What is Royal Arch Masonry?
The Royal Arch is the continuation of Craft Freemasonry
What is Royal Arch Masonry?
At the completion of the third degree ceremony in the Craft, you were informed that the genuine secrets of a Master Mason were lost and it is in the Holy Royal Arch where they can be discovered.
Its members, called Companions, meet in Chapters under a Grand Chapter. Chapters are ruled over by three Principals, who rule conjointly, and the Grand Chapter is ruled over by three Grand Principals, with a Pro First Grand Principal when the First Grand Principal is a Royal Prince.
Like Craft Freemasonry, the Royal Arch is open to men of all faiths.
In England, the Royal Arch has four ceremonies: the exaltation ceremony to bring in new members and an installation ceremony for each of the three Principals. The exaltation ceremony is in two parts: a rather dramatic presentation of the principles of the Order followed by three Lectures in which the history, symbolism and principles of the Royal Arch are further explained.
The allegory of the exaltation ceremony is based on the Old Testament telling of the return to Jerusalem from the Babylonish captivity to rebuild the city and temple. In clearing the ground of the original temple for the foundations of the second temple, the candidate makes a number of discoveries which emphasise the centrality of God to man’s life and existence and, without transgressing the bounds of religion, lead the candidate to a consideration of the nature of God and his personal relationship with Him, whatever his religion might be.
In England, the Royal Arch is considered to be the completion of “pure ancient Masonry”. In the Craft the candidate is presented with a series of eminently practical principles and tenets which if he practises them he may hope to live a life pleasing to his God, however he worships him, and of service to his fellow man. But man is not simply a practical being, he has an essential spiritual aspect to his nature. That spiritual aspect is introduced in the Third Degree, in which the candidate is led to a contemplation of man’s inevitable destiny, and becomes the central message of the Royal Arch. In that sense, “pure ancient Masonry” can be seen as a journey of self – knowledge and discovery with the Royal Arch completing the practical lessons of the Craft by a contemplation of man’s spiritual nature, not replacing but reinforcing and supporting what he has learned from his religion.
Frequently asked questions
The Royal Arch is the culmination of your journey through “Pure Ancient Masonry”.
the Royal Arch leads the candidate from the practical to the spiritual and completes “pure ancient masonry”, a fascinating journey of self- knowledge and self – discovery beginning with the Entered Apprentice degree and culminating in the First Principal’s chair of the Chapter.
No, but every Chapter will originally have had its own Lodge. All Chapters will have been sponsored by a Craft Lodge, whose number they take, and in most cases whose name they adopt.
A mason is not restricted to joining the Chapter that may be associated with his Lodge; he will be made welcome in any Chapter of his choice. Indeed, many Brethren choose to join a Chapter un-connected with their Lodge, often in a different Masonic Hall, as this affords them the opportunity to develop and widen their friendships.
Membership is open to Freemasons of all faiths who have been Master Masons for at least four weeks.
Members of the Chapter to which they seek admission must propose, second and ballot for them.
Royal Arch Chapters typically meet four times a year, referred to as ‘Convocations’.
One of these is the Installation, when the Principals and Officers of a Chapter generally change every year, similar to the Craft.