To become a Mason in the ancient world, you had to go through three different stages of education: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and then Master Mason. Becoming a Mason afforded the individual significant advantages not easily acquired in the ancient world. Becoming a Master Mason meant the opportunity to gain wealth and status as a common man that was all but impossible without that education.
Our ancient Brethren recognized that the knowledge that was afforded to an Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason was so valuable that it needed to be guarded. To protect that knowledge, they wove into their process not just lessons of skill, but also lessons of morality to insure that only men of good character would hold their precious secrets.
This tradition carried forward so powerfully that Masonry changed its purpose, most likely sometime in the 1600’s. To build character became more important than the skills of stone and axe. These lessons of character now afforded the man who was worthy of hearing them a greater position within society and among his fellow man. Those lessons became our ritual; taught to each generation by the last to guarantee that Freemasonry creates good men of good character.
Whether you are a white apron Brother or an officer, whether you have been asked to participate or will support your Brethren from the sidelines, I urge each of you to remember how important this test should be to us. Come out to rehearsals or support your Brethren during regular communications. You became a Mason to see the ritual done right; so that you could stand with men of great character within the halls of our Lodge. Each year our Brethren have proven that, within and without Olive Branch Lodge, we understand those lessons. We understand and continue to learn the lessons that make our fraternity great.