By Christopher Brenton (NC State)
The Ritual; the most sacred tradition of our Fraternity. For our brothers, The Ritual serves an important role of reminding each one of us of our oath and obligations to our fraternal brotherhood. When recited, The Ritual renews our sense of purpose and calls us to action, to carry out the values of Love, Honor, and Truth. As this week is National Ritual Celebration Week, think about how you and your chapter can elevate the reverence of our Ritual. Below are 5 examples of ways you can take Ritual to the next level.
1. Clean and Maintain Ritual Items
Contrary to popular belief, the items most strongly associated with our fraternity’s ritual ceremonies – – the sword, the bible, and robes – – are not secret. These items require spoken words of The Ritual ceremonies to provide their significance and give context. That being said, it is important to make sure that The Ritual materials are properly stored and maintained. Replacement of items when they have become tattered, worn, or rusted is recommended. When necessary, robes, linens, and station covers should be dry cleaned. All items should be stored in a manner that protects the items from damage and preserves their reverence.
2. Keep Inventory of All Important Ritual Items
Chapters should be mindful of completing ritual inventories before and after each ceremony to ensure preparation for next use. Ritual sets a tone for our meetings and should exist as a sacred and special time for our members. Distractions such as poor preparation, missing items, and neglect take away from our ability to focus on the message The Ritual offers us about the purpose of our organization. The responsibility for taking inventory of ritual items should be left with the chapter’s Chaplain.
3. Respect Your Ritual Books
According to Article Five, Section 3.1 of The Law of Sigma Nu Fraternity Inc. –“(3.1) All copies of The Ritual shall remain the property of the Grand Chapter. Making or having unauthorized copy of The Ritual shall be an offense punishable by Expulsion from the Fraternity.”
Every chapter has been provided five copies of The Ritual, one for each ceremonial officer position; Commander, Lt. Commander, Chaplain, Marshal, and Sentinel. No chapter is provided with more than five copies and the copies are considered on loan from the Grand Chapter. This means that copies of The Ritual were issued to your chapter and only to your chapter. Unless special permission is granted from the Regent, chapters are not permitted to loan or makes copies of The Ritual.
If your chapter has less than five copies, the books have been damaged, or the formula cards are missing, notify the General Fraternity and request replacements. Additionally, avoid writing in or making alterations to the text. The words of The Ritual have been written with great purpose and meaning; alterations lessen the message and take away from the consistency of our message. Words from the formula card should not be added to the book. The Ritual and key remain separate for a reason; to preserve what matters most to our Fraternity.
4. Practice and Perform the Affirmation of Knighthood and Funeral Ritual
Two of the Fraternity’s most underappreciated and often forgotten traditions are the Affirmation of Knighthood and Funeral Ritual ceremonies. Affirmation of Knighthood is a bridge between the collegiate and alumni chapter and is a graduation ceremony for brothers completing their undergraduate careers. During the ceremony, graduating brothers can be presented with an alumni lapel pin as a memento commemorating their time in the undergraduate chapter. The ceremony creates an opportunity for discussion with your senior members about how they can remain engaged and loyal alumni even after they have entered the next phase of their lives.
The Funeral Ritual is the Fraternity’s only public ritual. This ritual is used in memoriam of the passing of a brother into Chapter Eternal. The Law gives special permission to brothers to drape their badges with black ribbon during this time.
5. Dig Deeper Into Our Ritual with the Five Objects of Sigma Nu
One of the threads that connects all of The Ritual’s ceremonies together are the Five Objects of Sigma Nu. Introduced during the Candidate Ceremony, these objects are foundational to our organization and speak with great instruction about how each member (candidates, brothers, and Knights) is expected to act in alignment with the values of our Fraternity.
If your chapter hasn’t already started making this a part of your conversation about ritual and member accountability, begin immediately. You will be glad you did.
Christopher Brenton is a 2012 graduate of North Carolina State University where he majored in marketing. He is currently serving as a leadership consultant for the General Fraternity Staff.