[Square & Compasses]    

Letter of the month: January 2010

From: Jack Harley <harley@dejazzd.com>
To: masonry-ask@mit.edu
Subject: Pennsylvania ritual
Date: Fri, 25 Dec 2009 17:12:38 -0500
Message-id: <000001ca85af$5ec46260$1c4d2720$@com>

RW Brother Dryfoos,

I am a Pennsylvania PM and in my year I made it a priority to travel with members of my Lodge to other jurisdictions. We have struck up a great relationship with a lodge in Maryland and have visited another in Delaware.

I am an avid reader of things Masonic and I fend numerous references to the ritual being different in PA. I know this to be true as I have seen other ritual and while the components are mostly all there, they are presented very differently. All this I'm sure you know.

My question is, why is Pennsylvania ritual different?

Some have tried to pass it off as being a "York Rite vs. Scottish Rite" thing, we calling ourselves "Antient York Masons". Yet, I believe both are subsequent bodies having formed after the foundational Blue Lodges. This course is then erroneous, I think.

Another avenue that has been broached is Antient vs Modern; Pennsylvania Grand Lodge having been first chartered by the Modern Grand Lodge in England and rechartered as Antient after the revolution. This course has some potential as research implies the common ritual in the US is reflective of the Antients, while current ritual in England reflects the Modern ritual more closely. I've not been to England so I cannot know the work, or how closely it suggests Pennsylvania's.

A third course is the Webb/Preston argument. If this is the root of the difference why was Webb not adopted in PA as it was in other areas?

A final possibility is the Baltimore Convention which Pennsylvania did not attend. We've always been pretty independent but I'd love to understand the politics of that decision.

So, of these possibilities which if any do you see as having merit? Or is there another as yet uncovered?

Respectfully and fraternally,

Bro:. John F (Jack) Harley, WM (until St John's day next)
Ephrata Lodge #665
Ephrata PA

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