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The Petitioner Knocks - Unknown

The Petitioner Knocks Unknown

Dr. and Brother George H. T. French, author of this Short Talk Bulletin, is Editor of The Occasional Bulletin of the Texas Lodge of Research. e are inde!ted to hi" and to the Texas Lodge of Research, #.F. $ #.%., for the use of this &a&er, 'hich 'as &resented in (une of )*+).

We search for hidden lessons woven into the Masonic ritual. The scrutinizing eye and enquiring mind do uncover those lessons dee!" illuminating" edifying lessons. Too often it is assumed that all of Masonry#s lessons are !resented after the candidate has entered the lodge room. This is not so" and here an attem!t will $e made to dissect the !etitioner#s initial ste!s in the ho!e of uncovering the !rinci!les u!on which all !etitions rest. %f we take the word !rinci!le in its meaning of a settled rule of action" a governing law of conduct" there are at least seven well defined !rinci!les which a!!ly to the !etitioner himself. &esides which" the recommender" who is the !etitioner#s guide to the door of the 'odge" is also governed $y certain rules.

(reemasonry demands that the !etitioner" un$iased $y the im!ro!er solicitation of friends against his own inclination" offer himself as a candidate of his own free will and accord. There is a well-known !icture called The 'ight of the World. %t !ortrays )esus holding a lantern in his left hand. The light falls on the closed door which lacks a handle. The e*!lanation is that this is the door of the human heart" to $e o!ened only from within. +enturies ago men saw in (reemasonry a de!osit of the high and sim!le wisdom of old" !reserved in tradition and taught $y sym$ols. They" freely and voluntarily" !etitioned for mem$ershi!. This su!!osed in them a !re!aration ,at heart, which our +raft still cherishes and continues to demand" a !re!aration that signified a change of mind and !ur!ose leading to a sincere desire for a dee!er quality of life. This in turn suggested that the !etitioner was a good man and true" and as such could $e acce!ted. Masonry has re!eatedly stated that it does not strive to make $ad men good" $ut rather seeks good men to make them $etter.

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The Petitioner Knocks - Unknown /ne enormous value of the !rinci!le of the unsolicited !etition is that it relieves all Masons from the onus of $eing the 0udges of what is !ro!er and im!ro!er in the matter of solicitation. The current rule of no invitation and no solicitation is easily and readily understood $y any Mason" and can lead to no misinter!retations or confusions. 1o valua$le is it that it is not even advisa$le to consider the !ossi$ility of any form of discreet or veiled solicitation" for that would not take long to develo! into dissonant !u$licity and outright mem$ershi! cam!aigns. 2nother value of the !rohi$ition to !roselyte is that it im!oses u!on each and every mem$er of the +raft the duty to dis!lay" at all times and in all !laces" a conduct so e*em!lary and a loyalty to the (raternity so evident that all reluctant good men would $e enticed to 0oin the /rder. Thus every Mason" $y the e*am!le of his !rivate life" can $ecome a silent $ut efficient Masonic am$assador to the world at large. 3very Mason can also $e a vocal am$assador if he $e well grounded in Masonology" which is the knowledge of the doctrines" !rinci!les" sym$olism and history of (reemasonry" and so $e willing to tell !eo!le what the +raft stands for" whence it came" how it develo!ed. There is also a matter of !olicy to $e considered. 2 ra!id e*tension of the /rder due to e*cessive !roselyting" !lus in0udicious acce!tance of mem$ers" can easily damage the long term interests and welfare of the +raft" which is so de!endent on slow $ut steady growth. 2nd" finally" if the candidate had $een invited to !etition or !revailed u!on to 0oin" then many changes would have to $e introduced into the ritual.


2nderson#s +onstitutions of -456 stated that ,no Master should take an 2!!rentice ... unless he $e a !erfect 7outh" having no Maim or 8efect in his $ody" that may render him inca!a$le of learning the 2rt...., This rule" when a!!lied to our +raft today" means three things9 -. that the !etitioner must $e a$le !hysically to !erform the ceremonies of the three degrees" and earn his own living: 5. that he $e mentally a$le to learn the ritual and !ass the !roficiency tests" and 6. that he $e intellectually qualified to study Masonology and understand the !ur!ose and doctrine of (reemasonry. %t is worthy of notice that 2nderson s!ecified two !oints9 -. a 7outh" that is to say a man with a youthful and fle*i$le mind" a mind not set in its ways $ut !lia$le enough to learn that which Masonry can teach: and 5. not merely a youth" $ut a Perfect youth" a !erson functionally a$le and willing to !erform adequately within (reemasonry. Page 5 of .

The Petitioner Knocks - Unknown

When Masonry demands a youth" it is saying that it will re0ect a man a!!roaching his dotage. 2nd when it demands a !erfect youth it is saying that it does not want an immature youth. The maturity demanded is inter!reted" $y some )urisdictions" to $e the lawful age of twenty-one years. What is really desired is the steadfastness of !ur!ose of an adult" the attitude to life that is conducive to a continuous increase in moral stature" and the !rudence that assures discretion. 2lthough some 2merican )urisdictions have given serious consideration to the lowering of the age of admission to less than twenty-one years" there re!eatedly arises the question of whether it should $e increased instead of decreased. (ull social res!onsi$ility and maturity of 0udgment come with full financial inde!endence" and this is arriving later and later in life in a com!licated society that is demanding increasingly !rolonged education for the !erformance of so many wage earning occu!ations. 2t college" under the intellectual direction of teachers" and under de!endence due to financial hel! received from !arents or s!ouse" the situation is not ideal for inde!endent thinking or decision making.

(rom the ;th 2rticle in the <egius Poem =c. -6>?@ which directs that the Master ,$e no $ondman #!rentice make., 8own to our 5?th century question as to whether the candidate is a free man" (reemasonry has $een concerned with the status of its a!!licants. Aot only the ecclesiastics who com!osed the 2ncient +harges $ut also the rearrangers of the Masonic <itual throughout the -4th into the l>th centuries were well aware of the de$asement which any form of $ondage $rought to its victims. 2nd they were a$solutely determined that there was no !lace in (reemasonry for any man who was not !hysically free. &ondage has several as!ects9 =-@ illegitimacy: =5@ serfdom: and =6@ slavery from $irth. %nasmuch as the /ld +harges required a !ros!ective a!!rentice to $e of ,honest !arentage, or ,to come of good kindred", we must assume that young men of illegitimate $irth were not generally acce!ta$le to Masonry. The /ld +harges have $een written $y men of the degradation $rought $y serfdom" and our <itual has $orrowed freely from those ancient manuscri!ts. 2nderson#s +onstitutions insisted that every candidate $e not only a free man" $ut free $orn. There was intense feeling against any man who had $een $orn a slave and afterwards achieved his freedom. %t was considered that a slave needed time to emanci!ate himself from the ha$its of deceitfulness and meanness of s!irit which a su$servient condition had forced u!on him. Today" with slavery a$olished in most countries where (reemasonry e*ists" there has $een in some rituals a change from the term ,free $orn, to the words ,free man., This charge has $een

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The Petitioner Knocks - Unknown resented $y some as an alteration of a 'andmark. &ut it has the advantage that it !recludes a !risoner from $eing made a Mason. To grow" (reemasonry has always needed an atmos!here of freedom" and only under such conditions can it survive. %ts very e*istence is $ound u! with the !rinci!le of freedom" the freedom of the individual to act in accordance with his choice and his will.

There is something in man that is greater than man. (reemasonry#s !ur!ose is to acce!t men who are good and have the !otential to $ecome $etter. The rough ashlar is stone taken from the quarries" $ut the stone must $e of good quality" without defects or cracks" !ossi$le to $e worked into a !erfect" smooth ashlar. That is why Masonry acce!ts no immoral or scandalous men" $ut only those who come under the tongue of good re!ort. %n essence" Masonry !uts the requirement of mem$ershi! on good conduct" and not on conversion which is a religious e*!erience.

(inancial ease is not s!elled out in so many words as one of the qualifications of a !etitioner. Bowever" it is most decidedly im!lied as different duties are enumerated. The candidate undertakes to !ay dues regularly to his lodge" for which he must $e $oth solvent and willing. The +onstitutions of -456 demanded that every initiate ,de!osit something for the relief of indigent and decay#d &rethren., Be could not do this unless he were solvent. (urthermore" our o$ligation en0oins us to hel!" aid and assist our !oor and !enniless $rothers. We have to $e solvent. (reemasonry was not created to $e an institution dedicated to $enevolence" relief or life insurance. Bowever" the /ld +harges do state that ,every Mason receive and cherish strange (ellows when they come over the country ... refresh him with money unto the ne*t 'odge., This $rotherly duty was necessary in an age when travel was so difficult. 1olvency is not enough to entitle a man to $ecome a Mason" for no man has an inherent right to $ecome a (reemason. Mem$ershi! is a !rivilege to $e conferred u!on the worthy.Unfortunately" however" many !etitioners are acce!ted today who can !ay the fee and little else" and care naught a$out increasing their moral stature. There have even $een cases of ill advised !arents and church !arishioners who !aid the fee for their sons or their ministers" almost insuring there$y an uninterested Mason $ecause not financially involved.

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The Petitioner Knocks - Unknown

The 2ncient +harges commenced with a !rayer addressed to The Boly Trinity" $ut gradually over the centuries the mention of +hristianity decreased and even ceased in some !laces" and the doctrine of a ,glorious 2rchitect of Beaven and 3arth, asserted itself. While the transformation was taking !lace" the 'etter ,C," which originally stood only for Ceometry" $egan a!!earing on the ceiling of 3nglish 'odges. Today" as it a!!ears in our 'odges" it has come to denote much more than Ceometry. Bence our !etitioners must $e ready to !rofess their $elief in 8eity" willingly invoke Cod for hel! and steadfastness" and !lace a hand on the Dolume of the 1acred 'aw.

(inally" (reemasonry has decided that a !etitioner#s only !ath to the door of the 'odge is !aved $y the good offices of a friend whom he has enlisted on his $ehalf. This friend is called a <ecommender. The <ecommender#s signature on the !etition means several things. -. %t means that he is well acquainted with the !etitioner. 5. %t means that the recommender sincerely $elieves that the a!!licant is the ty!e of man who would want to !ursue a course of sym$olic moral instruction" is a $enevolent man who wants to e*!ress that attitude in !ractical ways" and wants to en0oy the association of like minded men. 6. %t means that the <ecommender is assuming a definite res!onsi$ility for the interest and growth in Masonry of this !etitioner" whom he should accom!any when receiving his degrees" hel! him to acquire the necessary !roficiency as he advances through the several degrees" and $y individual attention" advice and orientation lead him in !aths where he will $e a$le to grow daily in Masonic knowledge" information and understanding. May each of us !re!are ourselves to go forth and" acting as <ecommenders" select those men who are good and true" and $e !ermanently res!onsi$le for their interest and growth in Masonry.

STB #&ril )*+,

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