Anthony T. Stafford Military Lodge #16
The Craft & Traditions
Freemasonry, The Craft!
For centuries, millions of men of every race, color, creed, and political persuasion throughout the world have found in the Symbolic Lodges of Freemasonry the light to guide their search for answers to eternal questions: What is the meaning of life? The nature of God and man?
Freemasonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory, illustrated by symbols. Not a religion but religious in character, it is a philosophy of ethical conduct which imparts moral and social virtues and fosters brotherly love. Its tenets have endured since man turned the first pages of civilization. They embody the understanding by which man can transcend ordinary experience and build "a house not made with hands" in harmony with the Great Architect of the Universe.
Yet Freemasonry can never conflict with a man's relationship to God or fellow man. Sectarian religious or partisan political discussion in a lodge is strictly prohibited. Every Mason stands equal among his brothers, regardless of walk of life, and none is turned away for financial need.
Freemasonry has been characterized as a fraternity devoted to high ideals and admirable benevolence. Community service and charitable work are, in fact, principal Masonic activities.
Easily the best-known is the world's largest single charitable institution, the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children and Burns Institutes, which are located throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. Other Masonic bodies support their own statewide and national foundations for research, teaching, and treatment or rehabilitation services for children with learning or speech disorders, cancer, visual problems, and need of dental restoration.
Altogether, the budgets for these community services exceed Two Million Dollars per day, which Masons support without regard to the Masonic affiliation of their recipients. With this spirit of working together to serve mankind, brotherhood works well, indeed.
Though its heritage in antiquity is unmistakable, modern speculative Freemasonry was founded more recently upon the structure, ceremonies, and symbolism of the lodge of operative or working freemen stonemasons, who built the magnificent Medieval Gothic structures throughout much of Europe and England.
Dated in 1390 A.D., the Regius Poem details the charter of a lodge operating in the 900s A.D. "Masonry" then meant architecture and encompassed most of the arts and sciences. Because lodges held knowledge as competitive secrets, only trusted, capable companions were instructed in the craft -- and then only by degrees orally and through symbols, because of widespread illiteracy.
In the late Renaissance, lodges of freemasons began to accept as speculative masons those educated men who were attracted by the elegance of masonic traditions for philosophic expression. In time they were passed into the inner circles. Thus, the farmers of speculative Freemasonry began to describe a code of conduct through the symbolic nature of architecture and the stonemason's craft. Signalling modern speculative Freemasonry, the first Grand Lodge was chartered in 1717. Constituent Symbolic Lodges were soon established throughout the world.
The first Lodge in the Colonies was chartered in Boston in 1733.
Among millions of Masons, not one was lawfully invited to apply for membership. Our code of conduct prevents it. Thus, no faithful Mason can invite you. Any Mason can obtain a Petition for the Degrees of Masonry for you, but you must ask for it--and for good reason.
You must first ask yourself if you're suitably prepared to enter the "gentle craft of Masonry" ...to become a brother in the worlds most exclusive fraternal order. Few men are intellectually or spiritually prepared to understand or appreciate even the more apparent meanings of Masonry.
Do you reflect on the nature of man's existence and your obligations to God, your family, and yourself? If such ethical and moral questions hold little interest for you, then you will gain little benefit from the teachings of the Craft. But if you seek a more meaningful quality of life--and the spirit of charity and good fellowship which flow from it--then Freemasonry has much to offer.
We want you to know what we believe, how we act, and what we do..and, then, should you become a Mason, to be proud to be our Brother and you participate in our work. Only those who desire membership because of their favorable impression of us should seek a petition.