Masonic Funerals

In most American jurisdictions of regular Freemasonry, if you are a Master Mason in good-standing, upon your death you are entitled to a Masonic funeral service. But you must tell your family to request the service. Usually, they can either contact the Lodge Secretary, the Worshipful Master, or other designated member of your Lodge or ask the funeral home to contact a local Masonic memorial association who will make the arrangements.

Depending on the jurisdiction and available facilities, several kinds of services may be provided which include a service in the funeral home, at the cemetery, or even in the Lodge hall itself. The rite can be tailored to a burial in the ground or in a masoleum or to a cremation or other memorialization. As Freemasonry is a fraternity and not a religion, the Masonic funeral service is considered compatible with all religious services. As a consequence and in coordination with members of the family of a deceased Brother and those conducting any other services, a Masonic service can be held either separately, in conjunction with, or instead of a religious service.

The number of Brethren formally participating in a Masonic service varies between jurisdictions and selected rituals but usually includes a minimum of four Brethren who constitute the Lodge of Sorrow and who perform the service. The furniture of the Lodge invariably includes a Volume of the Sacred Law, a white lambskin apron, and a sprig of acacia. The officers participating in the Lodge of Sorrow include those Brethren serving in the stations of Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, and Chaplain, all of whom may or may not normally hold these same stations in their working Lodge. Each station in the Lodge of Sorrow has duties that depend on the selected ritual. The Worshipful Master always presides. Some jurisdictions include provisions for additional formal participants in the service, such as Stewards who may cope the Worshipful Master during the service. Other Brethren among the mourners may be recognized or may be offerred the opportunity to participate in the service. Any Brother participating should be formally attired out of respect for the deceased and also clothed as a Master Mason wearing his apron, a pair of clean white gloves, and the pendant jewel of his station if he serves as an officer of the Lodge of Sorrow.

Though not a strict requirement of the Masonic service, it is still traditional for the deceased to be clothed for burial in the white lambskin or leather apron that was presented to him in Lodge when he was originally made a Mason. If you decide to have your family request a Masonic funeral service upon your death, be sure you let them know where you keep this commemorative apron.

If you or your family are not familiar with Masonic funeral rites, ask the Master of your Lodge to consider presenting a public program demonstrating the service at a future meeting. If you are a member of a lodge that have never participated in a Masonic funeral, you should request a demonstration of the funeral service. The Master of your lodge should contact the local Masonic memorial association for a demonstration and explaination the ritual as well as to answer any questions you or your lodge may have.

Participation in a Lodge of Sorrow can be a rewarding experience for a Mason of any age or background. Contact a member of your local Masonic memorial association to find how you can become involved.