The French National Lodge (LNF)
The French National Lodge is a small regular French Grand Lodge which aim is to promote the traditional teaching of operative and speculative Masonry. Its members have very fraternal relations with other Grand Lodges.
History of the French National Lodge (From Antoine P:.)
The French National Lodge (LNF) was officially born on April 26, 1968, from the decision of three lodges having regular charters of the French National Grand Lodge (Opera), to federate. These three Lodges were Jean Theophilus Desaguliers lodge, James Anderson lodge and la Fidélité Lodge1 .
The first of these lodges, founded in Paris using the Rectified Scottish Rite, worked according to the Restored Modern French Rite (later called Traditional French Rite), the second in Lille, was incorporated to Modern French Rite, and the third, also in Paris, practiced the English Emulation Rite. They became, in that order, the first three Lodges on the board of the Federation.
Brothers who took the decision to found the French National Lodge, under the leadership of Brother René Guilly also known as René Desaguliers (1921-1992), one of the greatest scholars of French Masonry, have done so because their traditional rigor needs and their desire to return to the exact purpose and spirit of Masonry according to its original principles, could not be observed in various Grand Lodges. Masonic policy concerns, human rivalries and narrow-mindedness of some officials had led to various impasses.
The French National Lodge was designed as a new type of Masonic organization, whose founders wanted to make a place without any constraint in serenity, freedom and discipline, where sincere Masons could conduct their own research. For this reason, they called themselves “Traditional Free Masons.”
One of the first acts of the French National Lodge was to grant a charter for a new Lodge, working in Paris at the Rectified Scottish Rite, The Square2 No. 4, which was so the first Lodge born in the Federation. Others came out, and today the French National Lodge granted charters many new lodges, and at least six Lodges of Study and Research (distinguished by the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph to Vav), with a special status, real laboratories of the Federation, and which sole purpose is to deepen the historical sources and foundations of the Masonic tradition. This study remains indeed one of the major concerns of the Lodges belonging the French National Lodge. Finally, there are lodges of Installed Masters who gather for special works, the Worshipful Masters and Past Masters of Lodges of the French National Lodge.
Charter of Traditional Free Masonry.
Here is the Charter of Free Masonry Traditional adopted by the French National Lodge in 1969.
- Freemasonry is having a spiritual, religious and traditional foundation. It aims to initiaticly transform its members through meditation on the Law of Love in the Gospel of St. John and the rigorous practice of customs, rituals and Masonic ceremonies. This transformation effectivley operates in a climate of tolerance, modesty, moderation, discretion, loyalty, absolute calm and courtesy.
- This is why Freemasonry is bannishing with extreme rigor out of its Lodges, under penalty to miss its fundamental mission all that is contrary to these definitions. Particular, it must refuse any activity in the religious, political, social, economic and financial, which is a rich source of misunderstanding and conflict among its members. Lodges have to prohibit any statement and any work on these topics and their members shall refrain from any conversation of this kind at Masonic meetings whatsoever.
The Masons must also observe a great decency in their words and refrain from any excess that may change and alter their behavior.
- Assistance and relief has always been one of the major rules of Freemasonry. It requires, however, to be exercised with great caution. Particular, it must be limited to services that alleviate the real problems facing each other in their lives and never become a kind of association or complicity for material profit.
Thus, under the law of discretion which is one of the great laws of Freemasonry, which intervenes between mutual Masons may at any time be known to all, especially the Officers of Lodges and federal representatives, without person has to be ashamed of or to comment.
We also refrain from asking a service to a Mason who is not really able to make it and we will forbid it even if it comes to service his jurisdiction if it has a risk, however small it may be, for their own situation.
We will always remember that the exercise of wrong and unwise assistance is another major cause of conflicts that may arise in the Lodges and endanger the initiatic work that must be done alone.
- The charity is also one of the oldest goals of Freemasonry. It differs from the self-help is not limited to members of the Order. It is performed either by the Lodges, either individually by their members.
This charity is materially done with funds raised by the trunk which runs for this item during the meetings. The gift made in this circumstance is an essential must be proportionate to the resources of each member. That is why members of the Lodges have the rule to send their mite whenever circumstances prevent them from attending meetings. They never omit either file their mite when obliged to leave before the end of the lodge work.
However Masons do not lose sight of that in our time the material distress cases are fortunately relatively rare and there is another form of equally important charity. It is the one by which we try to bring to others our experience and our knowledge. This form of charity, however, is difficult because it must never take the form of an intrusion or coercion. It usually runs a resistance or an instinctive modesty that we have the obligation to respect. It is however a pressing duty to attempt to avoid the mistakes that others may jeopardize his happiness or that of his family, his business and even his life.
- Among the dangers which are threating the initiatic life of the lodges, the research of honors and rivalries that result must certainly be considered the equal of the most serious. The hierarchy which is one of the natural structures of Freemasonry, can indeed tempt Masons more concerned with appearance than reality, willing more to exercise an illusory authority than to assume the full burden and responsibility.
We also have to recognized the important role that competent, active and dedicated masons are having is another risk, as these masons are accustoming members of Lodges with ease and succession becomes every year more difficult.
That is why the Traditional Free Masons feel that annually changing worshipful masters in its Lodges is a highly recommended practice. It is also required that the future worshipful master has held various positions in lodges at each rite. Abilities of all masons and can thus be clearly expressed and officer lists to be elected each year shall be established in the sole interest of the Lodge and the rite, and never in a too human spirit of indulgence or concession to vanity. There is also no example of such a Brother willing to serve Masonry, can fully achieve it within the limits of its capabilities.
- Lodges are collegialy directed by Master Masons met in Inner Chamber, limited to sole active members. The broader unanimity is always sought. The Entered Apprentices and the Fellow-Crafts are never associated or involved in decisions or discussions they generate.
- Initiations and affiliations are decided by unanimity, which means that each member of a Lodge has a right to object to the serious and legitimate reasons. We must indeed not allow that a Lodge is disturbed by the admission of a new member against the wishes of one older member. If repetition or the number of oppositions creates a crisis in a Lodge, a possible solution is the creation of a new Lodge, that all should facilitate a climate of conciliation.
These initiations and affiliations must be preceded by the widest Masonic publicity permitted by the circumstances, these important actions having to be clearly and loyalty performed.
In a more general way, we do not lose sight that the Masonic society is founded on free cooptation and peaceful coexistence and harmony, no superior rule would not be imposed on members, temporarily or permanently separated by antipathies or inconsistencies to continue to attend the same Lodge. This indeed deeply regrettable situation, that unfortunately sometimes occurs, in fact undermines any initiatory work and any pleased evolution with each other. In this case we will strive to reach a common agreement in spin-offs or changes of ownership that, removing the immediate causes of friction is also a sure way to restore in the future more normal relations and more satisfying.
- “Salary increases”3 are similarly unanimously adopted. Candidates undergo a serious Masonic exam on their instruction. Their conduct must be, in all aspects, perfect. Only the Mother Lodge is entitled to grant the promotion, by delegation if needed.
- Traditional Free Masons find that the rites pluralism is a masonic reality that must be accepted. They argue that through this rite pluralism, an initiatic methodical and prudent research shall permit the retrieval of the Freemasonry’s traditional essence. The rites are not mutually exclusive, they are complementary. However, they must keep all their greatest purity and their own traditions and customs. A Mason can perform several rites but in this case it is necessary to carefully abstain to mix them by ignorance or a reckless desire to do well.
Traditional Free Masons today are choosing between three rites:
- The Traditional French Rite (Restored French Modern Rite, from the Grand Lodge of 1717).
- The Rectified Scottish Rite (derived in 1778 and 1782 from the Strict Observance).
- The “Emulation” English Style Rite (from England Union 1813).
They believe that the combination of these three systems, with equal interest and value of initiation, is likely to collect almost all the Masonic tradition and all other systems are composed of the same elements, sometimes with less consistency.
Each of these rites has one or more additional grades conferred in organizations clearly distinct from the Symbolic Lodges and their federation.
Each rite should be performed in full respect of fundamental texts and definitions to know:
- For Traditional French Rite (Restored French Modern Rite), practice reconstituted according to the texts of French eighteenth and nineteenth centuries old documents and English and Scottish rituals and instructions with questions and responses, the oldest currently known dates in 1696.
- For the Rectified Scottish Regime (or Rite) final texts written in Lyon from 1785 to 1787 under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Willermoz and according to the schemes adopted Wilhelmsbad Convent (1782).
- For the “Emulation” style Rite, texts currently in use in the Emulation Lodge of Improvement.
These three rites will align, especially the first two, the key decisions of the Lodge of Promulgation held in London from 1809 to 1811 and uses the following universal rules:
- the old order of sacred words, that is to say B. for the first grade and J. for the second.
- normal statement of the names of three columns must be in order: Wisdom, Strength, Beauty.
- the combination of these three columns with the first three Officers of the Lodge and the two columns of the Temple of Solomon
- Wisdom Worshipful Master
- Force Senior Warden
- Beauty Junior Warden
- Force Column J.
- Beauty Column B.
- shall appear in any of the first three grades the word of Installed Master so that the lodges can normally practice the secret installation ceremony recognized by the Lodge of Promulgation as one of the ancient usages of Masonry.
Finally Traditional Free Masons are turning all their interest in operative Masonry before 1717 as well as operating systems that have survived until today and reserve either to practice them or to draw from the lessons needed for a better understanding of their rites.
They take up ther coat of arms granted in 1472 to the Company of Masons of London and its oldest motto: “God is our Guide”, which must be understood in all directions but especially the operative meaning, reminding that the Lord guided Moses on Sinai giving him all the plans of the Tabernacle, which was itself to be the model of the high temple in Jerusalem built on the orders of King Solomon, with the help of King Hiram of Tyre and the valuable assistance of Hiram Abiff.
This charter was unanimously adopted during a National Lodge meeting on January 26, 1969.
Loge Nationale Française
92113 Clichy Cedex