In the 2010 General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes called Mormons, Thomas S. Monson talked about Mormon temples. President Monson is the current Mormon prophet and also the president of the Church.
Temples date as far back as the exodus of the Israelites under the leadership of Moses. The Israelites were commanded by God to create a portable temple, called a tabernacle, they could take with them from place to place. Knowing that God did not want them even to travel without a temple tells us just how important temples are in God’s plan. The Old Testament also mentions the Temple of Solomon and the Temple of Zerubbabel, while the New Testament mentions the Temple of Herod, a place we often found Jesus. The people of the Book of Mormon also built temples. Unfortunately, temples, like other parts of God’s plan, disappeared from the earth during the great apostasy. It was not until the gospel was restored that temples returned to the earth.
Joseph Smith received his first revelation about temples in 183, with instructions to build a temple in Kirtland Ohio, followed by one in Missouri. Today, temples can be found around the world. There are 131 temples currently built, with 21 more currently being built and five that have been announced.
Temples are different from ordinary meetinghouses. Mormon meetinghouses, found in neighborhoods around the world, are open to the public. Sunday worship services, religious education, and weekday activities are held in them. Temples, however, are open only to those who have been found worthy by their leadership to enter. Except in special circumstances, full attendance is open only to adults, with limited access available to teenagers.
Inside the temples, Mormons make covenants (sacred two-way promises with God), learn the gospel, and perform sacred ordinances. The temple focuses on the gospel of Jesus Christ and is especially important to the sanctity of family life.
In his conference address, Thomas Monson focused on the sacrifices many have made in order to obey God’s commandment to attend the temple. He spoke of a group of 100 Mormons deep in the heart of the Amazon in Manaus, Brazil who were determined to get to the temple to do their sacred ordinances for the first time. At that time, the closest temple was 2500 miles away. This did not daunt the members, who had been saving their money for many years. They first traveled the Amazon River by boats for four days. This was followed by three days of travel on busses and bumpy roads with little to eat. After attending the temple, they had to make the same trip in reverse. They arrived home with little money, but their hearts were filled. They knew they had been doing the Lord’s work and they were happy to make whatever sacrifices were called for. Today, a temple is being built in their own area.
“Why are so many willing to give so much in order to receive the blessings of the temple? Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort.”
President Monson addressed the Rome, Italy temple, now under construction. Mormons were very excited about the announcement of this temple.
“Every temple is a house of God, filling the same functions and with identical blessings and ordinances. The Rome Italy Temple, uniquely, is being built in one of the most historic locations in the world, a city where the ancient Apostles Peter and Paul preached the gospel of Christ and where each was martyred.
Last October, as we gathered on a lovely pastoral site in the northeast corner of Rome, it was my opportunity to offer a prayer of dedication as we prepared to break the ground. I felt impressed to call upon Italian senator Lucio Malan and Rome’s vice-mayor Giuseppe Ciardi to be among the first to turn a shovelful of earth. Each had been a part of the decision to allow us to build a temple in their city.
The day was overcast but warm, and although rain threatened, not more than a drop or two fell. As the magnificent choir sang in Italian the beautiful strains of “The Spirit of God,” one felt as though heaven and earth were joined in a glorious hymn of praise and gratitude to Almighty God. Tears could not be restrained.
In a coming day, the faithful in this, the Eternal City, will receive ordinances eternal in nature in a holy house of God.”
Read, watch, or listen to The Holy Temple by Thomas S. Monson.