Why should I join the Royal Arch ?
A simple and honest answer is that by doing so you will have the full package of what speculative Freemasonry is all about.
When you think about it, the ‘Third Degree’ couldn’t possibly be the end or the completion. Whilst it is an inspirational ceremony, look at just where it leave you – in a state of despair and despondency. Hiram Abiff is slain and the ‘genuine secrets’ – whatever they are – are lost. After that point in the story on which our degrees are based, things do actually get even worse. The Children of Israel are swept away into captivity and bondage.
As we have been taught to view the ceremonies as extended symbolism and allegory, we can readily see this as an allegory for the society of today, superficial and self-centred. Based on material values and focussed on a me, me, me culture, it inevitably leads to a ‘what is in it for me?’ approach.
Freemasonry and in particular the Royal Arch challenges you to take a step back and work out afresh what does really matter in life. You are received into the lodge, poor and penniless, leaving the aspects of life that do not matter outside the door of the lodge. You learn to feel compassion and concern for your fellow-man.
In the Royal Arch you are encouraged to sense how and why society at large and you as an individual have inevitably drifted into a life based on values that are base. You are stimulated to replenish yourself and refresh your relationship with your ‘Supreme Being’, however that is perceived in your own inner being.
The ceremony of exaltation in the Royal Arch is colourful and uplifting. Linked with Old Testament stories, it leads you to a new perception of yourself. The more you examine the ceremony in its entirety and in detail, the more you can see how it restores your purpose in life.
Some practical considerations: the Royal Arch is neither consuming in time or cash. Meetings are generally but four times a year and the subscriptions considerably less than in the Craft.
When is the best time to join? Everyone is different, but many find that a couple of years after taking their third is suitable. By the time you reach the position of deacon in your lodge you should have taken this fourth step. There should be a Royal Arch Contact in your lodge ready to give you more information and his details will be on your lodge summons. Another option is talk to anyone wearing a Royal Arch jewel on his breast pocket at your lodge meetings.
But most importantly than anything else, the Royal Arch provides the last piece in the jigsaw. Only by joining the Royal Arch do you complete the journey through what has been called Pure and Antient Freemasonry, which is what you joined when you took your first stumbling steps through the door of your lodge.
The Royal Arch is the fourth step and the one which makes you a complete Freemason.