[Square & Compasses]    

Letter of the month: June 2006

Date: Tue, 30 May 2006 02:42:50 -0230
From: "Carter, Myles D." <mcarter@swgc.mun.ca>
Subject: Do I count as a lewis?

I am a 20 year old male who has been interested in joining the Masonic fraternity for quite a few years now. I met a friend at university whose father is a mason and therefore he was admitted at an earlier age. He has introduced me to his brothers and taken me to a few pre-meeting dinners, a custom shared in his lodge to those prospective candidates and special guests including the wives of masons on occasions.

I recently discovered that my grandfather was an active mason for over 20 years. I'm just wondering if that classifies me as a Lewis or does it mean that I am just his grandson, and my dad is a Lewis? I'm just wondering because my birthday falls in April, meaning I wouldn't be able to even luckily receive my first degree until May and by that point, the summer break in meetings would start soon after. Anyway I will be glad whatever the response is, seeing as any discussion on this group of great men makes me a little more excited about joining.

Thanking you,

Myles Carter

Message-ID: <20060530043129.qil5n5vxmdh4w4kw@webmail.mit.edu>
Date: Tue, 30 May 2006 04:31:29 -0400
From: "Rt.  Wor.  Gary L.  Dryfoos" <dryfoo@MIT.EDU>
To: "Carter, Myles D." <mcarter@swgc.mun.ca>
Subject: Re: Do I count as a lewis?

Dear Mr. Carter,

Short answer: no, are probably not a Lewis.

In stone-masonry, a lewis is a device to assist the lifting into place of a prepared fitted stone. In Masonry it is a son of a Mason who, by becoming a Mason a few years early, assists in the support of his father. If you were living with your grandfather, and assisting him in life, then a lodge might consider you a lewis. That doesn't seem to be your situation.

You make some assumptions about the pace of degrees and the desirability of speeding through them. Where do you live? You don't give a clue. In your country, or state, what is the minimum age to join a lodge? Are you sure it's 21? Did the lodge brothers tell you so? Here in Massachusetts, for instance, the minimum age was recently lowered to 18.

Even if you applied after becoming of legal age (probably 21 in most jurisdictions) your lodge might not vote on you until after a month or two -- there has to be an investigation of course. And then your lodge might have other plans for their April and May meetings, and might not even initiate a new Entered Apprentice until fall. And if you were initiated as an EA in April or May, there's nothing wrong with having the entire summer to learn you candidate material, learn more about Masonry, and begin to learn to apply the lessons you received. Many lodges in Europe, for example, require their candidates to wait at least a year between degrees, and often, to prepare a presentation on some assigned topic. Instead of treating the 3 degrees as a race to get through as quickly as possible, they extend the candidate experience for 2 or 3 years. And those lodges have very dedicated knowledgeable members with a deep committment and profound understanding of Masonry.

You can ask your Mason friend how often the lodge holds degree ceremonies, and verify that their minimum age is 21. If you have to wait, it's not so bad. You might be able to apply in the meantime, and begin the investigation, so that you can have that taken care of before your 21st birthday. And then, once you are 21, you can be formally proposed and balloted, and progress according to the lodge's schedule.

Finally, learning patience and self-restraint is a major part of the lessons of the 1st degree, so you can begin your work on that issue now, while waiting for your birthday to arrive.

best wishes,

-- Gary L. Dryfoos
A Page About Freemasonry
now at http://MasonryPage.org/

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