Masonic retention is a word upon the lips of every Grand
Lodge, subordinate lodge and its many Freemason members, today, across the
It may surprise you to know that Masonic retention was
on the mind of Albert Mackey, Freemason Researcher and Historian, when he wrote
Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry over 130 years ago.
Here is what he wrote:
"One who commits to memory the questions and answers of
the catechetical (sic: Relating to or consisting of asking questions and
receiving answers by rote rather than by understanding) lectures, and the
formulas of the ritual but pays no attention to the history and philosophy of
the institution; is commonly called a Parrot Mason, because he is supposed to
repeat what he has learned without any conception of its true meaning.
In former times, such superficial Freemasons were held
by many in high repute because of the facility with which they passed through
the ceremonies of a reception, and they were generally designated as Bright
But, the progress of Freemasonry as a science now
requires something more than a mere knowledge of the lectures to constitute a
Masonic scholar."...Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Vol.
2, Page 752, Albert Gallatin Mackey, 33˚, published by The Masonic History
Company, Revised ed. copyright 1929, Original copyright 1873.
Memorization without understanding will only take a
person to the end of his memorized work...much like memorizing a geometric
equation does not prove truly useful unless you understand its components.
Example: If I asked you to tell me the equation to
measure the area of a circle, the answer quickly coming from your lips may very
well be Pi r² ... and I would applaud your knowledge.
But how useful is that knowledge if you do not know
Pi = the ratio of
the circumference to the diameter of a circle; approximately equal to
3.14159265358979323846..., or 3.1416 if you round it off.
Radius of the circle...the measurement from the center-point to its perimeter or
² (Squared) = the radius
Therefore, your quick answer of Pi r² (the equation with
which you may perform the task) was absolutely correct, but if you cannot
understand each component of the equation, you cannot "do the math", and
therefore your journey ends.
Memorization of ritual is important within Freemasonry,
however without learning the biblical, symbolic and historical components within
Freemasonry's depths, your journey, too, will end without your actually finding
Freemasonry's true light.
True Masonic retention is obtained when both ritual and
Masonic knowledge are balanced with one another.
Masonic education is the
only means with which the fraternity can both retain its current membership and
produce new members to carry on Freemasonry's proud traditions.
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