Lenten Mormonism

Happy Mardi Gras, everyone! I hope you are enjoying this last gasp of hedonism, because tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first of 46 days of Lent. Tomorrow the parish priest will put sacramental ash on your forehead in the form of the cross, and speak those words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Then begins your period of repenting — literally, in dust and ashes — before the great Easter morn arrives. Prepare yourselves, pilgrims!

What — Mormons don’t do this? Well, maybe we should.

Other, smarter Mormons have bemoaned the absence of an LDS liturgical calendar (no, General Conference dates DO NOT COUNT), and still others have suggested possibly starting individual traditions in our homes of seasonal times of repentance and remembrance. I’ve also read arguments suggesting that our weekly sacrament meetings — and monthly fasts — serve this same purpose. But I admit that I am still drawn to the Catholic practice of Lent, to a long period, forever linked to the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. I love the idea of a time of contrition and sacrifice, with the Lenten semi-fast being a fine way of performing a self-evaluation and engaging in some self-denial as part of preparing ourselves for the day of redemption.

The three practices of Lent – prayer, fasting and charity (almsgiving) – are wonderful practices to be observed year-round, to be sure, but associating them specifically with Easter and having them come around in their season has a naturality to it that I deeply respect. Having studied Medievalism a wee bit in college, I find the parallels between past Lenten practices and other traditions (say, Ramadan) striking and perhaps worthy of consideration; annualized periods of daytime fasting and prayer as a precursor to a spiritual climax event seem to be a common link between many religions…. why not ours? I must admit, deep down, that I am also attracted to Lenten festivals (not Mardi Gras, thanks, nor Carnaval), and the thought of torching some roadside Funken gives me a little thrill. Why is this so?

This might be nothing more than envy of the rich history of most other world religions compared to our own, and envy of liturgy and ritual that is more tied to the natural world. But maybe there’s more to it than that, and we might consider a form of worship that is not so completely detached from the seasons. Maybe by considering traditional Lent we might appreciate our own Easter a little more and come more quickly to be reconciled to Christ.

For your consideration tomorrow, the concluding stanzas from T.S. Eliot’s masterpiece “Ash Wednesday”:

Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth

This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the
garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

Comments

  1. Lent and it’s accompanying stations of the cross, good friday, Ash Wednesday, and Easter Sunday are what I miss about being Catholic. While we have general conference, and watching it at home in PJs is nice, I liked that Easter Sunday meant not just where your sunday best but wearing your best best best. It meant new dresses for the girls and it meant church would be packed to the brim.

  2. Can I maybe just have the “last gasp of hedonism” but skip the fasting? I’m not a fan of fish.

  3. but always a fan of hedonism . . .

  4. Great post Steve.

    And all capped off with three hours of Bach at a Lutheran church on Good Friday. A great way to prepare for the great festival of Easter.

    (Which, by the way, and sorry to rain on your parade, falls on the first Sunday of April–General Conference–this year.)

  5. Well said, sir. We celebrated in the normal way: ate rolls with marzipan, creme and jam, then went sledding.

  6. Bravo, Steve. I teach at a Jesuit school and, at our faculty meeting today, was listening to a couple other professors discussing where they were going to get ashes put on their foreheads tomorrow. One mentioned that he’d like to do it two or three times (I don’t remember why); they were genuinely excited, and I’m genuinely jealous.

  7. Thanks for this, Steve.

  8. I plan on attending a service at a local parish tomorrow. I had a positive experience observing lent (in my own Mormon sort of way) last year.

  9. Thanks for this, Brother Evans.

    Our family will incorporate lenten lessons into FHE again this year. And there’s no one out there with more liturgical envy than me. Still, I can’t let go of Kathleen Flake’s notion that, for Mormons, the best thing to do in relation to our lack of a liturgical calendar especially during Lent and Holy Week, is to attend the temple. I’m still chewing on this one, though. And so, in the meantime, there’ll be Lenten scriptures, talk about new resolutions, and some service projects for our family.

    (T.S. Eliot makes my head swim.)

  10. I work with quite a few observant Catholics, so a few years ago in the spirit of celebrating Lent, I gave up using the internet at work before 2 PM. Another employee, not knowing at the time that I’m LDS, told me that wasn’t a very good sacrifice. I told him it was okay, since I’m not a very good Catholic. I stuck to it, though it was difficult, and felt like I’d accomplished something positive for myself. Now, years later, the Catholics left in the office seem to be the less observant ones, and Lent doesn’t get discussed much now, if at all.

    As it is/was celebrated here (and it really is a celebration), the idea is that Christ sacrificed all for us, we can become closer to Christ by making sacrifice for Him. That’s a beautiful sentiment, and worthy of holy envy, I think.

  11. Thanks, Steve. I feel the pull, too.

  12. As a former Catholic myself, I wholeheartedly agree. A liturgical calendar would bring focus and unity to our haphazard worship structure. At a minimum, we can use some more celebration and adoration to our services. More than half the church converts now come with a Catholic connection of some sort or another.

  13. What is is about our homogenized worship (and I mean that in the best way possible) that pulls some towards a more ritualistic and symbolic tradition as Lent? While to some extent Fat Tuesday is a little bit of a mockery of the Lenten season to follow, I also wonder about a season of recommitting to our covenants. New Year’s resolutions certainly don’t seem to have any traction for us.

    I recall the positive response to the call by President Hinckley to read the Book of Mormon between October Conference and the end of the year. There was something special, I feel, in the shared experience of those who responded to the challenge. Perhaps we need more of this from our leaders at both the local and the global levels.

  14. Right, Kevin, that’s the sort of vibe I am referring to. The communal devotional experience over any extended period is something very rare for us, a little too rare.

  15. Thanks for the reminder! I had been meaning to celebrate Lent for the past five years but always forgot until after it had already started.

  16. My take on Lent over the past several years has been to use it as a mechanism to help me keep the sacrament covenant to always remember Him. By giving up some things I really like for a season, each time I miss those things it becomes a discipline which helps me remember Him. It tends to work really well at the beginning of Lent, less so as I adapt to the loss of whatever it is that I’m forgoing. For me it has been a worthwhile spiritual exercise.

  17. I’m thinking now about some historical aspects of this. Jan Shipps talked about this, saying that for the early saints in Utah, the sense of community and boundary maintenance came in the form of irrigation ditches and building projects. In the latter half of the 20th century, we saw a move towards what she called individual boundary maintenance, ie living commandments, carrying a TR, and an absence of communal sacrifices. I had never made the comparison, but how much did the unified budget plan take away from us in terms of communal sacrifice? No more building fund drives, no more temple building assessments, budget dinners and relief society bazaars.

    Temple worship can fill that void for some, but there are still a large percentage without TRs, and some who just don’t get it.

  18. Ahh, my link is broken in # 17. I was trying to link back to Kristine’s “confession” of January 26th here at BCC.

  19. namakemono says:

    re #4 – unless of course you come to Japan where general conference is a week later, then you can have both! (except that here even in church, many people do not notice Easter at all…)(yes, even in our church -I was teaching YW one Easter Sunday and asked them what day it was, and only the 1 American girl in the class knew … sigh…)

  20. Latter-day Guy says:

    6: “…they were genuinely excited, and I’m genuinely jealous.”

    No need to be jealous––non-Catholics are allowed to participate! I frequently use Catholic services as a liturgical stopgap, and plan on continuing to do so (especially for the major feast days) until we Mormons wise up and decide to get over our low-church-yness (low-church-yhood?).

    (For clarification, I should note that while non-Catholics are able to participate in Catholic sacramentals, they are not invited to participate in the sacraments proper. If there is some prohibition regarding non-Catholics and sacramentals, it would be a local matter and would probably originate from the local ordinary; otherwise, Canon 1170 had got you covered.)

  21. Latter-day Guy says:

    4: “Which, by the way, and sorry to rain on your parade, falls on the first Sunday of April–General Conference–this year.”

    Easter on GC weekend is practically no Easter at all. It’ll get a couple mentions, but then it’s back to slogging through p0rn and tithing and Elder Scott pleading with you to come back to the fold. Sigh.

  22. Antonio Parr says:

    Elder Holland’s General Conference address in April, 2010 made reference to Lent-related observances that (hopefully) signal a move towards a greater focus on Holy Week and associated observances.

    For a Church that seeks after all things that are good and holy and praiseworthy, we have a perplexing aversion to formal observance of the events surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection. If we can remember Pioneer Day, surely we can find a way to better memorialize Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

  23. #17: Kevinf

    “how much did the unified budget plan take away from us in terms of communal sacrifice?”

    I like this concept. I do remember when I was young the ward coming together to have pot luck dinners, to have fund raising projects, etc. I felt a much more sense of unity in the wards back then. Now, even though I have had “leadership” callings and should theoretically be even more involved, I don’t have that same sense of unity. It is very much more of a cog in a wheel mentality, with everything from the standardized building plans to the unified budgets to the correlated manuals and approved sources to the 1960′s corporate dress standard. I miss the old days.

  24. Kevin Barney says:

    Many years ago I helpfully pointed out to a secretary that she had some dirt smudged on her forehead. I can’t tell you how embarrassed I was to learn that, uh, it was actually Ash Wednesday. I had been completely oblivious to the liturgical calendar, and it was completely off of my radar. So thanks for this notice so I don’t stick my foot quite so far into my mouth sometime tomorrow…

  25. The second best thing about Lent is the Friday Fish Frys at every Moose Club, Elks Club or VFW in the village. The best thing is the feeling of being a part of Zion: one mind and one heart remembering the Atonement of Christ. Even though we are LDS and not Catholic, I can join them in spirit.

  26. Mark Brown says:

    Ditto Friday fish frys. Man, oh man.

  27. This is all very nice, but what do we do about it. I mentioned the lack of holidays in 2006 (see Celebrate Ramachristmahanakwanzasmith Day), and I can’t be the first to notice.

    Since Thanksgiving started as basically a mid-19th century magazine campaign, perhaps we in the bloggernacle should choose a few holidays to adopt and start a campaign, complete with outlining exactly what should be done on those holidays.

    Isn’t that better than complaining about how other religions have it better?

  28. Antonio #22, Kristine Haglund’s collection of “Hymns and Poems for Holy Week” are a superb contribution by a Mormon to the remembrance of Holy Thursday and Good Friday.I still have them all saved and re-read them each year.

  29. About the only thing I reeeeeeally miss from my time living in Michigan was the Fat Tuesday tradition (borrowed from the Polish IIRC) of paczki. If you think they’re just jelly donuts you couldn’t be more wrong.

    Re:OP, I found a little bit of holy envy creep in when I saw ash-marked foreheads this time of year. Then I listened to the list of things my friends were giving up for Lent, often alcohol and cigarettes, and figure that I could sacrifice those right alongside them. Often I did better at it than they did!

    Now I’m in Greater Provonia and the best I can hope for is a jelly donut and my students telling me stories about Mardi Gras in the countries where they served their missions…

  30. Velikiye Kniaz says:

    I am afraid that all of the above have lost me on this one. As a former Roman Catholic, educated periodically in parochial schools as I grew up, I do not share in any liturgical calendar envy whatsoever. None of these traditions of men enamor me to the point that I would desire to graft them into the Restored Church. For many years after my conversion I felt that the apostasy was a conscious conspiracy by those in the early Church to steer it into an amalgamation of pagan beliefs and practices and Greek philosophy. But as the years have passed time and more study brought me to the conclusion that the apostasy was not wholly brought to pass by malice aforethought, but rather by those early Saints that desired to make their new faith more familiar with the introduction of one or more of the practices of their former belief systems. Over the centuries these accretions have built up layer upon layer until the present day. None of these ‘traditions, customs, practices or observances’ originated from the teachings of the Saviour. Had He felt them sufficiently edifying and useful to the Saints of the last days, I am certain the Prophet Joseph would have been directed to add them to the Restoration of all things. Perhaps some of this desire is a way of addressing deep seated need in some individuals to make the Church more palatable to the ‘mainstream’ religions so that we can appear less ‘peculiar’. By attempting to weave them into the life of the Latter-day Saints and their children isn’t that sending a message that
    the Gospel and the Restoration is somehow deficient? I believe that it would be better to draw on our own Scriptures and create a firmly Latter-day Saint tradition that could be privately practiced within the walls of our own homes rather than import Advent candles, Lenten ashes, and meatless two score days. Otherwise, we also may tread the same gently sloped path of the early Saints to a gradual but inexorable apostasy.

  31. Steve Evans says:

    VK, that’s a fair point of view. I don’t think it’s for everyone, and clearly you do not think such things are a good idea.

  32. I try to keep room for “holy envy” in my heart (at least I think that is what Harold B. Lee called it), but I don’t mind the apparent lack of Liturgical Calendar in the Church. I say “apparent” because I think that we do have some pretty sturdy traditions in the church with General Conference, Father & Sons Campout, Scout Camp, Girls Camp, Christmas, Easter, Pioneer Day, Thanksgiving, etc.

  33. VK’s comment reminded me of the story I heard that Ezra Taft Benson found some unusually elaborate sacrament ceremonies in Europe after WWII. He (kindly I imagine) reversed the elaborations. Something similar may have happened to music during the sacrament. I remember as a deacon our bishop telling us to be reverent while passing the sacrament, but not ceremonial. I suspect that a lot of the work of General Authorities is to keep things simple (Correlation anyone?)

  34. Latter-day Guy says:

    None of these ‘traditions, customs, practices or observances’ originated from the teachings of the Saviour.

    Do you think Jesus sent a card and a flower to Mary on the second Sunday in May? Maybe the second Saturday? ‘Cause, you know, that’s what they do in my ward.

    By attempting to weave them into the life of the Latter-day Saints and their children isn’t that sending a message that the Gospel and the Restoration is somehow deficient?

    No. But we ought to be careful about what we (explicitly or implicitly) present as “the Gospel and the Restoration.” White shirts and ties? Business suits? Trunk-r-Treats? Dating when you turn 16? Primary Programs? Greg Olsen (a.k.a. Thomas Kinkade’s doppelganger, who paints glowy Jesuses instead of glowy cottages)? Did Peter, James and John attend Girl’s Camp on the Mount of Transfiguration? Did Hyrum Smith get his Eagle Scout award? Did Eliza R. Snow actually fall down the stairs as part of a Roadshow? Did God engrave a Personal Progress checklist on the back side of the Decalogue? Did Moses then give Miriam a neck bangle after having her stand up for recognition before the camp of Israel?

    Some things are the gospel/revelation, but a lot of what we think of as “Mormon” is just culture––therefore subject to personal preference and *gasp* taste! The gospel is absolutely not deficient, but plenty of Mormon culture is repellent. The inability to clearly separate the two is much better fuel for the process of apostasy-by-accretion than an occasional Advent Wreath or a little palm-waving.

  35. Latter-day Guy says:

    22: “Elder Holland’s General Conference address in April, 2010″

    Is this like Restaurant at the End of the Universe? “General Conference is going to has been very uplifting.” ;-)

  36. Antonio Parr says:

    2010/2009.

    Oops.

  37. Antonio Parr says:

    30. You wrote:

    <>

    If our peculiarity arises out of a failure to seize the annual opportunity to honor the events of the Savior’s last week of His life, then, respectfully, some mainstreaming may be in order. I recall one Palm Sunday morning driving past numerous churches of various denominations while on my way to Sacrament Meeting. In each of these buildings, palms were being passed out and there was a collective observance of Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and a solemn acknowledgment of all that awaited Jesus over the next week.

    In my Sacrament meeting, there was not a mention of Christ or Holy Week events. I felt saddened at that moment for my children, who were being deprived of a communal focus on Atonement week. As for me, my soul hungered.

  38. Antonio Parr says:

    P.S. Nothing in my preceding post should minimize the reverence and honor that I feel for the Sacrament, which to me is the defining moment of my LDS worship. However, Sacrament Meeting allows plenty of time to talk about and sing about and reflect about various religious principles, and I can’t think of anything better to talk about on (traditional) Palm Sunday and (traditional) Easter than the last week of Jesus’ mortal ministry.

  39. Latter-Day Guy, we all know that if Jesus and the Apostles had only had Mr. Mac and Dillards business suits, they would have been wearing them at their meetings.

  40. I have several Catholic colleagues who observe lent and give up various “vices” to include chocolate, among other foods. Last year I decided to join them and gave up a food item I enjoy. About two weeks in I found it to be a real challenge and sought out a Catholic colleague to firm up my resolve. He shared a Lent secret with me: Sundays are free days! As he explained, the Sabbath is not meant for suffering but for celebration, so on Sundays a person may indulge whatever they’ve decided to give up. Instead of encouraging me, it took the wind completely out of my sails and I lost all resolve and renewed my longstanding relationships with Captain Crunch, Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks et al.

  41. Antonio Parr says:

    Here is another way of looking at LDS and Lenten observance:

    Why ~not~ talk about Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday and Good Friday and Easter Sunday during the week preceding Easter? What Gospel principle are we violating if on Palm Sunday we ~remember~ Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, and we ~remember~ the institution of the Sacrament and we ~remember~ the great intercessory prayer and we ~remember~ Christ’s betrayal by one of his closest friends and we ~remember~ Christ’s “trial” and interactions with Pilate and Herod and we ~remember~ the stripes that Jesus bore (by which we are healed) and we ~remember~ his walk down the via dolorosa and we ~remember~ his crucifixtion and we ~remember~ his final words (including the comfor that He gave to the “good thief” and we ~remember~ that Christ died a death as real and as cold and as seemingly final as any of the deaths that we have experienced and we ~remember~ the silent Saturday when, for many, all hope seemed gone, and we ~remember~ Easter when, thanks be to God, Jesus rose from the dead, His victory over sin and death now complete?

    Why ~not~ talk about these breathtaking events during the corresponding week of each year?

  42. re 32

    I suspect that any LDS celebration of Easter is because it always occurs on a Sunday. I’ve not been in a ward that celebrates Christmas. The Sunday before Christmas usually includes a Christmas program, but no other celebration 6 years out of 7.

  43. VK (comment #30): I understand why you’d think that about this discussion, inasmuch as you left Roman Catholicism and converted to the CoJCoLDS. Perhaps, for you, the liturgical events part of what you deliberately left behind and you have no desire to re-incorporate them.

    For life-long LDS members such as myself, however, we have never felt the need to reject those other beliefs. We weren’t raised in a tradition that we have now left behind. And in fact we were taught that Mormonism embraces all truth. On our missions we taught investigators to “keep all the good that you have.” So, by incorporating a little emphasis on certain holidays, it only augments my Mormon experience. So, like Antonio Parr, I ask myself, “Why not?”

  44. Antonio,

    I have been trying to do just as you suggest in our ward here in Florida. We have tried to incorporate remembrance of Passion Week into our services. However, for some reason, there is a tendency amongst life-long members to actually contest and belittle and cringe when we bring up the subjects. I don’t know where this association with blandness and the restored gospel came from or why it creates a such a reaction. Why are we OK with going all out on Christmas with MoTab and a First Presidency Devotional and plays on Temple Square but not a peep when it comes to the Atonement, Crucifixion, and Resurrection? No MoTab concert with Broadway stars, no sense of anticipaiton, no First Presidency Devotional, no plays or special recognition. It totally baffles me. Have we become SO beholden to the mixture of consumerism and Christmas that we only believe it proper to present a front to the world?

    I have read before that a couple of the Brethren have uttered off-handed comments that show a less-than-enthusiastic embrace of Holy Week as too Catholic. But as Brother Bushman has pointed out so well in Rough Stone Rolling, Joseph was not purely Calvinist in his approach to the Restored Gospel. The whole concept of an organized priesthood and Temple ritual struck the early converts as papist. The Gospel is not beholden to the “low-church”, bland, non-celebratory, non-public adoration tradition. It is only cultural tradition that keeps us from more fully embracing some aspect of liturgy and public adoration.

  45. Antonio Parr says:

    Michael 2:

    I wish that your experience was the exception and not the rule, but that does not appear to be the case.

    Passion week/holy week is very important to the good Catholics and good Protestants that I know, and, coincidentally, happens to celebrate the atonement of Christ, which is as lovely and as virtuous as any truth that exists. Why we don’t more actively seek after these things is a mystery to me. I can’t imagine that our disregard of Holy Week helps our missionary work.

    All this being said, nothing in this or my prior comments is meant to diminish my eternal gratitude for the sublime and unique truths of the Church. I just think that there must be a place for focusing our communal worship in “real time” on the extraordinary last week of our Savior’s mortal ministry.

  46. I actually enjoy the season of lent/Easter over christmas everyday of the week and twice on Sunday for the following reason:1) too much of the christmas season is spent running around worrying about finding the right gift for someone and pretending to like the gift that someone else got you. By the time Christmas day arrives your exhausted from a

    I also like the Easter season because it reminds of of the sacrifice and the life of christ.

    In addition, the reason we don’t have lent is because as mormons we have fast and testimony at the beginning of every month, not just during one particular season

  47. Velikiye Kniaz says:

    RE: Latter-day Guy #34

    No, LDSG, I don’t believe that the Saviour sent/gave His mother a card and flower on the second Sunday (or Saturday) in May, but then again it isn’t a firmly ensconced religious tradition in either Catholicism or Protestantism. As to the white shirts and ties, business suits, etc., I do believe that very likely some early Christians, especially those who were still enslaved, were asked to wear the longer chiton rather than the common short skirted tunic when they came to worship with their fellow Saints. (If they didn’t own or couldn’t wear a chiton they were probably asked to wear an undergarment for the purpose of modesty.) Apostles were likely clothed in the fashion of respectable individuals of the period, analygous to the business suits of today. I don’t believe they walked around in brocades, lace surplices, golden be-jeweled pectoral crosses, or wore the crows beak mitres, etc. As to most of what you mention, I believe they are a response to the necessity of these times, razor blades or drugs in Halloween candy, the increasing pressure on ever younger youth to become sexually active, and creative ways to instill Gospel principles into the minds of impressionable youth. Mormon kitsch? Ya got me there, brother! That’s too rich a topic for me to mine and there’s not enough space on the blog! As a point of history, I believe that Eliza R. Snow was pushed down the staircase in the Mansion House as she herself related, and this was the explanation for her subsequent inability to have children. (This is commonly accepted by the Community of Christ, but I don’t know if and independent confirmation by Emma Smith is among their historical records.)
    But I respectfully disagree that the inclusion of the Advent wreath, palm waving, etc. is as benign as you seem the feel it is. Those having gained acceptibility, then open the gates for further non-LDS traditions, until the few start to become sufficiently large that they do constitute the appellation ‘accretion’. I do agree that it would be useful to remember these major events in the mortal life of the Saviour by topical Sacrament meeting talks on the Sabbath closest to the seeming anniversary of the calendrical event.
    I do think that it is inappropriate to borrow and use the term “Holy Week”, “Fat Tuesday”, et al, however as those relate to a religious tradition not our own and perhaps even hostile to it.
    RBC; In my Catholic upbringing, I never heard of this ‘Sunday is free from your Lenten sacrifice’ concept. Of course, I was before Vatican II, and that might be the explanation. But I can assure you that no priest or nun would have ever told us that such a thing was acceptable. It was 40 days straight, no exceptions. If you succumbed to temptation your Lenten sacrifice was less than total or perfect. Trust me, if I could have ferreted out such a ‘doctrine’, I would have eagerly employed it!
    Hunter, I left Catholicism of my own volition and with my Protestant mother’s wholehearted approval when I was 10 years old. We then started attending the Congregationalist Church in our home state in New England. Those of you who are familiar with it’s history will know of that church’s Pilgrim (Puritan) roots. Congregationalists originally eschewed all of these traditions as well, but some of them had found their way into the church I attended. (Specifically, church services on Christmas Eve, and the passing out of palms on Palm Sunday.) But since there was nothing sacred subscribed to the palm fronds, they were usually discarded within a month or two.
    Lastly, I don’t believe that by embracing these traditions we are embracing ‘all truth’. We are simply incorporating a human made tradition that is outside of the Latter-day Saint experience. Personally, the one tradition which I germane and moving is the way the Russian Orthodox greet each other at the early morning conclusion of their all night Easter services. One will turn to each person surrounding them and joyously say, “Christ is risen!” To which the other replies, “Yes, He is truly risen!” But I still haven’t made that a practice of my own. Yet, I do know that is He is truly risen.

  48. Other, smarter Mormons have bemoaned the absence of an LDS liturgical calendar

    Other, smarter Mormons enjoy the way things are. We’re too busy doing our home teaching and being ward missionaries and helping in the Cub Scouts yadda yadda yadda for yet another program… :)

  49. Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have decided that my family shall celebrate “Dusting Day” every January 27. It will be our special Mormon Holiday, since we don’t get Pioneer Day in California.

  50. Doctrinally I’m with Velikiye Kniaz, nevertheless I have given up Coke for Lent, including on Sundays, with my Catholic bff from a former job for 14 years now. I have spent my adult life in the Midwest and I think Easter is always about the atonement, with especially beautiful music. Am I just lucky?

  51. Perhaps it’s the number of young children I have, but if the church did some marvelous lent/eastery thing, I’d be in the halls anyway…

    I have had some wonderful experiences with our homeschool group and my own family celebrating passover week with a walk and palms from Israel, great food and a passover introductory meal…

    I normally listen to my favorite easter music during the week early inthe morning or later in the evening. If it were at church I would miss it. It has forced me to have some personal easter traditions, and I really enjoy them.

  52. Antonio Parr says:

    I can understand the aversion to adopting the entire traditions of Lent. But I can’t understand why “Palm Sunday” is not recognized or acknowledged (at least in any of the wards or stakes that I have been in), and can’t understand why this Sunday prior to Easter is not set apart to focus on the crucial events of the last week of Christ’s life.

  53. “I have read before that a couple of the Brethren have uttered off-handed comments that show a less-than-enthusiastic embrace of Holy Week as too Catholic.”

    I wonder if I listened to the same General Conference as was broadcast in Florida.

    “I can’t imagine that our disregard of Holy Week helps our missionary work.”

    I can’t imagine a more enthusiastic embrace would help in the slightest.

  54. Holy Week celebrations are more a Catholic tradition than an Evangelical tradition. 21st century Mormonism – at least in the US – seemingly targets Evangelicals, or fishes in the same waters as do Evangelicals, for converts. Thus, adopting seemingly Catholic celebrations would not assist the conversion process.

  55. Antonio Parr says:

    Ray – I disagree. Were the Sunday prior to Easter to be focused on Christ’s passion, then we would have a natural opportunity to invite friends and neighbors to join with us in celebrating a mutual focus of worship. I wouldn’t dream of inviting a non-LDS Christian to Church on Palm Sunday to hear a talk on tithing or word of wisdom or prophets when I know that down the street a non-LDS church is tracing with reverence the footsteps of our Savior on the way to Gesthemane and Calvary and Resurrection morning. We believe in these things, which makes our avoidance of the topic all the more frustrating.

  56. Can you (or anybody else) help me to find what is the best place to order flowers? All companies I have looked at are too expensive for me.

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