You will not find the duties, rights, and privileges of a Master Mason anywhere completely stated and numbered. They are scattered here and there, some in symbols, other in the form of customs, others in laws. Some are explicit, others are implied.
A Master Mason’s first duty is obviously to live by and act consistently with his obligation. Unless this is done he cannot perform his other duties, nor can he justly claim his rights and privileges. With this as a foundation, a number of those duties and rights can be discussed in detail.
Full privileges of membership are established when he is raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason. Thereafter he has a right to voice in the administration of the affairs of the Lodge, to vote, hold office, and demit.
It is a Master Mason’s duty, legal and moral, to pay his share of the financial costs of the Fraternity, promptly and ungrudgingly.
He has the right to apply for affiliation under various circumstances in accordance with the provisions of the Code. Visiting in Lodges in which he does not hold membership is both a right and a privilege, though not a duty. It is a right in the sense that he may seek admittance into any regular Lodge; it is a privilege in the sense that his admission into the Lodge is contingent upon his being vouched for, or examined, if necessary, and being permitted to enter by the Master. If a Mason is not permitted to enter some Lodge at a certain time, the fact does not cancel his right to seek to visit it at another time or to seek to visit any other Lodge.
Masonic relief, within its proper limitations, is a privilege to be valued, on the one hand, and responsibility to be recognized, on the other. The Rite of Destitution in the First Degree provides an object lesson that should never be forgotten, and the obligation of the Third Degree contains a still broader definition of the requirements of Masonic Relief.
Every affiliated Master Mason has the right to a Masonic Funeral. In practice, his family has the right of requesting this honor. This right is of more importance than may at first appear. If, without giving cause, a Lodge refused to give a Masonic Funeral, the community might naturally infer something reprehensible, known only to the Lodge, and both his name and family would suffer accordingly.
Among the most important of his rights, though exercised under unhappy conditions, is his right of trial by his peers, under regulated conditions, with freedom to present evidence. This assures him that no Lodge can degrade him without a fair trial. Neither his Lodge, nor any Officer or member, can remove him through malice or spite; nor can he be made to suffer the penalties of Masonry through idle gossip or hearsay.
If he is brought to trial in his own lodge on charges of un-Masonic conduct and found guilty, he has the right of appeal to the Grand Lodge. This right is his guaranty against possible injustice, more particularly against local prejudice or spiteful persecution by some private enemy.
A Master Mason’s rights and privileges are to be described in principle and in spirit rather than in detail. Beyond all specific duties, rights, and privileges exists a region in which all are mingled together; the whole domain of Masonry’s teachings, its ritual and symbols, its history, its ideals of jurisprudence, its philosophy, its literature, the whole Royal Art. It is his right to be taught that Art, and have it in its fullness, none of it being reserved for a privileged few. It is his to enjoy all the privileges it offers to the spirit, the mind, the heart. All that Freemasonry is, all that it means, all that it has to give or offer, belongs to every individual Mason in the same way and to the same extent as to all others. However onerous your duties may prove to be, or however rigidly your rights may at times appear to be regulated, such burdens sink into nothingness by comparison with this one privilege, that Freemasonry in all its height, and breadth, and length, and richness, belongs to you, to use and enjoy.