of the Ritual, there seems to be no reason why, under the Speculative Masonry of modern days, the candidate cannot be made a Mason.
Part IV, Article III, Section 4, of the Grand Constitutions of Massachusetts reads as follows:
"If the physical deformity of any applicant for the degrees does not amount to an inability to meet the requirements of the Ritual, and honestly to acquire the means of subsistence, it shall constitute no hindrance to his initiation."
The Grand Constitutions as enacted October 11, 1843, and amended June 11, 1856, gave the reason for this provision and stated the rule as follows:
"By the ancient regulations, the physical deformity of an individual operates as a bar to his admission into the Fraternity; but in view of the fact that this regulation was adopted for the government of the Craft at a period when they united the character of operative with that of speculative Masons, this Grand Lodge, in common, it is believed, with most of her sister Grand Lodges in this country and' in Europe, has authorized such a construction of the regulations as that where the deformity does not amount to an inability to meet the requirements of the Ritual and honestly to acquire the means of subsistence, it constitutes no hindrance to initiation."
On June 1, 1871, M. W. William Sewall Gardner stated his construction of this provision in a letter to the M. W. Grand Master of Masons in So. Carolina, as follows:
"I have had several cases of maimed candidates brought to my attention during my administration. In each case I have referred the brethren to the provision in our Constitutions, and stated to them that I could not officially pass upon the question whether the deformity amounted to an 'inability to meet the requirements of the Ritual and honestly to acquire the means of subsistence;' that the W. Master and his Lodge must determine this question. But I have invariably instructed them that the Constitution should be construed in the most liberal and broadest manner; that the phrase, 'does not amount to an inability,' was not answered by anything short of an absolute inability, and that it did not comprehend a compliance with the Ritual in an awkward and difficult manner; that, in cases where the deformity was overcome by artificial means, so that by such artificial means the deformity does not amount to an inability, then it constitutes no hindrance to initiation.
Our Constitution has relaxed the ancient regulation to such an extent that I have felt it to be my duty to construe it in the manner indicated in order to carry out its true meaning and intent."
This opinion of its Grand Master was communicated to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, June 14, 1871, and a committee was appointed to consider the same which reported September 13, 1871. The committee said, in part,
"This regulation is to be interpreted, not according to the Levitical law, with which Masonry never had anything to do, either as a symbol or a fact, but by its own terms and the logical consistency and propriety of its application. So interpreted, its significance manifestly is, that the physical defect of the candidate, whatever it may be, shall not be such as to render him incapable of receiving and imparting instruction, nor of performing any duties that may be required of him in his capacity or vocation as a Mason. No such maim or defect of the body as the loss of an eye, an ear, a finger, or other member not essential in the discharge of his Masonic duties, or to his personal maintenance, does any violence to the spirit and original intent of this regulation, and, in the opinion of your committee, no other construction can be put upon it consistently with the higher demands of humanity, justice and equality. 'Not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.'
Your committee take leave of this branch of their report here, in the belief that the regulation of our own Grand Lodge on the subject may be safely left as it stands, and the interpretation and practical application of it, to the intelligence of the Lodges. With the cases before them as they arise, they can with more safety and greater propriety determine the proper disposition of them."
This committee's report was accepted and adopted and is is an authoritative statement of the position of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts on the question.
I submit that this is the only sound position. It is fair both to the Fraternity and to the candidate, and it is logical. Artificial and super-technical mechanical rules are not Masonic Landmarks. Our Landmarks are living things, useful and adaptable to needs of generation after generation. They are not preserved artificialities hampering development and valuable only as ethnopsychological curiosities. In the latter class, belongs the "perfect youth" rule as interpreted by some Masonic authorities as, for instance by the Grand Master who ruled that a candidate was disqualified because he had a "hair-lip"(sic)
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."
Note the 1920 ruling by Grand Master Prince.
Further remarks in 1924 by Grand Master Ferrell.
Further remarks in 1930 by Grand Master Dean.
Further remarks in 1935 by Grand Master Allen.
Further remarks in 1952 by Grand Master Roy.
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 rights. 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."
Henry Price Medals
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."
Grand Master (Precedence)
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.
Information on Masonic Standing
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
Page 1917-30, 03/14/1917, on chain letters.
"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."
Parades and Public Demonstrations
Page 1917-292, 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."
Solicitation of New Members
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."
Absence of Lodge Officers
Page 1918-176, 09/11/1918, on the absence of Lodge officers.
The Grand Master observed that the military draft included many Lodge officers, and would lead to absences and vacancies.
"In case of the continued absence of the Worshipful Master of a Lodge, the Senior Warden becomes Acting Master and has all the duties, rights and privileges of a Master except that of wearing the hat in the Lodge.
"In case of the absence of the Worshipful Master and Senior Warden, the duties fall to the Junior Warden.
"In case of the absence of all three, the Lodge can not meet unless the District Deputy Grand Master attends and presides in the East.
"Other chairs than that of the Master may, when temporarily vacant, be filled by appointment from meeting to meeting. Appointments may be made only at the annual meeting except from meeting to meeting, but the same officers may be appointed for each meeting until the annual meeting.
"Installed officers are not, except in case of extreme necessity, at liberty to resign. It is for this reason that all absent are regarded as being simply absent from one meeting. In case a vacancy in office actually occurs, it cannot be filled without a Dispensation from the Grand Master. In case of prolonged absence of the Master or Wardens. Diplomas should be signed by the Brethren actually filling the chairs when the work is done, they signing as Acting Master or whatever it may be."
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."
Degree Work (Omission of Lectures)
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."
EDICTS AND RULINGS FROM 1920 TO 1929
Arthur D. Prince, Grand Master
Solicitation of New Members
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 1920-100, 03/10/1920, regarding applause during ceremonial work.
"A custom has grown up in recent years of giving applause to the visiting officer who invited to assist in degree work. Like all bad habits, this has flourished like the proverbial bay tree until in many Districts the ceremony of the degrees is continually interrupted by applause. I find no fault with the desire on the part of the Brethren to show courtesy and appreciation to the visitor, but I do contend that any applause during degree work is unseemly and must result in degrading the dignity of the ceremony and weakening the effect upon the candidate . . .
"This must not be understood to discourage the cordial reception of all visiting officers, but applause should certainly not be allowed to distract the mind of the candidate during the ceremony of conferring the degrees. A safe rule to follow would be for the Master to discourage all applause while candidates are receiving the degrees, and this should include the charge."
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."
Further remarks in 1924 by Grand Master Ferrell (Page 1924-358): "As far as I know there is no prayer so peculiar as to deserve the title Masonic, and if the prayer were sufficiently exclusive to set Masons apart for the special favor of the Deity, it would deserve the title less."
Grand Lodge Communications
Page 1920-191, 06/09/1920, regarding attention to Grand Lodge communications.
"Much to my surprise, I have met several Masters of Lodges who know nothing of the recommended questionnaires and committee report blanks which are being furnished by the Grand Lodge upon request. Upon further inquiry I found they were not in receipt of the summaries of Grand Lodge Communications which are sent out with the admonition Ordered to be read.
"Upon investigation, the fault was found to lie with the negligence of the Secretary, who failed to bring these matters to the attention of the Master. Since when has the Secretary become the judge of what matters shall be called to the attention of the Master and the Brethren, and by what official authority does he assume to smother Grand Lodge communications in his wastebaskets?
"The officers of this Grand Lodge are earnestly endeavoring to relieve conditions and correct error, complaints about which are received almost daily from earnest members who are interested in the welfare of the Craft. Little can be accomplished without the full cooperation of the officers of the particular Lodges and I am grateful that by far the great majority accord this help. It is only the small minority that throw monkey-wrenches into the gears.
"Every Secretary is bound to bring every matter of information to the attention of the Master and allow him to be the judge of is final disposition. In communications from the Grand Lodge ordered to be read, neither has any jurisdiction but should at the earliest opportunity follow such instructions."
Arthur D. Prince, Grand Master
Jurisdiction Over Soldiers and Sailors
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."
Use of Mailing Lists
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 are not Masonic."
Degree Work (Conformance)
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
Ku Klux Klan
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."
Page 1922-200, 06/14/1922, regarding investigations.
"Information and complaints in increasing numbers are being brought to the Grand Master's office, which show beyond question that investigation 'of the characters of applicants' is sadly neglected, and in some cases definite protest against certain applicants is utterly disregarded. The result is that unworthy men are admitted who are almost certain, sooner or later, to bring the Fraternity into disrepute, to say nothing of the disagreeable process of cleaning house which is brought upon us by our own carelessness.
"Case a. Application was made to one of our Lodges by a man who had formerly lived in another city. The investigating committee wrote to a Past Master in that city for information. The Past Master consulted others, and sent back an unfavorable report which represented his own opinion, and that of four other Brethren, two of them Past Masters, the five representing three different Lodges, not one of which would have accepted the candidate's application. In spite of this unfavorable report the committee reported favorably on the applicant, and he passed the ballot and received the degrees.
"Case b. Candidate applied to one of our Lodges claiming residence within the jurisdiction of the Lodge, and stating on his application that he had been rejected in a Lodge in the same city in 1920, and in a Lodge elsewhere in 1915. The Lodge applied for and received recommendation from the Lodge which had rejected the application in 1920, and was therefore technically within its rights. As a matter of fact, however, the rejection of 1915 was the second rejection, and was made on an unfavorable report of the committee. There is also serious question as to whether the applicant was really a resident of the jurisdiction of the Lodge to which he applied. In any case, the investigation was defective as the investigation should have gone back to the 1915 rejection. This Lodge, which twice rejected the candidate, still considers him unworthy.
"Case c. A Lodge received the application of a man who claimed residence within its jurisdiction. He passed the ballot, received one degree and then it was discovered that his legal residence was in another town. He had been working at his trade for more than six months within the jurisdiction of the Lodge to which he applied, but had not changed his legal residence from his former dwelling. In this case the candidate appears to have been innocent of intentional misstatement, because he did not understand that his physical presence in a certain place did not necessarily meet the residence requirements. In this case, also, there is question as to the fitness of the candidate. Proper investigation would have gone back to his place of residence, disclosed the questions as to his fitness, and discovered his residence.
"Case d. A man applied in a Boston Lodge, was elected, and received his degrees, although prominent Masons in the man's home town objected on the ground that he was not reliable. The matter was brought up at a meeting attended by many throughout the state, and since that time this member has put his application into the Chapter, the party signing his application having talked with the member and friends who vouched for the Brother as being all right. Immediately that the Chapter committee of investigation was appointed they began to find objections to the Brother taking further degrees. At this time it is being investigated very fully, but the objections, instead of coming from one source as previously reported, are coming from men such as High Priests and Masters, and the investigating committee have reported to the Companion who vouched for the Brother that the investigating committee of the original Lodge where the Brother took his degrees had made a trip to the man's home town, but had called on only one man there. This matter at this time is being held up for further investigation.
"Case e. A party applied for admission to a Lodge outside of the district where he lived. There were three Lodges in the town where he resided. Two of the Lodges granted a waiver of jurisdiction. The other Lodge refused to release as the committee appointed by that Lodge had reported unfavorably on the application. The Lodge that received the application appointed a committee, who reported favorably, and the man was elected. It was called to the attention of the Master that the applicant was not a suitable person for the Masonic degrees, and he appointed a new committee to look up the applicant, consisting of his two Wardens and himself. The committee who had reported unfavorably to the Lodge which refused to release stated that they were ready and willing to go before the Lodge that had elected the man, and wanted very much to prevent the applicant from becoming a Mason, claiming that he was 'unfit,' and among other things had given away the secrets of the Odd Fellows. At this time no further action has been taken. One of two things will probably be done. Either the Master and Wardens will bring objections in the Lodge against giving the degrees, or the matter may continue over until fall to allow time for the above mentioned committee to appear before them and state what they know.
"The Masters and Wardens of Lodges should not depend entirely on the reports of committees of investigation, but ought to assure themselves by personal inquiry of the fitness of the applicants. Surely, it is the Masonic duty of every Master, when he receives definite information detrimental to the character of an applicant, whether it come from a member of his Lodge or from one of the Fraternity who is not, to make a searching inquiry into the charges and, if found true, to act accordingly. To neglect to follow up information of this sort would be a dereliction of duty to his Lodge and to the Fraternity.
"Altogether too often a man is admitted because nothing can be found against him. It is a question whether such a negative recommendation ought to open our doors. Rather we ought to be able to discover something in an applicant's character which will add strength to the Institution. It is rather startling to find that one-half of our membership is made up of those who have been Masons less than seven years. Here are 55,000 men who have not had the benefit of long Masonic experience. They are men, who, with the proper schooling in the principles, aims, and limitations of the Fraternity, will make Masonry strong and influential, but until this can be accomplished should we not demand that men who seek admission to our Lodges should be possessed of salient characteristics that will assure us, at least potentially, of added strength?"
Page 1922-433, 12/13/1922, on investigation of applicants.
"One of the most serious dangers that threaten our institution is the lack of interest displayed by members of investigating committees when they are assigned to the duty, the very important duty, of looking into the character of applicants for the degrees in Freemasonry. This subject has been dwelt upon by every Grand Master, not only once, but many times, but words do not seem to have much effect. The Grand Secretary, within a day or so, has called my attention to some cases of incomplete and improper investigation that are a disgrace to our Fraternity and particularly to the men who by a favorable report induced their respective Lodges to accept men as candidates who are well known to be morally corrupt. The work of our Commissioners of Trials would be greatly reduced and the necessity of washing so much dirty linen in our Grand Lodge meetings would be avoided if only investigations could be performed with a moderate amount of thoroughness. The situation is deplorable and I have about come to the conclusion that the only way to cure it is to bring the delinquent members of investigating committees before the Commissioners of Trials to answer charges of conduct unbecoming a Mason. Something must be done to impress the members of investigating Committees with the importance of the duty to which they are assigned, because this condition must be cured or else the credit and reputation of our institution will suffer."
Dudley H. Ferrell, Grand Master.
Henry Price Medals
Page 1923-37, 03/14/1923, regarding Henry Price Medals.
"In the matter of requests there is another item to which I would like to call your attention, namely, the requests for Henry Price medals. Section 703 of the Grand Constitutions is very explicit in this matter, and I would suggest that every Master before he consents to forward his request for the conferring of a Henry Price medal would measure the situation by the requirements of the Grand Constitutions. The whole procedure might be relieved of its difficulties if the Master when in doubt should consult the District Deputy Grand Master and receive his opinion and, if satisfactory, his approval of the application. Much embarrassment would be avoided if this were done."
Page 1923-55, 03/14/1923, 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, 06/13/1923, 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, 09/12/1923, 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.
Games of Chance
Page 1924-29, 03/12/1924, 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, 03/12/1924, 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."
Page 1924-314, 06/11/1924, On familiarity with the Grand Constitutions.
Grand Constitutions - Familiarity
The Grand Master noted that "certain incidents of recent date have almost led us to the conclusion that a Master-elect should be required to acquaint himself with the Constitutions and give sufficient proof of his knowledge before he is considered qualified for installation."
"From this time on, it is the intention of your Grand Master to have each District Deputy Grand Master confer with every Master-elect in his District, go over with him the various provisions of the Constitutions and Regulations affecting the practice of the Lodge, its rights and privileges, and the duty and prerogatives of the Master therein."
Dudley H. Ferrell, Grand Master.
Grand Lodge Dues Delinquency
Page 1925-62, 03/11/1925, On delinquency in Grand Lodge dues.
"We have been asked as to the course of the Grand Lodge in dealing with delinquents. If the member is delinquent with respect to both his Lodge dues and his Grand Lodge dues it is expected that the Lodge will deal with him in the ordinary manner. The Grand Lodge, however, cannot carry open accounts with the individual members. If the Lodge decides to give the member further time for the settlement of his dues, and takes a chance of collecting at a later date, the Lodge will be expected to advance the amount due the Grand Lodge, taking the same chance of collecting that as well. If the member is delinquent in his Grand Lodge dues only, report thereof should be made to the Grand Secretary. A few individual instances have come to light in which members have said that they would pay their Lodge dues but would not pay their Grand Lodge dues. It is doubtful whether any of our members will be so short-sighted or so obstinate as to carry out this hastily expressed intention. Should they do so, however, but one course is open to the Grand Lodge. It is expected that each Lodge will on September 1 balance its account of Grand Lodge dues. This balance will be made up of cash paid, deductions allowed, and reports of delinquency.
"Delinquent members, after due notice, will be suspended by the Grand Lodge from all the rights and privileges of Freemasonry. It must be remembered that this is a much more serious matter than suspension in a Lodge. If a member is suspended by the Grand Lodge his connection with his Lodge is definitely severed.
"On his reinstatement by the Grand Lodge he is an unaffiliated Mason, and can regain affiliation only by application for membership in some Lodge, and passing a clear ballot."
Master (Absence at Installation)
Page 1925-143, 06/10/1925, If the Master cannot appear for installation.
"During the Grand Master's absence, the Deputy Grand Master was called upon to make a ruling upon the procedure necessary when the Master-elect of a Lodge is unable to appear for installation. The question involved was: Who occupies the East of the Lodge, the retiring Master or the newly installed Senior Warden? The point is not explicitly covered by the Grand Constitutions nor was any decision of Grand Lodge or Grand Master to be found directly covering the matter.
"The Deputy Grand Master ruled as follows and I hereby approve it and offer it for the guidance of the Craft. In case the Master-elect of a Lodge is unable to present himself with the other officers for installation; his predecessor in office holds over until such time as the installation of the Master-elect takes place."
Page 1925-213, 09/09/1925, regarding proficiency.
In speaking of the instruction of candidates, I urge upon you the consideration of the so-called lectures of the various degrees and the place they occupy in the Lodge work. "Has he made suitable proficiency in the preceding degree?" is not an idle or unmeaning query. The customary answer is well known. Yet this summer I met a young man recently made a Mason for whom at the proper time the answer just referred to was made, but who had never received one moment's instruction and who knew nothing more of the lectures than one who had not entered a Masonic Lodge. Had he made suitable proficiency? It was so stated, but in that Lodge neither question nor answer had a meaning, and the young Mason was cheated of what was his right and due.
To prevent such a procedure from continuing, whether at present it is rare or common, it is hereby ordered that Lodges instruct the candidates in the lectures of the three degrees and that candidates be refused advancement until such proficiency as satisfies the Master of the Lodge is attained. The business of a Lodge is not to increase the membership of Freemasonry but its resources of characters, and to do this, every candidate must be given every assistance in grasping the opportunity to become a Mason in fact as well as in name.
Page 1925-439, 12/28/1925, regarding proficiency.
An appeal was made to the Grand Master regarding the ruling of a Master of a Lodge requiring that before signing the by-laws a Master Mason would be required to learn the work of the Master's degree. The Grand Master's decision was based on Section 420 of the Grand Constitutions. He indicated that it was not out of order for a Lodge to make further requirements beyond fees and balloting to permit a man to become a member of the Lodge.
"No more reasonable requirement can readily be imagined than that of acquiring the proficiency in the work and lectures of the third degree necessary to pass examination as a visitor to a Lodge and, in general, to make the newly raised Brother an intelligent and competent member of the Fraternity.
"Until such a requirement should be met and By-Law signature permitted, the Brother would be an unaffiliated Master Mason in good standing as such, exactly as if he had been raised in a Lodge under dispensation. Should he fail to comply with the requirement within six months his right to sign the By-Laws of the Lodge which accepted his application would lapse and he would have to make application, there or elsewhere, for affiliation.
"My ruling is that the Master was within his constitutional rights."
Frank L. Simpson, Grand Master.
Page 1926-64, 03/10/1926, on the status of candidates, following the requirements for candidates signing by-laws (see directly above).
"Two questions have been asked touching this order. One is whether the Diploma should be presented to the candidate before the lectures are learned. As to this, for the present at least, I have seen no reason to interfere with the discretion of the Worshipful Master, nor for withholding the Diploma.
"The second is, what is the status of the candidate in the period after he is raised and before he signs the By-Laws? The answer is that he is still a candidate - he is not a member of a Lodge, nor is he in full standing; he is not entitled to visit other Lodges than that which has accepted his application, nor to participate in the business affairs of that Lodge. Under Section 420 of the Grand Constitutions, he must sign the By-Laws within six months, and if he fails to do so, his status then becomes that of a voluntary unaffiliated Mason and he is "not entitled to any of the benefits or privileges of Freemasonry," under Section 505 of the Grand Constitutions. Other incidents of his status may well await determination until specific instances call for a more detailed statement or ruling. Ample authority exists to deal with emergency cases; in their very nature they are exceptional and may be presented for special dispensation as occasion and circumstance may warrant."
Status of Suspended Members
Page 1926-239, 06/09/1926, on the status of members suspended in other jurisdictions.
"In case a Brother who is a member of a Lodge in this jurisdiction and also of a Lodge in this jurisdiction is suspended for non-payment of dues in the other jurisdiction, his case falls under the provisions of Section 504 and not those of Section 517: that is to say, his case is treated exactly as if the suspension occurred in another Lodge in this jurisdiction."
Page 1926-240, 06/09/1926, on the removal of objection to a candidate's advancement.
"In case an objection is made to the advancement of a candidate and sustained by a majority vote of the Lodge as provided by Section 417 of the Grand Constitutions, the Lodge may later, by a majority vote, reconsider its action and promote the candidate."
Waivers of Jurisdiction
Page 1926-240, 06/09/1926, regarding waivers of jurisdiction.
"An applicant for the degrees residing in town A made application in town B. Waiver of jurisdiction was asked and granted, but the petition was rejected. The applicant then made a second application outside town A, in which he still resided. I ruled that the Lodge in town A still held territorial jurisdiction over him notwithstanding the former waiver. A waiver of jurisdiction is not a permanent surrender of said jurisdiction. It is only a permission to another Lodge to receive and act upon an application. If the application is rejected, jurisdiction is resumed by the Lodge executing the waiver. It may be added that if application is made by the rejected candidate in any Lodge other than that which rejected his application, within five years of that rejection, recommendation must be obtained from the Master and Wardens of the Lodge which rejected the application under Section 415 of the Grand Constitutions."
Balloting By Mail
Page 1926-240, 06/09/1926, regarding balloting by mail.
"The By-Laws of a Lodge provide that certain action requires a vote of two-thirds of the members of the Lodge. The very great difficulty in obtaining that vote in a meeting raised the question whether the Worshipful Master might take a vote by mail. I ruled that such an action would be improper and declined to issue a dispensation to permit it."
Waivers of Jurisdiction
Page 1926-241, 06/09/1926, regarding waivers of jurisdiction.
"A request for waiver of jurisdiction was received, borne upon the notice of the Lodge, and the refusal to waive was announced in proper form by the Worshipful Master. The question was raised whether he might reverse his decision and announce the reversal at the next meeting of his Lodge, the name of the applicant not being borne upon the notice. I ruled that such procedure would be improper. The transaction was closed by the announcement of the Worshipful Master's decision. If the decision is to be reversed there must be a new application, and the name must be borne upon the notice of the meeting at which it is to be acted upon."
Applicants (Names In Notice)
Page 1926-241, 06/09/1926, regarding the printing in the notice of candidates to be balloted upon.
"The requirement of Section 408 of the Grand Constitutions that the name of the candidate for the ballot must be borne upon the notice of the meeting is not complied with by inserting the names of candidates upon a separate sheet. The provision of this Section is that the candidates shall be balloted for ... only when written or printed notification of the Meeting, bearing the name of the candidate to be balloted for, shall be sent to all the members. This language, taken in connection with other provisions of our Constitutions, seems to me to require the names of candidates to be written or printed on the notice."
Balloting (Action By Master)
Page 1926-241, 06/09/1926, regarding action on balloting.
"The Worshipful Master of a Lodge is not obliged to take a ballot upon a candidate whose name appears upon the notice of the meeting. If he decides not to take action at that meeting he should so state and should not call for the report of the committee. It is not proper after the report of the committee has been read for the Master of the Lodge to decide by vote or otherwise to postpone the ballot until a later meeting. If the report of the investigating committee is read, the Lodge must immediately proceed to ballot and the acceptance or rejection of the applicant must be settled without postponement or the intervention of any other business."
Master (Right to Preside)
Page 1926-242, 06/09/1926, regarding the right to preside.
"Only Presiding and Past Master of Massachusetts Lodges may act as Masters in our Lodges, except that a Warden may preside in his own, but not in another Lodge, and when directed to do so by the Worshipful Master, or in the latter's absence. It is not permissible for a Past Master of a Lodge of another jurisdiction to raise a candidate in a Massachusetts Lodge."
Page 1926-244, 06/09/1926, regarding inter-jurisdictional visitation.
"When a Lodge in this jurisdiction is invited or desires to visit a Lodge under the jurisdiction of another Grand Lodge, application should be made for a warrant or dispensation therefor. This warrant or dispensation will not issue except after request to the Grand Master of the jurisdiction sought to be visited and receipt of his consent thereto. Visiting Lodges from other Grand Jurisdictions should not be received unless and until application has been made for dispensation therefor and receipt by the Lodge of such dispensation. In the event that work is performed by a visiting Lodge, the work should be in accordance with the ritual prescribed by the jurisdiction of the visiting Lodge and upon a candidate of that jurisdiction.
"Visiting by 'teams' of Massachusetts Masons to Lodges under the jurisdiction of other Grand Lodges must be governed by the procedure hereinbefore prescribed. . .
"The foregoing applies only to cases where a Lodge visits as such and in an organized capacity. It does not apply to visits made by groups of Lodge members as individual Master Masons, visiting informally and doing no Masonic work."
Page 1926-437, 12/08/1926, regarding withdrawal of applications.
"The provisions of Section 407 of the Grand Constitutions relative to the withdrawal of applications do not apply in cases in which the Lodge has no jurisdiction over the applicant, and applications in such cases may, and indeed must be withdrawn or dismissed. . .
"Indeed, if the candidate is a resident in any other recognized Jurisdiction, balloting on his petition is prohibited without the consent of the Grand Master of such Jurisdiction, except as provided in Section 405 of the Grand Constitutions. Therefore if by reason of non-residence, minority, physical disability, or any other cause, the Lodge has no jurisdiction over an applicant, his application must be withdrawn or dismissed without ballot. It may be added that what has been said has no reference to applications for affiliation. Section 407 has no application to such petitions, which may be withdrawn before they are balloted on upon request of the petitioner."
An extensive discussion of the relevant law follows.
Frank L. Simpson, Grand Master.
Waivers of Jurisdiction
Page 1927-42, 03/09/1927, on the procedure for release of jurisdiction.
Following an extensive discussion and review of the precedents regarding applications for release of jurisdiction, the Grand Master recapitulated the procedure.
"The request for release must be made in writing and must state the reason upon which the request is based. Blank requests are furnished without cost, and these ought to be used for the sake of uniformity. If the reason assigned is not deemed sufficient, the request should be denied, and that event the requesting Lodge has its right of appeal under Section 403 of the Grand Constitutions.
"If the reason assigned is a valid one, the Lodge requested must appoint a committee of investigation as upon an application made to it, and release may not be granted until a majority of the committee has reported; in this request the matter is governed by Section 406 of the Grand Constitutions. Such a committee must be appointed in all Lodges of which the request is made. The name of the applicant and that of the Lodge requeting the release must be borned upon the notice of the Lodge of which request is made, for a regular meeting, and the release cannot be granted before the close of the meeting. If granted, it must be by the written consent of the Master, one Warden, and two members, and notice must be given as required by Section 403. If the release is declined, notice of this fact should be given in writing to the Lodge requesting the release. As our law now stands these requirements are mandatory, and compliance therewith is requisite to the regularity of the candidate initiated outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Lodge of his place of residence."
By-Laws of Lodges (Grand Lodge Authority)
Page 1927-105, 06/08/1927, regarding the applicability of Lodge By-Laws on the Grand Lodge.
"It is not uncommonly supposed that the Grand Lodge has approved By-Laws, and that they have thus become binding, even on the Grand Lodge itself, and whether or not they are in conformity to the Grand Constitutions, or to the laws, usages, customs and landmarks of Freemasonry. It is not pertinent to the present discussion whether the By-Law of a Lodge would be binding upon Grand Lodge against any subsequent change made by Grand Lodge, if specifically approved by it. But in order that there may be no misinterpretation of what is here said, I think I ought to say that I am wholly of the opinion that it is within the power of the Grand Lodge to alter, amend or repeal a Lodge By-Law at any time, or to adopt a law which contravenes a By-Law, whether said By-Law has been approved by Grand Lodge or not."
Dimits and Certificates of Clearance
Page 1927-342, 12/14/1927, regarding dimits and certificates of clearance.
"In appropriate situations, a Brother in good standing and having paid all dues and assessments is entitled, as a matter of right, to a dimit or a Certificate of Clearance, as the case may be. No action by the Lodge is required, nor, indeed, should action by the Lodge be had. The Lodge does not grant the certificate, nor can it withhold one. If the Brother making application is in good standing and clear on the books, the appropriate certificate must issue as a matter of course and its issue should be ordered by the Worshipful Master upon receipt of the request and after a determination of him of the good standing of the applicant and that he is clear on the books. This certificate should be issued as soon as such determination and order are made and should be reported to the next regular meeting of the Lodge for the purpose of record.
"If the Brother making application is not in good standing or is in arrears in dues or assessments, the application must be denied."
Visitors (Duties of Tyler)
Page 1927-343, 12/14/1927, regarding duties of Tylers regarding proof of membership.
"It is doubtless unnecessary for me to point out that a Brother who visits a Lodge other than one of which he is a member without producing his receipt [for dues], or a Tyler who permits such a Brother to enter such a Lodge without producing his receipt, commits a violation of the Grand Constitutions and hence a violation of his Obligations."
Frank L. Simpson, Grand Master.
Uniform Receipt of Dues
Page 1928-204, 09/12/1928, regarding the Uniform Receipt for Dues.
"Question has been raised whether the Uniform Receipt for Dues must bear the seal of the Lodge issuing it. . .
"The present form of the Uniform Receipt for Dues, a description of which may be found in 1926 Proceedings, page 78, was recommended by a Committee composed of five of the most experienced Secretaries of Lodges in the Commonwealth. This Committee did not recommend that it be required that the Lodge impress its seal upon the Uniform Receipt, and in view of the time and labor which would naturally be involved, I have not deemed it advisable to require the Lodges to impress their seals upon the Receipts. I realize that question might be raised in other jurisdictions as to the sufficiency of the Receipt without the seal of the Lodge; but inasmuch as the approved form of the Receipt is described in our Proceedings, and a copy of it has been filed with each of the several Grand Jurisdictions with which we are in relations of fraternal intercourse, I am not inclined to recommend any other or further requirements of form than that suggested to me by the Committee of Secretaries above referred to. . .
"Under the circumstances, I am not disposed to require the seals of the several Lodges be impressed upon the Receipt, and doubt if sufficient benefit would be derived by so doing to compensate for the amount of effort required annually to comply with such a requirement."
Candidates (Initiation on Night of Election)
Page 1928-380, 12/12/1928, regarding initiation of candidates.
"Initiation on the night of election has almost disappeared and the time has come when it seems proper that that practice is in violation of Section 413 of the Grand Constitutions."
Herbert W. Dean, Grand Master.
Page 1929-31, 03/13/1929, regarding release of jurisdiction. (SCC p. 267) ???
Candidates (Initiation on Night of Election)
Page 1929-33, 03/13/1929, regarding initiation of candidates.
Following up the 1928 ruling.
"There still seems to be some misunderstanding regarding the question of initiating candidates on the night of election. Until such time as it may be be clarified by a change in the Grand Constitutions, I hereby rule that it is a violation of Section 413 of the Grand Constitutions to initiate any candidate on the night of his election."
Page 1929-118, 06/12/1929, regarding irregularly made Masons.
"Section 407 of the Grand Constitutions prescribes that 'in Lodges usually issuing written or printed notifications, the names of candidates must be borne upon the notification of the Meetings at which they are to be balloted for.' This has been the law in this Grand Jurisdiction since 1843. It is clear that if the name of a candidate is wrongly given or even wrongly spelled on such notice and a ballot is taken, such ballot is in violation of the law and any Mason made as the result of such ballot is irrgularly made.
"During the administration of my predecessor, when the resources of the Grand Lodge permitted attention to be given to many matters which previously had been necessarily neglected, much closer scrutiny was given to Lodge notices and among other things the custom was instituted of comparing the annual returns of the Lodges with the notices of the meetings. It was soon discovered that there was a surprisingly large number of cases where names were not printed correctly on the notices and Masons were consequently irregularly made. The regularity of any Brother's standing is of the greatest importance not only during his lifetime but forever after.
"The usual method of dealing with irregularities is by the issuance of a declaration of irrgularity followed, if it appears that the irregularity is not caused by some fault of the candidate, by a formal healing by Warrant of the Grand Master. Up to the present time this procedure has been followed, and it has been necessary to issue a large number of such declarations and warrants. In some instances as many as half a dozen such cases have occurred in a single year's work of a Lodge.
"This method of procedure is not satisfactory to me. There are many objections to it, but the principal one is that it subjects Brethren who are entirely innocent of any wrong doing whatever to embarrassment and even humiliation, to which they ought not to be exposed, while these who are really responsible escape any public notice. I have, therefore, devised a different procedure which will heal the irregularities (which must not be allowed to stand) with much less discomfort to the innocent victims of the mistakes of others.
"I urge upon the Masters the importance of seeing that every precaution is taken by careful proof-reading and otherwise to secure absolute accuracy in the preparation of notices, and I enjoin upon them never to allow any name to go to ballot without assuring themselves that such name appears upon the notice correctly to the last particular."
Page 1929-149, 06/12/1929, regarding duties of officers. (SCC p. 269) ???
EDICTS AND RULINGS FROM 1930 TO 1939
Herbert W. Dean, Grand Master.
Page 1930-73, 03/12/1930, regarding chain letters.
"My attention has been called to another recurrence of the periodical epidemic of chain letters. These silly things are started every few years. My predecessors have many times called attention to them and advised the Brethren to pay no attention to them. The only thing to be done when one of them appears is to put it into the waste basket and thus break the chain."
Page 1930-284, 06/11/1930, regarding entertainments.
Complaints made to the Grand Master regarding improper entertainments at certain Lodges.
"It is the duty of every Master, (or in his absence, of the Senior Warden) to take every possible precaution to prevent the presentation of any entertainment of an objectionable character in connection with a Lodge meeting or any activity sponsored by the Lodge. He should not only investigate the character of the proposed entertainment personally, not leaving it to a committee or any Brother, but he should warn the entertainers that nothing of an objectionable character will be tolerated, and he should stop the entertainment instantly if he finds that his warning has not been headed. . .
"It is impossible to emphasize too strongly that all entertainments and talks sponsored by our Lodges must not be inconsistent with the principles of Freemasonry, or in violation of our Masonic law."
Use of Lodge Funds
Page 1930-336, 09/10/1930, regarding use of Lodge funds.
"The question has been again brought to my attention regarding the expenditure of Lodge funds for the support of non-Masonic organizations by the Lodges in this Jurisdiction. I am convinced that this is an improper use of the funds of a Lodge, as they are needed for the proper care of those members who require financial assistance. These calls for aid are constantly increasing and every Lodge should conserve its funds for that purpose.
"I therefore wish it understood that it is not deemed proper for any Lodge to contribute to the support of a unit of any non-Masonic organization."
See also remarks on the subject of bodies "which, to a greater or less extent, base their membership upon a connection with Freemasonry," made at the March, 1931 Quarterly Communication (Page 1931-37).
Candidates (Presentation of Diploma)
Page 1930-480, 12/10/1930, regarding the presentation of the Master Mason diploma.
"The Grand Constitutions specify no time for the presentation [of the diploma], and it has been found that when delayed until the signing of the By-Laws more or less confusion has resulted. I therefore would suggest that in the future the candidate be presented with his Master Mason's diploma on the completion of the third degree."
Grand Lodge Dues and By-Laws
Page 1930-487, 12/10/1930, regarding Grand Lodge dues and Lodge by-laws.
A Lodge had proposed a By-Law amendment in which it would propose to pay Grand Lodge dues for its members, which a committee found "violative of the letter and the spirit of the Grand Constitutions." Consequently the committee reporting on this subject recommended:
"the pronouncement by Grand Lodge of the unconstitutionality of any by-law of a Lodge which permits the Lodge from its funds to pay the Grand Lodge dues of the Lodge's individual members, or to sell life memberships covering Grand Lodge Dues."
Tyler's Right to Vote
Page 1930-489, 12/10/1930, regarding the right of the Tyler to vote.
An appeal was heard from the Tyler of Noquochoke Lodge, who protested that he had been deprived of the Constitutional right to vote.
"From evidence as presented to your Committee by both the Worshipful Master and Tyler of Noquochoke Lodge it is conclusive that the appellant was not inside the Lodge and had not come in previous to the reception of the report of the investigating Committe and according to Section 411 of the Grand Constitutions, such presence inside the Lodge at the time stated, namely, immediately before the business of receiving the reports of investigating Committees was required of every member who desired to vote upon the application. Being Tyler did not exempt the applicant from the requirements stated in Section 411.
"It is the opinion of your Committee that the Master was obligated to apply Section 411 to ech and every member of the Lodge.
"Your Committee affirms that the Tyler of Noquochoke Lodge was not deprived of his Constitutional right of voting. We therefore recommend that the appeal be dismissed."
See also the committee report in 1931.
Herbert W. Dean, Grand Master.
Suspension and Reinstatement
Page 1931-36, 03/11/1931, on suspension and reinstatement.
These remarks were made as a result of increasing reports of delinquency, clarifying the procedure and law; in spring 1931 twenty-three Lodges reported 50 or more delinquents, and four Lodges reported more than 100.
"A member suspended by the Lodge may be reinstated on payment of back dues by a majority vote of the Lodge. Reinstatement by Grand Lodge is much more difficult, and only places the Brother in the position of an unaffiliated Mason who must make a regular application before he can join any Lodge.
"Even though a member has been reported by a Lodge to the Grand Lodge as a delinquent, he may be removed from the list by the Lodge before the final action in June, if payment is made, Lodge dues remitted, or the member suspended before then.
"I would urge the Lodges by the use of the Service Committee to have a personal interview with all those Brethren whom it is possible to reach before taking any action which might not be fair to the member.
"I would call the attention of the Masters to the fact that it is their duty to see that all amounts collected for Grand Lodge dues which are on hand on April 1st and June 1st should be sent in so that we may properly finance the affairs of the Grand Lodge."
Tyler's Right to Vote
Page 1931-41, 03/11/1931, regarding the right of the Tyler to vote.
"The purpose of these regulations is clear. Section 410 is intended to secure a full expression of the minds of the Brethren on the admission of an applicant. It has the further purpose of safeguarding the secrecy of the ballot. If only a few Brothers cast their ballots, it becomes easy to locate a cube if one is cast.
"The purpose of Section 411 is not merely to avoid confusion in the Lodge. It provides that all who are to cast their ballots shall have all the information regarding the applicant that is in possession of the Lodge. The report of the investigating committee often does and always should contain definite information upon which the Brethren may act. The bare report favorable or unfavorable is not enough. The Section further prevents a Brother from evading the responsibility of the ballot by leaving the Lodge-room before the ballot is spread. . ."
Based on previous rulings, the Committee concluded that since the Tyler's station is "necessarily" outside the Lodge room, Section 410 does not apply to the Tyler.
"There is one way, and, in the opinion of your Committee, only one, in which the Tyler may vote on applicants. He may arrange with the Master to have some Master Mason, not necessarily a member of the Lodge, act as Tyler pro tem during the entire period of balloting on applications, thus enabling him to be relieved of the duties of his office and take his place among the Brethren. Obviously, he should not thus be relieved during the consideration of a single application, if there be more than one, as the secrecy of the ballot might thus be impaired.
"Two alternatives proposed, and sometimes practiced, are inadmissible. Tyling the door to permit the Tyler to enter, vote, and immediately retire violates Section 411. Voting over the threshold, that is, opening the door and holding out the ballot box to the Tyler with a statement we are voting on the application of A.B. The report is favorable. is equally inadmissible. If the Tyler may thus vote, it is difficult to see why other members of the Lodge who may be in the ante-room may not also vote. Such procedure clearly violates the spirit, if not the letter, of Section 411. It violates also a fundamental principle of Freemasonry that the ballot box should never be for an instant where the Master cannot see it.
"If it be objected that the Tyler cannot be deprived of his inherent right as a member to ballot upon applications, your Committee does not consider the point well taken. No Brother is under compulsion to accept the office of Tyler. If he accepts it, it is with the full knowledge that his station is outside the door as set forth in the opening and closing ritual, and that his duties keep him there. So long as he is actually in discharge of his duties as Tyler, he is not present at the time of the ballot and cannot be so. The Tyler who is voluntarily assuming a duty outside the door is no more deprived of his ballot than any other member of the Lodge who voluntarily remains in the ante-room or at home. He is not deprived of his right to ballot, but has voluntarily renounced it for the purpose of serving his Lodge in an important capacity. If he wishes to exercise his right to ballot, he lay aside for a time his position and duties as Tyler. How this may be done has already been indicated."
This committee recommendation was adopted and a copy of the report was directed to be sent to Lodges to clarify the matter.
Page 1931-37, 03/11/1931, regarding non-Masonic bodies. (SCC p. 274) ???
Parodies of Degree Work
Page 1931-87, 06/10/1931, on "burlesque" degrees.
The Grand Master expressed concern about the presentation of parodies of degree work.
"We are concentrating our efforts at this time on an endeavor to impress the candidates with the seriousness of Masonry, its ideals, its aims, its accomplishments. Any burlesque cannot help but detract from the impression which we have made, particularly as all such degrees adopt to a more or less extent the peculiar construction and phraseology of our ritual. In too many of these presentations language and double meanings have been introduced which are far from the principles which we teach in Masonry.
"I therefore feel it wise for the Lodges not to permit Masonic apartments to be used for this form of entertainment. Other entertainments can be provided which will attract our members and which will be in keeping with the dignity and purposes of our Order."
Page 1931-91, 06/10/1931, on limitation of candidates. (SCC p. 276) ???
Curtis Chipman, Grand Master.
The Grand Master commented on the tendency to expand on the entertainments provided by a Lodge to draw in attendance.
". . . Masters commenced to look about for other attractive forms of entertainments, and invited speakers to their dinners, and sometimes lecturers with or without a stereopticon. Then followed motion picture shows, often with films showing little care in their selection. From that point, then, the class of so-called entertainment in certain quarters seems to have greatly deteriorated, until now we find female singers and dancers from local night clubs or vaudeville agencies, whose suggestive songs and scanty costumes leave much to be desired, and even wrestling bouts and boxing matches have found their way into our Masonic entertainments in Masonic Temples.
"To the thoughtful Mason, this situation should be the cause of grave concern. My predecessors have all voiced with alarm the danger of such offerings to the real spirit of Masonry, either as a preparation for the solemn ritual to follow, or as a menace to blot out the lofty and dignified Masonic lessons which have preceded such entertainments.
"Your Grand Master is most reluctant to consider the inauguration of a censorship or oversight of entertainments offered in connection with the exemplification of Masonic degrees, preferring that it be left to the good judgment of the Masters themselves to determine what is appropriate and fitting to offer their Brethren on such occasions, if indeed anything should be offered at all.
"But this may be said, in all sincerity, that the tone of such entertainments as are offered must definitely be raised to a far higher level, and I am confident my Brethren will see the propriety of my comments and that there will be no occasion to speak of this again."
Lotteries and Games of Chance
Page 1932-153, 09/14/1932, on lotteries.
"There recently has ben received from the Assistant Attorney General of the United States at Washington, a letter calling to the attention of Fraternal organizations the criminal aspect of certain lotteries and schemes of chance promoted or fostered by them.
"This letter, answering as it does many of the questions that have already been asked, I have deemed of sufficient importance to include as a part of this address.
"It is interesting to note the variety of subterfuge employed in the endeavor to avoid conflict with the criminal code, and to observe, with some concern, how closely some of them resemble methods which have been employed within our own Grand Jurisdiction in the past."
The letter from the Assistant Attorney General quoted Criminal Code Sections 213 and 237, and noted: "It has come to the attention of the Department of Justice that lottery schemes are being promoted among fraternal organizations, by persons making a business thereof, as a means of raising revenue, increasing memberships, etc. . . Doubtless many officers of fraternal organizations wrongfully assume or are deliberately deceived by promoters to believe that these schemes do not violate the law . . . and the Department of Justice consequently considers it proper to warn officers of fraternal organizations who might otherwise be misled or deceived, by calling to their attention the criminal statutes involved.
"It is very earnestly hoped that no member of the Fraternity within our borders will place himself in the position of violating either the letter or the spirit of this law, thereby bringing a disgrace upon the Fraternity which neither could be tolerated nor condoned."
Curtis Chipman, Grand Master.
Page 1933-29, 03/08/1933, on Lodge finances.
The Grand Master reported on recommendations on the Advisory Finance Committee: adopting a budget, bonding financial officers, etc.
"The question of bonding financial officers as a remedy has been discussed from all angles. We find that 40 percent of the Lodges have one or more officers bonded. Many Lodges having bonded their financial officers think that is all the protection necessary.
"The terms of most bonds require a periodical audit of the officers' accounts and a certificate that they have been checked to a given date and found correct. If a proper supervision and audit is not made, it is probable the bonding company will refuse the claim.
"I strongly recommend the closing of all bank accounts under the control or in the names of Secretaries of Lodges, and that all moneys when and as received by a Secretary be deposited to the regular Lodge bank account, subject to the check of the Treasurer. The Secretary should obtain a signed duplicate deposit slip from the bank as evidence of his deposit, and should advise the Treasurer as to the date and amount of the deposit, giving an analysis of the same (that is to say, the amount of Lodge dues, Grand Lodge dues, dinner tickets, application fees, etc.)
"It is not proper for Secretaries to retain application fees until a candidate is balloted on, nor should they retain and pay over Grand Lodge dues, as I understand is the practice is some Lodges. This is the duty of the Treasurer.
"I also recommend that all checks on Lodge funds bear two signatures, - that is, that they be signed by the Treasurer and countersigned by the Master or one of the Wardens; or in the case of Trust funds, by at least two of the Trustees. The signature of the Master or Warden on a check is prima facie evidence of the correctness of the payment, and if the Master mail the checks himself, he will be certain of the payment of his bills. . . "
". . . I recommend that the Treasurer and Secretary send the Master a monthly report in the form recommended by the Committee, samples of which were sent to each Master. These report forms may now be obtained from the Grand Secretary's office in blocks of 50 at the trifling cost of a few cents. I cannot urge too strongly the use of these report forms.
"Over 25 per cent of the Lodges in the state registered an objection to this suggestion. The principal reasons given for these objections were that the by-laws provided that the Treasurer's and Secretary's books were always open to inspection by the Lodge, or the Master, or the Finance Committee. Most by-laws contain such provisions, but I fear if the Masters and Wardens who objected were questioned on the subject, it would be discovered that no systematic comparison had ever been made and that they were not at all informed regarding the financial condition of their respective Lodges.
"The benefit of these monthly reports is to bring directly to the Master's attention just how his income is coming in, of what it consists, how it is being spent, and how far the expenditure agrees with the budget. It induces sane and safe financing, and brings out the advantages of a proper budget for Lodge finance. Less than 21 per cent of our Lodges at the present time work on a budget. Eighty-three per cent report themselves as being able to support themselves on dues, several adding if paid. I venture to state that outside of the 21 per cent who work on a budget the remainder are just guessing, and an investigation would disclose the fact that they are by no means supporting themselves on their dues.
"I urgently recommend that a proper audit of Treasurers, Secretaries and Trustees accounts be made.
"Less than 11 per cent of the Lodges in the jurisdiction have effective audits. Many Lodges state that they have a regular audit by a committee consisting generally of the Master and Wardens. This form of audit is usually of no real value, and in many instances consists of nothing more than signing the various reports. In isolated cases it might be effective, as for instance, when a public accountant happens to be one of the chief officers, but in general it is too superficial to be of value.
"I urge you, then, to give immediate and serious thought to these recommendations and by your help and cooperation to place the administration of the finances of your Lodge in such condition that the distressing experiences of former years shall become things of the past."
See further remarks by this Grand Master in 1934.
Curtis Chipman, Grand Master.
Use of Mailing Lists
Page 1934-80, 06/13/1934, on the use of Lodge mailing lists for non-Masonic purposes.
"It has come to my notice that Masters and Secretaries of a number of our Lodges have been requested to furnish copies of membership lists or addresses of the Brethren, in order to make use of them for purposes other than Masonic.
"The impropriety of this request is so obvious that it would seem unnecessary to refer to the matter at all, but in view of the position taken by our Grand Masters in the past and the fact that officers of our Lodges are constantly changing, it is deemed important to repeat what has so often been said before,- that such a practice is most unwise and not in the interests of the Fraternity.
"Ever since the World War, and seemingly in increasing numbers, there have been so many drives for worthy objects and appeals for assistance that it has become, at time, a very embarrassing problem for the Masters or Secretaries to refuse to furnish such lists, particularly when personally they may be deeply interested in the particular objects or when they bear the mark of appealing charity or urgently needed relief.
"As a Grand Lodge, our position is now and always has been opposed to supplying such lists, or to permit representatives of other organizations to address our Lodges or secure from them any endorsement of non-Masonic movements. The merit or worthiness of the cause has no bearing whatever on this policy, and even in the stress of war, with its many and urgent calls for help, our attitude has remained unchanged.
"It is easy to understand the natural desire of the promoters of such agencies to desire to solicit contributions from members of our Fraternity, who are naturally pre-disposed to respond to any appeal to relieve suffering or distress. It is equally true that Masons as individuals are far from lacking in sympathetic interest in calls for charity, and I believe our record as individuals will bear comparison with any other organization as liberal contributors to worthy causes; but I regard it as a dangerous practice to supply our lists to promoters of any cause, however worthy, unless it be one wholly Masonic in character.
"Individual Masons naturally will contribute as liberally as they may see fit to the causes presented to them, but I urge the officers of Lodges to firmly decline to furnish our mailing lists for any non-Masonic purpose."
Candidates (Sales Tactics)
Page 1934-81, 06/13/1934, concerning sales tactics used on new candidates.
"In certain parts of the state our Lodges are being infested by high-power salesmen who make contact with candidates as soon as they are raised, or even before, for the purpose of inducing them to buy books or insurance. In some cases the candidate is told that the purchase of the books or insurance is obligatory and their standing as Masons will be seriously affected by failure. Candidates, of course, are not in position to deny these claims and are not infrequently victimized.
"I enjoin upon all Masters of Lodges to inform every candidate that he is under no obligation whatever to purchase any Masonic books or insurance. If approached by salesmen, he should refuse to listen to them. Later, when he has adjusted himself in Masonry he will be in position to know what he wants and can then consider the offers as he would any other business proposition."
Page 1934-125, 09/12/1934, on Masonic offenses.
See also an earlier (1869) presentation on this subject.
The Grand Master provided some historical background and examples of Masonic offenses, noting that while Grand Lodge had the obligation to try such cases, charges should be preferred by individual Lodges and Brethren.
"Masonic offenses may be of two kinds: first, those which are purely Masonic in origin and character, and secondly, those which are quite unrelated to Masonry except as they may tend to lower the Order in the estimation of the world at large.
"Masonic offenses which are purely Masonic in origin and character are those which violate the written law of Masonry. A wilful or habitual violation of the Grand Constitutions, or the Regulations of the Grand Lodge, are clearly Masonic offenses. A deliberate breach of the Landmarks of Masonry - as, for example, the disclosure to the uninitiated of the secrets or the private business of a Lodge, is also a Masonic offense. Failure to comply with the sacred ties of our obligations, using that word in its narrower sense, fall within the class of offenses of which this Grand Lodge must take cognizance. None of these offenses, it will be observed, necessarily involve a crime against the public. Nevertheless good order and decorum require that those who are no longer willing to abide by the fundamental principles or regulations of the Craft should withdraw therefrom by enforced severance from membership therein. As to these act, proof of their wilful commission will suffice.
"As to those offenses which are not Masonic in origin and character but which tend to degrade our Institution in the estimation of the world at large, a further element enters. Here the cardinal principle is the safeguarding of the fair name of the Order. It has nothing to do with the internal management thereof. If the act be one which shocks the enlightened conscience of right-minded persons, then it violates the moral law, whether or not it be also a crime, and it is a Masonic offense. It would be impossible to state specifically all of the acts which might fall within this category. Many will readily suggest themselves, while others may not be so obvious; but the tests to be applied are in all cases the same: - Are the acts of a member such as may properly be considered reprehensible in the opinion of all fair and decent minded citizens in the community? and, if so, are such acts of such a character that they tend to reflect upon the good name of the Order if, by silence and inaction, we permit the offending Brother to continue in good standing? If these two questions fairly admit of an affirmative answer, then such acts constitute a Masonic offense and it becomes the duty of this Grand Lodge to take such action as may protect and preserve its integrity."
". . . Lofty ideals, noble principles are not sufficient. Our practices must square with our precepts else is our usefulness impaired and our very existence as a worth-while organization imperilled."
Page 1934-298, 12/12/1934, further remarks on Lodge finances.
Following up his 1933 remarks (see above), the Grand Master reassured Lodge officers regarding bonding (some officers considered bonding as reflecting on their integrity) and the need for periodic and independent audit of Lodge finances.
"I strongly recommend the closing of all bank accounts under the control or in the names of Secretaries of Lodges, and that all moneys when and as received by a Secretary be deposited in the regular Lodge bank account, subject to the check of the Treasurer. The Secretary should obtain a signed duplicate deposit slip from the bank as evidence of his deposit, and should advise the Treasurer as to the date and amount of the deposit, giving an analysis of the same (that is to say, the amount of Lodge dues, Grand Lodge dues, dinner tickets, application fees, etc.)
"It is not proper for Secretaries to retain application fees until a candidate is balloted on, nor should they retain and pay over Grand Lodge dues, as I understand is the practice in some Lodges. This is the duty of the Treasurer.
"I also recommend that all checks on Lodge funds bear two signatures; that is, that they be signed by the Treasurer and countersigned by the Master or one of the Wardens; or in the case of Trust funds, by at least two of the Trustees. The signature of the Master or Warden on a check is prima facie evidence of the correctness of the payment, and if the Master mails the checks himself, he will be certain of the payment of his bills. This has been shown to be important, as in a certain instance of which I have personal knowledge, a Master duly approved a number of bills and sent them to the Treasurer, who not only failed to pay them, but made away with the entire cash balance of the Lodge.
"I urge you, then, to give immediate and serious thought to these recommendations and by your help and cooperation to place the administration of the finances of our Lodges in such condition that the distressing experiences of former years shall become things of the past."
Claude L. Allen, Grand Master.
Degree Work Required
Page 1935-24, 03/13/1935, on the need to perform degree work in the absence of candidates.
"During the depression of the last few years, as you all know, there have been very few applications for the degrees in some of the Lodges, and in some instances a year or more has elapsed without a single application being received. Therefore, in Lodges working on a one-year basis, a Master may come and go without ever having worked the degrees on a candidate.
"Of course, it is presumed that a Master will have prepared himself in the Master's work of all three degrees while he holds the chair of Warden, but I fear that there are cases where this is not so.
"To me it is unthinkable that one should have the honor of being Master of a Masonic Lodge without being competent to do the Master's work in all three degrees. I therefore suggest to the Masters that whether they have candidates or not, they shall work all three degrees in their respective Lodges at least once and preferably twice during each Lodge year."
Degree Work (Master's Jewel)
Page 1935-83, 06/12/1935, on the Master's Jewel.
"It has been the general custom in our jurisdiction for a presiding Master when inviting a Past Master or visiting Master to assume the East - not only to tender him the gavel but to invest him with the Master's collar and jewel.
"It has recently come to my attention that in some Lodges the Masters are departing from this custom and retaining the collar and jewel.
"Whether this retention is upon the theory that by surrendering his collar and jewel the Master surrenders his authority as Master, or for what other reason, I do not know; but certainly the surrender of the collar and jewel could have no different effect than the surrender of the gavel and chair.
"The Master by inviting another to preside in his presence for a specific purpose, surrenders no sovereignty over his Lodges except for the specific purpose, and it can not be doubted that he can resume the East at any moment.
"On the other hand, to retain his collar and jewel when he has invited another to assume the East might be, and I am advised has been, considered discourteous to the guest.
"The act of inviting another to preside in his Lodge is purely an act of courtesy on the part of the Master; a courtesy extended only at the pleasure of the Master. Therefore if any when he extends this courtesy it should be done in such a manner as to make the one to whom it is extended feel that it is genuine and sincere.
"I therefore suggest that in Lodes where the practice of the Master retaining the collar and jewel has crept in, it be discontinued."
Page 1935-86, 06/12/1935, on chain letters.
Following a number of predecessors, the Grand Master spoke about chain letters, recounting previous rulings.
"The present outbreak is the worst of all. The basic idea is that if one sends a small amount of money to some specified person and writes a certain number of letters, one will in due time receive a considerable sum of money. One now before me is to be sent to Masons only. The recipient is to send twenty-five cents to the person whose name heads a list of six. Then the recipient writes to the other five and adds his own name and address at the bottom of the list. Then he mails the five letters and waits hopefully for the $3,900 to come to him when his name gets to the top of the list.
"The scheme would seem to be so transparently silly as to deserve no comment. Nevertheless it has been serious enough to be denounced as criminal by the Post Office Department and has been made a profitable source of revenue by unscrupulous racketeers.
"The chain letter in all its forms has been denounced, invariably with an injunction to deposit them promptly in the waste basket, by Most Worshipful Brothers Johnson, Abbott, Prince, Ferrell and Dean. During the administrations of Most Worshipful Brothers Simpson and Chipman they did not appear.
"I emphatically add my own condemnation of this vicious scheme. No Mason should write such a letter or in any way help its circulation. All such letters should immediately go into the waste basket. Break the chain whenever and wherever you get a chance."
Page 1935-283, 12/11/1935, on gambling.
"The gambling spirit is rampant in our midst, and unfortunately not all of our Brethren are immune to its wiles. To me, it is a deplorable thought that any Masonic organization or any organization composed wholly of Masons should, for the purpose of raising money, be willing to jeopardize the fair name of our beloved Order by resorting to lotteries or games of chance which in most cases are in violation of state or federal laws, and in all cases are in violation of the dignity and reputation of our Order.
"Unfortunately our Brethren, in some cases swayed from their better judgment by the alluring promises presented by the promoters of these games as to the easy money that can be realized from them are tempted to the point where their proper perspective of the cardinal principles of our Order and the importance of safe-guarding its fair name may be endangered. Participation in these enterprises, if they tend to bring Masonry into disrepute, may constitute a Masonic offense even although they are not in actual violation of the statute law. Several organizations composed of Masons have sought my approval of one or another of these lottery schemes, usually upon the theory that other organizations of various sorts were conducting them and that our organizations needed the money that could be obtained by this means as much as the others. In all of these cases my approval has been denied, and I am happy to say that the plans have been abandoned, in most cases cheerfully and in a commendable spirit of cooperation when the danger has been pointed out.
"That many of our organizations, either Masonic or composed wholly of Masons, are in need of funds to carry on their activities, there can be no doubt, but I sincerely trust that the time has not arrived and that it may never arrive when Masonic bodies or bodies composed of Masons must resort to violations of either the statute or Masonic law to enable them to obtain the necessary funds to carry on.
"What other organizations may do is of no concern to us as Masons. We have our own landmarks and standards of morality and conduct. Let us not be swayed by what others may do to depart from those high standards and principles."
Claude L. Allen, Grand Master.
Page 1936-24, 03/11/1936, on ballot procedure and inspection.
The Grand Master described the procedure for balloting described by Albert Mackey in Masonic Jurisprudence, in which the ballot box is inspected in advance by the Worshipful Master and the Wardens, then it is placed on the altar; the roll is called and each Brother approaches the altar, gives a proper Masonic salutation, ballots and returns to his seat. He allowed that calling the role was somewhat impractical in Lodges with large membership, and that in Massachusetts black cubes had replaced black balls.
". . . there is not perhaps the necessity of approaching the altar singly or even of approaching the altar at all, as the same secrecy can be maintained by a proper passing of the ballot box among the Brethren, although this should be done in a dignified manner and without too great haste."
Regarding inspection of the ballot:
"It has recently come to my attention that in a few of our Lodges the custom prevails of presenting the ballot box, after the ballot has been closed, to the Worshipful Master only for inspection or report.
"While our Grand Constitutions provide no definite method for the inspection, in most Grand Jurisdictions and I think generally speaking in our own, it is the long established usage, after the ballot is closed, to present it for inspection to the South, West and East, at each of which stations the ballot is inspected and in some Lodges its condition is reported to the Master by each Warden after his inspection, and announced by the Master after his inspection, with the additional statement by him that the applicant has been accepted or rejected as the case may be.
"In other Lodges it is the custom for the ballot to be presented to the South, West, and East, for inspection, and for the Wardens to make no report following their inspection until severally interrogated by the Master as to the condition of the ballot, after which the Master also announces the condition of the ballot in the East, followed by a statement that the applicant has been accepted or rejected as the case may be."
Remitted Members (Reading of Names)
Page 1936-120, 06/10/1936, Regarding the reading of names of remitted members.
"I am advised that in some of our Lodges it is the custom to read in open Lodge the names of members listed for remission of Lodge dues.
"This practice should be discontinued at once as un-masonic and unworthy of the brotherly spirit that should prevail toward a member who finds himself unhappily in a situation were it is necessary for him to ask a remission of dues.
"When the time arrives for action upon remission of dues, it would seem fair to assume that the Master through his own investigation, that of his officers delegated to that task, or of a suitable committee whether it be the Lodge Service Committee or some other, would have satisfied himself as to the worthiness of the Brother to receive this consideration.
"Undoubtedly the Lodge members would be willing to rely upon the judgement of their Master from such information as he may have obtained to recommend remission only in worthy cases. That being so, it would seem to serve no useful purpose to humiliate the member by having his name read in open Lodge. It would be far better that the recommendation in open Lodge should be that the dues of a certain number of worthy but unfortunate Brethren be remitted.
"There are many instances, I regret to state, where injustice has been done to certain Brothers in the matter of dues owing to their reticence about confiding their misfortunes to the Masters or Secretaries of their Lodges. Everything possible that can properly be done should be done to encourage such confidence on the part of members in distress, to the end that their circumstances may be given proper and sympathetic consideration, and nothing could be of greater assistance in the accomplishment of this result than to have the Brother feel that he could confide his troubles to his Master or Secretary without making them known to the whole Lodge."
Restoration of Membership
Page 1936-121, 06/10/1936, regarding restoration of membership.
"Section 521 of the Grand Constitutions provides that a Brother expelled or suspended by the Grand Lodge from the rights and privileges of Masonry thereby loses absolutely his membership in any Lodge to which he then belongs, and that when the Grand Lodge shall restore to the rights and privileges of Masonry an expelled or suspended Brother, he shall have the status of a dimitted Mason and shall not be restored to membership in the Lodge of which he was formerly a member except by unanimous ballot.
"This section as it now reads applies to a suspension by Grand Lodge for non-payment of Grand Lodge dus as well as to suspension or expulsion for any other cause.
"On the other hand, Section 507 of the Grand Constitutions provides that a Brother who has been suspended by his Lodge for non-payment of Lodge dues, and whose dues have been paid or remitted to the date of his suspension, may be reinstated in his Lodge by a majority vote of those present and voting at a regular meeting of the suspending Lodge.
"There would seem to be no valid reason why a Brother who has been suspended by Grand Lodge for non-payment of Grand Lodge dues and who has subsequently been restored by Grand Lodge to the rights and privileges of Masonry should not also be reinstated to his former membership in any Lodge to which he belonged at the time of his suspension upon the same terms as he can be reinstated following suspension by the Lodge for non-payment of Lodge dues; namely, a majority vote of his Lodge. Undoubtedly there are cases where through misunderstandings of one kind or another a Brother is suspended for non-payment of Grand Lodge dues and later restored to his rights as a Mason where he might be loath to apply to his Lodge for reinstatement if it required a unanimous ballot, and yet it might be for the best interests of Masonry, of the particular Lodge, and of the Brother that he should be permitted to return to the fold, where he might become an asset to the Lodge by the resumption of his obligations to it and his active interest in its affairs. I believe that no unnecessary obstacles should be placed in the path of a Brother finding himself in this position."
The Grand Master offered a proposal for amendment to Section 521 to correct this situation.
Degrees (Floor Work)
Page 1936-152, 09/09/1936, regarding floor work.
The Grand Master noted that exemplifications had turned up discrepancies in instructions to officers. He had requested that the Grand Lecturers submit "lists of such discrepancies as they know exist, and upon the receipt of the same I shall endeavor to adjust them to a uniform basis."
"In this connection, I rule that floor work, unless it involves an interpretation of the ritual, is in the discretion of the Worshipful Master of each Lodge. It is entirely proper for a Grand Lecturer to make suggestions as to what he considers the best method of doing floor work, even though it does not involve the interpretation of the ritual, provided that it is at all times made clear that it is merely a suggestion to the Master, to be followed or not as he may choose. I understand that in some Districts the Deputies have requested the Grand Lecturers to insist that all of the Lodges in that particular District do the floor work in the same manner. In the future this should not be done, unless it is with the consent of all the Masters in that District.
"Many Lodges have some particular movements in connection with the floor work which do not perhaps involve any interpretation of the ritual, in which they take special pride and satisfaction, and in such cases I believe it is their right and privilege, and I see no objection to their being permitted to carry out these movements in their own way, provided of course they are at all times done in a dignified manner and in a way that will not detract from the ritual and the lessons it teaches.
"Where floor work involves an interpretation of the ritual, the interpretation given to the Lodges at the Exemplifications by the Grand Lecturers should be uniform. I realize that there are cases of floor work involving an interpretation of the ritual upon which the Grand Lecturers may honestly and properly differ as to what is the proper interpretation. If in any such instance the Grand Lecturers cannot agree after conference upon a uniform interpretation, a ruling will be made by the Grand Master's office as to which is to be followed.
"Wherever floor work involves an interpretation of the ritual and therefore calls for definite instructions from the Grand Lecturers, the Grand Lecturers will be asked to explain the interpretation with the reasons therefor, and in order to clarify this situation I am requesting the Grand Lecturers at the opening of each Exemplification to explain what is meant by floor work involving interpretation of the ritual as distinguished from floor work which does not involve such interpretation, with a few illustrations of each."
Page 1936-154, 09/09/1936, regarding visiting.
"Section 501 of the Grand Constitutions provides that no visitor shall be admitted into a tyled Lodge without producing his card showing the payment or remission of Grand Lodge and particular Lodge dues for the preceding or current fiscal year; or a receipt for the payment of his dues if from another jurisdiction.
"In addition to this, it is of course necessary that he be vouched for in writing or that he produce a diploma or certificate from a regular Lodge, or certificate under seal of a secretary of a regular Lodge, and in addition that he pass a satisfactory examination.
"I fear that considerable laxity exists in certain Lodges in reference to these requirements, and it is the duty of the Masters of the Lodges to see that they are complied with. It is entirely possible that a visitor may present himself to a Lodge and be recognized by the Tyler, who possibly recalls some prior visit of this Brother. Possibly the Tyler may consider this a sufficient identification and authorization for the admittance of the Brother without anything further, but this is not so.
"It is entirely possible, and instances have occurred where just this situation existed and the visitor had been suspended from the rights and privileges of Freemasonry, or from his Lodge, between the period of his two visits; or the Brother may be in arrears in his dues or may have taken a dimit more than a year prior.
"I therefore urge upon the officers of Lodges the importance of seeing that this section of the Grand Constitutions is complied with."
Page 1936-157, 09/09/1936, regarding envelopes for Lodge mailing.
"Section 711 of the Grand Constitutions reads as follows:
"All written or printed notices of Lodges meetings containing any Masonic information beyond the time of place of such meeting, must be sent out in sealed envelopes.
"Question has arisen as to whether it is permissible to mail notices of Lodge meetings in the so-called 'postage-saving' or 'spot-sealing' type of envelopes, thereby effecting a considerable saving in postage rates. These envelpes are actually sealed so that no loose or tucked-in flaps are noticeable and in order to get at the contents at least one seal must be broken. These envelopes must, however, carry on the reverse side, usually I think on the end flap, the words, 'pull out for postal inspection.'
"At the time of the adoption of Section 711 in 1921 envelopes of this type were either not in use at all or were not in common use, and it is entirely probable that the framers of the amendment did not have them in mind at all.
"It is my opinion that envelopes of this type are sufficiently private and sufficiently within the language and meaning of Section 711 to permit their use, and I therefore rule that envelopes of this type may be used for the mailing of all Lodge notices.
"An even greater saving in postage can be made with the use of these 'spot' sealed envelopes by obtaining postal permits for bulk mailing, full information concerning which is of course available at any post office."
Claude L. Allen, Grand Master.
Page 1937-20, 03/10/1937, on investigating committees.
"Section 406 of the Grand Constitutions provides for the appointment by the Master of a committee of investigation, consisting of three or more members of the Lodge, at the time when an application for the degrees is received. It also provides that the names of the committee shall be entered on the record of that meeting, but shall not be borne on the notices.
"It would seem that it should be obvious to us all that this is a highly desirable provision, - that the names of the investigating committee should not be disclosed to the members generally.
"It has recently come to my attention that the purpose of this provision has been largely nullified in some Lodges by a practice which has crept in of the Master reading in open Lodge the names of the members of the investigating committee when making his report on the result of the investigation. Obviously this should never be done, for the same reason that the names should not appear on the notice, and I hereby direct that in future the names of members of the investigating committee shall not be read in open Lodge.
Applicants (Pre-Application Statement)
Page 1937-82, 06/09/1937, on a Pre-Application Statement.
"I am of the opinion that a considerable number of applicants still seek admission to the Fraternity with a false notion as to what Masonry means, what they are expected to contribute to it, and what they may fairly expect to receive from it.
"In order that we may so far as possible eliminate all misunderstandings of this nature, I am of the opinion that a second step should be taken after the preliminary examination of the candidate by the committee and before he is been given an application for the degrees; namely, the applicant should be required to read, sign, and file with the pre-application committee a statement."
This statement, adopted by the Grand Lodge on June 9, 1937, is listed on this page.
See also the ruling below on Page 1937-129, regarding procedure.
Candidates (Signing By-Laws)
Page 1937-84, 06/09/1937, regarding the signing of Lodge By-Laws by candidates.
"Since 1925 candidates have been required, after being raised, to learn the lecture of the third degree before being permitted to sign the by-laws and thereby become members of the Lodge. Under the provisions of the Grand Constitutions, the candidate has the right to become a member of the Lodge if he signs the by-laws at any time within one year from his raising. Ordinarily there should be no occasion for any great delay after the date of raising in learning the lecture of the third degree and signing the by-laws. In my judgement, two months should be ample for this purpose.
"It is for the best interests of the candidate himself that he should complete his task and become a member in full standing thereby making himself eligible to visit other Lodges, as soon as possible after he is raised. Furthermore, it is for the best interests of the Lodge and of the Grand Lodge that this should be done. A delay of more than two months, particularly where it runs from one fiscal year to another, frequently causes confusion as to the right to collect Grand Lodge or Lodge dues, and in some cases results in a loss of dues.
"I have wondered whether the apparent laxity on the part of some Masters in requiring a candidate to learn his lectures and sign the by-laws may have been occasioned by the provision of the Grand Constitutions allowing signing within one year. On the assumption that may be so, and with a desire to bring about a better understanding of what I deem to be for the best interests of all concerned, I hereby request the Masters of Lodges to use all reasonable diligence and exert every possible effort to see that their candidates learn the lecture of the third degree and sign the by-laws within sixty days from the date of raising."
Applicants (Pre-Application Procedure)
Page 1937-129, 09/08/1937, regarding procedure for pre-application.
The Grand Master reviewed the pre-application statement presented in the September quarterly communication, and then outlined the proper procedure for Lodges to follow.
"First: a prospective applicant, having expressed orally or in writing to some member of the Lodge his desire to apply to said Lodge for the degrees, is invited to appear at a set time and place before the pre-application committee.
"Second: if the pre-application committee, after interviewing the prospective applicant, is favorably impressed with him, the committee then presents him the pre-application statement, with the request that he read it and if he assents to it that he affix his signature thereto, and that when that has been done he will be given the regular application blank. The prospect would probably read this pre-application statement then and there, and sign it. If he should wish to take it away with him for more careful reading before signing he should be permitted to do so. If he should fail to sign it, or decline to sign it, under no circumstances can he be given an application blank.
"Third: When the pre-application statement has been signed, it should be immediately forwarded to the Secretary of the Lodge to be attached to and form a part of the application blank itself when that shall have later been received.
"Fourth: Upon delivery to the committee of this pre-application statement signed by the prospective applicant, he should be given a form of petition as prescribed by Section 401 of the Grand Constitutions, which must be entirely filled out by the applicant in his own handwriting; and three copies of the blank provided by the Grand Lodge to be filled out by the applicant furnishing information for the investigation committee, or in lieu thereof, three copies of a similar form prepared by the Lodge itself. While there is nothing in the Grand Constitutions specifying the form of this blank or actually requiring the use of such a blank, it is highly desirable that this information should be obtained in every case, both for the information of the investigating committee and as a permanent record to accompany the application for the degrees."
Page 1937-131, 09/08/1937, on the use of the trestle-board.
The Grand Master observed that Lodges in the Canal Zone did not use a trestle-board in the third degree, and he was informed that it was not then current practice for Lodges in that District to do so.
"I have requested the District Grand Master to see that the Lodges are provided with Trestle Boards and that they are used, first because it is the well established practice in our Massachusetts Lodges to do so, and second because it aids in the proper interpretation of the ritual and adds to the effectiveness of the degree.
"So far as I know there are no Lodges in this state that do not use the Trestle Board, but if perchance there are such, it is my desire that they correct the omission at an early date."
Page 1937-136, 09/08/1937, clarification on plural membership.
The Grand Master noted that affiliation of Brethren from Lodges in other jurisdiction was causing some confusion, and he sought to clarify the situation.
"A majority of Grand Lodges in the United States do not permit plural membership. These Grand Lodges are often greatly annoyed if we permit their members to affiliate without dimits.
"If an application for affiliation is received from a member of a Lodge in another jurisdiction, it should be at once ascertained whether or not that jurisdiction permits plural membership. A list of Grand Lodges which do permit it will be sent to all the Lodges with the regular Abstract of Proceedings which will be mailed in a few days. If the Grand Lodge does permit plural membership all that is necessary is evidence of good standing.
"If it does not permit plural membership, the applicant should be advised to obtain a dimit and file it with his application. It may occasionally happen that the applicant may fear that he may not be accepted and may thus be left stranded without any membership. In such a case, his application may be voted upon before he asks for a dimit, but he must not be allowed to sign the by-laws until his dimit is in the hands of the Secretary. Under our law membership begins when the by-laws are signed, and until the signature occurs there can be no violation of the law of the other Grand Lodge.
"All affiliates should be warned that affiliation does not automatically sever connection with the applicant's other Lodge. Trouble has occasionally arisen because ill-informed Brethren have supposed that it did, and upon such supposition have perhaps failed to take a dimit or pay their dues in the Lodge in the other jurisdiction, resulting in suspension there for non-payment of dues and consequent limitation of their privileges in this jurisdiction under the provisions of Section 503 of the Grand Constitutions."
Joseph Earl Perry, Grand Master.
Page 1939-85, 03/08/1939, on gambling.
"Much has been written by Grand Masters of this and other jurisdictions about gambling. Their disapproval, and that of the Craft, has been unanimous. There is, however, a twilight zone in which are found many activities that fall short of gambling and that even partake of entertainment and voluntary charity, but which find their final excuse for existence solely in the element of a chance to get pecuniary value for nothing.
"To ask a Grand Master to be constantly acting as censor of these borderline cases is unfair to him and bad for the Craft, for every such decision prompts some criticism, and misunderstanding, and comparison with other decisions, and the cumulative effect is to spread dissension and weaken the solidarity of our Fraternity.
"After more than a year of such experiences I can discern no halfway stopping point, no safe basis for discretion. Any arbitrary frontier merely creates a new series of borderline problems, precedents, comparisons, injustices, dissatisfactions. Any decision by a single individual whatever his position or however much he may consult with others still leaves the suspicion of conscious, or unconscious, personal bias.
"For the benefit of the entire Fraternity, therefore, I now ask this Grand Lodge as a legislative body to enact a law for its own government on this troublesome subject. Lest this may appear to be a mere evasion of responsibility, let me say unequivocally that unless this body shall otherwise vote I shall rule that it is inconsistent with the purposes and professions of our Fraternity and dangerous to its welfare to permit any sort of so-called door prize or game or other device promoted by a Lodge for financial gain whereby a participant may by an element of chance or luck stand to win something of value in excess of the stake invested by him. Such a ruling would no doubt bar many things not inherently harmful in themselves but potentially dangerous as analogies or precedents.
"There are many who believe that the predominant drift of our times is toward a desire to get something for nothing, to rely on others rather than on one's own efforts. This disintegrating influence reveals itself not only in a craving for collective forms of government to promote getting rather than giving but in a myriad of other forms even including religious and charitable organizations that are hypocritical enough to rely on the gambling spirit rather than the giving spirit. Even at the risk of being deemed narrow and old-fashioned, Freemasonry must stand firm against this dangerous tendency. There is probably no Lodge in the country, certainly not in this Jurisdiction, that could not be financially independent if its members wished to contribute only a portion of what they spend in personal indulgences. Reliance on the public's gambling instinct is not a necessary way to finance ourselves. It is only the easiest way. In the long run it is also a disastrous way. Fortunately the overwhelming proportion of our Lodges have always refrained from such activities. I suggest for your adoption the following resolution:
RESOLVED: that it is inconsistent with the professions and purposes of Freemasonry for any Masonic Body to promote, participate in, or profit by any lottery, game of chance, door prize, or other device or activity whereby the individual participant may be able, through the element of luck or chance, to win a greater value than he pays, and each Masonic body within the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge is hereby enjoined to observe the letter and the spirit of this Resolution; and
Be it further Resolved that all so-called collateral bodies, clubs, or other organizations in Massachusetts whose membership is related to or dependent on Masonic membership, or which in the public mind are likely to be regarded as Masonic organizations, are requested, and all individual Masons owing allegiance to this Grand Lodge are enjoined, to respect the purpose of this Resolution.
Note: this Resolution was adopted by unanimous vote on 03/08/1939, at the Quarterly Communication at which it was presented, on Page 1939-105.
Degrees (Interruption of Work)
Page 1939-396, 12/13/1939, on interrupting a degree.
"My attention has been called to the fact that one of our Lodges conferred half a degree upon a candidate and deferred the rest of the degree until a subsequent meeting.
"This was apparently done under a misunderstanding and in the belief that special permission had been obtained. However, such a practice would be undesirable, and for the purpose of the record I hereby rule that a degree may not be divided between two meetings. The entire degree must be conferred in the meeting in which it is begun. If for any reason the candidate is obliged to leave the Lodge before the degree is completed, the entire degree should be conferred at a subsequent meeting."
Degrees (Symbolic Penalties)
Page 1939-446, 12/13/1939, on reference to symbolic penalties in the ritual.
A committee was appointed to consider reference to the symbolic penalties mentioned in the obligations of the degrees. Its report traced the history of this consideration, and recommended the following paragraph be inserted in the ritual between the words "and keep me steadfast" and "in token of my assent":
My Brother, Freemasonry's continued use of the imprecations in all its ancient obligations is wholly figurative. The only penalties which Freemasonry imposes are reprimand, suspension, and expulsion.
This change was adopted by vote of the Grand Lodge, 12/13/1939.
EDICTS AND RULINGS FROM 1940 TO 1949
Joseph Earl Perry, Grand Master.
Lodges of Instruction
Page 1940-225, 09/11/1940, on Lodges of Instruction.
"The presiding officer of a Lodge of Instruction shall have the same prerogative as the Presiding Master of a Chartered Lodge with regard to the admission of visitors, and in his discretion may require the presentation of a receipt for dues and may require that prospective visitors be vouched for or pass an examination. Worshipful Masters and Secretaries of Chartered Lodges are required to see that every candidate they send to a Lodge of Instruction shall have an identification card."
"One who has sat with a Brother in a Chartered Lodge or in a Lodge of Instruction may vouch for him in another Lodge of Instruction, but sitting with a Brother in a Lodge of Instruction is not sufficient to enable one to vouch for him in a Chartered Lodge. Only by sitting with a Brother in a Chartered Lodge can one vouch for his admission to another Chartered Lodge."
"The organization and conduct of Lodges of Instruction are broadly designed to improve Masonry by imparting to its membership a better knowledge of its purposes, methods, and benefits. This general objective justifies such inconvenience or even minor hardship as may occasionally be involved in the compulsory requirement for attendance of candidates. To give relief from any real hardship, Section 345 of the Grand Constitutions allows the Master of a Lodge, for good reason, to excuse a candidate from attendance. That section, however, is not intended to be used as a device to defeat the purpose of the Lodge of Instruction, and should be used sparingly and only when compulsory attendance would involve a real hardship or serious inconvenience on a particular candidate. If each Worshipful Master or each candidate were free to select and obey only those provisions of Masonic law which to him seem wise and to disregard the others,, all semblance of orderly government would soon disappear. Instruction by the candidate's own Lodge, therefore, may be in addition to, but not in substitution for, attendance at the Lodge of Instruction."
Page 1940-233, 09/11/1940, on "perpetual jurisdiction."
"There is historic and Masonic justification for the position that once a candidate has applied for the degrees and been rejected his Lodge - or perhaps his Grand Lodge - has acquired perpetual jurisdiction so that no matter where the candidate goes or how long he lives no other Masonic jurisdiction can accept his application without obtaining a release from the first Lodge, or Grand Lodge, as the case may be. The other view, taken by Massachusetts, is that if a rejected applicant moves his legal residence out of our geographical territory he has left our Masonic jurisdiction for all purposes and we lose all claim over him, and conversely, that it would be an infringement on our Masonic sovereignty to allow any other Masonic body to prevent us from exercising our own judgment in accepting applications from Massachusetts residents who formerly lived elsewhere. There is something to be said for each view, but not enough to justify any ill feeling between Grand Lodges.
"During my administration I have taken the position that I ought not to modify our law on this matter, nor have I desired to for it seems more logical and in keeping with the spirit of Freemasonry. On the other hand, I have respected the position of other Grand Masters who have felt similarly bound by their own law of perpetual jurisdiction. With that in mind it has seemed to me that we could afford to be big enough to request a release of jurisdiction without waiving our position that in fact such a request is, from our point of view, superfluous. Where such request is granted no problem arises. If the request has been refused, I have felt obliged to consider each case on its merits with respect to all the available facts and in the light of the law that appears to govern the particular situation."
Balloting (Factious Balloting)
Page 1940-337, 12/11/1940, on factious balloting.
The Grand Master reported that a Lodge was suffering from a series of factious ballots.
"After careful investigation I have become satisfied and have officially found as a fact that in one of our Lodges such a condition (an internal Lodge conflict in which candidates were rejected 'without regard to their qualifications or acceptability') has existed for more than two years. If allowed to continue it would result in the death of the Lodge and the end of its opportunity for service. There should be some way to protect the Lodge in such a case. No precedent having been found I have adopted a course of action which is hereby reported to this Grand Lodge in order that if the Grand Lodge should deem such a course unwise it may legislate on the matter so as to govern similar cases if any should arise in the future."
The Grand Master issued a decree, reprinted in full on Page 1940-338, in which he declared rejections as a result of factious balloting to be "illegal and void", and directed that the applicants should "stand as though they had been favorably reported upon but not yet balloted upon." He directed the Master of the Lodge to place the applicants' names on the notice, and for the Lodge to again ballot upon them, with investigations as needed. Any applicants wishing to withdraw would be granted a special certificate from the Lodge's secretary.
The Grand Master noted that "it might be that the balloting was voided by factious voting but that, even so, the candidate ought to have been rejected and would have been even without the factious ballots. The calling of a new ballot does not prevent legitimate rejection."
Albert A. Schaefer, Grand Master.
Page 1941-47, 03/12/1941, on dispensations.
The Grand Master expressed his surprise at the large number of dispensations requested. "I am aware of the historical fact that requests of this nature apparently assume epidemic proportions during the first six months of a new administration. . . I am still of the opinion that the great increase in the number of such applications is occasioned primarily by a lack of appreciation on the part of the Masters of our Lodges - and perhaps, of the Fraternity at large - of the nature and the dispensing power of a Grand Master, and the propriety of its exercise."
He then outlined "the occasions for which special dispensations are required . . . but give the Grand Master the greatest concern . . .:
- to permit a candidate to be balloted for at the meeting at which he is proposed;
- to permit a candidate to be entered on the night of his election;
- to shorten the constitutionally prescribed interval between the conferring of degrees; and
- to permit a Lodge to entertain an application from one not residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the Lodge."
In other cases, such as dispensations for special elections due to vacancies; regular special meetings outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Lodge; holding a joint meeting to receive guests, or to allow ritual to be exemplified elsewhere; to hold a meeting on another night than the regular one due to religious observance or holiday. "Special dispensations to accomplish these purposes present no particular problem . . . and they are granted almost as a matter of course."
The Grand Master suggested that the Selective Service law might require dispensations in case 1. He dismissed case 2 because the Grand Constitutions had been specifically amended (in Section 413) to prevent this practice, and he was not inclined to grant dispensations "except under the most extraordinary circumstances." In Case 3, he was "constrained to rule that a Master must state a reason of greater validity than merely the convenience of the candidate or of the Lodge" before a dispensation would be issued. Case 4 was "troublesome", but the Grand Master indicated that, while releases of jurisdiction were granted almost as a matter of course and Lodges holding jurisdiction should not have "veto power" over such releases, that "more sufficient reason must be given than that the applicant has a friend or a few acquaintances in the Lodge where he desires to apply."
The Grand Master made further remarks beginning on Page 1942-29.
Albert A. Schaefer, Grand Master.
Wartime Conditions (Logistics)
Page 1942-182, 09/09/1942, on wartime conditions.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, numerous restrictions and regulations were imposed on civilians. The Grand Master issued a number of suggestions to Lodges.
"The intensification of war activities has posed new problems which have no single nor uniform solution but which may profitably be presented to you for your information and consideration.
"Dimouts.. Regulations, affecting principally the Eastern seaboard areas, requiring all automobile traffic to proceed at a very reduced rate of speed, usually not more than fifteen miles per hour, and then only with low beam lights or dimmers, affect to some extent, even though indirectly, our Lodge activities. Where the automobile is the generally accepted if not the only means of transportation to and from the lodge-rooms, such regulations, necessary though they may be, create an additional hazard to all who must travel after dark. There is no way that such hazards may be eliminated but I believe they can be lessened if the officers of our Lodges time their meetings so that the closing may take place at apn early hour.
"I have always felt, and frequently stated, that no Lodge meetings should extend beyond ten o'clock. If everv meeting is planned carefully in advance, started promptly at the stated hour and arranged with sufficient flexibility to aliow for unforeseen contingencies, I see no reason why this cannot be accomplished. Particularly I stress starting promptly at the stated hour. One who has hurried through his evening meal at home or who has remained down town, dining alone, to be present at the opening of a scheduled sevent-thirty meeting is not apt to be agreeably minded if the meeting finally gets under way at eight-fifteen. In Lodge matters it is an act of courtesy to start promptly; it is an act of kindness to close seasonably. And this apples with equal sodalities or rehearsals.
"Blackouts. Those of you who were in Boston or in its more immediate environs last night experienced a surprise blackout, the first siren signals for the air wardens sounding shortly after nine-thirty and the siren signals for the blackout proper shortly after ten. As I listened, I wondered what effect these wailing warnings might have on the rather large number of meetings which were being held in this Temple. Some of these Lodges were at that time at work, some perhaps at a business meetings, others it may be at refreshment. Perhaps in every Lodge there were members and officers who were air wardens in the immediate or more remote areas.
"Lodges should carry on normally as may be in these abnormal times. Our English Brethren, I have direct information, have done so - indeed, meetings have continued while actual air raids were in progress. But we must be sensible as well as zealous. No Lodge or Master of a Lodge would of course want to expose any member to even possible danger. Above all every member when needed will answer every call. Hence it becomes of the utmost importance that we plan carefully and well in advance to meet every foreseeable contingency. Therefore, I venture the following suggestions:
"I suggest first, as I suggested to the District Deputies this morning, that the Master find out in advance the names of those among his officers who may be inconvenienced by reason of the warning signal and arrange for a suitable substitute to carry on whenever his absence should seem desirable. Whenever an alarm comes, all who have civic duties elsewhere should be immediately excused, whatever station they may be occupying.
"I shall leave to the sound judgment and good discretion of the Masters of the Lodges whether the Lodge should forthwith be closed. I most emphatically urge, however, in this connection that you err on the side of safety rather than carry on under conditions which might prove uncomfortable, to say the least. I believe that no great harm will be done whenever an unannounced blackout comes - and we cannot of course under those circumstances be sure whether it is a test or otherwise - if the Master or the presiding officer of the particular Lodge should close his Lodge forthwith.
"I must point out, however, that once work is interrupted and the Lodge is closed, candidates must receive the entire degree from the very beginning at some subsequent meeting. In other words, even though a single section of one of the degrees may have been completed and the candidate is merely waiting for a subsequent section, if the Lodge be closed, the first section of that degree must again be conferred before the second can be given to the candidate. I know that you will not feel that this is an unreasonable requirement. It is intended for the benefit of the candidate, for I think you will all appreciate that if the candidate loses the continuity of the work he is very apt to lose a great deal of the benefit of the degree which he might otherwise receive. At best, it is difficult for him to remember that which he has received, and where there is an interruption of days, we can readily see that he has perhaps forgotten what may be the most important to remember.
"And so I want to stress that if a Lodge is closed while only a part of the degree has been conferred, the entire degree must be repeated on this particular candidate at some subsequent meeting.
Next, whenever the warning signal comes, the Master must proceed to satisfy himself that no lights will be visible to the outside. In some temples this is obviously so, but in many it is not so certain. In case of any doubt, all lights must be extinguished. It is not necessary for the Lodge to be closed. It is entirely permissible for the presiding officer to go from labor to refreshment in order that he may scertain, so far as he may, what are the real conditions and thereupon decide whether to close the Lodge or to await further development.
"Some curtailment of Lodge activities must necessarily result from present regulations. In these meetings where it is contemplated that Masons from some distance are to be present - Grand Lodge officers or otherwise - I shall request the District Deputies to confer with the Masters to ascertain to what extent these meetings may perhaps be postponed until more favorable conditions exist. I have every hope and expectation of carrying on as nearly normal as possible the Grand Lodge part of your celebrations in your anniversaries and in your principal observances, but I trust that you will recognize that it is just as far from Boston to Springfield as it is from Springfield to Boston and that we have difficulty in keeping engagements now that we cannot use the customary mode of traveling. Where we use railroad facilities, it is necessary for use to leave these far-away cities at a very early hour in order to return on the same evening, since many of us find it impossible to remain overnight because of the requirements of our usual vocations. And so I beg you to be considerate of our time, and I know you will appreciate that whenever it is necessary for me to tell you that I cannot be present or other Grand Officers cannot be present, that we are not slighting you or the occasion.
"In conclusion, one brief word: We are beginning our first full Masonic year under wartime conditions. We shall have many new problems to meet which may not be wholly foreseeable and for the solution of which we have no precedents. Hence we must be Masonically as well as civicly alert. I have mentioned merely a few of these problems. To your sound judgment I must leave the solution of many others."
Remission of Dues
Page 1942-285, 12/09/1942, on remission of dues.
The Grand Master expressed concern, but noted that Lodges were allowed to make any provision they liked regarding the amount of dues and the circumstances under which they were remitted.
"It has come to my attention that a number of Lodges have voted to remit the dues of aa members in the Armed Forces. . .
"May I point out that remission of dues should not be granted merely because the Lodge is perhaps momentarily in excellent financial condition, nor should remission of dues be denied because a Lodge is in poor financial condition. The determining factor is and should continue to be the circumstances and need of the individual member. Remission of dues should never be merely a reward for meritorious conduct. Active war service alone, in and of itself, affords no ample justification for any general policy. Where induction in service has affected not at all or only to an inconsequential degree the financial status of a member, there would seem to be no sound reason to remit dues. Indeed, I am convinced that under such circumstances a member would not expect to profit by his patriotism. Every loyal Brother would want Masonry in general, and his Lodge in particular, to remain on a sound basis against the time when he shall return to his normal status. . .
"I strongly recommend, therefore, that no general remission of dues be voted or granted, but that every consideration be given to meritorious cases of individual members, whether within or without the Armed Forces, and that no suspension for non-payment of dues be voted until after a full and careful investigation has disclosed the actual status of the delinquent Brother."
Wartime Conditions (Public Service)
Page 1942-287, 12/09/1942, on war-related public service.
The Grand Master was asked regarding Lodge participation in war-related activities, such as bond drives, Red Cross drives, blood donations, and so forth. (Note the response of the Grand Lodge during the Great War was - at least at first - non-participation as a Fraternity.) The Grand Master noted that a National Masonic War Bond Campaign, and Massachusetts had been asked to participate.
"I have also been asked to recommend that every Master appoint a similar committee in his Lodge, who shall publicize the bond drive and make a personal appeal to each member personally. It is suggested that a quota be established for each Grand Lodge and each constituent Lodge.
"These requests have received my most careful consideration. I am wholeheartedly in favor of this and kindred drives. I believe they merit our most earnest support. I am reluctant, however, to use or cause to be used the organizational facilities of Masonry for matters of a distinct extra-Masonic nature. All of us, with possibly inconsequential exceptions, are affiliated with other organizations of a business, professional or service nature. In all of these groups similar drives are anticipated. In many of these groups of a more civic nature such drives are part and parcel of the general purposes of the organization. Not infrequently it is more desirable and more convenient to combine with others in those organizations rather than to divide efforts with Masonic groups. Thus a wholly unfair and inadequate result is obtained and Masonry is exposed to a charge of non-cooperation when exactly the reverse is true."
Albert A. Schaefer, Grand Master.
Wartime Conditions (Transportation)
Page 1943-28, 03/10/1943, on use of transportation and wartime rulings.
The Grand Master made remarks on inquiries regarding use of automobiles for Lodge functions, and whether that was permissible given the wartime directives. He noted that some lessening of the most draconic restrictions now left decisions up to individuals, and criminal penalties were not being imposed.
"It is not easy to generalize respecting the variety of rulings which have been made. It may be helpful however if I mention a few of the more usual decisions. I caution you, nevertheless, to remember that they have no universal application and that a slight variation in the factors involved may well result in a totally different conclusion.
"First, it is generally conceded that if the individual is a paid officer, such as a secretary, an organist or a tyler, and no other adequate means of transportation is available, the use of an automobile is permissible.
"Second, a substantial number of local boards exempt from the restriction other officers whose attendance might be considered as essential or desirable.
"Third, a few, though not a majority, consider a Lodge meeting as a meeting of a charitable or even a quasi-religious character and hold attendance by officers and members alike permissible.
"Fourth, the use of automobiles to attend funerals is permissible whether conducted by the Lodge or otherwise. . .
"In my opinion - an opinion which is not binding upon you - wherever there is available other reasonable means of transportation, even though less convenient or satisfying, such means should be used. In other cases I should expect that the officers of our various bodies would be willing to consider that attendance at meetings is a part of their accepted duty in the furtherance of a worthwhile activity and make such necessary use of their cars as circumstances prescribe."
He also noted some restrictions on fuel and on the impact to Lodges of Instruction. In some cases, dispensations were issued to permit candidate instruction in the home Lodge, due to extreme distance required to attend Lodges of Instruction.
Page 1943-32, 03/10/1943, on the need to educate candidates whose degrees have been rapidly conferred.
"Closely analogous to this problem is the matter of the proficiency of the candidates in the lectures of the several degrees. When, as has happened by dispensation, all three degrees are conferred within a few days, it is obviously impossible for the candidate to acquire that proficiency which we require and expect in more normal times. Nevertheless, the candidate is not only entitled to receive, but is, in most instances, definitely in need of sufficient instruction in order that he may make himself known as a Mason in foreign jurisdictions. If in seeking admission as a visitor in some Lodge he finds that he is unable to convince an examining committee of his qualifications, he will not be disposed to think favorably of the officers of his home Lodge who have sent him forth so inadequately equipped. Careful preparation are his right and privilege; to deny it to him is to deprive him of a most valued and often much needed possession."
Page 1943-84, 06/09/1943, on balloting.
". . . Fervently I pray that every member of every Lodge may sometime be fully impressed with a clear understanding that he has not only a duty to express his reasoned opinion as to the qualifications of all petitioners upon whose applications he is entitled to vote, but also and more important - so it seems to me - to approach the ballot box with but a single objective, namely: to consider whether in his unbiased judgment the applicant is worthy of the honor which he seeks. This means that in the exercise of his franchise he must allow no unworthy motive to influence his vote, but solely to determine and to act in accordance with his well considered decision as to the qualifications of the applicant.
"It is not necessary for me, I hope, again to point out that the possession of the power to blackball presupposes a duty to exercise that power in the interests of the Fraternity at large and not merely to gratify a personal spite or grudge against an applicant entirely disassociated with his Masonic qualifications. Infinite and irreparable injury may be done by a vicious use of the ballot which is unworthy of the charitable and tolerant attribute which are the fundamental characteristics of all good Masons.
"I must not be misunderstood. I do not mean even to intimate that a member should deny himself the privilege of passing honest judgment upon the Masonic qualifications of any applicant. I do mean to state emphatically that the right of franchise must not be exercised from personal and unworthy motives. The temptation so to use the voting privilege is perhaps aided by the secrecy of the ballot since it permits a member to adopt a wholly unjustifiable and even improper motive without fear of detection or accountability.
"On the other hand, reprehensible as such conduct may be, it affords no justification on the part of the other members to invade the secrecy of the ballot.
"In the course of the hearings in certain cases however, it frequently has developed that in taking the ballot certain methods were adopted by the Lodge to discover the dissenting member, which if persisted in and countenanced by inaction on our part would destroy one of the most sacred principles of the institution, namely: the sacredness of the secret ballot. It cannot be doubted that no ultimate good to the Fraternity can be obtained by seeking to correct an admitted evil by means which are also, and equally improper and reprehensible.
"In one case, it appeared that after a ballot had been taken which upon inspection was not clear, another was quite properly directed by the Master. However, in the case in point, by previous design or otherwise, all present other than the three officers of the Lodge and the respondent charged with factious balloting refrained from voting. Upon inquiry, it was admitted that no member then present and not voting had been excused from voting by the Lodge. This was in direct violation of the provisions of Section 410 of our Grand Constitutions. Since the officers were willing to affirm that none of them had cast a blackball, it also by indirection denied the dissenting member the protection of secrecy to which he and every member is entitled by an immutable landmark of our Order.
"This method of determining responsibility for rejection has not even the merit of novelty. It has been a favorite device of over-zealous members extending well back in our history."
The Grand Master quoted several previous cases and directives from his predecessors, supporting the case.
Suspensions and Reinstatements
1943-115, 09/08/1943, on suspensions and reinstatements.
The Grand Master observed that many Brothers who left the Fraternity during the Depression were now seeking readmission.
"Much diversity among Lodges exists and during the past few months many have appealed to the Grand Master to rule with respect to particular cases. It seems desirable to restate some of the established rulings which are now reaffirmed and to lay down certain definite requirements concerning which there seems to be some doubt.
"Apart from death there are four ways by which a member of a Lodge may lose his membership - by suspension, by discharge, by expulsion, all of which are involuntary on his part, and finally, by dimission, which is a voluntary act.
"It may perhaps be noted that a Brother who applies for and receives a dimit does not always thereby indicate an intention to sever his connection with the Craft. One holding membership in two or more Lodges may dimit from all but one. Or he may remove from this jurisdiction to take up permanent residence elsewhere and request a dimit, intending to affiliate with some Lodge at his new home. There are occasions, however, when the applicant for a dimit thereby indicates an intention voluntarily to withdraw from one or more of several reasons, perhaps the most frequent of which is to relieve himself from further financial responsibility.
"When a dimit is requested for this latter reason, I have urged and now repeat, that each case should be individually investigated, either by the service committee of the Lodge, or by the Master or perhaps some Brother more closely acquainted with the applicant, to ascertain his reasons and to learn whether he may not be persuaded to retain in membership and to suggest in all appropriate cases that the Lodge would remit his dues. If, however, the applicant being clear upon the books, persists, he is of course as a matter of right entitled to a dimit. . .
"But for my present purposes, I am more concerned with the losses in membership caused by suspension, discharge or expulsion, either by the particular Lodges or by the Grand Lodge. Only the Grand Lodge may expel a Brother from the rights and privileges of Masonry, and such action is taken only when, after hearing, an offending Brother has been found guilty of a Masonic offense and such punishment is either recommended by the Board of Trial Commissioners or exacted by Grand Lodge. . .
"The more common method whereby a member may involuntarily lose his membership is by suspension or discharge by action of his Lodge and either of these penalties are now exacted invariably for continued delinquency in the payment of dues. The occasions when such penalties have been imposed for other infractions are now so infrequent as to be for all practical purposes negligible. . .
"Frankly, there are but two reasons for any long delay on the part of members to meet their financial obligation - one, inability, real or supposed, and second, sheer negligence. A personal interview by some member of the Lodge especially charged with that duty will invariably disclose into which category a delinquent should be placed and suggest the appropriate action. The wholly impersonal approach through the medium of repeated bills rendered will almost certainly in either case meet with indifferent success."
The Grand Master mentioned two specific cases: in one, a Brother was too proud to ask for assistance that he desperately needed, and the Master of the Lodge made a personal call and arranged for remission; in another case, a Lodge had a Brother suspended by Grand Lodge who had (unknown to the Lodge) died some time earlier.
He next turned to the matter of reinstatements.
"Recurrent and repeated inquiries on the part of Masters and Secretaries with reference to the rights and privileges of a suspended or discharged member seeking reinstatement offer convincing proof that these are not thoroughly understood. Former Grand Masters have at various times adverted to many particular problems and have made various rulings, so much that I may say may be but repetitious. Nevertheless, because of the increasing number of applications, it seems best to restate our regulations and perhaps add thereto.
"A Brother who has been suspended by his Lodge for non-payment of dues may subsequently take any one of three courses:
- First, he may do nothing. In such a case he shall continue to be deprived of his rights as a meber of his Lodge and is not permitted to visit that or any other Lodge.
- Second, he may pay the amount which was due his Lodge, including his Grand Lodge obligations at the time of his suspension. He cannot be charged with dues while under suspension. Upon payment of his prior obligations, he is then clear upon the books. This, however, does not automatically restore him to membership. He may, nevertheless, should he then so desire, ask for a dimit and if he does so, he is entitled to one as a matter of right. (See 1916-172). He thereupon occupies the status of an unaffiliated Mason and if he voluntarily remains for more than one year without being afilliated with some regular Lodge, he becomes again subject to the same disabilities as if under suspension for non-payment of dues. (Grand Constitutions, Sec. 504.)
- Third, if he has become clear upon the books, he may apply for reinstatement in the Lodge from which he was suspended. It therefore becomes the duty of the Lodge to vote upon the question and determine the matter by a majority vote of those members of the Lodge present when action is taken. It should be carefully noted that the vote required for the reinstatement of a Brother suspended for non-payment of dues is a majority vote of those present, and not merely a majority vote of those voting. Thus if the vote is taken by a show of hands, those not voting affirmatively must be counted as opposed, even though no such indication is expressed. If the suspended Brother is not reinstated, he is entitled to a certificate of good standing in the Fraternity as an unaffiliated member, entitled a certain rights and subject to certain disabilities.
"Thus far, what I have said is expressly set forth in our Grand Constitutions. Our Grand Constitutions, however, do not state what procedure, if any, must be taken after the receipt of the application for the reinstatement of a suspended Brother and before the Lodge may lawfully act thereon.
"Notice that action will be taken on the application for reinstatement should be borne upon the notice 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.
"Notwithstanding this clear ruling, the piactice among the Lodges has been far from uniform. In some nothing appears on the Lodge notice and action is taken whenever the Master decides to act under "Other Business." In still other Lodges, the only notice given is "Action upon Applications for Reinstatement" but no one is advised as to the names or any other pertinent matters connected with such applications. In others, although a similar notice is given, the Master has, as is his right, not called for a vote at the meeting notified and at some other meeting, without additional notice, when he is so minded calls for a vote.
"I am of the opinion that such a procedure evades the plain intent of our Grand Constitutions. The only purpose of the requirement that prior notice must be given is to advise every member of the contemplated action, in order that he may act accordingly. If it be said that members should attend all meetings, I might be tempted to agree, but we face a condition, not a theory. We must be realistic. It may well be that a member who has the best interests of the Lodge at heart, but who does not and cannot always be present, may know of good and sufficient reasons why some suspended Brother ought not to be reinstated. He should at least have the opportunity of expressing his beliefs and not be under obligation continually to seek outside of Lodge notices to learn of contemplated action.
"I, therefore, rule and hereby direct not only that prior notice shall be given all contemplated actions upon applications for reinstatement, but further, that such notice, whether printed, written or oral, shall contain the name of the applicant for reinstatement.
"I am wholly conscious that this is at variance with a widespread practice to the contrary. I am aware it has frequently been said that to give publicity to the fact that a former member is seeking reinstatement may be the first notice many members will receive that such person has been suspended and may, when such suspension was occasioned by a prior inability to meet his financial obligations, prove an added embarrassment. To this there seems to me at least two sufficient answers. First, no worthy Brother unable to pay his dues, who is willing to disclose such fact to the Master, would probably suffer suspension by his Lodge. But secondly, and it seems to me conclusively, is the answer that every active member of every Lodge has an inalienable right to express himself by his vote as to the fitness or unfitness of any applicant for membership, whether the application be for the degrees or for affiliation or for reinstatement. Reinstatement is not a matter of right to be exacted, but a privilege which may be denied. A full and fair opportunity should be given to every member in good standing to act according to the dictates of his own conscience. No sound distinction can be drawn between an applicant for the degrees and an applicant for membership so far as the rights of the present membership are concerned. In passing, it may not be amiss to remark that in many other bodies recognized by us as regular and duly constituted Masonic bodies, a similar ruling has long been in force and without causing undue embarrassment or even discussion.
"I would remind you that what I have thus far said applies only to cases where applications for reinstatement are received after a Brother has been suspended for non-payment of dues. But a Lodge may not merely suspend, but may discharge from membership such a delinquent Brother. In such a case, 'our Grand Constitutions are more explicit with reference to the rights of the discharged Brother to readmission as a member.
- First, even if a discharged Brother pays his dues in full to the date of his discharge, he is not thereby entitled to a dimit. He is thereby entitled only to a receipt or certificate from the Secretary of the Lodge that his dues have been liquidated, but to nothing more.
- Second, if he should desire to regain his membership in the Lodge, he must proceed as if he had never been a member. All the formalities as to notice, investigation and a unanimous ballot are required, as in the case of any candidate. The only qualification of the broad generalities of this statement is that no membership fee may be demanded, unless the By-Laws of the Lodge so expressly require."
Arthur W. Coolidge, Grand Master.
Page 1944-113, 06/14/1944, on the official cipher.
"With the approval of the Board of Directors, a copy of the Official Cipher may now be purchased by any Master Mason in good standing. The price is $1.50 per copy.
"Under no circumstances should a copy of the Official Cipher be available to any Entered Apprentice or Fellow Craft, either by loan, gift or sale. The lectures must be learned by word of mouth."
The Grand Master noted that a uniform receipt for dues would be required to be presented when obtaining a cipher.
Samuel H. Wragg, Grand Master.
Wartime Conditions (Meetings)
Page 1945-35, 03/14/1945, regarding government directives on meetings.
"On January 11, 1945, the office of War Defense Transportation announced the appointment of The War Committee on Conventions and this Committee issued a Directive that no meeting involving the attendance of over fifty people needing transportation by rail, bus, automobile or airplane, and for sleeping accommodations in hotels, could be held without permit from this Committee.
"On January 22, 1945, the following Directive was further issued by this Committee: After February 1 purely local meetings of more than 50 persons using only city or suburban transit facilities, or in the case of rural communities, transit facilities within the normal trading area and for which no hotel sleeping accomodations are necessary, are not required to file an application for a special permit.
"In view of the latter Directive, this regular meeting of the Grand Lodge was called, with the following notice appearing upon call for the meeting:
The War Committee on Conventions has ordered that, on and after February 1, 1945, no group meetings or conventions with an attendance of fifty or more may be held without a Government permit, if attendance entails travel by train, bus, automobile or airplane other than local or suburban, and/or sleeping accomodations at Hotels.
In accordance with the above regulation, no Mason entitled to attend a Grand Lodge meeting may attend the meeting of March 14, 1945, if his attendance will in any way conflict with this regulation.
A sufficient number for the legal transaction of necessary business can be had from those living in Boston and its immediate suburbs.
The failure of any lodge to be represented will be regarded only as showing the usual willingness of Masons to cooperate with the Government in the furtherance of the War efforts. Failure to attend will be but a further contribution to our Masonic Military Service Activities to which the Masons of Massachusetts have contributed so generously of their means and time.
Prove your loyalty to your Government and to the principles of Freemasonry by a strict compliance with this Government Directive.
(285 Lodges were represented at least by Proxies at this Communication, along with 37 of 47 District Deputies.)
Lodges of Instruction (Procedures)
Page 1945-41, 03/14/1945, regarding procedures for candidates at Lodge of Instruction.
"Every candidate is presented by Grand Lodge with suitable printed material and is required to attend a Lodge of Instruction after each degree unless excused by the Master for good cause. In this case the Master must see to it that the candidate receives adequate private instruction along the lines officially approved by the Grand Master, as set forth in the Manual of Instruction.
"Ordinarily a candidate should receive instruction in one degree before being advanced to the next, but exceptions may be made for justifiable reasons. In all cases, however, I hereby rule that every candidate, unless he be in the service, must receive instruction in all three degrees before he is allowed to sign the by-laws.
"To implement our educational program more effectively, the Masters of Lodges are directed to follow these few simple directions:
- When an applicant is elected to receive the degrees, send him a copy of Preparation along with the notice of his election.
- At the conclusion of each degree, present the candidate with the appropriate volume of Claudy's Introduction to Freemasonry, Part 1 of the ticket of admission to the Lodge of Instruction, and respectively a copy of Declaration of Principles after the first degree, a copy of The Benevolent Enterprises of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge after the second degree, and a copy of A Short List of Books on Freemasonry after the third degree.
- After each degree, properly fill out and send Part 2 of the candidate's ticket of admission to the Secretary of the Lodge of Instruction.
- If a candidate is excused from attending the Lodge of Instruction, notify the Secretary of the Lodge of Instruction. The Secretary needs this information to clear his records.
- Attend the Lodge of Instruction as regularly as possible and encourage your officers to do likewise. Make a particular effort to attend with your candidates."
Dispensations (Wartime Considerations)
Page 1945-438, 12/12/1945, regarding dispensations.
"I believe that I have followed the practices of my predecessors in giving kindly consideration to the many requests for permission to shorten time between degrees and other requests incident to unusual conditions caused by so many of our candidates being in the Armed Forces. There have been many such requests, as most of you know, and so far as I am informed, no legitimate request for special consideration has been overlooked or refused.
"I think it is well to speak a word of caution at this time with regard to present conditions. There will be many additional requests of this nature, even though the war may be over and many of our candidates are daily being discharged. There will, however, still be a sufficient number of these men coming and going to pose awkward situations for the Masters of our Lodges, and I shall continue to cooperate as in the past in helping them to meet whatever situations may confront them in this regard. However, unless it is apparent that an injustice or hardship may result, it is much better that the candidate receive his degrees in the normal course."
Samuel H. Wragg, Grand Master.
Page 1946-199, 06/12/1946, on degree teams.
"I regret to bring before you a matter which has recently come to my attention, and I mention it here only because it seems to be a rather general condition rather than a purely local matter, and that is the permitting of so-called degree teams to assist in the presentation of the Third Degree.
"Just at the present time, with the very considerable number of candidates, additional groups have been formed into these teams and are accepting invitations to visit Lodges. They, and the others who have been organized for longer time, are in many cases doing excellent work in enabling the Lodge Masters to add variety to their programs and thereby increase the pleasure of the Brethren attending the meetings.
"There is a place for this work, and I hope it may be continued, but unfortunately of late there have been a number of expositions which have been brought to my attention because of the character of the presentation. It would be unfortunate indeed if the occasional lapse from the proprieties were to cause this practice to become so objectionable that it had to be discontinued."
Balloting (Factious Balloting)
Page 1946-250, 09/11/1946, on factious balloting.
"During recent months, several instances of rejections at the ballot have been called to my attention, where the Lodge officers have felt that personal animosity had influenced the balloting adversely. In each case so reported, the recital went to some length to give the facts and the background as they appeared to the Lodge officers. But in only one instance was it possible to establish a clear case of improper motive, and measures have been taken to remove any injustice that may have been created in that instance.
"Each individual allegation has been carefully considered, and in some instances the individuals suspected of casting factious ballots have been interrogated. It was not possible, with one exception noted, to definitely establish that there had been any abuse of the ballot box, and consequently, the the record has been allowed to stand.
"I appreciate the reaction of the Lodge officers to a situation of this kind, and sympathize with their feelings in such an unfortunate outcome. A charge of factious balloting is a serious matter, and a member of one of our Lodges would reflect seriously on the consequences before lightly doing anything that might endanger his standing and reputation as a Mason. A greatly increased number of applicants is knocking at our doors, and if we would keep our standards high, we must be thorough and diligent in screening this material.
"I have recently reread Most Worshipful Brother Perry's review of this subject, at page 337 of the 1937 Proceedings, and would recommend it to your consideration, and on occasion, even to the membership of our Lodges."
Lodge Notices (Use For Business)
Page 1946-304, 12/11/1946, on use of lodge notices for business purposes.
"My attention has been called recently, on more than one occasion, to the fact that in some of our Lodges new members, in some cases candidates, are being solicited for business purposes by certain commercial organizations. In most instances the solicitation was in behalf of companies that restrict their sales efforts exclusively among the members of the Craft. This, together with the fact that most of the personnel of such companies are also members of the Craft, has a tendency to give the erroneous impression, particularly among the newer members, that these organizations have some special status in the fraternity. In none of the cases that have come to my attention has there been the slightest criticism of the commercial function which the organizations serve. In fact, it might even be conceded that these organizations are performing a useful economic function which amply justifies their existence. It is only the method employed to make business contacts among members of the Craft that has given rise to complaints.
"One method employed is to secure a representative in as many particular Lodges as possible whose duty it is to supply the names and addresses of other members, particularly new members, as prospective customers. Some organizations have gone so far as to require their representatives to forward their lodge notices, which, of course, supply an easy and practical way to to build up a mailing list of the names and addresses of every new member.
"It is settled Masonic law that a lodge notice is a personal and private communication from a Lodge to the members and that the information which it contains is private Masonic business for the sole benefit of the members. After a notice has served its intended purpose, each member should either destroy his copy or keep it in his private file for his own personal use. The use of a lodge notice for business purposes is un-Masonic and any member so using a lodge notice may be subjected to Masonic discipline.
"Just how far a member of the Craft can properly go in employing the information secured Masonically for business purposes must be governed in each individual case by the dictates of good taste.
"It does not seem to me, however, that it is consistent with the standard of good taste for one member to furnish any commercial organization with the name and address of another member without his knowledge and express approval, and then only after it is definitely understood that there is no connection whatsoever between the fraternity and any such commercial organization."
Samuel H. Wragg, Grand Master.
Page 1947-54, 03/12/1947, on degree teams.
"During the last two years I have several times spoken to the District Deputies and urged them to caution the Masters of our Lodges to be careful in permitting the so-called degree teams to assist in the degree work. I have felt all along that the injection of new faces and personalities into our work has certain advantages, but have cautioned that due care be exercised to avoid anything of an objectionable nature being permitted.
"I know that the Deputies have carried out their assignments and the Lodge officers have cooperated in every way, and there have been very few instances called to my attention where criticism can be justly directed at the work of these teams. I do, however, have occasion to bring a certain happening to your attention. One of our Lodges accepted the application of a young man just out of the service. In due time he was scheduled to receive the Third Degree, and for that evening the services of one of the so-called degree teams had been obtained. The work went forward with dispatch and the ritual was handled in a most excellent manner, even though some of those present were not too well impressed with the conduct of three of the participants, however, the program was concluded without apparent harm.
"Within the last twenty-four hours I have had a report of the results of that evening's work, and I cannot imagine a more embarrassing situation for a Lodge or a more painful and distressing position for a candidate and his family and friends. Now, two and one-half months afterwards, the candidate is hospitalized with a shoulder injury which requires surgical attention and he bears marks attesting to the manhandling he suffered at what should have been a solemn and dramatic ceremony. I hardly think it necessary to stress the fact that this young man had been a member of the Armed Forces and had not suffered personal injury in that experience; that he had conceived a favorable impression of our Institution and had asked to become one of us. I wonder how you would feel if your Lodge was in this unfortunate position, or that you would do if you were standing here. I feel it to be my duty to inform the Worshipful Masters of our Lodges that the degree team of the (Police Square) Club is forbidden to participate in the work of any Massachusetts Lodge until further notice. I sincerely regret the necessity for taking this position, but it is impossible to condone any exhibition which would detract from the dignity and majesty of our ritual.
"You will please take note of this decision, and I urge our Masters to exercise extreme caution to see that our usual dignity is maintained, no matter under whose direction the degree work may be actually performed."
Note: the original ruling did not include the name of the degree team; this was clarified in later declarations.
Page 1947-373, 12/10/1947, on Masonic work.
This ruling modifies earlier rulings regarding the ability of a Master or Warden to participate in ritual outside of his own Lodge.
"A presiding or past Master of a particular Lodge of any jurisdiction recognized by this Grand Lodge may participate in the ritualistic work of a Lodge of this jurisdiction upon the invitation of its Master or acting Master, PROVIDED, that the work is done in accordance with the ritual of this Grand Lodge.
"A Warden of a Lodge in this jurisdiction may act as Master in that Lodge when directed so to do by its Master, or in the absence of the Master, but may not preside in any other Lodge."
Page 1947-373, 12/10/1947, on degree teams.
See the earlier ruling above.
"You will recall that at the March Quarterly I reported to you the necessity of barring the Degree Team of the Police Square Club of Massachusetts from participating in the work of our Lodges until further notice. The circumstances in this particular instance have been the subject of considerable attention and much time has been consumed in bringing about a satisfactory solution which would be agreeable to all concerned. This happy conclusion has now been reached, and I am pleased to report that the order prohibiting this Degree Team from working in Massachusetts Lodges is hereby revoked.
"I am delighted that it is possible to reinstate this Degree Team. They are excellent ritualists and enjoy a well-earned reputation, but as has been stated by so many of my predecessors, it is our intention and desire at all times that the work in our Lodge and shall be maintained on a high plane and that the conferring of degrees shall not furnish an occasion for levity. I add my words to all that has been said previously to caution the Masters of our Lodges to see that regardless of what group is doing the work, it shall not be allowed to deviate from what it is intended to be a solemn and dignified ceremony. This, of course, applies equally to those regular members who may be asked to assist, and I again urge upon all Masters a careful supervision to avoid any repetition of this unfortunate incident."
Page 1947-375, 12/10/1947, on Masonic honors.
"As there seems to be some confusion in the minds of some of our Brethren, and there never having been an official pronouncement on this subject, I make the following ruling:
"In this jurisdiction there are only two kinds of Masonic Grand Honors: namely, Public Grand Honors and Private Grand Honors. The Public Grand Honors (sometimes called Public Honors) consist only of the battery of three times three, the first being right over left, the second left over right, and the third right over left. These Public Grand Honors are given where non-Masons or other than Master Masons are present.
"The Private Grand Honors (sometimes called Private Honors) are given by the battery of three times three, each battery being followed by the sign of a degree in the order of the first, second and third. The Private Grand Honors may be given only on four occasions - Dedication of a Masonic Hall, Constitution of a new Lodge, Installation of a Master-elect, or on receiving a Grand Master.
"At the Installation of the Grand Master, the battery is omitted, the signs only being given.
"At a Masonic funeral, neither the Public nor Private Grand Honors are given, but the following should be done at the proper place in the service; both arms should be placed across the breast, the left uppermost, followed by a reverential bow, this to be done three times by the Brethren in attendance.
"In honor of a Brother receiving a Grand Lodge Medal, or other honor, it is fitting and proper that the Brother should be greeted with the Private Grand Honors should the Master of the Lodge so direct."
Ruling on interpretation of Section 331 of the Grand Constitutions regarding instruction of representatives.
Instruction of Representatives
Page 1950-190, 12/13/1950, on instruction of representatives in Grand Lodge. This ruling from 1947 was only published in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge in December 1950.
"From the language of Section 331, I can see where the question of whether a majority of the members of a Lodge, or the majority present at a regularly called meeting, is necessary in order for a Lodge to instruct its representatives.
"From a practical point of view, it would seem to me impossible, or nearly so, for a majority of the members of almost any Lodge to be present at a meeting to exercise this power. Perhaps this language applied to a different day and age.
"In any event, unless and until better information is before me, my interpretation of this section is that it does not require the presence of a majority of the members of a Lodge but that with a quorum present at a duly called business meeting, instruction may be given to the Lodge representatives by a majority of the members then present."
Roger Keith, Grand Master.
Page 1948-19, 03/10/1948, on kneeling during degrees.
"There are one or two minor questions that have arisen in connection with degree work which have not yet reached the point where I desire to make rulings on them, but I do want to call attention to the fact that kneeling, as used in the Masonic sense, means kneeling on the knee or knees - going entirely down and not just a genuflection. Also, no covering should be worn on the head in the lodge-room except by the Master or Grand Master, both of whom, as you know, have the privilege of remaining covered if they so desire. The District Deputy Grand Master, on occasion, is also covered.
"These indicretions, I am sure, are unintentional and if they have occurred, have been a result of thoughtlessness or carelessness."
Page 1948-20, 03/10/1948, on dispensations.
"With regard to dispensations, during the war many occasions rightfully arose where it was considered wise to grant dispensations shortening the time between degrees or even to initiate applicants on the night of election. Now that the war is somewhat in the background, I want to call to the attention of the Brethren that the Grand Constitutions require four weeks between degrees. Exceptions will still be made for service men, and while it is not a hard and fast rule, it my intention to allow very few exceptions.
"I feel that a candidate will be more deeply impressed if he realizes that he must wait for the Lodge to act in good order and in good time, in accordance with the precedents established during the many years of our Grand Jurisdiction."
Note the ruling on 06/09 below.
Page 1948-63, 06/09/1948, on degree work and third degree presentations.
"The Legend of the Third Degree and the work at the three gates has often been the part that makes or breaks the solemnity and effectiveness of this very important lesson. You have heard my predecessors in office discuss this subject, and I want to again point out that this part of the degree should be handled in such a manner that there is no semblance of a smile at any time. This work was exemplified recently for the entire Grand Lodge of New York by their Grand Lecturer. If done with the proper feeling and tone of voice, it can be exceedingly impressive. There is no need or occasion for force or roughness of any kind.
"The dignity of this part of the work is entirely in the hands of the Master."
Page 1948-64, 06/09/1948, on dispensations.
"At the March Communication I mentioned the matter of time between conferring of degrees. I am still getting more requests to shorten time than I feel there is any occasion to receive. I have granted some of these because I have felt that in some cases perhaps it was not thoroughly understood. I am, however, refusing many and intend to make it almost an iron-clad rule that the time shall not be shortened between degrees unless the circumstances are in fact unusual and a hardship to the candidate might result, or the candidate is in active military service."
Roger Keith, Grand Master.
Bonding of Officers
Page 1949-135, 09/14/1949, on bonding of officers.
"Borrowing from the remarks in 1932 (actually 1933) of Most Worshipful Curtis Chipman, Grand Master, I would call your attention to the wisdom, and I might even say the need, of fidelity bonds. In the old days there may have been a disposition on the part of some to feel that the bonding of Lodge officers was contrary to the spirit of Masonry, but I fully believe that the present-day Mason, and especially the present-day Secretaries and Treasurers, feel that the bonding of their positions is only a natural and ordinary procedure for their own protection.
"I am sure that this is the general custom throughout our Lodges, but I do want to remind you at this time of the desirability of this practice and to urge that the occasional Lodge which may not be following this practice adopt it without delay."