Essex Holy Royal Arch
Taking the 4th Step
The first question often asked by a new Master Mason is ‘What next, the Holy Royal Arch or the Mark Degree?’ Fortunately, the rulers of Mark and the Holy Royal Arch in the Province of Essex understand and acknowledge what to some may seem a dilemna and are keen to emphasise the complimentary nature of the two orders as well as to dispel any suggestion that they represent diverging paths.
Both Orders are part of a timeline in Masonry, which begins in the Craft where the building of the Temple in Jerusalem is used to illustrate moral lessons for our enlightenment and guidance. The Mark Degree is similarly set during the building of the first temple at a time before the death of Hiram Abiff whilst the Royal Arch Degree is set at the time of the return of the Israelites from the Babylonian captivity and refers to the building of the second Temple and the discovery of the lost secrets.
Historically, before the union of the two original Grand Lodges in 1813, both the Mark and the Holy Royal Arch were often worked within Craft Lodges and would have formed integral stages in a Mason’s natural progression.
To this day in other Constitutions throughout the world, the Mark is part of either Craft or Royal Arch Masonry, and a candidate may be given the Mark Degree as soon as he has become a Master Mason, either in a Craft Lodge or in a Royal Arch Chapter as a preliminary degree.
Thus, the Craft, Mark and Royal Arch are all linked together to form one comprehensive whole. Without the knowledge of all these degrees a Mason can neither fully understand the principles, philosophy and teachings of Freemasonry nor perceive the radiant beauty that resides within.