WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?

Freemasonry is the oldest and largest worldwide fraternity dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of a Supreme Being. Although of a religious nature, Freemasonry is not a religion. It urges its members, however, to be faithful and devoted to their own religious beliefs.

The organization of Freemasonry is based on a system of Grand Lodges, each sovereign within its own territory. There is no central authority governing all Grand Lodges. However, to be acknowledged by others, acceptable traditions, standards and practices must be maintained.

In our State the governing body is called the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New Jersey. It is under the leadership of the Grand Master. All of the subordinate lodges are under the direction of a Worshipful Master.
 

WHAT IT DOES

As a fraternity, Freemasonry provides an opportunity for men to meet and enjoy friendly companionship. In the spirit of helpfulness and brotherly love and guided by strict moral principles; it encourages goodwill toward all mankind.

Freemasonry is of a personal nature in its private ceremonies. Its ritual dramatizes a philosophy of life based on morality. It promotes self-improvement.

The tools of operative masons are used to symbolize and teach the basic principles of brotherly love, charity, and truth which Masons are encouraged to practice in their daily lives.

Charity is a tangible way in which Masons help those whose circumstances in life fairly warrant it.


HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
 
Our traditions can be traced directly to the associations of operative masons. They were men of outstanding character and high ideals, who built the cathedrals, abbeys, and castles of the Middle Ages.

With the decline of cathedral building in the 17th Century, many guilds of stonemasons, called "Operative" masons, started to accept into their membership those who were not members of the masons' craft and called them "Speculative" or "Accepted" masons.

It was in these groups, called lodges, comprised mainly of "Accepted" masons that Freemasonry, as we know it today, had its beginning.

In 1717, four such lodges, which had been meeting regularly in London, united to form the first Grand Lodge of England under the direction of a Grand Master. From that first Grand Lodge, Freemasonry has spread throughout the world.  



THE THREE GREAT PRINCIPLES OF FREEMASONRY:

 

Brotherly Love - Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures.

 

Relief - Freemasons are taught to practice charity, and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole, both by charitable giving and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.

 

Truth - Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards, and aiming to achieve them in their own lives. Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.



MEMBERSHIP

 

One of Freemasonry's customs is not to solicit members. However, anyone should feel free to approach any Mason to seek further information about the Craft.

The doors of Freemasonry are open to men who seek harmony with their fellow man, feel the need for self-improvement and wish to participate in making this world a better place to live.

Any man who becomes a Mason is taught a pattern for living - reverence, morality, kindness, honesty, dependability and compassion. He must be prepared to honor his country, uphold its laws and respect those in authority. He must be prepared to maintain honorable relations with others and be willing to share in Masonic activities.

Freemasonry is a way of life.

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OTHER MASONIC BODIES 

 

Freemasonry is practiced under many independent Grand Lodges with standards similar to those set by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the State of New Jersey.

There are some Grand Lodges and other apparently Masonic bodies that do not meet these standards, e.g. which do not require a belief in a Supreme Being or which allow or encourage their members, as such, to participate in political matters.
 
These Grand Lodges and bodies are not recognized by the MWPHGL of NJ as being masonically regular, and Masonic contact with them is forbidden.