What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is one of the oldest non-religion based fraternities. Through this description, we define Freemasonry, as practiced by the Grand Lodge of Greece, which is the governing body for numerous lodges in Greece and Cyprus, in order to clarify certain misconceptions.
The philosophical, progressive, and philanthropic nature of Freemasonry aims toward the moral and spiritual alleviation of its members, through self-knowledge, the pursuit of Truth, solidarity, and the application of social and mora virtues in their daily lives. Members are taught to assimilate these virtues through a series of allegorical rituals based on Ancient Rites, illustrated by the ways and the symbols of the ancient stone-masons, as allegorical guides.
Basic criteria for admission
The foremost criterion for admission to the Craft, is belief in God, and his Will.
Men of any race or creed fulfilling the basic criterion, and having strict morals and sound judgement are eligible to join.
Freemasonry and Religion
Freemasonry neither is a religion, nor does it attempt to substitute one. It accepts men of any creed, who are free to follow their own faith. For this reason, any discussion on religion is strictly prohibited in any masonic building.
There is no specific God for Freemasonry. God to a Freemason, is the God of his own faith. In order to avoid conflict of any manner among masons, with regard to faith or dogma, God is defined under the generic term: The Great Architect of The Universe.
The Volume of the Sacred Law, ever present in masonic labors, constitutes proof of belief in God, depending on the prevalent Faith in each country. The most common examples are The Holy Bible, The Quran for Muslims, the Vedas for Brahmin etc.
The Three Grand Principles of Freemasonry
Every true Freemason will exhibit tolerance, respect, politeness, and understanding toward the opinions of others.
Masons, deeply concerned for the well being of society as a whole, are taught to feel and practice charity.
Freemasons are champions of truth, aiming to maintain high moral values, and striving throughout their lives to uphold these. Masons believe that maintaining these values only, one can guarantee a higher quality of life for all mankind.
Freemasonry and Society
It should be clarified that Masonic membership does by no means excuse a Freemason from his obligations toward society. On the contrary, it is a masons’ duty to be exemplary in the discharge of his civic duties. His masonic duties are fulfilled through his personal, public, and professional life, as well as the love for his Native country.
Freemasonry demands that all its members respect and abide by the laws of the country they reside and work in. The Principles of Freemasonry do not, in any way, contradict one’s civil duty, occupational, family, or other public duty. On the contrary, Freemasons are urged to firmly uphold these public and private responsibilities. This way, there is no contradiction whatsoever, between Freemasonry, and social duty.
Use of masonic identity for mercenary (personal or professional) interest, is looked down upon from the brotherhood, as it contradicts commitments a mason pledged on, during his admission to the Craft. A masons’ civil duties should always superimpose any unlawful, or dishonest attempt to defend another mason. The opposite is a masonic offence, and subject to disciplinary action.
Use of masonic identity
A mason should never use his identity to promote personal, or professional interests. This is repeatedly made crystal clear, during his early masonic life, so that no one can claim to be unaware to it. A mason that violates this rule, is put in an inactive state, or even expelled from the brotherhood.
As per Article 2, Paragraph VI of the General Charter of the Grand Lodge of Greece: “devotion to ones family, respect to all social institutions, love toward ones native land, and fulfillment of ones civic duties, are sacred to a Mason, and not contrary to the love he owes to all mankind, aligned to the ideals of brotherly love, and justice.”
The Secrets of Freemasonry, are entirely comprised of the traditional modes of recognition. There simply are no other secrets, and thus Freemasonry is NOT a secret organization. Just like any private club or company, certain internal issues need not become public. Members are free to disclose their masonic identity if they wish to do so, when this is inquired upon. The Charter and General Regulations of Grand Lodge, are known to the state, and thus subject to administrative, and financial audit, if requested.
Freemasonry is not a political organization, and there is no relation whatsoever to political parties. Thus political conversations are strictly forbidden during masonic meetings.
Masonic Appendant Bodies
In each country, Freemasonry is governed by a “regularly established, and operating Grand Lodge”. In Greece, it is governed by the Grand Lodge of Ancient and Accepted Masons, which is based in Athens, at Acharnon st. 19, 104 38.
There are several other masonic side orders throughout the world, the most prominent of which are the Scottish Rite, and the York Rite. These are governed by separate Grand Councils, and include several other degrees, that a mason is free to follow, should he wish to do so, after completing the three main masonic degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason.
The regular operation of these Grand Councils requires recognition by the Grand Lodge of the jurisdiction they operate in. The Grand Lodge of Greece recognizes and has since 1872 held amicable relations with the Scottish Rite Supreme Grand Council of the 33rd Degree for Greece, while since 1993, it has recognized the Grand Council for the York Rite, which was founded and operated under its auspice. Both of these side-orders meet on different days from Craft Lodge, in order to avoid any overlap.
There are several other self-defined lodges or para-masonic organizations that do not follow the necessary characteristics, either by not being regularly established, by allowing or encouraging the participation of women as members, or do not require belief in A Supreme Being. These lodges and organizations are not recognized by the Grand Lodge of Greece, and any masonic relation with these is strictly forbidden. In order for a Grand Lodge to be recognized as regular by the Grand Lodge of Greece, it needs to have the following characteristics:
It needs to be legally consecrated by a regular Grand Lodge, or by three or more Lodges recognized by a Regular Grand Lodge.
It needs to be truly independent, and self-governed, with absolute control over the basic Craft Degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason) in its jurisdiction, and should not belong to any other Masonic Body.
Masons belonging to its jurisdiction should be exclusively male, and masonic relations with lodges including female members should be prohibited.
Masons belonging to its jurisdiction should believe in A Supreme Being.
Masons belonging to its jurisdiction should assume their obligation in the presence of the Volume of the Sacred Lay, or other Book, sacred to the man taking the Oath.
The Three Great Lights of Freemasonry (The Volume of the Sacred Law, Squares and Compasses) should always be present when Grand Lodge, and the lodges belonging to it are in labor.
All religious and political discussion is strictly forbidden.
The Antient Landmarks, and Customs of the Brotherhood should be strictly followed, and enforced upon all lodges.
A mason is encouraged in fulfilling his duties toward God (in whichever name expresses This Supreme Being) though his faith and practice, toward his family, and finally toward mankind through charity, and relief. Additionally, a mason should at all times constantly strive to achieve ethical and spiritual improvement.
Freemasonry is not a secret organization, nor a religion, and has no involvement in politics whatsoever.
Like many other clubs and private companies, certain internal issues, are personal affairs of its members.
The purposes and principles of Freemasonry are not secret. The General Charter and Regulations are available to all interested parties.
The secrets of Freemasonry, include only the traditional modes of recognition. What takes place at meetings is not secret, but does take place in private.
Only a very small amount of information about Freemasonry cannot be stated at any casual conversation.
When circumstances call for it, a mason is free to disclose his identity, and should furthermore be proud of it.