Those who consider becoming Freemasons should consider the sacrifices that are involved in being an active member of a lodge.
To be a Freemason is a commitment in and of itself.
There are also conspiracy theorists who often try to pass off macabre fiction to make Freemasonry look sinister.
The Sacrifice of Time
I have heard on more than one occasion from well-meaning Freemasons to petitioners that the time commitment is only one evening per month for the regular stated meeting.
However, those Masons who innocently provide these answers typically do not think about all the work that one does outside of our meetings.
After going through any of the three-degree ceremonies, the candidate must become proficient in the memory work for that respective degree.
In most of the grand lodge jurisdictions of which this author is aware, that minimum memory work is called a catechism.
A catechism is a series of questions and answers that explain the degree ceremony that the candidate has undergone. By memorizing a catechism, the candidate is said to be “proficient” in that degree; in other words, he knows the basics of that degree.
There is also the matter of memorizing rituals.
Once one has become proficient in all three degrees, he may choose to start memorizing more parts, these to be delivered in lodge either during exemplification or for some other candidate’s degree ceremony.
Most Masonic ritual (I’d personally estimate around 95%, depending on the grand lodge jurisdiction) is delivered wholly from memory.
There are small parts that are only a line or two long and there are long lectures that can last around 15 minutes.
Outside of regularly stated meetings, lodges may also have cast rehearsals to practice delivering various parts of ritual together; this is done so that the candidate who will go through the degree can be given the best performance possible.
In addition to this, one must often practice on his own time, whether it is to become proficient in the catechism or to be able to perform a portion of the ritual smoothly.
For those who are new to Masonry, please do not be discouraged if you mess up once or twice in front of everyone despite being able to do the part perfectly in private;
it is monumentally different between practicing in front of a mirror and performing in front of an audience.
Given that much of our ritual is secret, practicing in private can be difficult when you do not live alone.
To save time during your day, I recommend going over your lines either subvocally or in an extremely low breath while showering (so long as no one else is in there) or while going on a run alone outside.
Your lodge will likely also be involved in service projects of some sort. These require man-hours and are wholly dependent on the lodge’s members making time to contribute.
The Sacrifice of Energy
Building on the end of the last section, it takes energy to be able to serve others.
You will be serving not only your fellow Masons but will hopefully have various opportunities to serve your local community.
Even projects that do not require hard labor can still be draining.
For example, I have coordinated two blood drives for the lodge with the local American Red Cross. I remember on both occasions feeling mentally taxed due to looking extensively for enough people to donate blood to meet the Red Cross’s goals.
Any time that I have assisted with a project, I have felt exhausted; but it always feels incredibly rewarding to be a part of something constructive.
The Sacrifice of Money
As a Freemason, you will be paying annual dues.
These dues cover the costs for your lodge building, including water bills, electric bills, property taxes, etc.
A per capita from these dues also goes to cover like costs for the grand lodge.
Each lodge’s dues will be different. I have heard of some lodges who only charge $30 per year; I have heard of others that charge up to $5,000 per year.
You should be informed about the dues amount prior to or when petitioning; if someone forgets to bring it up, then ask.
In addition, it is likely that your lodge will be participating in or running a charity of some sort.
My lodge, for example, does a Bikes-For-Books program with local elementary schools to encourage kids to read; every book read equates to a chance to win a bicycle and protective gear, for which my lodge raises funds to provide.
Freemasonry is not an insurance or a benefit society (like, for example, the Elk’s Club); the dues that are collected are nowhere near enough to support such an expectation.
This stated we will certainly do our best to assist any of our brethren who fall on hard times as needed and as we are able.
If you are elected to be a worshipful master, a senior warden, or a junior warden for your lodge OR you are elected/appointed to be an officer for the grand lodge, expect to pay your own way to travel to various grand lodge events, including your annual grand lodge communication.
As such, you are also a member at the grand lodge level and, as such, will be expected to attend more events than other Masons are.
This can cost a bit of money on travel, especially if you live on one side of the state and must travel to an event on the other side of the state.
Some grand lodge officers even attend the functions/events of other grand lodge jurisdictions as visitors.
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A Freemason Sacrifices Time, Energy & Money To Serve His Fellow Man
Among Masons, I often hear the phrase, “You get out of it what you put into it.”
This phrase is applicable to all endeavors of value, and Freemasonry certainly falls within this category.
I would also add that these same things apply to one’s membership in any of the appendant/concordant and/or affiliate bodies that one may wish to join.
I also feel it noteworthy to add that your respective duties to God, family, and country, (whatever those all may be, and including your job/career) must always come first;
Your Masonic lodge will never presume to prioritize itself over any of these things.
In fact, to prioritize Masonry above any of these things would be considered un-Masonic.
I have learned various leadership skills, supervised and/or assisted in various service projects, and have formed brotherly relationships with men of integrity and commitment.
The time, energy, and money I have invested in Freemasonry are peanuts compared to the benefits and blessings that I have seen in my life because I strive to apply the principles of Masonry to my life.