Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Invitational and Honorary Bodies of the York Rite

A treasure trove of information on the York Rite can be found at the website www.yorkrite.org

Many are unaware of the several invitational, honorary bodies that branch from the York Rite. Below is a list, with description, of the various groups:

Allied Masonic Degrees

The Allied Masonic Degrees are an invitational organization, and requires membership in the Royal Arch as well as the Symbolic Lodge. Membership is limited to 27 members per council.

Be it remembered that on August 5, 1933, this Grand Council took as its date of formation January 14, 1892, since this date was the beginning of the Allied Masonic Degrees in America with the formation of the Sovereign College of Allied Masonic and Christian Degrees at Richmond, Virginia, that on April 16, 1932, the subsequent establishment of a Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America occurred in Salisbury, North Carolina, and that the union of the two bodies was drawn up and entered into July 18, 1933, and was ratified by the North Carolina Grand Council August 5, 1933 and was ratified by the Sovereign College at Norway, Maine August 24, 1933, and became effective as of September 7, 1933.

The Allied Masonic Degrees are detached degrees some of which, many years ago, were conferred under Craft warrants and formed part of the then loosely governed Freemasonry of the period.

Many of these detached degrees became dormant in some places, although in others they were conferred as side degrees. In time, the better of these degrees were grouped together in an organized body under the title of Allied Masonic Degrees. The degrees comprising the system in our Jurisdiction in the U.S.A. are the Royal Ark Mariner, Secret Monitor, Knight of Constantinople, Saint Lawrence the Martyr, Architect, Superintendent, Grand Tilers of Solomon, Master of Tyre, Excellent Master, Installed Sovereign Master, Installed Commander Noah, Red Branch of Eri and Ye Ancient Order of Corks. They are conferred in the United States in Councils chartered by the Grand Council. Each Council is limited to twenty seven members, with two exceptions. One of these Councils is known as the Council of the Nine Muses and is limited to nine members. The other is Grand Masters Council, which has what is known as a roving charter. The purpose of the latter Council is to provide a place of membership in the Allied Masonic Degrees for brethren residing in localities where Councils have not been organized. Membership in every Council of Allied Masonic Degrees is by invitation, and is predicated on membership in the Royal Arch Chapter.

Knight Masons

The Knight Mason Degrees have their origins to the earliest records of Masonry, in fact there is some indication that the Knight Mason Degrees may have been developed even before the degree of Master Mason!

There are three degrees - Knight of the Sword, Knight of the East, and Knight of the East and West. These "Green" degrees are ancient and are in essence "Old Testament."

Until the mid-Nineteenth Century they were worked in Ireland under the auspices of the Royal Arch Chapters and later the Commandery Preceptories.

Sovereign Rite Sovereign College

The York Rite Sovereign College of North America exists primarily to be of service to the York Rite of Freemasonry. Constituent colleges must declare fealty to the Grand Lodge of their respective jurisdictions. The pre-requisite for membership, which is by invitation only, is good-standing in all four York Rite bodies: Lodge, Chapter, Council and Commandery or Preceptory (Canada.)

Membership in a College is by invitation, and is restricted to those who hold membership in all of the other York Rite bodies. Since the primary object of every College is to foster a spirit of service and to promote and support the York Rite in every way possible, it is no surprise to find many of the leaders of the Craft numbered among its ranks. Here they find a common ground from which the can act for the welfare of all York Rite bodies without special favor to any. Colleges have been active in the organization of York Rite Festivals, degree teams, drill corps, and many other functions which serve to assist, coordinate, and unify the Rite.

The Order of the Purple Cross of York, the highest honor of the College, is conferred upon those members of the College who have distinguished themselves by their service to humanity or to the Rite, The recipients are designated Associate Regents of the Sovereign College, and from their ranks are chosen the Regents or active members of that body.

Royal Order of Scotland

The Royal Order comprises two Degrees, that of Heredom of Kilwinning and that of the Rosy Cross. Tradition tells us that the former was established in Judea, in Palestine, but whether at the time of the Crusaders of much earlier origin, tradition is silent.

Each applicant MUST BE INVITED, MUST HAVE BEEN A MASTER MASON FOR MORE THAN FIVE YEARS and MUST BE A TRINITARIAN CHRISTIAN BY FAITH. He further should hold the 32nd degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, although this may be waived if the Petitioner is a Knight Templar. We require that all applicants must be entitled to honor in Freemasonry because of services performed for the Craft, the Church, or the Public.

Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priest

The Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests is an honorary and invitational organization with membership limitations and cannot be applied for. Members are selected and extended invitations on the basis of outstanding performance as a Commander of a Commandery of Knights Templar. The order has historic roots in England that trace back to 1786, with references back to 1686, the traditional year of revival. The "Priestly Order" was referred to within the ceremonies of "The High Knights Templar" in Ireland in 1755. There are records of the conferral of this Order in the United States during the 1800's but the authority is unknown. The Grand College of America, Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests was formed in the United States in 1931. The limit of Regular Members in a Tabernacle is 33. The number of Tabernacles in a state is dependent on the number of active Commanderies in each state.

Red Cross of Constantine

The Red Cross of Constantine is officially The Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and the Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and St. John the Evangelist, the latter two of which are called the Appendant Orders. There are also two chair degrees conferred on the Viceroy and Sovereign of a Conclave, and two honorary orders: Knight Commander of Constantine and Knight Grand Cross. The governing body of the Order for the United States of America, the Republic of Mexico and the Republic of the Philippines and their territories is styled The United Grand Imperial Council of Knights of the Red Cross of Constantine and Appendant Orders for the United States of America, Mexico and the Philippines.

The purpose of the Constantinian Orders are to commemorate the first elevation of Christianity from the position of a despised and proscribed heresy to that of a legally recognized and honored religion, to cultivate the social virtues, appeal to the intellectual and moral qualities, preserve as far as possible the customs of the fraternity and bring about good fellowship and understanding between all branches of Masonry.

Knights Companions of the Order meet in Conclaves of the Red Cross of Constantine and a member must be a Royal Arch Mason in good standing and subscribe to a belief in the Christian religion as revealed in the New Testament. Membership is by invitation and each Conclave has a prescribed membership limit.

Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (Rosicrucian Society)

Membership is by invitation only & predicated on regular mainstream Masonic affiliation as well as a profession of Christian faith. Membership was initially restricted to 36 members per College, but this was changed in 1908 by MW Thomas Shryock to 72 members per college. The See of the High Council is in Washington, D.C. The SRICF is in amity with the SRIS (Scotia) and the SRIA (Anglia) as well as the SRIC (Canada) and has helped the cause of Rosicruciana by empowering High Councils in their own sovereignty around the World. They are: the SRIL in Lusitania (Portugal), SRIG in Gallia (France) & the SRIR (Romania).

Grand College of Rites

Established on May 12, 1932 - The Grand College of Rites is a "regular" Masonic body, dedicated to preserving the history and rituals of defunct and inactive Masonic orders.

Any Master Mason holding membership and in good standing in a regular symbolic Lodge recognized by a majority of the Grand Lodges of Freemasonry in the United States may petition for membership in the Grand College of Rites.

Rectified Scottish Rite

The R.E.R. is a strictly Christian Order, and as such the requirements are to be a practicing Christian. There are ritualistic requirements which cannot be assumed by non-Christians. Further one needs to be a Knight Templar and a member of a Symbolic Lodge in fraternal accord with a Grand Lodge recognized by most of the members of the Conference of Grand Masters of North America. This requirement is automatically met by any Knight Templar belonging to a Commandery of Knights Templar here in the United States.

The work of the R.E.R. will be done in full form and follow along the lines intended by those who established these degrees. An initiate will remain in a Lodge of St. Andrew for at least 3 years before being advanced as a Squire Novice, and another 3 years at least before being admitted to the Chevalier Bienfaisant de Cite Saint (CBCS) degrees. By doing so, a Knight may have the full R.E.R. experience.

The final group is an organization for women related to Sir Knights of the Order of the Temple.

Social Order of the Beauceant

As the wives, widows, mothers, sisters, daughters and granddaughters of Knights Templars, they are the only ladies' fraternal order whose eligibility is determined by a Sir Knights membership in the Commandery. A new Assembly may be constituted wherever there is an active Commandery of Knights Templar of sufficient size to warrant it, and there are several interested wives or widows.

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