Why does Freemasonry say it is a "ritual" practice?

The use of the word ritual is in describing the rhythmic practice of the same ceremony at each occasion. Often there is a connotation of something sinister or counter to popular practice, but to the contrary, it is meant to imply that the degrees are an established or prescribed procedure to convey the knowledge of the Fraternity in a repetition.

What this means is that the same ceremony is practiced with each aspirant into the fraternal fold so that each man undergoes the same experience creating a unifying shared experience.