BROTHER, WORSHIPFUL BROTHER, RIGHT WORSHIPFUL BROTHER, MOST WORSHIPFUL BROTHER
by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
IRA GILBERT, PM, DDGM
As soon as a candidate takes his obligation in the first degree he changes his designation from candidate to brother. At the moment that the candidate detaches his hands and kisses the Bible he is embarking on a journey that is a long and difficult, although rewarding journey through our fraternity. There are many paths that a brother may follow as he progresses from Brother to Most Worshipful Brother. He may not aspire to, nor achieve all of the designations listed in the title to this article. But nevertheless the journey will be a gratifying one that will make his Masonic life satisfying and enjoyable.
This is an article about aspirations. How one achieves his aspirations is dependent on the new Brother’s thinking, but even more so, on the aid given to him by the brethren in the lodge to help the new Brother along the way.
Last week I participated in a Grand Master’s Class as the Mentor for the candidates from my lodge. The candidates entered the lodge hall and as they stood before the Wardens and the Master the Junior Deacon was asked at each station if the candidate was “duly and truly prepared” Now most brethren think that being “duly and truly prepared” means is he properly attired in the costume, and has the cable tow and blind fold been properly affixed. But if the candidate is really been “duly and truly prepared” this also means in his mind as well as his body. Has the candidate studied the Intender Manual for the Entered Apprentice Degree? Has the candidate learned and been properly examined on the Catechism? Has the candidate been schooled by his Intender on the meaning and symbolism of the ritual in the Entered Apprentice degree? I fear that in many cases the candidate was not really “duly and truly prepared” in his mind to be raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.
As the candidates were raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason they were embarking on a life of study. They were starting out on a journey where, depending on their aspirations, they were beginning their advance from being a Brother to becoming a Worshipful Brother, and then, perhaps, to becoming a Right Worshipful and possibly even a Most Worshipful Brother.
To progress in many organizations there is a preferred route to the top. In the corporate world this may be by becoming proficient in marketing, sales, or finance. In the military, the route to the top might lay through experience in combat. In Freemasonry, the path upward lays in proficiency in the ritual.
Proficiency in the ritual not only means that the Brother is capable of memorizing the words. But it also means studying and becoming proficient in the history and symbolism of the materiel presented in each of the degrees,
The path leading from brother to Most Worshipful Brother starts with the learning of the catechism in each degree. In order to achieve recognition in the catechism the new brother must learn the long form catechism for all three degrees and then be examined in open lodge on his proficiency in these catechisms. Upon a satisfactory examination the successful candidate will be recognized for his accomplishment by the Grand Lodge.
The next step in one’s Masonic advancement is the procurement of three books from the Grand Lodge of Illinois. The first book to acquire is the Book of Standard Work. Next is the Book of Ceremonials. The third acquisition is a pamphlet that is chock full of information. That pamphlet is The Handbook For Officer Advancement. The latter publication contains a listing of what a Brother should learn at each position and station as he progresses through the chairs once he achieves an appointive officer in the lodge.
If a Brother is fortunate enough to have been appointed by the Master to a chair in the lodge he starts his progression in the hierarchy of Freemasonry. The Brother starts to learn the materiel from the Book of Standard Work and the Book of Ceremonials appropriate to his position in the officer’s line of the lodge. The progression on learning as a brother moves through the chairs is outlined in the pamphlet Handbook For Officer Advancement.
It is at this point in the Brother’s advancement toward the Master’s chair that he should consider attending one or more of the excellent schools in the area. He should also attend the Grand Lodge Officers Schools that are scheduled throughout the Masonic year. Learning the ritual in the Book Of Standard Work or in the Book of Ceremonials is but a start to Masonic education. It is at the schools that the brother will learn the floor and rod work that is essential to performing a good ritual. If memory were the only route in the path for advancement, the brother would have a relatively easy road to the top. When the brother feels comfortable enough to really delve into what Freemasonry means, he can now start to look into the many books that are available that teach the history, symbolism and philosophy lying behind the ritual that he is now mastering. It is the understanding of our ritual and the application of these principals that make a man a Mason and prepares him to become an officer in the fraternity.
The next stop on the way to the top on our fraternity is to achieve the title of Master. The trip from Brother to Worshipful Brother can take as long as seven years if one fills each station on the way. Starting at Marshall the Brother fills the stations of Junior Deacon, Senior Deacon, Junior Steward, Junior Warden, Senior Warden, and perhaps Chaplain, before achieving the station of Worshipful Master. At each station there is the prescribed material that must be learned and mastered.
If the Brother has done well and learned the ritual, floor, and rod work, the next step to Right Worshipful Brother is not too difficult. There are two routes to this title. One can become involved with the Grand Lodge and perhaps become a District Deputy Grand Master. Along with the title comes the satisfying job of working with a number of lodges in your district helping them achieve a good working lodge. Another way to become a Right Worshipful Brother is to be appointed to a station in the line of Officers in the Grand Lodge.
A different way to become a Right Worshipful Brother is to attend one or more schools that teach the ritual, rod, and floor work and become proficient enough to pass the rigorous test to become a Grand Lecturer. Prior to achieving this prestigious position the Brother may become a Certified Lodge Instructor. This title can be attained by being skilled in the ritual of the first section of all three degrees. To become a Grand Lecturer, it is necessary to achieve perfection in all of the material in the Book of Standard Work along with the floor and rod work that goes with the ritual.
Right Worshipful Brother may be all that one wishes to accomplish. However, the road to Most Worshipful Brother comes with another long and difficult path. The Brother may be appointed to the station of Junior Grand Deacon. Then, after the passage of two years at each station, that is ten years total, I will be able to call the Brother Most Worshipful Grand Master. The trail is a long and demanding one to follow. But I can assure you that the long, hard years are well worth the effort to gain the position that only a few can achieve.
Bro. Ira Gilbert was raised on January 8, 1968 in Isaac Cutter Lodge #1073 and was Master in 1972. Isaac Cutter Lodge merged with Chicago Lodge #437 and he is now now a member of Chicago Lodge. Bro Gilbert is a member of A. O. Fay Lodge #676 as well. He is also a member of the Valley of Chicago Scottish rite. Bro. Ira's dedication to Masonic Education has afforded him the ability to serve on the Grand Lodge Committee on Masonic Education and the Grand Lodge Committee on Jurisprudence. Bro. Ira comes from a Masonic family, his father being Master of Universal Lodge #985, now a part of Decalogue Lodge through a series of mergers. His father was also a Grand Lecturer. His main interest in our fraternity lies in the philosophy and history of our ritual and in Masonic Jurisprudence. Bro. Ira was a DDGM twice, once in the 1980's and once four years ago. He is also a fellow of the Illinois Lodge of Research and the ILOR awarded him the Andrew Torok Medal as well.