[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: April 2000

From: "A New E.A."
To: <masonry-ask@MIT.EDU>
Subject: A question- to save embarrassment!
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 11:04:52 -0500


Thank you for the work you put into your excellent website; it is a valuable resource that I've used several times.

I received the EA degree on 4/mm/00 in X...... (Texas) Lodge #nnn and am about to begin my memory work with my instructor. My question is this: I understand that what I will be required to memorize will be given verbally... would it be a violation of my oath to write down what I hear to aid me in the task of memorizing it? If it isn't a violation, is there a resource that you know of on the Internet where I can find the material that I will be required to memorize?

If answering my question would cause YOU to violate some oath that I'm not aware of at this point in my Masonic career, I implore you to forgive my obvious ignorance and to know in your heart that my only reason for asking this is a desire to learn as much as possible about the fraternity so that I may be a credit to my worthy Brethren.

Thank you,
A. New Mason

To: "A New E.A."
Subject: Re: A question- to save embarrassment! 
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 13 Apr 2000 11:04:52 CDT."

Hi. The practice of providing written copies of the candidate material varies from state to state.

For instance, here in Massachusetts, where candidates have to memorize a set of questions and answers about each degree, the grand lodge provides a "cypher book" which contains the entire catechism. It's called a "cypher book" because nearly all of the material in it is in an abbreviated form, "...I so pr on th ho of a ma..." etc. So for us, instructors meet with the candidates repeatedly to read the cypher book aloud to them, until they can read it themselves, and then they memorize it so they can recite it.

We also use the same abbreviated form for our officer's manual. While I was learning ritual work of the lodge, I had that little book with me every day for about five years, and the material had to be learned that same way.

I know that in other states, this form of cypher book is forbidden, and all candidate learning is strictly "mouth to ear". When I visited a California lodge for instance, I offered my host a copy of the Massachusetts ritual cypher book, and he told me they were not allowed to use them or (he thought) even own them.

So you'll have to ask your lodge what the rules are in Texas.

} this is a desire to learn as much as possible about the fraternity so that I
} may be a credit to my worthy Brethren.

Good for you! I'm sure that if you put the effort in, you'll be a "bright Mason" and an ornament to your lodge.

Best wishes and let me know how it goes for you.

| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| PM: Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Saugus GL Mass.
| P.O.Box 425400, Camb, MA 02142  |   & Mt. Scopus Lodge AF&AM, Malden ""
| http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/  | 32~; MPS; B'hood o/t Blue Forget-Me-Not;
| w: 617.253-0184 f: 617.258-6875 | Internet Lodge #9659, E. Lancs UGLE
|       Rt. Wor. Grand Rep. of the GL of Russia near the GL of Massachusetts
|   "...one sacred band, or society of Friends and Brothers, among
|    whom no contention should ever exist, save that noble contention,
|    or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree."

Another Texas Mason provides more information:

From: "Another Texas Mason"
Subject: Cipher or Code Books in Texas
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003 23:35:20 -0500

Hello Rt. Worshipful Sir:

I discovered your website and I read the letter from the Brother in Texas.

While I know it has been several years since the letter was written, I would like to answer the question. In Texas there is no recognized code book. Having said that I can tell you that there is a book which one can purchase from [various sources]...

As I said it is not authorized in Texas however a lot of brothers do have them, they just do not talk about them and they never bring them to Lodge with them.

May the whispers of peace be ever constant in your heart

A. Texas Mason

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