This text has been written for anyone who would like some impartial information. It is especially for men who are aiming to become Freemasons. Everyone has to right to know exactly what is meant by authentic traditional Freemasonry, that is to say, by regular Freemasonry.
According to the essential uses, customs and traditions of the Order, which have been scrupulously preserved, the Grand Lodge of Andorra is the only one, on Andorran territory, which has the power to make into Freemasons, men who believe in God, the Great Architect of the Universe. For this reason, only the Grand Lodge of Andorra is recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge, mother of all the world’s lodges and for those considered as regular.
It is a mistake to think of Freemasonry as a “secret society”. This lack of secrecy is shown by the fact that in England, a list of members is given to the Justice of the Peace. In Andorra, the statutes and the composition of the Civil Board of Directors of the Grand lodge of Andorra are recorded on the Register of Cultural Associations of the Very Illustrious Andorran Government. Not only are Freemasons not forbidden to reveal the fact that they are Freemasons, membership is considered to be an honour.
What is our past history? How did we get to Masonic “Regularity”? What principals and objectives do we have? Finally, how do we answer some questions which frequently come to mind? All of this we will now explain briefly.
It is known that during the Middle Ages, professions were grouped into associations or guilds. Each one had a hierarchy of Apprentices and Fellow Crafts, which were lead by the Masters. One of the most revered associations was undoubtedly the one formed by the constructors or masons who built cathedrals. From one of these associations we have now three Masonic degrees, which have become “symbolical”, such as our symbols stemming from the art of construction: compass, square, hammer, chisel, bolster, trowel, apron, etc. as well as the word lodge. One of the most ancient Masonic documents is the Regius Poem (XIV century).
For masons in ancient times, their art was mystically linked to the construction of the Temple of Jerusalem and to King Solomon. From here we get the term Royal Art to designate Masonry. When the Gothic style declined, the revered corporation remained, especially in England and Scotland. In 1717, four London lodges merged to found the first Grand Lodge; to which in 1723, the minister James Anderson wrote his famous Constitutions, the book that forms the basis of modern speculative Freemasonry. How was the transition made from medieval operative masonry to modern speculative masonry?
Thanks to the institution known as “Acceptance” widely practised in XVII century. It was a distinction which conferred the title of mason to foreign members versed in the art of construction, to outstanding scholars or to patrons. This was so successful that they become an overwhelming majority and so started the evolution of Freemasonry. The transformation of stones into cubes acquired a major spiritual or moral significance and this is the current state of affairs, the objective of the Order.
In XVIII century, Freemasonry expanded in the British Isles, first towards the continent and then throughout the world. But like all human institutions it experienced deviations, especially in France. Some deviations drew their inspiration from the occult, others from politics following a process of alienation. As a result of their deviation, they are known as irregular.
We do not wish to analyse the motives which led to their irregularity. We would just like to show, in an objective way, that when they took this step, they lost their Masonic character or perhaps they never had it in the first place.
On 23 April 1994, having obtained all the authorisations from the Very Illustrious Government, the first Masonic Lodge was created in the history of this country, overseen by the National Grand Lodge of France and six months later on 8 October of the same year, the Grand Lodge of Spain created a second Lodge. This formed the basis of regular Andorran Freemasonry.
It was not until 25 April 1998, that the National Grand Lodge of France was given the mission by the Assembly of Grand Masters of North America, to advance Andorran Masonry and with the favourable opinion of the Grand Lodge of Spain, the Grand Lodge of the District of Andorra was created, which was the step needed to become independent. Finally on 9 September 2000 the Grand Lodge of Andorra was formally founded at Andorra la Vella’s Conference hall, which was recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England and initially composed of five Lodges: The Triade, nº 1, Sant Joan de les Valls, nº 2, Carlemany, nº 3, Viscount Arnold of Castellbo, nº 4 and Montsalvat, nº 5.
With this event, the Principality of Andorra has a Regular Grand Lodge on its territory. The Grand Lodge of Andorra is the only one which is recognised and considered to be an authentic Masonic body, by all the regular Grand Lodges of the world with a total of more than six million members.
What is Regularity?
We are referring to recognition and the subsequent international situation which results from this. That is to say, the Grand Lodge of Andorra represents regular masonry in the Principality of Andorra, and this exclusively. Regularity implies certain intrinsic criteria with which the Grand Lodge of Andorra identifies. What criteria are they? When we ask this question we are questioning the very essence of our institution. In clear English: What is masonry? Our ritual answers this with simple words, far away from any obscure philosophy: Freemasonry is a particular moral system, taught under a veil of allegory, through symbols.
To examine this truth properly, we need to divide it into two parts:
I – Particular Moral System
The basis of this method, that which makes it “particular” is none other than the exaltation of work. This is explained by our origins. As we were constructors, we have transposed the use of the tools of our predecessors while keeping their values: the rules of natural morality, as well as the particular rules of a man who is conscientious, responsible, committed and ready for the society in which he lives.
II – Allegories and Symbols
All teachings may be viewed in two ways: rational method or imagery. Without denigrating the value of the former, masonry uses the latter. Imagery was not the only form to be used. We only have to refer to stories and proverbs; as well as evangelical parables.
This method does not always please certain intelligentsia, despite their brilliance. That is why it is not possible to initiate everyone. Initiation presupposes a selection, a qualification and a vocation.
Defined in this way, the ideal of work presupposes a technique. It is the Art. Freemasonry is thus essentially a method for human perfection. From here we get the meaning of the image “transforming a rough stone into a cube”. But a stone on its own, however beautiful it may be, will be nothing architectonically. It has to fit in with other stones in order to erect the symbolic temple, according to certain rules, in an order, with balance and beauty. The perfection of the individual leads to the ideal of a social order. Having reached this point, it is necessary to go even further. It is obvious that the universe is a construction. Like all constructions, it requires a Constructor. Thus the mind logically and intuitively conceives the Great Architect of the Universe.
Masonry does not enable you to go any further as it is not a religion. Far from contradicting religions, masonry respects them; it does not want to substitute them. Masonry is compatible with all religions. It is only incompatible with Atheism. Here we must define more accurately a concept which has always been a part of Freemasonry from time immemorial, that of the Great Architect of the Universe. We are speaking about a principle both personal and of the Creator with no mistake or excuses for pantheism or immanentism. In clear, precise and concrete terms, masonry is theist.
It is also incorrect to believe that Freemasonry is a super religion which joins all religions together and that it is a synthesis of religions. How could such a claim be made? Masonry does not claim to hold any Revelation, nor can it guarantee Redemption or Salvation. Masonic Order does not interfere with the jurisdiction of any religion. It is compatible with all religions. It does not superimpose any creed. Masonry offers a spirituality, which is unorthodox to some extent and is the first to offer this through a profession. Nobody is forced to subscribe to its ideal. It addresses an elite.
The Principles of the GLA
Without an organisation, the Masonic ideal would be, to some extent, without roots. This is why it is necessary to give it a substance. The Lodge is a group of Freemasons. Each lodge has a name and an order number. The lodge is the base cell and is presided over by the Worshipful Master, assisted by two Tylers and several Officers (Secretary, Treasurer, …).
Obedience is the name given to the group of lodges of a Grand Lodge. This group is not a federation, because the lodges exist thanks to the Grand Lodge which creates them and grants them a Charter which confirms their existence and regularity. Nor is it the opposite as is sometimes maintained. At the head of an Obedience, we find the Grand Master, assisted by Grand Officers. The Masonic Order may only be represented by one Obedience per country; as will be repeated further on. In Andorra, the regular Obedience is the Grand Lodge of Andorra and as a result, it has it exclusively.
The basic principles of the Grand Lodge of Andorra, have been established in a Regulation with twelve points, which everyone has the right to know and even more so, those aspiring to become Freemasons.
We are transcribing them literally:
Of the masonic order
- 1. Freemasonry is an initiated Fraternity. It is traditionally based on a belief in God, the Great Architect of the Universe.
- 2. Freemasonry refers to the Old Charges and Landmarks of the Fraternity. In particular an absolute respect for the specific traditions of the Order, which are fundamental to the regularity of their jurisdiction.
- 3. Only free and respectable men may belong to the Order of the Freemasons, who promise to practise an ideal of Peace, Love and Fraternity.
- 4. Freemasonry works for the moral perfection of their members and all of Humanity.
- 5. Freemasonry requires members to practise precisely and scrupulously all rituals and symbolism; which give access to knowledge through their intrinsic spiritual ways and initiation.
- 6. Freemasonry requires members to respect the opinions and beliefs of everyone. It does not allow any internal political or religious debate or controversy. It is also a permanent centre for Fraternal Union governed by a tolerant understanding, a fruitful harmony between men without which men would remain strangers to one another.
- 7. Freemasons commit themselves to their obligations on the Volume of the Sacred Law in order to endower their oath with the solemnity and sacredness which is essential to ensure its everlastingness.
- 8. Freemasons gather at Lodges, aware from the profane world, Lodges which always display the three great illustrations of the Order, a Volume of the Sacred Law, a Square and a Compass to work according to the ritual, with zeal and assiduity, according to the principles and rules established by the Constitution and the General Regulations of the Obedience.
- 9. At their Lodges, Freemasons may only accept men of legal age, with a good reputation, men who are honourable, loyal and discreet, worthy of being their Brothers and capable of recognising the limits of man and the infinite power of the Eternal.
- 10. At their Lodges, Freemasons promote a love of their country, obedience to laws and a respect for constituted authorities. They consider work to be the fundamental duty of human beings and honour it in all its forms.
- 11. Freemasons contribute through the example of their good-natured, firm and dignified conduct, to the reputation of the Order by respecting the Masonic secret.
- 12. Freemasons owe each other mutual honour, help and fraternal protection, even if it means placing their own lives in danger. They practise the art of keeping their nerve and remaining calm in any circumstance to preserve the indispensable balance for a perfect control of themselves.