York Rite

When many of us were new to the Masonic Fraternity we were frequently advised to seek “more light in Masonry.” All too often the meaning or intention or significance of that well-worn phrase was never explained. Perhaps the Brothers intoning those words were not entirely sure of what they spoke.
Today Master Masons, young and veteran, are still granted the opportunity to gain “more light” and for many of us, the symbolism of that phrase is not as clear in meaning as it might have been to some Brothers many, many years ago. If we can mentally suspend our focus upon what we do not understand, and just allow the revelation of more information or at least more understandable information to wrap about us for a time, the value of more information will become clearer.
Imagine a time when the leaders and citizens of an ancient Jewish kingdom had so sinned that at a point in time, the Lord God of Heaven allowed his own people to be almost annihilated. Imagine a time when the Temple erected to God was absolutely destroyed by an angry foreign leader alleging absolute betrayal by the Jewish King Zedekiah. The invader killed every Jew he could in his wanton destruction of a nation. Those who were not murdered, were hauled away to Babylon as slaves.
Imagine learning about receiving pay as a craftsman. (Do you remember the Senior Warden’s line in the Opening and Closing of a Lodge...“pay the craft their wages, if any be due”?) And learning about the facts of honorable and just behavior as a builder of the Temple of Solomon.
Imagine learning of a very secret vault beneath the Sanctum Sanctorum. And why was it built, by whom and for what purpose?
Imagine learning the “Lost Word” and, even more importantly, perhaps, why it was “lost.”
What were the secrets of the actual structure of the Temple in Jerusalem? Did the Ancient Grand Masters anticipate the loss of the Grand Word, the destruction of the Temple, the dispersion of the Jewish people?
Now, back to the original issue. How does all of this bring you “more light”? How do you become more knowing? And what do you know more than you did before? Every York Rite Mason can tell you the answer. But the fact is, you must discover it for yourself if the “light” is to be of any real value.
Whether we talk just about the lessons of the Symbolic Lodge Degrees or grow into York Rite or Scottish Rite Degrees and lessons, you will receive the support or foundation upon which to dissect the teachings.
York Rite is divided into three organizations: Masons of the Royal Arch (Chapter); Royal and Select Masters (Council) and Knights Templar (Commandery). Chapter or Royal Arch Masonry consists of four un-numbered Degrees ending in the Royal Arch Mason Degree. Included in this Masonic Degree is an in-depth focus upon the duties and procedures which craftsmen followed during the construction of the Temple, a re-enactment celebration of the dedication of the completed Temple of Solomon, and finally, the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity to begin re-building the Temple and the City of Jerusalem.
The Council Degrees, there are only two, re-traces the actions of the three Grand Masters during the construction phase of the original Temple and the preparation for the preservation of Masonry.
Finally, the Christian Degree of Masonry, Knights Templar which is conferred in three parts or Orders: Knight of the Red Cross, Knight of Malta and Order of the Temple. In this portion of the York Rite, Brothers become Sir Knights and learn about the ancient Crusades, the structure of the organizations which attempted to protect pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land in the 14th Century.
York Rite Masonry continues a legend begun in the Blue Lodge, embellishes it with history, Masonic tradition and teachings which further enhance the quality of an individual. To participate, one must petition each of the three York Rite entities. Currently in South Dakota the Degrees and Orders of York Rite are presented in Vermillion, Sioux Falls, Brookings, Aberdeen, Pierre and Rapid City. For more information about York Rite in South Dakota, go to the South Dakota York Rite website www.sdyorkrite.com. There you can find further contact information for South Dakota Grand Recorders and heads of the York Rite Grand bodies all of whom will be happy to direct you to the proper person. More Light in Masonry can become a way of life.

— Worshipful Brother George Bauder