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The general law of Freemasonry requires a month to elapse between the time of receiving a petition for initiation and that of balloting for the candidate, and also that there shall be an interval of one month between the reception of each of the Degrees of Craft Freemasonry. Cases sometimes occur when a Lodge desires this probationary period to be dispensed with, so that the candidates petition may be received and balloted for at the same Communication, or so that the Degrees may be conferred at much shorter intervals. As some reason must be assigned for the application to the Grand Master for the Dispensation, such reason is generally stated to be that the candidate is about to go on a long journey, or some other equally valid. Cases of this kind are called, in the technical language of Freemasonry, Cases of Emergency. It is evident that the emergency is made for the sake of the candidate, and not for. that of the Lodge or of Freemasonry.

The too frequent occurrence of applications for Dispensations in cases of emergency have been a fruitful source of evil, as thereby unworthy persons, escaping the ordeal of an investigation into character. have been introduced into the Order; and even where the candidates have been worthy, the rapid passing through the Degrees prevents a due impression from being made on the mind, and the candidate fails to justly appreciate the beauties and merits of the Masonic system. Hence, these cases of emergency have been very unpopular with the most distinguished members of the Fraternity. In the olden time the Master and the Wardens of the Lodge were vested with the prerogative of deciding what was a case of emergency; but modern law and usage, in the United States, at least, make the Grand Master the sole judge of what constitutes a case of emergency. Under the English Constitution (see Rule 185) the emergency must be real in the opinion of the Master of the Lodge concerned.

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