The number three (3) is a sacred number to Masonry.. Consider these:
1. Its three great lights represented by the Holy Bible, the Square and Compasses are three;
2. to become a mason it is necessary for an applicant to undergo three degrees,
3. it has three principal officers composed of the Worshipful Master, the Senior and Junior Wardens,
4. the buildings that it erects, whether physical or spiritual, must conform to the rules and parameters on Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty.
5. its principal tenets are composed of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth
6. three cornerstones taken together and inseparable from each other, form part of the foundation on which Freemasonry is anchored. These are (1) belief in God, (2) the immortality of the soul, and (3) the brotherhood of men, the absence of one of which will render Masonry just like any other organization that cannot withstand the challenging tests of times.
BELIEF IN GOD
One of the most persistent accusations against Freemasonry is that it does not believe in God and over the past ages it has not defended itself in forums, whether in public or in private.
But belief in an Omnipotent God is a mandatory requirement not only at Dagohoy Lodge No. 84, at the Grand Lodge of the Philippines, but to all other Grand jurisdictions in the entire world, to which every applicant must declare in his petition form. Beyond answering the question in the affirmative however, Masonry has nothing to do as to what religion he professes.
It is obvious to assert that atheists are barred admission into its doors because of the very simple reason that to them God do not exist. Of course, women, young men in their non-age, and old men in their dotage are likewise barred but they are not allowed for entirely different reasons, none of which pertain to the question on the existence of God Almighty.
A specific case in point for belief in God as a mandatory requirement concerns the Grand Orient of France, one of the more popular Grand Lodges in Europe that in 1778 shocked the entire Masonic world when it removed in its membership requirement the belief in a Supreme Being and ceased presenting the Volume of the Sacred Law in its lodge meetings. The vast majority of the mainstream Grand Lodges around the world declared the Grand Orient of France irregular and stopped recognizing its members as regular Masons. It has remained popular to this day in France but is outside the realms of regular Freemasonry that pervades in all the other parts of the globe.
But even in their case, it may be necessary to set the record straight. What the Grand Orient of France did was the removal of the basic principle of God as a prerequisite for the admission of a petitioner, but simply deleted it as a mandatory requirement to allow all men including atheists, of whom there were many in the eighteenth century, that they may also be admitted. As readers can well rationalize, declaring that God does not exist and simply ignoring the issue are two entirely different things. Nonetheless, the Grand Orient of France has remained an irregular organization that is not recognized by the mainstream fraternal organizations of the world to this day.
A FEW CLARIFICATORY POINTS
Before the topic on the belief in God is shelved to the sidelines, it may be necessary to summarize a few points:
1. Masonry, though religious in nature, is not a religion as it offers no religious dogma for salvation. All its members are encouraged to practice their respective faiths in the particular religion where they belong.
2. The phrase “Great Architect of the Universe” with GAOTU for its acronym, is not the name for a Masonic God. It simply is a phrase that denotes a common name for the Deity which is deemed acceptable to all its members with diverging religious beliefs.
3. It has no Masonic Bible that it calls its own. The beautifully crafted Holy Bibles that are commonly found in its altars especially in the Philippine and American jurisdictions, are largely that of the King James Version that were printed in the United States by brethren who are in the printing business.
4. The phrase “Holy Bible” as mentioned in the three Great Lights is a misnomer. The correct phrase is “Volume of the Sacred Law” to include the holy books of the other religious faiths like The Holy Quran, the Zend Avesta and the Bhagavad Gita of the Muslims, the Pharsees and the Hindus respectively.
5. While opening and closing prayers are conducted during every Masonic meetings, those cannot be construed as religious ceremonies in like manner the President of a republic and Congress offer beginning and ending prayers when conducting business meetings.
THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL
Corollary to belief in God is adherence to the belief in the immortality of the soul for what good is it to believe in an Almighty Being if a man does not likewise believe in an afterlife that his soul will likewise perish after death??
The modes of believing however, is as divergent as the religion unto which it is anchored and will no longer be dissected as that is not for Masonry to settle.
BROTHERHOOD OF MEN
Hermits believe in God and in the immortality of the soul but in their futility at understanding mankind decided to live their individual lives in seclusion. They may have good reasons for this but sadly they cannot be made members of the Fraternity as the life of a recluse or a Robinson Crusoe is not what a fraternal brotherhood is all about.
This topic will however be put on hold until the next issue of this paper as the space allotted has already reached the allowable limit.