But what does it mean?
BY EX. MAURICE I. SHAUFFER
Presented at: WOBURN MASONIC TEMPLE, OCTOBER 27, 1990
We hear the ritual and repeat the words; But what does it mean? In the First Degree we all agree that we would never reveal the "Arts", "Parts", and "Points" of the Mysteries of Freemasonry. No one explained at that time, to what we had agreed. No one at the Lodge of Instruction explained, nor did we get an explanation when we heard the catechism of the First Degree.
What do the words, in the above context, mean? "Arts" means the knowledge or things which are made known, such as the "Words" and the proper way to confer them. "Parts" the degrees into which Freemasonry is divided. "Points" the rules and usages and means of recognition. In the Middle Ages a craft or trade was often known as a "Mystery". Right down to our own time, this attitude of secrecy on the part of the skilled artisan was or is not uncommon. A stranger entering the workshop, was a signal to the men to put their tools away, and when questioned about their tools; it was or is not unusual to offer totally misleading answers.
In the First Degree a catechism of question is asked of the candidate. "Whence Came you as a Mason ?" The answer, "From a Lodge of the Holy Saints John of Jerusalem." Now it is possible that the candidate may have at one time or another been in Jerusalem, but I doubt it ! But I do know that there is no "Lodge of the Holy Saints John of Jerusalem", nor has there ever been. The answer has no foundation in truth. Yet Masonry does not deal in satire. The answer therefore is symbolic, or is an allegory, the foundation of Freemasonry.
To understand the allegory, it is necessary to decipher the terminology used. The Bible refers to "two Jerusalems". One is the actual City by that name. The other, the Jerusalem on High, or-a state of being. Translating the Hebrew word for Jerusalem, it means a place of perfect peace. The last syllables, Shalom, in Hebrew does not only mean peace, but further implies, a completeness in all parts, or a state of perfection, thus-"Completeness in being".
From "John" comes "Jochanan" or more correctly the Hebrew "Yochanan", meaning, "favored of God". The use of the word "Lodge" in the answer to which we are referring means, we have come from a state of existence in completeness of being, or a state of perfection being favored of God. This is the only time that Masonry refers to the devaluation of man, when man was expelled from the Garden of Eden.
Now when he is asked, "What came you here to do?", his answer is, "To improve myself in Masonry". The answer obviously means that he wants to recover "that which was lost" to acquire a state of spiritual perfection. This is one of the basic philosophies of Freemasonry. We again find the same symbolism in the Royal Arch Degree.
The Bible, What the Bible Really Says Manfred Barthel
Masonic Quiz Book William Peterson
The Royal Arch George Steinmetz