Masonic Ritual – Advancing Through Masonic Degrees

Masonic Ritual – Advancing Through Masonic Degrees


Advancing Through Masonic Degrees



How much time should a Brother spend on one Masonic Degree before taking the next, and how does he qualify for advancement?

In the Grand Lodge of New York,

The Constitutions specify a minimum interval between Degrees of two weeks, although few Lodges if any advance candidates that quickly. In practice, there is great diversity among New York Lodges: Some Lodges advance candidates after a one-month interval, some are on a seasonal schedule with a few months between Degrees, and in some Lodges the candidates spend a year or more in each Degree.

There is similar diversity among New York Lodges with respect to criteria for advancement, with some Lodges accepting minimal proficiency in the Degree catechisms, some calling for full proficiency, and other Lodges having additional requirements such as writing and delivering an essay, observation of the Degree in another Lodge, completion of a reading course, attendance at a certain number of Communications and/or educational sessions, and so on.

Much of the foregoing comes down to tradition, Masonic focus, makeup and overall vitality of each Lodge.

Response provided by RW Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Chairman, Custodians of the Work, Grand Lodge of New York

Note: This site is an excellent source of information about Freemasonry. While every effort has been made to provide accurate and up-to-date information about Masonic Ritual, please remember that a website is not a substitute for your jurisdiction’s Standard Work or Approved Ritual.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial

Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial



MEET BRO. Ronald F. “Ron” Tunison. The developer of the Friend to Friend Memorial

Outside of Independence Day, the first week of July brings another anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest single battle of the American Civil War. (Antietam was the deadliest one-day battle in American history). Masons often point to the “Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial” to highlight the strong commitment Masonic brothers have to each other.

Photo: “Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial”

The idea of the memorial was the brainchild of Brother Sheldon Munn, a Brother of Lafayette Lodge No 194 in Pennsylvania and Licensed Battlefield Tour guide and his friend Dr John Schwartz of Good Samaritan Lodge No 336. With over 1,000 memorials on the battlefield, but none about the strong bonds of brotherhood and friendship. They convinced the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania to work with the National Park Service to jointly develop a memorial at Gettysburg to the Freemasons of the Union and the Confederacy that their unique bonds of friendship which enabled them to remain a brotherhood undivided even as they fought in a divided nation, faithfully supporting their respective governments.

Note: The memorial depicts Union Army Captain Henry H. Bingham assisting the severely wounded Confederate Brigadier General Lewis Armistead after Pickett’s Charge.

A public/private development of such a memorial had never been done. The cemetery Annex was an area the Park Service had long wanted to develop but had not been able to get funding. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania agreed to help with the general development of the Annex, and the Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial. The final location was one that was recommended by Jose Aguilar Cisneros, the Superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park. The general idea was to show the friendship between Confederate General Lewis Addison Armistead and Union General Winfield Scott Hancock. Since the two had been friends since childhood, but they did not meet on the battlefield, it was suggested that the documented incident of Captain Henry Bingham providing comfort to a dying Armistead shortly after Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1861, by the park’s historian, Kathleen Harrison.

Bro. Maynard Edwards, 32°, KCCH, details the history behind the “Friend to Friend Memorial.”

The concept was approved at the National Park Service in Washington and noted historical artist Bro. Ron Tunison was selected to develop the monument. At that time, Tunison lived in the Catskills of New York. Tunison was intrigued by the concepts of the fraternity and joined his local lodge, Mountain Lodge No 529 in Windham, New York The Sculpture was cast in the Tallix Foundry, then in Beacon, New York — now part of the Urban Art Projects in Rock Tavern, New York. Sadly, Bro. Tunison passed away in October 2013 at the age of 66.

Photo: Ronald F. “Ron” Tunison, 1946-2013

Besides Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial, Bro. Tunison was an internationally acclaimed sculptor of nine heroic bronze monuments: “General W. Crawford,” near Little Round Top on the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania National Battlefield, the bas-relief “Delaware State Memorial” on Tanneytown Road, and “The Gettysburg Civil War Women’s Memorial” at Evergreen Cemetery. On the Antietam Maryland National Battlefield is Tunison’s “Irish Brigade Monument.” “The Bivouac.” is at the entrance to the Civil War Soldier’s Museum at Pamplin Historical Park near Petersburg, Virginia. “The Delaware Continentals” heroic size bronze monument of three advancing Revolutionary War soldiers stands atop a twenty-five-foot granite pedestal in front of Legislative Hall at Dover, Delaware. At Ringgold Gap in Atlanta, Georgia is Ron’s life-size General Patrick Cleburne statue.
Written by: Bro. Harry Williams Bro. Williams was raised in 1993 and is a member of three symbolic lodges in New York – Geneva-Ark No. 33, Warren No. 32, and Adonai No. 718. He helped to consolidate the Columbia, Dutchess and Greene-Ulster District into the Majestic Mid-Hudson District and bring about a new, revitalized district.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London

Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London


Traveling Man – Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London

The home of Freemasons in London, England

A Masonic Must-See: Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London

Hey there, fellow Brothers and Masonic enthusiasts! RW Anthony Prizzia  here, and I’m stoked to share an absolute gem of a Masonic destination – Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London. If you’re into Masonic history and grandeur, Freemasons’ Hall is at 60 Great Queen Street, London, is one for the bucket list.

Photo (left to right): RW Anthony Prizzia and Bro. David Dunn

Awe-Inspiring Architecture and a Treasure Trove of Artifacts

The building itself is a sight to behold. It exudes a sense of history and significance the moment you approach. And it’s not just about the exterior; this is the hub for some 25,000 Brothers in London! Best of all, it houses a collection of rare Masonic artifacts that’s truly mind-blowing.

As soon as you step through the doors, the sheer scale of the entrance hall washes over you. Just remember, security is tight (as it should be), so be prepared for a bag check. Once you’re through, the museum awaits, and most of it is open to the public completely free! Want a closer look at the magnificent Grand Hall? There’s an affordable self-guided tour option with an audio guide to lead the way. Just be mindful – individual Lodge rooms and regalia areas are off-limits. Don’t stray, or you’ll likely get a friendly tap on the shoulder from security.

The library is a bibliophile’s paradise (especially if you’re a Masonic bibliophile!). There are quiet nooks to settle into with some fascinating Masonic literature – just be sure to get help from the librarian. Everywhere you turn, there’s Masonic art and historical pieces from around the world. It’s a true feast for the eyes.

The Coolest Grand Lodge Pub…Ever?

I don’t want to spill all the beans, as I want you to experience the magic firsthand, but let me tell you about the coolest part (in my opinion) – the cafe/pub. I’ve been in Grand Lodges worldwide, and I’ve never seen one with a full-service dining area and a killer selection of drinks! It’s a place for officers, members, and guests to unwind and connect. My daughter and girlfriend felt totally at ease – a big plus in my book.

While enjoying the ambiance, I was lucky enough to meet Brother David Dunn. A true Brother, he took the time to share some fascinating history about the building and insights into English Freemasonry. Did you know most Lodges in England only meet a few times a year? Or that the way the ritual work is done can be quite different? It’s fascinating!

Your Masonic Adventure Awaits

The Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London meets quarterly, and I’m hoping to snag an invite someday. I have a feeling that would be spectacular! My hope is that I’ve convinced you to come and experience this building in person. And don’t forget to grab a bite and a drink in the one-of-a-kind Grand Lodge pub while you’re there!

Let me know if you’ve been or if you plan on going!

Cheers and fraternal love!

RW Anthony Prizzia
Past Master of Adonai Lodge #718, Highland, New York
Bro. Prizzia is also a proud member of:
Cyprus Shrine, Oriental Shrine, and Ulster County Shrine Club
Valley of Albany A.A.S.R
Poughkeepsie Chapter 172
Poughkeepsie Commandery 43
Royal Order of Scotland

Masonic Ritual – Chamber of Reflection

Masonic Ritual – Chamber of Reflection


The Chamber of Reflection


What is the best way or traditional way to use a chamber of reflection? If a Lodge does not have a chamber of reflection how can the Lodge configure a room to best incorporate the “feel” of the chamber of reflection?

According to the Grand Lodge of New York State:

The Chamber of Reflection is an idea that originated in French continental Masonry. As with many elements of French Masonry, this idea was borrowed by Albert Pike and described in his book “The Porch and the Middle Chamber: Book of the Lodge.” However, that book describes the workings of the three Craft Degrees and the Chamber of Reflection doesn’t seem to have caught on with the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (AASR). Craft Lodges and some Royal Arch Chapters do occasionally use a Chamber of Reflection and it does seem to be an idea that’s catching on. Overall it’s a good idea, as its primary effect is to create a beneficial psychological state in the Candidate that can make the experience more meaningful. Some Lodges use a Chamber of Reflection for the Entered Apprentice Degree, and some Lodges use different Chambers of Reflection for all three Degrees.

Understanding the foregoing, it doesn’t seem there is anything we could call a “traditional” Chamber of Reflection for a New York Lodge practicing our Antients-influenced Webb-Cross Ritual working. This has both advantages and disadvantages, and they’re the same: You can do whatever you want, within the bounds of propriety. What are the bounds of propriety? Primarily they’re the same as they are for all our Ritual practices, which forbid scaring, intimidating, or ridiculing Candidates, or anything else that might have a deleterious effect on the solemnity of our ceremonies. It’s also important to avoid symbols, words, practices, or other elements that borrow from or draw upon a Ritual lineage that differs from our own—which can be more challenging than one might think since most of what has been written about the Chamber of Reflection reflects a different Ritual tradition. So, no “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.,” no salt, sulfur, and mercury, no skeleton holding an arrow and dagger, no cockerel and hourglass, and so on.

If we can’t use those things, then what can we use? Anything that seems like it might be thought-provoking and in keeping with the New York Ritual tradition. Working Tools and cable tows; chalk, charcoal, and clay for the First Degree; corn, wine, and oil for the Second Degree, or perhaps a letter G. There are all sorts of things a Candidate might find curious in the Chamber or Reflection that will come to have significance as the Degree unfolds. The Chamber of Reflection could also include a piece of paper with a few questions for the Candidate to answer in writing—in which case I suggest it be sealed immediately without a reading and returned to the Candidate a the conclusion of the Degree. Or the Chamber of Reflection could simply be a dimly lit and quiet room where the Candidate can spend some time before the Masters of Ceremony brings him into the preparation room to knock on the inner door.

A Chamber of Reflection can also be a great time-saver if the Candidate is clothed and placed into the chamber just prior to the opening of the Lodge, in which case the Masters of Ceremony have only to bring him into the preparation room and apply the hoodwink. Needless to say, in such a circumstance the Candidate should have passed a ballot at a previous Communication—which should be a standard practice regardless. A Lodge should never ballot on a Candidate who has already shown up at the Lodge expecting to be Initiated.

Response provided by RW Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Chairman, Custodians of the Work, Grand Lodge of New York

Note: This site is an excellent source of information about Freemasonry. While every effort has been made to provide accurate and up-to-date information about Masonic Ritual, please remember that a website is not a substitute for your jurisdiction’s Standard Work or Approved Ritual.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
The 1784 St. John’s Day Sermon

The 1784 St. John’s Day Sermon


To Fear God: The 1784 St. John’s Day Sermon

On St. John the Evangelist Day 1784 at Morristown, New Jersey, The Rev. Uzal Ogden delivered a sermon before Lodge No. 10. Ogden was not a Freemason, but with that surname it is easy to see he had family connections to the fraternity, most probably through Moses Ogden and others at St. John’s Lodge in Newark. As for Lodge No. 10, this is the mysterious lodge in Basking Ridge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.
Rev. Uzal Ogden
The reverend, an Episcopalian, was known to preach in New Jersey at both Trinity Church in Newark and at St. John’s Church in Elizabethtown, as well as at the more famous Trinity Church in Manhattan. He graduated from Princeton University at age 18, and was ordained in 1773 at 29. He was an experienced speaker by age 40 when he preached this sermon to the local Freemasons, and he did so without notes. The reason we have it today is the lodge requested a written copy for publication, causing the reverend to put quill to paper after the fact. Historically, we readers find ourselves a year after the Revolutionary War ended and almost two years before the founding of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey.

This sermon is far too long to reproduce here, so this focus is on one of its four key ideas: “to notice what it is to ‘fear God.'”

What is it to fear God? When the candidate for the degrees of Freemasonry seeks admission to a New Jersey lodge, the Worshipful Master orders that he be in the “fear of the Lord” upon entering. It must be important because it’s in all three degrees. (This is not the case here in New York, where the language is overtly different.) It is more specific than belief in a higher power. What does it mean?

To fear God, Ogden said, is to love or to serve Him. He illustrates this with multiple quotations of Scripture, including two attributed to King Solomon: “It shall be well with those who fear God. (Ecclesiastes 8:12) And “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10) By the fear of God, he continues, “we are to understand a due observance of religion, which it may be said, consists of three particulars: knowledge, faith, and practice.”
“The first principle of religious knowledge requisite we should be acquainted with,” Ogden says, “is that there exists some Being superior to ourselves, who gave excellence to Creation, who inhabits eternity, whose knowledge is infinite, whose presence fills all space, whose power preserves and sustains all nature, and who possesses all possible perfection.”

“Can we behold the heavens above or the earth beneath,” he adds, “without acknowledging the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness displayed by some, though to us, invisible Architect?”

Faith, Ogden’s second particular in fearing God, also is the first of the principal rounds of the ladder—Faith, Hope, and Charity—reaching to Heaven that Freemasonry discusses in its First Degree. Ogden begins: “But it is to no purpose we are informed of these things unless we believe them. ‘Without faith,’ it is said, ‘it is impossible to please God, for he that comes to Him must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.’”

“To hope for the friendship of God,” he adds, “while we disclaim His authority…would be irrational, as futile, as it would be to…behold the light if deprived of the organs of vision!”

Of the third of his particulars—practice—Rev. Ogden is all about character. “Although it is most reasonable we should offer to our Almighty Creator and divine benefactor the oblation of our hearts; and though Christianity is calculated to deliver us from infamy and woe, and to exalt us to honor and happiness, how often are its benefits rejected?” he asks. “How many are there, even of those professing to revere this dispensation of mercy, who live regardless of its precepts, and who, in their actions with men are so far from ‘doing as they would be done unto,’ that no feelings of humanity; no sense of honor, nor any fear of divine vengeance, nor any thing but present punishment can divert them from acts of dishonesty, barbarity, and flagrant impiety?”

While there is no documentation of Rev. Uzal Ogden being a Freemason, it is clear that Lodge No. 10 chose its speaker for St. John the Evangelist Day wisely. He anticipated his audience and crafted his remarks accordingly, and we are fortunate the lodge opted to have his sermon printed so posterity may enjoy it.
Written by W. Bro. Jay Hochberg

WB Hochberg is the Senior Warden of The American Lodge of Research in Manhattan; is a Past Master of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786; and also is at labor in Civil War Lodge of Research 1865 in Virginia.