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The Temple and the Presence of God


ChristKnight

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I posted this on another forum-

I was glancing at one of my old books (Signs of Life by Scott Hahn), and in it, there's a chapter about the "presence of God", and it briefly discusses the Jerusalem 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."

Now, this is a Catholic book, so of course there are a few differences in our understandings in concepts such as God's omnipresence, as well as archaeological discoveries of the existence of more than one Jewish Temple anciently. My question though has to do with latter-day temples and the presence of God. How do we view such a belief? Is God "specially present to his people" in our temples? What does it mean to call the temple the "house of the Lord", especially in contrast to our chapels?

Finally, I found the opening two sentences to the chapter interesting-"We modern Christians have few occasions to use the word temple. It never caught on as a term for Christian places of worship". Of course Latter-day Saints would disagree (also, if I recall correctly, Russian Orthodox have a tendency to refer to their church buildings as temples at times).

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When I am in the temple, I quite literally feel as if I am in the home of my Father in Heaven. I feel more like His daughter-more apart of His divine family-in the temple than i do anywhere else on earth.

For me, it is a feeling of being in His bosom and encircled in His arms, in a physical sense, when I am within those walls.

I can't speak for anyone else, but that is how God is present for me in the temple and that is what it means to me to call the temple the House of the Lord.

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Christknight,

In the OT, priests entering the temple were clothed in special attire which included a urim and thummim. The attire we wear in the temple symbolically includes references to our access to special revelation as priests and priestesses approaching God through the veil of the temple. In my experience, when I enter the temple humbly seeking communion and when I am prepared to receive such, it is inevitably present in an undeniable way.

MnG

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The verse in the Doctrine & Covenants that says (1:38) "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same"--this scripture has been a key to my understanding of my temple experiences.

In the temple and its ordinances, God is represented on a literal basis. God speaks, God teaches, God is watching, we watch God, God directs, God is touched, on and on and on. It finally came clear to me that, on the basis of the key in D&C 1:38, I was seeing, visiting and being taught by my Father in heaven (God) each and every time I went to the temple--with or without additional spirit-filled sensations or revelations of knowledge personal to me. This is the miracle of the temple.

On the other hand, I have come to understand that the temple itself, and the ordinances we participate in, are images or keys themselves, a pattern--for the life of the human being who wishes to ascend to God from the prison of the mortal condition. That is, the temple must be lived in our daily lives. The actual endowment is not in the temple . . . it is in mortal life/eternal life . . . but the in-temple process is the information we need to be able to receive the real endowment from living (passing by the angels in order to reach the presence of the Father). In other words, can the temple be more holy than our bodies (as temples), our families and homes (as temples), our world and earth (as a temple)? We know from gospel teachings, that ultimately it cannot (even though it is wonderful to leave the cares of the world and rest in the temple spirit).

Also, another key to finding God (thus the temple/life) is found in Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God." I read that NOT as "they shall see GOD" but that "they shall SEE God". Thus, God is already near and here . . . we will just never know it unless we have (and live) the keys and tokens that allow us to thin and part that veil. We receive the keys and tokens in the temple ordinances, inside a building, but we offer them in living our lives "outside" the temple, in an eternal life we are gradually receiving.

And, by the way, I am an LDS person who understands that God is everywhere in all his creations.

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My question though has to do with latter-day temples and the presence of God. How do we view such a belief? Is God "specially present to his people" in our temples? What does it mean to call the temple the "house of the Lord", especially in contrast to our chapels?

I think the overall LDS position would be that the Holy Spirit is incredibly powerful in the temple, and that indeed the savior and our Father can, do, and have physically visited temples on numerous occasions.

There are many accounts privately and publicly mentioned about spiritual visitations in the temples. If you talk to long time ordinance workers, many have personal stories to this effect, particularly about spirits of the individuals having their ordinances done becoming visible in temples.

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I posted this on another forum-

I was glancing at one of my old books (Signs of Life by Scott Hahn), and in it, there's a chapter about the "presence of God", and it briefly discusses the Jerusalem 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."

Now, this is a Catholic book, so of course there are a few differences in our understandings in concepts such as God's omnipresence, as well as archaeological discoveries of the existence of more than one Jewish Temple anciently. My question though has to do with latter-day temples and the presence of God. How do we view such a belief? Is God "specially present to his people" in our temples? What does it mean to call the temple the "house of the Lord", especially in contrast to our chapels?

Finally, I found the opening two sentences to the chapter interesting-"We modern Christians have few occasions to use the word temple. It never caught on as a term for Christian places of worship". Of course Latter-day Saints would disagree (also, if I recall correctly, Russian Orthodox have a tendency to refer to their church buildings as temples at times).

Well let me share with you my very first temple experiance; we normally attend a "temple preparation class consisting of about 8 hours instruction before we receive our endowment and marriage sealing" well i received 20 minutes! anyway i had absolutely NO IDEA wat to expect.... to make a long story short;; the absolute peace,comforting love such as i had never ever felt at any time in my life.. came over me.. my eyes were opened to everything i ever wanted to know or comprehend; i had no questions in my heart about anything, anybody. any purpose, absolutely everything i have ever doubted, wondered about, did not understand, ever felt misstreated,ever wondered why some people suffer so much in this life much more than others e;t;c....I was at peace with everything, understood the purpose of all things.. it was just as moses as he stood on the mountain with God and looked at the universe.. I canott explain in words alone.. but i can explain their was nothing i could not understand; if you can even get a teenie glimpse of an idea how that works; then you can begin to understand how God dwells in the temple.. {because he does}. remember this was my first experiance with no instruction as to what to expect, nobody told me anything; it was all 100 percent inoccent and without mans influence whatsoever; this is but one of my hundreds of peices to my testimony, it does not in anyway constitute my complete testimony of truths of the church; but i am so very thankfull to heavenly father for confirming the holy temple to me in this manner as for me their is no doubt!!:P

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D&C 84:19-27 teaches us the purpose of the temple and about the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood. The MP holds the keys to the "mysteries of godliness." The Aaronic Priesthood only has the key to the ministry of angels (D&C 13), and is a Terrestrial priesthood (prepares us for Terrestrial level spirituality).

But the Melch Priesthood prepares us to enter into the presence of God. It is all about theophanies, ascensions, and being in the presence of God. The temple is where we receive the highest ordinances of God, including being set apart to be gods under God, kings and queens under his tutelage to rule the universe with Him. The initiatory symbolizes the changing of the holy garment in heaven, as is taught in many ancient Jewish and Christian texts (see Ascension of Isaiah for an example).

And the endowment is the perfect symbolic journey from the depths of darkness, back into the presence of God in the Celestial Room.

What I have learned is that in scripture, anytime a person sees God, receives revelation on the top of a high mountain, etc., they are having a temple experience. Lehi and Nephi's visions (1 Ne 1, 8-15) are temple experiences that bring them into the presence of God. Jacob's ladder is a temple experience, as the ladder is actually a grand staircase, with God at the top on his throne. John the Revelator also sees God on his throne, as does Stephen, Isaiah, Brother of Jared, and many others.

The Book of Mormon has many discourses that are directly tied to the temple and ascension to God's presence, including Jacob at the temple, King Benjamin, Alma 9-13, and the Savior's ministry among the Nephites.

Our temple today is basically set up like ancient Semitic temples. They all pretty much had three main rooms, the last being the Holy of Holies. The ancient temple at Ain Dara actually has giant footsteps of God, going from the outer chamber into the Holiest chamber - showing that God is present.

In LDS history, we find that Christ appeared to Joseph and Oliver at the Kirtland Temple (D&C 110). During the first session of the new Nauvoo temple dedication, Pres Hinckley paused and said he felt the presence of the Father, Son and Joseph Smith.

Clearly there is a pattern that ties temples to returning to the presence of God.

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I posted this on another forum-

I was glancing at one of my old books (Signs of Life by Scott Hahn), and in it, there's a chapter about the "presence of God", and it briefly discusses the Jerusalem 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."

Now, this is a Catholic book, so of course there are a few differences in our understandings in concepts such as God's omnipresence, as well as archaeological discoveries of the existence of more than one Jewish Temple anciently. My question though has to do with latter-day temples and the presence of God. How do we view such a belief? Is God "specially present to his people" in our temples? What does it mean to call the temple the "house of the Lord", especially in contrast to our chapels?

Finally, I found the opening two sentences to the chapter interesting-"We modern Christians have few occasions to use the word temple. It never caught on as a term for Christian places of worship". Of course Latter-day Saints would disagree (also, if I recall correctly, Russian Orthodox have a tendency to refer to their church buildings as temples at times).

It is said that the veil is thinner in the temple, that because the temple is sacred ground consecrated and purified as a House of the Lord, that one can feel the Spirit more powerfully and even receive revelation and inspiration more easily in a temple.

What I totally disagree with is the incorrect teaching in most of mainstream Christianity that there congregations are the same thing as a temple. A temple is not a regular place of worship, and it wasn't that way in the ancient Church, the synagogues were not considered temples at all. They were places to gather an learn from the Torah, the temple on the other hand was holy ground, one could not enter unless they were worthy and even them most could not enter the most holy parts of the temple.

So the authors statement that "temple" never caught on as a term for places of worship is a falsehood. A chapel is not a temple, and to call a chapel a temple is IMO offensive. A temple is a most sacred spot, consecrated and purified for the Lord, a house for him to dwell in, and for his children to perform the ordinances of salvation.

It seems to me that this concept arose from the questions of modern Christians about why do we no longer have temples?

For the author this is a problem that requires such twisting of truth, but as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we know why there was no temples built in modern Christianity.

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The ancient temple at Ain Dara actually has giant footsteps of God, going from the outer chamber into the Holiest chamber - showing that God is present.

Magnificent concept, imo.
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My question though has to do with latter-day temples and the presence of God. How do we view such a belief? Is God "specially present to his people" in our temples? What does it mean to call the temple the "house of the Lord", especially in contrast to our chapels?

His Spirit is there. The fullness of the restored priesthood is exercsied there (D&C 84: 19-23). He comes suddenly to His temple ()D&C 36:8; 133:2). The house of the Lord refers to the many times the Lord calls the temple "my house," as opposed to "congregations" which may or may not include or refer only to the wicked (but only the righteous when in the temple--D&C 88:129). The temple is specifically dedicated for a purpose that differs from that of chapels and other buildings.

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The temple is the axis mundi and the sacred mountain. It is the point where the three realms (Asgard, Midgard and Niffelheim) and the three sacred elements (nwyfre, gwyar and calas) come together. In the temple, all worldly cares can be shed and one can glimpse the true gnosis.

Yours in the oaks of the sacred grove,

Nathair /|\

Added: Hugh, W. Nibley; The Meaning of the Temple There are two books I recommend to anyone preparing to attend the temple: The Holy Temple by Elder Boyd K. Packer (He wasn't quorum president when he wrote it) and Nibley's Temple and Cosmos from whence the above chapter is taken.

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What I have learned is that in scripture, anytime a person sees God, receives revelation on the top of a high mountain, etc., they are having a temple experience.

Great post incidentally!

Matt 17

9And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.

Why were these events so sacred that they were not to talk about it? In this context, I think it becomes clear.

But I think that they did not have the entire endowment until after the resurrection which makes sense when you think about it.

Hebrews 10

16This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

17And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

21And having an high priest over the house of God;

22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

In this context, I believe he is not talking in that last verse about Baptism.

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ChristKnight,

I had forgotten about this article, but it is absolutely the BEST I have seen for a Catholic convert who is both familiar with various forms of the Catholic liturgy and the endowment, not only directly relevant to this discussion but really as evidence of the Great Apostasy, I would strongly recommend this article which used to be available as a pdf with pictures but appears no longer to be available.

If I were you I would bookmark the page and/or copy as a text file because for some unknown reason finding the article is becoming more and more difficult to find.

I don't think LDS who are not totally familiar with the Catholic mass could possibly see how important this article is, as evidenced by its obscurity. These points should be the centerpiece of the Maxwell Institute, in my opinion. Unfortunately this website does not show the art referenced in the original article.

From Marcus Von Wellnitz, The Catholic Liturgy and the Mormon Temple

If possible, the early church buildings were constructed in an east-west direction in the tradition of the temple at Jerusalem . 19 The first LDS temples were also constructed along that orientation. 20 Entrance into the early churches was in the west while the holy place with the altar was positioned in the eastern part, denoting that a person who entered left the region of darkness, the temporal world, and proceeded forward to the region of light where the sun arose. 21 In the fourth century Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem explained to his listeners the meaning of this peculiar conduct:

First of all, you entered into the ante-chamber of the baptistry, and there you stood facing the West and there you listened to instructions to stretch forth your hand and renounced Satan as if he were present. . . . I want to tell you why you stand facing the West. It is necessary since it is the region of darkness. . . . When you renounced Satan there is open the paradise of God which he placed in the East . . . and symbolically of this you turned from West to East, the region of light. 22

The earliest basilicas were divided into three parts: first, the atrium or forecourt; then the church proper with the area for the congregation; and, finally, set off by a barrier, the holy place for the altar and the officiating clergy. 23 Thus the church became a temple, because it is a place "where the Christians . . . perform a sacrifice," writes a modern scholar. "The Christian sanctuary, insofar as it was a temple, recalled in some way the holy of holies, in the temple of Jerusalem ." 24 Constantine 's churches were equated to temples, 25 and the early fathers understood them as such. 26 The Byzantine liturgy prescribes even today that the clergy quote the fifth psalm upon entering the church: "I will enter into Thy house; I will bow in Thy holy temple." 27

However, some of the most ritualistic actions of the priest are performed with its hands, often completely unnoticed by the casual observer. He touches his body, marking special parts of it by the sign of the cross and he also taps his breast repeatedly. 168 Most obvious are his raised hands at the Memento, the Communicantes, the Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus, and the Te Igitur. 169 At the Secreta before the consecretion of the emblems, as well as for the Oremus, the Prefactus, the Canon, and the Pater Noster, he also "stands with his hands upraised . . . facing east, and originally the faithful, too, stood facing east and with arms lifted up." 170 In our day it is perhaps a little unusual to address and petition the Lord in our worship services by this method, but "as a rule the ancients prayed standing and mostly with upraised hands." 171 Before a "higher being" it was most important that the faithful "stood with hands uplifted and facing east . . . with eyes fixed in the direction of the rising sun." 172

Hardly visible are the different positions of the priest's fingers during the ceremony of the eucharistic consecration, particularly when touching and elevating the host. 173 The host symbolized the Lord, and his emblems can evidently not be handled unless the fingers have assumed an extraordinarily odd pose. In the fourth century Cyril of Jerusalem discussed some of these rituals:

When approaching [the altar] therefore, do not come with your wrists extended or your fingers spread, but from your left hand as a throne for the right so as to receive a king. After having hollowed your palm, receive the body of Christ and say Amen over it. . . . Come also close to the cup of his blood but do not stretch forth your hands; instead, bow forward and say in reverence and worship Amen. 174

Another physical connection used to be among the administrants in the sanctuary and among the people in the assembly. This was the highly ritual "kiss of peace" which used to occur immediately prior to the communion with God: "The priest . . . imparts it to the deacon, the deacon to the subdeacon and the latter to the rest of the clergy. . . . [until the eighth century] all present took part in the rite, men and women separately." 188 But again, the ordinance has not persisted into our time, for in the thirteenth century while the embrace continued the kiss was eliminated. 189 It represents the acceptance of the person as a fellow initiate and his welcome into the community. 190 Today, only a "slight embrace" remains and often it is more than a handshake. However, the basic notion of a physical contact near the altar has come from antiquity as a sacred rite.

The ceremonial entry into the church and to the altar in the sanctuary is also acted out in the ritual of the opening of the Holy Door, the Porta Santa at St. Peter in Rome and other carefully selected churches. 191 This rite is executed only every twenty-five years and represents the entry of the children of God into the presence of the Lord. Medieval medals struck for the occasion often show Christ on one side of the portal and the pope or the people on the other. 192 The pope knocks three times with a golden hammer, upon which the door is opened by the masons and he may enter through it and proceed to the sanctuary. The remainder of the clergy and the people then follow after him. A prayer said by Pope Clement VIII during the rite in 1600 demonstrates clearly that the ceremony does indeed portray entry into the temple of God : "Open unto me the gates of Justice, when I am entered I will praise my Lord. I will enter, O Lord, into Thy House. I will adore Three in Thy fear in Thy temple." 193

That the Lord is concealed behind some kind of barrier is born out by many paintings and stelae from churches and cemeteries in the early centuries of Christianity. God is never completely visible but only his arm can be seen as it is stretched out from behind a veil, a curtain, a cloud, or a screen, such as in the churches of Nola, SS. Cosa e Damiano in Milan , San Apollinare in Classe, Parezo in Istria , and others. 194 Even though the correct interpretation may elude the modern churchgoer, it is evidently an ancient symbol of great significance and transcendent reality.

Various ordinances and rituals in the Catholic Liturgy, then, derive from the temple and have been adopted by the church in a new context. " Rome has not abolished the rites of the Temple , however, but simply taken them over, every particle of the ancient ordinances and imagery having been absorbed by the Christian sacraments." 195 For the perceptive Latter-day Saint, parallels are obvious and relationships apparent. Indeed, resemblances in form and purpose point to the probability of a common source and common origin, providing an interesting support to LDS claims of a divine restoration of certain eternal truths apparently known and practiced anciently by former-day saints.

I served as an ordinance worker for a while with a man who was a converted Catholic priest, and there was no question in either of our minds that this last paragraph was exactly correct. I wish often that others who find fault with Joseph Smith for whatever reason could be educated in these parallels, both for the evidence that they provide of the Great Apostasy and also for his prophetic call.

I forgot to mention that the article also shows the parallels between the use of the Baptistry, a separate building into which catechumens were allowed to enter to hear "the mass of the catechumens" and the basilica, from which they were prohibited for a time, until they were allowed to attend the liturgy of the Eucharist which was held in the basilica alone.

The author makes the case that this parallels the modern difference between the LDS chapel and the temple- separate buildings for separate uses, one restricted to newer members and the other reserved for advanced spiritual practices.

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Bryce Haymond at Temple Study was kind enough to provide me a link to the pdf of the Wellnitz article, complete with the artwork.

Temple Study has to be one of the best, most comprehensive sites available about the LDS temple- if you aren't familiar with it- you should be!

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Bryce Haymond at Temple Study was kind enough to provide me a link to the pdf of the Wellnitz article, complete with the artwork.

Temple Study has to be one of the best, most comprehensive sites available about the LDS temple- if you aren't familiar with it- you should be!

Thank you for sharing that. I bookmarked it right next to the Maxwell institute and the AODA.

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Thanks mfbukowski, I was actually familiar with that article (I think I found it through Temple Study awhile ago. YES, a great website), but I think now I'll actually read it!

Many critics claim that our latter-day temples have nothing to do with the ancient Temple(s) from Old Testament and New Testament times. I think it's clear that there are obvious parallels, and I guess recently, I've been particularly interested in the concept of entering into the presence of God in the temple both anciently and in modern times. Of course entering the Celestial Room is symbolic of that, however I'm also interested in how LDS view an actual presence of God in our temples, in comparison to anciently (the Shekinah), for example. The responses thus far seem to support that we believe that the Spirit of God is indeed present in a special way in the temples.

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Thanks mfbukowski, I was actually familiar with that article (I think I found it through Temple Study awhile ago. YES, a great website), but I think now I'll actually read it!

Many critics claim that our latter-day temples have nothing to do with the ancient Temple(s) from Old Testament and New Testament times. I think it's clear that there are obvious parallels, and I guess recently, I've been particularly interested in the concept of entering into the presence of God in the temple both anciently and in modern times. Of course entering the Celestial Room is symbolic of that, however I'm also interested in how LDS view an actual presence of God in our temples, in comparison to anciently (the Shekinah), for example. The responses thus far seem to support that we believe that the Spirit of God is indeed present in a special way in the temples.

For us, the crowing glory of the endowment is when one comes through the veil, perhaps more than actually being in the celestial room. At the beginning of the gospel of John it speaks of the "Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us". The Greek word for "dwelling" is actually literally translated as "tenting"- and repeatedly the symbolism of taking on garments is "putting on" flesh. As we enter the Lord's "tent" we become one with him symbolically and are symbolically resurrected and then we go on to "glory" in the celestial room. The important part is the resurrection and the lesser part perhaps is actually being in the celestial room. To me, it is like a microcosm of the creation of the world in which we ourselves are re-created, as the world was, and then in the celestial room, on the "seventh day" we rest.

So the celestial room is on one hand, the Presence of the Lord, but remember for LDS the Lord is "Family". As the representation of the Celestial Kingdom it is a place of joy, and where one waits for others to finish the necessary ceremonies, much as one might imagine the joyful waiting in heaven for their loved ones to join them. So it is often not as quiet a place as one might imagine- tones are hushed, but nevertheless there is whispered meeting and greeting; off in the corners perhaps there are people in quiet contemplation and prayer.

So in some ways it is comparable to the Shekhinah, but in other ways, not so much. All the symbolism is there, the tent, the unity with the Lord, the entry into his presence, but the family feeling is also ever-present.

But there is no question that the spirit is there in rich abundance, and that it is clear that it is as close to heaven as one can get on earth.

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Thank you for sharing that. I bookmarked it right next to the Maxwell institute and the AODA.

You old tree-hugger you!! :P

It really is an incredible article if you want to study the history of the Mass, assuming you are not already familiar with it.

It is even clear to me as well as the ex-Catholic priest ordinance worker I knew, that the sign of the cross developed out of some of the annointing ceremonies, but that is not to be discussed here of course.

That's why to me all the squabbling about Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon geography and the Book of Abraham is just chaff in the wind. When you really start studying this stuff, there is just one possible explanation: that this is from God, and Joseph was a prophet. Period.

Of course that only really comes through testimony, but all this evidence is frosting on the cake.

But as all things with the gospel, you don't see the "evidence" until you get to the point where you see it, line upon line.

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For us, the crowing glory of the endowment is when one comes through the veil, perhaps more than actually being in the celestial room. At the beginning of the gospel of John it speaks of the "Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us". The Greek word for "dwelling" is actually literally translated as "tenting"- and repeatedly the symbolism of taking on garments is "putting on" flesh. As we enter the Lord's "tent" we become one with him symbolically and are symbolically resurrected and then we go on to "glory" in the celestial room. The important part is the resurrection and the lesser part perhaps is actually being in the celestial room. To me, it is like a microcosm of the creation of the world in which we ourselves are re-created, as the world was, and then in the celestial room, on the "seventh day" we rest.

So the celestial room is on one hand, the Presence of the Lord, but remember for LDS the Lord is "Family". As the representation of the Celestial Kingdom it is a place of joy, and where one waits for others to finish the necessary ceremonies, much as one might imagine the joyful waiting in heaven for their loved ones to join them. So it is often not as quiet a place as one might imagine- tones are hushed, but nevertheless there is whispered meeting and greeting; off in the corners perhaps there are people in quiet contemplation and prayer.

So in some ways it is comparable to the Shekhinah, but in other ways, not so much. All the symbolism is there, the tent, the unity with the Lord, the entry into his presence, but the family feeling is also ever-present.

But there is no question that the spirit is there in rich abundance, and that it is clear that it is as close to heaven as one can get on earth.

I've just got to say how much I've enjoyed this thread. I waited for someone to bring up various points, they all got brought up and more. This is kind of thread that keeps me coming back and back after doing this online stuff for over 15 years now. MFB! May your toenails grow ever longer!

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