District Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Jamaica and Cayman Islands
Why Craft Masons Should Be Mark Master Masons
(An extract from a paper by V.W. Bro. Michael F Barnes, PGJO, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Surrey)
The English Mark Constitution Today
The Structure of Mark Grand Lodge is similar to that of the United Grand Lodge. It has 41 Provincial Grand Lodges, 26 District Grand Lodges, and several unattached Lodges abroad. In addition to the Mark Degree, Grand Lodge also controls the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners through a body styled The Grand Master’s Royal Ark Council.
In size of membership the Mark and Royal Ark Mariners combined ranks second, after the Craft. In England, there are about 5.6 Craft Lodges to each Mark Lodge. In Cornwall the figure is about 2.5, which shows the popularity of Cornish Mark Masonry. In Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, there are about 3 Craft Lodges to each Mark Lodge. Qualification Admission to the Mark Degree in England and its Districts overseas requires that a candidate be a Master Mason of the English Constitution, or of a constitution recognised by the English Craft Grand Lodge. Mark Masons of other bodies recognised by Mark Grand Lodge may become joining members of English Mark Lodges. Reciprocal arrangements exist for our members to join other recognised constitutions.
The minimum interval between the conferment of each of the Craft Degrees and between the Craft and the Royal Arch is 4 weeks. No specific period is stipulated for a Master Mason before he can be Advanced into Mark Masonry.
To be an Installed Master in the Mark Degree requires that the candidate be an Installed Master of a Craft Lodge, unless special dispensation is granted.
So Why Should a Craft Mason be a Mark Mason?
Many reasons could be advanced, and some have already been alluded to, but three are of special importance. Firstly, it greatly enhances his knowledge of Craft Masonry. Secondly, it teaches, in a delightful way, many important practical lessons about life. Thirdly, it gives a greater appreciation of the Royal Arch and provides an essential qualification to other Orders in Masonry.
The first reason: There are many terms and phrases, even Biblical characters, introduced in the Craft that remain a mystery to many brethren. For example, what does the Senior Warden mean, at the closing of the Lodge, by the expression “...having seen that every Brother has had his due.” This is but one of the many peculiarities of the Craft that become much clearer in the Mark.
The second reason: Mark is not only a true craftsman’s degree but also teaches invaluable lessons about life, for example:
- The studious application of skill and ingenuity, resulting in high quality workmanship, will ultimately be rewarded, even if at first it is not understood or appreciated by others.
- We each have different skills to offer and different contributions to make. To be accepted we must always be honest and give of our best – the impostor will inevitably be uncovered and receive his due punishment.
- We can not properly judge others unless we are sufficiently competent ourselves and exercise humility in the process.
- We must all accept responsibility for the tasks we agree to undertake and not blame others for our own shortcomings.
Such lessons the craftsman learns, in a dramatic way, in the ceremony. He is, of course, to apply them, not just to the immediate task of symbolically building the Temple, but in the way he conducts himself through life.
The third reason: A Craft Mason who joins the Royal Arch directly from the Craft, as most do under the English Constitution (it is not permitted in other constitutions), is confronted with a sudden and bewildering change of symbolism. This is because an important intermediate step has been omitted - the Mark. The Mark adds essential background and symbolism on the construction of the Temple, the Principal Arch and the Keystone, thereby providing a clearer introduction to the Royal Arch ceremony.
A Mark Mason may be installed, by dispensation, into the Chair of his Mark Lodge before taking the Chair in the Craft. The Mark is also an essential qualification for the keen Mason desiring to progress further in Orders beyond the Craft.
If these few words have stimulated your interest in Mark Masonry and you would like to know more, please contact any brother Mark Master Mason or enquire of the District Grand Secretary of the Mark Master Masons District of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.