Is the Commandery too difficult for most Masons?

Discussion in 'The York Rite' started by David Melear, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. David Melear

    David Melear Right Eminent Grand Commander Premium Member

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    I visited a Commandery not to long ago and many of the members told me the Commandery was too difficult and they didn’t want to bring new members in because of that reason. They suggested we make the Commandery more like the Lodge and make it were anyone can do the work. These are not there exact words, I am paraphrasing a little, it was about a 50-minute conversation.

    How many of you think the Commandery is too difficult?

    I personally like the discipline that the Commandery Orders brings to the Masonic Organizations. I know some of you will probably say what discipline, but for the Commanderies that are very active and take advantage of everything the Grand Commandery offers many of those people are very disciplined in there actions.
     
  2. tom268

    tom268 Registered User

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    Well, I don't know how demanding your Commanderies are, as our chivalric degrees are different, but should it not be more demanding? When it would be like lodge, why do anything else but lodge anyway? The brothers in Commandery degrees are usually (or should be) experienced brothers with some time spent in blue lodge, chapter and conclaves. There should be progress in ritual complexity in it.

    But, I guess, memorizing all this stuff, in addition to the other bodies, is very much. But a brother, who has no speaking office in the other bodies, should be able to do the work. And a brother, who has to memorize many texts in his numerous offices must ask himself, why he is doing this.
     
  3. David Melear

    David Melear Right Eminent Grand Commander Premium Member

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    That is a good assessment; maybe the Commandery should be made up of the most dedicated members of the Lodge so that when you take the Orders there is a sense of expectation that you will become a very active member. The Sir Knight I have the honor to work with on a daily bases are some of the most dedicated Masons I know, and there are many other Sir Knights around my state that equally as dedicated to the Masonic work.
     
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  4. tom268

    tom268 Registered User

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    Hm, that would make Commandery into an invitational body. I think, we have enough of those. There are always more silent brothers and more active brothers. The teachings of chivalric degrees should be open to all christian brothers, no matter how good they are with the ritual. But, maybe this should be an aspect for those, who want to get into office in Commandery. Is he in office elsewhere? Is he fit enough to do both? Or is he just collecting offices? Difficult to determine, I believe, so it will be the nice-to-have.
     
  5. dpteskeys

    dpteskeys Registered User

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    If you belong to a commandery and you fill it is to hard and that is why members are not joining, you might as well consolidate with another commandery because you will never keep it op with that attitude
     
  6. tom268

    tom268 Registered User

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    In Germany, the York Rite is very small, 200 brothers, maybe a few more. That brings it to the point, that very few Commanderies exist, and travels of more than 100 miles are common. I belong to the Swdish Rite, which has a better cover, so we don't have that problems, but I know enough YR brothers, who do Chapter and Council, but stop there, because the next Commanders is too far away. A few brothers started to join the english or scottish-style Priories instead of Commanderies, as they are nearby (we are a former british occupation zone here).

    Yor Rite is seen as a foreign rite, and it is the youngest of the higher degree systems in Germany. The AASR was introduced in the 1920's, and the two originally german rites, which were both centered on christian beliefs, are from 1750, respectively 1770. York Rite came to Germany in about 1956, and tend to stay with the american brothers, until they left in the 1990's. So, York Rite has always its problems here.
    I never heard the YR brothers complaining about the rituals in Commandery, it is always the distance, and maybe the fact, that the experience is not that great, that it would make the long ride worthwhile.
     
  7. Ashton Lawson

    Ashton Lawson Premium Member

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    I am a young Mason (31), who joined the York Rite this past year. I enjoyed the Commandery degrees thoroughly; but I was pretty disappointed upon completing the Order of the Temple degree and learning that the perceived purpose of Commandery by the brethren there assembled, was doing drills and serving as often as possible as a color guard. After seeing what I believe is a series of deeply meaningful degrees, the gentleman conferring my degrees gleefully informed me that now that I was a Sir Knight, I was entitled to dress in a uniform and carry a sword. For a brother seeking meaning, purpose, education, light, and other assorted pursuits in the York Rite, I was pretty put off by the primary focus being on drill work, sword play, and military dress.

    Perhaps I misunderstood something along the way, or missed something entirely in retrospect, but to me it was frustrating to discover that the only seeming purpose and meaning of the Order of Christian Knighthood to my fellow Sir Knights appeared to be dressing as a soldier and carrying a sword. That hurt my respect for the Order, and it's put a massive dent in my motivation for taking the time to learn the ritual and get involved in my Commandery.
     
  8. tom268

    tom268 Registered User

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    That seems to be a major point of concern in this issue. There is another thread going on, where exactly the same arguments are told. So, maybe I may add a viewpoint from a different rite, with similar problems.

    In ther Swedish Rite, we have 10 degrees, degree 7 to 10 are given in a Chapter, which is similar to your Commandery. 7 and 8 are chivalric degrees, 9 and 10 are less chivalric and more christian spirituality. It takes a brother about 5 years to enter the Chapter and become a Knight of the "Sunrise in the East and Jerusalem". That's the title of the degree. For a brother, who never become an officer, these degrees are quite easy. He has to pass a test of 7 questions, that he has to answer before the work begins. In the degree, he is lead by a Warden, as it is in the precious degrees.

    But the personal connection to the degrees is low among the brothers. It is not because the low expectations, we have no marching groups and no uniforms, just a white mantle with a red cross, that is added at the 8th degree. What the brothers brings apart from their degree is the high level of spirituality involved.

    There is very little written material about the symbolism and ritual. There are very few brothers, who feel fit enough to instruct others on the meaning of things, as the spiritual impact of symbols in those degrees can be highly individual, and always connected to the individual's religious beliefs and experiances. So, we have a set of symbols, that have left the practical level at all and have completely spiritual and mystical meanings, few feel intitled to explain them, and the individual brother is also not able to get them into his soul, as it does not mean anything if he just get them into his mind.

    So, our degrees seem to be too spiritual for the modern man, who has not read the bible foreward and backward. This makes the degrees somewhat "sterile" in the opinions of many brothers.

    Different problem, same result.
     
  9. JohnnyFlotsam

    JohnnyFlotsam Premium Member

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    And people wonder why...
     
  10. David Melear

    David Melear Right Eminent Grand Commander Premium Member

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    They were referring to the Grand Commandery of Texas Inspection process. As for opening and closing they were fine with doing that at every meeting, they didn’t want to be forced to confer the Order of the Temple at their annual Inspection.
     
  11. dpteskeys

    dpteskeys Registered User

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    I still believe that you should never lower the bar (make easier). Masonry has lowered the bar already by signing visitors petitions when only knowing the gentleman for only 30 minutes. I fill if you do lower your expectations in anything you do then it is just another Masonic group. Why not keep the bar high and seen as a honor to be apart of the York Rite.
     
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  12. David Melear

    David Melear Right Eminent Grand Commander Premium Member

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    Tom, I should have been more specific on what I was referring to, they were referring to the Texas inspection process. The Grand Encampment of the USA, which Texas is a member, requires that you be inspected annually to show proficiency in the Commandery Orders and the Opening and Closing. Texas has a grading process that a Commandery must go through at an annual inspection. These grades are submitted to the Grand Commander and Commanderies that score well receive an award, and the Commanderies that do poorly are placed on probation. We require the elected officers to fill their stations during this inspection so that Commanderies do not put together professional teams to win the awards every year. (This is a very simple explanation of the process.)

    The members of this Commandery do not like being force to confer the Order of the Temple at the inspection, but do not mind performing the Opening and Closing.

    In our Blue Lodges, Chapters and Councils many officers never confer the degrees but have degree teams made up of several Past Masters. I have no problem with this and it works well for smaller bodies. This is where the problem lies with some of our smaller Commanderies, they have people who know the work very well, but when they are unable to attend because of age the other members do not want to learn new parts, and become unhappy with the Inspection process.

    As for the ritual they never complained about a dislike for the content, but just the opposite talked about that being the reason they are still members. As for distance this is not just a York Rite problem, Texas is a big state and many members travel long distances for meetings, my Scottish Rite meetings are 2 hours from my house and it is not uncommon for me to make a 2 hour trip for a 30 minute meeting and a 2 hour trip home on a work night. Of course we only meet once a month.

    As for my question, which was worded to invite a wide range of discussion, it might have better been stated as: Is the Texas Commandery Inspection to difficult for most Texas Masons.
     
  13. tom268

    tom268 Registered User

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    Ah, OK! Very interesting, indeed. And I indeed thought, you meant a normal degree meeting. There are no such inspections in any degree, grand lodge, or ritual system in Germany.
     
  14. David Melear

    David Melear Right Eminent Grand Commander Premium Member

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    I agree, my Commanderies are in my opinion among the best in the state in conferring the Orders and Opening and Closing, and there are many Commanderies around the state that will agree with me that this process is what makes us a good organization. However, it seems that many Masons are turned off by this approach; some have even told me that they just don’t want to be that dedicated to any organization.

    Of course this goes back to your point about lowering the bar to get member into the blue lodges.

    ---------- Post added at 08:31 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:25 AM ----------

    This is a Grand Encampment requirement and Texas has a very extreme implementation of the requirement, but most of the members embrace the process. It does cost us new members who are scared off by the process, and one other requirement is that all parts must be memorized, no books allowed. That is not a requirement in other organizations in our state and many of these members will choose to be involved in those organizations instead.
     
  15. Bro. Christopher Dawson

    Bro. Christopher Dawson Registered User

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    This is a off-topic reply, but I would like to speak with a Texas York Rite Mason. I am investigating the bodies of Masonry to make a 3-5 year plan for my education and want to be well-informed before doing so. If anyone would like to help, please PM me.

    Thanks for your time.
     
  16. KSigMason

    KSigMason Traveling Templar Site Benefactor

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    At least in my State, a lot of Sir Knights like that the York Rite meetings are not like the Blue Lodge.

    I personally love the Commandery for its D&C and its ritual.
     
  17. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    I know that this is an old thread but the topic interests me so that I am reviving it. Do you think that the Kt is too difficult? Should be simplified? Should stay the same?

    My opinion is that the additional rituals are a little difficult to learn but so what? Why join an appendant body if not to learn new things? I very much enjoy the Commandery as is.
     
  18. Matt L

    Matt L Site Benefactor

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    I don't think the Commandery is harder then learning to confer degree work, there are lots of words and floor work in any degree.

    The difference in the Commandery is, officers are required to wear a uniform. You can purchase a uniform for $100.00, a sword for $40.00 and a belt for $90.00. Most Commandreys have Chapeaus, swords and belt in house to borrow.

    There really isn't a lot of close order drill anymore (marching). There is an annual inspection which is graded. It really isn't much more then a Blue Lodge annual inspection.

    I have the honor of being the Eminent Commander of my Commandery. I'm practicing twice a week. the Department Commander is visiting in April and our inspection is in August.

    The Commandery is my favorite part of Masonary, I put in more time to receive my proficiency card in the blue lodge.

    Again, it's not any harder then learning blue lodge degree's and floor work, most Brothers are turned of by the uniform and some drill. If that's the case you're missing out of some beautiful and moving work.
     
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  19. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    I don't know why KT would be more difficult to learn. Certainly to remember as the degree ritual is performed less frequently.

    And please don't tell me appendant body ritual is more difficult. I am going though the chairs in my new chapter. It uses a different ritual than my previous Cheshire chapter (and certainly different than Utah). Ritual does become more difficult on this side of 60 and I don't need the additional discouragement. :).
     
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  20. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    Possibly the same here.
    I LOVE the uniform and drill!
    Agreed! I didn't even join Masonry until age 58 and I have had no more of a problem learning or memorizing the material than I would have 30 years ago.
     

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