Vol. XXVII No. 8 — August 1949

Introduction: What It Means

Dictionaries define the word introduce at much length. Condensed, the word means: “To bring into the presence of and make known to; to bring, lead, or put in; conduct inward; usher in; to bring into notice, use, or practice; to insert, as in a writing, by way of change; interpolate; to bring into existence; produce. Hence, introduction is the act of introducing, in any sense, as of inserting, bringing into notice or use, or making acquainted; something that leads up to and tends to explain something else; an elementary treatise in any branch of study; a preparatory movement intended to foreshadow or lead up to the theme. Allied words are introducement, introductive, introductively, introductress, introductory, introductorily and introductoriness.”

The Latin dux, duc, duct, is to lead. Hence Duke, the leader of a body of armed men; Conductor, from com, together with duct, lead; also such words as viaduct, induction, production, abduction. Introduction is from intra, within, and duct, lead — thus an introduction is literally a leading within.

This definition is true of the ceremonies of Freemasonry. It is poetically delightful, when thinking of the usual meaning of the word, “to make known to one another.” In introducing one brother to another, he is thus led within the circle of a new acquaintance.

If initiation is an introduction, then introduction is, to some extent, synonymous with initiation. Introduce is to make a beginning; to insert, to inject, to implant, suffuse, innoculate, usher in; to suggest, to bring up, to proffer, offer, give; to tender, to lay before, to propound, to advance all these are either parts of introduction, or introduction is a part of them.

Introduction is correlative to admittance, inception, installation, ingress, entrance, institution and induction. It has close relationship with such words as preface, initial, incipient, opening, awakening, baptism, prefactory, foreword, prologue, prelude, proem.

Those who make the forms, ceremonies, truths of Freemasonry known to a candidate, introduce him to the mysteries.

Within the body of the Craft are many forms of introductions.

The candidate is literally introduced to the lodge, the Wardens and the Master, during the ceremonies of initiation in the three degrees. Here the similarity between vouching and introduction are made manifest, the candidate’s conductor vouching for certain facts regarding him, his condition, his desires, his activities. He is presented to the brethren as well as made known to them; a distinction with a difference, since introduction, while it should not, may be casual, but presentation cannot be casual and still be presentation.

Certain working tools are presented to a candidate; not within the meaning of the words “given as a personal gift of a material object”, but presented, meaning introduced to the candidate’s attention as instruments from which various moral lessons may be learned. His introduction to these implements of Masonry are true presentations, in which, while nothing material is given, a privilege is bestowed.

The candidate is introduced to the meanings of many symbols and emblems. Often this is done by means of pictures on a chart, tracing board or Master’s Carpet; it is also accomplished by showing pictures thrown upon a screen. The process of visual education is a true introduction, a leading within a land unknown to the non-Mason — the land of speculative symbolism derived from an operative craft.

A candidate may be presumed to be a man of moral character, a believer in Deity, conscious of the dignity of human worth and what it means to “ stand as an upright man and Mason”. When he has taken his obligations, this presumption is a fact certified to the world. Its accomplishment has been via the introduction of the candidate to those most important solemnities which make him a Mason. As a Mason he is introduced to the profane world as a good man and true by the very fact that Masons have admitted (introduced) him to their mysteries.

When Freemasonry has made a man a Mason, introductions cease. He must now introduce himself into further knowledge, the outlying “foreign countries”. And what a world he may thus enter! The only introduction he needs is the fact of being a Master Mason. He has the key to unlock many gates; the Masonic worlds of history, jurisprudence, antiquities, ethics, philosophy, religion and romance are before him. He may, indeed, find one or many brethren to lead him by the hand and thus within these lands of opportunity, but his introduction is secure without them, if he will but use the knowledge to which his lodge has introduced him and the truths with which he has been presented.

In a more restricted sense, introductions in lodge life, like social life, are a part of good manners and formal courtesy. The visitor who knocks upon the tiler’s door may introduce himself to the visitors’ committee; then he introduces them to his knowledge of the Craft, and finally they introduce (present and vouch for) him to the lodge.

Even if a visitor is already known as a Mason, he is usually introduced to the lodge he visits, either by some brother who takes him past the tiler, or by a courteous Master who knows his visitor will feel more at home if he is known to the brethren. Such introductions in lodge may be the threads of which fraternity is woven; if they are as kindly, courteous and interested as the hospitality of Masonry indicates, they may be woven into a cloth of friendliness which is equally a cloak of warmth to visitor and to host.

Dignitaries visiting a lodge are almost always formally introduced. No matter how well known he may be, no lodge would receive a Grand Master without presenting him formally (introducing him) to the brethren. The forms and ceremonies for this differ in different Grand Jurisdictions but the intent is the same in all; to honor the distinguished official of Grand Lodge and to set him before the brethren with dignity and importance.

The dignity of Masonic ceremonies is perhaps more important to those who introduce and to those to whom another is introduced, than to him who is introduced. At times some modest Grand Lodge official will offer the Master of a lodge the opportunity to omit formal introduction, but general Masonic thought is that a Master should not accept such kindly permission. What is dignified is impressive; what is impressive is apt to be thought important; what is important is cherished. Hence there can hardly be too much, and may easily be too little, formality and ceremony in the introduction of any distinguished visitor.

What is true of the visiting dignitary is also true of the speaker who comes by request to entertain, amuse or instruct the brethren. The occasion may be informal or formal; it may range from any lodge meeting to a great gathering of the brethren of a district or other area; be a banquet or a table lodge. Regardless of the occasion, the speaker will have a better background against which to talk, and the audience a greater appreciation of its opportunity, if the speaker’s introduction be formal and cordial, rather than informal and jocular.

Many brethren who may never hope for Grand Lodge rank labor hard in the quarries. They form the committees, they devote themselves to some plan of Masonic charity, they are the librarians, curators of museums, fraternal correspondents, the doers of all Freemasonry’s multitudinous jobs. They work for love of the Craft and expect little if any recognition.

When they visit a lodge, and arc received by a Master who introduces them as faithful Craftsmen, how grateful they are for the compliment of a few words, perhaps with the lodge standing. Such a Master knows that “well done, thou good and faithful servant” is an introduction, not only of the worker to his brethren, but of his brethren to labors of which they may be wholly unaware.

To sponsor is to guarantee. To vouch for is to attest. Sponsoring, guaranteeing, vouching and attesting are forms of introduction. One lodge sponsors a group which desires to form a new lodge; this is an introduction of that group to the Grand Master who may grant or withhold his dispensation. The sponsoring lodge guarantees that the group is of good and true brethren; and that there is need of another lodge in the locality in which it is prayed it may be formed. Sponsoring lodges are proud of the groups they thus guarantee; many a lodge looks with the pride of maternity upon her daughter lodge or lodges.

To vouch for a brother that he may enter a lodge is to attest personal knowledge that the brother vouched for is a Master Mason. To vouch is formally to declare certainty that the brother introduced is a legally made Mason in good standing. No one introduces to his wife, children or home one he is not willing to vouch for as a gentleman of good character. No brother may, as none desire to, introduce an imposter into his lodge; hence the very act of vouching is one of dignity, responsibility and importance, making of the introduction of the visitor a matter of Masonic honor.

In any deliberative body business is conducted by the making (introduction) of motions. These usually are concerned with something to be done or something not to be done, as to spend a certain sum for a certain purpose, to revise a by-law, to plan a celebration, to close an account, to cease certain activities, etc.

Introduction of a motion to act, like the introduction of one friend to another, is effective in proportion to the sincerity with which it is done. A casual, informal and indifferent introduction of a friend to friend usually produces nothing more of acquaintance than the passing word. The personal introduction which is marked with cordiality and stressed with personal interest may result in a lasting friendship. The brother who introduces a motion without an explanation of the reason behind it will rarely get much attention; he who makes his motion interesting and introduces it with the expressed thought that it will be of use and benefit to those to whom it will apply gets at least a respectful hearing and a thoughtful consideration.

Some Grand Lodges in the United States permit nominations for office; others make nominations mandatory, and there are some Grand Lodges in which nominations are unknown. To those who live under the obedience of Grand Lodges in which it is permitted or commanded, it is suggested that nominations are a form of introduction. No one nominates for office in a Masonic body a brother in whom he has no confidence. The mere fact of nomination is an avouchment, an attestation of regard and belief, and should be so considered.

In some Grand Lodges where nominations are sanctioned, speeches in favor of a nominee are not permitted. Whether the nominator may refer to the excellencies of his nominee or not, the fact that he does nominate is an introduction, having behind it the reputation of him who nominates.

All Grand Lodges and all lodges know the ceremony of installation of officers, following election or appointment. The Short Talk Bulletin of February, 1945, was concerned with this ceremony, its history and meaning; there is here no need to repeat.

But it may be of interest to consider that installation is a form of introduction; it introduces the officer to his labors as an official of his lodge or Grand Lodge; it introduces the Masonic body in which he will officiate to the brother. If this is not plain at first reading, think of the derivation of the word again that introduction is a leading within.

Finally, Freemasonry as a whole is an introduction to a new life. No thoughtful man ever was raised to the Sublime Degree and remained the same as before that event. Inevitably he must have a new perspective upon his relations to his fellow man, his country and his God. The great teachings and truths of the Order, the philosophies therein developed, must necessarily change any man whose mind is as open as his ears. Raised a Master Mason, a man is led within a field crossed by a path which leads to the heights of human accomplishment. That he may not follow the path has nothing to do with the fact that it is there, and that by Freemasonry may he travel it.

The importance of the word has never greater, significance than in thought that a well studied and lived Freemasonry is an introduction to a finer life.

The Masonic Service Association of North America