Tom Hendrickson P.G.M.
Arch Chapter Minneapolis
Many years ago I wanted to discuss the meanings and messages hidden within the symbols used in our ritual. My request for more information was often met by a blank stare. I was informed, that the point of ritual was to memorize it, regurgitate it for the degree work, and then hope to become a monitor or a custodian someday. I was highly encouraged to follow that path when I began and I started with the lectures. I would often ask my partner what a certain item or phrase meant and they usually responded to me with “Tom, I don’t know, I just memorize the stuff”.
I knew though that there was much more to Freemasonry than chicken dinners after a Third Degree, the once a year barbeque, the debates over whether or not to put ceiling fans in the dining room and should we offer orange juice at the next annual pancake breakfast.
Today, times have changed and we must change with them. We now find many young men standing at our doorstep, knocking at our door, that are seeking education, enlightenment, spiritual growth and meaningful experiences. These new men come to us better informed about the craft than some of our current members. They have accessed the World Wide Web and mined the vast information available there. They have watched the History Channel and seen the countless television shows about Freemasonry. They have read the books written by Dan Brown and “Freemasons for Dummies”. These men come to us well versed in information, some of it accurate, some not so accurate.
Never the less, they come with a hunger to seek further light. We must be ready for the challenge to help lead them to what they are seeking. If we wish to attract and retain these men we must have more to offer them than a once a year weenie roast, poorly read ritual work, a boring business meeting and another dues card to put in their wallet. But the Royal Arch – Our Craft and our ritual are the perfect means to satisfy their hunger.
Our ritual is important. It offers lessons so a companion can lead a life that is rich and fulfilling. The ritual is the vehicle that our principles can ride into the hearts of men. However, the words of the ritual are not enough. It is the meaning of those words that will lead men to live our teachings. Studying the rich history and symbolism of the ritual is essential to the understanding behind the words.
Our ritual contains beautiful poetry along with words of wisdom to live by. It is filled with history and religion. It is a treasure trove of symbols and analogies that are worthy of introspection and meditation. Finally, the words contain profound truths and a unique perspective on life for those who are willing to make the conscious effort to uncover them.
Over the next several months I will be offering various articles or papers on various subjects in our ritual. Don’t worry, I am not revealing the secrets. The information I will be sharing is already in print or may be found by doing a Google search on the internet. Feel free to use these articles in your Chapter Convocation or for Chapter education. Feel free to make copies of them and talk about them. Use parts of them in your newsletters or if you wish, use them to start a campfire.
The information that will be shared is just an example of what can be done by any willing companion who is willing to take some time to read and re-read the ritual. I encourage all of you to try your hand at it.
Every man becomes a Mason for their own reasons. Some seek light while others seek friendships. Some may seek wisdom or direction. Others may seek all of these. The Royal Arch – Our Craft and our ritual can meet all of these needs if we step up and gain a better understanding or our rituals. In order to teach our craft, and pass that knowledge on to the next generation, we need to understand its lesson ourselves.
Lastly, there are secrets hidden in plain sight awaiting your discovery. My wish for you is that you discover them all.