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Becoming a Freemason
There is only one reason to petition to join the Fraternity of Freemasons and that reason is because you have a strong internal desire to become a part of the largest and oldest brotherhood of men to ever exist. If your motivation is something other than that, you may want to reconsider. Since the earliest days of Freemasonry, misguided fellows have sought membership for personal gain, erroneously thinking that membership would bring with it networking opportunties to further their career and financial standing. Such motivations have always been met with profound disappointment when the individual quickly realizes that the Masonic Lodge consists not of people of great wealth and influence but rather normal guys living normal lives. The brethren offer each other not favors but fellowship and fellowship is all that is expected in return. Although it is true many great men throughout history who may have in their time yielded great power and influence where indeed Freemasons, becoming a Freemason is not what made them that way. In fact many of those great men earned a name for themselves long before stepping foot in a lodge room. Freemasons come from all walks of life and represent every age, race and religion.
Joining any fraternity, particularly ours, is not something to be rushed into. Care should be taken to assure that it is truly something you want to be a part of and will have the time to participate in. It is also not recommended that you attempt to join if things in your life are not going well. Your first duty is and always will be to your family and their well being, if there is any indication that your ability to provide for them is in question, then you will not likely be accepted among the brethren.
The starting point for membership is at your local lodge. Your local lodge, if not apparent, is most often easily located in a directory maintained by the Grand Lodge for your particular geographical area. In the United States there are typically two Grand Lodges for every state that operate in parallel. One of them usually being referred to as a PHA or Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Lodge. Although usually differing slightly in ritual, the two Grand Lodges are equal in every regard. Membership in one or the other is most often determined simply by which one Masons you may already know are a member of or which one has a lodge closer to where you live. If you going to be moving out of state in the near future, it is recommended that you get settled in your new state of residence before pursing membership. If you are in the military and move frequently then duration of residency requirements are usually waived with the understanding that you may never be in any one particular place for an extended period of time. Because of the time constraints that can sometimes be imposed on members of the armed services, it is helpful if you have brothers in arms that can vouch for your character when it comes to becoming a brother in lodge. It is not uncommon to ask a trusted friend who is already a freemason to accompany you on your first visit to a Masonic lodge.
The process of petitioning a Masonic lodge for membership is not like the the process of joining most other organizations. You do not simply "apply" or "sign up". The Fraternity of Freemasons is a brotherhood that you join for life and once you are a member, there is no mechanism to remove you except in the most drastic of circumstances. Because of this, the brethren of a lodge will take great care in getting to know you before even giving you an application. In fact, at least in the United States, no one will ever ask you to join or offer you an application. The only way to begin the process is for you to ask and even then, your query may go unanswered if you have not taken the time to let the membership get to know you. For centuries it has been a requirement in most areas that a brother know you for at last a decade before endorsing an application to join the lodge. This was more easily achieved in an age since passed because of the saturation of Masons among the population and a society that interacted with a different dynamic than exists today. It was not so much a situation where it would take someone ten years to get to know you but rather a situation where someone had already known you for such a length of time. Today the number of Masons in the world has decreased while the general population has dramatically increased, thus substantially lowering the chances that you may already know someone who is a brother. Never the less, it is not uncommon for the brethren of a lodge to easily spend six to twelve months getting to know you and becoming comfortable enough to endorse a petition for you to become a brother. This is most commonly achieved by attending dinners and social functions at the lodge where you seek membership. Brethren often get together outside of the lodge for a variety of reasons and if you express a strong desire to get to know them you will likely be invited to participate in events outside the lodge as well.
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