We learn while going through the first 3-degrees, the Craft degrees, you learn that Masonry is a progressive science taught by degrees only. In taking our degrees there is one thing you must remember, namely, the order in which events happen is seldom the order in which we learn about them.
In the degree of Entered Apprentice Mason, the candidate is introduced into the values, principles, tenets, and legend of Freemasonry. As a Fellow Craft Mason, one is taught that meetings are held in the Middle Chamber of King Solomon's Temple, and the journey accompanying your way there, and on the wages of a Mason. In the Master Mason degree, we are instructed in a great tragedy, the death of our Operative Grand Master, Hiram Abiff, prior to the completion of the Temple. Since the dawn of civilization it has been man’s desire to make his mark upon the world, to leave something lasting and permanent, for a part of him to survive long after he is gone. In the Mark Master degree, the candidate is taken back and represents a Fellow Craft during the construction of the Temple whose work is not appreciated at first, but later become the "chief stone" required to complete the Temple as seen in the Most Excellent Master degree.
I didn't place the Past Master (V) upon the timeline because in the American ritual it doesn't deal with any particular time, although I could have placed it after the Master Mason degree. The ceremony of the Most Excellent Master degree is a spectacular and unique degree as it is the only degree which brings to the candidate's attention the completion and the ceremonial dedication of the Temple. Going through the Royal Arch Mason degree you follow the tale of the Jews return from Babylonian captivity to Jerusalem and are ascending the summit of the original degrees of Craft Masonry (as prescribed by the Antient Lodges). The degree of Royal Master is split into 2 sections which cover two different time periods. The second section comes to us just after the Tragedy of the Third Degree and demonstrates the great loss felt by the other two Grand Master of Ancient Craft Masonry. The degree of Select Master takes reference from the Secret Vault discovered in the Royal Arch degree and concerns itself with how it was created. Leaving somewhat the legend of Ancient Craft Masonry, but also making reference to Royal Arch Masonry, the Super Excellent Master degree refers to circumstances that occurred during the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, commander of the Babylonian Army.
This degree is an honorary one, and a member of the Council not needing to have it in order to hold membership or office. A candidate of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross represents Zerrubabel and presents himself as a Royal Arch Mason to a Grand Council that just convened in Jerusalem to deliberate upon the unhappy condition of the country and which desires to find a means to secure the favor of King Darius in order to proceed with the rebuilding dealt with in the Royal Arch degree.
Historically, elements of this Order were practiced in Ancient Lodges before the final form of the Master Mason Degree came into use.
The first Christian order in Masonry is the Order of Malta which is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. The preparatory degree emphasizes the need of faith while the lessons of the Order express examples of love, mercy, and the unfearing and faithful martyrdom of Christianity. Like the Order of Malta, it is founded upon the principles enunciated in the New Testament teaching that Love is the great characteristic of those who would aspire to immortality. The Order of the Temple is one of the most impressive ceremonies in all of Masonry and is the true capstone of the American York Rite. It is curious to note that compared to the British Templars there is a slight militant zeal instead of being more allegorical, although the American ritual is more impressive with the emphasis being placed upon the solemnity and reverence associated with the Passions of Christ. The first portion of the Scottish Rite system of degrees is called The Lodge of Perfection.
The lesson of this degree is that of Faithfulness and Zealousness in that we should ever be careful not to offend a Brother Mason by prying into his personal business.
Impartiality, Equity and Justice are the lessons taught in this degree and more especially that justice should be tempered with mercy.
The principle lesson of this degree is to be cautious lest our zeal for a cause let us take matters into our own hands. The lesson in this degree is that fanaticism will never win out over justice and freedom - that the unerring eye of justice will discover the guilty and mete out fit punishment. To the Mason who receives this degree comes the lesson that the true and faithful Brother Mason will sooner or later reap his reward and that we must at all times be honest, earnest and sincere.

The lesson of the importance of virtue is taught in this degree with the ritual having been said to originated as a school of instruction for the builders of Solomon's Temple. This degree is said to be the Scottish Rite's version of the Royal Arch Degree found in the York Rite System.This degree is also the climax of the ineffible degrees and is a preparation for the "Degree of Perfection" which follows.
The lesson of this, the final degree of the Lodge of Perfection, teaches the Scottish Rite Mason how to prepare his own lodge of Perfection within himself. The successive degrees in Masonry picture events in the order we learn about them, not the chronological order in which they occurred. However doing so, we gain a better understanding of the degrees and everything they encompass. We learn that they held their meetings on the ground floor of King Solomon's Temple and were the bearer's of burden moving the crucial materials needed to erect this famous edifice. The lessons of this degree are the need for acquiring knowledge and education, charity, and obedience to the established rules of our Ancient Craft. The candidate is taught lessons of fidelity and the struggle against the enemies of Freemasonry: tyranny, ignorance, and fanaticism. Some have speculated that this degree deals with King Solomon's inspection of the Temple just after its completion and just prior to its dedication. As a candidate, led by a guide, you return to Jerusalem to find it in ruins, but you are informed that the Jews have been permitted to rebuild the city and the Temple.
The first section gives a dramatic understanding of the mindset of our Ancient and Operative Grand Master Hiram Abiff. To honor the memory of Hiram Abif, this degree was instituted, and through the efforts of the candidate he is admitted among those who may call themselves a Royal Master.This degree teaches lessons of patience, fortitude, and integrity.
The Secret Vault was created by the three Grand Masters and connects the events and myths surrounding the loss and hope of the future discovery of the Master's Word through the deposition of the Grand Master's secrets.
This degree is noteworthy for its scenes of the Jewish court of Zedekiah and the Chaldean court of Nebuchadnezzar. The degree requires the largest cast of characters of any of the degrees, and ends with a climax never to he forgotten. The candidate is guided to the Persian court and reminds the King of his promises to aid the Jews in their work.
It is still practiced in the full ceremonial form by the Knight Masons of Ireland and the Knight Masons of the United States, and as the Red Cross of Babylon in the English Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees. After passing through the preparatory degree of the Mediterranean Pass (which surrounds the story of Paul on the island of Malta from which this Order receives its name), the candidate solicits himself to become a member of the Order of Malta. Love which suffers long and is kind, Love which overcomes all hate and all difficulties and which will eventually, in a time we hope not too far distant, make of all mankind - Brothers.
The ritual pertains to the story of King Solomon's Temple and his appointment of seven worthy and expert Masons to guard the Sanctum Sanctorum as well as its sacred furniture. The ritual of the degree involves King Solomon saving the life of a supposed spy and eavesdropper. The ritual recounts how King Solomon appointed several judges to try the case of those accused of murdering the Grand Master Hiram Abiff.
Educating the orphan, comforting the sick and aged, and healing the distressed are duties to all Freemasons. The ritual is built around the story of how Solomon selected nine masons by lot to investigate a situation so that the offenders may properly be brought to justice. The ritual is a continuation of the degrees that recount the arrest and punishment of the assassins who murdered Hiram Abiff.
The ritual tells of the reward given to twelve of the fifteen who sought the prosecution of Hiram's murderers.
The lodge room represents the secret vault under the Sanctum Sanctorum where the pillar of beauty is found, on which was inscribed the four letter name of God. For instance, the Mark Master's Degree took place before those of the Master Mason's, but they were not presented to you in that order.

The lessons of this degree are Truth, love, charity, moderation, courage, prudence, and justice.
By the end of the degree the candidate learns the substitute for the Word that was Lost with the death of Hiram. The candidate is also taught to distinguish his work with a "mark" (an extremely old practice) and how to properly receive his wages which was previously discussed in the Fellow Craft degree. This degree is conferred because it was custom for only Past Masters to be exalted to the degree of Royal Arch Mason.
This degree compliments the degrees of Fellow Craft, Mark Master, and Master Mason, and completes the symbolic lessons introduced in each of those degrees in reference to the allegorical reference to building yourself as our operative ancestors built King Solomon's Temple. The candidate is charged with removing the rubbish of the ruined Temple in order to lay the foundation for the new one. As a candidate for this degree you represent Adoniram, a Fellow Craft, who having just finished creating a piece of the furniture that would be placed in the Sanctum Sanctorum, seeks further light and implores Hiram, asking him when he will become a Master Mason. The lessons of this degree are devotion, zeal, and overlooking the failings of those who through ignorance or curiosity may often overstep the bounds of propriety.
It represents the final destruction of King Solomon's Temple and the carrying away of the Jews to Babylonian captivity. This ceremony teaches the history of the Maltese Order as inheritors of the crusading Knights Hospitaller. As a trial of his worthiness there is enjoined upon him 7-years of preparation beginning with a time of unarmed pilgrimage and then warfare. Ineffable comes from the Latin ineffibilis which means something that should not be spoken. It further teaches that honesty and trustworthiness are the cornerstone of the foundation of Masonic honor. The ritual of this degree tells of how, due to the death of Hiram Abiff, labor temporarily ceased on the Temple of Solomon. The degree you are about to receive pictures events that happened prior to and after the Tragedy of the Third Degree, and we would have you notice how well they fill in the gaps in our knowledge of that Tragedy and its meaning. This degree does not confer the title of Past Master upon a candidate, but only upholds ancient custom.
A Secret Vault is discovered which leads to discovering many artifacts that leads to the eventual discovery of the True Master Masons Word as promised in the Master Mason degree. Hiram in turns imparts to the candidate the sublime teachings of useful labor on Earth and a worthy end of life, noting that he may never receive the Secrets of a Master Mason.
After serving a majority of his time, he seeks admission, but he is commanded to devote the remaining year to penance as a trial of faith and humility. King Solomon in order to move forward appointend five superintendants - one for each of the departments of architecture. This degree teaches lessons important to being Worshipful Master particularly those of justice and harmony. This degree teaches lessons of service, undaunted fortitude, fervency, zeal, and the triumph of Truth over all forms of ignorance and tyranny. In my opinion this is one of the most beautiful and impressive monologues within Freemasonry.
The lessons taught encourage the constant search for Truth, and emphasize the importance of Liberty and Justice with a right to worship Deity under whatever name he may be called. Many beautiful lessons are given during this ceremony such reminding of us of the mortality of this body, the glorious immortality for those faithful followers, reverence, self-sacrifice, and reminders to Him who suffered upon the Cross are inculcated. Once proven worthy the candidate is admitted a Sir Knight of the Valiant and Magnanimous Order of the Temple.

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