Freemasonry’s Requirements for Membership
For the qualifications of candidates in order to join a Masonic Lodge in Texas there are a series of “Freemason requirements”. You have to fill out and file with the Lodge Secretary a Petition for the Degrees of Freemasonry, pay the required fee, and attach a copy of your birth certificate. In addition to general information, the Petition has certain yes-or-no questions that must be answered appropriately. The Petition also has to be signed by five Masons who recommend you for Freemasonry. At Hillcrest Masonic Lodge, an individual interested in Freemasonry typically attends several social functions to get to know the brothers of the lodge to make sure the lodge is a good fit for the individual, since each lodge has a personality of its own. After a time, the individual can ask for a Petition and seek out brothers to sign the Petition.
Generally the rule of thumb is, for every signature a candidate requires from Masons he does not know, it will take a month for him to acquire it. For example, if a man comes to Freemasonry not knowing any members to personally vouch for him, it generally would take about 5 months for that man to acquire the needed signatures. However if a man already knows four Masons who can attest to his good character, then one month is in many cases sufficient for the last signator to get to know him well enough to sign by visiting with the candidate and interviewing the other Brethren vouching for the inquirer.
While this is the procedural path to Freemasonry, there is much more.
The Requirements of Candidates for Masonry
Candidates for the mysteries of Freemasonry must meet two kinds of qualifications: (1) internal; and (2) external. The internal qualifications are not obvious to the world. They refer to his peculiar disposition and attitude toward Freemasonry and the reasons or motives for seeking initiation. In truth, they are known only to the candidate and can only be acquired from his own solemn declarations. The external qualifications refer to his outward fitness for initiation and are based on his moral and religious or spiritual character, the constitution of his mind, and his social bearing. Knowledge of these qualifications are acquired from a careful examination by a committee appointed for that purpose.
Internal Requirement of Freemasonry
The first internal qualification is that every candidate must come of his own free will and accord. Other fraternities and organizations seek out members and attempt to persuade them to join. Masonry does not solicit its members—they seek us out. The candidate must be prepared for initiation in his heart and not have any mercenary motives. His motives for seeking to wear the Masonic apron must be to further the Brotherhood of Man and to explore his relationship with God, his family, his friends, and all mankind.
The oldest form of the questions that seek this information comes from page 32 of 1808 Edition of Webb’s Monitor and ask: (1) “Do you seriously declare, upon your honor, before these gentlemen, that, unbiased by friends and uninfluenced by mercenary motives, you freely and voluntarily offer yourself a candidate for the mysteries of Masonry?”; (2) “Do you seriously declare, upon your honor, before these gentlemen, that you are prompted to solicit the privileges of Masonry by a favorable opinion conceived of the institution, a desire of knowledge, and a sincere wish of being serviceable to your fellow creatures?”; and (3) “Do you seriously declare, upon your honor, before these gentlemen, that you will cheerfully conform to all the ancient established usages and customs of the Fraternity?”. There have been additions to these questions, but this is the essential nature of what internal qualifications must accompany a Petition for the Degrees of Freemasonry.
External Requirements of Freemasonry
The external qualifications are said to deal with the moral, physical, intellectual, and political nature of the candidate. The Charges of 1722 commence with the emphatic declaration that “a Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the art, he will never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious libertine.” Candidates must believe in an immortal Creator of the Universe. Among our members are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. We welcome men of many faiths, but, according to Masonic jurisprudence, there must be an obedience to a moral law that “denotes the rule of good and evil, or of right and wrong, revealed by the Creator and inscribed on man’s conscience even at his creation, and consequently binding upon him by divine authority.” This Divine Being, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, is particularly viewed in Freemasonry in his character as the Grand Master Builder of the Universe and is, therefore, addressed as the Grand Architect of the Universe just as John Calvin did repeatedly in his Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536) and in his commentary on Psalm 19.
The physical qualifications arise from operative Masonry. Speculative Masonry being the application of operative Masonry to moral and intellectual purposes, the physical qualifications are basically eliminated. While operative Masons erected cathedrals and temples, the Speculative Mason is engaged in the erection of a spiritual edifice—the temple of the mind. To accomplish this task, a man must be able to comprehend symbolism and memorize certain phrases. Most Masonic writers, such as Hutchison and Preston, all concur in giving a scientific and literary character to Freemasonry. It is certainly not necessary that the man be a scientific or literary master; and a modern American is qualified. Anciently, persons who could neither read nor write were prohibited because certain customs and usages of the order and initiation would be manifestly absurd if the candidate was unable to read and write.
The political qualification was that the man be “free born.” You can be a Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian, the “political” qualification does not refer to your political views. In fact, political (and religious) discussions are prohibited in lodge in order maintain peace and harmony. Anciently, slaves and persons born in servitude were not initiated because, in the first place, their servile condition rendered them legally incapable of making a contract and, in the second place, there would not be equality in the lodge if some were free and others were not. Lodges were meant to bring together members of different classes of society to meet “on the level.” There are even stories that President Teddy Roosevelt attended a lodge while he was President that was presided over by the White House gardener. Upon opening the lodge, the gardener was the Master and the President was just another brother of the Craft.
Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Freemason?
So before petitioning the lodge for the mysteries of Freemasonry, be sure that you are qualified both internally and externally. We enjoy our fellowship, but we do serious work in the Lodge room. Our ceremonies are solemn, meaningful, and entirely devoid of frivolity. If that’s what you are seeking, you have come to the right place.