p. 184

THIS degree in Masonry was instituted to try the qualifications of a Master Mason before becoming Master of a Lodge, and no Mason can constitutionally preside over a Lodge of Master Masons unless he has been admitted to this Degree. A Mason usually takes this Degree before offering himself as a candidate for presiding in a Master’s Lodge; but should it so happen that a Mason is elected Master of a Lodge who is not a Past Master, the Past Master’s Degree may be conferred upon him without any other ceremony than that of administering the obligation. In such a case it is usually done by Royal Arch Masons, acting by order of a Grand Master.

The Past Master’s Lodge consists of seven officers, as follows:–

1. Right Worshipful Master; 2. Senior Warden; 1. Junior Warden; 4. Secretary; 5. Treasurer; 6. Senior Deacon; 7. Junior Deacon.1

The interior arrangement is the same as in the first degree, and the officers are similarly seated. (See p. 8.)

p. 185

The symbolic color of the Past Master’s Degree is purple. The apron is of white lambskin, edged with purple, and should have the jewel of the Degree inscribed upon it. The collar is of purple, edged with gold. But, as Past Masters’ Lodges are held under the warrants of Royal Arch Chapters, the collars, aprons, and jewels of the Chapter are generally made use of is conferring the Past Master’s Degree.

When a Lodge of Past Masters is opened in due form, the ceremony is similar to that of a Master’s Lodge. If there is a candidate in waiting he is usually introduced into the Lodge as though it were open on the Mark Master’s Degree, and he is made a Past Master before he is aware of it. Since the many disclosures of this and other Degrees in Masonry, it requires a great deal of tact and ingenuity to confer this Degree so as to produce the effect desired. The candidate is elected to the Degree in the Royal Arch Chapter, as no business is permitted to be done in this Degree except that of initiation. Formerly it was the custom for all the members to wear their hats while conferring this Degree, but now no member wears his hat except the Right Worshipful Master. We will now proceed to give the manner of conferring this Degree “in old times,” as described by Richardson, and, at the close, will give the reader an idea of the modern way of conferring it. By comparing this with Richardson’s work, the initiated will perceive that we have made some trifling alterations, and corrected several errors which occur in that book.

A Master Mason wishing to enter on the Degree of Past Master, petitions the Chapter, and is balloted for in the same way that a candidate would be in one of the first Degrees; but he is received very differently. Having had the requisite ballot, the Junior Deacon conducts him into the Lodge, places him on a seat, and then repairs to his own station near the Senior Warden in the west. Soon after, a heavy alarm is given at the outer door.

J. D. (to the Master, rising.)–There is an alarm at the outer door, Right Worshipful.

R. W. M.–Attend to the alarm, and see who comes there.

Junior Deacon goes to the door, and soon returns, bringing a letter to the Master, who opens it, and reads aloud to the Lodge as follows:–

DEAR BROTHER–Our dear mother has been taken suddenly very ill, and the physician despairs of saving her life. Come home immediately; do not lose a moment in delay.

Your affectionate sister, ALICE. p. 186

R. W. M. (addressing the Lodge.)–Brethren, you see by the tenor of this letter to me that it is necessary I should leave immediately. You must appoint some one to fill the chair, for I cannot stay to confer this Degree.

J. W.–Right Worshipful, I certainly sympathize with you for the afflicting calamity which has befallen your family, and am sorry that it seems so urgently necessary for you to leave; but could you not stop a few moments? Brother Gabe has come on purpose to receive this Degree, and expects to receive it. I believe he is in the room, and can speak for himself; and unless he is willing to put off the ceremony, I do not see how you can avoid staying.

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