This information is new to most of the readers of this booklet and may be difficult to grasp at times, therefore, we have pre pared the following overview of these Temple Ceremonies to let you preview the activities and to concisely present the important elements to you.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE MORMON TEMPLE CEREMONIES
Mormons attending the Temple are called “patrons” by the Temple staff, and will therefore be similarly designated hereafter in this publication. Quotation marks enclose direct quotes from the ceremony.
THE PRE-INITIATORY ORDINANCES OR RITUALSThe “Pre-Initiatory Ordinances” or rituals are those that are performed only for the dead in the Temple. Living Mormons receive these Ordinances in their local Ward or Stake organiza tions.
Baptism is the first ceremony performed in behalf of the dead in the Temple. This is performed in the beautiful baptismal font mounted on the statues of 12 full sized oxen, located in the Temple basement.*(See figure 2) The Officiator and the patron are in the font dressed in heavy white jump-suits. There are two or more Witnesses observing the procedure. Often a closed circuit T.V. is used to project the names of the deceased persons on a large T.V. screen. Typically 200-300 baptisms are performed per hour, with LDS teenagers serving as proxies to introduce them into the Temple rituals and vicarious Ordinance work at an impressionable age. The baptismal pronouncement is recited in full for each baptism, and the patron is completely immersed by the Officiator as observed and approved by the two Witnesses.
CONFIRMATION AS MORMONS AND THE HOLY GHOST
The next ritual is Confirmation for the Dead. This makes the deceased person a member of the Mormon church and gives him the Holy Ghost. This is usually performed at or near the baptismal font, by the same persons who performed the baptism ritual. Two or more Temple Workers place their hands on the patron’s head while one pronounces the confirmation.
ORDINATION TO THE MORMON HOLY MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD
The ordination of dead males to the Mormon “Holy Melchizedek Priesthood” is usually (but not always) performed in the same area of the Temple by the same proxy. A patron may not receive a proxy Ordinance which he has not received for himself. Therefore LDS teenagers who have not yet received this Ordination may not perform this Temple Ordinance, and adult male patrons must receive this by proxy. This is often performed in conjunction with the Initiatory Ordinances described next. Other Temple Workers perform this Ordinance following the Baptism and Confirmation. Two Temple Workers lay their hands upon the patron’s head and one of them pronounces the Ordination.
*All Mormon Temples from Nauvoo, Illinois in 1842 to the twenty presently operating Temples have or had baptismal fonts as described, always located below ground level, as Joseph Smith instructed (Doctrine & Covenants 128:13). It appears that the new generation of Temples presently under construction or planned, will abandon this “prophetic directive”. Plans for these Temples show baptismal fonts above ground level with only six oxen in a semi-circle supporting them. See Church News, January 16, 1982, page 14.
INITIATORY ORDINANCES OR RITUALS – WASHING IN WATER
Each patron is ceremonially washed so that he “may become clean from the blood and sins of this generation.” A Temple Worker wets his fingers in running water and touches each member of the patrons body as he pronounces a blessing upon it. Women Temple Workers wash female patrons, and men wash men. The worker starts at the top of the patron’s head and works down to the feet, reaching under the shield to touch shoulders, back, breast, vitals and bowels, and loins. The washing is sealed by two workers laying their hands on the patron’s head and pronouncing the sealing.
ANOINTING WITH HOLY OIL
Each patron is then anointed with consecrated oil preparatory to “becoming a King and a Priest (or a Queen and Priestess) unto the Most High God, hereafter to rule and reign in the House of Israel forever.” A Temple Worker pours some drops of oil on the top of the patron’s head and moistens his fingers in oil and then touches each member of the patron’s body as he pronounces a blessing upon it, reaching under the shield to anoint shoulders, back, breast, vitals and bowels, and loins. Two workers then place their hands in the patron’s head and one of them pronounces a sealing of the anointing.
CLOTHING IN THE MYSTICAL TEMPLE GARMENT
The patron is then dressed in the “Garment of the Holy Priesthood” as a Temple Worker gives him special instructions regarding the constant wearing of it 24 hours per day throughout his life: “It will be a shield and a protection to you from the power of the destroyer until you have finished your work on the earth, providing you do not defile it, but are true and faithful to your covenants.” The worker also gives instructions regarding the secret “New Name” and then whispers the “New Name” to the patron.
THE “NEW NAME”
A Mormon’s most secret and cherished possession should be his “new name” which he receives during the Temple Rituals. This is the name by which he “will be called forth on the morning of the First Resurrection” by his God, and by which he will be known throughout Eternity. He receives this from a Temple Worker, in a whisper, as he is being helped into his new “magic underwear” for the first time, during his Temple initiation. Each time he returns to do Temple work he will go through these same rituals for a dead person, whose name he will carry through the entire ceremony on a little slip of paper, which he surrenders to the Introducer at the Temple Veil, before he enters the Celestial Room. On these return visits he will normally by-pass the “Washing, Anointing, and Clothing in the Garment of the Holy Priesthood” rituals, and just receive the “New Name” in a little booth as he leaves the locker room on his way to the theater type Endowment Rooms. The “New Name” is usually Biblical, such as Abraham, Moses, Seth, or Mary, Martha, Naomi, or they come from the Book of Mormon. Many Mormons are not aware that every person attending the Endowment on a particular day receives the same male or female “new name”, or its alternate. The alternate is given when the first given name of the person receiving the Endowment, deceased or alive, (not the proxy) is the same, or sounds very similar to the “new name”. My son and I share the same “new name” of Enoch with the prophet Joseph Smith Jr. and probably millions of other living and dead Mormons. I often wondered how we would know which “Enoch” was being called forth, or if we would all be judged together en masse.
THE ULTIMATE HERESY - ETERNAL SEX
Mormon husband must know his wife’s (or wives’) “new name(s)”. He normally learns this by representing the Lord behind the Veil, and taking his wife through the Veil Ceremony when she is receiving her own Endowments. She is not allowed to know his “new name” under any circumstances. This is because the Lord calls forth only the Priesthood holder, and it is up to him to call forth his wives, if he wants them, or leave them behind if he doesn’t want some of them.
PREPARATION FOR THE ENDOWMENT
The patron returns to the locker room, removes the shield and dresses of the Temple Garment, in the white Temple attire; pants, shirt, belt, tie, socks and slippers, or slip, dress, hose and slippers. He then takes his name slip and the package containing his robe, girdle (sash), hat (veil for women), and bright green fig-leaf apron with him through the beautiful foyer, up the magnificent circular staircase, and into the theater type Endowment Room. He is seated by the Officiator who presides over the presentation, women on the left, men on the right, and waits in profound silence for the ceremony to begin. Absolute silence is maintained for up to 20 minutes while the company is assembling.
THE ENDOWMENT CEREMONY
The Endowment is a two hour drama-ritual-ceremony presented to groups of patrons, rather than individually, as most of the other rituals are done. It is performed in beautiful theater type rooms, where walls are covered with floor to ceiling murals depicting appropriate scenes. The performance is a basic 19th century melodrama, with Lucifer as the villain, Elohim as the hero, and Adam and Eve as the victims. Supporting roles are played by the Apostles Peter, James and John, a Christian Minister, Jehovah, and the arch-angel Michael (who becomes Adam). All of the secret names, signs, tokens, penalties, the “True Order of Prayer”, and the Veil Ceremony are incorporated into the dramatic performance, with some audience participation, and a “Witness Couple” participating as representatives of the entire audience. The patrons are tested by the Lord, and must individually demonstrate their knowledge of the secrets in order to complete the ritual. For over a century, live actors played the various roles with interesting props and costumes. Now all Temples have changed to a motion picture and tape recording presentation in which the Officiator, who presides over the presentation, rarely speaks. Several Temple Workers are present during the performance to administer the secret elements named above, and to help patrons don and change the special robes and other attire, where needed. Before the movie version, the patrons move en masse to four differently muraled rooms to receive the various portions of the rituals. Now they stay in one room for approximately one and one-half hours, watching the film or the Officiator as he pantomimes the tape recording. The Endowment can be divided into four “acts” according to the four rooms previously used: the Creation drama, the Garden of Eden drama, the Lone and Dreary World drama, and the Terrestrial World presentation.
Next: “The Creation Drama”