Nov. 19 was the 17th anniversary of my father’s death. Ironically, the calendar was the same in both years, the date fell on a “Wednesday.”
He was a member of the Masonic Lodge 52 years of his 87 years when he died. My dad was man who liked associating with good men. I followed in his footsteps by joining the basic Masonic Lodge as well as the York Rite and Scottish Rites of Freemasonry as well as the Shriners. Normally, the Scottish Rite in the United States confers the fourth through the 33rd degrees.
Most basic Masonic Lodges in 49 out of the 50 U.S. states confer the first three basic degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft Mason, and Master Mason using the York Rite Ritual. In a handful of towns in and around New Orleans, there are a few lodges which confer the basic degrees (nicknamed Blue Lodge degrees) using the Scottish Rite Ritual.
The York Rite can loosely be defined as the mode in English-speaking countries, whereas the Scottish Rite is commonly seen in Central and South America as well as continental Europe. It has the flair of the phrasing of the Latin romance language. The fuller American York Rite has additional degrees such as Mark Mason, Royal Arch Mason, Knight of Malta, Knight Templar and others.
Freemasonry is not a “secret” organization; it is simply an organization that takes good men and endeavors to make them better men. It is a brotherhood whereby diverse men of good character can strive to improve themselves and their communities.
Masonry has relatively few secrets beyond modes-of-recognition, such as passwords, which are akin to a password that a citizen uses to access their personal computer. Why is a password used?
Same reason: to assure that the legitimate person is allowed access and that an imposter of a Lodge or a hacker of a computer is rejected.
On Nov. 19, I was so delighted to visit a Stated meeting of Cervantes Masonic Lodge #5 in New Orleans which was chartered Sept. 24, 1842. It was a lodge that met, using the Spanish-language until about the year 2006 when it went English-only due to the lack of Spanish-speaking members. The meeting I attended was held in the impressive Germania Masonic Lodge #46 which was chartered in April 1844 and was solely a German-speaking Lodge until World War II, when in 1944 a meeting started in German and was closed in the English language, and has been English-speaking ever since.
I met members who belong to both lodges.
It was also my privilege to attend a meeting of Cervantes Masonic Lodge. I saluted that lodge as a landmark institution and its sister lodge, Germania Lodge for being a grand old historic edifice. Cervantes Lodge was named after Miguel de Cervantes, author of the famous book “Don Quixote.” I enjoyed my Louisiana experience and I encourage everyone who can visit there to experience a part of Louisiana’s rich heritage.The Germania Lodge Hall originally had a fabulous life-size statue of King Solomon atop its building. A hurricane of the distant past blew it off the building.
I have been to Louisiana before many times, but this was only my second visit to New Orleans. In a way, it gave me greater insight into the Pelican State as a whole. I just wish my dad had been alive to go there with me.
James A. Marples lives in Longview, Texas.