Friday, June 1, 2012

The French Rite in Ireland

In Ireland, the French Rite is worked by Voltaire Lodge No. 2 of the Grand Orient of Ireland. The lodge is the most multicultural and multilingual lodge in Ireland and puts an emphasis on the support of art and culture.

The Grand Lodge of Ireland notes that the French Rite is linked to the birth of Freemasonry in France and was established in France in 1786.

Scottish and Irish exiles brought the rite to France and this was little by little passed on to the French Rite. Though this form is no longer known as the French Rite, it sometimes takes that name to distinguish it from the Scottish Rites from which it was initially formed, paralleling the development of rituals in the first German lodges.

In order to guarantee that French Freemasonry would have a national dimension, the Grand Orient de France organised the standardisation of "Modern" rites from 1782 onwards, and in 1785 the model was formed for the first three degrees in a "blue lodge".

It was not until 1801 that the Grand Orient de France printed the rules of this rite under the title Régulateur du Maçon, containing several additions and amendments to the former version, which had circulated from lodge to lodge in discrete manuscript form. The Rite underwent several further reforms, and in 1858 the "Murat French Rite" (returning to the foundations of the Constitutions of Anderson without making lasting change to the rite) imposed itself.

As well as the sub-rites already mentioned, there is also a "French Rite of 1801".

After the Great Schism of 1877, the Grand College of Rites of the Grand Orient de France decided a new reform. This took place in 1879 and removed from the French Rite any religious connotations.

An 1886 commission headed byLouis Aimable concluded an adogmatic form of the rite, - after this date the rite is known as the "Aimable French Rite". It underwent less important reforms in 1907, and then remained unchanged until 1938.

In that year Arthur Groussier (Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France began a new reform initiative in an attempt to return the rite to its roots after additions and amendments, which had rendered it hard-to-understand and soulless. The final version - known as the "Groussier French Rite" - was completed in 1955 under the authority of Paul Chevalier.

In the 1960s and 70s, several masons such as René Guilly - sought the original essence of the French Rite and made a new attempt to reanimate its initiatory and symbolic character. René Guilly was the prime force behind the creation of a chapter of the Traditional French Rite, a chapter which still exists today within the National French Lodge. In 1974, another chapter was formed in Paris on the instigation of a member of the Traditional and Symbolic Grand Lodge of the Opéra. Through its offshoots, the latter led to the creation of a sovereign college of the Traditional French Rite, within a multi-jurisdiction framework.

Other masons' research led them to Brazil and it was the Supreme Council of the Modern Rite for Brazil which finally accorded them a patent to establish a French Grand Chapter in 1989. This was a re-birth of the "Re-established Modern French Rite" after 150 years' absence, under the name "Traditional French Rite" and purging all later or external additions, modifications and influences. This makes it the closest rite to that practiced in France in the second half of the 18th century.

The French Rite is often felt to be the most 'lay' rite of Freemasonry practiced within the Grand Orient de France. , which removed such traditional elements as the Volume of the Sacred Law and all mention of the Grand Architect of the Universe from the rite.

The Grand Orient of Ireland states that this Masonic system, which, in contrast to the existing conservative system, is an open, liberal, adogmatic, republican system and open for men and women, was founded by Irish freemasons, who saw a need for drastic reform of a stagnating system in their country.

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