- 1 EDICTS
- 1.1 BEFORE 1800
- 1.2 1800-1825
- 1.3 1825-1850
- 1.4 1851-1875
- 1.5 1876-1900
- 1.6 1901-1915
- 1.7 1916-1925
- 1.8 1926-1935
- 1.9 1936-1945
The Grand Masters of Masons in Massachusetts have frequently offered opinions and made declarations from the Oriental Chair of Grand Lodge which have the force of Masonic law within the jurisdiction. This page lists those that appear in the pages of the Proceedings.
John Cutler, Grand Master
Page II-59, 09/10/1794: In response to requests and petitions from outside of Massachusetts where Grand Lodges had been erected, the Grand Master directed a letter to be sent to the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island in particular "informing them that it is the intention and full determination of this Grand Lodge, not to grant any charter of erection to any Lodge out of this commonwealth, where another Grand Lodge has jurisdiction: hinting to them the absolute necessity of the measure, and requesting them to join in a plan so likely to operate to the benefit of Masonry in General." (This ruling was confirmed on 03/08/1802, Page II-197, by Grand Master Samuel Dunn, in response to a petition from Columbian Lodge in Norwich, Connecticut; the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts resigned authority of this lodge when the Grand Lodge of Connecticut was erected. A similar petition from Masons in New Brunswick was withdrawn in 1807; Page II-352.)
Timothy Bigelow, Grand Master
Page II-328, 03/10/1806: "It was moved by the Most Worshipful Timothy Bigelow to know the opinion of this Grand Lodge, if a blind man can, or cannot, be made a Mason, such an one having applied for admission to King Solomon's Lodge in Charlestown; and on motion, Voted, That it is inconsistent and incompatible with the Constitutions of Masonry." (This was reconsidered in the 1843 Grand Constitutions, with the following text: "where the deformity does not amount to an inability honestly to acquire the means of subsistence, it constitutes no hindrance to initiation." (Part 4, Article 3, Section 4. )
Page II-345, 12/08/1806: "In pursuance of a vote of the Grand Lodge at the last Quarterly Communication, submitting the question to his decision, it pleased the Most Worshipful Grand Master to give his opinion, that with respect to such candidates for initiation and other degrees, as have conscientious scruples about taking an oath, the act of affirmation is equally valid as swearing in receiving the obligations of Masonry."
Isaiah Thomas, Grand Master
Page II-410, 06/12/1809: "On motion, Voted, that the jewels and regalia of this Grand Lodge be entrusted in future to the Grand Stewards, for the time being, and that they be answerable for the same." (This was enshrined in the By-Laws in 1819; see Chapter 4, Section 3; the Senior Grand Steward was given charge of these items.)
Augustus Peabody, Grand Master
Page IV-587, 03/09/1843: "The Most Worshipful Grand Master stated that he had been called upon for his opinion as to the propriety of the Lodges conferring more than one degree on the Same individual at one and the same meeting, and that he had expressed his conviction that the practice was irregular and injudicious, and ought not to be resorted to except in cases of pressing emergency, and then only by dispensation. Whereupon the Recording Grand Secretary offered the following order:
"Ordered. That from and after the passage of this order, it shall not be regular for any Lodge to give more than one degree to a Brother on the same day, nor at a less interval than one month from his receiving a previous degree, unless a dispensation shall be obtained therefor." (Adopted 06/14/1843, Page IV-598; referred to the committee on the Grand Constitutions, but this ruling was not included in the 1843 edition, and therefore should be considered as an edict in force. Note that a motion was proposed in March 1845, on Page V-22, to rescind this order and to reduce the month of elapsed time between degrees; this was not adopted.)
Augustus Peabody, Grand Master
Page V-51, 12/10/1845: "Brethren of eminence out of this State, who have rendered important services to the Craft, may, by a vote of this Grand Lodge duly confirmed, be constituted honorary members thereof, with such rank as the vote constituting them members shall designate." (This order was first applied at the December 27 meeting of that year, when Rt. Wor. George Oliver, D.D. was elected with the rank of Past Deputy Grand Master, and Rt. Wor. Robert Thomas Crucefix, M.D., was elected with the rank of Past Senior Grand Warden.)
Simon W. Robinson, Grand Master
Page V-217, 12/27/1848: By order of the Grand Master, a Form of Summons was adopted and ordered to be printed. This summons was directed to be used by subordinate Lodges when issuing summons to Brothers, per the provision in the 1843 Grand Constitutions.
John T. Heard, Grand Master
Page VI-196, 09/08/1858: Resolution based on the Grand Master's 1857 Address. "Resolved: That the fee for a restoration of a Charter shall be the same, as that required for issuing a new Charter unless otherwise ordered by a vote of this Grand Lodge."
Page VI-212, 12/08/1858: By order of the Grand Master, District Deputies were directed to meet. "Ordered: That the District Deputy Grand Masters be authorized to hold Quarterly meetings for the purpose of consulting upon any questions that may arise in the several districts for the discussion or action of the several District Deputy Grand Masters, and that the expenses of such meetings and of the officers attending the same shall be paid by the Grand Lodge."
William Parkman, Grand Master
Page VI-486: On notification for balloting.
, 12/10/1863: "Ordered: That it shall not be regular hereafter for any Lodge, which does not usually issue written or printed notification of its meetings to ballot upon any application for the degrees where there is a dispensation therefor, at any but stated monthly meetings without written or printed notifications to the members of the Lodge, with the name of their Candidate borne thereon."
William Sewall Gardner, Grand Master
Page 1870-228, 12/14/1870: "Resolved, That it is the privilege of every affiliated Mason, in good and regular standing, to visit any Lodge, when not engaged in the transaction of private business; but that it is also the right of a sitting member of the Lodge, to object to the admission of a visitor, giving his reasons therefor, if required by a majority-vote of the members to do so; or, as the alternative, declaring, upon his honor as a Masons, that his reasons are such that he cannot with propriety disclose them to the Lodge."
William Sewall Gardner, Grand Master
Page 1871-72, 06/14/1871: "Ordered, That any Lodge neglecting to present its returns and Grand Lodge dues to the District Deputy Grand Master, at the time of his official visit to such Lodge, when demanded by him, shall not be permitted to work in any of the degrees of Masonry until such returns and dues are placed in the hands of the District Deputy Grand Master." (This order was developed as a result of the dispute between Grand Lodge and Star in the East Lodge the previous year, which resulted in the revocation of that Lodge's charter for several months.)
Page 1871-75, 06/14/1871: "Voted, That a fee of fifteen dollars be hereafter required from every candidate for healing, the same to be applied toward the extinguishing of the debt of the Grand Lodge."
Sereno D. Nickerson, Grand Master
Page 1872-19, 03/13/1872: "It is hereby ordered that no one be admitted into any of our Lodges who is not known to be a Mason in good and regular standing, unless he is vouched for by some well known Brother, or produces the Certificate of some Grand Lodge and passes a strict examination."
Abraham H. Howland, Jr., Grand Master
Page 1885-20: Regarding the use of rituals.
"The M.W. Grand Master addressed the Grand Lodge, in very impressive and forcible language, in condemnation of the use of written or printed rituals, so called, and especially of a publication styled Ecce Orienti, or Rites and Ceremonies of the Essenes, - a work pretending to give the Masonic ritual by letters and characters. He pointed out most clearly the serious consequences resulting from the use of such inaccurate and unauthorized catchpenny affairs, and enjoined it upon every member of the Fraternity to exert every means in his power to prevent their circulation."
Edwin B. Holmes, Grand Master
Page 1895-302: Regarding innovations in the Work.
"I herewith submit some recommendations for your consideration. They concern the introduction of certain practices into our Lodge work which are clearly innovations, and are not warranted by the requirements of our Grand Constitutions.
"I refer, first, to the use of the stereopticon. It mars the simplicity and grandeur of our work and adds nothing to its impressiveness. It introduces a new, unwarranted practice, which, if allowed to continue, might be used as a precedent for numerous other innovations. Where I have known the stereopticon to be used, I have on my own responsibility ordered its discontinuance. The Brethren seem to have cheerfully conformed to my desire.
"I refer, secondly, to the practice of dressing the Fellow-Crafts in an ancient and unusual garb, and the introduction of fancy evolutions and paraphernalia unknown until our day. These are innovations and have no warrant in our Grand Constitutions. The costuming might serve as a precedent for the clothing of all the officers of a Lodge in distinctive and expensive regalia. Where my attention has been called to these matters I have requested their discontinuance.
Baalis Sanford, Grand Master
Page 1904-109, 09/14/1904: "Voted, That no Lodge within the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge shall admit any visitor to any of its meetings, unless said visitor shall first produce a Grand Lodge Certificate, or his original diploma, and then be vouched for by some Brother present, or pass a strict examination." This was in response to concerns about clandestine soi-disant "Masonic" bodies communicating Masonic secrets for a small fixed fee, and because of the work of the Cerneau rite in establishing a spurious Grand Lodge in Ohio. The committee also expressed concern regarding laxity of brethren vouching for visitors.
Melvin M. Johnson, Grand Master
Page 1914-153, 06/10/1914: "While a Lodge is at labor, every one who enters must approach to the West of the Altar and there salute the Master. The only exception is when the entrant acts by or under the authority of the Grand Master, i.e. the Grand Master, himself, or a Deputy acting under his warrant; their Marshals and suite, while in actual attendance. . . It applies not only to visiting Lodge delegations, but must be strictly observed also at "Military Nights," so-called, and other similar occasions. There is no objection to visitors being received in procession provided proper formation and halt is made West of the Altar for Masonic salute."
Page 1914-154, 06/10/1914: "Under no circumstances, whatever, must any visitor (save only the Grand Master or his Deputy) be covered while in the Lodge."
Page 1914-154, 06/10/1914: "The wearing of side-arms (save only by Sword-Bearer and Tyler) is forbidden. It is not Masonic to carry weapons of offense or defense into the Lodge."
Page 1914-155, 06/10/1914: "Dispensations to confer degrees in less than the constitutional interval of four weeks should be granted only in cases of necessity or extraordinary emergency. They should not be granted merely for convenience, either of the candidate or of the Lodge." The Grand Master noted that a number of dispensations had been declined, "though in some cases such declination has not been pleasantly received." He further noted that no dispensation would be granted without the approval of the District Deputy Grand Master, nor "to receive the third degree upon the same day as the second."
Melvin M. Johnson, Grand Master
Page 1915-112, 06/09/1915: "Instances have recently been brought to my attention where a Lodge has worked two different degrees simultaneously in separate halls, or where a portion of the degree has been omitted and given to the candidate at a sodality. Such practices are absolutely forbidden."
Page 1915-218, 09/08/1915: "The Master of a particular Lodge cannot resign his office. If the Master dies or demits, or is suspended, deposed, disabled or absent, the Senior Warden forthwith fills the Master's Chair.
"No dispensation will issue to fill the vacancy. A new election of Master must await the next annual meeting of the Lodge. The Senior Warden does not become Master. He is 'Senior Warden, Acting Master.' He appoints Wardens and other officers, if necessary, to fill the vacancies created by his occupancy of the Oriental Chair and by the appointments so made. Such appointments are not made, however, for the balance of the year, but merely from meeting to meeting, and should be recorded each meeting by the Secretary.
"If the Senior Warden also be disqualified, the Junior Warden becomes acting Master with like powers.
"In the event of a Lodge being without any one of these three officers the facts should forthwith be made known to the District Deputy Grand Master for the District, who will fill the chair himself or, if that be impossible, the Grand Master will preside or commission a special deputy for the purpose."
This declaration was reinforced by Grand Master Abbott in 1918 due to the absence of lodge officers due to the wartime draft (Page 1918-176), regarding the powers and authority of the Senior and Junior Wardens in the absence of the Master, and interim appointments of other officers. "Installed officers are not, except in case of extreme necessity, at liberty to resign. . . In case a vacancy in office actually occurs, it cannot be filled without a Dispensation from the Grand Master."
Page 1915-221, 09/08/1915: Recommendations of the passage to which the Holy Bible should be opened. "I recommend that when the Lodge is opened upon the First Degree the Holy Bible should be displayed at Psalm 133, or as an alternative at Ruth 4:7. When opened upon the Second Degree, at Judges 12:6, or as alternatives 1 Kings 6:8 or 2 Chronicles 3:17. When opened upon the Third Degree at Ecclesiastes 12:1-7, or as an alternative 1 Kings 7:13 and 14."
Melvin M. Johnson, Grand Master
Page 1916-17, 03/08/1916: On chain letters. "The attention of the Brethren is called to the unwritten law that no attention whatever should be paid to chain letters or circular appeals except such as bear the official approval of the Grand Lodge or the Grand Master of the jurisdiction." The Grand Master gave the example of the so-called 'McKinley chain letter' to raise funds for a memorial for the late President. "The proper place for chain letters and all other unapproved circular appeals for Masonic aid is the waste basket."
Page 1916-172, 06/14/1916: On suspended members.
"If a Brother has been suspended for non-payment of dues he may at any time pay the amount which was due the Lodge at the time of his suspension. He is then clear upon the books. He can not be charged with dues for the period of his suspension. If upon paying such amount he applies for a dimit he is entitled to the dimit as a matter of right. If he desires to regain his membership in the Lodge it is the duty of the Lodge to vote upon the question and determine the matter of reinstatement by a majority vote of those members of the Lodge present when action is taken. Notice that action wil be taken on the application for reinstatement should be borne upon the notice of the meeting by all Lodges issuing notices. If the Lodge does not issue printed or written notices the Lodge should be advised of the application for reinstatement at one meeting and the matter should lie over until the next regular meeting.
"If the Brother, instead of having been suspended, has been discharged for non-payment of dues he has not the same righs. If his dues up to the time of his discharge, but not including the period of discharge, have been paid or remitted, he is not entitled to a dimit. He is entitled to a receipt or certificate from the Secretary of the Lodge that his dues have been liquidated, but to nothing more. If he desires to regain his membership in the Lodge he must apply for such membership de novo. His application is then dealt with just as if it had come from one who was never a member of the Lodge. All the formalities usually attending admission to membership must be observed, as in the case of any candidate."
Page 1916-174, 06/14/1916: On "baiting and bantering". The Grand Master criticized ceremonies "characterized by fun and frolic, if not by farce and buffoonery. . . How much more our teachings will sink into his heart and mind if he has no thought except that he is to be received as a gentleman into the company of gentlemen; nay more, as a neophyte into the company of those who are about to take him by the right hand and call him a brother."
"Bantering and baiting of candidates is all wrong. It injures the reputation of Masonry; it decreases our opportunity of service to the candidate; it reacts upon the thoughtless Brother who utters the ill-timed jest; it lowers the moral tone of all concerned."
Page 1916-272, 06/14/1916, regarding the wearing of Henry Price Medals.
"Resolved: That hereafter the Henry Price Medal may be worn only by members of Henry Price Lodge; by Permanent Members of the Grand Lodge; by those who have been members of the Fraternity for fifty years or more; and by such others as may be selected by the Most Worshipful Grand Master as worthy of this special Masonic recognition."
Page 1916-306ff, 09/13/1916, regarding Masonic Burials.
"When a Master learns of the death of any member of his Lodge in good standing and learns from any credible source that the Brother has requested a Masonic funeral, it is that Master's duty forthwith to offer the services of the Fraternity to those who are nearest and dearest to him who has passed into the blessings of that immortality so eloquently taught by our esoteric rites. And if those services are accepted, the Master who does not bend his every energy to comply and who does not conduct or cause to be conducted the prescribed ceremonies if humanly possible is derelict in his duty and unfaithful to his obligations."
"It has been shown that the Right of Burial exists only when the request has been made by the decedent and communicated to his own Lodge.
"The Privilege of Burial exists in two other cases, viz.:
- First. If a Lodge, other than his own, is requested and voluntarily consents to perform the service: and
- Second. If the request has not been made by the decedent but does come from his family.
"In the first case, Masonic jurisprudence fails to impose any obligation or duty upon such Lodge. It may act or not according as the circumstances impress the Master or Acting Master, who is governed only by the dictates of his heart and conscience.
"In the second case, where the decedent has not himself expressed the wish for such a service yet his family request it of his own or another Lodge, interment can not take place with the formalities of the Order except by Dispensation from the Grand Master (Constitutions, Part Fifth, Section 7). When such a request is made not for display but because of a real reaching out by the bereaved and sorrowing for sympathy and comfort, Dispensation has never been refused a Master seeking to ease the burden of the afflicted."
Page 1916-575ff, 12/13/1916, on the Precedence of the Grand Master. An extended essay on this subject, followed by the declarations starting on Page 1916-584:
"When, therefore, the Grand Master is officially present at any Masonic function whateer within the limits controlled by his Grand Lodge, he is the ranking Masonic officer present and must be received and accomodated accordingly.
"There is a clear distinction between his official and personal attendance. The Grand Master of Massachusetts cannot attend a Lodge within this state, while it is open on the First, Second or Third Degree, without being Grand Master, but it is possible that he could not attend a Chapter, for instance, at all. Within the Symbolic Lodge he is never shorn of his prerogatives, but he might not be able to pass the Sentinel of a Commandery, and, if he did, he could not take the chair at will. If he is entitled to enter these other bodies, it is by virtue of the practices of those bodies. . . But it is otherwise when the Grand Master as such is invited to attend. Then it is not the humble Brother who enters, but it is the head of the supreme Masonic jurisdiction who enters in his official capacity and garb. Then no other Mason outranks him. He takes precedence over all. No matter who else is there received, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge must be received last."
The rules listed on Page 1916-586 apply:
- That, within a particular lodge holding a Charter of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge is always such;
- That, in any other body recognized by the Grand Lodge as Masonic and meeting within this Commonwealth the person who happens to be Grand Master for the time being may attend in his personal capacity according to his rank which he may hold there in and (with immaterial exceptions) without other privileges and duties;
- That, in any other body recognized by the Grand Lodge as Masonic and meeting within this Commonwealth the Grand Master may, if thereunto invited, attend in his official capacity and regalia of office, in which case he takes precedence over all present, though without thereby acquiring authority to exercise any official function pertaining to that body;
- That, without the territorial jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge, the Grand Master of Massachusetts receives only such Masonic recognition as may be accorded through Fraternal comity. It has invariably been the practice, that where various visiting Grand Masters are received in order appertaining to the seniority of their several jurisdictions, recognition has been given to Massachusetts as the senior Grand Lodge of America.
Page 1916-595, 12/13/1916, regarding giving information on Masonic standing.
The Grand Master adopted the following recommendation of a committee appointed to consider this subject and answer the following question: "Is it a Masonic offence for the member of the Craft to disclose his standing or the standing of any member of his lodge, to a person or persons not members of the Craft?"
- If the Brother's report, so far as Masonic standing is concerned, states merely the fact as to whether the petitioner is affiliated with a Masonic Lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, the Brother so reporting has not committed a Masonic offence.
- If said Brother in his said report discloses or tends to disclose the priate affairs of a Masonic Lodge under the jurisdiction of said Grand Lodge he commits a Masonic offence.
This ruling arose as a result of a communication from a presiding Master to the Grand Master, regarding petitions for membership in the Order of the Eastern Star, which had certain Masonic membership requirements as prerequisites.
Leon M. Abbott, Grand Master
"Again it seems necessary to call your attention to another epidemic of chain letters . . . Chain prayer letters seem to be the present most popular form and are being widely circulated in addition to those seeking money for various objects. Such letters are unmasonic and prohibited in this jurisdiction. They are calculated to appeal to the superstitious and are a rank imposition upon those to whom they are sent. Every loyal Masonic officer and member should use every reasonable effort to rid the Fraternity of this pernicious practice so contrary to Masonic ethics and authority."
Page 1917-294, 12/12/1917, on participation in parades and public demonstrations.
"The last year has brought many requests for permission to Lodges to participate in public processions of a general character, flag raisings, fairs, and the like, all of which have been refused.
"Any such participation is entirely opposed to the long established rules and usages of the Fraternity. It is one of the oldest and best established principles of our conduct that we participate publicly in nothing that is not strictly Masonic.
", , , When the Masters of Lodges are asked to participate in these affairs they should remember that from the beginning Freemasonry has done its own peculiar work in its own way. It does not challenge any comparison with others. It does not advertise itself. It does not seek for the applause of the general public and it is indifferent to criticism. . .
"I reaffirm the principles held by my predecessors and I shall continue to refuse dispensations to participate in public demonstrations."
Grand Master Abbott reviewed the rulings of previous Grand Masters on this subject.
Leon M. Abbott, Grand Master
Page 1918-21, 03/13/1918, on qualifications for the Master of a new Lodge.
The Grand Master was asked to rule whether a Brother who had only served one year as a Warden would be qualified to serve as a Master of a Lodge acting under Dispensation. The requirement for a Master to have previously served as Warden is in the 1722 Ancient Charges; the discussion also includes exceptions noted in Mackey's Masonic Jurisprudence.
"Taking into account the wording of our Regulation and the other considerations that I have outlined, I rule that service as regular Warden for the period one year in a Lodge acting under Dispensation makes such member eligible for election as Master."
Page 1918-23, 03/13/1918, on solicitation of new members.
"I am impressed that our Brethren ought to be reminded that it is one of our most sacred traditions that no one shall be solicited or invited to join our Fraternity.
"A candidate's appliction must come of his own free will and accord, of his own initiative, and unbiased and uninfluenced by any member of the Craft.
"Our Order occupies an enviable position in the eyes of the world. It is regarded as a pioneer in advancing civilization, a bulwark of civic righteousness, liberty loving and God serving. Such a reputation has been earned and won by generations of constant loyalty and devotion to the traditions, purposes and fundamental teachings of Masonry.
"The prohibiting of proselyt[iz]ing and importuning of men to join our ranks has been a great contributing factor in the enduring success of our organization. Quality not quantity is our life blood. Every newly admitted member should be early advised by the Master, Officers, or Committee of Instruction as to the duty of every Mason with respect to applicants and new members. This is all-important.
"I am laying especial emphasis upon this charge to you because of recent and intimate knowledge of the need, and of an innocent transgression of this exclusive precept of Freemasonry."
Leon M. Abbott, Grand Master
Page 1919-65, 03/12/1919, regarding the powers of Wardens.
"I hereby rule that a Warden has no right to raise a candidate or occupy the Master's Chair except in his own Lodge.
"Under Masonic law, in the absence of the Master the Senior Warden is to govern the Lodge. But this is his own Lodge and gives him no authority to preside in any other. He has not taken the oath nor qualified as Master. A Warden acting as Master of his Lodge and raising a candidate, is still a Warden and acting simply in the discharge of one of the duties of his office.
"Only one who has qualified and been installed as a Master can raise a candidate or occupy the Master's Chair in a Lodge other than his own."
Page 1919-346, 12/10/1919, regarding degree work.
"It has been called to my attention that it has become the practice in some Lodges to abbreviate or omit the lectures in the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft degrees. There is absolutely no warrant whatever for this and it must not be permitted under any circumstances. The MAster of any Lodge permitting such violation of Masonic duty and requirement is liable to severe discipline. It only needs a casual thought to convince any one that the whole plan and purpose of Masonic degrees is seriously threatened by any deletions, omissions, substitutions, or additions to the ritual as it is laid down by duly and legally constituted Masonic authority."
Arthur D. Prince, Grand Master
Page 1920-90, 03/10/1920, regarding solicitation for membership.
"It should be borne in upon the minds of our members, old and young, that solicitation is strictly forbidden. While not a landmark, the law against solicitation is so ancient that it takes on the full force of one. Many times in the past this warning has issued from the East, but it is necessary constantly to reiterate, and the Masters should continually remind the Brethren that "our portals are open to all the good and true, but we ask no man to enter."
Page 1920-91, 03/10/1920, regarding secrecy.
A lodge notice was found "in the desk basket of a certain Boston lawyer who was not a Mason; was indeed a member of a sectarian order whose unfriendliness to Masonry is of common report. . . it at once emphasizes the importance of keeping our Lodge notices from the eyes of those who have no right to see them. . .
"Masonic matters are freely talked over on the street, in the trolley cars, and in the home. News of rejection is often heard of by the man affected and from the lips of non-MAsons before he receives his official notice . . .
"Every presiding Master should impress upon the initiate in the strongest terms that proselyt[iz]ing or exposing the action of the Lodge are Masonic offenses of a serious character and would subject the one found guilty of them to severe discipline."
Page 1920-181, 06/09/1920, regarding funeral ceremonies.
"The right of every Mason to be buried according to the rites and ceremonies of the Craft is well established. It is sad and sometimes shameful to witness the unwillingness of Lodge officers to perform this service and to note the meager attendance of the Brethren on such occasions.
"The officers of a Lodge should consider it a solemn duty and sad privilege to officiate at the funeral of one of our Brethren. They should consider attendance upon this duty as binding as any other and the Brethren ought at least to show their respect for the Institution by giving a few moments of their time in attendance on the last rites over one whom they have been pleased to call their Brother."
Page 1920-182, 06/09/1920, regarding chain letters.
"Several times within recent years Grand Masters have called attention to the pernicious practice of circulating chain letters and have advised the Brethren that in all cases such letters, no matter what their purport, should be discouraged, and in no case should any attention be paid to such a chain letter by its recipient. My attention has been called to the recurrence of one of the worst of those offenders. The silly and superstitious so-called 'Masonic Prayer' is again in circulation. It is probably impossible to stop these things at their source, but I reiterate the advice which I cannot put in too strong terms that any Brother receiving this absurd communication should immediately destroy it and if he knows the source from which he received it should call the attention of the writer to the impropriety of his action in giving circulation to anything so contemptible."
At the September Quarterly communication (09/08; 1920-258) the Grand Master directed "that every Lodge insert with monthly notices a warning against the chain letter of every description, but more particularly this so called Masonic prayer."
Further remarks in 1924 by Grand Master Ferrell (Page 1924-358): "As far as I know there is no prayer so peculiar as to deserve the title Masonic, and if the prayer were sufficiently exclusive to set Masons apart for the special favor of the Deity, it would deserve the title less."
Arthur D. Prince, Grand Master
Page 1921-46, 03/09/1921, regarding jurisdiction over soldiers and sailors.
"I rule that Section 405 is to be interpreted strictly and literally and that the permission given to certain persons to apply in certain Lodges without the preceding six months' residence is not to be taken as implying more than it says. Such persons may apply in the places specified, but not elsewhere. The Section does not confer upon the Lodge to which they may apply any jurisdiction that can be waived."
Page 1921-153, 06/08/1921, regarding the use of lodge mailing lists.
"Requests for membership lists, addresses of Masters or Secretaries, permission to send representatives into our Lodges to address them, or any endorsement of non-Masonic movements are uniformly denied. Even in the stress of war, when the temptation to relax established rules was at its peak, the policy of the Grand Lodge remained unchanged. The merit of the appeal and the worthiness of the cause have no bearing on this policy. The only question to be answered is whether the object is Masonic or not. Masonry in Massachusetts, with its great membership and efficient organization, must not be used for purposes and propaganda which arenot Masonic."
Page 1921-154, 06/08/1921, regarding degree work.
"There is no authority anywhere outside of the Grand Lodge which permits or can permit any deviation or omission in the Standard Work adopted by the Grand Lodge and it is positively incumbent upon the Master to see that the mandates of the Grand Lodge are complied with in full."
Arthur D. Prince, Grand Master
Page 1922-197, 06/14/1922, regarding the Ku Klux Klan.
The Grand Master indicated in a circular letter that any organization that did not support such constitutional principles as protection of the law, trial by jury under duly constituted authority, and freedom of worship was un-American and un-Masonic; and that Grand Lodge would take no interest in an organization such as the Klan, whose objects were "political, sectarian and racial" as exposed by a Congressional investigation, except for the claim by "officers and organizers" that its membership was largely Masonic and that it had Masonic approval and support. "This statement is absolutely false, as the Klan has no connection with and neither does it have the support of any Masonic jurisdiction." While not imposing the threat of Masonic discipline for membership, the Grand Master issued the following statement.
"Without hesitation, I declare the Ku Klux Klan an un-Masonic organization, utterly without Masonic support or sympathy.
"Its avowed principles violate Masonic law at every point and it would be impossible for me to conceive of a Mason who could so far forget his Masonic teachings as to affiliate with an organization which advocates taking the law into its own hands, condemning men and women in secret trials, and imposing the punishment of the whip, the tar bucket, or unlawful banishment.
"How long will it be before the law-abiding people of this Commonwealth visit dire punishment upon those who forget or flout the sovereignity of the law?
"This is not an edict against the Ku Klux Klan. We cannot prevent misguided men from joining it and the arm of the law will soon reach those who join in its overt acts. But we must protect the fair reputation of Freemasonry from being spotted by any connection, official or otherwise, with such an organization. No Masonic Temple or Apartments must be used for their purposes and let every Mason who is tempted to join the Klan consider well if he can harmonize his obligations as a Mason with the principles of the Klan."
Dudley H. Ferrell, Grand Master.
Page 1923-55, resolution regarding Masonic utterances.
This was in response to activities of publications, "some of them bearing Masonic names, which profess to be the organs and exponents of Masonic sentiment and opinion."
"Resolved: That this Grand Lodge speaks only through its Most Worshipful Grand Master, through its official Proceedings and other instruments issuing under the attestation of its Right Worshipful Grand Secretary, and through Brothers especially deputed by the Grand Lodge or the Grand Master to the extent of their authority; and further
"Resolved: That this Grand Lodge maintains no representative in Washington or elsewhere; that no person and no paper, magazine, newspaper or other publication has the right officially to voice or represent the principles, opinions or attitudes of this Grand Lodge except as heretofore provided.
Page 1923-159, regarding begging letters.
"It has been brought to our attention that a number of begging letters have recently been circulating through our Lodges. These letters are from Masons outside of our jurisdiction, and may at first glance seem worthy. But we desire to call the attention of the Brethren to this fact: 'Begging letters or similar appeals from any source, domestic or foreign, shall not be entertained unless they have been approved by the Grand Lodge or Grand Master.' In deciding disposition of these appeals the Lodges and the Brethren must bear in mind the law just quoted, Section 707 of the Grand Constitutions."
Page 1923-320, regarding investigating committees.
"Most of the difficulties that meet us in administrating the affairs of the Craft, are not faults of our system of administration nor due to vagueness in the wording of our Constitutions, or difficulty in interpreting the regulations which are our law.
"They come either from the ignorance or carelessness of our members, often in an attempt to perform some service for their Lodge; and there is no occasion which permits a greater display of ignorance or carelessness on the part pf the Brethren than when a Committee of Investigation makes a report upon an applicant.
"Several cases recently brought to our attention impel me to speak as Grand Masters have spoken in the past, but with the added force of a definite promise. It has been called to our attention that committees have present applications that were incompletely filled out. This, Brethren, cannot be tolerated. The questions on the application blank are in no sense idle inquiries. They are for the purpose of furnishing the Lodge vital statistics and necessary facts about the one who is a potential member, and in no case is it fair to the candidate, the Committee of Investigation, or the Lodge to preent incomplete data. This does not serve as a proper introduction for any applicant.
"Again, and this is more serious, some committees are in all essentials false to their duty by the careless fashion in which the investigation is made. When an investigating committee is appointed, it has but one duty, not to get the applicant into the Lodge, but to investigate the applicant's worthiness to enter. Committees should never be guilty of making a favorable report upon the basis of an inability to discover anything against the applicant. A report should be favorable only when by the widest search of circumtances in which the applicant is involved, by the frankest questioning of those with whom he is associated, something is found in both character and actions that urges his acceptance, that promises an addition of definite value to the personal resources of the Lodge.
"Too often favorable reports and favorable action by the Lodge have rested upon negative conclusions, and thus there is always present the danger that we are assuming what will prove a liability rather than an asset. In the entire process of making additions to our membership there is just one thing that should be our guide, and that is our zealous regard for the purposes and good name of Masonry. Personal considerations of either friendship or comity do not enter the case. One question and one alone should be asked - 'What will this applicant's election mean to this Lodge?' - What will his entrance mean to those resources of character upon which we draw to meet the needs of society? It is sad commentary when such conditions, existing as they do, call for official pronouncement, but I wish to assure the Brethren that from this time forth ignorance or carelessness displayed by Brethren in their capacity as sponsors, or investigators, or by Masters or Secretaries in their official reception and handling of petitions, will be considered inexcusable, and when such fact is proved discipline will be administered according to the provisions of the Constitutions. The life of our Fraternity demands this."
Dudley H. Ferrell, Grand Master.
Page 1924-29, On lotteries and games of chance.
The Grand Master reported that the Brethren in Cambridge were planning a carnival to reduce indebtedness on its Temple, which included a lottery "for pecuniary profit." The lottery was abandoned at the request of the Grand Master.
"A lottery or a raffle as we well know is a financial operation forbidden by the law, and the nature of the action on the part of those who participate is of such a peculiarly fundamentally ethical character that the practice is not merely a transgression of the written statute but a crime against the personal integrity of those who indulge. But without taking into consideration the latter phase there is enough in the first phase, a lottery's position in the pronouncements of law, that should challenge our attention and direct us toward a determining decision on the matter. . .
"[The] Brethren should be informed that the operation of lotteries and the sponsoring of financial methods that partake of the character of gambling by the Masonic Lodges of this jurisdiction will be adjudged a Masonic offense; and for the sake of the good name and character of our Fraternity, such practice must cease as a method of Masonic financing. I may add as a matter of general information that the employment of the above interdicted methods by organizations composed of Masons, regardless of size or character, cannot be viewed by Grand Lodge of Massachusetts with any sentiment but the most profound disapproval."
Page 1924-32, On entertainments.
"The lighter hours of our association as Brethren when feasting and fun are the items on the programs are as essential and helpful as the more serious times when together we labor for a deeper understanding of the idals and purposes of our profession. Let us see to it that nothing is introduced into these hours of refreshment that will dissipate their benefit. . .
"Brethren, I give it you strictly in charge to see to it that this entertainment is in no sense inconsistent with the serious business that has gone before or is to follow. Questionable jokes, songs of doubtful significance, are both a poor preparation for and valueless as a supplement of the reception or witnessing of a Masonic degree. . .
"The other phase of Lodge practice . . . is the matter of addresses made before the Lodge either during the hour of refreshment or within doors that are tiled. It is practically a universal custom to select a speaker, invite him to come, and leave the selection of topic and the formulation of subject matter entirely to him. As a general rule this may be a safe procedure, but there are enough exceptions to the rule to warrant us in discarding this practice. I am more than ever confirmed in the opinion that Section 338 of the Grand Constitutions which forbids any Lodge from encouraging, promoting or permitting the delivery of any Masonic lectures which have not be authorized by the Grand Lodge is interpreted in too limited a fashion. . .
"It would be well if the Masters of our Lodges developed the practice of acquainting themselves with the subject matter to be presented by lecturers whom they invite; many a false impression upon new members would not then be made, the real purpose of our association would not be clouded; it would be impossible for any political, sectarian, or religious dogma to invade those portals within which they could never, in very nature of the case, be anything but stranger."
Page 1924-314, On familiarity with the Grand Constitutions.
The Grand Master noted that "certain incidents of recent date have almost led us to the conclusion that a Master-elect should be required to acquaint himself with the Constitutions and give sufficient proof of his knowledge before he is considered qualified for installation."
"From this time on, it is the intention of your Grand Master to have each District Deputy Grand Master confer with every Master-elect in his District, go over with him the various provisions of the Constitutions and Regulations affecting the practice of the Lodge, its rights and privileges, and the duty and prerogatives of the Master therein."
Dudley H. Ferrell, Grand Master.
Page 1925-62, On delinquency in Grand Lodge dues.
"We have been asked as to the course of the Grand Lodge in dealing with delinquents. If the member is delinquent with respect to both his Lodge dues and his Grand Lodge dues it is expected that the Lodge will deal with him in the ordinary manner. The Grand Lodge, however, cannot carry open accounts with the individual members. If the Lodge decides to give the member further time for the settlement of his dues, and takes a chance of collecting at a later date, the Lodge will be expected to advance the amount due the Grand Lodge, taking the same chance of collecting that as well. If the member is delinquent in his Grand Lodge dues only, report thereof should be made to the Grand Secretary. A few individual instances have come to light in which members have said that they would pay their Lodge dues but would not pay their Grand Lodge dues. It is doubtful whether any of our members will be so short-sighted or so obstinate as to carry out this hastily expressed intention. Should they do so, however, but one course is open to the Grand Lodge. It is expected that each Lodge will on September 1 balance its account of Grand Lodge dues. This balance will be made up of cash paid, deductions allowed, and reports of delinquency.
"Delinquent members, after due notice, will be suspended by the Grand Lodge from all the rights and privileges of Freemasonry. It must be remembered that this is a much more serious matter than suspension in a Lodge. If a member is suspended by the Grand Lodge his connection with his Lodge is definitely severed.
"On his reinstatement by the Grand Lodge he is an unaffiliated Mason, and can regain affiliation only by application for membership in some Lodge, and passing a clear ballot."
Page 1925-143, On occupying the East.
A ruling regarding the answer to the question: Who occupies the East of the Lodge, the retiring Master or the newly installed Senior Warden? when the Master-elect of a Lodge is unable to appear for installation.
"In case the Master-elect of a Lodge is unable to present himself with the other officers for installation, his predecessor in office holds over until such time as the installation of the Master-elect takes place."
Page 1925-439, Regarding proficiency.
An appeal was made to the Grand Master regarding the ruling of a Master of a Lodge requiring that before signing the by-laws a Master Mason would be required to learn the work of the Master's degree. The Grand Master's decision was based on Section 420 of the Grand Constitutions. He indicated that it was not out of order for a Lodge to make further requirements beyond fees and balloting to permit a man to become a member of the Lodge.
"No more reasonable requirement can readily be imagined than that of acquiring the proficiency in the work and lectures of the third degree necessary to pass examination as a visitor to a Lodge and, in general, to make the newly raised Brother an intelligent and competent member of the Fraternity.
"Until such a requirement should be met and By-Law signature permitted, the Brother would be an unaffiliated Master Mason in good standing as such, exactly as if he had been raised in a Lodge under dispensation. Should he fail to comply with the requirement within six months his right to sign the By-Laws of the Lodge which accepted his application would lapse and he would have to make application, there or elsewhere, for affiliation.
"My ruling is that the Master was within his constitutional rights."
Frank L. Simpson, Grand Master.
Page 1926-64, on the status of candidates, following the requirements for candidates signing by-laws (see directly above).
"Two questions have been asked touching this order. One is whether the Diploma should be presented to the candidate before the lectures are learned. As to this, for the present at least, I have seen no reason to interfere with the discretion of the Worshipful Master, nor for withholding the Diploma.
"The second is, what is the status of the candidate in the period after he is raised and before he signs the By-Laws? The answer is that he is still a candidate - he is not a member of a Lodge, nor is he in full standing; he is not entitled to visit other Lodges than that which has accepted his application, nor to participate in the business affairs of that Lodge. Under Section 420 of the Grand Constitutions, he must sign the By-Laws within six months, and if he fails to do so, his status then becomes that of a voluntary unaffiliated Mason and he is "not entitled to any of the benefits or privileges of Freemasonry," under Section 505 of the Grand Constitutions. Other incidents of his status may well await determination until specific instances call for a more detailed statement or ruling. Ample authority exists to deal with emergency cases; in their very nature they are exceptional and may be presented for special dispensation as occasion and circumstance may warrant."
Page 1926-239, on the status of members suspended in other jurisdictions.
"In case a Brother who is a member of a Lodge in this jurisdiction and also of a Lodge in this jurisdiction is suspended for non-payment of dues in the other jurisdiction, his case falls under the provisions of Section 504 and not those of Section 517: that is to say, his case is treated exactly as if the suspension occurred in another Lodge in this jurisdiction."
Page 1926-240, on the removal of objection to a candidate's advancement.
"In case an objection is made to the advancement of a candidate and sustained by a majority vote of the Lodge as provided by Section 417 of the Grand Constitutions, the Lodge may later, by a majority vote, reconsider its action and promote the candidate."
Page 1926-240, regarding waivers of jurisdiction.
"An applicant for the degrees residing in town A made application in town B. Waiver of jurisdiction was asked and granted, but the petition was rejected. The applicant then made a second application outside town A, in which he still resided. I ruled that the Lodge in town A still held territorial jurisdiction over him notwithstanding the former waiver. A waiver of jurisdiction is not a permanent surrender of said jurisdiction. It is only a permission to another Lodge to receive and act upon an application. If the application is rejected, jurisdiction is resumed by the Lodge executing the waiver. It may be added that if application is made by the rejected candidate in any Lodge other than that which rejected his application, within five years of that rejection, recommendation must be obtained from the Master and Wardens of the Lodge which rejected the application under Section 415 of the Grand Constitutions."
Page 1926-250, regarding balloting by mail.
"The By-Laws of a Lodge provide that certain action requires a vote of two-thirds of the members of the Lodge. The very great difficulty in obtaining that vote in a meeting raised the question whether the Worshipful Master might take a vote by mail. I ruled that such an action would be improper and declined to issue a dispensation to permit it."
Page 1926-241, regarding waivers of jurisdiction.
"A request for waiver of jurisdiction was received, borne upon the notice of the Lodge, and the refusal to waive was announced in proper form by the Worshipful Master. The question was raised whether he might reverse his decision and announce the reversal at the next meeting of his Lodge, the name of the applicant not being borne upon the notice. I ruled that such procedure would be improper. The transaction was closed by the announcement of the Worshipful Master's decision. If the decision is to be reversed there must be a new application, and the name must be borne upon the notice of the meeting at which it is to be acted upon."
Page 1926-241, regarding the printing in the notice of candidates to be balloted upon.
"Thr requirement of Section 408 of the Grand Constitutions that the name of the candidate for the ballot must be borne upon the notice of the meeting is not complied with by inserting the names of candidates upon a separate sheet. The provision of this Section is that the candidates shall be balloted for ... only when written or printed notification of the Meeting, bearing the name of the candidate to be balloted for, shall be sent to all the members. This language, taken in connection with other provisions of our Constitutions, seems to me to require the names of candidates to be written or printed on the notice."
Page 1926-241, regarding action on balloting.
"The Worshipful Master of a Lodge is not obliged to take a ballot upon a candidate whose name appears upon the notice of the meeting. If he decides not to take action at that meeting he should so state and should not call for the report of the committee. It is not proper after the report of the committee has been read for the Master of the Lodge to decide by vote or otherwise to postpone the ballot until a later meeting. If the report of the investigating committee is read, the Lodge must immediately proceed to ballot and the acceptance or rejection of the applicant must be settled without postponement or the intervention of any other business."
Page 1926-242, regarding the right to preside.
"Only Presiding and Past Master of Massachusetts Lodges may act as Masters in our Lodges, except that a Warden may preside in his own, but not in another Lodge, and when directed to do so by the Worshipful Master, or in the latter's absence. It is not permissible for a Past Master of a Lodge of another jurisdiction to raise a candidate in a Massachusetts Lodge."
Page 1926-244, regarding inter-jurisdictional visitation.
"When a Lodge in this jurisdiction is invited or desires to visit a Lodge under the jurisdiction of another Grand Lodge, application should be made for a warrant or dispensation therefor. This warrant or dispensation will not issue except after request to the Grand Master of the jurisdiction sought to be visited and receipt of his consent thereto. Visiting Lodges from other Grand Jurisdictions should not be received unless and until application has been made for dispensation therefor and receipt by the Lodge of such dispensation. In the event that work is performed by a visiting Lodge, the work should be in accordance with the ritual prescribed by the jurisdiction of the visiting Lodge and upon a candidate of that jurisdiction.
"Visiting by 'teams' of Massachusetts Masons to Lodges under the jurisdiction of other Grand Lodges must be governed by the procedure hereinbefore prescribed. . .
"The foregoing applies only to cases where a Lodge visits as such and in an organized capacity. It does not apply to visits made by groups of Lodge members as individual Master Masons, visiting informally and doing no Masonic work."
Page 1926-437, regarding withdrawal of applications.
"The provisions of Section 407 of the Grand Constitutions relative to the withdrawal of applications do not apply in cases in which the Lodge has no jurisdiction over the applicant, and applications in such cases may, and indeed must be withdrawn or dismissed. . .
"Indeed, if the candidate is a resident in any other recognized Jurisdiction, balloting on his petition is prohibited without the consent of the Grand Master of such Jurisdiction, except as provided in Section 405 of the Grand Constitutions. Therefore if by reason of non-residence, minority, physical disability, or any other cause, the Lodge has no jurisdiction over an applicant, his application must be withdrawn or dismissed without ballot. It may be added that what has been said has no reference to applications for affiliation. Section 407 has no application to such petitions, which may be withdrawn before they are balloted on upon request of the petitioner."
An extensive discussion of the relevant law follows.
Frank L. Simpson, Grand Master.
Page 1927-42, on the procedure for release of jurisdiction.
Following an extensive discussion and review of the precedents regarding applications for release of jurisdiction, the Grand Master recapitulated the procedure.
"The request for release must be made in writing and must state the reason upon which the request is based. Blank requests are furnished without cost, and these ought to be used for the sake of uniformity. If the reason assigned is not deemed sufficient, the request should be denied, and that event the requesting Lodge has its right of appeal under Section 403 of the Grand Constitutions.
"If the reason assigned is a valid one, the Lodge requested must appoint a committee of investigation as upon an application made to it, and release may not be granted until a majority of the committee has reported; in this request the matter is governed by Section 406 of the Grand Constitutions. Such a committee must be appointed in all Lodges of which the request is made. The name of the applicant and that of the Lodge requeting the release must be borned upon the notice of the Lodge of which request is made, for a regular meeting, and the release cannot be granted before the close of the meeting. If granted, it must be by the written consent of the Master, one Warden, and two members, and notice must be given as required by Section 403. If the release is declined, notice of this fact should be given in writing to the Lodge requesting the release. As our law now stands these requirements are mandatory, and compliance therewith is requisite to the regularity of the candidate initiated outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Lodge of his place of residence."
Page 1927-105, regarding the applicability of Lodge By-Laws on the Grand Lodge.
"It is not uncommonly supposed that the Grand Lodge has approved By-Laws, and that they have thus become binding, even on the Grand Lodge itself, and whether or not they are in conformity to the Grand Constitutions, or to the laws, usages, customs and landmarks of Freemasonry. It is not pertinent to the present discussion whether the By-Law of a Lodge would be binding upon Grand Lodge against any subsequent change made by Grand Lodge, if specifically approved by it. But in order that there may be no misinterpretation of what is here said, I think I ought to say that I am wholly of the opinion that it is within the power of the Grand Lodge to alter, amend or repeal a Lodge By-Law at any time, or to adopt a law which contravenes a By-Law, whether said By-Law has been approved by Grand Lodge or not."
Page 1927-342, regarding dimits and certificates of clearance.
"In appropriate situations, a Brother in good standing and having paid all dues and assessments is entitled, as a matter of right, to a dimit or a Certificate of Clearance, as the case may be. No action by the Lodge is required, nor, indeed, should action by the Lodge be had. The Lodge does not grant the certificate, nor can it withhold one. If the Brother making application is in good standing and clear on the books, the appropriate certificate must issue as a matter of course and its issue should be ordered by the Worshipful Master upon receipt of the request and after a determination of him of the good standing of the applicant and that he is clear on the books. This certificate should be issued as soon as such determination and order are made and should be reported to the next regular meeting of the Lodge for the purpose of record.
"If the Brother making application is not in good standing or is in arrears in dues or assessments, the application must be denied."
Page 1927-343, regarding duties of Tylers regarding proof of membership.
"It is doubtless unnecessary for me to point out that a Brother who visits a Lodge other than one of which he is a member without producing his receipt [for dues], or a Tyler who permits such a Brother to enter such a Lodge without producing his receipt, commits a violation of the Grand Constitutions and hence a violation of his Obligations."
Frank L. Simpson, Grand Master.
Page 1928-204, regarding the Uniform Receipt for Dues.
"Question has been raised whether the Uniform Receipt for Dues must bear the seal of the Lodge issuing it. . .
"The present form of the Uniform Receipt for Dues, a description of which may be found in 1926 Proceedings, page 78, was recommended by a Committee composed of five of the most experienced Secretaries of Lodges in the Commonwealth. This Committee did not recommend that it be required that the Lodge impress its seal upon the Uniform Receipt, and in view of the time and labor which would naturally be involved, I have not deemed it advisable to require the Lodges to impress their seals upon the Receipts. I realize that question might be raised in other jurisdictions as to the sufficiency of the Receipt without the seal of the Lodge; but inasmuch as the approved form of the Receipt is described in our Proceedings, and a copy of it has been filed with each of the several Grand Jurisdictions with which we are in relations of fraternal intercourse, I am not inclined to recommend any other or further requirements of form than that suggested to me by the Committee of Secretaries above referred to. . .
"Under the circumstances, I am not disposed to require the seals of the several Lodges be impressed upon the Receipt, and doubt if sufficient benefit would be derived by so doing to compensate for the amount of effort required annually to comply with such a requirement."
Page 1928-380, regarding initiation of candidates.
"Initiation on the night of election has almost disappeared and the time has come when it seems proper that that practice is in violation of Section 413 of the Grand Constitutions."
Herbert W. Dean, Grand Master.
Page 1929-33, regarding initiation of candidates.
Following up the 1928 ruling.
"There still seems to be some misunderstanding regarding the question of initiating candidates on the night of election. Until such time as it may be be clarified by a change in the Grand Constitutions, I hereby rule that it is a violation of Section 413 of the Grand Constitutions to initiate any candidate on the night of his election."
Page 1929-118, regarding irregularly made Masons.
"Section 407 of the Grand Constitutions prescribes that 'in Lodges usually issuing written or printed notifications, the names of candidates must be borne upon the notification of the Meetings at which they are to be balloted for.' This has been the law in this Grand Jurisdiction since 1843. It is clear that if the name of a candidate is wrongly given or even wrongly spelled on such notice and a ballot is taken, such ballot is in violation of the law and any Mason made as the result of such ballot is irrgularly made.
"During the administration of my predecessor, when the resources of the Grand Lodge permitted attention to be given to many matters which previously had been necessarily neglected, much closer scrutiny was given to Lodge notices and among other things the custom was instituted of comparing the annual returns of the Lodges with the notices of the meetings. It was soon discovered that there was a surprisingly large number of cases where names were not printed correctly on the notices and Masons were consequently irregularly made. The regularity of any Brother's standing is of the greatest importance not only during his lifetime but forever after.
"The usual method of dealing with irregularities is by the issuance of a declaration of irrgularity followed, if it appears that the irregularity is not caused by some fault of the candidate, by a formal healing by Warrant of the Grand Master. Up to the present time this procedure has been followed, and it has been necessary to issue a large number of such declarations and warrants. In some instances as many as half a dozen such cases have occurred in a single year's work of a Lodge.
"This method of procedure is not satisfactory to me. There are many objections to it, but the principal one is that it subjects Brethren who are entirely innocent of any wrong doing whatever to embarrassment and even humiliation, to which they ought not to be exposed, while these who are really responsible escape any public notice. I have, therefore, devised a different procedure which will heal the irregularities (which must not be allowed to stand) with much less discomfort to the innocent victims of the mistakes of others.
"I urge upon the Masters the importance of seeing that every precaution is taken by careful proof-reading and otherwise to secure absolute accuracy in the preparation of notices, and I enjoin upon them never to allow any name to go to ballot without assuring themselves that such name appears upon the notice correctly to the last particular."
Herbert W. Dean, Grand Master.
Page 1930-73, regarding chain letters.
"My attention has been called to another recurrence of the periodical epidemic of chain letters. These silly things are started every few years. My predecessors have many times called attention to them and advised the Brethren to pay no attention to them. The only thing to be done when one of them appears is to put it into the waste basket and thus break the chain."
Page 1930-284, regarding entertainments.
Complaints made to the Grand Master regarding improper entertainments at certain Lodges.
"It is the duty of every Master, (or in his absence, of the Senior Warden) to take every possible precaution to prevent the presentation of any entertainment of an objectionable character in connection with a Lodge meeting or any activity sponsored by the Lodge. He should not only investigate the character of the proposed entertainment personally, not leaving it to a committee or any Brother, but he should warn the entertainers that nothing of an objectionable character will be tolerated, and he should stop the entertainment instantly if he finds that his warning has not been headed. . .
"It is impossible to emphasize too strongly that all entertainments and talks sponsored by our Lodges must not be inconsistent with the principles of Freemasonry, or in violation of our Masonic law."
Page 1930-336, regarding use of Lodge funds.
"The question has been again brought to my attention regarding the expenditure of Lodge funds for the support of non-Masonic organizations by the Lodges in this Jurisdiction. I am convinced that this is an improper use of the funds of a Lodge, as they are needed for the proper care of those members who require financial assistance. These calls for aid are constantly increasing and every Lodge should conserve its funds for that purpose.
"I therefore wish it understood that it is not deemed proper for any Lodge to contribute to the support of a unit of any non-Masonic organization."
See also remarks on the subject of bodies "which, to a greater or less extent, base their membership upon a connection with Freemasonry," made at the March, 1931 Quarterly Communication (Page 1931-37).
Page 1930-480, regarding the presentation of the Master Mason diploma.
"The Grand Constitutions specify no time for the presentation [of the diploma], and it has been found that when delayed until the signing of the By-Laws more or less confusion has resulted. I therefore would suggest that in the future the candidate be presented with his Master Mason's diploma on the completion of the third degree."
Page 1930-487, regarding Grand Lodge dues and Lodge by-laws.
A Lodge had proposed a By-Law amendment in which it would propose to pay Grand Lodge dues for its members, which a committee found "violative of the letter and the spirit of the Grand Constitutions." Consequently the committee reporting on this subject recommended:
"the pronouncement by Grand Lodge of the unconstitutionality of any by-law of a Lodge which permits the Lodge from its funds to pay the Grand Lodge dues of the Lodge's individual members, or to sell life memberships covering Grand Lodge Dues."
Page 1930-489, regarding the right of the Tyler to vote.
An appeal was heard from the Tyler of Noquochoke Lodge, who protested that he had been deprived of the Constitutional right to vote.
"From evidence as presented to your Committee by both the Worshipful Master and Tyler of Noquochoke Lodge it is conclusive that the appellant was not inside the Lodge and had not come in previous to the reception of the report of the investigating Committe and according to Section 411 of the Grand Constitutions, such presence inside the Lodge at the time stated, namely, immediately before the business of receiving the reports of investigating Committees was required of every member who desired to vote upon the application. Being Tyler did not exempt the applicant from the requirements stated in Section 411.
"It is the opinion of your Committee that the Master was obligated to apply Section 411 to ech and every member of the Lodge.
"Your Committee affirms that the Tyler of Noquochoke Lodge was not deprived of his Constitutional right of voting. We therefore recommend that the appeal be dismissed."
See also the committee report in 1931.
Herbert W. Dean, Grand Master.
Page 1931-36, on suspension and reinstatement.
These remarks were made as a result of increasing reports of delinquency, clarifying the procedure and law; in spring 1931 twenty-three Lodges reported 50 or more delinquents, and four Lodges reported more than 100.
"A member suspended by the Lodge may be reinstated on payment of back dues by a majority vote of the Lodge. Reinstatement by Grand Lodge is much more difficult, and only places the Brother in the position of an unaffiliated Mason who must make a regular application before he can join any Lodge.
"Even though a member has been reported by a Lodge to the Grand Lodge as a delinquent, he may be removed from the list by the Lodge before the final action in June, if payment is made, Lodge dues remitted, or the member suspended before then.
"I would urge the Lodges by the use of the Service Committee to have a personal interview with all those Brethren whom it is possible to reach before taking any action which might not be fair to the member.
"I would call the attention of the Masters to the fact that it is their duty to see that all amounts collected for Grand Lodge dues which are on hand on April 1st and June 1st should be sent in so that we may properly finance the affairs of the Grand Lodge.
Page 1931-41, regarding the right of the Tyler to vote.
"The purpose of these regulations is clear. Section 410 is intended to secure a full expression of the minds of the Brethren on the admission of an applicant. It has the further purpose of safeguarding the secrecy of the ballot. If only a few Brothers cast their ballots, it becomes easy to locate a cube if one is cast.
"The purpose of Section 411 is not merely to avoid confusion in the Lodge. It provides that all who are to cast their ballots shall have all the information regarding the applicant that is in possession of the Lodge. The report of the investigating committee often does and always should contain definite information upon which the Brethren may act. The bare report favorable or unfavorable is not enough. The Section further prevents a Brother from evading the responsibility of the ballot by leaving the Lodge-room before the ballot is spread. . ."
Based on previous rulings, the Committee concluded that since the Tyler's station is "necessarily" outside the Lodge room, Section 410 does not apply to the Tyler.
"There is one way, and, in the opinion of your Committee, only one, in which the Tyler may vote on applicants. He may arrange with the Master to have some Master Mason, not necessarily a member of the Lodge, act as Tyler pro tem during the entire period of balloting on applications, thus enabling him to be relieved of the duties of his office and take his place among the Brethren. Obviously, he should not thus be relieved during the consideration of a single application, if there be more than one, as the secrecy of the ballot might thus be impaired.
"Two alternatives proposd, and sometimes practiced, are inadmissible. Tyling the door to permit the Tyler to enter, vote, and immediately retire violates Section 411. Voting over the threshold, that is, opening the door and holding out the ballot box to the Tyler with a statement we are voting on the application of A.B. The report is favorable. is equally inadmissible. If the Tyler may thus vote, it is difficult to see why other members of the Lodge who may be in the ante-room may not also vote. Such procedure clearly violates the spirit, if not the letter, of Section 411. It violates also a fundamental principle of Freemasonry that the ballot box should never be for an instant where the Master cannot see it.
"If it be objected that the Tyler cannot be deprived of his inherent right as a member to ballot upon applications, your Committee does not consider the point well taken. No Brother is under compulsion to accept the office of Tyler. If he accepts it, it is with the full knowledge that his station is outside the door as set forth in the opening and closing ritual, and that his duties keep him there. So long as he is actually in discharge of his duties as Tyler, he is not present at the time of the ballot and cannot be so. The Tyler who is voluntarily assuming a duty outside the door is no more deprived of his ballot than any other member of the Lodge who voluntarily remains in the ante-room or at home. He is not deprived of his right to ballot, but has voluntarily renounced it for the purpose of serving his Lodge in an important capacity. If he wishes to exercise his right to ballot, he lay aside for a time his position and duties as Tyler. How this may be done has already been indicated."
This committee recommendation was adopted and a copy of the report was directed to be sent to Lodges to clarify the matter.
Page 1931-87, on "burlesque" degrees.
The Grand Master expressed concern about the presentation of parodies of degree work.
"We are concentrating our efforts at this time on an endeavor to impress the candidates with the seriousness of Masonry, its ideals, its aims, its accomplishments. Any burlesque cannot help but detract from the impression which we have made, particularly as all such degrees adopt to a more or less extent the peculiar construction and phraseology of our ritual. In too many of these presentations language and double meanings have been introduced which are far from the principles which we teach in Masonry.
"I therefore feel it wise for the Lodges not to permit Masonic apartments to be used for this form of entertainment. Other entertainments can be provided which will attract our members and which will be in keeping with the dignity and purposes of our Order."
Curtis Chipman, Grand Master.
The Grand Master commented on the tendency to expand on the entertainments provided by a Lodge to draw in attendance.
". . . Masters commenced to look about for other attractive forms of entertainments, and invited speakers to their dinners, and sometimes lecturers with or without a stereopticon. Then followed motion picture shows, often with films showing little care in their selection. From that point, then, the class of so-called entertainment in certain quarters seems to have greatly deteriorated, until now we find female singers and dancers from local night clubs or vaudeville agencies, whose suggestive songs and scanty costumes leave much to be desired, and even wrestling bouts and boxing matches have found their way into our Masonic entertainments in Masonic Temples.
"To the thoughtful Mason, this situation should be the cause of grave concern. My predecessors have all voiced with alarm the danger of such offerings to the real spirit of Masonry, either as a preparation for the solemn ritual to follow, or as a menace to blot out the lofty and dignified Masonic lessons which have preceded such entertainments.
"Your Grand Master is most reluctant to conider the inauguration of a censorship or oversight of entertainments offered in connection with the exemplification of Masonic degrees, preferring that it be left to the good judgment of the Masters themselves to determine what is appropriate and fitting to offer their Brethren on such occasions, if indeed anything should be offered at all.
"But this may be said, in all sincerity, that the tone of such entertainments as are offered must definitely be raised to a far higher level, and I am confident my Brethren will see the propriety of my comments and that there will be no occasion to speak of this again."
Page 1932-153, on lotteries.
"There recently has ben received from the Assistant Attorney General of the United States at Washington, a letter calling to the attention of Fraternal organizations the criminal aspect of certain lotteries and schemes of chance promoted or fostered by them.
"This letter, answering as it does many of the questions that have already been asked, I have deemed of sufficient importance to include as a part of this address.
"It is interesting to note the variety of subterfuge employed in the endeavor to avoid conflict with the criminal code, and to observe, with some concern, how closely some of them resemble methods which have been employed within our own Grand Jurisdiction in the past."
The letter from the Assistant Attorney General quoted Criminal Code Sections 213 and 237, and noted: "It has come to the attention of the Department of Justice that lottery schemes are being promoted among fraternal organizations, by persons making a business thereof, as a means of raising revenue, increasing memberships, etc. . . Doubtless many officers of fraternal organizations wrongfully assume or are deliberately deceived by promoters to believe that these schemes do not violate the law . . . and the Department of Justice consequently considers it proper to warn officers of fraternal organizations who might otherwise be misled or deceived, by calling to their attention the criminal statutes involved.
"It is very earnestly hoped that no member of the Fraternity within our borders will place himself in the position of violating either the letter or the spirit of this law, thereby bringing a disgrace upon the Fraternity which neither could be tolerated nor condoned."
Curtis Chipman, Grand Master.
Page 1933-29, on Lodge finances.
The Grand Master reported on recommendations on the Advisory Finance Committee: adopting a budget, bonding financial officers, etc.
"The question of bonding financial officers as a remedy has been discussed from all angles. We find that 40 percent of the Lodges have one or more officers bonded. Many Lodges having bonded their financial officers think that is all the protection necessary.
"The terms of most bonds require a periodical audit of the officers' accounts and a certificate that they have been checked to a given date and found correct. If a proper supervision and audit is not made, it is probable the bonding company will refuse the claim.
"I strongly recommend the closing of all bank accounts under the control or in the names of Secretaries of Lodges, and that all moneys when and as received by a Secretary be deposited to the regular Lodge bank account, subject to the check of the Treasurer. The Secretary should obtain a signed duplicate deposit slip from the bank as evidence of his deposit, and should advise the Treasurer as to the date and amount of the deposit, giving an analysis of the same (that is to say, the amount of Lodge dues, Grand Lodge dues, dinner tickets, application fees, etc.)
"It is not proper for Secretaries to retain application fees until a candidate is balloted on, nor should they retain and pay over Grand Lodge dues, as I understand is the practice is some Lodges. This is the duty of the Treasurer.
"I also recommend that all checks on Lodge funds bear two signatures, - that is, that they be signed by the Treasurer and countersigned by the Master or one of the Wardens; or in the case of Trust funds, by at least two of the Trustees. The signature of the Master or Warden on a check is prima facie evidence of the correctness of the payment, and if the Master mail the checks himself, he will be certain of the payment of his bills. . . "
". . . I recommend that the Treasurer and Secretary send the Master a monthly report in the form recommended by the Committee, samples of which were sent to each Master. These report forms may now be obtained from the Grand Secretary's office in blocks of 50 at the trifling cost of a few cents. I cannot urge too strongly the use of these report forms.
"Over 25 per cent of the Lodges in the state registered an objection to this suggestion. The principal reasons given for these objections were that the by-laws provided that the Treasurer's and Secretary's books were always open to inspection by the Lodge, or the Master, or the Finance Committee. Most by-laws contain such provisions, but I fear if the Masters and Wardens who objected were questioned on the subject, it would be discovered that no systematic comparison had ever been made and that they were not at all informed regarding the financial condition of their respective Lodges.
"The benefit of these monthly reports is to bring directly to the Master's attention just how his income is coming in, of what it consists, how it is being spent, and how far the expenditure agrees with the budget. It induces sane and safe financing, and brings out the advantages of a proper budget for Lodge finance. Less than 21 per cent of our Lodges at the present time work on a budget. Eighty-three per cent report themselves as being able to support themselves on dues, several adding if paid. I venture to state that outside of the 21 per cent who work on a budget the remainder are just guessing, and an investigation would disclose the fact that they are by no means supporting themselves on their dues.
"I urgently recommend that a proper audit of Treasurers, Secretaries and Trustees accounts be made.
"Less than 11 per cent of the Lodges in the jurisdiction have effective audits. Many Lodges state that they have a regular audit by a committee consisting generally of the Master and Wardens. This form of audit is usually of no real value, and in many instances consists of nothing more than signing the various reports. In isolated cases it might be effective, as for instance, when a public accountant happens to be one of the chief officers, but in general it is too superficial to be of value.
"I urge you, then, to give immediate and serious thought to these recommendations and by your help and cooperation to place the administration of the finances of your Lodge in such condition that the distressing experiences of former years shall become things of the past."
See further remarks by this Grand Master in 1934.
Curtis Chipman, Grand Master.
Page 1934-80, on the use of Lodge mailing lists for non-Masonic purposes.
"It has come to my notice that Masters and Secretaries of a number of our Lodges have been requested to furnish copies of membership lists or addresses of the Brethren, in order to make use of them for purposes other than Masonic.
"The impropriety of this request is so obvious that it would seem unnecessary to refer to the matter at all, but in view of the position taken by our Grand Masters in teh past and the fact that officers of our Lodges are constantly changing, it is deemed important to repeat what has so often been said before,- that such a practice is most unwise and not in teh interests of the Fraternity.
"Ever since the World War, and seemingly in increasing numbers, there have been so many drives for worthy objects and appeals for assistance that it has become, at time, a very embarrassing problem for the Masters or Secretaries to refuse to furnish such lists, particularly when personally they may be deeply interested in the particular objects or when they bear the mark of appealing charity or urgently needed relief.
"As a Grand Lodge, our position is now and always has been opposed to supplying such lists, or to permit representatives of other organizations to address our Lodges or secure from them any endorsement of non-Masonic movements. The merit or worthiness of the cause has no bearing whatever on this policy, and even in the stress of war, with its many and urgent calls for help, our attitude has remained unchanged.
"It is easy to understand the natural desire of the promoters of such agencies to desire to solicit contributions from members of our Fraternity, who are naturally pre-disposed to respond to any appeal to relieve suffering or distress. It is equally true that Masons as individuals are far from lacking in sympathetic interest in calls for charity, and I believe our record as individuals will bear comparison with any other organization as liberal contributors to worthy causes; but I regard it as a dangerous practice to supply our lists to promoters of any cause, however worthy, unless it be one wholly Masonic in character.
"Individual Masons naturally will contribute as liberally as they may see fit to the causes presented to them, but I urge the officers of Lodges to firmly decline to furnish our mailing lists for any non-Masonic purpose."
Page 1934-81, concerning sales tactics used on new candidates.
"In certain parts of the state our Lodges are being infested by high-power salesmen who make contact with candidates as soon as they are raised, or even before, for the purpose of inducing them to buy books or insurance. In some cases the candidate is told that the purchase of the books or insurance is obligatory and their standing as Masons will be seriously affected by failure. Candidates, of course, are not in position to deny these claims and are not infrequently victimized.
"I enjoin upon all Masters of Lodges to inform every candidate that he is under no obligation whatever to purchase any Masonic books or insurance. If approached by salesmen, he should refuse to listen to them. Later, when he has adjusted himself in Masonry he will be in position to know what he wants and can then consider the offers as he would any other business proposition."
Page 1934-125, on Masonic offenses.
The Grand Master provided some historical background and examples of Masonic offenses, noting that while Grand Lodge had the obligation to try such cases, charges should be preferred by individual Lodges and Brethren.
"Masonic offenses may be of two kinds: first, those which are purely Masonic in origin and character, and secondly, those which are quite unrelated to Masonry except as they may tend to lower the Order in the estimation of the world at large.
"Masonic offenses which are purely Masonic in origin and character are those which violate the written law of Masonry. A wilful or habitual violation of the Grand Constitutions, or the Regulations of the Grand Lodge, are clearly Masonic offenses. A deliberate breach of the Landmarks of Masonry - as, for example, the disclosure to the uninitiated of the secrets or the private business of a Lodge, is also a Masonic offense. Failure to comply with the sacred ties of our obligations, using that word in its narrower sense, fall within the class of offenses of which this Grand Lodge must take cognizance. None of these offenses, it will be observed, necessarily involve a crime against the public. Nevertheless good order and decorum require that those who are no longer willing to abide by the fundamental principles or regulations of the Craft should withdraw therefrom by enforced severance from membership therein. As to these act, proof of their wilful commission will suffice.
"As to those offenses which are not Masonic in origin and character but which tend to degrade our Institution in the estimation of the world at large, a further element enters. Here the cardinal principle is the safeguarding of the fair name of the Order. It has nothing to do with the internal management thereof. If the act be one which shocks the enlightened conscience of right-minded persons, then it violates the moral law, whether or not it be also a crime, and it is a Masonic offense. It would be impossible to state specifically all of the acts which might fall within this category. Many will readily suggest themselves, while others may not be so obvious; but the tests to be applied are in all cases the same: - Are the acts of a member such as may properly be considered reprehensible in the opinion of all fair and decent minded citizens in the community? and, if so, are such acts of such a character that they tend to reflect upon the good name of the Order if, by silence and inaction, we permit the offending Brother to continue in good standing? If these two questions fairly admit of an affirmative answer, then such acts constitute a Masonic offense and it becomes the duty of this Grand Lodge to take such action as may protect and preserve its integrity."
". . . Lofty ideals, noble principles are not sufficient. Our practices must square with our precepts else is our usefulness impaired and our very existence as a worth-while organization imperilled."
Page 1934-298, further remarks on Lodge finances.
Following up his 1933 remarks (see above), the Grand Master reassured Lodge officers regarding bonding (some officers considered bonding as reflecting on their integrity) and the need for periodic and independent audit of Lodge finances.
"I strongly recommend the closing of all bank accounts under the control or in the names of Secretaries of Lodges, and that all moneys when and as received by a Secretary be deposited in the regular Lodge bank account, subject to the check of the Treasurer. The Secretary should obtain a signed duplicate deposit slip from the bank as evidence of his deposit, and should advise the Treasurer as to the date and amount of the deposit, giving an analysis of the same (that is to say, the amount of Lodge dues, Grand Lodge dues, dinner tickets, application fees, etc.)
"It is not proper for Secretaries to retain application fees until a candidate is balloted on, nor should they retain and pay over Grand Lodge dues, as I understand is the practice in some Lodges. This is the duty of the Treasurer.
"I also recommend that all checks on Lodge funds bear two signatures; that is, that they be signed by the Treasurer and countersigned by the Master or one of the Wardens; or in the case of Trust funds, by at least two of the Trustees. The signature of the Master or Warden on a check is prima facie evidence of the correctness of the payment, and if the Master mails the checks himself, he will be certain of the payment of his bills. This has been shown to be important, as in a certain instance of which I have personal knowledge, a Master duly approved a number of bills and sent them to the Treasurer, who not only failed to pay them, but made away with the entire cash balance of the Lodge.
"I urge you, then, to give immediate and serious thought to these recommendations and by your help and cooperation to place the administration of the finances of our Lodges in such condition that the distressing experiences of former years shall become things of the past."
Claude L. Allen, Grand Master.
Page 1935-24, on the need to perform degree work in the absence of candidates.
"During the depression of the last few years, as you all know, there have been very few applications for the degrees in some of the Lodges, and in some instances a year or more has elapsed without a single application being received. Therefore, in Lodges working on a one-year basis, a Master may come and go without ever having worked the degrees on a candidate.
"Of course, it is presumed that a Master will have prepared himself in the Master's work of all three degrees while he holds the chair of Warden, but I fear that there are cases where this is not so.
"To me it is unthinkable that one should have the honor of being Master of a Masonic Lodge without being competent to do the Master's work in all three degrees. I therefore suggest to the Masters that whether they have candidates or not, they shall work all three degrees in their respective Lodges at least once and preferably twice during each Lodge year."
Page 1935-83, on the Master's Jewel.
"It has been the general custom in our jurisdiction for a presiding Master when inviting a Past Master or visiting Master to assume the East - not only to tender him the gavel but to invest him with the Master's collar and jewel.
"It has recently come to my attention that in some Lodges the Masters are departing from this custom and retaining the collar and jewel.
"Whether this retention is upon the theory that by surrendering his collar and jewel the Master surrenders his authority as Master, or for what other reason, I do not know; but certainly the surrender of the collar and jewel could have no different effect than the surrender of the gavel and chair.
"The Master by inviting another to preside in his presence for a specific purpose, surrenders no sovereignty over his Lodges except for the specific purpose, and it can not be doubted that he can resume the East at any moment.
"On the other hand, to retain his collar and jewel when he has invited another to assume the East might be, and I am advised has been, considered discourteous to the guest.
"The act of inviting another to preside in his Lodge is purely an act of courtesy on the part of the Master; a courtesy extended only at the pleasure of the Master. Therefore if any when he extends this courtesy it should be done in such a manner as to make the one to whom it is extended feel that it is genuine and sincere.
"I therefore suggest that in Lodes where the practice of the Master retaining the collar and jewel has crept in, it be discontinued."
Page 1935-86, on chain letters.
Following a number of predecessors, the Grand Master spoke about chain letters, recounting previous rulings.
"The present outbreak is the worst of all. The basic idea is that if one sends a small amount of money to some specified person and writes a certain number of letters, one will in due time receive a considerable sum of money. One now before me is to be sent to Masons only. The recipient is to send twenty-five cents to the person whose name heads a list of six. Then the recipient writes to the other five and adds his own name and address at the bottom of the list. Then he mails the five letters and waits hopefully for the $3,900 to come to him when his name gets to the top of the list.
"The scheme would seem to be so transparently silly as to deserve no comment. Nevertheless it has been serious enough to be denounced as criminal by the Post Office Department and has been made a profitable source of revenue by unscrupulous racketeers.
"The chain letter in all its forms has been denounced, invariably with an injunction to deposit them promptly in the waste basket, by Most Worshipful Brothers Johnson, Abbott, Prince, Ferrell and Dean. During the administrations of Most Worshipful Brothers Simpson and Chipman they did not appear.
"I emphatically add my own condemnation of this vicious scheme. No Mason should write such a letter or in any way help its circulation. All such letters should immediately go into the waste basket. Break the chain whenever and wherever you get a chance."
Page 1935-283; on gambling.
"The gambling spirit is rampant in our midst, and unfortunately not all of our Brethren are immune to its wiles. To me, it is a deplorable thought that any Masonic organization or any organization composed wholly of Masons should, for the purpose of raising money, be willing to jeopardize the fair name of our beloved Order by resorting to lotteries or games of chance which in most cases are in violation of state or federal laws, and in all cases are in violation of the dignity and reputation of our Order.
"Unfortunately our Brethren, in some cases swayed from their better judgment by the alluring promises presented by the promoters of these games as to the easy money that can be realized from them are tempted to the point where their proper perspective of the cardinal principles of our Order and the importance of safe-guarding its fair name may be endangered. Participation in these enterprises, if they tend to bring Masonry into disrepute, may constitute a Masonic offense even although they are not in actual violation of the statute law. Several organizations composed of Masons have sought my approval of one or another of these lottery schemes, usually upon the theory that other organizations of various sorts were conducting them and that our organizations needed the money that could be obtained by this means as much as the others. In all of these cases my approval has been denied, and I am happy to say that the plans have been abandoned, in most cases cheerfully and in a commendable spirit of cooperation when the danger has been pointed out.
"That many of our organizations, either Masonic or composed wholly of Masons, are in need of funds to carry on their activities, there can be no doubt, but I sincerely trust that the time has not arrived and that it may never arrive when Masonic bodies or bodies composed of Masons must resort to violations of either the statute or Masonic law to enable them to obtain the necessary funds to carry on.
"What other organizations may do is of no concern to us as Masons. We have our own landmarks and standards of morality and conduct. Let us not be swayed by what others may do to depart from those high standards and principles."
Claude L. Allen, Grand Master.
Page 1936-24, on ballot procedure and inspection.
The Grand Master described the procedure for balloting described by Albert Mackey in Masonic Jurisprudence, in which the ballot box is inspected in advance by the Worshipful Master and the Wardens, then it is placed on the altar; the roll is called and each Brother approaches the altar, gives a proper Masonic salutation, ballots and returns to his seat. He allowed that calling the role was somewhat impractical in Lodges with large membership, and that in Massachusetts black cubes had replaced black balls.
". . . there is not perhaps the necessity of approaching the altar singly or even of approaching the altar at all, as the same secrecy can be maintained by a proper passing of the ballot box among the Brethren, although this should be done in a dignified manner and without too great haste."
Regarding inspection of the ballot:
"It has recently come to my attention that in a few of our Lodges the custom prevails of presenting the ballot box, after the ballot has been closed, to the Worshipful Master only for inspection or report.
"While our Grand Constitutions provide no definite method for the inspection, in most Grand Jurisdictions and I think generally speaking in our own, it is the long established usage, after the ballot is closed, to present it for inspection to the South, West and East, at each of which stations the ballot is inspected and in some Lodges its condition is reported to the Master by each Warden after his inspection, and announced by the Master after his inspection, with the additional statement by him that the applicant has been accepted or rejected as the case may be.
"In other Lodges it is the custom for the ballot to be presented to the South, West, and East, for inspection, and for the Wardens to make no report following their inspection until severally interrogated by the Master as to the condition of the ballot, after which the Master also announces the condition of the ballot in the East, followed by a statement that the applicant has been accepted or rejected as the case may be."
Page 1936-120: Regarding the reading of names of remitted members.
"I am advised that in some of our Lodges it is the custom to read in open Lodge the names of members listed for remission of Lodge dues.
"This practice should be discontinued at once as un-masonic and unworthy of the brotherly spirit that should prevail toward a member who finds himself unhappily in a situation were it is necessary for him to ask a remission of dues.
"When the time arrives for action upon remission of dues, it would seem fair to assume that the Master through his own investigation, that of his officers delegated to that task, or of a suitable committee whether it be the Lodge Service Committee or some other, would have satisfied himself as to the worthiness of the Brother to receive this consideration.
"Undoubtedly the Lodge members would be willing to rely upon the judgement of their Master from such information as he may have obtained to recommend remission only in worthy cases. That being so, it would seem to serve no useful purpose to humiliate the member by having his name read in open Lodge. It would be far better that the recommendation in open Lodge should be that the dues of a certain number of worthy but unfortunate Brethren be remitted.
"There are many instances, I regret to state, where injustice has been done to certain Brothers in the matter of dues owing to their reticence about confiding their misfortunes to the Masters or Secretaries of their Lodges. Everything possible that can properly be done should be done to encourage such confidence on the part of members in distress, to the end that their circumstances may be given proper and sympathetic consideration, and nothing could be of greater assistance in the accomplishment of this result than to have the Brother feel that he could confide his troubles to his Master or Secretary without making them known to the whole Lodge."
Page 1936-121: regarding restoration of membership.
"Section 521 of the Grand Constitutions provides that a Brother expelled or suspended by the Grand Lodge from the rights and privileges of Masonry thereby loses absolutely his membership in any Lodge to which he then belongs, and that when the Grand Lodge shall restore to the rights and privileges of Masonry an expelled or suspended Brother, he shall have the status of a dimitted Mason and shall not be restored to membership in the Lodge of which he was formerly a member except by unanimous ballot.
"This section as it now reads applies to a suspension by Grand Lodge for non-payment of Grand Lodge dus as well as to suspension or expulsion for any other cause.
"On the other hand, Section 507 of the Grand Constitutions provides that a Brother who has been suspended by his Lodge for non-payment of Lodge dues, and whose dues have been paid or remitted to the date of his suspension, may be reinstated in his Lodge by a majority vote of those present and voting at a regular meeting of the suspending Lodge.
"There would seem to be no valid reason why a Brother who has been suspended by Grand Lodge for non-payment of Grand Lodge dues and who has subsequently been restored by Grand Lodge to the rights and privileges of Masonry should not also be reinstated to his former membership in any Lodge to which he belonged at the time of his suspension upon the same terms as he can be reinstated following suspension by the Lodge for non-payment of Lodge dues; namely, a majority vote of his Lodge. Undoubtedly there are cases where through misunderstandings of one kind or another a Brother is suspended for non-payment of Grand Lodge dues and later restored to his rights as a Mason where he might be loath to apply to his Lodge for reinstatement if it required a unanimous ballot, and yet it might be for the best interests of Masonry, of the particular Lodge, and of the Brother that he should be permitted to return to the fold, where he might become an asset to the Lodge by the resumption of his obligations to it and his active interest in its affairs. I believe that no unnecessary obstacles should be placed in the path of a Brother finding himself in this position."
The Grand Master offered a proposal for amendment to Section 521 to correct this situation.
Page 1936-152; regarding floor work.
The Grand Master noted that exemplifications had turned up discrepancies in instructions to officers. He had requested that the Grand Lecturers submit "lists of such discrepancies as they know exist, and upon the receipt of the same I shall endeavor to adjust them to a uniform basis."
"In this connection, I rule that floor work, unless it involves an interpretation of the ritual, is in the discretion of the Worshipful Master of each Lodge. It is entirely proper for a Grand Lecturer to make suggestions as to what he considers the best method of doing floor work, even though it does not involve the interpretation of the ritual, provided that it is at all times made clear that it is merely a suggestion to the Master, to be followed or not as he may choose. I understand that in some Districts the Deputies have requested the Grand Lecturers to insist that all of the Lodges in that particular District do the floor work in the same manner. In the future this should not be done, unless it is with the consent of all the Masters in that District.
"Many Lodges have some particular movements in connection with the floor work which do not perhaps involve any interpretation of the ritual, in which they take special pride and satisfaction, and in such cases I believe it is their right and privilege, and I see no objection to their being permitted to carry out these movements in their own way, provided of course they are at all times done in a dignified manner and in a way that will not detract from the ritual and the lessons it teaches.
"Where floor work involves an interpretation of the ritual, the interpretation given to the Lodges at the Exemplifications by the Grand Lecturers should be uniform. I realize that there are cases of floor work involving an interpretation of the ritual upon which the Grand Lecturers may honestly and properly differ as to what is the proper interpretation. If in any such instance the Grand Lecturers cannot agree after conference upon a uniform interpretation, a ruling will be made by the Grand Master's office as to which is to be followed.
"Wherever floor work involves an interpretation of the ritual and therefore calls for definite instructions from the Grand Lecturers, the Grand Lecturers will be asked to explain the interpretation with the reasons therefor, and in order to clarify this situation I am requesting the Grand Lecturers at the opening of each Exemplification to explain what is meant by floor work involving interpretation of the ritual as distinguished from floor work which does not involve such interpretation, with a few illustrations of each."
Page 1936-154, regarding visiting.
"Section 501 of the Grand Constitutions provides that no visitor shall be admitted into a tyled Lodge without producing his card showing the payment or remission of Grand Lodge and particular Lodge dues for the preceding or current fiscal year; or a receipt for the payment of his dues if from another jurisdiction.
"In addition to this, it is of course necessary that he be vouched for in writing or that he produce a diploma or certificate from a regular Lodge, or certificate under seal of a secretary of a regular Lodge, and in addition that he pass a satisfactory examination.
"I fear that considerable laxity exists in certain Lodges in reference to these requirements, and it is the duty of the Masters of the Lodges to see that they are complied with. It is entirely possible that a visitor may present himself to a Lodge and be recognized by the Tyler, who possibly recalls some prior visit of this Brother. Possibly the Tyler may consider this a sufficient identification and authorization for the admittance of the Brother without anything further, but this is not so.
"It is entirely possible, and instances have occurred where just this situation existed and the visitor had been suspended from the rights and privileges of Freemasonry, or from his Lodge, between the period of his two visits; or the Brother may be in arrears in his dues or may have taken a dimit more than a year prior.
"I therefore urge upon the officers of Lodges the importance of seeing that this section of the Grand Constitutions is complied with."
Page 1936-157, regarding envelopes for Lodge mailing.
"Section 711 of the Grand Constitutions reads as follows:
"All written or printed notices of Lodges meetings containing any Masonic information beyond the time of place of such meeting, must be sent out in sealed envelopes.
"Question has arisen as to whether it is permissible to mail notices of Lodge meetings in the so-called 'postage-saving' or 'spot-sealing' type of envelopes, thereby effecting a considerable saving in postage rates. These envelpes are actually sealed so that no loose or tucked-in flaps are noticeable and in order to get at the contents at least one seal must be broken. These envelopes must, however, carry on the reverse side, usually I think on the end flap, the words, 'pull out for postal inspection.'
"At the time of the adoption of Section 711 in 1921 envelopes of this type were either not in use at all or were not in common use, and it is entirely probable that the framers of the amendment did not have them in mind at all.
"It is my opinion that envelopes of this type are sufficiently private and sufficiently within the language and meaning of Section 711 to permit their use, and I therefore rule that envelopes of this type may be used for the mailing of all Lodge notices.
"An even greater saving in postage can be made with the use of these 'spot' sealed envelopes by obtaining postal permits for bulk mailing, full information concerning which is of course available at any post office."
Claude L. Allen, Grand Master.
Page 1937-20, on investigating committees.
"Section 406 of the Grand Constitutions provides for the appointment by the Master of a committee of investigation, consisting of three or more members of the Lodge, at the time when an application for the degrees is received. It also provides that the names of the committee shall be entered on the record of that meeting, but shall not be borne on the notices.
"It would seem that it should be obvious to us all that this is a highly desirable provision, - that the names of the investigating committee should not be disclosed to the members generally.
"It has recently come to my attention that the purpose of this provision has been largely nullified in some Lodges by a practice which has crept in of the Master reading in open Lodge the names of the members of the investigating committee when making his report on the result of the investigation. Obviously this should never be done, for the same reason that the names should not appear on the notice, and I hereby direct that in future the names of members of the investigating committee shall not be read in open Lodge.
Page 1937-82, on a Pre-Application Statement.
"I am of the opinion that a considerable number of applicants still seek admission to the Fraternity with a false notion as to what Masonry means, what they are expected to contribute to it, and what they may fairly expect to receive from it.
"In order that we may so far as possible eliminate all misunderstandings of this nature, I am of the opinion that a second step should be taken after the preliminary examination of the candidate by the committee and before he is been given an application for the degrees; namely, the applicant should be required to read, sign, and file with the pre-application committee a statement."
This statement, adopted by the Grand Lodge on June 9, 1937, is listed on this page.
See also the ruling below on Page 1937-129, regarding procedure.
Page 1937-84, regarding the signing of Lodge By-Laws by candidates.
"Since 1925 candidates have been required, after being raised, to learn the lecture of the third degree before being permitted to sign the by-laws and thereby become members of the Lodge. Under the provisions of the Grand Constitutions, the candidate has the right to become a member of the Lodge if he signs the by-laws at any time within one year from his raising. Ordinarily there should be no occasion for any great delay after the date of raising in learning the lecture of the third degree and signing the by-laws. In my judgement, two months should be ample for this purpose.
"It is for the best interests of the candidate himself that he should complete his task and become a member in full standing thereby making himself eligible to visit other Lodges, as soon as possible after he is raised. Furthermore, it is for the best interests of the Lodge and of the Grand Lodge that this should be done. A delay of more than two months, particularly where it runs from one fiscal year to another, frequently causes confusion as to the right to collect Grand Lodge or Lodge dues, and in some cases results in a loss of dues.
"I have wondered whether the apparent laxity on the part of some Masters in requiring a candidate to learn his lectures and sign the by-laws may have been occasioned by the provision of the Grand Constitutions allowing signing within one year. On the assumption that may be so, and with a desire to bring about a better understanding of what I deem to be for the best interests of all concerned, I hereby request the Masters of Lodges to use all reasonable diligence and exert every possible effort to see that their candidates learn the lecture of the third degree and sign the by-laws within sixty days from the date of raising."
Page 1937-129, regarding procedure for pre-application.
The Grand Master reviewed the pre-application statement presented in the September quarterly communication, and then outlined the proper procedure for Lodges to follow.
"First: a prospective applicant, having expressed orally or in writing to some member of the Lodge his desire to apply to said Lodge for the degrees, is invited to appear at a set time and place before the pre-application committee.
"Second: if the pre-application committee, after interviewing the prospective applicant, is favorably impressed with him, the committee then presents him the pre-application statement, with the request that he read it and if he assents to it that he affix his signature thereto, and that when that has been done he will be given the regular application blank. The prospect would probably read this pre-application statement then and there, and sign it. If he should wish to take it away with him for more careful reading before signing he should be permitted to do so. If he should fail to sign it, or decline to sign it, under no circumstances can he be given an application blank.
"Third: When the pre-application statement has been signed, it should be immediately forwarded to the Secretary of the Lodge to be attached to and form a part of the application blank itself when that shall have later been received.
"Fourth: Upon delivery to the committee of this pre-application statement signed by the prospective applicant, he should be given a form of petition as prescribed by Section 401 of the Grand Constitutions, which must be entirely filled out by the applicant in his own handwriting; and three copies of the blank provided by the Grand Lodge to be filled out by the applicant furnishing information for the investigation committee, or in lieu thereof, three copies of a similar form prepared by the Lodge itself. While there is nothing in the Grand Constitutions specifying the form of this blank or actually requiring the use of such a blank, it is highly desirable that this information should be obtained in every case, both for the information of the investigating committee and as a permanent record to accompany the application for the degrees."
Page 1937-131, on the use of the trestle-board.
The Grand Master observed that Lodges in the Canal Zone did not use a trestle-board in the third degree, and he was informed that it was not then current practice for Lodges in that District to do so.
"I have requested the District Grand Master to see that the Lodges are provided with Trestle Boards and that they are used, first because it is the well established practice in our Massachusetts Lodges to do so, and second because it aids in the proper interpretation of the ritual and adds to the effectiveness of the degree.
"So far as I know there are no Lodges in this state that do not use the Trestle Board, but if perchance there are such, it is my desire that they correct the omission at an early date."
Page 1937-136, clarification on plural membership.
The Grand Master noted that affiliation of Brethren from Lodges in other jurisdiction was causing some confusion, and he sought to clarify the situation.
"A majority of Grand Lodges in the United States do not permit plural membership. These Grand Lodges are often greatly annoyed if we permit their members to affiliate without dimits.
"If an application for affiliation is received from a member of a Lodge in another jurisdiction, it should be at once ascertained whether or not that jurisdiction permits plural membership. A list of Grand Lodges which do permit it will be sent to all the Lodges with the regular Abstract of Proceedings which will be mailed in a few days. If the Grand Lodge does permit plural membership all that is necessary is evidence of good standing.
"If it does not permit plural membership, the applicant should be advised to obtain a dimit and file it with his application. It may occasionally happen that the applicant may fear that he may not be accepted and may thus be left stranded without any membership. In such a case, his application may be voted upon before he asks for a dimit, but he must not be allowed to sign the by-laws until his dimit is in the hands of the Secretary. Under our law membership begins when the by-laws are signed, and until the signature occurs there can be no violation of the law of the other Grand Lodge.
"All affiliates should be warned that affiliation does not automatically sever connection with the applicant's other Lodge. Trouble has occasionally arisen because ill-informed Brethren have supposed that it did, and upon such supposition have perhaps failed to take a dimit or pay their dues in the Lodge in the other jurisdiction, resulting in suspension there for non-payment of dues and consequent limitation of their privileges in this jurisdiction under the provisions of Section 503 of the Grand Constitutions."