Holy Royal Arch
In the Book of Constitutions, the Preliminary Declaration of the General Laws and Regulations states: -
“pure and Antient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more; namely those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch”.
As the Order is part of ‘pure and antient masonry’ it should not be viewed as an optional extra but rather as the only opportunity for the master mason to complete their basic Masonic knowledge.
The Holy Royal Arch is more commonly known as ‘Chapter’, for as Craft Masons meet in a Lodge, so Royal Arch Masons meet in a Chapter and are known to each other as Companions.
In the eighteenth century membership of the Order was normally conferred in Craft Lodges. The oldest known Minutes connecting the Royal Arch with an English Lodge were for a meeting at the Crown Inn, Bristol in 1758, when two brethren were “raised to the Degree of the Royal Arch”.
At the union of the Grand Chapters in 1817, it was decided that every Chapter should be attached to a Craft Lodge. So today most Chapters share a common name and number with the Lodge to which they were originally attached. The Chapter jewel is the only jewel permitted to be worn together with Craft jewels in a Craft Lodge.
The ceremony of joining a Royal Arch Chapter is called ‘Exaltation’ and has a historical foundation, verification of which may be found in various books of the Old Testament (particularly Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and II Chronicles Chapter 36, vv 22 and 23).
The ceremony is a dramatic representation of the return to their native land of some of the Jews, after their ‘captivity’ in Babylon, and of the rebuilding of King Solomon’s Temple, destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 598 BC.
The ritual recounts the story of three of the returning exiles, to whom, as master masons, was allotted the task of excavating the ground for the foundations of the building, on the site where the former Temple had stood. In the course of those excavations, they made a discovery of great importance to Master Masons and Royal Arch Masons.
Every mason remembers the first question put to him at Initiation, ‘In whom do you put your trust?’ and the answer he gave. The Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch amplifies that answer and gives inestimable instruction on the nature of the Deity and the duties of man.
Although the order now welcomes brethren of every religious persuasion, it originally showed a strong Christian influence. The Mystical Lecture is a remarkable and beautiful statement of religious faith, and no Companion can fail to be impressed by its teachings. The beauty and significance of the ceremony are such as to have a strong appeal for any thoughtful mason.
The Committee of General Purposes of the United Grand Lodge of England expressed the view: -
“Master Masons should realise that their knowledge of pure Antient Masonry is incomplete until they have been exalted into the important order of the Holy Royal Arch. For this reason every earnest student of Freemasonry should give serious consideration to becoming a Royal Arch Mason.”
Plainly every Master Mason should be encouraged to go further to discover for himself the happiness and companionship of the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch.
Please refer to the following link for further information;