October 18, 2019

Examining the Visitor

Posted in Freemasonry at 9:11 am by GeneGoldman

When someone requests admission as a visitor to a lodge in my jurisdiction, he may do so if he meets one (or more) of three criteria.

Someone who has sat in a Tiled lodge with the visitor may vouch for him. We call this “Avouchment”. The Brother vouching for the visitor is placing his personal imprimatur on the visit. This is a frequent occurrence when some member of our lodge has a buddy who is also a Mason.

The visitor may produce some official correspondence or communication from an authoritative source (such as our Grand Master) directing his admission. This rarely happens and is usually something very official.

The third criterion is the topic at hand. We call it “Due Examination”. I have been to lodges where this is more of an interrogation than anything else. I have also been to lodges where this is a very informal welcoming of a new friend and exchange of pertinent information. When we have a visitor who cannot be vouched for, and is not part of any official delegation, the Master appoints an Examination Committee (of three members, usually one with a lot of experience and one who is new to the process). The committee is charged to *satisfy themselves*, severally, that the visitor is a Master Mason in good standing, in a lodge chartered by a Grand Lodge that we recognise (called Amity).

On my first time on an investigating committee for a visiting Brother, the (potential) visitor was a rather old Brother who hadn’t been in a lodge room in decades. He never served as an officer, and his memory was never great, and now was failing as he advanced in years. The examination was very different from others I have done. We took a conversational tone and just got to know this Brother and try to make him comfortable, while also completing OUR mission.
He was very anxious about this visit, having flown for the first time half way across the country to be there. But he was overjoyed that he had made it in time for the meeting. It was very important to him that he be there that evening.
You see, the meeting was to confer the Entered Apprentice Degree on a very special candidate. And the candidate had no idea the visitor was going to be there.
Could you imagine turning away this visitor because he couldn’t remember some oath he was never taught to memorize in the first place? Or because he really didn’t remember much about his degrees? What would we have gained from subjecting him to a grueling interrogation? And some individuals (who claim to be Masons) boast about how they would do so!
Fortunately, we have a little card the committee takes in the examination room with the oath printed on it – and we coached him when he couldn’t make out the words.The newly obligated Entered Apprentice almost fainted when the hoodwink was removed and the visitor was standing there with the rest of us, welcoming his grandson as a Brother Mason.
It was a great evening.

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