Master Mason Requirements

June 13, 2007

mm-grad.jpg  I have now been a Freemason for 7 months and a Master Mason for 2 weeks.  Even though I have just been Raised to the highest level of “Blue Lodge” Masonry, I feel that I am still very much a beginner. 

In a couple of months time, I will need to “prove-up” my proficiency as a Master Mason.  The material that I need to learn and memorize is fairly similar to the work that I needed to do for the previous degrees of an Entered Apprentice and a Fellow Craft.  Keep in mind that my lodge follows the Canadian Rite, so my requirements may be different from other Lodges in different Provinces, States or Countries.

The Obligation of a Master Mason that I need to memorize is huge!  It is right around 490 words long.  The Entered Apprentice Obligation was about 350 words and the Fellow Craft Obligation was only about 250. 

The first paragraph of the Obligation is similar in all three degrees and this portion of the Master Mason Obligation was fairly easy for me to learn.  A few months ago, I was listening to a Provincial Cabinet Minister being sworn in here in Alberta.  It was surprised to hear that a few sentences and phrases were the same as in my Obligation. 

It was neat to hear the history.  Canada was originally a British Colony so our governmental institutions are very similar today.  Freemasonry has a long history in the British Isles and borrowed much of the syntax of their governments oaths into their Obligations.  Politics is not discussed in Lodges, but that doesn’t mean there are no Politicians who are Masons. 

The rest of the Obligation is quite difficult.  The concepts are fairly simple; that of maitaining Masonic standards and looking out for your Brethren.  The wording is much more complicated and convoluted, with a few more historical words thrown in that are no longer in current usage in this century or possibly even the last. 

I am having quite a bit of trouble memorizing some of the sentences because I’m finding that I can’t memorize the sentences as a whole.  I have to repeat and repeat and repeat short groups of words to get it in my head.  My favorite portion of a sentence is “pleading thereto no excuse save”. 

Like the former degrees, I have a series of questions and answers that I need to memorize.  There are only 11 questions, but some of the answers are quite long.  If I just memorize the answers, it is just over 300 words of text to memorize. 

There were many signs, grips and tokens shown to me in my Master Mason Degree, but I don’t have to prove-up on them.  That makes things a little easier this time around.

It will probably take me another month or so to finish learning the Master Mason Obligation, and then I will start learning the questions and answers.  I have almost another three months to prepare so I plan to learn a new sentence every 3 or 4 days.  It should be a breeze!

This is my 26th post on Freemasonry and my experiences as a Freemason.  Here is the Table of Contents of my Masonic Journey.



  1. For me, it helped to find patterns and focusing on key words within each phrase. For example, say the obligation had 10 main parts…I’d pick one or two words from each part to trigger my memory of the whole phrase. Of course, repetition goes without saying. Probably wouldn’t hurt to find someone to rehearse with.

    I bet it comes to you faster than you might think. The size of it becomes immaterial.

    As a newly minted MM myself, I’ve quite a bit to learn as well. I talked to the PM about what techniques he used to learn things such as the lecture and the charge. He responded that, with the exception of a couple of items, it pretty much flows. If you know the “story”, then it’s just a matter of getting the words right.

    I look forward to sharing this trip. Please keep posting!

  2. Well I have to go trough the same thing as you my brothers. I’ll have to prove my work in september, we follow the ancient rite and its about the same length.
    Its all gonna be worth it when I receive my parchment paper, frame it and hang it on my wall 😀

  3. Having gone through this recently, I found myself sweating that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. It’s great that you have the summer to get it hammered out. Best advice I got in the world is speaking it instead of running it through your head. Better then that was looking another brother in the eye and saying it. Once I got that down, the actual work was a cake walk.

  4. Sounds as if Ontario has the same as Alberta. For me I just read it over and over and over…. after a few days I could word out parts here and there after a week paragraphs… but i just keep reading the whole thing over and over probably over a thousand times and eventually there is a moment when i realize I’m just saying it out and not really reading parts anymore 🙂 Works for me though…

  5. I second the advice of swight, say it out loud even if working on it by yourself. As an officer I have had to continue with considerably more memory work and saying it aloud is crucial to making it stick in my mind.

  6. I have a small pocket tape recorder. I taped myself, and played it in the car back and forth from work (about a 20 minute drive). Each day I’d work on one or two paragraphs. I did that for the Q&A section, and also when I had to memorize other sections as an officer.

  7. Good luck on your exam. I am newly raised myself. I don’t know about the rest of you but we don’t record any part of the rituals here in Texas it is all transfered by word of mouth. But as I am learning there are alot of variations from State to State and country to country.

  8. I had to give mine back two weeks after being raised. Talk about pressure. I was fortunate enough to have the Deputy grand lecture of the grand lodge of Maryland as my teacher. I felt like I was in Masonic Boot-camp. he would come to my office each day, then at night we would meet in McDonalds and he would grill me, No Pun intended. By the next meeting after my raising, I knew every word. I did not miss a beat. I still do not know how I pulled it off; I think the fear of having my older brother as a lodge officer, both my grandfathers being masons, my uncles being masons and the Deputy grand Lecturer giving me the exam must have had a lot to do with it. I wish I could say that I still know it that well.

  9. oh yeah, in the U.S. nothing is written down to read, we have some one verbally teach it to us. Good luck Brother, you will do fine, if you could remember the fellowcraft catechism, the 3rd degree is a breeze. It is by far the easiest.

  10. Bro. Stallings, some jurisdictions in the U.S. provide written materials to candidates. For example, in Ohio we’re issued the proficiencies in cipher. Another state may issue the proficiencies in cipher or plain English, but leave out numerous key words entirely. Another still may issue nothing in print, requiring word-of-mouth teaching. Regardless of the method, the input of a Master Mason really is necessary to understand the proficiencies. The process is, of course, also geared toward building friendships and brotherhood.

  11. 490 words does not seem huge to me.
    In my jurisdiction the required MM catechism, from memory, consists of 1,770 words. The EA is more and the FC a little less.
    Up until 1995 it was all m to e. Since then we have a code book.

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