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Masonic Encyclopedia

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The titles conferred in the rituals of Freemasonry upon various officers are often apparently grandiloquent, lofty, and have given occasion to some, who have not fully understood their true meaning, to call them absurd and bombastic. On this subject Brother Albert Pike has, in the following remarks, given a just significance to Masonic titles:

Some of these titles we retain, but they have with us meanings entirely consistent with the spirit of equality, which is the foundation and peremptory law of its being, of all Freemasonry. The Knight, with us, is he who devotes his hand, his heart, his brain to the service of freemasonry, and professes himself the sworn soldier of truth: the Prince is he who aims to be chief, Princeps. first, leader among his equals, in virtue and good deeds: the Sovereign is he who, one of an Order whose members are all sovereigns, is supreme only because the law and Constitutions are so which he administers, and by which he like every other Brother, is governed. The titles Puissant, Potent, Wise, and Venerable indicate that power of virtue, intelligence, and wisdom which those ought to strive to attain who are placed in high offices by the suffrages of their Brethren, and all our other titles and designations have an esoteric meaning consistent with modesty and equality and which those who receive them should fully understand.

(See also Sermons, Masonic.)

A further welcome consideration of the subject is by Canon J. W. Horsley, who compares Masonic titles with those of the Episcopal Church, particularly the Church of England. Brother Horsley writes in Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, 1910 (part 2, volume X.Viii, page 98) that it may be obvious to the observing, but all people do not observe, that many of the names and titles used in Freemasonry and its organization have been borrowed directly and in their proper order from the Church of England. He invited an examination of the following illustrations.

1. The Church of England has at its head the two Primates of Canterbury and of York, and their official title is The Most Reverend. Masonry therefore has The Most Worshipful Grand Master, and Pro-Grand Master.

2. Under them in the hierarchy come the Right Reverend the Bishops. So Masonry puts next to its heads The Right Worshipful the Deputy Grand Master, The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Masters, and The Right Worshipful Grand Wardens. 3. The next title of honor or office in the Church is that of Very Reverend applied to Deans or Heads of Cathedral Chapters. Hence Very Worshipful as designating Grand Chaplain, Grand Treasurers, Registrar, Secretary, Director of Ceremonies, and President of the Board of Benevolence.

4. The unit of the Parish brings us to the parallel of The Reverend Parish Priests and The Worshipful the Master of a Lodge. Each is assisted by two Wardens and the association for many legal and administrative purposes of Rector and Church Wardens is as real and close as that of Master and Wardens.

5. One might here note the resemblance between the ceremony of the induction of the Priest into the benefice or care of a Parish and that of the installation of a Mason as Master of a Lodge. In the case of the more formal appointing of a Canon the resemblance is more marked by the ecclesiastical use of the word "installation" and moreover by the character of the physical act whereby the Bishop puts the new Canon into his Stall with a ritual that comes with no novelty to one who has previously been installed as the Master of a Lodge.

6. Reverting to the fact that of the two Primates the Archbishop of Canterbury is termed Primate of All England and the Archbishop of York the Primate of England, we may recall the time when in the early part of the 18th century there was a Grand Lodge of All England and a Grand Lodge of England.

7. Why certain groupings of Lodges are called Provinces may have puzzled some. Not so, however, those who as Churchmen were familiar with the division of lingland into the Province of Canterbury and the Province of York.

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