Why should I join this Order?
The Royal Arch is a very friendly Order with eleven fully worked Degrees which, taken in total, will complete the journey of ‘pure Ancient Masonry’. It takes a Candidate on an interesting and exciting journey from Noah’s Ark to the building of King Solomon’s Temple, its destruction and the exile of the people of Israel and finally to their return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple where an important discovery is made.
What is the connection between the Royal Arch and the Craft?
A Master Mason receives the ‘substituted secrets’ in the third or Master Mason’s Degree and is told that time and circumstance will determine when the true secrets will be restored. As declared in the Constitutions of UGL of NSW and ACT, the Mark and Royal Arch Degrees complete the series of ‘pure Ancient Masonry’. It is by completing these degrees in the Royal Arch Degree that the secrets are indeed restored to him when the Master Mason is Exalted to the Holy Royal Arch Degree.
Where did the Royal Arch Degree originate from?
In the same way that the exact origin of the three Craft Degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason cannot be specifically identified, so too the origin of the Royal Arch Degree cannot be pinpointed. References to the Degree can be found dating back to the seventeenth century in Ireland and England but specific meeting minutes cannot be traced further back than 1753. The discord between the ‘Antients’ and the ‘Moderns’ Grand Lodges in England was principally over whether or not the Royal Arch Degree should be seen as the ‘fourth degree’ in Freemasonry or the ‘completion of the Third Degree’. Eventually the United Grand Lodge of England agreed that ‘pure Ancient Masonry’ would include the ‘Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch’, which is accepted today by all Grand Lodges around the world.
Why is the Royal Arch called ‘The Supreme Order’?
The Royal Arch Degree pre-supposes that its candidate has passed through a long, strenuous period of purification and mental discipline. It moves on a high level of thought and instruction which is why originally, to receive the Degree, a candidate had first to be a Past Master of the Craft (this is no longer applicable). In other words, it was deemed so important that a Master Mason was considered not sufficiently experienced and knowledgeable to receive it. Indeed, that famous mason, Laurence Dermott, wrote “The Royal Arch I believe to be the root heart and marrow of Masonry.” He called it ‘the very essence of Freemasonry’ from as long ago as 1756. Where the Craft deals with the practical, the Royal Arch deals with the spiritual that will enable every Freemason to contemplate his personal journey of discovery in the light of eternity. Only then will he be able to uncover true wisdom and achieve a complete knowledge of himself.
What is the significance of the Mark Degree ?
The Mark Degree or more correctly titled the Mark Master Mason Degree, is the first Degree in the Royal Arch series of Degrees and is the fourth Degree in pure Ancient Masonry, although this was not always the case. In the Mark Master Mason Degree a Master Mason is introduced to the practical aspects of Craft Masonry, particularly those associated with the building of King Solomon’s Temple.
Why the members of a Chapter are called “Companions”?
In the three Degrees of Craft Masonry and the first two Degrees of the Royal Arch series of Degrees, Masons meet in Lodges and are referred to as “brethren”. When a Brother completes his journey in pure Ancient Masonry by taking the Royal Arch Degree he is referred to as a Companion to mark the completion of that journey. The word “Companion” is derived from the Latin words “cum” meaning “with” and “panis” meaning “bread”. The act of sharing bread with someone indicates a higher level of affinity and trust than that existing with a brother. This is a particularly apt description of a member of the Royal Arch, who has a duty to support and encourage his Companions to attain a high standard of conduct in his personal life.
Who are “Principals” and what is their role in a Chapter?
The term “Principal” is used to identify a presiding Officer in a Royal Arch Chapter. In Craft and Mark Lodges the presiding Officers are the Worshipful Master and the Senior and Junior Wardens and allude to the three Masters who were in Charge at the building of King Solomon’s Temple. In similar manner there are three Presiding Officers in a Royal Arch Chapter. These are called the First, Second and Third Principals and refer to the three principal officers who officiated at the building of the second temple in Jerusalem.
What are the costs associated with being a member of the Order?
The costs associated with joining the Order vary from Chapter to Chapter but comprise three elements, a joining fee, an annual fee and purchase of regalia. The joining fee contains a registration fee payable to United Supreme Grand Chapter and covers costs incurred by a Chapter in welcoming a new member. The annual fee, like those charged in Craft Lodges, covers the recurring expenditure of a Chapter on such items such as rent, capitation fees to United Supreme Grand Chapter, postage, stationery etc. The purchase of a Royal Arch apron and sash is not required until a Brother is exalted as a Royal Arch Companion. In general the costs associated with being a member of the Order are similar to those experienced in being a Master Mason.
How much time would I be expected to give to my Chapter?
As Craft Masons you would be familiar with the need to attend your Lodge regularly when your family and work situations permit. As attaining the Mark and Royal Arch Degrees equates to completing your journey in Freemasonry by attaining all of the Degrees of pure Ancient Masonry you will appreciate that a similar situation applies to the Chapter in respect to attendance. Many Chapters meet monthly, however a large number also meet bi-monthly and that is the limit of your obligation. As with Craft Lodges you are always welcome to visit other Chapters if you wish to do so.
How many Degrees are there?
In total there are eleven (11) Degrees of the Order with all Candidates being involved in the ceremony. In this Order you will have the opportunity of not only seeing worked but participating in all 11 Degrees. Some Degrees are relatively short thus allowing for more than one related Degree to be worked at one meeting. Unlike some other Orders every member of the Order is entitled to not only receive but to witness every Degree being worked and to participate in the same as a candidate.
What regalia will I need?
All eleven Degrees of the Order are classified or grouped into what is referred to as a “Series.” The number of Degrees in each Series may vary from one to four. Each Series has its own regalia applicable to it but a member of the Order needs only one set of regalia consisting of a sash and an apron which can be worn in all Degrees. Chapters have the necessary regalia for each Series of Degrees when working it. It is because of this that the cost to a member is kept to just one set of regalia.
Will I experience all of these Degrees or are they conferred?
Our Order insists that every candidate participate in the working of the Degree. No Degree is simply conferred and every member of the Order will be a candidate for all eleven Degrees. Through this process a new member of the Order has the opportunity to experience the true meaning of each Degree by being actively involved in the ceremony as they receive it.