What is the York Rite?
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The York Rite consists of a series of Degrees and Orders as described below. York Rite actually begins with the Blue Lodge Degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason) which are required to be considered for advancement. It is followed by the Degrees of the Royal Arch Mason, the Degrees of theCouncil of Cryptic of Cryptic Masons, and finally the Orders of Knights Templar. While a Mason is not considered a "York Rite Mason" until they have received the lessons of all three bodies, each is a complete step and a candidate can consider how far they want to go. Royal Arch The series of Royal Arch Degrees are: The Mark Master The Past Master (Virtual) The Most Excellent Master The Royal Arch The Royal Arch Degrees are a direct continuation of the "Blue Lodge" degrees and answer many of the questions left open from the drama of the Blue Lodge. The true Blue Lodge education (Entered Apprentice through Master Mason) is incomplete without the Royal Arch series of degrees to put the teachings of the Blue Lodge in their proper perspective. That is why when the two groups of Masons in England (The Antients and the Moderns) joined in the 1700's, they specified that to become a Master Mason one had to take three degrees - including the Holy Royal Arch. This strongly hints that every Master Mason should complete the Royal Arch series of Degrees, at a minimum. After completing the Royal Arch degrees, one is welcomed as a Companion of the Conclave or Royal Arch Chapter. Cryptic Masons The Cryptic Mason Degrees are not in a continuing line of history from the Royal Arch series of degrees. Instead, they return to an earlier time to join the lessons of the Blue Lodge with that of the Royal Arch. The lessons do build upon all that has come before and present the Companion of the Royal Arch with different lessons that make the degrees valuable in their own right and, for their own reasons. They again address the spiritual lessons that are so key to understanding the points taught in our fraternity. The Cryptic series of degrees consist of: The Royal Master The Select Master The Super Excellent Master (an additional degree that is not a requirement to be a Cryptic Mason but further expands the lessons taught in Cryptic Masonry) Cryptic Masons are Companions and they belong to a Cryptic Masons Council. Knights Templar The Knight Templar Orders are a Christian series of chivalric lessons that makes a Masonic brother a member of the Order of the Red Cross, a Knight of Malta and the Mediterranean Pass, and a Knight Templar. The Orders consist of: The Order of the Red Cross The Order of Malta and the Mediterranean Pass The Order of Knights Templar The last two Orders require a commitment to the Christian faith. The Knights Templar Order is the culmination or capstone of the regular York Rite "degrees" and once completed, a Masonic brother is advanced to the rank of "Sir Knight" or Knight Templar. Part of the training process in being educated in the Orders addresses a part of the history of the Knights Templar Order. The Templar history during the time of the Crusades, and their journey through history, provides a rich backdrop for the conferring of these Orders and challenges the candidate to reaffirm one's belief in the Christian faith. Upon completion of this series of Orders, the candidate is dubbed a Christian Knight.
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