Tim (and anyone else interested) -
Freemasonry is a very noble institution if we are to look at it with regard to what it does for society, for the disadvantaged, and for people in need. In this sense, it may be regarded as a community that operates very much on the same level as that of the Church.
Moreover, you will find that many people within Freemasonry are well-intentioned family men who are really nice. It is essentially an institution that works for the amelioration of men via a sense of community and brotherhood.
Everything you read on the internet about it being involved in Satanic worship is absolutely nonsense. Please do not trust anything you read on the internet about Freemasonry. 90% of it is false and slander.
What bothered me about Freemasonry, and what prompted me to leave it yesterday, is very much the same reason the Church condemns it. To be initiated as a Freemason there are 3 requirements. One has to be a man over 18 or 21 (depends on the Lodge), one has to enter by free will, and - most importantly - one has to believe in a Diety. And here is where the problem lies. Masonic meetings frequently start and end with a prayer to the Great Architect of the Universe (GAOTU) (God). The problem is that, since members are usually from diverse religious backgrounds, the GAOTU is not defined as being the One True God (the one we worship) but rather just a concept that anyone can adapt to their religious tendencies. For example, the Hindu might be addressing one of their Gods in said prayer, a Pagan might be worshiping nature (or whatever it is they worship) etc. etc. Essentially, by praying to the GAOTU at the start and end of each meeting, I am indirectly acknowledging that God isn’t One, that he didn’t become man for us and die for our sins. I am basically consenting to the idea that God is whatever people imagine him to be, that all the concepts of God are equal. In this sense, by participating in this small part of the meeting, I am consenting to the notion that it is not God that created man in his image, but man that creates God in his image. I am consenting to the notion that Christ isn’t our Mediator, and that we can arrive to the same Truth (God) via different paths. This is the epitome of relativism. THIS IS WHY FREEMASONRY IS NOT COMPATIBLE TO CATHOLIC DOCTRINE, WHICH TEACHES THAT GOD IS THE GOD OF ISRAEL WHO BECAME MAN AND DIED FOR OUR SINS. etc.
For example, among members at the Masonic Lodge I attended, there were Catholics, Jews, Pagans, and Pantheists. When we were praying in unison, who were the prayers actually directed to? Was it Our God, ‘Mother Nature’, or plants? I think I was breaking the First Commandment all along. I just came to this realization thanks to the wisdom granted to me by Jesus through prayer.
Freemasonry is not a religion as some people might want you to believe, but it is absolutely incompatible with Christianity. Moreover, the rituals and religious-like ceremonies that take place gradually started to freak me out more and more. Why do I need to attend those when I can encounter God in the Liturgy? I finally realized I had to decide between the two. The choice was the easiest I’ve ever made in my life. But it was difficult to let go of Freemasonry, especially given the relationships I’ve built in the last year with my fellow Masons.
I joined when I was away from the Church and I guess it was part of the quest we all have of finding the Truth which, as the Catechism says, is inherent to human nature. Having discarded the Church long ago and having decided that all other religions were bonkers (although I still believed in Jesus and God, the Trinity, etc.), I must have joined Freemasonry because I thought it could provide me with some sort of spiritual peace. I was wrong. Big time. After I reverted back to the Faith (which I have to say was also partly due to what is taught to every Mason, to value your own religion - so kudos to them for that), I came to realize that everything I needed was there in the Eucharist and in the Church. There was no need and no place for Freemasonry.
Hope this helps, please feel free to follow up on this.