“ WHAT IS FREEMASONRY? Sponsors information to the Applicant

By Riley Amua-Sekyi Hon. PGD, PPW AGM.

There have been a great number of definitions of Freemasonry. Perhaps the best and certainly the simplest, is “Freemasonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols”. The idea of teaching by allegories and symbols is not new. All great teachers have more or less followed this method.

The system of morality to which we have referred as Freemasonry is that which every Freemason is bound to profess and practice. If it includes principles with which he was familiar before his entrance into Freemasonry, he will nevertheless find these presented in new ways and in forms different from those with which he was previously familiar. If he finds in Masonic teachings nothing startlingly new, he must remember that, in some respect at least, there is nothing new under the sun and that the essence of morality is to be found in the utter simplicity (though not the ease) of its requirements.

The elementary principles of Freemasonry are exemplified in the three degrees worked in every regular Masonic Lodge throughout the world. Nearly every community of any size in Ghana has one or more Masonic Lodges in it. The same is true in many parts of the world, notably in the English speaking and some French speaking countries. Each Lodge has its own officers, headed by a Master, its own Committees and, in some cases its own property. On the other hand, each Lodge is subject to the authority of the Grand Lodge of the Country or state under which it holds its warrant in this instant the Grand Lodge of Ireland. The other two Grand Lodges English and Scottish have also many Lodges in countries overseas – particularly in countries of the Commonwealth, and many of the Commonwealth Countries have Grand Lodges of their own. Ghana is yet to have it own Grand Lodge. In becoming a member of the Lodge under the Irish Constitution you become subject not only to the general customs and usages of the craft, but also to the Law and Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Ireland as well as the By-Laws of the particular Lodge which you join. However, Freemasonry will never require of you anything, which might conflict with your duty to God, to your Country, to your neighbour or to your family.

In your progress through Freemasonry, which may well take many months, you will be initiated as an Entered Apprentice, passed as a Fellow Craft, and raised as a Master Mason. There is ritualistic ceremony of a most serious character appropriate to each stage in your progress.

You will be asked, too, to give a most solemn and binding promise never to expose the nature of these ceremonies under any circumstances. Bearing in mind what has been said in the previous paragraph you will not be asked to promise anything which will conflict with your religious, civil and other duties. Your first duty is to approach each ceremony calmly and solemnity, with mind and spirit attentive to the lessons which will be imparted.

Consider that you may not have a mistaken idea of what Freemasonry is, it may be well to point out some of the things which Freemasonry is NOT, and of which it has never claimed to be.

Freemasonry is NOT a religion nor a substitute for religion. It has a philosophy of its own which if believes to be compatible with the teachings of the Church and other similar religious institutions. The teachings of Freemasonry transcend all denominational and sectarian divisions. In the field of human conduct it is complimentary to religious, but religious topics may not be discussed in any Lodge.
Contrary to the opinion held by many, Freemasonry is not a charitable institution, as such, it is true that one of the fundamental principles of Freemasonry is the practice of relief, and a Freemason will necessary minister to the ‘widows and fatherless in their affliction’. But these and other similar modes of conduct must proceed from that “purity of life and conduct” which is one of the great objectives of all Masonic teachings.
Freemasonry does not insure its members against the vicissitudes of old age, provides no sick benefit as such, issues no insurance policies on the lives of its members and pays no death benefit of any kind. Not that Freemasonry disbelieves in these and other means by which modern civilization undertakes to reduce suffering and privation. Of course, we have a Craft Pension Scheme which you are at liberty to join and will also be expected to pay yearly a minimum amount for the Welfare Fund set up by the Province. Freemasonry also confines the matter of individual relief to those cases where such relief becomes necessary, in spite of all the efforts a Brother or his family to maintain their economic independence. Your part in this work is far more likely to be that of a contributor that a beneficiary, except in the larger sense in which every man benefits from the fact that “it is more blessed to give than to receive”.
Freemasonry does not lend itself to the promoting to selfish or mercenary interests. Any underlying purpose of such a nature in your mind will eventually become apparent to your Brethren and you will inevitably suffer the loss of their respect. A Freemason may support any good cause that he will, but he may not persuade or try to persuade his Lodge to lend the support to his chosen charitable work.
Freemasonry is not connected in any way with a political creed. A Freemason’s political views are his own and a Lodge may well have members belonging to many different political parties. For that reason, no discussion of political matters is permitted in a Lodge. A Brother may not seek to persuade his Brethren in Lodge to adopt this that view in matters of government – local, national or international.

Not every man can fulfill the requirement that Freemasonry ask of her aspirants. The primary requirement is of course, moral character. One whose reputation in the Community is in any way questionable cannot expect to become a Mason. But there are other requirements, which applicant or the petitioner must have, such as:-

He must be a believer in God, the Supreme Being. He must be a loyal citizen, willing to discharge his duties to God, to his neighbour and to himself.

He must be at least twenty-one years of age (unless his father is or was a Freemason when the age of admission may be reduced, at the discretion of the Lodge to eighteen. He must be in such financial circumstances that he can maintain himself as a Member of his Lodge meeting the monetary obligation imposed by being a member, without detriment to his family or himself.

You, as a potential Freemason, and like Masons in all ages before you, must come of your own accord to knock at the door of the Craft. Two brethren must recommend you; indeed they must do more – they will have to vouch for your character and the sincerity of your motives. In a very real sense they are your Masonic sponsors. You, for your part have the responsibility of seeing that they and others who have accepted your assurances will not be disappointed.

The privileges of Freemasonry are no greater than the responsibilities of its members. Your obligations will not conflict with those you have already assumed by virtue of your membership in modern society. On the contrary, Freemasonry reiterates, reinforces and re-emphasises them. Thus in asking Freemasonry to share with you it past, its present and its future and all the privileges of its Brotherhood, you must bear in mind the fact that the relationship is a reciprocal one and that certain things are expected of you. Remember always:-

The calling of a Freemason is a high one and you should never suffer yourself to depart from it. Loyalty to home, to country and the Craft is expected of you at all times. Patriotism is a bounden duty and you must not countenance disloyalty or rebellion.

That Freemasonry recognizes that all men whether Masons or not are Brothers by birth, endowed with the same nature, and sharing the same hopes. That Freemasonry champions the cause of the widow, the fatherless the weak, and the distressed. That the time honoured virtues cherished by our forefathers are still to be observed among Masons, and that humility, patience, charity and gentleness are among the hallmarks of purity and integrity of character.

The Lodge to which you have applied for admittance is one of the working units, which form the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and also the Craft as a world-wide institution.

It dispenses Charity, encourages and contributes, through its members to the moral and spiritual uplift of the community in which it is located. Thus your Lodge deserves your loyal co-operation in all its activities. There is always work for the new member and his punctual and regular attendance at its meetings is one of his first duties. Through these means, as well as through a study of Masonic Literature, conversing with well-informed Brethren and otherwise, the young Mason obtains that store of information, which enables him to become an efficient and useful member.

While each Lodge is, as has already been said an integral part of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, it is important to remember that it is nevertheless a separate entity and has its own officers and Bye-Laws. The presiding officers is addressed as the Worshipful Master and he is assisted by Wardens, Director of Ceremonies, Deacons and Inner Guard. There is also a Secretary, Treasurer, a Chaplain and other officers. In your Masonic career you should take advantage of opportunities for rendering such service as you can though not in forward, aggressive or unseemly manner. Visit other Lodges whenever possible, always being ready and prepared to prove your identity as a Mason in whatever degree you may have reached. In these ways not only will you enable Freemason to mean much to you but you will broaden your Masonic experience and fit yourself to make a real contribution to the Craft of which you should form a vital part.

The Grand Lodge of Ireland was formed in the year 1727 and according to records with at least six subordinate lodges. The first Grand Master was Richard the first Earl of Rosse. Grand Lodge is the supreme Masonic authority, legislative, executive and judicial within Ireland and has the exclusive jurisdiction over the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason.

The presiding officer in our Grand Lodge is the Grand Master. He is assisted by his Deputy, Assistants, Wardens and other Grand Officers. Like every Lodge Grand Lodge has its Committees and Benevolent Funds.

The day-to-day administration of Grand Lodge is carried out by the Grand Secretary and his staff. The headquarters of Grand Lodge is in Molesworth Street, Dublin and four meetings (called quarterly Communications) are held each year. While only members of Grand Lodge can speak or vote at a meeting, visitors are always welcome and once you have been admitted to the degree of Master Mason you will be free to attend Grand Lodge as a Visitor.

Grand Lodge delegates certain powers to Provincial Grand Lodges. Fuller details will be found in the Irish Freemasons Calendar and Directory Book which you will receive on your admission.

I will now like to mention a few former and present members of the Craft. At the international level are President Bongo of Gabon, and President Momoh of Sierra Leone, Gordon Cooper (Astronaut) Mozart (famous musician) Garibaldi, Goethe, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, John Marshall, Sir Winston Churchill, American Presidents Washington, Trueman, Ronald Reagan and both Rosevelts, Clarke Cable, Nat King Cole, Peter Sellers, Duke of Wellington, Oscar Wilde, Edmund Burke, Sir Walter Scott, John Wayne, David Crockett, Buffalo Bill, Gilbert and Sullivan and many more.

On the local scene, we have from the judiciary Sir Arku Korsah, V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe, Quarshie-Idun, Mii Amaah Ollennu, Osei Hwere, Amua-Sekyi, Adade, Hayfron Benjamin, A.A. Akiwumi and others.

In politics we have the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Agyekum Kuffour, Victor Owusu, Ken Dapaah, Osafo Maafo, Dr. Osafo Mensah, Harry Sawyeer, Kwaku Baa and many more.

In chieftancy, we have the Past and Present Asantehenes, Nana Siriboe (New Juabenhene), Nana Akuamoah Boateng (Koforidua) Nene Mate Kole and others.

In the field of business, we have Nana Kobina Amua-Sekyi, S. A. Eid, Peprah, Apenteng-Mensah, Kumodji, Kuffour, Galloway, Anim Addo and others.

In Education we have Alhaji Gbadamoshie, Atta Quayson, both former Directors of Education, J. A. Cronje, former Registrar WAEC and others.

In the military we have General Afrifa, Lt. Gen. J. A. Ankrah, General Acheampong, General Addo and others.

As you progress in your Lodge you will find that there are many more things for you to learn. In addition there will be much knowledge for you to acquire through your own effort. You will have abundant opportunity to talk with well-informed Brethren, to read Masonic Books and publications and to meditate upon truths derived from all sources. In the mean time, keep well in mind the information you have received and the solemn obligations and covenants into which you will engage yourself.

Thank you brethren for your patience and attention.

I greet you well