When you join Freemasonry, your options for participation and learning are endless. There are blue lodges, lodges of research, and grand lodge activities. There are a myriad of appendant bodies, ranging from the Scottish Rite, York Rite, and Shriners, just to name a few. How do you choose which lodges and appendant bodies to join and in which to participate? Every Master Mason should be a member of three Masonic bodies. The lodge that raised him, his local lodge, and the body that speaks to his passion. Allow me to explain why.
You will always have a special bond with the brothers and lodge that raised you. Hopefully, you will have spent countless hours with a mentor or several brethren who taught you the catechism and ritual. This lodge introduced you to Freemasonry and gave you your first impressions of it. This lodge "berthed" you as a mason, which is why it is often referred to as your mother lodge. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the fifth commandment is to "(h)onor thy father and thy mother." So should you honor the lodge that raised you with your continued membership and prompt payment of dues. Though you may move far away from this lodge, you now have a duty to ensure that it is sustained. This duty continues even if your mother lodge merges with another.
Your local lodge is where you can truly be a part of your community and do the most good. The men of your local lodge, and their families, are your neighbors. You will see them at school, the supermarket, and elsewhere about town. You will get to know them well. They are the ones who will lend a helping hand when you are in need. It will also be easier for you to help your fellow brother when he is in need. Due to your proximity to the lodge, the labor you do will not place an undue burden on you or your family. You can also do the most good for your community with your local lodge. The local lodge is the lodge that sees what the community needs and acts to alleviate it.
There are many forms of Freemasonry. There are ritualistic, social, historical, charitable, and esoteric forms of Freemasonry. I am sure that one or more of these forms of Freemasonry is what you were looking for when you joined the fraternity. Perhaps you discovered a new passion during the process of becoming a Master Mason. No matter which form of Freemasonry you wish to practice, there is a lodge or appendant body that will feed your passion. If your mother or local lodge is not providing you with the form you crave, don't give up on them. Find the lodge or appendant body that satisfies your needs. This will keep you engaged and make your labors within the quarry more enjoyable.
Some are lucky enough to have a single lodge perform two or all three of those functions. But why should you stop at three? Shouldn't you join all the appendant bodies? The answer is quite simply no. If you spend all your time going to Masonic events, you leave no time to practice your Masonry out in the real world. Your spouse, your children, your family all want to see you. Isn't that the purpose of all of that we do and why we devote our time to the Craft?
I hope that all Masons, young and old, heed this advice. It keeps not only our passions within due bounds but our labors as well. It ensures that our families don't resent our participation in the Craft. It prevents us from getting burnt out. Most importantly, it keeps us engaged and happy.
Bro. Adam Samuel Roth is the Chaplin of Anacostia-Pentalpha Lodge No. 21, in Washington, DC and a member of Acacia Lodge No. 16 in Clifton, Virginia. He is the curator of the Masonic Archive, which can be found at www.masonicarchive.org. He is also a devoted husband and father who works in the IT industry.