Regius
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This webpage -- and all others that start with http://bessel.org/russo/ -- were written entirely by Jason C. Russo 32°. The credit for the content of these summaries belongs exclusively to Bro. Russo, and compliments, comments, and questions can be emailed to him at ssgrusso@earthlink.net 

 


A MODERN INTREPRETATION OF THE REGIUS MANUSCRIPT

BY JASON C. RUSSO, 32º

 

 

The Regius Manuscript was written at some point around the year 1400 A.D. in the form of a short epic poem.   From this evidence and the style of writing, it can be deducted the Regius Poem as we know it was written by a Priest, Monk or Scribe from earlier recorded documents and collections.

The following is my personnel interpretation of the Regius Manuscript; it being written     for the operative craft is of particular interest to us as speculative members of the same fraternity.  The precepts and mandates are integral to our perspective and reflection for a better and complete understanding of Freemasonry as we know it today.
            I do not maintain my interpretations to be the basis nor conclusion for any man or Mason; the Regius Poem being readily available should be studied and reflected upon by each individual and practitioner of our speculative fraternity.  This being said I fully anticipate my personal interpretations concerning this document to grow and change as I collect age and experience in both life and Masonry.  I would hope each man and Mason would read this and reflect upon the conclusions which I have made and reread the Regius Manuscript, thus formulating an individual opinion and or speculation.

The Moral Duties
            Every man who is both a husband and a father fears for the possibility of demise.  The loss of income, job or perhaps even an untimely death would leave to this earth his widow and orphans.  Who would take care for his family?  Who would care for their provision and education?  This fear being common to every man of reason is what initially bound men together borrowing from principles of Geometry and the honest craft of Masonry.
            Euclid was the first mentioned teacher of Masonic principles; he was successful and exuded patience and love while instructing all men to include the simpleton, whom he was able to teach to become proficient and a valuable assets to operative Masonry. Euclid displayed the principles of honesty, patience, fortitude, dedication, meekness and humility—a stunning example of how we today as speculative Masons should work and act.  If our brother Euclid can teach the simpleton to be a Master Craftsman, our own students should be a reflection of ourselves and Masters of the craft.  We should be ever mindful and patient, kind, diligent and above all, we should lead by example.
            In our dealings with our brothers we should not seek elevation or higher titles; fellow and brother should suffice as each of us are born of woman, naked and imperfect.  Titles are meaningless and Brother is the highest honor and title we can ever hope to achieve.
            Our esteemed brother Euclid was a great traveler when he founded the principles of our craft in Egypt and the surrounding countryside. He brought his thoughts and ideas to England where his skill was credited to the crafting of many fine buildings and temples.  His diligence was renowned as was his service to G-d.  His passion for perfection, service to G-d, Geometry, and the operative craft caused him to fret over the imperfections and shoddy work performed by his contemporaries.
            To mend the flaws of less then perfect work and to improve the perception of Masonry he called an assembly of all of the Masons in the land to receive instruction, to correct previous faults and to solidify the high regard of Craft Masonry.  This assemblage of Masons also consisted of the nobility and gentry--consisting of Dukes, Earls, Knights and other nobles.  At this early convention 15 Articles and 15 points were outlined to govern the craft and define its tenets and precept.

 

Article-One


            A Master Mason has the moral obligation to be "Trustworthy, Steadfast and True."  Master Masons must maintain the highest ethical standards in dealing with their fellow man; pay the wages of their workman in accordance with what is just, fair and proper.  A Master Mason should never hire more workmen than he can afford to pay. A Master Mason should not engage in shady business practices by taking bribes or kickbacks.  A Master Mason should never even consider working for a person connected with improper business practices, thus his work and associations may be beyond reproach. He should hold to these standards, for in the end he shall profit before G-d, his fellow man and future business ventures.

Article-Two

            Every Master Mason must attend every congregation of his counterparts, or Masonic meeting with the exception of a reasonable and valid excuse for his absence.  The excuse should be true and reasonable for his absence.  A lie or falsehood for missing a meeting would be disobedience to the craft.

Article-Three

            A Master Mason must be willing to spend seven years with his Apprentice.  Any time less than seven years may produce poor work by his progeny and thus perform a disservice to the Craft of Masonry and thereby bring reproach upon his name and that of his student.
            The Speculative Mason need not spend seven years devoted to the study of the philosophical craft- we as Free and Accepted Masons are not hired for our stone craft skills.  At the same time, sufficient time must be spent with the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft to instruct them in the ancient and speculative usage's of Freemasonry.  The Master Masons who are assigned as Instructor and Mentor are responsible for the Masonic education of their Candidate.  A Candidate who is raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason and is yet still ignorant of their speculative craft is then viewed in the same disfavor as the Master Mason who qualifies an unqualified workman.

Article-Four

            No Master Mason shall make an apprentice of a Bondsman. This usage for today is not meant to target a Bail Bondsman in our era.  This is meant to exclude those who engage in unseemly or unwholesome forms of business-- which would bring discredit upon our noble craft.  This article is appropriately geared toward individual such as the purveyors of pornography, professional gamblers or other such modes of employment that skirt the moral and ethical standards of our society at large.
            As Free and Accepted Masons we too must stand together and defend the good name and reputation of our friends and brothers.  It would be a great disservice to the craft to make a Mason of one who is of questionable profession or of questionable moral or ethical character thereby obligating the brethren to vouch for him and appear to justify the indefensible unethical practices of the individual..
            We should always only accept into our noble and ancient fraternity men of good nature and of strong moral and ethical character--beyond reproach and thus preserving the good name and nature of Freemasonry.

Article-Five

"Make no Apprentice that is deformed; It is mean as you may hear, that he have all his limbs whole together."

            This Article is difficult to place in perspective for a solely speculative craft.  Of what matters is it to speculative Masonry if a candidate is raised and shall have an insignificant deformity, or is lame?  Of what outcome does the physical have upon the philosophical or spiritual?
            As the Author recognized this article may seem to the reader to be mean and harsh, but upon deeper contemplation, even this Article has its application. I will attempt to reason this Article according to my own understanding -- and as per my personal interpretation of it.  This is not meant to counter the current laws or usage of any jurisdiction.
            A man who is whole enough so that the Speculative Degrees of Freemasonry may be conferred upon him in person--even with the aid of a prosthetic device, he shall not hinder the speculative and philosophical aspects of the craft.
            The three immovable jewels in American Masonry are the Plum, Level and Square and are thus the embodiment of beauty, strength and wisdom.  A Master Mason must be whole in beauty, strength and wisdom to hold these stationed offices.  This could or should not prevent a Mason from active participation elsewhere in the Lodge should his mental faculty be above average and a service to the fraternity.
            Special dispensation should be provided for men and Masons who have become lame or disabled in the service of man or their country.  These men and Masons who have suffered in the service of their country and fellow man have proven themselves to be the embodiment of wisdom, strength and beauty.  If they are capable to perform the duties of their office these men have sacrificed much in their noble and gallant service and have already proven their value to the gates of heaven where fullness of body awaits their probationary state to be over.

 

Article-Six

            This article outlines fair business dealings.  A Master Mason should not pay a brother more than his worth, nor should a brother receive a promotion or business contract solely upon the basis of the craft.
            As Free and Accepted Masons our dealings will be scrutinized by the profane, especially when a worthy brother receives a promotion, pay raise or contract.  Let it never be said our dealings are prejudiced towards our fellow brothers.  Let us lead our lives so that no profane can eve accuse us of prejudicial treatment and thereby discredit the craft.

Article-Seven

            This article admonishes us to closely guard our associations.  We should not be too closely related with those of questionable character.  Poor associations and friendships could have the perception of guilt by association and bring discredit upon the craft.

Article- Eight

            This article deals with the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft, who during their instruction are found to be other than what they professed to be when submitting their petitions.  Their instructor should cease and give no further instruction; conduct which came to light during instruction may well prove his ability to become a god man and Mason suspect and potentially bring discredit upon the craft should he be allowed to continue his instruction.

Article-Nine


            A Master Mason needs to exercise wisdom and foresight.  This article admonishes Masons to be men of their word and to posses the fortitude and strength of character to complete whatever is begun.  This article also admonishes us to take pride in our work; the finished product is a reflection of ourselves and a reflection of Freemasonry.  A good job and the desire to perform to the best of our abilities is a positive reflection of ourselves and positive reflections of our noble craft.  Shoddy work, and a lackadaisical performance will in the same manner reflect negatively upon the individual and Freemasonry in general.
            As our craft today does not singularly apply to the operative craft--our performance before men has a wider and greater effect--potentially positive or negative.  As a Master Mason it should be our steadfast object to bring credit to our brethren and our noble fraternity.

 


Article-Ten

This article admonishes us never undermine our brethren.  This precept extends further, it also admonishes us never to undermine the profane either.  In either case supplanting another will cause bad blood and create a just grievance.  We should never allow a contention to arise between brother Masons, but also a just grievance or contention caused by a brother towards a profane will reflect negatively upon our craft.

            Article Ten goes on to admonish us that should a brother supplant another for profit and fails--a brother Mason is under no obligation to come to his aid.  In either event a Mason must finish what he begins.

Article-Eleven


            This Article admonishes us to work hard and fair but not to continue our labor into the evening hours.  This article conveys more in its few short lines than the verbose prose of some others.
            To make it a habit to work well into the night on frequent occasions is UN-Masonic in nature.  I make a bold claim--but the reason is sound and fair.  As Masons, in addition to our solid and sound work ethic we should equally strive to be good husbands and fathers; sound in judgment, well rounded in thought deed and actions.  A Master Mason should be a student of G-d, philosophy, grammar, rhetoric and geometry.
            If a Mason devotes himself into his work well into the night on a regular basis he is neglecting G-d, family, knowledge and brotherhood.  To neglect this in the pursuit of riches is a Masonic offense, a violation of balance and a foul breech of harmony.

Article-Twelve

            This Article admonishes us to be honest and fair with our brethren.  Should we by accident wrong our brother it is our duty and obligation to right that wrong and make amends.

Article-Thirteen

            This Article conveys the right of visitation; each member of the craft should be so recorded and provided the opportunity to travel as a known brother and member of the craft.

Article-Fourteen

            A Master Mason should study and train younger Masons--teaching them well the tenets and precepts of our craft with diligence, seriousness and gravity.

Article-Fifteen

            We are admonished to befriend one another, dealing honestly towards all; we should ever strive to be men of our words.  Any man or Mason who would betray his word or bond and swear a false oath would result in the derision of the craft, a pox upon his name and bring shame to the fraternity.  A man or Mason who breaks his word or oath has inflicted upon himself the consequences of his actions.

 


Point-One

            A Master Mason must love G-d Supremely.

Point-Two

            A Master Mason will work diligently for his wages and rest upon the Sabbath.

Point-Three

            A Master Mason must keep the secrets entrusted to him and keep the secrets of lodge business.

Point-Four

            A Master Mason must be true to the craft; he must be patient and kind when dealing with others, slow to anger. A Master Mason must enforce Masonic law equally towards all.

Point-Five

            A Master Mason will earn his wages; if an employer he must provide notice to those being discharged of their duties--they having timely notice to secure other employment.

Point-Six

            Work hard, work well, and earn a day of leisure to spend spoiling your wife.  If we do not spend sufficient time satisfying our wives then stress and strife shall overtake us.

Point-Seven


            A Master Mason shall not sleep with another Masons wife; this is considered a foul and deadly sin deserving of the greatest derision and contempt.

Point-Eight

            Deal fairly and justly with brother Master Masons.  When disagreements arise which we are not a member then we are obligated to be fair and just mediators.

Point-Nine

            Each Master Mason should work and strive to serve as stewards and thereby wait and serve our brothers that no one should seem haughty and none seem to lowly--rather all brothers are equal within the craft.
            Pay your debts honestly, timely and fair.  A Master Mason should never remain indebted to another brother for a long period of time, lest contentions arise and shame be brought to the craft.

Point-Ten

            A Master Mason must be well rounded and should not burdened by strife.  Burdens, problems and issues are easily brought out in the open by our own actions.  By living a well-rounded life we can ground our troubles so they do not arise and interfere with our actions.
            A Master Mason shall not commit Slander!  A slanderer is considered a villainous person and should be brought upon Masonic charges at the very next meeting.  The slanderer shall be summonsed to account for his tongue and when found guilty he shall be punished according to Masonic law.

Point-Eleven

            Help a brother whenever you can; provide him aid and instruction whenever you shall see the need to do so.  Help him and aid his knowledge in making necessary corrections.

Point-Twelve

            Masonry shall not protect any man who does violate the civil law; he shall be taken into custody where he will be charged with any violation he has committed.

Point-Thirteen

            A Master Mason shall not steal!  Nor should a Mason associate with those that do, be they family or friend.

Point-Fourteen

            A Master Mason must swear an oath to abide by the laws, usage's and customs of Masonry; being true to the laws and brethren alike.  A Master Mason must obey the law and be patriotic to his country.  Any Mason who violates these Points or Articles shall be punished according to Masonic law.

Point-Fifteen

            Anyone regardless of their social status who shall be found guilty of any of the Articles or Points and proven so in open forum shall receive the same sentence--they shall be outcast from the craft; there shall be no amends; they are forbidden the use of Masonry.

Ordinance One

            Annually or every third year a convention of the craft should be gathered together to amend the laws and usages of Masonry.  These conventions must be attended by all Masons, thereby all problems may be resolved and again swear to keep the statutes of Masonry.

 

            The interpretations above are of my own devise.  I claim no special skills or insights; I claim neither to be an expert on the subject of our speculative craft.  I am a Free and Accepted Mason and as such have spent time and effort reading through the Regius Manuscript, from which our noble craft derives its earliest historical reference.  This reference is important to us, for it is the basis and standard by which most of our Masonic law is derived.

 

I remain your obedient friend and brother,

 

Jason C. Russo

JD, Blandford #3 VA District 29

A.F. & A.M.

Petersburg Union RA #7

32°, Valley of Richmond, OVA SJ AASR


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