What is Freemasonry?
The word “Lodge” has two meanings to a Freemason. It is both a place where Masonic meetings are held, and a collective term for the members who meet there.
Masonic lodges are named by the original founding members. They can be named after the town or city they’re in, a historical figure, a famous Mason, or even a symbolic word or phrase. The name of the lodge is always followed by a number, such as Justice-Columbia Lodge No. 3. The number is issued by the Grand Lodge of DC and designates the order in which lodges have been chartered in this jurisdiction. The older the lodge, the smaller the number.
Many of the details in a lodge room are patterned after aspects of King Solomon’s Temple, as described in the Bible and other historical records. Freemasonry teaches by symbolism, and much of its symbolism is based upon the accounts of Solomon’s Temple. The Temple was built in the 10th century B.C. on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. Solomon built it as a temple to God and to store the sacred Ark of the Covenant, which contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses.
Freemasonry became a philosophical organization in the 1700s, the Masons who developed the ceremonies and practices of the fraternity utilized the symbolism of Solomon’s Temple to help teach moral and spiritual ideas.
A Lodge meet at regular intervals throughout the year. Justice-Columbia Lodge No. 3 assembles once a month for a business meeting, a communication(s) to be read, paying bills, proposed members are voted on, and the members have fellowship. At Justice-Columbia Lodge No. 3 we often, invite guest speakers, or a member will give a presentation on the ritual, history, philosophy, or symbols of Masonry. The primary goal of Freemasonry is fellowship, at Justice-Columbia Lodge No. 3 a meal is served before the meeting in the lodge building.
To experience some of what Justice-Columbia Lodge No. 3 has to offer, please contact us and we will arrange to have you join us for dinner at:
Justice-Columbia No. 3
1733 16th Street NW
Washington DC 20009
The Lodge will be more than happy to answer your questions.
Freemasonry is open to any man regardless of race, religion, nationality, social status or wealth. He must hold a belief in a supreme being and be of good moral character. Freemasonry does not interfere with duties a man owes his God, his country, his neighbors or his family.
The qualifications for admittance to Freemasonry and Justice-Columbia Lodge No.3 are that of being a man, 18 years or older, and a belief in a Supreme Being.
Those desiring to join Justice-Columbia Lodge No.3 must ask a Lodge member as we do not solicit members. You must approach a Freemason at Justice-Columbia Lodge No.3 of your own accord in order to be considered for the degrees of Freemasonry.
Once you make contact with the Secretary of Justice-Columbia Lodge No.3 or a member of our lodge, you may be invited to dinner and public events, where you and the members of the Justice-Columbia Lodge No.3 will have the opportunity to get to know each other.
If you would like to become a member of Justice-Columbia Lodge No.3, you may ask a Lodge member for a petition to be initiated into Freemasonry. After submitting a petition, you will meet with a committee of members of Justice-Columbia Lodge No.3, who will make recommendation to the Lodge regarding your candidacy.
Monotheism is the sole dogma of Freemasonry. Belief in one God is required of every initiate, but his conception of the Supreme Being is left to his own interpretation. Freemasonry is not concerned with theological distinctions. This is the basis of our universality.
In lodge, a Mason may offer his devotions to the Deity he reveres using the title Great Architect of the Universe, no matter what name he may use in his private religious worship. Thus, Freemasons worship the Great Architect of the Universe – a symbol of Deity as named and worshiped in all lodges.
Freemasonry calls God, ‘The Great Architect of the Universe” (G.A.O.T.U.). This is the Freemason’s special name for God, because he is universal. He belongs to all men regardless of their religious persuasion. All wise men acknowledge His authority. In his private devotions a Mason will pray to Jehovah, Mohammed, Allah, Jesus or the Deity of his choice. In a Masonic Lodge, however, the Mason will find the name of his Deity within the G.A.O.T.U.”
Freemasonry has no formal clergy, yet “its ministers are the Masons who comprehend it,” and it is not bonded to any one canon, but will freely accept any “Volume of Sacred Law” (not necessarily the Holy Bible) as “indispensable furniture of every lodge.” Freemasonry claims it has no doctrine, yet its religious dogma is an integral part of its very being, “secured to it by its ancient Landmarks.” Yet, like the genius of American Civil Religion is not being vested in an institution, it is the genius of Freemasonry that it is not vested in any particular world religion. When the need arises to defend the legitimacy of the Craft and its unbiblical worldview, Freemasonry leverages the fact that its philosophy is in line with the ideals of the pluralistic society in which we live. “Freemasonry has tenets peculiar to itself. They serve as testimonials of character and qualifications, which are only conferred after due course of instruction and examination.
Freemasonry can ease the conscious of the Christian Mason by summonsing, at a moment’s notice, an example of a prominent Mason that is also a member of, or even a clergyman within virtually any denomination from which the Christian Mason may be affiliated. If he’s not a Christian, Freemasonry will always satisfy any other deistic choice, or provide an example of some new-age personality. Freemasonry is forever ready to become whatever she needs to be to maintain her function as a socially-unifying model of the “American Civil Congregation” within American Civil Religion. So that, once more, the Masonic Temple can be viewed in this context as, an “American Civil Church,” a presumed least-common-denominator or place for our national religious discourse.
“Every Mason must believe in God and in the immortality of the soul. The Volume of Sacred Law must be open on every Lodge Altar. A candidate takes his Obligations upon his knees. Before engaging in any important undertaking, a Mason seeks aid and guidance through prayer from the Sovereign Grand Architect of the Universe. This is religion, but it is not a religion. It is faith, but it is not a faith confined to any one creed. It is worship, but it is not a worship chained to any one Altar. In the great words of the First Book of Constitutions it is the religion in which all good men agree. It is the ground which underlies all religions, all churches, all creeds…”
In the same way, Freemasonry will always ask of its initiates, before the great undertaking of becoming a Mason and without specificity, “In whom do you put your trust?” Naturally, being programmed by the ideology of American Civil Religion, the candidate responds likewise without being specific, “in God” to which he is told, “your trust being in God, your faith is well founded, rise follow your conductor and fear no danger.”
The founding fathers of these United States of America, some of whom were Masons, established this country on Christian principles. By the same token, Freemasonry began in this country with a rather Christian facade. Yet, as America has become more culturally diverse, more pluralistic, Freemasonry has too become increasingly polytheistic.
In our fast-paced world, where pressures on time become greater and greater, there are all too-few times when fathers can share quality time with their sons.
You probably have memories of those moments of sharing when the pace of living was a bit slower. Perhaps your father taught you to drive, or hunt, or fish. Maybe you have a memory of a spring afternoon when the two of you went out into the yard and threw a baseball back and forth or a little league game where you were on a team he helped to coach.
As boys grow into men, unfortunately the sharing opportunities grow even more rare.
As a young adult, you move out of the family home, establish a life and family of your own. There are fewer and fewer chances to share things with your father. Differences in age and changing times mean communication sometimes grow even more difficult.
But there’s one thing you can always share with your father, no matter how much time or how many miles may separate you.
Freemasonry, at the turn of the century, almost every man’s father was a Mason. As was his father before him. And his before that. This tradition can be traced all the way back to the Middle Ages.
It was only natural; every man wanted to pass his wisdom, his knowledge, his experience, his good reputation on to his son. And Masonry was one of his most treasured experiences.
There’s a strong tradition in the Fraternity that we don’t ask people to join. You have to ask to join.
It’s part of a Mason’s obligation that he can’t ask you to become a member. In keeping this promise to the Fraternity, sometimes that gets carried a little too far.
The practice of not speaking about Freemasonry is really more tradition than any attempt to keep anyone from learning about Freemasonry. Masons once treated Masonry as a secret society – it was the popular thing to do. The Secrets were simply ritualistic, of course, but it did mean that a man had to learn about Masonry by growing up with it.
But it’s a rare Mason who does not hope in his heart that his sons will join the Craft.
You see, there’s a special bonding among Masons — a special feeling which comes from having shared the same deeply moving experiences, honoring the same ideals of truth and charity and brotherly love. It’s a good feeling, and when that feeling is added to those which naturally exist between father and son — well, those of us who have been there can tell you there’s nothing like it!
And that’s true of Masons who move from one town to another and for those who don’t visit a lodge for years at a time. Masonry isn’t something which happens in the lodge — it happens in the heart.
That’s why the tradition of joining Freemasonry runs so strongly in millions of families.
Unfortunately, in these modern times, there’s often a time or communications gap between father and sons that’s hard to bridge. Many fathers find it hard to be with and to talk to their sons, much as they would like to. Freemasonry bridges that gap by bringing fathers and sons together in the Fraternity and through shared experiences and shared values.
A family’s involvement in Freemasonry can go beyond the father-to-son relationship. There are Masonic youth organizations for the children including opportunities for both boys and girls. These organizations offer Masonic values designed to support the strong family values parents should have already instilled in their children. They offer special programs that focus on the needs of youth including social, athletic and self-awareness programs.
There are organizations for adult women including Eastern Star – a world class organization for women to which Masons may also be members.
But Freemasonry is foremost a fraternity for men. As a result, every father hopes the day will come when he will stand with his son just as his father stood with him as he was welcomed into the Craft.
Talk to your father about becoming a Mason. Ask him what the Fraternity has meant to him and what you will be able to give and get by belonging and being active in Freemasonry. He’ll be happy to get you a petition. Or surprise him; find another Mason, submit the petition, and then let your father know what night you’re going to receive the First Degree.
Freemasonry is something for the whole family.