About Royal Arch Masonry

 

The Virginia Capitular Degrees are 6 degrees controlled by the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Virginia. They center on the construction phases of Solomon's Temple, with the exception of the degree of Past Master, hence the title of Capitular. All Chapter business is conducted in a Royal Arch Chapter, the other degrees being only opened for the conferral of degrees. The Cryptic degrees were incorporated and chronologically reordered with the Capitular Degrees.
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Mark Master - A Degree that emphasizes the lessons of regularity, discipline, and integrity. It is a most impressive Degree centered on the story of the Fellowcraft of the quarry and their role in the building of the Temple. Its importance in English Craft Masonry can be judged by the fact that it operates as a separate Grand Lodge, and is highly sought by members of the Craft in that jurisdiction.
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Past Master (Virtual) - A Degree that emphasizes the lesson of harmony. This Degree is conferred because ancient custom required that a Mason must be a Past Master in order to be exalted to the Royal Arch. In some Grand Jurisdictions this Degree is conferred upon all sitting Masters of the Blue Lodge. The Degree confers no actual rank upon the recipient, but is exemplified to maintain the ancient custom.
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Select Master - A Degree emphasizing the lessons of devotion and zeal. The Degree centers on the construction and furnishing of a Secret Vault beneath the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple, and the deposition of those secrets pertaining to the Craft by the three ancient Grand Masters of the Craft. This Degree bridges the events surrounding the concealment and loss of the Ineffable Word and the events leading to the recover of the Word in the Royal Arch Degree. The presiding body is a Council, and the presiding officer is a Master (titled Illustrious).
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Royal Master - A Degree emphasizing the lessons of patience and fortitude. The Degree centers around the Fellowcraft Masons who were artificers fabricating the fittings and furniture of the Temple. It is unusual in that the first part of the Degree depicts events taking place before the death of the Grand Master Hiram Abif, and the last part depicts events occurring after his death.
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Most Excellent Master - A Degree that emphasizes the lesson of reverence. This Degree is centered on the dedication of the Temple after its completion, particularly the consecration of the Sanctum Sanctorum and the descent of the Host into the Temple. It is complimentary to the Mark Master Degree and completes the symbolic lessons introduced in that Degree.
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The Royal Arch - The completion of the Master Mason Degree and the summit of the original Degrees of the Blue Lodge as practiced in the Antients Lodges of England before 1820. The Degree explains the origins of the Substitute Word found in the Master Mason Degree, the recovery of the Ineffable Word, and its concealment within the Royal Arch Word. This Degree, together with the Master Mason Degree, may have once been exemplified as one large or "super" Degree, with the Master Mason Degree explaining the loss of the Master's Word and the Royal Arch explaining the recovery of the Master's Word. The presiding body is a Chapter, and the presiding officer is a High Priest (titled Excellent).
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Super Excellent Master - A Degree emphasizing the lessons of loyalty and faithfulness. The Degree centers around the events leading to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple at the hands of the Chaldeans. The Degree is narrated by small interludes of biblical prophecy that highlight the end of the first Temple and the construction of the second Temple. It is noteworthy for its scenes of the Jewish court of Zedekiah and the Chaldean court of Nebuchadnezzar. This degree is an honorary one, and a member of the Council not needing to have it in order to hold membership or office.

 

Royal Arch Masonry was practiced and taught in Virginia during much of the 18th century. The first documented evidence of the conferring of the Royal Arch Degree to be found in the world is in the minutes of Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 in Fredericksburg, Virginia and bears the date of December 22, 1753. At that time the Royal Arch was certainly attached to the work of a regular Lodge, and the work was done under the Authority of a Master's Warrant. It became evident, however that because of the growing numbers of Chapters and the increasing membership, some specific rules and regulations were needed for the internal government of Royal Arch Chapters.

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Fredericksburg Chapter No. 23

Royal Arch Degrees

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Fredericksburg

OFFICER CADRE

 

Back: Jon Mayberry and Howard Coleman.

 

Center:  Fred Hinshaw, Sandy Mackey, Shelby Chandler, Carl Weeks, and Tom Lewis.

 

Front:  Dan Thompson, Frank Jones, Rudolph Griffith, Tony Rudder, and Leo Powell.

Chartered October 18, 1875

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