Mormon temples are unique buildings that are not used for normal Sunday worship services. While chapels, where services are held, are open to the public, the temples require special permission to attend, and are for people who have been members of the Church for at least one year and have achieved a high level of obedience to God’s commandments. Only adults may enter the temple except for a limited number of situations. Following are some thoughts and stories from Thomas S. Monson, the Mormon prophet, on these sacred buildings.
The Temple as Service
Now, my brothers and sisters, we have built temples throughout the world and will continue to do so. To you who are worthy and able to attend the temple, I would admonish you to go often. The temple is a place where we can find peace. There we receive a renewed dedication to the gospel and a strengthened resolve to keep the commandments.
What a privilege it is to be able to go to the temple, where we may experience the sanctifying influence of the Spirit of the Lord. Great service is given when we perform vicarious ordinances for those who have gone beyond the veil. In many cases we do not know those for whom we perform the work. We expect no thanks, nor do we have the assurance that they will accept that which we offer. However, we serve, and in that process we attain that which comes of no other effort: we literally become saviors on Mount Zion. As our Savior gave His life as a vicarious sacrifice for us, so we, in some small measure, do the same when we perform proxy work in the temple for those who have no means of moving forward unless something is done for them by those of us here on the earth.
Thomas S. Monson, “Until We Meet Again,” Ensign, May 2009, 112–14
A Temple in Germany
On a Sunday morning, April 27, 1975, I stood on an outcropping of rock situated between the cities of Dresden and Meissen, high above the Elbe River, and offered a prayer on the land and its people. That prayer noted the faith of the members. It emphasized the tender feelings of many hearts filled with an overwhelming desire to obtain temple blessings. A plea for peace was expressed. Divine help was requested. I spoke the words: “Dear Father, let this be the beginning of a new day for the members of Thy Church in this land.”
Suddenly, from far below in the valley, a bell in a church steeple began to chime and the shrill crow of a rooster broke the morning silence, each heralding the commencement of a new day. Though my eyes were closed, I felt a warmth from the sun’s rays reaching my face, my hands, my arms. How could this be? An incessant rain had been falling all morning.
At the conclusion of the prayer, I gazed heavenward. I noted a ray of sunshine which streamed from an opening in the heavy clouds, a ray which engulfed the spot where our small group stood. From that moment I knew divine help was at hand.
The work moved forward. The paramount blessing needed was the privilege of our worthy members to receive their endowments and their sealings.
We explored every possibility. A trip once in a lifetime to the temple in Switzerland? Not approved by the government. Perhaps mother and father could come to Switzerland, leaving the children behind. Not right. How do you seal children to parents when they cannot kneel at an altar? It was a tragic situation. Then, through the fasting and the prayers of many members, and in a most natural manner, government leaders proposed: Rather than having your people go to Switzerland to visit a temple, why don’t you build a temple here in the German Democratic Republic? The proposal was accepted, a choice parcel of property obtained in Freiberg, and ground broken for a beautiful temple of God.
The day of dedication was an historic occasion. President Gordon B. Hinckley offered the dedicatory prayer. Heaven was close that day.
For its size, this temple is one of the busiest temples in the Church. It is the only temple where one makes an appointment to participate in an endowment session. It is the only temple I know of where stake presidents say, “What can we do? Our home teaching is somewhat down because everyone is in the temple!” When I heard that comment, I thought, “Not bad—not bad at all!”
Thomas S. Monson, “Thanks Be to God,” Ensign, May 1989, 50
A Temple in Canada
Another transcendent blessing came the last weekend of August when a magnificent temple of the Lord was dedicated in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In its gleaming glory, the temple seems to beckon to each who views its splendor, “Come! Come to the house of the Lord. Here is found ‘rest for the weary and peace for the soul.’ ”
And how the people did come! First they thronged to the public open house, where reverently and quietly they viewed the interior of the temple and learned the purpose for its erection and of the blessings which the temple can provide. One visitor described the temple’s beauty with the words, “This is a center of serenity.”
As she was about to leave the temple, a young Asian girl said, “Mommy, this is beautiful here. I don’t want to go.”
One woman surprised an usher with her request: “I have been so impressed with what I have seen. How do I join your church?”
Then came the faithful membership of the Church to the dedicatory sessions. From Ontario and Quebec they came. Others traveled from those cities in the United States which are a part of the temple district. Some journeyed to Toronto from the distant Maritime Provinces of Canada. None who came returned home disappointed.
A boy of tender years viewing the cornerstone-laying ceremony was, by the spirit of inspiration, called to take trowel in hand and assist in the sealing of the cornerstone.
Dora Valencia, who had lain four years in the Ajax Ontario Hospital, mustered her courage and fulfilled the desire to attend. From her hospital bed, which was wheeled into the celestial room, she not only basked in the spirit found there, but she also helped to provide that spirit. As I walked past her, upon leaving the room, and gazed at her expression of profound gratitude to the Lord, I bent low and took her hand in mine. Heaven was very near.
Angelic choirs lifted spirits heavenward as they sang the beautiful “Hosanna Anthem.” When the congregation joined with the choir to sing “The Spirit of God like a fire is burning,” no eye remained dry and no heart untouched.
Speakers recounted the history of the Church in the Toronto area, and the beautiful dedicatory prayer given at each session whispered peace. The words of Oliver Cowdery, spoken of another time, seemed to capture the spirit of the dedication: “These were days never to be forgotten.” (JS—H 1:71, note.)
Thomas S. Monson, “Days Never to Be Forgotten,” Ensign, Nov 1990, 67
Guidance to Teenage Mormon Girls
Young sisters, your opportunities to reach outward and bless the lives of others are limitless. Think, for example, of the privilege you have to attend the holy temple, there to reach out to others who have passed beyond by serving as proxies to provide them the blessings of baptism.
One morning as I walked to the temple, I saw a group of young women who, early that morning, had participated in baptisms for those who had passed beyond. Their hair was wet. Their smiles were radiant. Their hearts were filled with joy. One girl turned back to face the temple and expressed her feelings. “This has been the happiest day of my life,” she said.
Thomas S. Monson, “Your Celestial Journey,” Ensign, May 1999, 96