Monitor Lodge No. 197

A.F. & A.M.
212 E. Mellen Street
Hampton, VA 23663



Freemasonry is....

    ... A band of brothers linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection, forged link by link through the binding effect of a shared experience in the great lessons taught in the Craft degrees.

     ... A Fraternity of morality, founded on the allegorical application of the tools and implements of architecture to the construction of our personalities--- buildings of living stone, in the service of God and mankind.

     ... A descendant of the ancient Craft of stonemasons, builders of the great cathedrals and churches of the Middle Ages, structures so magnificent that the Holy Church itself declared them to be designed by God alone, as the "Grand architect of the universe."

     ... Not a religion and offering no promise of salvation, but a Fraternity seeking to inculcate in its membership love for God and our fellow man, by the practice of brotherhood, relief, and truth.

     ... Not wedded to any one religion, though it requires of its members a belief in God and a Bible always remains open on the altars of its Lodges.  It expects of a member devotion to the religion of his choice, believing, above all, that the path to salvation is better left to one's personal conscience than to the rigid imposition of another's beliefs.

     ... Charitable.  Freemasons give over two million dollars each day to charities in and out of the Fraternity.  To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent on all of us.  From the great Crippled Children's Hospitals and Burn Centers to the Orphanages and Masonic Homes of our various States, from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation to the specialized charities of the Scottish Rite and Royal Arch Masons, Freemasons freely give of their earnings to help others escape the bonds of poverty, loneliness, and despair.

     ... All of the above and more.  It is truly a system of morality, veiled in allegory, and teaching men by symbols to better themselves in their religious bodies, their communities, and their families.  It gathers under its umbrella men of all faiths, all nations, and all classes without distinction --- save that noble distinction, "of who can best work and best agree."

     ... The World's oldest fraternal organization.  It has persevered through the years, despite the attacks of the ignorant and the powerful, because it teaches toleration of all faiths, acceptance of all men of good character, and support of free government institutions, wherever found.  Freemasons are loyal citizens, support a God-centered life, and emphasize man's duty to his fellow man.

     Because we steadfastly adhere to these principles, we have lasted through the ages, despite the tyrranical attacks of despotic governments and narrow-minded sectarians.  As one of us, may you always proudly bear the badge of a Free and Accepted Mason!

Excerpted from the Grand Lodge of Virginia publication "For Your Information"
What Brother Benjamin Franklin thought about a newly initiated Brother:

The candidate is now a member of an Entered Apprentice Lodge; accordingly he is given the words, grips and tokens whereby he may prove himself to his fellows, whether in the day or in the night. "These signs and tokens are of no small value," wrote Brother Benjamin Franklin: "they speak a universal language and act as a passport to the attention and support of the initiated in all parts of the world. They cannot be lost so long as memory retains its power. Let the possessor of them be expatriated, shipwrecked, or imprisoned; let him be stripped of everything he has in the world; still these credentials remain and are available for use as circumstances require.

"The great effects which they have produced are established by the most incontestable facts of history. They have stayed the uplifted hands of the destroyer; they have softened the asperities of the tyrant; they have mitigated the horrors of captivity; they have subdued the rancour of malevolence; and broken down the barriers of political animosity and sectarian alienation.

"On the field of battle, in the solitude of the uncultivated forests, or in the busy haunts of the crowded city, they have made men of the most hostile feeling, and most distant religions, and the most diversified conditions, rush to the aid of each other, and feel a social joy and satisfaction that they have been able to afford relief to a Brother Mason!"