Sunday, October 10, 2021

‘Ancient Craft Masonry’s completion’


It is taught The Word may be imparted only when the three Grand Masters are present, and we had that yesterday—kind of.

It was the very long awaited Tri-State Cryptic Festival at Saugerties, in King Solomon’s Council 31 (at Ulster Lodge 193) specifically, that united the Grand Masters of the Grand Councils of Royal and Select Masters of New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts for a full day of important ritual work. MIGM John Gallant mentioned from the Grand East how this tradition is in, approximately, its ninetieth year. Since nine is a significant number in the Cryptic Rite, nine decades sounds good to me.

Gallant was installed only about six weeks ago. Joining him in governing all these Royal and Select Masters were Most Puissant James McNeely of Connecticut and the Most Illustrious Grand Master from Massachusetts. (I have forgotten his name. I’m sorry.)

From left: Massachusetts, General Grand, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.

Also present were M.I. David Schuler, of the Grand Council of Vermont; and R.I. Sean McNorton, Deputy Grand Master from New Jersey. Plus an officer from the General Grand Council joined us—but I’ve forgotten his name as well because I was too stubborn to take notes.

But any of those senior officers would be the first to tell you it’s the degrees that matter, and that advancing these dozens of Royal Arch companions to the completion of Ancient Craft Masonry is the reason for being there.

The three degrees of the Cryptic Rite were worked. The Connecticut companions conferred the Royal Master Degree. The Massachusetts Masons made the new Royal Masters into Select Masters. After a fortifying lunch, the New York team—with most but not all from Columbian 1–conferred the seldom seen Super Excellent Master Degree. (Special kudos to Companion Dave Barkstedt, who deflects praise but who coordinated this complicated worksite.)

The Cryptic Rite confounds the attentive Freemason who requires some clarity in the designs upon the trestleboard because there is confusion in the Temple. For starters, simply for a post-Sublime Degree coherent narrative, these three degrees rightly should be found before Royal Arch. And, as a pair, the Royal Master and the Select Master ought to be reversed.

And Super Excellent Master? Don’t ask. It has no continuity with the previous two degrees as it draws from the story of Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah, and Jeremiah. It has a lengthy drama which deserves ritualists with serious acting chops—something we don’t see often enough.

I suggested cutting the cake with a trowel but to no avail.

When I am installed Grand Master of the country I’m gonna straighten all that out. Until then, I hope every bright Master Mason will seek further Light in Masonry by continuing beyond the Craft lodge into the Royal Arch and Cryptic degrees. To paraphrase Bro. Winston Churchill, who was talking about a different sort of education: “I would let the clever Masons learn Royal Arch as an honor, and Cryptic as a treat.”

Speaking of Royal Arch, I believe I’ll take another long drive into the suburbs tomorrow night to see a group of Most Excellent Masters exalted in a chapter, something I haven’t done in a long time.

1 comment:

Harry said...

It was a great day and we were glad to act as hosts. It was a great day of companionship, and there are 47 new companions because of it. I enjoy the tri-state because of the chance to meet so many, and a chance to see the Super Excellent degree. It was a treat to see Colmbian 1 do an excellent job

Our current location was full and it would not be possible to have a larger crowd, but we'll do our best in three years at our turn again.

Thanks for coming.