Last weekend I attended a Royal Arch Table Chapter, or Ritual of Seven Toasts as it is called by most. The Royal Arch is a Chapter of the York Rite Bodies of Freemasonry. A Table Chapter is a gathering of Royal Arch Companions, Family, Friends, and Guests; A fancy dinner accompanied by choreographed toasts of the wielders choice libation and presented in the honor of the stations of office within the organization. From the first hello of the evening, the night was great fun and full of memorable moments.
The cast of participants took their seats around 6:00 pm. The place settings were of reds and whites and the ware was in proper order. The entire dinner took place around a large horseshoe shaped table-setting so the guest could all see each other and converse across the room. A practice round and the first couple of toast came before salad.
The Ritual of Seven Toasts is performed using a Cannon glass. Essentially, it is a shot glass but with a thick heavy base, This Cannon provides a loud “crack” sound when contact is made with a wood table. Unlike a shot glass, which is more like a gun-shot, The heavier base glasses resembles more of cannon-fire.
Without going into much detail, as to not spoil the experience for future guests. The toast are much fun, and a joy to watch and be a part of. The master of ceremonies signals to the guests by three knocks to stand. He then announces who this toast will be dedicated to. At that point the “ritual” of the toast begins. With commanding direction from the master of ceremonies, the room goes through the same motions and words in presenting the toast. This part reminds is reminiscent of a Revolutionary war Artillery battery, with wording such as “Charge and align the cannons”. The toast culminates in the room slamming their cannon classes on the table all at the same time producing a large “crack” that sounds like cannon-fire”.
Main Course came, Prime Rib, Backed Potato, and Vegetables; this was dearly needed to pad our bellies for the additional toasts. Dinner was followed by dessert of Chocolate cake, which no one had room for, but everyone ate. Just to top the night off we capped it with some additional toasts. This lead to good conversation and a good pot of coffee.
Table chapter has become one of my favorite events in my Masonic journey. It is usually held twice a year before our spring and fall festivals where Master Masons become Royal Arch Masons. It has become a great way to expose Masons and family to different ways of spreading brotherly love.
If You ever get a chance to experience a Table Chapter or Table Lodge for that matter, you will not be disappointed.