Rite and rituals are frequently indifferently used words. A striking example of this confusion rests in the use of modern rite and ancient rite. Actually, in that case, one deals with rituals which are used in the three symbolic degrees of the Craft. The order of these three degrees has never been changed, yet some alterations in the content of each of them have taken place. The remark is also valid for the Emulation Rite which English masonry terms as Emulation working, a phrase which may be translated as a way of working, or better as style, a word nearer to ritual as rite.
The denominations French Rite, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Rectified Scottish Rite … are justified, insofar as they apply to a succession of degrees beyond that of Master.The difference rests in the fact that each degree is practised or worked thanks to a ritual, a ritual shaping the mason.
May one imagine some day to ask a candidate wishing to be made a mason which rite may best fit his personality ? Answering that question would previously imply that we had a profound grasp of the rite which we are working, but also in which way or ways it differs from those currently used in Europe. An interesting topic for research and reflexion for us all.
A brief bibliography
• 1804-2004 Two centuries of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in France, Editions Dervy, 2004.
• The Ancient and Accepet Scottish Rite : a historical retrospect, two centuries later, Colloque International, Sources, 31 août 2004.
• Pierre Noël, A Guide for Scots Masters. A Edinbourg 58.The blue degrees of the AASR : genesis and development, A l’Orient, 2006.
• Pierre Mollier, The Mason’s Regulator 1785/1801- The definite foundation of the French Rite degrees : history and documents, A l’Orient, 2006.
• Freemasonry : basic documents, L’Herne, 1992.