Attendance on the communications of his Lodge, on al convenient occasions, is considered as one of the duties of every Freemason, and hence the Old Charges of 1722 say that ''in ancient Times no Master or Fellow could be absent from it [the Lodge] especially when warned to appear at it, without incurring a severe censure, until it appeared to the Master and Wardens that pure Necessity hindered him."
At one time it was usual to enforce attendance by fines, and the By-Laws of the early Lodges contain lists of fines to be imposed for absence, swearing and drunkenness, but that usage is now discontinued, so that attendance on ordinary communications is no longer enforced by any sanction of law.
Attendance is a duty the discharge of which must be left to the conscientious convictions of every Freemason. In the ease, however, of a positive summons for any express purpose, such as to stand trial, to show cause, etc., the neglect or refusal to attend might be construed into a contempt, to be dealt with according to its magnitude or character in each particular case.
The absence of an officer is a far more important matter and it is now generally held in the case of the absence of the Worshipful Master or Wardens the inferior officer assumes the duties of the office that is vacant The Wardens, as well as the Master, are entrusted with the government of the Lodge and in the case of the absence of the Master at the time of opening, the Senior Warden, if present and, if not, then the Junior Warden may open the Lodge and the business transacted will be, regular and legal.
While this is the practice in the United States of America, the same rule is not followed under the Grand Lodge of England, where it is provided in Rule 141 of the Book of Constitutions that in the absence of the Worshipful Master the Immediate Past Master shall take the chair. In the event that the Immediate Past Master is not present, then the Senior Past Master of the Lodge or, if no Past Masters of the Lodge are in attendance, the Senior Past Master who is a subscribing member of the Lodge shall officiate. But failing all of these, then we have the Senior Warden or, in his absence, the Junior Warden shall rule and govern the Lodge, but shall not occupy the Master's chair and no degree can be conferred unless a Master or Past Master in the Craft presides at the ceremony.
Thus it will be seen that the general rule does not apply to both countries in the same way.
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