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Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Canada in the Province of Ontario
THE YORK RITE and ROYAL ARCH
The York Rite is one of two major bodies or "Rites" of extended Masonry enabling the Craft Lodge Freemason to continue his search for Masonic Light, fully recognizing that pure Freemasonry consists of but three degrees, that of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason and no additional degree has a higher value than that of Master Mason (third degree). It is a Masonic fraternal organization dedicated to the benefit of society through improvement of the individual. By morality lessons and peer association, it promotes behaviors which civilize the man and strengthen his society. This is consistent with the Craft Lodge lessons which teach a man to be a better husband, father, son, neighbor, churchgoer and citizen.
York Rite Freemasonry has three separate and autonomous bodies:
York Rite Masons have several charities, among them the Royal Arch Masons Auditory Research Assistance Program and the Knights Templar Eye Foundation which makes it possible for needy persons with sight problems to get medical help. The Knights Templars also support a Holy Land Pilgrimage program which sends ministers on tours dedicated to the locales important to Jews, Christians, and followers of Islam. All bodies practice local charity and usually sponsor educational scholarships.
Chapter (Royal Arch)
Founded in 1797, in Boston, Massachusetts, as a national organization, the General Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, International now has jurisdiction over half the 7,000 Chapters in the world, including several provinces in Canada, the Grand Chapters of USA, Philippines, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and many chapters in Central and South America. A Royal Arch Mason is a member of the oldest and largest rite of Freemasonry.
Many historians have traced the earliest origins of the Royal Arch Degree to Ireland, late in the 17th century and in England in 1738, In 1752, ambulatory or military warrants for Lodges were introduced. This was instrumental in placing the Royal Arch Degree on a par with the Master Mason Degree.
Military lodges were greatly responsible for planting Freemasonry in the Colonies and also gave birth to the use of the Marl and Royal Arch degrees in the "New World." Lodge records show that the Royal Arch Degree was conferred at Fredericksburg No. 4 on December 12, 1753. George Washington was raised in this lodge a few months prior to this date.
Pure Ancient Freemasonry consists of three degrees, being that of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason including the "Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch".
The Chapter of Royal Arch Masonry consists of four additional "degrees", Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master and Royal Arch Mason and are not numbered.
Royal Arch Masonry is the logical step for every Master Mason to take. If after becoming a Royal Arch Mason, one desires to continue the studies, one may take the Council Degrees and the Commandery Orders, both of which are illustrative of and carry forward the principles of the Royal Arch.
The Royal Arch Degree is the climax of Ancient Craft Masonry and Masonic Symbolism. It is described as "the root and marrow of Freemasonry." It is the story of Jewish History during some of its darkest hours. Jerusalem and the Holy temple were destroyed and the people were being held captive as slaves in Babylon.
Here members figuratively join with some slaves as they are set free and aided by the benevolence of the great Zoroastrian King Cyrus of Persia to return home and engage in the noble and glorious work of rebuilding the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of God. It is during this rebuilding that they make a discovery that brings to light the greatest treasure of a Mason - the long lost "Master's Word".
Royal Arch Masonry is not a religion and does not endeavor to fix ones conception of God. Royal Arch Masonry regards one's religious belief as one's own; it does not attempt to influence one's own belief. It only asks that one have a belief. The motto of the Royal Arch is "Holiness To The Lord" and ever reminds us of the reverence due the Great and Beneficient Author of our existence, who is a Being without beginning of days or ending of years.
A Royal Arch Mason holds firm to the belief in the Brotherhood of Man, the Fatherhood of God, and the Immortality of the Human Soul in high regard. He, therefore, who is a member knows that in his travels around the world he will be welcome and greeted with hospitality and friendship.
A Royal Arch Mason is taught to practice and espouse toleration for all men and to become brothers in deed. Through active membership one obtains those things to which Royal Arch Masons aspire - companionship - brotherhood - opportunity for service in humanity's name.
A Royal Arch Mason is taught to continually attempt to build with Plumb, Square and Level that Temple of Character which is the great goal of the Craft.
The value of Royal Arch Masonry will be appreciated by all who are exalted to that most sublime degree, particularly by those who are seeking to complete their Masonic education. It reveals the full light of Ancient Craft Masonry, presents it as a complete system in accordance with the original plan and justly entitles one to claim the noble name of Master Mason.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Royal Arch Masonry has always been how so many men, from so many different walks of life, can meet together in peace, never have any political or religious debates, always conduct their affairs in harmony and friendship and call each other brother.
No Rite of Freemasonry covers the world so much as does Royal Arch Masonry. In every country of the earth, on every continent and on many isles of the seas, Royal Arch Chapters will be found who are eager and willing to receive their companions from other parts of the world into that full fellowship that characterizes Royal Arch Masonry.
Application for membership in the Royal Arch is open to members in good standing in any recognized Craft Lodge who are Master Masons. Continued membership in a Craft Lodge is required to maintain good standing in the Royal Arch.
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