The Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch, which is usually referred to as “Chapter”, is the completion of the journey of self-discovery that every Mason starts at his initiation. Sadly, some Master Masons never take this step and consequently miss out on a vital and enjoyable part of their Masonic life and education.
A long time ago, the Royal Arch ceremonies would be worked in a Craft Lodge. Following a major re-organisation of Freemasonry after the Union of the Grand Lodges in 1813, the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch was stated to be the completion of the Third Degree, but it is now more accurately described as the completion of the journey through “Pure, Antient Masonry”.
This is without doubt a most rewarding and enlightening step for a Master Mason to take, offering him the opportunity to fill the gaps left in Craft Masonry after the Third Degree and enabling him to continue his Masonic journey towards a spiritual conclusion.
In the degrees that you received in the Craft you were taught that Freemasonry is a system of morality and promoting brotherly love, relief and truth as a rule for what is your earthly pilgrimage.
The ceremony of Raising implies that there is more to learn, as it urges us to lift our eyes beyond our civil duties and routine existence. The Royal Arch develops this theme and teaches us that the true secrets of a Freemason are to be found within ourselves.
The close affinity of the Craft and the Royal Arch is further emphasised by the fact that nationally the Grand Master is automatically the First Grand Principal of Supreme Grand Chapter, equivalent to Grand Lodge, the Pro Grand Master is the Pro First Grand Principal, and the Grand Secretary is also the Secretary of the Royal Arch and he is called Grand Scribe Ezra.
The Royal Arch Regulations are detailed in the Book of Constitutions of Grand Lodge which you received at your initiation. Chapters meet less frequently than Lodges, typically three or four times a year. Also, both joining fees and annual dues are usually less than those in the Craft.