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Suggestions for Learning the Ritual

posted Oct 30, 2016, 1:24 PM by John Ferguson
 Suggestions for Learning the Ritual
From the Grand Lodge of Washington Officer's Handbook

It is often not obvious that one of the most important responsibilities that each Officer learns as he progresses through the various offices of a Lodge is self-discipline. Sometimes it does not occur and the Lodge suffers. P.G.M. Conrad Hahn, (Connecticut) described it in this manner: "No Brother should be elected or appointed to a Lodge office if he is unwilling or unable to memorize the ritual of the Three Degrees. Exceedingly few men are really unable to memorize."

Usually the inability to memorize is used as an excuse for unwillingness to make the effort to do so. Almost everyone can memorize if he applies himself. Furthermore, it is a very useful personal discipline, not only for the officers, but for every Brother who wants Symbolic Masonry to make its spiritual impact on the candidate.

While memorizing is not an easy discipline for most of us, Brethren should be required to develop that skill as a natural development of their Masonic growth. That is one of the distinctions that mark a man as a Mason.

Self-discipline is one of the most important techniques in developing spiritual awareness. Memorizing the lectures and obligations is such a discipline, without which a good man is not led to improve himself in Masonry.

It is recommended that each officer learn one of the three lectures and that the three lectures be rotated by the succeeding Junior Deacons; e.g. this year the Junior Deacon learns and gives the Middle Chamber lecture; and the following year the Junior Deacon of that year learns and gives the lecture of the Third Degree. In this manner there will always be a line officer capable of giving the lecture for any particular Degree. This procedure lessens the burden on the Past Masters whom many Lodges must count on.

By establishing a suggested sequence as a Lodge policy, each Worshipful Master is assured of having Lodge officers qualified to perform the ritual work. For Lodges that may not be so fortunate as to have candidates, the Worshipful Master may want to designate one night a month for the study and practice of Degree ritual. A different Degree could be selected for each successive month. This procedure has been known to be effective in keeping the Lodge Officers proficient during slack times. A Lodge that has not had a new candidate in some time should not use this fact as an excuse for slipshod ritual

Actors often associate a particular line with an action or even location on stage as a reminder of the line. The same can be applied to much of the ritual. An ideal way to learn the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft degrees is by walking through part of the lecture. The first part of the Entered Apprentice lecture can be walking new Brothers back through the footsteps of where events happened during the Degree.

Assigning small parts of the ritual like the Presentation of the Apron, the Working Tools or the Charges to the youngest members will work them into learning the ritual and the sometimes archaic Masonic word usage. Masonry teaches that it is a "progressive science, taught by degrees." The youngest Mason can start learning small parts and progress by degrees to a full lecture. Divide the lectures into different sections with different young brothers learning a smaller section and in time the full lecture.