The word “lodge” means both a group of Masons meeting in some place and the room or building in which they meet. Masonic buildings are also sometimes called “temples” because much of the symbolism Masonry uses to teach its lessons comes from the building of King Solomon’s Temple in the Holy Land. The term “lodge” itself comes from the structures which the stonemasons built against the sides of the cathedrals during construction. In winter, when building had to stop, they lived in these lodges and worked at carving stone. While there is some variation in detail from state to state and country to country, lodge rooms today are set up similar to the diagram below. Like many artisans today, stonemasons centuries ago wore leather aprons to carry their tools-and to protect themselves from flying chips of stone. This custom was adopted by the men who became Freemasons. Thus, modem Masons wear a lambskin or cloth apron, sometimes elaborately decorated or embroidered, to show their pride in being members of a fraternity with so long and great a history.
If you’ve ever watched C-SPAN’s coverage of the House of Commons in London, you’ll notice that the layout is about the same. Since Masonry came to America from England, we still use the English floor plan and English titles for the officers. The Worshipful Master of the Lodge sits in the East. ‘Worshipful” is an English term of respect which means the same thing as “Honorable.” He is called the Master of the lodge for the same reason that the leader of an orchestra is called the “Concert Master.” It’s simply an older term for “Leader.” In other organizations, he would be called “President.” The Senior and Junior Wardens are the First and Second Vice-Presidents. The Deacons are messengers, and the Stewards have charge of refreshments.
Every lodge has an altar holding a “Volume of the Sacred Law.” In the United States and Canada, that is almost always a Bible.
What goes on in a lodge?
This is a good place to repeat what we said earlier about why men become Masons:
- There are things they want to do in the world.
- There are things they want to do “inside their own minds.”
- They enjoy being together with men they like and respect.
- The Lodge is the center of these activities.