Virtual Past Master Degree

Discussion in 'The York Rite' started by JJones, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    I've read in several places where it used to be something of an old tradition to confer this degree on installed Worshipful Masters. The degree is completely honorary and it's purpose was intended to help teach the Worshipful Master on his duties while in the East, complimenting his charge.

    Has anyone heard of this or know if this practice still takes place anywhere? If so, I'm especially curious if this degree is very different from the Past Master degree in Yorkrite.

    Any information would be appreciated!
     
  2. cambridgemason

    cambridgemason Premium Member Premium Member

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    Here in Massachusetts we call it a Lodge of Qualification. The Master elects of every Lodge must attend this Lodge before he is installed. A tradition kept for over 250 years. Only a new Master attends this Lodge, it is very similar to the Past Masters degree, as a matter of fact it is from this ritual and work that the degree of Past Master is taken from.
     
  3. RedTemplar

    RedTemplar Johnny Joe Combs Premium Member

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    In Kentucky, the Past Master's Degree is optional. It is taken from the York Rite. In addition, The Order of Solomon is also conferred.
    These are performed by groups known as The Society of Past Masters. Check out: www.apastmaster.org. For more info, click on The Cast.
     
  4. WarriorProphet

    WarriorProphet Registered User

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    We confer it on the master of our lodge after his lodge of sorrow, at the end o his year.
     
  5. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for all the info brethren.

    Brother RedTemplar, if you take it from the York Rite do you have to confer the Mark Master degree on him first?
     
  6. RedTemplar

    RedTemplar Johnny Joe Combs Premium Member

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    No, the only qualification a brother must have is that he be a sitting master or past master.
     
  7. chancerobinson

    chancerobinson Registered User

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    The following can be found in the Constitution and Laws of the Most Excellent Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Texas:

    Art. C-142 (290-A) Past Master's Degree. Notwithstanding restrictions of these laws to the contrary, a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons under the jurisdiction of the Most Excellent Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Texas may extend an invitation to a member of a Lodge under the jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas who is serving or has served as Worshipful Master or while serving as a Warden of a Texas Lodge to receive only the Past Master's Degree as authorized by this Grand Chapter, excluding those esoteric references to the Mark Master's Degree, under the following conditions: (Amended - 2004)

    1 Application to receive the Past Master's Degree shall be made to the Chapter by the completion of a suitable form approved by the Grand Chapter.

    2 Application shall be submitted to the Chapter between August 1st and June 23rd of the Masonic Year.

    3 The degree may be conferred upon the applicant either during or after his lawful term as Worshipful Master, or while serving as a Warden of a Lodge under the jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas. (Amended- 2004)

    4 An administration fee of $15.00 shall be collected by the conferring Chapter and forwarded to the Grand Secretary for maintenance of records and preparation of documents pertaining to the degree.

    5 The Secretary of the Chapter shall record the conferral in the minutes of the Chapter, and forward the record of conferral to the Grand Secretary.

    6 The application, once received by the Chapter and recorded in its minutes may be acted on at a time convenient to the Chapter.

    Here is the link to the application referenced above
    http://texasyorkrite.org/chapter/forms/lodge/PAST_MASTERS_DEGREE_PETITION.doc

    I have never participated in the conferral of the Past Master's Degree in this manner, but I am told that approaching the altar is a bit strange. As said above the work is not altered, portions of the degree from the Mark Master's Degree are omitted, but the flow of the degree is lost a bit.

    I have also been told that some lodges in other jurisdictions when the time comes to seat the Master in the east during the installation ceremonies, the brethren are all raised to their feet, all sitting Worshipful Masters and Past Masters are asked to turn and face the east and all other brethren are instructed to turn and face the west. At this time two Past Masters "regularly seat" the brother in his chair.
     
  8. cambridgemason

    cambridgemason Premium Member Premium Member

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    There are two types of Past Master degrees, one which is mentioned above which is conferred in the Royal Arch Chapter. Now this is done in the Chapter because at one time, only a Past or Presiding Master could receive the degree of Royal Arch and go on furthur to be knighted as a Templar. This changed back in the late 1700's ealry 1800's, for as the history tells us, Chapter Masonry was loosing it strength because of the lack of Past and Presiding Masters to fill the chairs and do the work. This degree which is borrowed from the Blue Lodges, but added to is introduced into the Chapter. This way any brother who has taken the Mark Master degree and go onto the Royal Arch. Some jurisdictions do not have this degree in the Chapter. He is called a Virtual Past Master. It is only used for Chapter reasons only and gives no one the same honors as to one who presides in the East of a Blue Lodge.
    There is another degree, which the Virtual Past Masters Degree is taken from. The degree of the Chair. As I mentioned above, it is only given to a new Master, and one who has recently been elected to preside over a regular and duly constituted Lodge. It is given to him before he is installed, and this degree goes back some 250 years in our history in Massachusetts. We confer this degree by ritual laid down by our Grand Lodge, and can be done by a particular Lodge, the District that Lodge belongs to, or a District wide, which many different Districts come together and this is performed on two or more candidates(Master-Elects). It is only done once, so if he repeats the East again, in his Lodge or elsewhere, he does not have to do this again. We call this a Lodge of Qualification, or passing the Chair.
     
  9. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Hi cambridgemason.

    Here in England, we work an esoteric Installation which includes this "Chair Degree". In the middle of the Installation, everyone except the Master, Past Masters and Master-Elect is sent out of the room, then we open what we call a "Board of Installed Masters" and work what we call the "Inner Working". We don't define this as a Degree, but it has an additional Ob and its own Scts and legend, and is essentially similar to your Past Master Degree. In the course of the Inner Working, the new Master is invested with his new Apron and seated in the East. Then we close the Board, re-admit the MMs, and proceed with investing Officers and so on.

    Even when the new Master is a Past Master going back to the East, we still have an Inner Working to put him in the Chair, but in that case we use an abbreviated version which doesn't repeat matters with which he's previously been entrusted.

    The origin of the ceremony (which is presumably the underlying origin of your ceremony as well) is that the Premier GL ("Moderns") appears (although it's not quite clear) to have used an esoteric Installation for the Founding Master during the Consecration of a new Lodge, but didn't use esoteric Installation for the subsequent Masters. This Installation ceremony appears to have spread to Scotland and Ireland, probably sometime in the 1730s. However, when the Antients came along, they decided that esoteric Installation should be used for all Masters rather than just the first Master, and some of the Premier GL Lodges decided to follow suit. Therefore when the English GLs were united, the Antients practice was adopted for all, and we've been doing it this way in UGLE ever since. (The GLs of Scotland and Ireland also adopted the practice of esoteric Installation for all Masters, although I'm not quite sure when.)

    Thus, when American Lodges were being founded, some came from jurisdictions which had esoteric Installation and some came from jurisdictions which didn't, which may be why the eventual arrangement in many US GLs after independence was to separate the "Chair Degree" from the Installation ceremony.

    T & F,

    Huw
     

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