We are living the legacy of our forefathers. Whenever we open our lodge, the format, dialogue, and even phrasing is surprisingly similar to that used during the pre-revolutionary, early eighteenth century. Although some jurisdictions may have more than three, all Masonic openings for now nearly three centuries have had these three common elements. First, securing the lodge, ensuring that there are no imposters or unproven amongst us, and setting the watch against interlopers. Second, restating for both the officers and brethren the respective responsibilities and duties for each lodge officer. And third, formally opening the lodge for prescribed work. This formal, ritualistic process includes language, passwords, signs, symbols and rapping used exactly or similarly as has each successive generation of Masons in the old and newer world as we know it.
Here in New Jersey, England and in several other states the opening includes, in addition to the three parts discussed above, a dialogue between the Worshipful Master and the Senior Warden regarding Masonic travel. Unique to New Jersey Masonry is an additional dialogue between the Worshipful Master and the Senior Warden establishing that he knows the proof which must be given by each brother when purging the lodge of those who do not belong.1 The dialogue used today comes from the beginning part of the old long form Master Mason proficiency exam that can be found in the King Solomon ciphers used by all states in an earlier time. Since the 1840’s, New Jersey lodges have opened only on the Master Mason degree. The proficiency dialogue from the Master Mason degree was incorporated into the openings to make the fraternity seem more dignified to the active brothers.2
History; tradition; symbols; signs; ritualistic dialogue—all are the sinew that connect us with the generous principles of a simpler and forgone time when men and their families depended on neighbors and friends for aid and assistance during times of both wealth and distress. We are frequently reminded during lodge communications of our duties, acceptance and demeanor towards mankind. We are blessed to be in the company of proven good men whose goals and ambitions for betterment are as ours. Our challenge is sharing these generous principles whenever we are mixing with the world. But, we are Masons and we know how to do good works for all mankind.
Charlie Johnson, WM