Friday, November 26, 2010

The Power of Honoring Ritual

1) I love performing baptisms in the temple. It is, without question, my favorite activity there - even though I thoroughly enjoy all the ordinances. I particularly am grateful that the Church practically has demanded that those who perform the baptisms slow down and do so at a "normal" pace.

A few years ago, I decided to treat each and every baptism as a separate and distinct ordinance, as it should be considered and truly is. I know the baptismal prayer without having to think about it, so before each baptism I look at the name, memorize it (with a few exceptions - some of the names . . .), bow my head, close my eyes and voice the prayer in the exact same manner as I did when I baptized my own children. I speak clearly and pronounce each word with care. Then I open my eyes, look at the proxy and lower him or her into the water the same way I would if I were baptizing a new convert or one of my children. It has been an amazing experience.

2) In my current calling, I receive e-mails occasionally from the Stake Executive Secretary asking me to indicate approval of a stake calling that needs to be issued. Whenever I see such an e-mail, I pause, close my eyes and say a very quick, simple prayer that I will be able to know if there is any reason why the calling should not be extended as proposed. I don't know if I will ever receive a "Don't approve this" answer, but just taking time to honor the "ritual" has been a neat experience.

3) Whenever I am at the podium announcing a calling and asking if there are any who oppose that calling, I always take a moment and scan the congregation (clearly and distinctly) to see if anyone is raising their hand. Then I turn and look at those sitting on the stand. I feel confident those on the stand won't be opposing the calling(s), but the pure ritual should provide them the honor of being included in the request to show disapproval if they so desire.

I believe that ritual loses its power when it is not accorded respect and serious consideration - when it becomes nothing more than vain repetition in practical performance. 


Anthony E. Larson said...

Commendable. But there is something far more powerful than honoring ritual: understanding its origins and meaning. "But we understand our rituals," you might say. I answer, "Not really." Knowing the origin of traditional ritual is vital to a complete comprehension of the restored gospel. "Origin?" you query. "It's all sacred. It's only origin is God." Would you be surprised to learn that all LDS ritual and symbolism, including the temple rituals, have their origin in ancient cosmology? That's why our early temples, like the SLC temple, are covered with cosmic symbols: suns, moons, planets, stars, constellations, etc. That's why restored revealtions in this dispensation, recorded in the PofGP, are all about stars, planets and the heavens. Learn the origins of our restored rituals and you learn the truth about Earth's ancient heavens, the visions of the prophets and what we see, do and say in our temples. You see, the restoration included far more information than most saints acknowledge or even comprehend. So, honor the rituals by learning the message they were meant to convey.

Papa D said...

I agree with the need also to understand our rituals, Anthony - but I actually disagree that such an understanding is "far more powerful" than honoring them.

Anyone can understand them if they realy try; only those who 1) participate and 2) honor them can gain the fullest blessings available through them.

To make that personal, I understand the origins and meaning of all our rituals fairly well - but unless I live so that I can baptize my children, or administer the sacrament, or attend the temple, or at least be "eligible" to be called to stand at the podium and ask for a sustaining vote, or lay my hands on someone's head and voice a Priesthood blessing, etc. - unless I am **honoring** the rituals by living in such a way as to be immersed in them, even "perfect" understanding won't do me any good.

In fact, it might just comdemn me.

Louann and Bari said...

Nicely said.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Papa D. Robert Millet wrote once something like this: What good does it do if I have a Celestial knowledge and live a Telestial or Terestial life.

Having a deeper understanding of the gospel will not help us, until we live the gospel.

Thanks for the post, it's helped me to analyze how I perform such rituals!