The Entered Apprentice Degree, first of the three Degrees of Blue Lodge Masonry, is a preliminary degree, intended to prepare the candidate for the higher and fuller instructions of the succeeding degrees. The candidate is a voluntary applicant for membership in the Lodge, he comes without an invitation from the Lodge or from any member of the Order, even though he may have been told by a Masonic friend that he is the type of man the Order needs.
Of his own free will and accord, the candidate knocks at the outer door of the Lodge and seeks admission that he may begin his search for Light, for the light of divine Truth. At the threshold of the Lodge he is required to confess his "trust in God," thus repudiating any tendencies to infidelity, polytheism or pantheism, and acknowledging his faith in the One True and Living God. He is peculiarly clothed in keeping with the mysteries of the Order into which he is about to be inducted, "neither naked nor clothed; neither bare-footed nor shod," the symbolic meaning being fully explained to him as he makes his journey through the requirements of this degree.
Although lacking in valuable historical information, the work of the Degree is replete instructions on the internal structure of the Order, especially in its lectures. The religious character of Masonry is impressed upon his mind and heart, not only by his confession of "trust in God," but by the open Bible upon the altar, and by his own dedication in prayer and mediation before the altar. The entire Ritual is a preliminary revelation on the internal structure of the Institution, and the symbols employed in the Degree are profoundly significant and instructive. The candidate now learns that a Masonic Lodge is an assemblage of Freemasons, duly congregated, having the Sacred Writings, Square, and Compass, and a Charter, or warrant of constitution, authorizing the Lodge to meet and work. It is also explained to him that the room or place in which the meeting is held represents some part of King Solomon’s Temple. The Lodge is supported by three great columns, Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, which are explained to the candidate. They are represented by the Master, Senior Warden and Junior Warden.
In properly comprehending "what is done unto him," the course of his movements around the Lodge Room, the significance of the symbols employed, and the lectures given, including every phase of the Ritual, the Entered Apprentice Mason realizes that he has begun a noble pursuit for Truth. The aspiration of his soul toward Absolute and Infinite Intelligence is encouraged and strengthened. The faculties of his mind have been directed toward the Great Architect Of The Universe, his own Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor. Through the majestic irradiations of thought, meditation, prayer and sublime comprehensions of instructions given, his soul pierces through the shadows of materialism and earthiness toward the Light for which his search has begun. He is prepared for his onward and upward course in Freemasonry, and when he has proved his proficiency in the work of the Entered Apprentice Degree, he will be ready for the next Degree of Blue Lodge Masonry.
The Entered Apprentice is taught in the First Degree that Masonry is based on three great principles; Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth; and of the three grand virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity) that of Charity is the greatest. He is also told to practice that virtue cheerfully but without detriment to ourselves or our families. The three great principles are thus explained:
Brotherly Love - to practice of charity towards our Brethren in adversity; to treat them as equals, to render every kind office that justice or mercy may require.
Relief - to assist them when they are in need, and if worthy of our aid to render such to them if within our power so to do; by visiting them and their families in their times of want. But, most of all doing for them and theirs in all things as we would they should do for us, in similar circumstances.
Truth - to seek after knowledge and wisdom necessary for building, within our own hearts, that Temple called "Self", which will be a glorification of He who created us, that we may give Him that reverence which is His due thereby making us worthy of His aid in all our undertakings and sufferings.
The Entered Apprentice Mason is then entrusted with certain secrets of the Order, all of them moral, ethical and wholesome, and is pledged to "keep counsel of all things spoken in the Lodge or chamber by any Masons, Fellows or Free Masons." He is invested with certain "Secret Words," which, of course, he must keep inviolate and communicate them only in accordance with Masonic Law.
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