Masonic retention is a
word upon the lips of every Grand Lodge,
subordinate lodge and its many Freemason
members, today, across the world.
It may surprise you to
know that Masonic retention was on the mind of
Albert Mackey, Freemason Researcher and
Historian, when he wrote Mackey's Encyclopedia
of Freemasonry over 130 years ago.
Here is what he wrote:
"One who commits to memory
the questions and answers of the catechetical
(sic: Relating to or consisting of asking
questions and receiving answers by rote rather
than by understanding) lectures, and the
formulas of the ritual but pays no attention to
the history and philosophy of the institution;
is commonly called a Parrot Mason, because he is
supposed to repeat what he has learned without
any conception of its true meaning.
In former times, such
superficial Freemasons were held by many in high
repute because of the facility with which they
passed through the ceremonies of a reception,
and they were generally designated as Bright
But, the progress of
Freemasonry as a science now requires something
more than a mere knowledge of the lectures to
constitute a Masonic scholar."...Mackey's
Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Vol. 2,
Page 752, Albert Gallatin Mackey, 33˚, published
by The Masonic History Company, Revised ed.
copyright 1929, Original copyright 1873.
understanding will only take a person to the end
of his memorized work...much like memorizing a
geometric equation does not prove truly useful
unless you understand its components.
Example: If I asked you
to tell me the equation to measure the area of a
circle, the answer quickly coming from your lips
may very well be Pi r² ... and I would applaud
But how useful is that
knowledge if you do not know that:
Pi = the ratio of
the circumference to the diameter of a circle;
approximately equal to
3.14159265358979323846..., or 3.1416 if you
round it off.
Radius of the circle...the measurement from the
center-point to its perimeter or boundary.
(Squared) = the
radius times itself.
Therefore, your quick
answer of Pi r² (the equation with which you may
perform the task) was absolutely correct, but if
you cannot understand each component of the
equation, you cannot "do the math", and
therefore your journey ends.
Memorization of ritual is
important within Freemasonry, however without
learning the biblical, symbolic and historical
components within Freemasonry's depths, your
journey, too, will end without your actually
finding Freemasonry's true light.
True Masonic retention is
obtained when both ritual and Masonic knowledge
are balanced with one another.
Masonic education is the only means with which
the fraternity can both retain its current
membership and produce new members to carry on
Freemasonry's proud traditions.