I have often wondered the reasons why the Scottish Rite, one of the most complex, complete and fascinating initiatic systems of the Western tradition, is often compressed in a single two- or three day-Reunion in all, or most, to the best of my knowledge, Valleys in the United States. At a time when it was required to be a York or Scottish Rite Mason to be admitted into the Shrine, this probably made sense, although it deprived the Scottish Rite of part of the effectiveness of its ritual. This is not so anymore. Free from the constraints of allowing Masons to rush through its degrees, I believe it would greatly benefit the Scottish Rite and probably the whole of Freemasonry, if candidates were allowed to go through the degrees more gradually.
Freemasons in American Valleys have the rare chance of watching the degree work staged in beautiful halls and auditoriums and rendered with exquisite magnificence, costumes and scenography. I believe American Masons deserve more time to savor the Scottish Rite degrees and to better understand the lessons they heard during the Reunions. I know I would have wanted to be granted more time, when I was initiated to the SR in the US. I needed more time before passing on to the following degree. The amount of teachings that candidates are confronted with is so big that it is doubtful that they can retain everything they are presented. Would it not be better, for instance, to be conferred the degree of Secret Master during the first Reunion, to let the masonic path of the Scottish Rite commence with the gravity it deserves, without rushing?Then, at the following Reunions, maybe at intervals of at least one year, the degrees of Perfect Elu, Knight of Roise Croix, Knight of Kadosh and Master of the Royal Secret could be conferred, so to respectively complete the Lodge of Perfection, the Chapter, the Council and the Consistory. Actually, this is similar to what our brethren in my home country, Italy, do. I think it makes sense. I do not think many Masons would object to this new modus-operandi, because it would allow them to discover a wealth of new degrees that are usually just rushed through. It would allow them to attend meetings in the Lodge of Perfection, in the Chapter, the Council, the Consistory, and display their regalia. It would increase attendance to the SR Reunions, because whole classes would come back to receive the following degrees. It would make the study of the SR ritual and teachings easier, because it would be gradual, slower.
Besides, Masons are Traveling Men, and the goal of Freemasonry is to improve men, to make good men better by letting them progress, step by step, degree after degree, along a masonic path of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Isn’t Freemasonry a journey? Why shorten it, then? By making it quicker we are not helping Freemasonry to achieve its goal, we are actually risking to hinder it and not fully appreciate its power. I think the Scottish Rite has the potential to help generate membership to Freemasonry, but this potential must be unleashed. The Scottish Rite can be on of the brightest gems of Freemasonry, and the power of its ritual could lead the way to attract new members to our Institution. However, as long as it is reined in by the constraints of short Reunions, I am afraid it will just be a shimmer in darker skies.