In this article we’re going to discuss a certain kind of funeral called the Masonic Service, which is a special funeral service for men only who are a member of the Masonic Fraternity in good standing at the time of their death.
To be eligible for a Masonic funeral service a person has to be a man for starters. Women are not allowed to become Masons but they do have their own organization and their own funeral service. This will be the subject of another article. Not only must a Mason be a man but they must also be a member in good standing, meaning that they have to have been paying their dues on a regular basis and must not have been brought up on any Masonic charges. There is also an age requirement that a man has to be at least 21 years of age to become a mason. Boys under that age, even if their fathers are masons are not entitled to a Masonic funeral.
So just how is a Masonic funeral different from other funerals? To answer that, we need to discuss some of the similarities. For starters, Masonic funeral services are held in some kind of funeral parlor or temple. The same preparations are made as far as getting the body ready such as embalming. One difference in the preparation is that the deceased has his white lambskin apron placed over the body in the casket during the service, not before. If the body is not viewable for whatever reason, be it that the site would be a bit gruesome or if there is no body at all, then the apron would be placed over the casket or urn.
The service itself begins with a prayer, usually the 23rd psalm. Unlike services performed by ministers, which are prepared in advance and unique to a degree for each service, the Masonic service is a standard ritual. In other words, the service is the same for each Mason who passes away. There is no deviation in the service except for the part of the service itself where the Mason’s name and date of birth and death are given.
The ritual itself is about 20 minutes long and is done from memory. Masons spend many months learning this service which consists of over ten pages of dialogue which has to be read word for word. The ritual team consists of the person reciting the ritual, a chaplain and a marshall. Any other masons from that particular lodge also participate in the service as observers and marchers.
At the end of the service the family and friends go up to the casket to pay their final respects. A Masonic service is a great honor to a man who is a mason where the one belief is that from Earth we came and to Earth we must shortly return.
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