What is Royal Arch Masonry..?
The Royal Arch is an extension of the Third Degree and is considered to be "the summit and perfection of Antient Masonry", and in this case 'perfection' means 'completion' and so the Royal Arch is described as "the completion of the Third Degree".
In the Third Degree we are told that the genuine secrets of a Master Mason were lost by the untimely death of our Master, Hiram Abif, but in the Royal Arch ceremony we are told that those secrets were later discovered and we are told what they are.
The Royal Arch completes the story and in so doing enlarges the Masonic definition of "Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth". The Principles of Craft Masonry are brought into the context of eternity, so that we consider not only our relationship to one another but also our relationship to the Divine Creator - not making Masonry a religion - but providing an important link with our own personal faith.
Very many Freemasons have discovered in the colourful and friendly companionship of their Chapter, a happy and deep relationship with their fellows.
The Royal Arch is the continuation of Craft Freemasonry, and therefore falls into the category of being a concordant body in relation to Craft Masonry.Its members, called Companions, meet in Chapters under a Grand Chapter, in our case the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland, but there are several other Grand Chapters. Individual Chapters are ruled over by a First Principal in much the same way that the Right Worshipful Master rules over a Craft Lodge.Sometimes referred to as "The Red" in contrast to Craft Masonry being referred to as "Blue Lodges".The overall organisation of the Royal Arch is very similar to that of Craft Masonry. For example I will compare my Mother Lodge of Freemasons to my Mother Chapter
|Grand Lodge of Scotland
Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow
Lodge Possilpark #1330
|Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland
Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Glasgow
Maryhill Royal Arch Chapter #296
Freemasonry is a progressive science, after completing the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason in a Craft Lodge it is necessary to complete the Royal Arch degrees before you can go any further in your Masonic career.
Freemasonry, as we know it today, developed towards the end of the Renaissance during a period that is appropriately described as the “enlightenment”. At that time it was thought that man had the potential, by means of self-analysis, to utilise his soul or psyche to perceive the presence of God within himself – the psyche being considered the bridge between the physical and sacred worlds. The Royal Arch ritual contains a great spiritual message 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. It provides each Brother with a personal epiphany – a moment of sudden realisation of that light, which is from above. It is the vision that requires each one of us to shield our eyes from the brightness of the Divine presence and to bend with humility in realisation of our destiny.
Thus, the Royal Arch can truly be said to be the foundation and keystone of the whole Masonic structure
How the Royal Arch Degrees fit together with the Craft Degrees.
In Craft Masonry (Blue Lodge) we learned of the loss of the WORD and the hope for its recovery. In the Royal Arch Chapter we learn of its recovery. The Cryptic Council completes this story as we learn of the WORD's initial preservation.
I will confess that the crude summary above does little justice to the above mentioned degrees, but moral teachings aside, that is the basic story. I remember reading somewhere online about how the Royal Arch Degree was originally considered to be the second half or completion of the Master Mason (3rd.) Degree, and I will admit to be somewhat surprised, but when you look at the story from the above perspective you can easily see why.
Of course this does beg the following question... if the Royal Arch have the WORD, and all those Master Masons are still searching for it, why doesn't someone give it back..?
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