An "Executive Order" is an order given by the Grand Master directing a Lodge and/or the Brethren to follow instructions as contained within the Executive Order. It has the effect of Masonic law and is effective for the Grand Master's term in office.
A "Proclamation" is issued by a Grand Master and proclaims ("makes an announcement to the Craft") the Grand Master's wishes or instructions to the Craft. It also has the effect of Masonic law and is effective only for the Grand Master's term in office.
A "Dispensation" is basically written permission from the Grand Master for a Brother and/or a Lodge to do something that is otherwise prohibited by Masonic law. Dispensations are issued for a specific purpose and time as defined within the document itself. These actions are applied for prior to the event for which the dispensation is sought. Some events require a Dispensation and are defined in the various sections of the Virginia Methodical Digest. Dispensations may, in some instances, extend beyond a Grand Master's term in office.
"Grand Master's Decisions" are decisions made by the Grand Master on a case-by-case basis that heal violations of Masonic law or set aside Masonic law for a specific instance only. Decisions may also result in an action being taken against a Lodge and/or a Brother when the Grand Master decides that such action is necessary. Decisions are similar to dispensations; however, the act warranting the decision has already occurred and requires the action of the Grand Master. If approved by the delegates at the following Grand Annual Communication, the decision will become part of Virginia Masonic law and is placed in the Methodical Digest.
"Official Acts" of the Grand Master are essentially decisions that he has made throughout his term in office, which do not involve violations of Masonic law, or that the Grand Master feels should not become a part of Masonic law. These do not become a part of Masonic law even if the delegates approve the Committee on Past Grand Masters’ report on the Grand Master’s Address. These measures are one-time only acts by the Grand Master on a case-by-case basis.
An "Edict" is a rule of action taken by the Grand Master. Edicts govern our conduct the same way as Masonic law. An edict is valid only for the term of office of the issuing Grand Master, unless approved by the delegates at the following Grand Annual Communication. If approved, it becomes a part of Masonic law and will become part of the Methodical Digest. (Effective until the law is changed by action of another Grand Master or action taken at another Grand Annual Communication.)