Warren G. Harding Lodge #260
F&AM of Washington
Poulsbo, WA

How to become a Mason.

Masonic Education

March brings you discourse on the Masonic Apron.

The Masonic Apron

Why do Masons wear the apron? What is its significance?

When a Brother is first initiated he is invested with his "Lambskin" or white leather apron.  He is then conducted to the Senior Warden who teaches him how to wear it.  It is important because this is the first article of clothing or jewelry a Brother may wear.  It is second only to the most recognized symbol of Freemasonry the Square and Compass.

Above all other symbols, the Lambskin Apron is the distinguished badge of a Mason. In modern times it has been celebrated in poetry and prose and has been the subject of much fanciful speculation. There are five important and distinct ideas on why the Lambskin Apron is a badge.

First, in its use, it is a badge of service. In the book "Symbolical Masonry" Brother H. L. Haywood has an interesting chapter on "The Apron Wherein the Builder Builds," and says that the Apron "was so conspicuous a portion of the costume of the Operative Mason that it became associated with him in the public mind and thus gradually evolved into his badge."

By the Apron, Speculative Freemasonry seeks to distinguish the brother so that when he wears it, it is like the laurel wreath of honor.

Second, the Apron, which is made of lambskin, is in its fabric a badge of sacrifice. The lamb in all ages has not only been a symbol of innocence but also an emblem of sacrifice. He who wears this lambskin with an understanding must be prepared for the time when hard things are to be done, when trials are to be endured, and fortitude glorified. A good example of which is of the 60,000 or so Freemasons interred in the Concentration Camps during World War II. What was the reason for which they were imprisoned?  Because they chose to become a Freemason.

Third, in its color, it is a badge of purity. White is the clean color that reflects the most light and speaks of a pure heart. The Psalmist said, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?" and answering his own question said, "He that hath clean hands and a pure heart." When properly understood, the Apron is the pledge of a clean life, the testimony that a candidate means to live a pure life, speak true, right wrong, and reverence conscience as king. 

When we turn to ritual for this interpretation, we find the Apron to be an inheritance from the past, and so in the fourth place, it is a badge of antiquity, "more ancient than the Golden Fleece and Roman Eagle." A ministerial brother once said that the Masonic Ritual was couched in stilted phrases and extravagant language, and as an illustration referred to the ritualistic speech used in the presentation of the Apron. Was he right? The following is a brief examination of his statement. 

The Order of the Golden Fleece here referred to was founded in 1429 by Philip, Duke of Burgundy. The Roman Eagle became Rome's ensign of imperial power about one century before the Christian era, while the Apron has come down to us from the very sunrise of time. As before, many ancient religions used the Apron as part of their religious worship. As a badge of antiquity, the Apron exalts the greatness and glory of the past in its present contribution to human good and happiness.

In the fifth place, the Apron is a badge of honor. It is declared to be "more honorable than the Star and Garter." Here we have another comparison. The Order of the Star was created by King John II of France on November 16, 1351 at the beginning of the Hundred Years War. It was in imitation of the English Order of the Garter and was to gather around the King the 500 best members of French chivalry. Actually they never were more than 100, and the Order lasted very briefly. The Knights of the Star, faithful to their oath never to retreat or to surrender before the enemy, died practically all in the following years of widespread war. Actually they were all dead by the time King John II was made a prisoner at Poitiers in 1356, five years later... The order was never revived although, just like for the Templar Order, many fake Orders of the Star were contrived in the following centuries. Some historians say that it was a royal plaything and at the time of its formation its founder was engaged in acts of despotism and destruction.

The Order of the Garter was formed by King Edward III of England in 1349. It was composed of the King and twenty-five Knights and originated in the false pride and fantastic pomp of medieval manners. Edward A. Freeman, an English historian, says, "The spirit of knighthood is above all things a class spirit, the good knight is bound to endless courtesies toward men and women of a certain rank; he may treat all below that rank with any degree of scorn and cruelty. Chivalry is in morals what feudalism is in law. Each substitute's personal obligations devised in the interest of an exclusive class, for the more homely duties of an honest man and a good citizen. "Freemasonry in striking contrast to such conceptions, it stands for the dissipation of discord and dissention, for the promotion of peace, pursuit of knowledge and the practice of brotherhood, for untrammeled conscience, equality, and the divine right of liberty in man, for devotion to duty, the building of character and rectitude of life and conduct. Its symbolical supports are wisdom, strength and beauty. The principle rounds of the theological ladder are faith, hope and charity. Its primary tenets are brotherly love, relief and truth. Its cardinal virtues are fortitude, temperance, prudence and justice. Its temple is erected to the Master Builder, its Great Light is the Word of Revelation and at its center is an Altar of high and holy purpose.

 

 

The Digital Free Mason.

 

There are times when you run across a site that displays the best of the Digital Age with regard to Masonry and this is one of those sites.  I particularly guide you to "About Me".  It is a testimony to how a very busy man can contribute to Masonry without being a line officer.  This is something that young Masons should look at with the guidance of a Senior Mason.  In other words a Mentor.

I have provided a link here that you may access the site.  I hope you enjoy it.

If you do not understand Podcasts, ask your son or grandson.

 

The Masonic Dictionary

Another site that is very useful to the average Mason.  Check it out.

 

If you find additional sites that you'd like to recommend, contact the webmaster and let him know.