Friday, January 23, 2009

E.A. or M.M.


Recently I was having a discussion with my Worshipful Master about the new database I was creating for the lodge. I was entering in the names, addresses(physical and electronic), phone numbers, and birthdays of our hundred or so members. When it came to the three dates important to us Masons the date they were initiated, passed, and raised, I chose to enter just the date of their Entered Apprentice Degree (in the interest of my time because it was a lot of data) because I felt it was the more important date in the history of a Freemason. My WM strongly disagreed with me saying the date of a Brothers raising is the much more important date and that it is the date most lodges commemorate. I still disagree.
My argument is that the day you are initiated is the day you became a Mason. Yes, the night I was raised to the sublime degree was one of the most memorable in my life, but not as important as the night I was initiated. You can not become a Master Mason, or a Fellowcraft for that matter, without that most important step of being made a Mason. I will always remember being brought to the North East Corner of the lodge and being told by the WM that I then stood a just and upright Mason and forever to walk and act as such. It is such a powerful moment in our ritual and one of my favorite parts of any degree. Before you were just a man, a regular Joe Sixpack, but after your initiation you are a Freemason and have an important image to live up to. Not every man is an EA but every MM is one.
What do you think?
What date would you rather commemorate in your Masonic life?
What date does your lodge hold more important?



15 comments:

Jay Simser said...

I just blogged about this on Bailey's Buddy. I wrote: " First he is initiated. He is only initiated once. When he received the degree of an Entered Apprentice he becomes a Mason. The other ceremonies (or degrees) which he receives are sometimes called initiations but they aren't really. An Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. When Brother Ron entered the Lodge for the first time he was initiated. The Second time he is passed to the degree of a Fellowcraft and finally he is RAISED to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason. We refer to the three ceremonies as Invitation, Passing and Raising. Three different words for three different experiences."

I totally agree with you. You become a Mason once. that is the important date. All of the other ceremonies are just additional ceremonies.

Jeff said...

I would make a compromise and track the date of the Fellowcraft/Passing only ;-) It is where the real work of speculative Masonry begins.

Justa Mason said...

My GL gives 50 year pins based on the day of initiation. That's when he becomes a Mason.

Justa

Tom Accuosti said...

Hmm.

We have a lot of "brothers" who seem to disappear after having been initiated. Yes, they are Masons in the sense that they are now able to claim membership via initiation, but so what? They - and anyone that takes the first step - are rightfully called "Entered Apprentices," but you need to focus on the "Apprentice" part. An intern or med student at the hospital is not a doctor.

That said, I also see that when you are entering those dates, you are making a judgment call based on your perspective. A man might have been made an EA, and then take years before he finally decides to go the rest of the way. What do you suppose is the most important date to him?

Trick question - the answer has nothing to do with what you think - it's what he thinks.

3M, just enter the rest of the damn dates, okay?

Paul Chapin said...

I checked our lodge roster and we only list "raised". While I appreciate your zeal for the EA, I have to agree with Tom that masonry is a right of passage and you are not a Mason until you complete the journey.

You are not a dues paying member as an EA and they don't give out 50year pins to brothers who never advance past EA.

Mr. Ives said...

As a fellowcraft currently, I am still experiencing the degrees, but I had one observation to point out. One of my brothers was showing off his new lewis jewel over the coffee after my fellowcraft degree. I asked which dates were on the jewel for him and his father (the lewis commemorates a father and son mason.) I asked what dates were on the jewel - the 1st or 3rd degree. Apparently it was their third degree. Although I haven't received it yet, the GL implies that the 3rd is the official day you become a full mason.

For my part, I am cautious to see myself as a full-fledged mason until I undergo the third degree. I show up to all of the meetings, events etc. but I know that I am not an equal yet. Am I a mason? Yes. But not quite the equal of the elder brothers. This march, I hope to be raised by the brothers of Meridian Lodge 77, when that happens, I will then consider myself a true mason in all respects of the title and honors it confers.

jer said...

In Ireland, we get voting rights in our lodge on being raised. Visiting other lodges becomes a right on being raised. That's when we sign our certificate, is when most lodges give the laws and constitutions, and the lodge bye-laws. It's also the date that is queried when being proposed for other branches of the order.

However, I've always had a very strong relationship with the degree of initiation, and as far as I'm concerned, that's when I "became" a mason!

As for choice of date within the database, I'd say it depends what you want to use it for :) both are significant, one for personal/spiritual reasons, and one for beurocratic. Is there any reason you can't store both? :)

Jay Simser said...

Jumping back in. In Iowa we ask the new Brother for "something of a metallic kind as a memorial that he was here made a Mason" He was made a Mason in the E.A. Degree. Be that as is he does not get full rights until he proves proficiency on his third. We keep records of all three dates.

But he was still "made a Mason" when he got his E.A. so to me that is still the date that means the most to me.

M.M.M. From the North Eastern Corner said...

My lazy sophomoric ways betray my deeper intentions.
Of course I will enter all of the dates into the database, I was just cutting a corner in the early stage of building it.
My intention of finding out the more important date was that I was thinking about sending out Masonic "birthday" cards and I presumed that it would mark the date of initiation, not raising(of which I still think I am correct). I should have been a little more informative in my original post.
By the way, I am ecstatic to know that a Brother in the country where my family came from and where I spent a lot of my young adulthood in, actually reads my little blog and contributed to the discussion.

The Millennial Freemason said...

MMM,
I am in agreement with Tom that a Master Mason is the degree that is most important. You receive all of your rights at the time that you are raised. I think the Doctor analogy is very apt.

Right now, I am studying for the Bar. I am not an attorney at law. I have merely added a degree. So I may know the law but I cannot practice. Even after I take the Bar and should pass, I will still be reviewed by the Bar Examiners to determine if I am fit to be admitted to the Bar. It is only after I take the Oath that I become an attorney at law. Entered Apprentice is similar to being a JD. I am recognized by the public as "having" legal knowledge but I cannot practice law just as an EA has knowledge of our Fraternity but cannot participate within it. I am not an attorney until I have completed all of what is required just as an EA is not a full Mason until he is a MM. MM is the most important degree and if Masonic birthdays are important, I would rather be recognized as a Mason on the date that I am a full member and have taken my full Oath. Sure I know the date when I graduated from law school but I will not recognize my being an attorney at law until the date that I take my Oath.

Nick

Justa Mason said...

Nick opined:
I think the Doctor analogy is very apt.

That being the case, almost counsellor, if one is a physician when he can write "Dr." before his name, an E.A. is therefore a Mason as he can write "Bro." before his name.

Certificates, voting, etc. are not germaine. Masters of Lodges have additional powers vested in them (and a "Wor." in front of their title). No one suggests M.Ms are not Masons because they don't have those additional rights.

An E.A. may not be a full member of the Lodge in some jurisdictions, but he certainly is a Mason.

Paul's point about 50-year pins to E.As. is an absurdity in my jurisdiction; no Lodge keeps an E.A. on the roll for 50 years. And I'm glad to know my journey ended when I finished my 3rd Degree ;)

The Millennial Freemason said...

Justa,
Yes, it is true that an MD may call himself and be called by others a Doctor, but he is not able to practice medicine by himself or exercise medical judgment without supervision. It is not until a Doctor has completed his residency can he be recognized as someone who can provide care independently and is on the hook for his mistakes.

Brothers are in a similar existence. An EA or FC is dependent on his Lodge for all things Masonic. It is not until a Brother has been entrusted with his MM that he is put on the level with all of his brothers and entrusted with all rights and obligations pertaining to his status.

Nick

Tom Accuosti said...

Before we get too far off track, note that 3M didn't say anything about when somebody became a Mason - he's talking more specifically about the most important date to a Mason. Arguing about what that date is - or should be - is entirely academic, because it might vary from person to person.

One of my lodges sent me a "Masonic birthday card" based on my MM date. I, of course, appreciate the gesture. As it happens, I don't have any particular feeling that my EA or MM was better or more important.

Of course, in US lodges, we tend to have degrees within a few weeks or a month of each other, which may account for my not feeling one was more important than the other.

But I do recall that when attending lodge as an EA and FC (yes, I was one of those who did go), that I felt a little badly about not being able to vote, and (to my thinking at the time) that my opinion in lodge matters would not be worth quite as much as those of the rest of my learned brethren (I was young and inexperienced, okay?), so at the time, I was happier to have finished my MM, and I did feel more a part of the lodge itself.

But that's just me.

So, again: 3M - if you weren't so damn lazy in the first place, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

M.M.M. From the North Eastern Corner said...

"Where were you first made a Mason?......Where next?

MP said...

"Q. What did the Worshipful Master then do with you? A. He made me a Mason in due form."

EA is when you are made a Mason. That's the date my Lodge takes as the date for your anniversary info, when looking at commemorating it.

"He said that I there stood, a just and upright Mason, and gave it me strictly in charge ever to walk and act as such."