This word has two technical meanings in Freemasonry.
l. We speak of a candidate as being advanced when he has passed from a lower to a higher degree; as we say that a candidate is qualified for advancement from the Entered Apprentice Degree to that of a Fellow Craft when he has made that "suitable proficiency in the former which, by the regulations of the Order, entitle him to receive the initiation into and the instructions of the latter." When the Apprentice has thus been promoted to the Second Degree he is said to have advanced in Freemasonry.
2. However, this use of the term is by no means universal, and the word is peculiarly applied to the initiation of a candidate into the Mark Degree, which is the fourth in the modification of the American Rite.
The Master Mason is thus said to be "advanced to the honorary degree of a Mark Master," to indicate either that he has now been promoted one step beyond the degrees of Ancient Craft Freemasonry on his way to the Royal Arch, or to express the fact that he has been elevated from the common class of Fellow Crafts to that higher and more select one which, according to the traditions of Freemasonry, constituted, at the first Temple, the class of Mark Masters (see Mark Master).
The Encyclopedia Masonica exists to preserve the wealth of information that has been generated over the centuries by numerous Masonic authors. As Freemasonry is now Speculative and not Operative, the work of a Mason is now conducted in the quarries of symbolism, literature, history and scholasticism. Freemasonry encourages intellectual exploration and academic achievement in its members and many Masons over the years have taken up this calling. The result has been that an incredible amount of philosophy, symbolic speculation and academic insights have been created. However, as Freemasonry teaches, human knowledge is frail and fragile. It is easily lost in the turnings of the ages and unforeseen catastrophes can result in great setbacks to human knowledge.
For too long these great works have sat on forgotten shelves, gathering dust and concealing the light that could be shed on the darkness of our ignorance. The Encyclopedia Masonica has been created to act as an ark, sailing through time, to ensure that future generations of Freemasons have access to the same knowledge that inspired the Brethren that came before them. It will contain the works of such Masonic Luminaries as Albert G. Mackey, Manly Palmer Hall, G.S.M. Ward, Albert Pike and many others. The Encyclopedia Masonica is a living work and the volunteers of Universal Co-Masonry will continue to labor until the most comprehensive Masonic reference work the world has ever seen has been created. The Encyclopedia Masonica is open to any who wish to use it and will remain open so that the treasures contained within may increase the wealth of all those who seek its wisdom.
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