It makes me sad when I see that. In this day and age, it isn't hard to learn all the secrets of the Freemasons. In fact, it never has been. I read once that the all the secrets of the Freemasons have been known and published since about fifteen minutes after the Grand Lodge of England hung out their shingle in 1717. That's not far from the truth. And in this day and age, those secrets are readily available with a simple Google search. I'm sure many candidates today, in the Age of Information, are unable to resist the tempation of satisfying their curiousity about what to expect prior to entering the Lodge for the first time.
It's a big mistake, and one you just can't undo.
Going through the degrees of Freemasonry is more than just going through the ritual--it's about the experience. It's about going into an unknown situation, placing your faith in God, and your confidence and trust in men you may barely know at all. It's difficult for many men to walk into a situation without knowing what to expect, but that's an important part of it. Much of the impact of the ritual is experiencing it the first time.
The best advice I have for petitioners is to really think about it before you spoil the experience. The best advice I have for those of you mentoring a new candidate is to talk about this. Discourage them from ruining for themselves what is likely to be one of the most interesting and memorable events in their lifetime.
I almost spoiled it for myself when I joined the Fraternity. I was very nervous about the whole thing, and came very close to educating myself on the ritual in advance. I'm very glad I didn't. I was fortunate that somebody warned me about doing just that, and I was wise in listening to him. I was told that if I was seeking light, then I should trust my Brothers to illuminate me in the manner in which it was intended. It is something I'll never forget, and fortunately, I was able to overcome my nerves and walk into that Lodge without foreknowledge. Knowing what to expect in those degrees would have ruined the impact of the experience itself.
I mean seriously, who really enjoys the movie after they've already read the book?
Todd E. Creason, is the founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor. He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is member of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL). He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL). You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org