Tuesday, August 21, 2012


A ritual is meant to be sacred. It comes from the word “rite”.  A rite is an established, ceremonious, religious observance.  There is a danger in today’s world, that what was once a sacred ritual now becomes routine.  Ancient rituals created a new person. The symbolism of the ceremony is to reject the old and become the new.  Rituals are part of most of the world’s major religions. Our Latter-day Saint Sunday Services are among the least ritualistic. However, our LDS temple rites are very ritualistic. Three important elements associated with a ritual is the preparation for, the participation in, and the recording or remembering of the ritual.  

One of the primary temple rituals is the endowment ceremony. It is symbolic of the process of how one pierces the veil and enters into the presence of God. Even though our scriptures are full of accounts of fallible men where this experience has happened while in mortality, most think that this is to happen after we die. In the book, Signs of Life by Scott Hahn, There is a chapter about the “presence of God” and it briefly discussed the Temple. It says that:

 "It (the temple) was the divinely ordained place of God's presence. It was the one place on earth that could truly be called holy. It was the place where God's Spirit dwelt. It's important for us to get this right: Jews didn't believe that God was present only in the Temple and absent from the rest of creation. They professed, as we do today, that God is everywhere. But they also held that He made himself specially present to his people in the Jerusalem Temple and its rites. The Temple was a place where they could withdraw from the pollutions of the world and know God's presence in purity."

A routine is any mechanical performance of an established procedure. It becomes ordinary when the extraordinary is no longer found. When the understanding and purpose of the ritual is lost, it becomes a routine.  How many of us don't understand that the Temple endowment is a symbolic representation of a ritual for us to recieve in mortality. If this is the case, is our temple experience becoming just a routine?

The prophet Isaiah writes in his book in chapter 24 states that Men will have “transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant.” and at the Second Coming they will be burned.
 It is interesting to see what happens once men begin to change, alter, and make more convenient the sacred rituals. Over long periods of time we can see the outcome what happens when religious organizations change rituals.  Here are some examples of what happened to the Early Christian Rituals to what we now see in mainstream Christianity, specifically the Catholic Church. Even now, some of these traditions listed below are no longer being followed in the Catholic Church. 

·         Women wear a wedding veil when they marry.  In addition, marriage was performed while the man and woman kneel at an altar, holding hands on top of it.
·         The baptismal fonts were placed away from the altar and/or used to be a separate building. The font was often octagonal in shape because of the significance of the number 8 as it relates to baptism and circumcision.
·         Infant baptism requires godparents to act as proxies for the infant, making covenants on their behalf.
·         After the washing of the baptism, an anointing takes place and the follow words are used:  I sign your forehead... I sign your eyes so that they may see the glory of God.  I sign your ears so that you may hear the voice of the Lord.  I sign your nostrils so that you may breathe the fragrance of Christ.  I sign your lips so that you may speak the words of life.  I sign your heart so that you may believe in the Holy Trinity.  I sign your shoulders so that you may bear the yoke of Christ’s service... In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, so that you may live forever and ever.”
·         Eastern Catholics (& Orthodox) have a garment called a “Phylakton” which is believed to have power to protect from evil and danger.
·         When one takes holy orders, they received a new garment associated with their order, and a new name.
·         The priest’s dress during Mass has its origin in the dress of the Old Testament High Priest.
·         Priests and Nuns wear clerical clothing to remind them of their covenants.
·         Monks, Priests and Nuns are buried in their vestments.
·         Although uncommon today in the U.S.A., in Europe and South America Catholic women traditionally cover their heads during the Mass.
·         At baptism, the taking of Holy Orders, and when one becomes the Pope, a new name is taken.
·         Oil is used in healing the sick.
·         An adult who is about to participate in an ordinance must first have an interview to determine worthiness (with his/her priest), Before participating in any ordinance an LDS person engages in an interview with his/her  bishop.
·         Serious sins should be confessed to a priest before partaking of Holy Communion.  In some cases, if the sin is grievous enough, one could be told not to partake, Serious sins should be confessed to one’s bishop.  Contingent upon the sin, one might be put on probation and told to not partake of the sacrament for a time.
·         During the Mass the priest says things to the congregation, and they are expected to respond, in unison… During the endowment you are asked to respond vocally (and in unison) to things asked of you.
·         The Catholic church used to offer prayer for the church and the world which the congregation repeated after the priest uttered it….. During the endowment some are invited to repeat the words of a prayer when it is offered.
·         Every 25 years a rite is executed (at St. Peter’s in Rome, and a few other carefully selected churches).  The rite symbolizes the entry of God’s children into His presence.  The Pope approaches the door of the church and knocks 3 times with a golden hammer, upon which the door is opened and he is allowed into the sanctuary.
·         During the consecration of the host the Priest prays with upraised hands.  This ancient manner of offering prayers unto God was common in sacred places (Psalms 63:4; 1 Tim 2:8; D & C 88:120; Exo. 17:10-12).
·         Men and women used to sit separately during the Mass.
·         In many Renaissance and Baroque Catholic churches the “all seeing eye” is displayed, as is a hand coming from behind a cloud or veil.
·         The Catholic church used to place a porter (a minor order of the priesthood) at the door of the church to insure that only the worthy entered.  Later they switched to statues of angels and  gargoyles as guardians of the way…. There are priesthood bearers placed at the entrance of the temple to ensure that only the worthy enter.
·         Although the ancient Christian Church only held worship services on the Sabbath, the Catholic church eventually began to offer worship services every day, at various times.  This change came from the church’s absorption of temple practice… The LDS Church only holds it worship services on the Sabbath, but it makes its temples available on a daily basis – with numerous session times.
·         Catholic churches are built to face east… Early Mormon temples and all ancient temples were oriented toward the east.
·         The altar area of Catholic churches are very ornate, with no money being spared…. Temple Celestial rooms are often very ornate with no cost being spared.
·         During Mass one is required to stand at different points during the service, In the Temple one is told to stand at different points during the endowment.