What Is a Masonic Apprenticeship?
by Sir Knight Wayne T. Adams
If we want our newly Raised candidates to take an active part in
we need at least to give them an introduction to Masonry. Ritual
matter how well done, is not going to make a knowledgeable Mason or
Lodge member. If we want a man who believes in Masonry, a man who is
active Lodge member, we have to take the time to show, to teach, to
that new Mason to a clearer understanding of the tenets of his
a Mason. In short, we cannot just Raise a candidate and then drop
We have to start by making sure that we, ourselves, have a positive
Masonry has much to offer. It has been a source of wisdom and
satisfaction to millions of good men. Its principles and its
benefits are as
valuable and as timely today as they ever have been. Still, this
confronts us: Why are not more young men today interested in joining
participating in our Fraternity? I believe the answer, in large
part, is that
we fail to present Masonry in ways that appeal to a younger
The men we want are activity oriented. We want the men who would
rather to do
something than be something.
Let us look at some of the community activities which compete for
time. Service clubs are growing. They explain to men their community
and how they raise money to fund them. They are able to show a
group of people doing something to make a positive impact on their
communities. Public safety groups, such as fire companies and rescue
are growing. They show young people the scope of their activity.
demonstrate their equipment and their training programs, and they
committed group of members intent on doing something to improve
Social clubs, usually centered around sports such as golf, tennis,
fishing, have no trouble maintaining membership. They are able to
interested people their facilities, their schedule of events, and
activities. They are able to show a group of people who are
their sport and about doing something to improve their performance.
The success of these organizations gives us a clue. It tells us what
to good men today. They want to do something. They want to become
effective in what they do. They want to be involved with others, to
of an effort, and to share goals.
Now, let us look at Masonry. What can Masonry offer? We can start
brotherly love, relief and truth. The elements of brotherly love are
perfect points: the obligation to go out of our way to serve a
Brother; the obligation to be ever mindful of the Brother in our
the obligation to keep a confidence; the obligation to help a
Brother and to
protect his good name; and finally, the obligation to warn a worthy
of an approaching danger. We offer this bond to a man who is willing
Relief need not be material relief. It can be a helping hand or an
understanding ear, a favor or a word of encouragement. The
commitment is a willingness to help another Mason or his family with
level of concern that a man might show to his own brother. We can
commitment to a man who is willing to reciprocate.
Truth is a value and a measure of the values we are committed to.
Each of the
three degrees of symbolic Masonry teaches by precept, allegory and
virtues of fidelity, temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice,
which we hold to be true true today, true yesterday, and true
are willing to share the legends and the allegories and symbols
illustrate them with men who are willing to commit themselves to the
Brotherly love, relief and truth require personal activity and
have to do something to put them into practice. Masonry can provide
an opportunity to do something to improve themselves in pursuit of
Let us look at ourselves in practice. Is our emphasis on just being
or on thinking and acting as a Mason? Do we try to create new
members, or do
we try to show a man how he can live Masonry? The answer, of course,
from Lodge to Lodge. A Lodge which wants to attract young men today
offer them an opportunity to do something which will give them
satisfaction. Sadly, many of our Lodges offer a new Mason little or
to do unless he is interested in taking part in ritual work.
Our own legends teach us that ancient apprentices and fellowcrafts
improve their skills under the guidance and tutelage of Masters.
true in operative Masonry. It can become true in speculative
should not permit a candidate simply to "take" three degrees. We
demonstrate to him that the tenets of his profession as a Freemason
a way of thinking and a way of living.
Fine words you may say. Fine and high sounding words. But, just how
go about instructing a candidate on Masonry as a way of thinking and
a way of
living. I suggest a twelve-point apprenticeship plan to get new
involved, to give them something to do, twelve points which are
related to the tenets of our profession as Freemasons.
Let us first consider Brotherly Love. The candidate must get to know
Brothers. Here is what a presiding Master can do:
Make sure the candidate's sponsor introduces him to everyone present
night he is initiated. I have seen a candidate prepared for his
sitting alone in a room where a whole group of Masons were chatting
other, none of whom had been introduced to him or had taken the time
introduce themselves to him.
Request the candidate and his sponsor to be greeters at the door the
his second and third degrees. This is a good opportunity for him to
the members he met earlier and to meet additional members who are
that evening. Task 3.
Invite the candidate to help out on the first three suppers
initiation. Remember, he sought membership because he wanted to do
Involving him in the work of the Lodge will make him begin to feel a
Now, let us look at Relief. Each new Mason needs to learn firsthand
the aspects of Masonic relief and caring.
Invite the new Mason to work on the first special ladies' night
initiation and see that he personally meets several of them.
Include the new Mason on the team delivering flowers or baskets or
the Lodge may do for widows and elder Brothers during the holiday
Invite him to accompany the Master on a visit to a hospitalized
Brother or to
a Brother who is shut in.
Request him to attend the first two Masonic Memorial Services
initiation to witness the concern our Fraternity feels for the
family of a
Our third tenet is Truth. The candidate should be told that he is
obtain a basic familiarity with the legends and symbols which
truths we value.
Make sure the candidate has the benefit of the four instructional
outlined in our Instructor's Manual. We seriously shortchange a man
make him a member of our Lodge but fail to give him a basic
the ritual which is at the heart of our Fraternity.
See to it that the candidate visits another Lodge three times as he
progresses through his degrees, each time to witness the degree he
taken. This will give him a better understanding of the degree he
taken. It will also show him that he is part of a wider Fraternity,
he can take with him wherever he goes. It goes without saying that
to be accompanied by his sponsor or Brothers he knows well.
Invite the new Mason to take a nonspeaking chair within a month or
he is Raised either for a degree or simply for a stated meeting. He
want to do it again, but it is important for him to do it at least
have the opportunity to feel he is a part of that ritual.
Arrange for the candidate to give his third degree lesson either
with other recent candidates within the prescribed time. The rule,
is ours. We have many, many new Masons who feel that they have
failed to do
something they should do. They haven't failed. We have failed when
them they are expected to do something and then never follow up.
Brotherly love, relief and truth are the tenets of our profession as
Freemasons. There is another characteristic of Masons that is as old
history of our country. Every community in this country is a better
live because of the public spirited Masons, who, in hundreds of
their communities and this country going. They contribute as
firemen, rescue squad members, little league coaches, church deacons
Sunday school teachers, as members of boards of hospitals and
in countless other ways. Masons are the bedrock of every community
Tell each new Mason, if he has not already done so, that we would
like to see
him identify one civic, community or church endeavor where he could
into his community some of the lessons he has learned in his Lodge.
points. We should tell a man who indicates an interest in
Freemasonry what he
would be expected to do in becoming a member. We might give him a
describing this apprenticeship plan so that he will understand in
what it is, why we are asking him to do it, and how it will benefit
a commitment might discourage a few donothing types who simply want
known as Masons. I am convinced that men who want to do something
attracted to membership in organizations which clearly state their
principles, which ask them to make a commitment, and which relate
principles to a specific plan of activity for them. Any presiding
do a great service to Masonry, to his Lodge, and to his candidates
if he will
just give them something to do.
We have the greatest Fraternity in the world, founded on the noblest
principles. But let us never forget that it is not enough simply to
man a member. Our Fraternity will grow as an influence for good, our
will prosper, and our members will grow as good men and Masons only
focus our thoughts and efforts and the thoughts and efforts of our
on Masonry as a way of thinking and a way of living in which
the vehicle, the mission, and the goal.
Sir Knight Wayne T. Adams, Past Junior Grand Warden of the Grand
Maine, is a member of St. Amand Commandery No. 20, West Kennebunk,
resides at 21 Walker's Lane, Kennebunkport, Maine.
Knight Templar Magazine, February 1996