By Patrick C. Murphrey, 32˚, Valley of Newport News, Virginia
What would you say if someone in your lodge asked you, “What can I get from the Scottish Rite that I cannot find in my Blue Lodge?” I’ve been a member of the Scottish Rite for over four years, and during that time I’ve been able to experience what makes us so special.
The Scottish Rite is often called the “University of Masonry,” but I suggest a more appropriate title would be the “Graduate School of Masonry.” The three degrees of the Blue Lodge provide the solid foundation lessons of our fraternity. The 29 degrees of the Scottish Rite provide opportunities for the student of Freemasonry to build upon those teachings. The Scottish Rite places a heavy emphasis on education: the Master Craftsman I & II Programs are unique opportunities for deeper study, and the Scottish Rite Research Society provides scholarly publications and an outlet for members’ thoughts and writings.
More Opportunities for Fellowship
The Scottish Rite, being regionally organized, provides more opportunities for fellowship. This broader membership provides unique opportunities for Scottish Rite Masons to expand their fellowship with more Masons than are within the walls of their lodges. With this comes more opportunities to involve our ladies and families.
More Opportunities for Service
The obligations undertaken by a Master Mason focus primarily on his responsibility’s to the grand lodge, his lodge, and other Masons. However, the Scottish Rite Mason has undertaken further obligations to serve his broader community. In the 32nd Degree, the Scottish Rite Mason vows to serve as a “True Soldier” who seeks truth and knowledge, demands freedom of voice, vote, and opinion for all people, combats spiritual tyranny with reason and truth, encourages men to be self-reliant and independent, and performs zealously his duties to God, his country, his family, his brethren, and himself.
In our Blue Lodges, we don aprons inherited from the traditions of the operative stonemasons, men who were builders, as we are called to be in our Blue Lodges. In the Scottish Rite, we are called to be soldiers and defenders, which is why we wear caps symbolic of the medieval tradition of knighthood. As Scottish Rite Masons, we are called to don our helmets, pick up our symbolic swords and shields, and live up to the obligations we have made.
More Opportunities to Practice Charity
Scottish Rite Masons proudly support the Scottish Rite RiteCare® Childhood Language Program. Whether it be through our donations of time or treasure, Scottish Rite Masons provide support to over 170 RiteCare® clinics throughout the Southern Jurisdiction in their mission of helping children communicate. The Scottish Rite also provides scholarships for deserving college students, honors those in JROTC and ROTC programs, and provides disaster relief in conjunction with the Masonic Services Association of North America. Further, each valley may have its own programs that help its community in special ways.
Role Models & Mentors
Another thing that makes the Scottish Rite so special are those who wear the red cap of the KCCH and, most especially, the white cap of the 33rd Degree. These men have been recognized for their selfless devotion to the Scottish Rite in particular and to Freemasonry in general. They serve as my role models and mentors by leading lives that are worthy of emulation. These brothers are living and breathing examples of what it means to be a Scottish Rite Mason.
So what makes the Scottish Rite so special? In a word: more. More light in Masonry, more educational opportunities, more opportunities for fellowship, more opportunities for service, more opportunities to practice charity, and more role models and mentors from whom to learn. The Scottish Rite does not replace the Blue Lodge experience but complements it in a very positive way. However, the Scottish Rite is not meant to be a passive activity—it is not a “spectator sport.” By becoming a 32nd Degree Mason, we take obligations to serve not only our brethren, but also humanity and our community. These commitments and the brethren that fulfill them are what makes the Scottish Rite so unique and special, and why I’m proud to call myself a Scottish Rite Mason.