This text has been written for anyone who would like some impartial information. It is especially for men who are aiming to become Freemasons. Everyone has to right to know exactly what is meant by authentic traditional Freemasonry, that is to say, by regular Freemasonry.
According to the essential uses, customs and traditions of the Order, which have been scrupulously preserved, the Grand Lodge of Andorra is the only one, on Andorran territory, which has the power to make into Freemasons, men who believe in God, the Great Architect of the Universe. For this reason, only the Grand Lodge of Andorra is recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge, mother of all the world's lodges and for those considered as regular.
It is a mistake to think of Freemasonry as a "secret society". This lack of secrecy is shown by the fact that in England, a list of members is given to the Justice of the Peace. In Andorra, the statutes and the composition of the Civil Board of Directors of the Grand lodge of Andorra are recorded on the Register of Cultural Associations of the Very Illustrious Andorran Government. Not only are Freemasons not forbidden to reveal the fact that they are Freemasons, membership is considered to be an honour.
What is our past history? How did we get to Masonic "Regularity"? What principals and objectives do we have? Finally, how do we answer some questions which frequently come to mind? All of this we will now explain briefly.
It is known that during the Middle Ages, professions were grouped into associations or guilds. Each one had a hierarchy of Apprentices and Fellow Crafts, which were lead by the Masters. One of the most revered associations was undoubtedly the one formed by the constructors or masons who built cathedrals. From one of these associations we have now three Masonic degrees, which have become "symbolical", such as our symbols stemming from the art of construction: compass, square, hammer, chisel, bolster, trowel, apron, etc. as well as the word lodge. One of the most ancient Masonic documents is the Regius Poem (XIV century).
For masons in ancient times, their art was mystically linked to the construction of the Temple of Jerusalem and to King Solomon. From here we get the term Royal Art to designate Masonry. When the Gothic style declined, the revered corporation remained, especially in England and Scotland. In 1717, four London lodges merged to found the first Grand Lodge; to which in 1723, the minister James Anderson wrote his famous Constitutions, the book that forms the basis of modern speculative Freemasonry. How was the transition made from medieval operative masonry to modern speculative masonry?
Thanks to the institution known as "Acceptance" widely practised in XVII century. It was a distinction which conferred the title of mason to foreign members versed in the art of construction, to outstanding scholars or to patrons. This was so successful that they become an overwhelming majority and so started the evolution of Freemasonry. The transformation of stones into cubes acquired a major spiritual or moral significance and this is the current state of affairs, the objective of the Order.
In XVIII century, Freemasonry expanded in the British Isles, first towards the continent and then throughout the world. But like all human institutions it experienced deviations, especially in France. Some deviations drew their inspiration from the occult, others from politics following a process of alienation. As a result of their deviation, they are known as irregular.
We do not wish to analyse the motives which led to their irregularity. We would just like to show, in an objective way, that when they took this step, they lost their Masonic character or perhaps they never had it in the first place.
On 23 April 1994, having obtained all the authorisations from the Very Illustrious Government, the first Masonic Lodge was created in the history of this country, overseen by the National Grand Lodge of France and six months later on 8 October of the same year, the Grand Lodge of Spain created a second Lodge. This formed the basis of regular Andorran Freemasonry.
It was not until 25 April 1998, that the National Grand Lodge of France was given the mission by the Assembly of Grand Masters of North America, to advance Andorran Masonry and with the favourable opinion of the Grand Lodge of Spain, the Grand Lodge of the District of Andorra was created, which was the step needed to become independent. Finally on 9 September 2000 the Grand Lodge of Andorra was formally founded at Andorra la Vella's Conference hall, which was recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England and initially composed of five Lodges: The Triade, nº 1, Sant Joan de les Valls, nº 2, Carlemany, nº 3, Viscount Arnold of Castellbo, nº 4 and Montsalvat, nº 5.
With this event, the Principality of Andorra has a Regular Grand Lodge on its territory. The Grand Lodge of Andorra is the only one which is recognised and considered to be an authentic Masonic body, by all the regular Grand Lodges of the world with a total of more than six million members.
What is Regularity?
We are referring to recognition and the subsequent international situation which results from this. That is to say, the Grand Lodge of Andorra represents regular masonry in the Principality of Andorra, and this exclusively. Regularity implies certain intrinsic criteria with which the Grand Lodge of Andorra identifies. What criteria are they? When we ask this question we are questioning the very essence of our institution. In clear English: What is masonry? Our ritual answers this with simple words, far away from any obscure philosophy: Freemasonry is a particular moral system, taught under a veil of allegory, through symbols.
To examine this truth properly, we need to divide it into two parts:
I - Particular Moral System
The basis of this method, that which makes it "particular" is none other than the exaltation of work. This is explained by our origins. As we were constructors, we have transposed the use of the tools of our predecessors while keeping their values: the rules of natural morality, as well as the particular rules of a man who is conscientious, responsible, committed and ready for the society in which he lives.
II - Allegories and Symbols
All teachings may be viewed in two ways: rational method or imagery. Without denigrating the value of the former, masonry uses the latter. Imagery was not the only form to be used. We only have to refer to stories and proverbs; as well as evangelical parables.
This method does not always please certain intelligentsia, despite their brilliance. That is why it is not possible to initiate everyone. Initiation presupposes a selection, a qualification and a vocation.
Defined in this way, the ideal of work presupposes a technique. It is the Art. Freemasonry is thus essentially a method for human perfection. From here we get the meaning of the image "transforming a rough stone into a cube". But a stone on its own, however beautiful it may be, will be nothing architectonically. It has to fit in with other stones in order to erect the symbolic temple, according to certain rules, in an order, with balance and beauty. The perfection of the individual leads to the ideal of a social order. Having reached this point, it is necessary to go even further. It is obvious that the universe is a construction. Like all constructions, it requires a Constructor. Thus the mind logically and intuitively conceives the Great Architect of the Universe.
Masonry does not enable you to go any further as it is not a religion. Far from contradicting religions, masonry respects them; it does not want to substitute them. Masonry is compatible with all religions. It is only incompatible with Atheism. Here we must define more accurately a concept which has always been a part of Freemasonry from time immemorial, that of the Great Architect of the Universe. We are speaking about a principle both personal and of the Creator with no mistake or excuses for pantheism or immanentism. In clear, precise and concrete terms, masonry is theist.
It is also incorrect to believe that Freemasonry is a super religion which joins all religions together and that it is a synthesis of religions. How could such a claim be made? Masonry does not claim to hold any Revelation, nor can it guarantee Redemption or Salvation. Masonic Order does not interfere with the jurisdiction of any religion. It is compatible with all religions. It does not superimpose any creed. Masonry offers a spirituality, which is unorthodox to some extent and is the first to offer this through a profession. Nobody is forced to subscribe to its ideal. It addresses an elite.
The Principles of the GLA
Without an organisation, the Masonic ideal would be, to some extent, without roots. This is why it is necessary to give it a substance. The Lodge is a group of Freemasons. Each lodge has a name and an order number. The lodge is the base cell and is presided over by the Worshipful Master, assisted by two Tylers and several Officers (Secretary, Treasurer, ...).
Obedience is the name given to the group of lodges of a Grand Lodge. This group is not a federation, because the lodges exist thanks to the Grand Lodge which creates them and grants them a Charter which confirms their existence and regularity. Nor is it the opposite as is sometimes maintained. At the head of an Obedience, we find the Grand Master, assisted by Grand Officers. The Masonic Order may only be represented by one Obedience per country; as will be repeated further on. In Andorra, the regular Obedience is the Grand Lodge of Andorra and as a result, it has it exclusively.
The basic principles of the Grand Lodge of Andorra, have been established in a Regulation with twelve points, which everyone has the right to know and even more so, those aspiring to become Freemasons.
We are transcribing them literally:
Of the masonic order
- 1. Freemasonry is an initiated Fraternity. It is traditionally based on a belief in God, the Great Architect of the Universe.
- 2. Freemasonry refers to the Old Charges and Landmarks of the Fraternity. In particular an absolute respect for the specific traditions of the Order, which are fundamental to the regularity of their jurisdiction.
- 3. Only free and respectable men may belong to the Order of the Freemasons, who promise to practise an ideal of Peace, Love and Fraternity.
- 4. Freemasonry works for the moral perfection of their members and all of Humanity.
- 5. Freemasonry requires members to practise precisely and scrupulously all rituals and symbolism; which give access to knowledge through their intrinsic spiritual ways and initiation.
- 6. Freemasonry requires members to respect the opinions and beliefs of everyone. It does not allow any internal political or religious debate or controversy. It is also a permanent centre for Fraternal Union governed by a tolerant understanding, a fruitful harmony between men without which men would remain strangers to one another.
- 7. Freemasons commit themselves to their obligations on the Volume of the Sacred Law in order to endower their oath with the solemnity and sacredness which is essential to ensure its everlastingness.
- 8. Freemasons gather at Lodges, aware from the profane world, Lodges which always display the three great illustrations of the Order, a Volume of the Sacred Law, a Square and a Compass to work according to the ritual, with zeal and assiduity, according to the principles and rules established by the Constitution and the General Regulations of the Obedience.
- 9. At their Lodges, Freemasons may only accept men of legal age, with a good reputation, men who are honourable, loyal and discreet, worthy of being their Brothers and capable of recognising the limits of man and the infinite power of the Eternal.
- 10. At their Lodges, Freemasons promote a love of their country, obedience to laws and a respect for constituted authorities. They consider work to be the fundamental duty of human beings and honour it in all its forms.
- 11. Freemasons contribute through the example of their good-natured, firm and dignified conduct, to the reputation of the Order by respecting the Masonic secret.
- 12. Freemasons owe each other mutual honour, help and fraternal protection, even if it means placing their own lives in danger. They practise the art of keeping their nerve and remaining calm in any circumstance to preserve the indispensable balance for a perfect control of themselves.
Answers to the most common questions asked
How do you become a Freemason?
To enter the Masonic Order, you have to make your application in writing, be presented by two representatives or sponsors and be over 21 years of age. Then an investigation will be made. The decision of the lodge where the application is made is final and without appeal. Here the requirements of form hold sway. There are two fundamental requirements: to have been "free-born" and to have a good reputation. The first has become archaic in the modern world, but keeps its symbolic value. The second reflects a moral standpoint and the result of personal conscience as well as human and social conduct.
What is an initiation?
It is the ceremony of reception. In common language, the work "initiation" has taken on a different meaning to its etymological one. Initiate, as an ordinary term, is synonymous with making someone aware of something. This deviation has favoured a mistaken concept that the newcomer is "made aware" because he is informed of an important or magical secret.
We understand the word initiation to come from the Latin word "initium" (beginning). To initiate a man is to activate some initial mechanism for him, a starting point for him to work on his interior.
The ceremony consists of a certain number of rituals, with a symbolic significance, although they are explained verbally. The fact that it is archaic, gives a good indication of the age of our institution. If we "modernise" these rituals, it would be the same as throwing away the titles of our nobility. This point marks the difference which separates regular masonry from those who have deserted the Tradition. Promotion to a higher level has retained the operative name of an increase in salary.
How do you stop being a Freemason?
Contrary to a widely held belief, a Freemason is allowed to present his resignation. He does not even have to provide a reason. He may leave Freemasonry whenever he likes. He may also leave the Order as a result of an administrative penalty. Or be expelled as a disciplinary punishment. The latter may be as a result of a contemptible deed in private life or a transgression which is explicitly Masonic.
Secrecy, what is the reason for this?
Without any doubt, this is the most common question. What is known as "Masonic Secrecy" does not concern the existence of the Order nor the fact that someone belongs to the order. On the other hand the fact that someone belongs to a Masonic order must never be revealed by another person without his consent. Our ceremonies remain secret.
Before committing himself, the candidate is assured that the secrecy which he must swear is not in any way incompatible with his "civil, moral or religious duties". This assurance means that the lodges are not centres for conspiracy, or societies with immoral practices, or groups teaching occult heresies or "sulphurous" doctrine.
Those falsely initiated generally leave by their own accord which gives the best proof of the moral and mental health of the Institution, which they leave because they do not find their place within.
Why do dictatorships forbid Freemasonry?
Dictatorships forbid Freemasonry for a reason which is easy to understand. Any compulsory ideology which has the strength to dominate is totally incompatible with any kind of thinking which is not its own.
What is the position of the Catholic Church regarding Freemasonry?
In 1913, the Catholic Church in article 2,335 of the Code of Canon Law forbade the faithful from belonging "to the Masonic sect or other associations conspiring against the Church or the legitimate civil power". The new edition of the same code, no longer mentions the word "Masonic" in article 1,974 (which substitutes 2,335).
Given the new situation, the application of the laws of the Catholic Church encumbers the Grand Lodge of Andorra, which is separate from irregular "Masonic" Obediences:
In all cases and punishable by expulsion, the Grand Lodge of Andorra, forbids its members to associate with irregular Obediences.
The Grand Lodge of Andorra totally respects the Catholic Church and forbids anything which could be considered a plot against it or against legitimate civil powers. The Grand Lodge of Andorra considers that it is not affected by article 1,974 or by article 2,335 of the old Codex of Canon Law.
This common sense truth has been shown magisterially, on the Catholic side, by the German Episcopal conferences and then on the American side and by such an eminent mind as the Reverend Father Michel Riquet, S.J. in a series of texts classified as sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church which the Catholic hierarchy has never unauthorised.
This implicit approval is none else than a de facto recognition. This is the interpretation of numerous Catholic practitioners, who in the bosom of our Obedience, fraternise under the Columns, with masons of other religious faiths.
Is it true that many candidates aspiring to be Freemasons are motivated by professional interests in order to take advantage of the Order?
Until they are unmasked, all associations may have "black sheep". At the Grand Lodge of Andorra, all newcomers are solemnly required to swear that they do not have these intentions.