Masonic Glossary – Regular

… May all our irregular passions be subdued…

The words regular and irregular, or variations of them appear throughout Masonic ritual, grand lodge codes and laws, in our charges, and in our obligations. “…a regularly constituted lodge…,” “…us and all regular Masons…,” “… May all our irregular passions be subdued…,” “… regularly developed and illustrated …,” “… your past regular deportment …,” “… correct the irregularities of your less-informed brethren…” (all of these references are monitorial in my jurisdiction).

I know that prior to looking into it recently, I had never been familiar with any use of the words besides the more contemporary definition – that of being common, routine or normal, or of happening on a routine interval.

… regularly developed and illustrated …

In Freemasonry, regularity refers to following the rules. Regularity is a concept often used in discussions about the relationships between grand lodges. Freemasons for Dummies by Brother Hodapp has a great introduction to masonic regularity and recognition beginning on page 108. In short, lodges or grand lodges are said to be “regular” if they were constituted according to (and still follow) the rules followed by the grand lodge declaring them as such.

This idea is further explained by the entry for “regular” in An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Vol II by Albert Mackey

Regular – A Lodge working under the legal authority of a Warrant of Constitution is said to be regular. The word was first used in 1723, in the first edition of Anderson’s Constitutions. In the eighth General Regulation published in that work it is said: “If any set or number of Masons shall take upon themselves to form a Lodge without the Grand Master’s Warrant, the regular Lodges are not to countenance them.” Ragon says (orthod. Mac., 72) that the word was first heard of in French Masonry in 1773, when an edict of the Grand Orient thus defined it: “A Regular Lodge is a Lodge attached to the Grand Orient, and a regular Mason is a member of a regular Lodge.”

Looking at the etymology of the word regular, we find that it comes from the Latin word regularis – “containing rules for guidance,” or regula – “rule, straight piece of wood.” From these we learn that it refers to the rules themselves, but also eludes to a straight edge, which is an interesting allusion given the uses a straight edge has in geometrical constructions with the compasses. Indeed, those two concepts are also related

So, the concept of Masonic regularity can be best said to mean “in conformance with the rules,” both when in reference to the relationship between grand lodges, and in other contexts, such as in how we are to conduct ourselves, according to the rules of Freemasonry, of society, of our faith community, or by other relevant standards.

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