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Failing the test….?
Posted: 10 March 2010 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Hello Everyone,
I have a question.  I was just wondering if someone is about to take there EA, FC, or MM degree and fails to remember a certain part during the actual ritual do they “fail” that degree and not welcomed to continue the degree?  I have never seen this question posted on here before.  Thank you.

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Eric Gagne

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Posted: 10 March 2010 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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No. You do not “fail” but you must return your catechism before a year is over though. I hope that helps.

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Bro. Christopher Bigner DD ThD

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Posted: 10 March 2010 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Illusionist,

I’m not quite sure what you mean by failing to remember part of the ritual. The good Doctor presumes you mean the ritual lessons, or catechism, which has to be learned and demonstrated after you receive the degrees.

If you have not yet received the EA degree and are worried that you have to know some part of it, don’t give it a thought. A candidate for any of the three degrees is presumed to know nothing of it. Most of the questions which may be asked will be answered for you by your escort/guide.

If you were referring to the catechism, I don’t think you have much to worry about there either. No one expects a new brother to be word-perfect, any more than the officers of a lodge are expected to be word-perfect when conferring a degree, although they work hard to try to be perfect. When a new brother is demonstrating his catechism, it is almost expected that he may need prompting and no one is upset if he can’t reel it off exactly perfect. The only time I have ever seen anyone fail to receive approval is when the lodge had the impression that he didn’t try very hard to learn it.

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Posted: 10 March 2010 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Thank you very much everyone for your help.  I really appreciate it.

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Eric Gagne

Columbian Lodge A.F.& A.M. Boston, MA
Junior Warden, Celestial Lodge A.F.& A.M. Westwood, MA
32° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Boston
St. Paul’s Royal Arch Chapter Boston, MA
Boston Council of Royal and Select Masters Boston, MA
Boston Commandery #2 Boston, MA

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Posted: 12 March 2010 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Hello all.

I wanted to post one little comment. While you may hear the word “catechism” used here by some members in certain jurisdictions—as a word to describe the words being recited in the ritual, other areas tend to use phrases like “exemplifying the ritual.”

Although the term catechism stems from the Latin term that means, “to teach by word of mouth,” and can include meanings like “rigorous questioning,”—- because of the word’s long association with the Catholic Church, as well as a primary meaning as “instruction on the religious doctrine of a Christian Church,” I personally find the term confusing—and like many things in Masonry, I think its use only exacerbates the confusion in non Masons minds that Freemasonry is some kind of church or religion.

Besides, those of us who went to Catholic school are very familiar with the term, and it does not bring back good memories. :)

I have always thought of starting a movement to get the word out of our venacular, but that’s a topic for another thread.

The bottom line in terms of the idea of “failing” to exemplify is that it almost never happens. Some just do it better than others.

But the Lodge goes to a lot of work, time, and rehearsal to make a Man a Mason. We then spend time explaining the ritual that was performed for your behalf. Lodges expect you to take a little time to try to try to understand the meaning and get these early lessons into your head. They are the basis of everything you learn going forward, and there’s not much sence in being a Mason if you don’t understand it a little. I guarantee you won’t the first time you hear it.

But I have never seen anyone who put in just a little bit of effort not be able to get these lessons down pat. Saying them back in open Lodge is always more problematic, and some people are just not as adept at the public speaking thing as other. But as long as you try if you are asked that’s all that matters. I knew one man who could repeat the Ritual to me perfectly but froze when he got in front of people he didn’t know. He later became Master of his Lodge and one of the most dynamic speakers I know. That’s actually part of the value of Masonic training and ritual—it teaches how to be comfortable in front of people and how to learn what it takes to truly learn something and make it part of you.

So all we ask is that you try. If you do that you cannot fail—and everything will be fine.


Bob Heruska
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Posted: 12 March 2010 05:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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And Brother Young, my apologies if it sounded like my post was asking you to avoid the term “catechism.” I in no way was doing that. You are much more of a scholar of Masonry than I am—and I know the term prevails in many jurisdictions and is used often on this Forum.

I was just bringing up a point for clarification. It’s actually been something I’ve been thinking about for awhile, and it jogged my memory when I saw it just now.

We get a lot of questions at our open houses here in Mass about the “churchlike” words we use—like alter, temple, master, high priest, etc. I guess I am always thinking about how we can better our public perception.

Any thoughts you or anyone else might have in this regard would be welcome.

Bob

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Bob Heruska
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Posted: 12 March 2010 05:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Bob,
Thank you very much for your information.  What you said makes sence to me.  Try hard and do your best and good things happen.  Got it!  Thanks.

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Eric Gagne

Columbian Lodge A.F.& A.M. Boston, MA
Junior Warden, Celestial Lodge A.F.& A.M. Westwood, MA
32° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Boston
St. Paul’s Royal Arch Chapter Boston, MA
Boston Council of Royal and Select Masters Boston, MA
Boston Commandery #2 Boston, MA

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Posted: 12 March 2010 09:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Bro. Heruska, I don’t in the least mind your adding your comment. In fact, I agree with you. I don’t like the word catechism much either, and for the same reasons you adduce. But that’s what I’m used to, because it’s the word we use in Maryland and, I believe, in most other jurisdictions which have this practice. If someone can come up with a better word, I’ll be glad to use it here.

That said, I don’t believe we have to apologize to anyone for the number of terms we use which have an ecclesiastical flavor. Freemasonry first came into being in England, at a time and place where the Church of England was (still is) the established church, and this establishment permeated everyone’s life. You don’t hear of people being “members” of the C of E. Every English subject was automatically a “member” of it, since it was the established church (although anyone could become part of another religious denomination). Every Englishman had the right to have his children baptized in the parish church, to be married there, and to be buried from there, even if he never set foot in it any other time. He also paid tithes to support it, whatever his religion, if any. And technically no other religious group had the right to call itself, or its house of worship, a church. Methodists, for at least 100 years, referred to themselves as “chapel” people because they had to call their buildings “chapels”, not having the right to call them churches. I have no doubt that the vast majority of the men who drew up the forms of masonry were C of E, with two notable exceptions, Bros. Anderson and Desaguliers, who were Presbyterian dissenters.

From the C of E, we inherited certain forms, titles, etc. For example, kneeling at prayer; a candidate must kneel for prayer if he can, also the Chaplain if he prays at the altar. Then there are the titles. The top officer of a lodge is the Worshipful Master and may be addressed or referred to as Worshipful Bro. Smith. If he rises near the top of the Grand Lodge, he gains an additional title. The elected GL officers below Grand Master are Right Worshipful, such as R.W. Senior Grand Warden, etc. and the brother becomes R.W. Bro. Smith. If he becomes Grand Master, he is then Most Worshipful (unless he’s in Pennsylvania). This comes from the C of E, where a deacon or priest is Reverend, and referred to as the Reverend Mr. Smith. A bishop is Right Reverend, and an archbishop is Most Reverend.

I’m sure every mason has at some time explained to someone that “Worshipful” has nothing of a religious meaning; it’s just an old-fashioned word for “Honorable”. Old-fashioned in the USA, that is. In England and remaining colonies and in countries formerly English colonies, a magistrate or judge may still to this day be referred to as Worshipful and addressed as Your Worship, as we say in the USA, Your Honor.

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Posted: 13 March 2010 01:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Always a pleasure, Brother Young.

B

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Bob Heruska
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Posted: 13 March 2010 02:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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It might help you to remember as well that the examination of a catechism degree is, in most jurisdictions, judged adequate or inadequate by the Worshipful Master alone. When I did mine for the first degree, I was told that I would leave the Lodge room while the Worshipful “rendered his verdict.” I could hear from the ante-room though the doors were closed that he stated “I declare this examination to be proficient and acceptable.” Then there was applause from the Brethren. As a Master Mason myself, I have completed teh first and second degree catechism exams with no problems. Im working on my third, which is optional under my Grand Lodge, but is considered to be quite an accomplishment if done, if for no other reason than the length of the obligation.

I think it helps to remember also that the Brethren, your mentor/poster, the officers and Worshipful dont want you to fail and will do everything possible to avoid it. i have seen some pretty bad examinations and the candidate was declared proficient, but I always encourage to memorize and learn as best as you possibly can. Many Grand Lodge also offer short forms, in which the candidate only has to memorize 10 or 11 questions and answers.

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Posted: 13 March 2010 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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checkered pavement - 13 March 2010 02:19 AM

As a Master Mason myself, I have completed teh first and second degree catechism exams with no problems. Im working on my third, which is optional under my Grand Lodge, but is considered to be quite an accomplishment if done, if for no other reason than the length of the obligation.

I am confused…please enlighten me…I thought to be a Master mason, one had to progress through the first THREE degrees and thus earning the Master Mason degree?  Please help as I do not understand. 
JC

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FC:????


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Posted: 13 March 2010 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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The procedure varies from state to state. A man will first take the degree instruction in the Entered Apprentice degree. Then, he will be required to memorize a portion of the degree work, and be examined in lodge. When the lodge is satisfied that he is “proficient” in the first degree, then he will be scheduled for the Fellow Craft degree.

He will then attend the Fellow Craft degree ceremony.  Later, he will be required to memorize a portion of the degree work, and be examined again by the lodge. When the lodge is satisfied with his proficiency, he will be scheduled for the Master Mason degree.

Once the Master Mason degree is completed, he is a Master Mason. There are no more degree ceremonies in Craft Masonry. Some states require the new Master Mason, to memorize a portion of the degree work, and be examined in lodge. In some states, the memorization and examination is optional. When I was made a Master Mason in Kentucky, the examination was optional. But- If you wanted to serve as an officer, you had to complete the instruction and be examined for proficiency in the Master Mason degree. The lodge also presented you with a nice diploma. I decided to attend the instruction, and take the examination.

I suggest that you ask the secretary of your lodge, what the procedure is in your state.

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Posted: 13 March 2010 09:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Thanks for explaining Brother Charles. My effort was a bit lacking I fear, especially to someone who is not yet familiar with the workings of the Craft.  Thanks again.

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Posted: 13 March 2010 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Checkered Pavement, I found interesting your remarks on how instruction and examination is done in your jurisdiction (you don’t say what it is). Also that the MM examination is the longest.

In MD, the EA instruction/examination (I’m avoiding the “C” word here) is the longest—48 questions including “repeat the Obligation”. The FC is shorter, but has two very long answers. The MM is only about half the length of the EA, but the Obligation is long. A new EA undergoes instruction and must then stand examination in open lodge (in a group if there are more than one), after which a ballot is taken and the examinees must vote on their own proficiency, as every member present must vote. It takes 5 blackballs to deny proficiency, which almost never happens. The FC is then conferred, and the process repeated, after which the MM is conferred. Until 1948, proficiency in the MM was optional, but since then it has been required for everyone. The new MMs have one year to receive instruction and stand on their proficiency. If they do not, they will be summoned by the WM to explain their failure to comply with the law and if they do not promptly comply will be charged with unmasonic conduct and expelled. If there is a good reason for noncompliance, a waiver of the requirement can be requested from the Grand Master. An EA or FC who fails to attend instruction does not advance, and if he does not advance within a year of receiving the degree will be dropped from the rolls. This is probably the most stringent set of regulations in the US; so much so that a study is now ongoing to make major changes.

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Posted: 13 March 2010 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Hello all,

Bob that sounds quite stringent. This topic has been of great interest to me since I soon will be initiated. My Lodge Secretary has already told me that I will have to present my proficiency in open Lodge. I am not sure if it will then be balloted on or if passing or failing is at the discretion of the Worshipful Master. Following that they will schedule my FC passing and at a later date I will be required to present my proficiency in that degree. After presenting the proficiency for FC they will immiedialtely afterwards open the Lodge in the Master Mason Degree and I will be raised. Unlike MD I will then have thirty days only to present the MM proficiency.

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MM : 4/28/2010
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Posted: 13 March 2010 06:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Hello all.

This is a fascinating thread. I am actually surprised to see just how many subtle differences there are in jurisdictions.

At the risk of being redundant with my posts in other threads, I wanted to repeat a response I just gave to someone who sent me a Private Message.

This person was thinking of petitioning, but became so concerned about what he was reading in this thread that he was reconsidering. He said he is simply “terrible” at memorizing things and the thought of having to get up in front of others to do so is enough to have him pass on going forward.

As I stated in my reply—let there be no mistake, the qualifications for becoming a Mason are simple—be of man of lawful age, be of good character, be well recommended, have a belief in supreme being, and want to become a Mason of your own free will. That’s it. There is no requirement to “have a good memory.” There is no, “Sorry, you failed the memory test, you’re out.”

So if anybody else is thinking this way, please put that fear aside.

That being said, the degrees of Freemasonry are a serious and solemn affair.  The obligations you take – though you may not understand them – are meant to impress upon you that a special bond has been made between you and your brothers – a bond only Freemasons have.  Once you have been given a degree, it can’t be taken back. You are a Mason. But if you don’t appear to take this bond and this new friendship seriously, a Lodge can keep you from advancing to the next degree or keep you from signing the bylaws of their Lodge. 

But the idea of exemplifying what was told to you (before you can go forward) is not a test. It is a way to prove your seriousness in your pursuit and your willingness to learn the first fundamentals of the Craft.  Freemasonry is like a building. You have a foundation that must be poured before you can build higher.  When an instructor goes over what you have heard in your degree with you, he gives you the words. They are not written down. You repeat them. They words sound different. They are from another era.  But the more you repeat them and work with your brother to learn them, the more they become part of you.  And the more you become a Mason. The next degree will build on the first one, so when your conductor says, “You remember, my Brother…” some of it will come back. All of the teachings of Freemasonry build up like this.  And at some point, just as you don’t have memorize your name, or search for the words in your name every time someone asks you, a lot of Masonic ritual will, with repetition and over time, just become part of you. But that first foundation is the key.

As I said, the man who is given the first degree and recites the obligation becomes a Mason. That can never be taken away. To become a member of a Lodge and to attend meetings outside that first degree however, a man needs to demonstrate his seriousness. That’s it. If you’re dyslexic, talk to your Master. You will not fail.  Just show that you are willing to try to learn some of what you’ve heard.

I can promise you that every Mason has used the wrong words, forgotten entire passages, or just drawn a blank.  There should never be any embarrassment. We are your brothers, we are there for you. In fact, when you exemplify—all the brethren there are dying to help –sometimes the hardest job for the Master is keeping the brethren quiet long enough for you to think of a word or for a ritualist to give you jump start.  Whatever you do, don’t worry. We can all tell if you tried.  That’s all we care about.

Bob Heruska
Boston, MA

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