Most Jurisdictions around the world have Lodges of Research. Many Brethren have often asked “What is a Lodge of Research, and what do they do”? Also, at the tip of any curious tongue is the suggestive question of “am I worthy or qualified to join”? To be specific, the first part of any acceptable definition for a Lodge of Research is that it (its members) conduct and communicate research and study in all things Masonic and Freemasonic. Secondly, and perhaps more important- the Lodge will publish its Work in any manner of forum, typically a newsletter or more traditionally, a volume of annual Works.
The quick answer to the First question:
- Lodges of Research discuss Masonic matters, perhaps more in depth and at length than is usually the case at most Stated Meetings. They also print up books containing papers discussed and brought before the Lodge.
- YES- you are entitled, by being a Master Mason in good standing AND curious about your Masonic heritage. You are certainly entitled to Petition for membership!
The oldest and perhaps busiest Lodge of Research is the Quatuor Coronati No. 2076, which was founded in 1886 under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE)[i]. Quatuor Coronati No. 2076 publishes the Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, i.e. Latin for “Art Four Crowned”, including all papers given in Lodge annually and has done so since 1886. Since this Lodge exists and meets in London, it has the peculiar habit of accepting members (all of whom must be properly authenticated and vouched for) from around the world. The Lodge then includes these worldwide members in communications and actions known as the Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle (QCCC). In recent years, with the tremendous advent of the internet and social media sites, Quatuor Coronati No. 2076 has enjoyed renowned success and levels in membership.
“The Legend of the Quatuor Coronati is interesting from a Masonic research standpoint partly because of its inclusion in the Arundel MS, one of the earliest surviving documents that details the legendary foundation of the masons’ craft. The legend is emblematic of Masonic research in that what at first appears straightforward becomes rather more complex on detailed analysis as contradictions and uncertainties are revealed[ii].”
But, Wait- Is That All?
Oh no, that is not everything, not by a long shot. A Third aspect of Lodges of Research is that, no matter what their methodology or lack thereof; they ARE there to conduct historical research, in an effort to continually tie our past in with the present and even the future of Masonry. While it IS TRUE that many Lodges of Research are at times over-populated by Ph.D.’s, Historians, Authors and the like; there are also a great many- perhaps a majority- of regular old fashioned Masons, just eager to put in their 2 cents, and to learn more about The Craft.
A very unique thing about Masonic Lodges is also very evident in Masonic Lodges of Research; which is that although many may gather together, they gather together as equals. In this way, although a renowned author or College professor may be naturally attracted to the Lodge of Research, he will immediately lay his worldly laurels at the door and work with all Brethren so that they may all be the better enabled!
In many ways, this way of working together is what makes up the magic of many Lodges of Research. Consider this example: many well-known Masons make their livelihood from traveling about and giving seminars… talks if you will, to Grand Lodge functions and other special events. While it is true that some of these are available to the rank and file Master Mason- more often than not- he must need “x” amount of dollars to purchase a ticket to a “Masonic Workshop” or possibly to a Lecture presented at any number of venues.
How Do Lodges of Research Help Masonry At-Large?
Now, enter into the world of Masonic Lodges of Research. In this realm, men from many walks of life meet upon the Level several times each year, depending on the Lodge’s schedule. At these Stated Meetings, it may very well be the case that a guest speaker presents on a book that he has written. Or, in a meeting where no speaker is present, there could be some ideas bandied about- a committee formed to investigate- and for them to collectively present findings in the form of a paper at some future date! One Mason might ask the question of “Don’t we already know all there is to know about Masonry? What more could possibly be learned from research?”
The simple answer is that while we may all know of the Landmarks, Ritual, and general aim of Freemasonry, that there is always something more to be gleaned from even the smallest bits of information. As an example, we all know that penicillin cures certain bacterial infections. We even know very specifically what many of these cures are. However, there are still Doctors who labor and research so that we may understand all of the possibilities which may or may not be encompassed by these already discovered wonder-drugs! In short– For everything that we know, there is much to be learned[iii].
There will always be new applications of truths, old and new. But, as is the case in the Craft Lodge, we do not exist as individual Craftsman. Instead, our best work is accomplished when it is undertaken together, and for the betterment of all! By following this train of thought, what you as an individual gain from your local Lodge of Research will serve to strengthen your Mother Lodge and her Brethren as well. You see, knowledge is not the “property” of any one person… it is meant to be shared. And, as Masonry is itself a form of knowledge, it must be continually expounded upon and shared!
In this way, and in so many others that simply can’t be expressed in this short forum- the Lodge of Research plays out its role brilliantly. By bringing together like minded men, in search of more Light and Knowledge, the Lodge successfully sanctions the Work of her members, in a way that ultimately benefits the Lodge and her members. It is then the prerogative of the Lodge to see to it that posterity might benefit from whatever findings and conclusions the Lodge has progressed to. In this way, the published communications serve to better enable Brother Masons from this clime to the next, that they might Work better- within and without their respective Masonic Lodge.
Please utilize the following links and/or any information that you have at your disposal- to find and hopefully Petition the Lodge of Research nearest you or that best fits your and your Lodge’s needs.
[i] Quatuor Coronati translated from Latin to mean “Four Garlands” and hearkens to the tale of the 4 Crowned Martyrs…. “The Legend of the Four Crowned Martyrs (Quatuor Coronati) was not a legend of the British Freemasons and is found in none of the Gothic Constitutions (except the Regius MS.), but it was a legend of the German Steinmetzen and, since these Christian Martyrs had been honored by the Popes, the legend was familiar to monastic literature”. – Source: 1828 Tunnah
[ii] The Legend of the Quatuor Coronati is interesting from a Masonic research standpoint partly because of its inclusion in the Arundel MS, one of the earliest surviving documents that details the legendary foundation of the masons’ craft. The legend is emblematic of Masonic research in that what at first appears straightforward becomes rather more complex on detailed analysis as contradictions and uncertainties are revealed.- Source: https://www.quatuorcoronati.com/about-qc-lodge/the-legend/
[iii] Source: Jon Patrick Sage, www.morelightinmasonry.com