In England, the Royal Arch is considered to be the completion of “pure ancient Masonry”. In the Craft the candidate is presented with a series of eminently practical principles and tenets which, if he practises them, he may hope to live a life pleasing to his God, however he worships him, and of service to his fellow man. But man is not simply a practical being, he has an essential spiritual aspect to his nature. That spiritual aspect is introduced in the Third Degree, in which the candidate is led to a contemplation of man’s inevitable destiny, and becomes the central message of the Royal Arch. In that sense, “pure ancient Masonry” can be seen as a journey of self-knowledge and discovery with the Royal Arch completing the practical lessons of the Craft by a contemplation of man’s spiritual nature, not replacing, but reinforcing and supporting what he has learned from his religion.
Its members, called Companions, meet in Chapters, and are ruled over by three Principals, who rule conjointly. Chapters in England are overseen by Metropolitan or District Grand Chapters, which in turn are administered by the Supreme Grand Chapter. Each District is ruled over by a Grand Superintendent who is appointed by the First Grand Principal as his personal representative for a particular area.
In England, the Royal Arch has four ceremonies:-
• The exaltation ceremony to bring in new members
• And, an installation ceremony for each of the three Principals.
The exaltation ceremony is in two parts:-
• A rather dramatic presentation of the principles of the Order
• Followed by three Lectures in which the History, Symbolism and Principles of the Royal Arch are furthered explained.
The allegory of the exaltation ceremony is based on the Old Testament telling of the return to Jerusalem from the Babylonish captivity to rebuild the city and temple. In clearing the ground of the original temple for the foundations of the second temple, the candidate makes a number of discoveries which emphasise the centrality of God to man’s life and existence and, without transgressing the bounds of religion, lead the candidate to a consideration of the nature of God and his personal relationship with Him, whatever his religion might be.
If you want to find out more about the history of the Royal Arch, the Supreme Grand Chapter website is a mine of information that is well worth a look.
If you want to join the Royal Arch click HERE to find out more.