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the charges of the degrees

From The Grand Lodge Of Texas

The word “charge” has many meanings, ranging from a “fee”, such as “room charge”, to an “ impulsive rush”, such as the “Charge of the Light Brigade”. Likewise it alludes to an “acceptance of responsibility”, which is more familiar to the Mason. Each degree possesses a “Charge” by the presiding officer of the lodge to the candidate. As a conclusion to each degree, each “charge” states the duties expected of the candidate as a Mason from that point onward.

In the various historical constitutions, which outline the regulations for the government of our Craft, are found “charges” governing our conduct as Masons. In operative Masonry, they included our actions toward our employer and toward each other as Brothers, but in speculative Masonry, we find a broader and more spiritual set of expectations. In the “Charges of 1722” is found references to God and religion, civil responsibilities, lodge matters, officers and Brothers, work, and general behavior. For the Texas Mason, the Charges found in Lightfoot’s “Manual of the Lodge” clearly state the duties expected at each level of advancement.

The Entered Apprentice is welcomed and informed that Masonry has its roots in antiquity and serves as an institution for learning and self-improvement. He is instructed to inculcate, or deeply impress upon himself, three great duties, which are to God, to his neighbor, and to himself. Likewise he is cautioned about his civil conduct, his outward demeanor, his attendance, and further instruction in Masonry. Finally he is charged to keep the secrets and preserve the dignity of the Fraternity.

The Fellowcraft is recognized for his advancement and encouraged to increase in knowledge. The candidate is charged to judge wisely and to develop his knowledge of the liberal arts, especially geometry. Since geometry and Masonry were originally synonymous in meaning, the candidate is expected to conform to the principles of the order in developing their own moral character. Studying the Works of God and gaining knowledge are the central duties contained within this degree.

The Master Mason is commended for his advancement and tied more closely to the Craft. His charges include duty, honor, gratitude, dignity, and guardianship. In addition to benevolence, regularity of conduct, preservation of the landmarks, and customs, are added overall character. These bring together the binding of the candidate to the Brethren and the Craft.

Taken individually, or in total, the “Charges” mark a path for each to follow in developing their moral and spiritual temple. Through reading a charge in the monitor or carefully listening to a presentation at a conferral, each Brother may gain insights into himself and his responsibilities as a Mason. As stated in the Monitor, “Freemasonry … is progressive, and a knowledge of its philosophy and teachings can only be acquired by time, patience, perseverance, and close application.” The Charges do not represent the end of a degree, rather a beginning of one’s life and character.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014