[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: May 1999

From: "J_Willis_Jr" <J_Willis_Jr@email.msn.com>
To: <masonry-ask@MIT.EDU>
Subject: question
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 09:36:07 -0400

Dear mason,

I am a high school student doing research on the different customs and beliefs that are associated with death throughout American history. Masonry was very popular in the Neo-classic Age of America so I am using it as my example for the beliefs in the Neo-classic Age. I was wondering how a typical funeral for a mason would go about. I know that in the lodge in my town of North Andover, MA the members place an evergreen sprig on the casket to symbolize everlasting life. Are there any other traditions involved in the funeral service? Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Kernan Willis


To: "J_Willis_Jr" <J_Willis_Jr@email.msn.com>
Subject: Re: question 
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 27 May 1999 09:36:07 EDT."
             <000101bea845$e16a4340$54752399@johnjr> 
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 12:14:04 EDT

Dear student,

Here is a copy of the funeral service our lodge uses. There is a longer version in a book called "The Trestleboard" which our Grand Lodge provides. This version is basically the same, just a little bit shorter.

Usually, when the family of a deceased Mason has called us to request a Masonic service, we arrive at the church, synagogue, chapel, or funeral home about a half-hour early. The Master of the lodge meets briefly with the widow or family of the deceased brother, and explains a little bit about our service.

We are given a small private room or office, and as the Masons arrive, we assemble there. Someone from the lodge brings a number of our plain white aprons and some small sprigs of an evergreen tree or shrub. We each put on an apron and take a sprig. Any other Masons present among the mourners are invited to join in with us.

We open our lodge for a special "emergent" meeting, sometimes referred to as a "lodge of sorrow".

At the time the service is supposed to start, we go into the funeral room in a solemn procession, assemble beside the casket, and do our short (10-15 minute) service before the regular service provided by the clergyperson.

If you have any other questions, please let me know. And would you kindly send me a copy of your report when it is done?


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