A box which, toward the close of the Lodge, is handed around by an appropriate officer for the reception of such donations for general objects of charity as the brethren may feel disposed to bestow. This laudable custom is very generally practiced in the Lodges of England, Scotland, and Ireland and universally in those of the Continent. The newly initiated candidate is expected to contribute.
Brother Hyde Clarke says in the Freemasons' Magazine (London, 1859, page 1166) that "Some brethren are in the habit, on an occasion of thanksgiving with them, to contribute to the box of the Lodge more than on other occasions."
This custom has not been adopted in the Lodges of America, except in those of French origin and in those of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
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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