The three degrees in Craft Freemasonry give its members eminently practical rules by which they can live their lives in the service of both God, (however they worship Him) and the community as a whole.
Man, however, is not simply a practical being but has an essential spiritual aspect to his nature. This is taken up in the Royal Arch, in which the candidate is led to contemplate the nature of God and his personal relationship with Him.
Thus the Royal Arch leads the candidate from the practical to the spiritual, and completes his journey in ‘Pure Ancient Masonry’; a fascinating journey of self-knowledge and self-discovery beginning with the Entered Apprentice Degree and culminating in the First Principal’s Chair of the Chapter.
In England the Royal Arch has four ceremonies; the Exaltation Ceremony to bring in new members and an Installation Ceremony for each of the three ‘Principals’.
The Exaltation Ceremony is in two parts; a rather dramatic presentation of the principles of the Order followed by three Lectures in which the history, symbolism and principles of the Royal Arch are further explained.
Like Craft Freemasonry, the Royal Arch is open to men of all faiths. The allegory of the Exaltation Ceremony is based on the Old Testament telling of the return to Jerusalem, from the Babylonish captivity, to rebuild the City and Temple. In clearing the ground of the original temple for the foundations of the Second Temple, the candidate makes a number of discoveries which emphasise the centrality of God to man’s life and existence and, without transgressing the bounds of religion, lead the candidate to a consideration of the nature of God and his personal relationship with Him, whatever his religion might be.
To find out more about Royal Arch Masonry, please click here.