It Never Hurts to
Review: Master Mason
Mason, Volume LXX, Number 3
July – September 2002, Page 11
The Teachings of the Degree
In essence, the Degree teaches that life is uncertain, but our life on earth
is not the most important thing. Considerations of honor, integrity,
spirituality, and living a life dedicated to productivity and the service of
others is more important than our individual survival on this earth. Our focus
must be on the life which is to come and what we can do for others.
The Symbolism of the Degree
The primary symbolism of the Degree is that of death and transfiguration. It
is not that Masonry claims to be a path to salvation – that is the role of
religion, not a Fraternity. Rather we assert that there is a life to come and
the one should make preparations for it. We also assert that each of us can and
must make a difference in the world during this life, and that the example we
set and the results of our interactions with others are of critical importance.
The Meaning of the Obligation
The obligation of a Master Mason is of central importance. We say in the
ritual, and we mean it when we say it, that it is the Obligation which makes a
The Obligation is a promise, made to God in the presents of the Lodge, to act
in certain ways. While the exact words of the Obligation are esoteric [not to
be written down] because the ability to quote the language is one way to prove
you are a Master Mason, there is nothing secret about the ideas and values
involved. In simple language, then, what have you promised to do and not to do?
You have promised not to cheat, in any way, either a Brother or a Lodge.
That’s simply a matter of building trust.
You have promised to help a Master Mason or his family when they are in need,
as much as you can without harming yourself or your family, if his needs are
You have promised to go on an errand for him, if he needs it, just as he has
promised to do the same for you.
You have promised that, if you know of any sort of danger which is
approaching him or those he loves, you will warn him. As a part of that, if you
see him doing or about to do something which is wrong or foolish or hurtful, you
will quietly tell him about it and give him the best advice you can.
You have promised you won’t say bad things about him or “run him down.”
You’ll protect his reputation just as you would your own.
You have promised to respect the integrity of his family and treat his wife
or widow or mother or daughter with courtesy and with appropriateness, just as
you would your own mother or sister.
You have promised to keep in confidence the things he tells you in
You have promised not to strike at him unless you are actually defending
yourself or your family.
You have promised to follow the rules of the Masonic jurisdiction where you
happen to be.
You have promised that you won’t hold Masonic conversation with a person who
is not recognized as a Mason in good standing.
You have promised that if you receive a summons from your Lodge or the Grand
Master to attend a meeting, you will attend.
You have promised that, if you see a Brother in danger, you will try to
rescue him if there is at least as good a chance of saving his life as of being
You have promised that you will not be involved in making a Mason of the
person is not a man, nor of at least the minimum age, nor if the person is
insane or senile, or simply too unthinking to understand Masonry and live as a
It may seem to you that you have promised a lot, and you have. But they are
things that make Brotherhood possible, not to mention civilization itself. For
all practical purposes, the promises are simply applications of the Golden
Rule. You have promised to treat a Brother as you would want to be treated
yourself. There is nothing secret about that.
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