Omnes Gentes

While researching the evolution of Christian anointing from Christ through the Restoration, I have grown a deep appreciation for the various Catholic rites that include the use of oil. Baptism, confirmation, ordination, extreme unction, and the recent revitalization of anointing the sick. However, a few days ago I knelt in a Church not far from my home to witness the confirmation of my friend’s son, and I was not prepared to be as moved as I was.

Yes, the music was superb; the censer’s smoke, sweet. The liturgy, without question, is beautiful. But it was the words of the Bishop as he tested the confirmati. He used for his questions the readings in Joel and Romans. He spoke of becoming priests, prophets and kings. He told them that every time they said no to pornography or other sinful behavior, they were strengthening the Church. He talked about how they could receive revelation.

Then he laid his hands on their heads and anointed them with oil, pronouncing, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

We don’t often remember our own anointings, whether at Kirtland, or the child at Nauvoo in preparation to be sealed to her parents. We forget the eighth day blessings and the preparation for the dying. As I stood and sang the final refrain, “Laudate dominum, laudate dominum, omnes gentes. Alleluia,” I thought to myself, “Yes! All people of the world, praise the Lord.” And these twenty seven sealed before me, I would gladly remember with my own.

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  1. Thanks, J. There truly is much good and beautiful all around us.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Sounds quite moving. Thanks for sharing.

  3. John Hamer says:

    I love high church things like this. Mike’s been threatening to take me to Latin mass — I’m going to have to take him up on that.

  4. That was absolutely beautiful. I’ve had spiritual experiences in other churches too. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to hear the sacrament prayer in Latin.

  5. As missionaries 45 years ago, we went with some member friends to the Christmas Mass at midnight in an ice-cold cathedral. We stood shoulder to shoulder with the celebrants. At the moment of transubstantiation, at midnight, the bell tolled. It was a moment of full of spiritual promise. I was deeply moved, also.

    It is too bad that Mormonism does not have these high rituals full of import and circumstance. (I am, however, glad that we have an egalitarian (so far) church of equals. Are the two ideas mutually exclusive?)

  6. Love it.

  7. Latter-day Guy says:

    “the censor’s smoke, sweet”

    Was he there in case the priest began swearing? And they let him smoke in the church!? ;)

    A lovely post. Thanks for reminding me why I love the high church tradition.

  8. Neal Davis says:

    O Deus, pater aeternus, tuī petēmus in nōmine filius tui, Iesus Christus, qui hīc pānis beāre et sanctificare ad animae omni quī hōc edent…

    Is that a good start? I’m a little rusty on my cases.

  9. MikeInWeHo says:

    There was a censor in church that day? Was he on fire?

    I almost got whacked on the head by a censer at an Episcopal service once. They were swinging two of them a full 360 during the processional. While impressive, I was afraid the lid was going to come off and burning coals thrown all over the congregants.

  10. Velikye Kniaz says:

    The censor has been cynically referred to by some as “the burning purse”. I am amazed how Latter-day Saints can become so enamored with Roman Catholic rituals. Since I was raised Catholic and attended parochial schools I have long since come to see much of the ritual as a variant of ceremonies performed in the pagan temples of the Roman Empire now retroactively overlaid with Christian meaning and symbolism. However, it is most refreshing to see that at this this particular Catholic bishop has caught the vision of the necessity of the Restoration. But without authentic Priesthood authority these expressions are just sweet sentiment. As a child I did not care for Latin, even with the translation being available in my Missal, and cannot share in rhapsodizing it’s alleged virtues. I have had my Catholic experience, thank you, and shall remain loyal to Latter-day Saint simplicity.

  11. Re. No. 3: “Mike’s been threatening to take me to Latin mass — I’m going to have to take him up on that.”

    Yes, do it. Latin mass is real church. At the moment when the host is raised, the bells are rung . . . my, now THAT really makes you feel like you’re in the presence of something holy. It’s very moving to participate in other spiritual rituals. Just don’t ever take my good ol’ LDS ward from me.

  12. esodhiambo says:

    I’m enjoying the return of poetic J. Stapley.

  13. MikeInWeHo says:

    The Burning Purse would be a great title for a made-for-TV movie on the Lifetime Network. :)

  14. Velikye Kniaz: No question about the choice of the Restoration over Catholicism.

    There are deep hooks in our unconscious mind that can be caught by strange languages, arcane symbolism, special dress, and ritual. When I was a Boy Scout I was inducted into the Order of the Arrow. They used the same hooks in a slightly different fashion.

    In our Church these hooks are used in the Temple. However, we are so egalitarian. Our wedding ceremonies in the temple exemplify the non-awe-inspiring ritual. Nice, but not hook-appealing.

    I was recently remarried. We found a really nice sealer and my to-be wife talked at length with him about keeping the ceremony simple and stately because we are substantially older than most couples. He said he would, but in the sealing room he could not retrain himself and read a really maudlin poem about young love. At least that is a source of humor.

    I am not really complaining, mind you, but Mormonism is homey and intimate and personal. The sealer had worked for my bride’s father 30 years earlier and loved him and said so at length in the ceremony. No priest would or could have done that.

  15. With all due respect for what br. Stapley felt, I concur fully with what Velikye Kniaz said. I was raised a Catholic, and the alluring beauty and mysteries of Latin Catholicism permeated my childhood, until, at age 17, I understood the fakery of it all. Which does not mean that I do not respect true believing Catholics, but their liturgy is pagan mingled with Scripture. Incense, candles, Latin, liturgical dresses — all artificial means to trigger certain feelings. Difficult to compare with the Spirit that comes from the plainness and simplicity of the Restoration and which one has to actively work for to obtain and to keep.

  16. Wilfried, as a believer in the Restoration, I appreciate the perspectives of those who were raised Catholic. I would however note that we be cautious as our own liturgies are not unalloyed from the cultural contexts in which they were formulated – some of which our worst antagonists are happy to point out. But I agree, the simple is often sublime.

  17. Two years ago me and my wife were in Switzerland doing some genealogy. We had traced my surname back to a small village in the Swiss alps that has been there in excess of 1k years. On Easter Sunday we attended the Catholic Church which is by far the most prominent building in the village. I was so excited to be in the building that my progenitors worshiped in. When the Priest came out he spoke in Italian, which I don’t…

    We had a new neighbor move in next to us who is a Pastor at a church near our house. Recently at church a member came up to me and asked if I had met my new neighbor. He then told me how this Pastor had extended him an invitation to come to his church. He could not believe the nerve of this Pastor for doing so. I was astounded that he turned him down so rudely. We go out of our way to invite people to come to our church but the second someone asks us to theirs we get offended.

  18. Thanks J. As an adult I’ve found ample opportunity to enjoy the fruits of other religions. Favorites include:
    -Midnight mass with the Catholics,
    -Commitment ceremonies with the Episcopalians,
    -Talking politics at church with the Unitarians

    I have actually been asked to present 2 sermons with the UU’s, and loved the experience. I enjoyed the Q&A period after the sermon and the big-circle, hand-holding singing.

    Still, I don’t think I would enjoy these approaches for my weekly service. Fellowshipping and sustaining the friends and family of my “home ward” represent the essence of ritual for me.

    Now, about the music…