Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Holiest Place

My husband and I at the Vatican this last July.

I was “arrested” by the article that ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer this last Sunday about the groundbreaking for a new temple in the area.  The reporter said, “[T]he proceedings inside the 60,000-square-foot neoclassical structure will be a mystery to most outsiders—much like the faith itself.”

Reading this recalled to me the experience my husband and I had at the Vatican this summer.  There, rules for entry are strictly enforced.  Entrants must cover bare shoulders, midriffs, and legs.  Those who could or would not comply by purchasing one of the many shawls on offer were denied entry.  These regulations were designed to maintain the sanctity of that holy place.

My husband and I were dismayed and disheartened to see that after the checkpoint, tourists made light of the rules by removing their shawls.  Little respect was had for the holy edifice and the rules put in place to keep it such.

If one believes that what is brought into a place may desecrate it, then perhaps the only sure-fire method to maintain sacral integrity is to have a checkpoint, not for what is worn on the outside of a body, but for what is contained within.

Such is the method of my faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We, along with other faiths, maintain that certain places are and should remain holy.  These include temples, dedicated as the “House of the Lord.”

Temples, even before dedicated, are places of distinct serenity and holiness.  As my father has explained, they connect heaven and earth.  Temples are sacred, not secret, places of worship. 

As such, all are invited into its hallowed halls.  To enter, like at the Vatican, one must pass certain worthiness checkpoints.  These checkpoints include baptism by one having authority and faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ.

As for my faith being “mysterious,” it is only so for those who do not wish to know.  Possibly more than any faith, mine is open and ready for inspection.  We welcome all to our Sunday worship meetings, post our scriptures online, and send 50,000 missionaries all around the world to share what we know to be true.  Indeed, the last prophet in the Book of Mormon invites all to read, compare, ponder, and pray to know of the book’s truth.

The newest, most startling chapter of openness by my faith is the mammoth scholarly effort, undertaken at our own expense, to transcribe, print and digitize all of the papers of latter-day prophet and modern restorer of my faith, Joseph Smith.

I have always been taught that the “mysteries of God” are simply things which can be revealed to me when I am ready to learn.  It is so for my faith and its holiest place, the temple.  For any interested in knowing more about this sacred “mystery,” I invite you to come and see.

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