Freemasons: Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons
The Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons is commonly referred to simply as ‘The Chapter’ and has an important place in the whole Masonic Structure.
Many Freemasons are quite happy to accept that the Hiramic legend ends on the steps of the Temple with the death of mortal man. Those who believe there is something more are invited to explore the Royal Arch and contemplate what lies beyond. The restoration of the Genuine Secrets has a significance which is believed to be the key to intellectual Freemasonry.
Where the allegories of the three degrees of the Craft lead masons to contemplate the mysteries and lessons of man’s activities of the physical plane-birth, life and death, the Royal Arch opens a whole new world to the thinking man – the contemplation of the spiritual plane, and the essential relationships between God and man.
For historical reasons, the Royal Arch is organised as a separate Order distinct from the Craft degrees to which it belongs and the teaching of which it completes. It follows that in deciding to join the Royal Arch brethren will have made a conscious decision to make significant advancement in Masonic knowledge. The prerequisite is simply for a Master Mason to have a thorough knowledge of the Craft degrees.
In England, the Royal Arch is considered to be the completion of “pure ancient Masonry”. In the Craft, the candidate is presented with a series of eminently practical principles and tenets which if he practises them he may hope to live a life pleasing to his God, however he worships him, and of service to his fellow man. In that sense, “pure ancient Masonry” can be seen as a journey of self-knowledge and discovery with the Royal Arch completing the practical lessons of the Craft by a contemplation of man’s spiritual nature, not replacing but reinforcing and supporting what he has learned from his religion.
- Keith Harrop