What Do We Believe?
Masons believe in a real, personal, and active God. While Masonry does not require belief in a particular God, it does require a Mason to believe in a supreme God, however conceived by the individual Mason. Additionally, it is the responsibility of each Mason to discover that God more perfectly and to conform to the highest moral precepts and virtues of that God. Masonry is not a religion, though it requires and encourages religious belief, and though it often expresses its own principles in religious and other symbols.
Masonry exists for three fundamental purposes: to promote and reinforce personal development through adherence to moral principle; to responsibly assist and relieve those in distress; and to foster genuine friendship and cooperation among all people and in every nation. As such, masonic principles reinforce several fundamental religious precepts.
To invoke the blessing of God before engaging in any great or important undertaking. In so doing, the Mason is constantly reminded of his own weakness and limitation, that wholeness and success are not innately his, and that all his doings are superintended by the watchful eye and sovereign will of the supreme God in whom he professes belief.
To regard all men for their quality of character rather than their material and external manifestations. Masons recognize that we live in a very imperfect world, that the good are not always rewarded, that the upright are not always prosperous, that the wise are not always in positions of influence, and that too often it is the base who are promoted, the unscrupulous who are enriched, and the foolish who hold the levers of power. In such a world of contradiction, Masons are taught not to look at the outward appearance or social station of men and women, but to look into the minds and hearts of others as expressed in the rectitude of their intentions and the uprightness of their conduct.
To be charitable by responsibly contributing to the relief of those in distress or less fortunate than one's self. Because Masons believe in the undivided brotherhood of mankind, we are ever mindful that thoughtful and active care for others is not merely a moral excellence but also the individual expression of our solidarity with all men everywhere in our fundamental human dignity.
These things being so, Masons adhere to three principal tenets, endeavoring always to let them guide each thought, season each word, and and adorn each act.
Brotherly Love. By love is meant the placing of the highest value upon another. A man's mother or father, his wife or children, his closest friends, he values for themselves, not for advantages he may gain from them, not for their usefulness to him, but solely each one in his own person and for his own sake. For these persons we labor and sacrifice, delighting in their presence, conversation, counsel. Brotherly love, then, is the free extension of that ardour to all men and women, and seeking to retain that ardour by freely forgiving errors and transgressions, overlooking foibles, and practicing patience while they gradually perfect their characters.
Masonic Relief. In the course of life, it may happen that some grave misfortune may render a man incapable of supporting himself and family; it may come, perhaps, as chronic disease, crippling accident, or sundry other cataclysm. Then, there are cases where a man falls into a prolonged unemployment, or functional incapacitation through addiction. In such cases, Masons recognize the proper sources of relief to be family, civic organizations, or state care. These sources of relief are familial, charitable, or social. But Masonic Relief is of a different kind. It recognizes that a man may, through no fault of his own, fall into temporary need, and it is here that individual Masons or a whole Lodge may render personal acts of relief, whether it be of service or monetary gifts, according to the desire and felt duty of the giver and the humble acceptance of the receiver. It is immediate, personal, and reciprocal.
Truth. By Truth is meant that Masons must be truthful in character and habit, dependable in word and deed, honorable in rectitude of thought and uprightness of conduct. This truth is visible in action, reliable by constant witness, and is not proven by argument, but accepted as indisputable fact of experience. By it we are enabled to have a permanent Brotherhood wherein each man and the whole body of men may be relied upon as faithful fellows and loyal friends.
Because Masons believe these things, they are often thoughtful, industrious, caring, outgoing, and fun. But Masons are more. Masons are examples of what devotion to moral excellence and sterling character can do in one's own life, the lives of family members, the communities in which they live, their nations at large, and around the world in general. Masons demonstrate that true success is within everyone's reach, no matter their circumstance, their education, their social station, their national origin, or any other external manifestation.
If you believe these things, if you aspire to these things, then perhaps you have just discovered what each Mason has discovered: that they were first prepared in their heart before becoming a Mason in fact. If this is you, we invite you to discover a little more.