File under: random observation.
We had the missionaries over for dinner the other day. Nice guys. My kids adore them. Having served in exactly the same ward 11 years ago, I enjoy pontificating about “how to be a missionary in Austria.” They tolerate me.
I asked them to assist me in giving a blessing to my son. A look of worry crossed their faces. “OK…yeah…um…I think I’ve forgotten how to do it, though.” I thought maybe they were worried about the English verbiage after several months of doing church things auf Deutsch. I told them they could do it in German. “Er…hold on…let me just take a look in the handbook.”
Eventually I coached them on how to anoint. I am happy to say that the blessing went well and my son is feeling much better.
There are perhaps a million or so men in the church who actively serve as a lay priesthood, administering church government and performing religious ordinances. That many of us are hesitant when it comes to proper procedure is, in my experience, quite true. (In other words, my ward’s fine missionaries are not alone.) Count me as a little surprised that this vast priesthood receives little training in being “priests.” Of course, priestly work is not the only function of the priesthood, whose greatest sacrament is probably “visiting the fatherless and the widows,” but it’s puzzling nonetheless.
I wonder why there isn’t an official priesthood handbook — given to all — that explains church government, priesthood doctrine, and ritual procedure. Where do priesthood holders go to find such instructions? In the old days it used to part of the priesthood manual, but that is long gone. True, the Family Guidebook and Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood have some of this stuff, but it only seems to be used on an ad hoc basis. How many people even have these books? There’s the Church Handbook of Instructions and its various excerpts, but these have limited circulation. Where is the “White Handbook” for priesthood holders? Should there be regular, official training, a “School of the Priesthood”?
If you are involved in priesthood leadership, please tell us how you go about training the priesthood in their priestly duties.
None of this applies to the Aaronic Priesthood, by the way, who generally administer the sacrament like clockwork. Still, how many Priests would be able to baptise at a moment’s notice?