Masonry is the world's first and largest fraternal organization, and is based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to help make the world a better place.

The mission of the Masons of California, to foster personal growth and improve the lives of others, is carried out through Masonic principles and tradition.

Spend five minutes with Brother Ben Franklin as he answers and explains the question: "What is Freemasonry?"

Every member's journey through Freemasonry is different. As time passes and men change with age, so, too, does their perspective of Freemasonry. We have here a perspective of the Grand Lodge, a current candidate, and a 25-year veteran Past Master.

Grand Lodge Perspective
For centuries, millions of men of every race, color, creed, and physical persuasion throughout the world have found in the Symbolic Lodges of Freemasonry the light to guide their search for answers to eternal questions: What is the meaning of life? The nature of God and man?

Freemasonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory, illustrated by symbols. Not a religion but religious in character, it is a philosophy of ethical conduct which imparts moral and social virtues and fosters brotherly love. Its tenets have endured since man turned the first pages of civilization. They embody the understanding by which man can transcend ordinary experience and build "a house not made with hands" in harmony with the Great Architect of the Universe.

Yet Freemasonry can never conflict with a man's relationship to God or fellow man. Sectarian religious or partisan political discussion in a lodge is strictly prohibited. Every Mason stands equal among his brothers, regardless of walk of life, and none is turned away for financial need.

Freemasony has been referred to as "an organized association of men, symbolically applying the principles of operative Masonry and architecture to the science and art of character building."

Freemasonry has also been characterized as a Fraternity devoted to high ideals and admirable benevolence. Community service and charitable work are, in fact, Masonic activities

Easily the best-known as the world's largest single charitable institution are the Shriners Hospitals for Children and their Burn Centers, which are located throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Other Masonic bodies support their own statewide and national foundations for research, teaching, and treatment or rehabilitation services for children with learning or speech disorders, cancer, visual problems, or dental restoration needs. 
Our local community focus program is  our Bags for Kids, which provides school supplies for grade school kids.

Candidate's Perspective
I've known a couple of Masons and spent lots of time with their family. Salt of the earth kind of people.

Didn't think about it much until one day when Ron and I were up by Cold Springs and my truck broke down. Lucky it was right across the road from the only tavern in town. I noticed as we crossed the road the faded 'Masonic Lodge' sign on the building in the back. It didn't look like it had been used in years.

Well there was no one there but the barkeep, and we told him about the truck, and asked how to get a tow truck out here, and if there was even a phone we could use. Then we asked about the lodge in back, "... cuz' we know a couple of 'em - I think Ron's dad is one ..."

I never expected what happened next. The barkeep said "Let me make a couple of calls". We paid for a couple of beers and when we asked about change for the phone he said "Your money's no good here. You can use this phone when I'm done."

We hadn't finished our beers before a couple of guys showed up, and then a few more. All of 'em Masons. We tried all kinds of things to get the truck running, but eventually had to call home to have someone come get us.

A few months after Ron joined, I signed up too. I had to take a break in my degrees, but I can't wait to finish up so I can get back up to Cold Springs and thank the strangers who turned out to be my brothers.

I've always been one to stop and help people who look like they could use a hand. I think it's special to know there's other men like me I can count on. My grandpa was a Mason, and I sure wish he could have seen me take my 3rd Degree before he died.

Past Master's Perspective
Freemasonry is best expressed by acts of charity and service. We are taught in lodge that by acts of charity and service we grow morally, ethically, and spiritually. If, by these acts, we empower others to grow as well, then we can consider our lives well-spent.

Albert Pike put our lives in perspective with this observation - 

To sow, that others may reap; to work and plant for those who are to occupy the earth when we are dead; to project our influences far into the future and live beyond our time; to rule as Kings of Thought over men who are yet unborn; to bless with the glorious gifts of Truth and Light and Liberty those who will neither know the name of the giver, nor care in what grave his unregarded ashes repose, is the true office of a Mason and the proudest destiny of a man.
Morals and Dogma