Knights of York Cross of Honour
Initiation Ritual


Opening Ceremony

Knights, we are about to open a Priory of Knights of the York Cross of Honour. Let us assure ourselves that our Priory is free from intrusion. Knight Herald, ascertain that all present are Knights of the York Cross of Honour.
HERALD, closes all doors and receives the word of the Order: Gennesaret, from all present excluding the Prior, and returns to his station:
Em. Prior, all present have been in the "Garden of the Kings".
PRIOR: It is well.
This portion of the Opening Ceremony may be altered to comply with Blue Lodge custom in the Jurisdiction in which the Priory is located.
PRIOR, ***:
Knight Prelate, you will lead us in prayer.
Knights go on the sign by crossing arms high on breast, right over left, fingers extended.
PRELATE, advances to altar:
O Thou S.A.O.T.U., we beseech Thee to cast Thy love and protection over this Priory, Grant unto us the light of Thy grace, that we may continue to practice peace and charity, and to love our brethren as ourselves. In spire us with a portion of Thy sublime perfection, that it may tend to Thy honor. to Thy glory, and to the benefit of all humanity. Amen.
Knight Herald, unfold the Sacred book of the Law and attend at the Altar.
HERALD, goes to the altar; lights candles, one on each corner of Altar; Places Sword directly on the Altar to the right of the Bible when facing West, with point toward the West and Gavel to the left of Bible, with handle toward the East. He then salutes the Prior by crossing arms on breast, right over left, fingers extended and bowing slightly, says:
Em. Prior, we are in the "Garden of the Kings".
It is well. In the name of the S.A.O.T.U., and by virtue of the authority in me vested by Convent General. I declare … Priory No … Knights of the York Cross of Honour open.
PRIOR: Pledge of Allegiance, (Universal Pledge suggested).


Ceremony of Reception

Knight Registrar, are there any candidates duly elected, waiting to be received into this Priory?
There are, Em. Prior,
Knights, by your regular ballot you have elected several leaders or if one: "a leader" of the Craft to membership in this Priory of Knights of the York Cross of Honour. Since there has been no objection, we shall proceed with the Ceremony of Reception. Knight Herald, you will present before our altar those who have been regularly elected to this high honor.
Herald goes without, returns with candidates, conducts them about four paces West of the altar facing East.
HERALD, gives sign:
Em. Prior, I present several leaders of Freemasonry who have complied with our regulations by having presided over a Lodge, a Chapter, a Council. and a Commandery. They desire membership in this Order, and present themselves for such investiture as our statutes and by-laws provide.
Our rite of Freemasonry offers no superlative degree to those who labor in its vineyards, but one of its highest rewards is the satisfaction that comes to those who labor for the love of our great fraternity, that labor which makes us all equals, and which tends to promote universal brotherhood: a brotherhood which requires only that we meet together, partake of bread with each other, and work in harmony for the good of Freemasonry.
Your past behavior and regular deportment. your present Masonic standing, and the recommendation of your brethren make it unnecessary for you to take any obligation, make any pledge, or assume any vow.
The first lesson taught us in Freemasonry was to ask the aid of Almighty God in all our laudable undertakings. In conformity with that custom. I shall ask our Knight Prelate to offer a prayer. ***. All Knights rise and go on sign.
Great God of Nature, look with love on the work of this Priory and upon the Knights about to be united with us. Let Thy Holy Power permeate their hearts. that they may ever practice honor and patriotism. doing unto others as they would be done by. and thus promote peace and charity toward all mankind. Amen.
PRIOR, *. Knights and Candidates are seated.
Knights. to the student of our ancient and honorable Craft, nothing is more striking and significant that the gradual stages by which it~ members are led from the practice of moral truth and virtue, through the investigation of hidden mysteries of nature and science, to a knowledge of ourselves and a contemplation of Eternity.
Let us then contemplate, step by step. those gradations by which we have arrived at York Cross. Knigthood. You will give your attention to our lectures under the direction of the Orator.
Knights, the lecture of the Symbolic Lodge will be delivered by Knight ... Lecturer takes station.
The Chapter lecture will be delivered by Knight … Lecturer takes station.
The Council lecture will be delivered by Knight … Lecturer takes station.
The Commandery or Preceptory lecture will he delivered by Knight … Lecturer takes station
KNIGHT representing the LODGE, rises:
Freemasonry is the heir to the wisdom of the ancient mysteries, and has continued the method of teaching by symbol and by allegory. We are assured at the very entrance to our mysteries;
"Freemasonry is a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols."
Unfortunately, many fail to understand the allegory, and few study its beautiful symbols. Our ancestors, who fully understand the teachings of the mysteries, were compelled to conceal them through the use of symbols. The hierarchies which controlled the religious teaching of the day, persecuted all who taught other than the prescribed standards of religion, and punished those who dared to disagree.
Knowledge can only be acquired through study and experience. There is no short cut to Masonic knowledge. Basic instruction is given every Freemason in the three degrees of the Lodge. Here we are taught that we are building a spiritual temple. that in doing so, designs must be drawn upon a spiritual trestleboard in accordance with laws laid down by the Master Architect.
We are taught that this temple. to withstand the attack of forces which would destroy it, must be formed of stones which are true, sound, and perfect. These stones represent our lives, perfect lives, which alone can complete a perfect spiritual temple.
King Solomon’s Temple was a perfect material temple. but it was destroyed. ‘So also, may the spiritual temple. which we plan to erect be destroyed. So also, may the spiritual temple, which we plan to erect be destroyed by the use of untempered mortar. But we know if it is erected in accordance with the plans laid down by the Great Architect, it shall never crumble nor decay, but will become our everlasting temple of future life.
We are taught we must have respect for education, for the arts and sciences: that we shall be rewarded for our labor. not necessarily with the legendary "corn, wine, and oil", but in that satisfaction which comes with a service well performed. Finally, we are taught how to die. We are taught to look on death as a natural act, a climax to the present life, and not to be feared any more than one fears birth. THERE IS NO DEATH.
Goes to the altar; holds aloft No. 1 Light, says:
This light symbolizes the Lodge, the great mother of all Freemasonry, to whom every Knight of the York Cross of Honour owes allegiance.
KNIGHT representing the CHAPTER, rises:
"Ancient Masonry consists of four degrees, the first three of which are those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellowcraft, and the sublime degree of Master Mason; and a brother, being well versed in these degrees, is eligible to be admitted to the forth degree, the Holy Royal Arch,". So states one of our most ancient manuscripts. Another tells us, "The Royal Arch Degree has always been considered more august, sublime and important than those which preceded it. and is the very summit of perfection in Ancient Masonry".
The series of degrees, known as the Capitular Degrees, opens a new vista in Freemasonry. [t is replete with powers of the human intellect and human heart; it is properly termed "the capstone of Freemasonry". Here we are taught to use all we have learned in symbolic Masonry to demonstrate that we are prepared to stand the test of the Grand Overseer’s square. IF we are indeed prepared, we shall be rewarded by receiving the long lost Master’s Word - the four letters which denote the name of the one true and living God --the name indicated in the earliest known Masonic ritual by these words:
"To the end of the earth we desired His Holy Name to be carried and to unborn generations of man transmitted forever. What then could be more appropriate as a reward to those who assisted in erecting a House to His glory, than the true Name of the Great Creator, a name revealed by God Himself?"
Noble work for God and humanity: today, as surely as when those words were written receives the blessing of the Almighty without fail. In the midst of life’s troubles and trials, may we once again hear the words of the Prophet.
"Yet now be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: For I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts."
So may we be urged to a fresh endeavor, inspired with new courage. with glorious hope, and exultant optimism. Let us as Royal Arch Masons, in the words of another ancient ritual,
"So write it that no man can pronounce it, but he who receiveth it from living lips."
Let us preserve through the ages, this great Masonic heritage.
Goes to Altar, holds aloft No. 2 Light, and says:
This Light symbolizes the Chapter; where the true word of a Master Mason was re-discovered and restored to the Craft.
Returns to his station, salutes Prior and is seated.
KNIGHT representing the COUNCIL, rises:
The Cryptic Rite offers a complete explanation of those things not revealed in the preceding degrees. They are the degrees of "Preservation", showing that the Divine Plan will never permit the destruction of the great truths of life. When all else has been destroyed, those immortal Truths, which men most revere, will be deposited in a safe and secure place, buried deep in the hearts of men. Although they may be forgotten for a time, yet in due time, if we persevere in the paths of truth and righteousness, they will be rediscovered, and bloom again in the lives of the faithful.
The novitiate is here taught to look to that higher lodge to which we are all advancing. to the Adoration of the Twelfth hour─that hour when we shall all be at refreshment─where men cease from their labor and worship only the Eternal One.
Here we are taught never to let idle curiosity or disobedience enter our lives; that the faithful will ultimately find their reward by being admitted into a closer association with the select. There the craftsman will no longer labor; there he will receive the rewards of a well-spent life, which is promised to all who labor in behalf of humanity.
Finally, we see the speculative Mason, Adoniram. who has been laboring to erect his concept of a spiritual temple, sensing the time when it would be completed, coming to the Master Workman to seek his wages, a more complete knowledge of God. But he finds only that his was a Temple of material life which must be destroyed by death. in order that the Temple of his future life might be erected on its foundation.
Happy indeed will be those who join in the great circle of Perfection. formed by those who have had a part in the preservation of the Great and Holy Name.
Goes to altar, holds aloft No. 3 Light, and says:

This Light symbolizes the Council, which preserved the long lost Master’s Word for future generations.
Returns to his station. Salutes Prior and is seated.
KNIGHT representing the PRECEPTORY / COMMANDERY, rises:
In the beginning, during the formative years organized Freemasonry in its Symbolic Degrees did not require more than a belief in the one God, a teaching which came down to us through the Hebrew race and the Jewish religion.
However, as speculative Freemasonry began to attain a wider scope in the succeeding centuries, and as Christianity became more and more a dominant factor in human events, a need was felt for a Masonic organization distinctly Christian in character. What could have been more appropriate than an organization founded upon the glorious history of the chivalric Knights of the Temple, the Crusaders of old who fought so valiantly in the defense of Christianity.
To preserve what we as Christians, regard as the true teaching, the original design of the fraternity has been embodied in what we today term "Commanderies" or "Preceptories" of Knights Templar. Here, in the final ceremony of the York Rite, we are taught that we as Templars are the true followers in the faith of Jesus the Christ.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of Grace and Truth."
Here at last, we come closest to the light of Truth. in search of which the human race has struggled upward and onward through the mists of error. doubt, and fear for endless centuries, world without end.
May it be given you to assist, as a Knight of the York Cross of Honour, in preserving the teachings. the customs, and the reputation of the Order, proving to the world at large you are a true Knight. that you have faithfully borne the Cross with your honor unsullied.
Goes to Altar; holds aloft No. 4 Light, and says:
This Light symbolizes the Commandery or Preceptory, which translated the Word into living flesh, and brought to us the message of eternal salvation.
Returns to his station. Salutes Prior and is seated.
The Herald reconducts the candidates to the altar; facing East.
You will kneel before the altar.
Prior advances to altar takes up sword, passes to the first line of candidates, room being left for him to pass between altar and the line. He touches each candidate with sword, first on head,
then on left shoulder and finally on right shoulder Each must be dubbed separately.
I dub you a Knight of the York Cross of Honour. May you ever prove a true Knight and walk uprightly in the sight of God. You will arise.
After dubbing each Knight separately Prior returns to the east side of altar; and continues.
The Sign of a Knight of the York Cross of Honour is given by crossing the arms on the chest, right arm over the left, accompanied by a slight bow. Demonstrates With fingers extended, place both hands flat, high on shoulders, thus forming a cross. This sign should be given when addressing or being addressed by the Em. Prior, and upon entering or retiring from a Priory of Knights of the York Cross of Honour.
DEP. PRIOR: The Jewel of the Order consists of a Greek Cross of blue, imposed upon a crossed gavel and sword, all enclosed within a
golden circle. This Jewel may be worn ONLY by a Prior or Past Prior.
The Cross reminds us that it is the symbol of sacrifice: that sacrifice which all must make if we wish to attain everlasting life.
The Gavel and the Sword remind us of the emblems of authority with which you were once intrusted, and upon which your right to the York Cross of Honour is based.
The Golden Circle, symbol of perfection, represents the unbroken friendship of those Knights who surround you here.
In the center of the Cross is the letter "G", the greatest symbol in all Freemasonry, which is suspended in the East of every Lodge as a symbol of the honor and respect we owe to Him who created us and the whole world. The rays from this radiant "G" are symbolic of the rays of Light, Truth, and Love which emanate from Him.
The letter "G" as a lesser symbol, represents the word of recognition of this Order, Gennesaret, meaning "The Garden of the Kings". It is the name of a region on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. It is a fertile spot, with a peculiar spring of water in the center. The cooling waters of the spring symbolize the refreshment of spirit you will always find in the company of the Knights of this Order.
Knights, the York Cross of Honour has brought to you the Alpha and Omega of Ancient Craft Freemasonry. In your everyday life, may you exemplify the teaching of our Order, and prove to all men the value of our Masonic Knighthood.
The requirements for membership in a Priory of Knights of the York Cross of Honour are higher than those of any other Masonically affiliated organization. The only entrance is through the door marked SERVICE. (rev. 79)
Finally, never forget that Freemasonry has been most generous in bestowing upon all of us the highest honor in all the bodies of the York Rite. This has placed upon each of us a debt of gratitude which we should endeavor to repay by continued readiness to serve.
And now you are entitled to the Crown which has been chosen as the General Emblem of the Order.
Here the Crown is introduced by the Warder.
It is the accepted emblem as evidence of our membership, and may be worn by all our members as a decoration.
It is a symbol of victory, but bear in mind that he is twice a conqueror who conquers himself in the moment of victory. Know thyself, conquer thyself. Thus you will retain the Crown, and immortality shall be yours.
Knights, this concludes our Ceremony of Reception as a Knight of the York Cross of Honour. Knight Herald, you will make the proclamation.
Knights. attention! All rise. By virtue of the authority in me vested by the Convent General. Knights of the York Cross of Honour, I hereby proclaim Knights …, duly elevated to the rank and distinction of Knights of the York Cross of Honour, calling upon all Knights of the Order to recognize them as such, and to welcome them into the Order.
Here the Knights form a line and greet the new candidates.
Knights be seated.
Appropriate music may be employed while the new Knights are being welcomed. It is suggested that a fitting ending of the Ceremony might be accomplished by presenting each new Knight with a lapel button or a Crown suspended from a neck ribbon.


Closing Ceremony

Knights, we are about to close this Priory. Knight Deputy Prior, what is the Hour?
DEPUTY PRIOR, gives sign:
It is the hour for retirement.
Knights, go forth purified by the lessons of light, reason and truth which we have received, that we may aid humanity to eradicate ignorance, intolerance, and superstition. Let us assemble about the sacred altar for our devotions.
All advance and form a circle about the altar Prelate kneels at altar; and each Knight goes on the sign of the Order.
Eternal Jehovah. whose name we revere, we thank Thee for the favors thou hast bestowed upon this Priory. Continue we beseech Thee, to bless all those who assist in the formation of the mystic chain of universal brotherhood, so that the light of Freemasonry may dispel the darkness of error. Grant that our beloved institution may ever be the means of benefiting humanity. Amen.
PRIOR, returns to his station; the others remain about the altar:
Knight Herald, attend at the altar.
HERALD, salutes …, goes to altar, gives sign, closes Bible, extinguishes the Lights, and says:
Em. Prior, we have passed from "The Garden of the Kings".
It is well. In the name of the S.A.O.T.U., and by virtue of the authority in me vested by Convent General, I declare … Priory No … Knights of the York Cross of Honour closed.