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Questions re: Masonic funeral rites and burial options
Posted: 30 June 2011 12:52 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Hello!  I’m a freshly-raised Master Mason here, and I have some questions about Masonic funeral rites.

The main question I have has to do with burial/disposal options.  My wife has elected to have her body donated to science via Anatomy Gifts Registry, which would leave no remains for burial.  We’ve discussed this with each other and with our (adult) children, and it’s fine by everyone.

I’ve been thinking of the same thing for myself—it will save my survivors much of the expense and trouble of a funeral and burial—but I’m curious as to whether Freemasonry finds this acceptable.  It’s hard to be buried with your apron if there’s nothing to bury, for one thing.

What options (burial, cremation, donation, etc.) are available/acceptable to a Freemason?

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Posted: 30 June 2011 01:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Jim Goltz - 30 June 2011 12:52 PM

Hello!  I’m a freshly-raised Master Mason here, and I have some questions about Masonic funeral rites.

The main question I have has to do with burial/disposal options.  My wife has elected to have her body donated to science via Anatomy Gifts Registry, which would leave no remains for burial.  We’ve discussed this with each other and with our (adult) children, and it’s fine by everyone.

I’ve been thinking of the same thing for myself—it will save my survivors much of the expense and trouble of a funeral and burial—but I’m curious as to whether Freemasonry finds this acceptable.  It’s hard to be buried with your apron if there’s nothing to bury, for one thing.

What options (burial, cremation, donation, etc.) are available/acceptable to a Freemason?

That’s absolutley fine.  There is no requirement that a Mason be buried with his apron.  A Masons merely can do this if he wants, but it is not required.  What you do with your body once you expire doesn’t concern Masonry.  The part of you that matters has joined the eternal lodge above.  What’s left over is up to the family in accordance with your wishes.

I think donating your body to science is a GREAT idea.  However, to know exactly what you might be used for, check out the book “Stiff - The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” by Mary Roach.  It really is an entertaining look into the donated corpse industry.  They’ll most likely cut your head off to use for cosmetic surgery practice, and then your body will be used in a body farm where they watch you rot and study it.  That’s a thousand times more useful then being 6 feet underground in an steel box.

Anyway…donate away.  Masonry isn’t a religion, we don’t have requirements for interment.

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Dan

Worshipful Master, Columbian Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Boston, MA
32° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Boston
Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Aleppo Temple

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Posted: 30 June 2011 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Jim Goltz - 30 June 2011 12:52 PM

Hello!  I’m a freshly-raised Master Mason here, and I have some questions about Masonic funeral rites.

The main question I have has to do with burial/disposal options.  My wife has elected to have her body donated to science via Anatomy Gifts Registry, which would leave no remains for burial.  We’ve discussed this with each other and with our (adult) children, and it’s fine by everyone.

I’ve been thinking of the same thing for myself—it will save my survivors much of the expense and trouble of a funeral and burial—but I’m curious as to whether Freemasonry finds this acceptable.  It’s hard to be buried with your apron if there’s nothing to bury, for one thing.

What options (burial, cremation, donation, etc.) are available/acceptable to a Freemason?

I agree that donating after death is a great idea. But I wanted to add that lack of remains is not all that uncommon. Some have been cremated and therefore although techincaly there are remains it is usually just and urn on a pedestal at the funeral home, at least if there is a memorial service. I have seen in this case the local Freemasons conduct the masonic Service and place the apron, etc on the table or pedestal that the urn is placed on. In the case of no Urn I am sure a small table with the departed Brother’s picture or something would suffice in place of the urn and the same procedure could be done.
Always remembering that the Masonic Service is conducted at the request of the surviving spouse or the member himself before his demise.

Bro. Bill A.

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Bro. Bill A.
Master
Potunk Lodge # 1071
Grand Lodge of NY
2nd Circle Chairman - The Masonic Society

“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”
- Rene Descartes

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Posted: 30 June 2011 05:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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In MD, a member or his family has two options: the regular Masonic Burial Service (commonly referred to as the “Graveside” service) and the Masonic Memorial Service. The first is nowadays rarely done, as it is performed at the grave of the deceased following the church funeral, and therefore presumes earth burial, and is generally poorly attended. The usual is the Memorial Service which is done by the Master and Chaplain, the other officers and members of the lodge formed up and looking on, at the funeral parlor (usually) the evening before the funeral. This allows the maximum number of brothers to attend. It’s a short (ca. 20 minutes) service which the WM must do from memory. The deceased brother is generally wearing the apron he was presented the night he was initiated. If the casket is closed, the family usually gives the apron to the WM who lays it on top of the casket at the point where the apron is mentioned. The WM also holds up a sprig of evergreen, explains its significance, and puts it over the heart of the brother (or on top of the casket).

The Memorial Service can be, and sometimes is, done without the body present. If the deceased has been cremated and the ashes are available in an urn or other container, it will usually be on a pedestal or something and the WM and chaplain stand next to it. If the body has been destroyed or never found, the service can be done without it, laying down the apron and evergreen on something handy and stating that the apron is “symbolically” worn and the evergreen “symbolically” placed. 


I commend you for your intention to donate your remains. You may have read in the newspaper last week about the annual memorial service which is performed at the Sykesville hospital grounds to honor all those whose bodies were given to the Anatomy Board of MD in the past year, the ashes of which are all interred at one time once a year. These are not just those who chose to donate their remains, but also unidentified remains, those of the homeless, and those without families or the means to take care of them. From the news accounts, this must be a very beautiful and moving service.

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Liberty Pickering Lodge #219, Baltimore MD
Druid RA Chapter #28, Baltimore
Hiram Council #5 R&SM;, Baltimore
Monumental Commandery #3, Baltimore
Harrisburg Consistory AASR, Harrisburg, PA

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Posted: 30 June 2011 06:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Hi Jim,
Just to add to what the Brothers have already mentioned, there is no requirement to be buried with your apron. I, for example, will be cremated and don’t really care what happens to my apron after I pass on. I commend you and your wife for addressing these issues now so they won’t have to be an additional burden to your survivors.

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Posted: 01 July 2011 08:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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zoffy - 30 June 2011 06:56 PM

Hi Jim,
Just to add to what the Brothers have already mentioned, there is no requirement to be buried with your apron. I, for example, will be cremated and don’t really care what happens to my apron after I pass on. I commend you and your wife for addressing these issues now so they won’t have to be an additional burden to your survivors.

I also intend to be “broken up for spare parts” as I put it. I asked that my lambskin apron be cremated with whatever is left of me if possible.

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John Ruggiero
Senior Warden, Ancient York Lodge, Lowell, MA.

God never sends us anything we can’t handle. Sometimes I wish He didn’t trust me so much. - Mother Teresa

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Posted: 01 July 2011 10:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Jim Goltz - 30 June 2011 12:52 PM

Hello!  I’m a freshly-raised Master Mason here, and I have some questions about Masonic funeral rites.

The main question I have has to do with burial/disposal options.  My wife has elected to have her body donated to science via Anatomy Gifts Registry, which would leave no remains for burial.  We’ve discussed this with each other and with our (adult) children, and it’s fine by everyone.

I’ve been thinking of the same thing for myself—it will save my survivors much of the expense and trouble of a funeral and burial—but I’m curious as to whether Freemasonry finds this acceptable.  It’s hard to be buried with your apron if there’s nothing to bury, for one thing.

What options (burial, cremation, donation, etc.) are available/acceptable to a Freemason?

Hi Jim and welcome to Freemasonry as a Master Mason.

I have been doing the Masonic Funeral Services for my Lodge for
about 5 years now and there are a few variations that I have encountered.
When the open casket is available, the apron is placed on the deceased
Brother’s body and the evergreen is placed in the suit jacket pocket
over his heart.
When the urn is available, I have a Brother raise the urn and I place
the apron on the table and the urn is then placed on top of it. I then
place the evergreen leaning on the front side of the urn.
I recently attended a Lodge Service where the family was invited and
no urn or body was present. When the Brethern formed a lodge, the family
was seated in chairs west of the alter while the oration was done east
of the alter. The apron was placed on the alter south of The Three Great
Lights after the explanation and the evergreen was placed on top of the
apron after it’s explanation. The orator had to change a few sentences
because there were no remains and the service was very moving.
We, as Masons, are able to overcome many obstacles because of the diverse
backgrounds of the membership. We are among the men who can best work
and best agree.
Fraternally, Jay.

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Jay Mathis
Worshipful Master
Tuckerton Lodge # 4 F&AM;
Tuckerton, NJ

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Posted: 07 July 2011 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Dan Madore - 30 June 2011 01:36 PM
Jim Goltz - 30 June 2011 12:52 PM

Hello!  I’m a freshly-raised Master Mason here, and I have some questions about Masonic funeral rites.

The main question I have has to do with burial/disposal options.  My wife has elected to have her body donated to science via Anatomy Gifts Registry, which would leave no remains for burial.  We’ve discussed this with each other and with our (adult) children, and it’s fine by everyone.

I’ve been thinking of the same thing for myself—it will save my survivors much of the expense and trouble of a funeral and burial—but I’m curious as to whether Freemasonry finds this acceptable.  It’s hard to be buried with your apron if there’s nothing to bury, for one thing.

What options (burial, cremation, donation, etc.) are available/acceptable to a Freemason?

That’s absolutley fine.  There is no requirement that a Mason be buried with his apron.  A Masons merely can do this if he wants, but it is not required.  What you do with your body once you expire doesn’t concern Masonry.  The part of you that matters has joined the eternal lodge above.  What’s left over is up to the family in accordance with your wishes.

I think donating your body to science is a GREAT idea.  However, to know exactly what you might be used for, check out the book “Stiff - The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” by Mary Roach.  It really is an entertaining look into the donated corpse industry.  They’ll most likely cut your head off to use for cosmetic surgery practice, and then your body will be used in a body farm where they watch you rot and study it.  That’s a thousand times more useful then being 6 feet underground in an steel box.

Anyway…donate away.  Masonry isn’t a religion, we don’t have requirements for interment.


Just be warned that the book “Stiff-The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” is not for the squeamish.  She goes into great detail about past and present surgeries etc.

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