The First Degree: Entered Apprentice
The experience of becoming a member of a Masonic lodge consists of three ceremonial stages known as “degrees.” Since medieval times, these secret rituals have passed from one generation of Freemasons to the next. These ceremonies are fascinating, transformative, and a unique experience amidst our everyday modern life. For centuries, these rituals have been integral parts of a lifelong Masonic journey to become the best versions of ourselves and our commitment to each other as Brothers.
The degrees conferred in the Masonic Lodge derive from the journeymen system used to educate medieval stonemasons and craftsmen. Masonry passes its teachings and principles through these degrees from generation to generation. The ceremonies imbue knowledge, inspiration, and pride in the candidate and lodge members, providing a shared experience that unites men in the bonds of brotherhood.
What is an Entered Apprentice?
Among the stonemasons’ guilds of the Middle Ages, it was customary for master workmen to train young men so that skilled workers would be available as the work progressed. On proving their fitness for training, youths were enrolled in the operative lodge as Entered Apprentices. These apprentices had to be of sound body to perform the hard labor, alert in mind so they could learn the secrets of stonemasonry, and willing to serve faithfully during the long years of apprenticeship.
The Entered Apprentice degree is a candidate’s ﬁrst experience with the ceremonies of the fraternity and serves as an introduction to Masonry. It is, like all Masonic ceremonies, a solemn and meaningful event. An Entered Apprentice is a learner and, as such, should approach his new vocation with humility and a sincere desire to absorb the lessons of the degree. This includes preparing to devote some time studying and reflecting on the moral and ethical philosophies taught during the ceremony.
No man can fully absorb the depth, beauty, and meaning of the Entered Apprentice degree on his first encounter. Men return for years to witness and partake in the ceremony to grasp its rich significance. Each Mason ponders its meaning and relies on the counsel of his brethren to develop a more complete understanding during his search for light.
Privileges of the Entered Apprentice
Becoming an Entered Apprentice, the candidate is entrusted with secrets of the Masonic Order and vows to honor them under Masonic law. Once a candidate completes the Entered Apprentice degree, he takes his ﬁrst step as a Freemason and enjoys the title of “Brother.” It’s important to note that while an Entered Apprentice is still a member of the fraternity and may attend lodge meetings they cannot attends meetings convened in a higher degree. An Entered Apprentice is eligible for a Masonic burial and to petition to complete the second degree and continue his journey for light.
Want to learn more about the other Masonic degrees? Click here to read about the Second Degree: Fellow Craft.