Freemasonry is the world’s oldest and largest international brotherhood. It is, and always has been, dedicated to the moral and spiritual upliftment of good men, by creating an environment in which they can jointly pursue the principles of truth, morality, brotherly love and charity.
The greater Order is structured into a number of Grand Lodges, spread throughout the world, each of which has numerous Lodges under its umbrella. Individual Lodges range in size from small to substantial. The Lodges teach new members sound moral and ethical principles for the enrichment of their lives and provide them with an environment in which to practice them.
Individual Lodges are responsible for the ritual work related to the passing of new members through the three basic degrees, the ongoing education of members and the provision of charitable outlets through which members can assist those less fortunate than themselves.
Applicants for the Order must believe in a power greater than man, may not have a criminal record and may not be unrehabilitated insolvents. In principle, men are not invited to join Freemasonry and interested applicants are expected to apply for membership of their own free will and accord.
In the 1823 Farmer’s Almanac published at Andover, Massachusetts, the following was printed under the heading, "Definition of a Freemason”:
“The real Freemason is distinguished from the rest of Mankind by the uniform unrestrained rectitude of his conduct. Other men are honest in fear of punishment which the law might inflict. They are religious in expectation of being rewarded, or in dread of the devil, in the next world. A Freemason would be just if there were no laws, human or divine, except those written in his heart by the finger of his Creator. In every climate, under every system of religion, he is the same. He kneels before the Universal Throne of God in gratitude for the blessings he has received and humble solicitation for his future protection. He venerates the good men of all religions. He disturbs not the religion of others. He restrains his passions, because they cannot be indulged without injuring his neighbour or himself. He gives no offence, because he does not choose to be offended. He contracts no debts which he is certain he cannot discharge, because he is honest upon principal”.
New members are reminded of Freemasonry’s purpose in this extract from the 1st degree Ritual.
“but remember above all, and never forget, that without ennoblement of mind and heart, and without steady perseverance in good works, the whole essence of Freemasonry dwindles into nothing and all its symbols and usages become a meaningless farce and a vain toy.”
FREEMASONRY – A BETTER WORLD THROUGH A BETTER MAN