Some Master Mason's Duties and Responsibilities, Rights and Privileges

To become worthy and exemplary members of the Craft, we Master Masons must, among other things, know our rights and privileges, as well as our duties and responbilities, and therefore take into serious consideration, as well as strictly obey with all our hearts, Article XVII (Membership, Rights and Obligations), Sections 1-22, of the Constitutions of our M.W. Grand Lodge, Centennial Edition, pp. 74-78.

We must, however, bear in mind that our rights and privileges, as well as our duties and responsibilities, are not stated and numbered anywhere, but they are scattered here and there - some in symbols, others in the form of customs, ans till others in laws; some are explicit, while others are implied.  But, clearly, unless we live by, as well as act consistently with, our obligations, duties and responsibilities, we cannot claim our rights and privileges.

Clearly, as Master Masons, we must fulfill our legal and moral obligations, one of which is to pay our respective shares of the financial costs of the Fraternity promptly and ungrudgingly, whether in the form of dues or assessments.

Our rights and privileges as such, according to the Masonic Service Association (MSA) in TRIED AND PROVEN, pp 57-59, include the following :

1.  The right of affiliation.   If unaffiliated, a Master Mason has the right to petition for membership in some Lodge.  He may choose the Lodge to which he makes his petition, but he should seek for membership in some Lodge.  If he moves permanently to some other community, he is not required to maintain membership at a distance in his first Lodge, but may petition for membership in a more convenient Lodge.

2.  The right and privilege, but not the duty, to visit a Lodge of which he is not a member.   It is a right in the sense that a Master Mason may seek admittance into any regular Lodge;  it is a privilege in the sense that admission into that Lodge is contingent upon his being vouched for, or examined, and being permitted to enter by the Worshipful Master.  If he is not permitted to enter some Lodge at a certain time, the fact does not cancel his right to seek to visit it as another time or to seek to visit any other Lodge.  If a Master Mason seeks to visit a Lodge, he has teh privilege of being vouched for if ome member of its has sat in Lodge with him, so that he is not compelled to undergo examination every time he seeks to visit.

3. The right and privilege of Master relief.   Every Master Mason has the lawful right to ask for it upon need, without derogation to his dignity or endangering his standing.  He may ask some Lodge or some Master Mason.  It is a privilege in that neither a Lodge nor a Master Mason is compelled to give relief.  The Lodge is not an insurance society, an organized charity, or a death benefit association, nor is any guaranty given any member that he will receive what he asks.  Each Lodge and each Mason is under obligation to heed the call for relief, but each is free to use judgement whether or not t extend relief, and it so, in what form.

4.  The right to ask for dimit or a transfer certificate.  If a Master Mason is clear of the books and no charges have been or are about to be preferred against him, the Lodge mush accede to his request for a dimit.  it is not compulsory that a Master Mason shall remain in a given Lodge; for if it were, membership might be degraded into a penalty.  A Master Mason may hold his membership where he is happiest, or where it is most convenient, provided he is elected to membership in that Lodge.

5.  The right of appeal to the Grand Lodge.  A Master Mason has this right if he is brought to trial in his own Lodge on charges of un-Masonic conduct and found guilty.  It is his guaranty against possible injustice, more particularly against local prejudice or spiteful persecution by some private enemy.

6.  The right to Masonic funeral.  If a Master Mason is in good standing, at the time of his death, his family has the right of requesting this honor.  This right is or more importance than may at first appear.  If without giving cause, a Lodge refused to give Masonic Honors at death, the community naturally would think that some secret disgrace attached to the dead, known only to the Lodge, and both his name and his family would suffer accordingly.  It is, however, the rule of some jurisdictions that he must himself had requested Masonic burial.

7.  The right of trial by his peers, under regulated conditions, with freedom to present evidence.  This assures a Master Mason that no Lodge can degrade him without a fair trial.  Neither his Lodge nor any officer or member can remove him out of malice or spite, nor can he be made to suffer the penalties of Masonry out of idle gossip or hearsay.  Right of trial guarantees a Master Mason all the securities of justice.

Since a Master Mason's privileges vary much and depend on  local conditions, they are to be described in principle and in spirit rather than in detail.  A Master Mason has a right of voice in his Lodge, a vote, and to hold office.  He has also the privilege of giving Masonic service, one of the principal sources of the joy of Masonic life.

Depending on its own ability or according to the wishes of its members, a Master Mason's Lodge, like any other Lodge, may do many things which are neither required nor prohibited by law, such as holding social affairs; giving special entertainments; fostering some Masonic educational enterprise; sponsoring scholarships for poor but deserving students; offering livelihood programs for residents in the community;  having a library of its own; and maintaining its own ward in a hospital, temple, or even cemetery.

Further states the MSA : "Beyond all these specific duties, rights, and privileges stands a more general region in which all are mingled together; the whole domain of Masonry's teachings, her Ritual and symbols, her history, her jurisprudence, here philosophy, her literature, the whole Royal Art.  That Royal Art includes truths, ideals, and teachings.  To be faithful to them is a duty incumbent upon you and any other Master Mason.  To be taught that Royal Art, as well as to have it in its fullness, is your right, as well as the right o any other Master Mason.  It is yours to enjoy all the privileges which that Royal Art offers to the spirit, the mind, the heart.  All that Freemasonry is, all that it means, all that it has to offer, belongs to you in the same way and to the same extent as to all other Master Masons.  However, onerous your duties may prove to be, or however rigidly your rights may at times appear to be regulated, such burdens sink into nothingness by comparison with this one privilege, that Freemasonry in all her height, and breadth, and length, and richness, belongs to you to use and enjoy."

(Source :  The Cabletow, Vol/Issue 90/6 March & April 2014

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