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Masonic Information

Masonry is the world’s first and largest fraternal organization, and is based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to help make the world a better place. Through our culture of philanthropy, we make a profound difference for our brothers, our families, our communities, and our future.

There are more than 60,000 Masons in California. Our members represent the entire spectrum of diversity. We welcome men of all faiths, nationalities and cultures.

Mission

The mission of Freemasonry in California is brotherhood, community involvement, and self- improvement through education, family values, moral standards, and charity. We invest in children, our neighborhoods, and our future. Our mission is guided by the enduring and relevant tenets of our fraternity: brotherly love, relief, and truth.

Membership

California Masonic membership is open to men age 18 or older who meet the qualifications and standards of character and intention, and who believe in a Supreme Being. One of Masonry’s customs is not to solicit members; men must seek membership on their own through a Mason they know or a local lodge.

What do Masons Do?

The Masons of California are committed to personal growth and making a profound difference in the lives of others. For members: We are committed to engaging and retaining members and their families through an enhanced, sustaining, and relevant membership experience. Fellowship, family, and lifelong learning are important to us. Leadership development and Masonic education are offered in a variety of formats to assist members in their continuous pursuit of knowledge, helping them excel both inside and outside the fraternity. For California public education: Masons have been at the forefront of American public education for more than a century. Today, we continue to be leaders in statewide support of public schools through targeted, relevant initiatives that reach the most vulnerable children and families in our state. For those in need: Relief is one of our enduring and relevant values. We take responsibility for the well-being of our brothers, our families, and our communities. Our philanthropic causes are supported entirely by our members’ generous contributions, and include the Masonic Homes (residential communities for seniors), Masonic Outreach Services (statewide outreach and critical services for seniors and families in need), and the Masonic Center for Youth and Families (innovative, integrated help for youth who struggle with behavioral or mental health issues).

The Masonic Homes of California have been committed to fraternal care for more than a century. Established in 1898, the Homes provide housing and health care to Masons and their wives or widows at campuses in Union City and Covina. Masonic Senior Outreach provides ongoing care management and financial support to help older members stay healthy and safe in their homes or in retirement facilities in their home communities. Masonic Family Outreach offers services and programs to California Masons and their families who need help dealing with today’s complex issues, such as the impact of divorce, the stresses of a special needs child, and other significant life challenges.

Allied Organizations

Freemasonry is made up of many organizations, each with a special social, educational, or philanthropic focus. After a man has been awarded the three degrees of Masonry, he may join any of the other affiliated organizations. The best known in the United States are the Shrine, Scottish Rite, and York Rite. There are allied Masonic organizations for women and others that admit both men and women. Eastern Star is the largest coed fraternal society in the world. Youth orders include DeMolay for young men and Rainbow for Girls and Job’s Daughters for young women.


FAQs

What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry (also called “Masonry”) is the world's first and largest fraternity, based on the belief that each man can make a difference in the world. Freemasonry enhances and strengthens the character of the individual man by providing opportunities for fellowship, charity, and education.
Where do the names Freemasonry, Masonry, and Free and Accepted Masons come from?
Masons’ name comes from the occupation of their original members – stonemasons who built castles and cathedrals in England and Scotland. The word “free” was added during the Middle Ages. Because stonemasons possessed knowledge and skills not found everywhere, these men had the privilege of traveling between countries.

Over time, many men who were not builders were drawn to the practices of Freemasonry. To encourage intellectual diversity, stonemasons began accepting men from other professions into the fraternity. These men were known as “accepted Masons.” This trend continued, and accepted members eventually outnumbered operative members. Today, the names “Freemasonry,” “Masonry,” and “Free and Accepted Masons” are used interchangeably to refer to the fraternity.
What is a lodge?
Freemasonry began when stonemasons formed local organizations, called lodges, to take care of sick and injured members, as well as the families of those who were killed on the job. The masons also used the lodges as places to meet, receive their pay, plan their work, train new apprentices, and socialize. Today, this term refers both to a unit of Masons and the room or building in which they meet. There are more than 320 lodges in California and approximately 13,000 in the United States.
What is a grand lodge?
A grand lodge is an administrative body that oversees Freemasonry in a specific geographic area, called a jurisdiction. The United States has grand lodges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Is Freemasonry an international organization?
There are about five million Masons worldwide, including almost two million in the U.S. and more than 60,000 in California. All lodges follow the same principles of Freemasonry, but their activities may vary. Each grand lodge is sovereign and independent; there is no U.S. or international governing body for Freemasonry.
Is Masonry a secret organization?
Membership in Masonry is not a secret; all members are free to acknowledge their membership. There is no secret about any of Masonry’s aims or principles. Masonry’s constitutions and rules are available to the public, and meeting locations are clearly identifiable. Like many similar organizations, some of Masonry’s internal affairs, such as ceremonies, grips, and passwords, are regarded as private matters for members only.
What happens at a lodge meeting?
There are two kinds of meetings for members. The most common is a business meeting, called a stated meeting, devoted to administrative procedures: minutes of the last meeting, discussing financial matters, voting on applications, and planning for lodge activities. The second kind of meeting is ceremonial, used for admitting new Masons and conferring degrees.
What are degrees?
There are three stages of Masonic membership: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. These stages are referred to as “degrees,” and correspond with members’ self-development and increased knowledge of Freemasonry. As a man completes each phase of learning, the lodge holds a ceremony to confer his degree. There are three stages of Masonic membership: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. These stages are referred to as “degrees,” and correspond with members’ self-development and increased knowledge of Freemasonry. As a man completes each phase of learning, the lodge holds a ceremony to confer his degree. Degree names are taken from craft guilds: In the Middle Ages, to become a stonemason, a man would first be apprenticed. As an apprentice, he learned the tools and skills of the trade. When he had proved his skills, he became a “fellow of the craft,” and when he gained exceptional ability, he was known as a “master of the craft.”
What is the significance of officers’ titles?
Masonry came to America from England and many of the original English titles are still in use. These titles may sound archaic in today’s society, but their meanings are simple. The master is the leader of the lodge, similar to the term president in other organizations. He is called “master” for the same reason that the leader of first violins in an orchestra is called the concertmaster. It’s simply an older term for leader. The senior and junior wardens represent the first and second vice presidents.
Why does Masonry use symbols?
Symbols allow people to communicate quickly, and to transcend language barriers. When you see a green light or a circle with a line through it, you know what it means. Likewise, Masons use metaphors from geometry and the architecture of stonemasonry to inform their continuing pursuit of knowledge, ethics, and leadership skills. To reflect their heritage, Masons wear aprons while in lodge, at certain public events, and at funerals to demonstrate their pride in the fraternity, and their lineage from stonemasons, who historically carried their tools in leather aprons. The square and compass is the most widely known symbol of Masonry: When you see the symbol on a building, you know that Masons meet there.
Do Masons engage in politics?
Masonry does not endorse political candidates or legislation, and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings is not allowed.
Is Masonry a religion?
Masonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. The fraternity requires its members to have a belief in a Supreme Being, but the fraternity itself is not affiliated with any religion, and men of all faiths are represented in the fraternity. Religion is not discussed at lodge meetings.
Why are some Masonic buildings called temples?
We sometimes call a building a “temple” in the same sense that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court a "Temple of Justice." Most California lodges now refer to their buildings as Masonic centers.
What are the other Masonic organizations?
A man first becomes a Mason at his local lodge. After he has been awarded the three degrees of Masonry, he may join any of the other allied Masonic organizations, each of which has a special social, educational, or philanthropic focus. The best known in the United States are the Shrine, Scottish Rite, and York Rite.
Why can’t women join Masonry?
Masonry is a fraternity, a brotherhood. The essence of a fraternity is that it is for men, just as the essence of a sorority is that it is for women. There are several affiliated Masonic organizations for women only, as well as organizations for both men and women.
Are there Masonic organizations for youth?
In the years following World War I, Masons in the United States helped establish a trio of youth orders dedicated to teaching young men and women the principles and values of Masonry. Today, DeMolay International, Job’s Daughters International, and the International Order of Rainbow for Girls offer young men and women ages 10 to 21 opportunities for personal growth and community service. More information is available at masons4youth.org.
Are there financial commitments for Masons?
There is an application fee for membership, which includes a charitable contribution to help fulfill our philanthropic mission and our obligation to aid brothers and their families in times of need. Continued giving supports important charitable programs, which rely on member contributions. Annual dues begin when the Entered Apprentice degree is received; each lodge determines the dues amount.


Philanthropy

Making your gift to the Masonic Homes of California or the Californial Masonic Foundation has become even easier. We are thrilled to announce that Brother Masons, friends and family members now have the ability to use our secure site to make an online gift to their favorite Masonic charity.

The three basic tenets of Freemasonry are brotherly love, relief and truth. It is by operating under these basic principles that Freemasonry takes good men and makes them better. We are not only "obligated" in our individual Lodges, but we take on a larger sense of moral obligation as Masons. It is this moral obligation that implores us to assist a brother in need.

While there is a corporate structure in place to provide assistance, perhaps the aid that means the most comes from one's own Lodge. The Masonic Homes provide excellent care to those brothers and their Ladies who can no longer live alone or those who freely choose to join the Masonic Home community. Masonic Outreach Services provides a multitude of services to those who have fallen on hard times or whose health may be failing.

While these services are exemplary, they cannot replace the personal touch of a phone call from a Lodge member, or perhaps, a warm meal and friendly conversation. A lodge may even choose to take up a collection to provide for the needs of one of their members. The number of ways we can help a fellow Lodge member in need are countless. What we must remember however, is that it is our duty to show some form of brotherly love.

Click here , to be taken to the Grand Lodge of California's Secure Giving page.

Online Giving


Applying For Membership

To Be One Is To Ask One

One of Masonry’s customs is not to solicit members; men must seek membership on their own through a Mason they know or a local lodge.

California Masonic membership is open to men age 18 or older who meet the qualifications and standards of character and intention, and who believe in a Supreme Being. Men of all ethnic and religious backgrounds are welcome.

A Mason who recommends you for membership will assist with completing and submitting the application. After submitting the application, you will be interviewed by members of the lodge you wish to join so they can learn more about you and you can learn more about Freemasonry. If the interview is favorable, your application is presented to the lodge for a vote. If the vote is affirmative, you receive the Entered Apprentice degree - the first degree of Freemasonry. When you advance through the next two degrees, you are a Master Mason and a full member of the fraternity.

For more information, contact the San Diego Lodge No. 35 Secretary.


Links

Masons of California

Masonic Education
Candidate Learning Center
Fraternal Support
Member Resources
Masons of California News

Masons of California YouTube Site

Find links for Masonic organizations