Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mormon Temple Tour: The Sacred Space

The temple is symbolic; and though symbols represent something, they are not the thing. All activity in its walls are in preparation for spiritual rejuvenation and the final judgement. For instance, when saluting a flag the person doesn't show importance to that flag, but the values of the represented nation. Its a gesture that in and of itself is worthless. If someone is memorizing the symbols, but not internalizing the message, then it won’t help in the end. The covenants made and the living of them in faith by enduring to the end of mortality is what matters.

At the time Jesus Christ hung on the cross, it is reported that the temple veil in Jerusalem was torn from top to bottom. The three reports have some differences in the account, but each ties the death of Jesus in with the event. Mark places the event (Mark 15:38) between Jesus dying and a centurion noticing his passing with astonishment. Luke thinks of it (Luke 23:45) as part of a bad omen for the living right before Jesus gives up his life. Matthew shares with both of them (Matthew 27:51), but adds his own importance to the torn curtain. He describes how bodies of the Saints came out of graves and showed themselves to others still alive. The message seemed to be in all these accounts that the line between this world and the next would no longer be restricted to a priestly few. The Atonement of Jesus Christ had opened contact for both men and woman to the Holy. It is this passage from the mortal to the immortal and blessed state of rest that the final room represents in the endowment. It is a place where the Holy Spirit can be felt the strongest.

Vancouver British Columbia Temple - Celestial Room
Kansas City Missouri Temple - Celestial Room
 It is in what is called the Celestial Room that full attention to personal prayer, contemplation, and revelation can take place. How long a person wishes to stay and soak up what has taken place before is up to each individual. A reverence with whispers and silence is maintained out of the sacred nature of the place. Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy Explained, "Sacred means worthy of veneration and respect. By designating something as sacred, the Lord signals that it is of higher value and priority than other things. Sacred things are to be treated with more care, given greater deference, and regarded with deeper reverence. Sacred ranks high in the hierarchy of heavenly values."

Mormons aren't the only ones to notice the importance of this room and its symbolism. One Catholic visitor on an open tour stated, "The room is simple, but it's simplicity is so clearly a glimpse at heaven . . . The way members describe the feelings, emotions and peace they find in the celestial room, is the same that a Catholic would describe an Adoration Chapel: full of the presence of God, a glimpse of heaven."

In the process of going through the Temple, a member will receive a garment that is worn under everyday clothing. The wearing of it at all times within reason is a reminder of the sacred covenants made inside the temple to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Some may claim the belief of protective qualities, but its expressed purpose is spiritual. Elder Carlos E. Asay of the Quorum of the Seventy, said:

. . . Prior to their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were clad in sacred clothing. We read: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21).
They received this clothing in a context of instruction on the Atonement, sacrifice, repentance, and forgiveness (see Moses 5:5–8, Pearl of Great Price). The temple garment given to Latter-day Saints is provided in a similar context. It is given to remind wearers of the continuing need for repentance, the need to honor binding covenants made in the house of the Lord, and the need to cherish and share virtue in our daily living so that promised blessings may be claimed.
The end of the temple activity is only the beginning of our struggles to maintain lives of faithful service. Promises of eternity are given with the covenants made. Nothing is assured until, "brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet . . . before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead" (Moroni 10:34, Book of Mormon).

Next will be the final installment where the importance of family relationships, Exaltation, and the dead are discussed.


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Bodex said...

This is lovely! keep it up.