Freemasonry's traditions can be traced directly to the associations of operative Masons. They were men of outstanding character and high ideals, who built the cathedrals, abbeys and castles of the Middle Ages.
With the decline of cathedral building in the 17th Century, many guilds of craftsmen, called "Operative" Masons, started to accept those who were not working members of the Masons' crafts into their membership and they were called "Speculative" or "Accepted" Masons. These Speculative Masons were learned and well-thinking men - men of integrity and goodwill. With their admission into membership in these groups which were called lodges, Freemasonry as we know it today had its beginning. The tools once used for building have been transformed into emblems of moral and spiritual laws.
Freemasonry is a nonreligious organization which throughout its very many years of existence has maintained a consistent set of principles which are in parallel and which compliment those of all the major religions of the world while at the same time promoting the simple but important objectives of helping all men and women everywhere to live happy lives. These principles include kindness and consideration at home; honesty in business; courtesy towards others; dependability in ones work; compassion for the unfortunate; and being a good citizen of the whole world. Freemasonry helps its members through its lessons and friendships and society as a whole through both its members' activities and its charitable works.
As a fraternity, Freemasonry provides an opportunity for men to meet and enjoy friendly companionship. In the spirit of helpfulness and brotherly love and guided by strict moral principles it encourages goodwill towards all mankind. Freemasonry promotes self-improvement and teaches the basic principles of brotherly love, charity and truth which Masons are encouraged to practice in their daily lives. Masons serve society charitably - not just with money (although over two million Masonic dollars are contributed every day to Masonic philanthropies in North America alone) but also through actions and deeds.
Freemasonry welcomes applications from men who seek harmony with their fellow men and who wish to participate in making this world a better place in which to live by promoting Masonic ideals of reverence, morality, kindness, honesty, dependability and compassion.
Its members are expected to:
Information based on the pamphlet "For the information of the man who has expressed an interest in Masonry"
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The Harmony Lodge No. 57