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Capitular Degrees of the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons

 

Having completed your degrees in Symbolic Masonry (Blue Lodge), your next step in advancing in York Rite Masonry is the Chapter of Capitular Degrees. 

Royal Arch Masonry is said to have derived its origin from the original Masonic Degrees and traditions.

The Chapter, as present in Italy, consists of four beautiful degrees:

  • The Mark Master Degree
  • Past Master Degree
  • Most Excellent Degree
  • Royal Arch Degree

Click on these to learn more about the degrees, or click on the home button to return home.

All Organizations have their own secrets and mysteries.  Royal Arch (Capitular) Masonry is secret only in the result of a ballot, and a few innocuous passwords and means of recognition which are rarely used, and then only for the purpose of examination for admission to a Chapter.  Membership is gained by the presentation of ritual through degrees, as described above.  The degrees are more important at regards the meaning of the ritual than the wording thereof.

 

 

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The Mark Master Degree is the Fourth Degree in Masonry, of the American Rite.  It is conferred in a Lodge of the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons.

The traditions of the degree make it of great historical importance, since by them we are informed that by its influence each Operative Mason at the building of the Temple was known and distinguished, and the disorder and confusion which might otherwise have attended so immense and undertaking was completely prevented.  The Fourth Degree is particularly directed to the inculcation of order, regularity, and discipline.  It teaches us that we should be good and true - not unfinished and imperfect.

The first section of the Mark Master Degree is said to take place a couple of years before the completion of the Temple of King Solomon.

Good Work, True Work, Square Work.  In the first section a young Fellowcraft, on the way to the Temple with his work, finds a curious yet beautiful stone.  This stone was neither oblong nor square. It did, however, have a peculiar form and beauty, which attracted his eye.  He exchanged this stone for his own and presented it as his work and attempted to receive the wages of a Fellowcraft.  This stone, was rejected by the builders, but, later became the chief stone of the Temple.

As a part of your obligation you promised that you would choose for yourself a personal mark.  Once this mark has been properly recorded, you will never change it.  It is yours and yours alone.

In the Mark Master Mason Degree the candidate is presented with the Mark of a Brother in the request of a favor to make a deep and lasting impression upon their mind.   They are further impressed never to turn away a Brother Mark Master Mason when the price of his Mark might procure for him the immediate necessities of life.

Charity is taught you as a Mark Master Mason.

 

 

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The Past Master Degree is in many jurisdictions an Honorary Degree.   It is often conferred upon the Master of a Lodge upon his installation into office.   Or in some cases must be conferred upon him prior to his assuming that office.

The degree is also conferred in Royal Arch Chapters, where it succeeds the Mark Master Degree.   The degree as originally conferred in Michigan, and still conferred in some Chapters therein, has no historical connection with the rest of the degrees portrayed.   Originally, when Chapters of Royal Arch Masonry were under the government of Lodges in which the degree was then always conferred, it was a part of the regulations that no one could receive the Royal Arch Degree unless he had previously presided in the Lodge as Master.  When  the Chapters became independent, the regulation could not be abolished, for that would have been an innovation; the difficulty has, therefore, been obviated, by making every candidate for the degree of Royal Arch a Virtual Past Master.

The Grand Chapter of Michigan has since authorized the portrayal of the Past Masters Degree in Allegorical Form.  In this forma it displays the manner in which one first became the Master of a Lodge of Master Masons, for his long devoted and dedicated service.   It explains the importance of the various implements and articles of the Master of the Lodge.

Who shall lead the Craft?  The Degree of Virtual Past Master is the second in a Chapter or Royal Arch Masons.  This Degree takes place many years after the dedication of the Temple.  Someone must be chosen to lead the Craft.  As the degree unfold candidate will represent him who is chosen to assume the responsibilities as the 1st Worshipful Master and to go with him as he speaks and acts for you.

The Past Masters Degree teaches the need and responsibilities of leadership.  In this degree you are taught moderation.

 

 

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The Most Excellent Master Degree is the Sixth Degree in the York Rite and is conferred in the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons.

It's historical reference is to the completion and dedication of the Temple of King Solomon, who is represented by the presiding officer under the title of Right Worshipful Master.

This degree is peculiarly American,  it being practiced in no other country.   It was the invention of Webb, who organized the Capitular system of Masonry as it exists in America, and established the system of lectures which is the foundation of all subsequent systems taught here.

This degree depicts the completion of the Temple and the setting of the Copestone, or Keystone, and the setting of the Ark within the Vault.  Here the candidate witnesses the completion, amid much rejoicing and great splendor, of the Temple on which the Mason has symbolically labored in all of the previous degrees in Masonry. 

We dedicate this house.  We learn from the Holy Scriptures that the Temple of Solomon was completed and dedicated.  The Most Excellent Master Degree recreates the dedication of that magnificent Temple.  The labors of the Craft are given the blessing of the Lord, who descended as fire from heaven and consumed the burnt offering, at the dedication..  King Solomon, in his gratitude, received and acknowledged them Most Excellent Masters, empowered to travel and receive Master's Wages, and charged them with the responsibility of sharing their Masonic Light and Knowledge with those less informed.  

Symbolically the Degree of Most Excellent Master represents the building of life and character and the reward which come to him who faithfully performs this task.  Your Industry was rewarded as a Most Excellent Master.

 

 


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The early history of the Royal Arch Degree is involved in obscurity.   With the exception of the Master Mason Degree no Masonic Degree is more important in its historical and symbolic significance than this. In some form it appears in every Rite, but only here does its history, its symbolism, its lessons show so vividly its connection with the Master Mason Degree and the fact that it is, indeed, the final chapter of that essential degree in Freemasonry.

In many foreign jurisdictions the Royal Arch Degree is still a part of the Master Mason Degree and when visiting those jurisdictions it is required that you must possess proof of your having received the Royal Arch Degree in order to be admitted to a seat in their Lodges.

That which is lost.  The Most Sublime Degree of the Royal Arch is the fourth and highest degree in a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons.  This Degree encompasses the entire era of Ancient Craft Masonry.  In the Masonic progression you witness the preservation of the Master's Word and it's tragic loss.  That secret which laid buried in darkness for 470 years.

In this Degree we find the completion of the Master's Degree and the recovery of the Word.  After the first Temple was destroyed and the Israelites carried away captives to Babylon, where they lived for about 70 years.  Here, many acquired considerable wealth and attained high rank and influence in the Chaldean government.  However, when liberated by King Cyrus, many of them returned to Jerusalem and began rebuilding the Temple. 

In this degree you represent sojourners on their return to Jerusalem from Babylonian Captivity.  You have come to help, aid and assist in the rebuilding of your city and its Temple, without hope of fee or reward. 

While portraying those sojourners in the act of removable of the rubbish of the first Temple, for the laying of the foundation for the second Temple, many interesting and valuable discoveries were made, chief of which was the recovery of the Lost Word.   This Degree brings to light that for which Masons have long searched. 

This Degree has completes the circle of progression in Ancient Craft Masonry. The discovery of the long lost Masters Word.

Its lessons are the essence of Masonic truth taught by receiving a lesson in Humility.

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