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Ethics for Young Girls: Lesson 10: Reverence for Sacred Things

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 05, 2012

Ethics for Young Girls

Young Woman’s Journal, 1900-1901

Lesson 10: Reverence for Sacred Things

This subject comprises so much that it will be impossible to elaborate on all its phases. Young folk are irreverent mostly from thoughtlessness, not from desire.

Many young people go to meetings, even religious gatherings, and talk and whisper to the extreme annoyance of those who are desirous of listening. It is acknowledged as a principle of modern ethics that we may do anything we wish as long as we obey conscience and do not infringe upon the rights of others. When we talk out of order in meetings we are infringing upon the rights of those who wish to listen to another.

There is another view to take of talking in meetings. Every person in the audience or congregation exerts an influence upon the speaker. This influence may be strong or weak, according to the strength of character of the listener. A strong-minded person not in harmony with the subject spoken of can so influence the speaker the he becomes confused and is not clear in his arguments, while a strong-minded, intellectual person in sympathy with the speaker can help him to think clearly. People in all the world recognize this principle. how much greater must it be in our Church when added to this is the strong spiritual influence!

When a speaker asks for an interest in your faith and prayers, he means this: “Give me your sympathy that you may help me with your minds. All unite in prayer that the Lord will put into my mind the things you need.”

Just one whisper will cause a rupture in this unified sympathy which ascends to the Master and to the speaker. How careful we should be that not an act of ours may prevent the Spirit of God descending in full measure upon the congregation!

We should have such reverence for our places of worship that loud talking and laughing in these places, even when meetings are not in session, would be avoided by us.

Not only is the inside of the meeting house sacred, but the yard and surroundings are just as surely dedicated to the Lord as the house itself. Strolling about the yard, talking and laughing about the door, speaking loudly while passing sacred places, whether they be those belonging to our Church or to other denominations, should be avoided by us.

We are not so reverent of our Sacrament vessels as we should be. In some meetings children, men, and women, will drink out of the vessels to quench their thirst, after the Sacrament has been passed, and they will even drink the consecrated water. One of our prominent brethren was speaking in a meeting when his throat became dry. A sacrament vessel containing the consecrated water was passed to him. He said, “I cannot be irreverent to such sacred things,” and refused the water. The members of that ward learned a lesson in reverence for sacred things that they will not soon forget.

You all know the judgment of God upon Belshazzar for drinking and making merry with the sacrament vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem.

You may refer to that story. (Dan. 5.)

Even in partaking of the Sacrament we can be irreverent. We are told we should not take it unworthily. If we have hard feelings to any if we have done wrong, we should not partake of it until that wrong is made right. In the blessing we make a sacred promise to God that we will keep His commandments. If we do not try to do this, we have not the proper reverence for sacred promises.

People should go to Sacrament meetings with their mouths clean and teeth brushed. Is it reverent to drink out of a sacred vessel with an unclean mouth?

Many Sacrament vessels are not cleaned properly before the bread and water are placed in them. They should be as clean and pure as their use is.

Some women think that if they partake of the Sacrament with mittens or even silk gloves, that they are reverencing the ordinance. We are commanded to partake of the Sacrament with bared hand and with the right hand, and if we do not do this according to the commandments of God, it shows that we have not much reverence for this ordinance.

We should have reverence for the Priesthood, and our brethren holding it, no matter in what office. One mother beautifully trained her children to respect those holding the Priesthood. She would say to the children: “Here is our Bishop, shake hands with him.” If he had been the President of the United States she could not have spoken more respectfully to him or of him. “Bring a chair. He is our Bishop.” Will it be surprising if children honor and reverence the Priesthood when they are grown?

Authority should always be held in reverence. If you are a schoolteacher, your principal should be obeyed, or if you cannot conscientiously obey him, pass out from under his authority. Authority of any kind must be held in reverence, whether it be the authority of the President of the Church, the Bishop, the young ladies’ president, or the Sunday School teacher.

Our holy books are not treated with as much reverence as they should be. Books will wear out in time, even by the most careful handling, but there is a different appearance in books worn out through use and those worn out through carelessness. So many of our music books, Testaments, Books of Mormon, Bibles, show they have been handled by careless and irreverent people, irreverent perhaps because they are thoughtless.

Reverence for sacred things would teach us to be careful in the use of the consecrated oil. It should not be used for anything but to administer to the sick, and for holy purposes for which it has been consecrated; we ought not to desecrate it by using it as hair oil or for furniture polish or any similar purpose. The consecrated oil should be kept carefully corked, as even viler contamination might get into it than flies or insects. Children should be taught to reverence the oil because of the consecration pronounced upon it by the Priesthood.

Questions.

1. Give the blessing on the bread.
2. Give the blessing on the water.
3. What sacred pledges do we make in these prayers?
4. Who was Nebuchadnezzar?
5. Who was Belshazzar?
6. Relate the story of his sacrilegious use of the Sacrament and his punishment.
7. Why should you avoid talking in public gatherings?
8. Why are we commanded not to talk of sacred ordinances in the Temple?
9. For what purposes should consecrated oil be used?
10. What would be a wrong use of consecrated oil?



9 Comments »

  1. A strong-minded person not in harmony with the subject spoken of can so influence the speaker the he becomes confused and is not clear in his arguments, while a strong-minded, intellectual person in sympathy with the speaker can help him to think clearly. People in all the world recognize this principle.

    We do? I might recognize it if I had any idea what she was talking about.

    Just one whisper will cause a rupture in this unified sympathy which ascends to the Master and to the speaker.

    What an unchristian statement. This does not allow for the presence of children and babies at church.

    the consecrated water

    I’ve never heard this concept. I have heard of respect for the sacrament, stories about not leaving dropped bread on the floor, but this sounds rather Catholic.

    People should go to Sacrament meetings with their mouths clean and teeth brushed. Is it reverent to drink out of a sacred vessel with an unclean mouth?

    Eww. I’m glad for the current system of individual cups. (Which reminds me of the wonderful “Ads You’re Not Going to See Again” series from a few years back including the one on Sacrament Trays)

    We are commanded to partake of the Sacrament with bared hand and with the right hand

    That’s timely, due to the very interesting discussion Julia provoked!

    The consecrated oil should be kept carefully corked, as even viler contamination might get into it than flies or insects.

    Oh my goodness, the last chapter in this series was pertinent and interesting, but in this one she’s back to her usual amusing statements. Could this be Susa Young Gates? Anyone familiar enough with her writing to be able to tell?

    Comment by Amy T — September 5, 2012 @ 7:38 am

  2. There is taking the sacrament with right hand again. This time there is the additional mention that we are commanded to take it with bared hand. Haven’t heard that before.f

    Comment by Niklas — September 5, 2012 @ 7:43 am

  3. Bared hand? Ah, but if we start baring our hands, can our shoulders be far behind? And what’s with “mittens or even silk gloves”? Aren’t mittens even farther beyond the pale than silk gloves?

    Once the ordinance of the sacrament is over, the bread and water have served their purpose and do not retain any consecrated status. Eat and drink to your heart’s content. So saith, more or less, a handbook I read a long time ago.

    Other than that, this lesson seems to be one long FAIL. Belshazzar’s feast involved the sacrament–or the vessels used in the sacrament? For an ordinance that was instituted half a millennium later?

    And what not a word about what reverence means, other than being quiet? No suggestion that worship involves revering God, and that all those other behaviors will follow naturally?

    If I had been a young woman in 1900, I’d have gone home mad.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 5, 2012 @ 8:59 am

  4. Perhaps someone can correct me, but I think mitten in this context would refer to a crocheted glove, and not to those fuzzy knit monstrosities that I always disliked as a child. (Not that I wore them much, growing up in Arizona.)

    If I had been a young woman in 1900, I’d have gone home mad.

    I can imagine the last part, Mark B., but not the first.

    Comment by Amy T — September 5, 2012 @ 10:30 am

  5. Every person in the audience or congregation exerts an influence upon the speaker. This influence may be strong or weak, according to the strength of character of the listener.

    I guess that says something about boring, rambling high council talks. Now I know it wasn’t my fault when I used to serve as an HC and didn’t do well. I’ve heard of speakers getting an audience all tuned in to what they are saying, but this is the first time I’ve heard anybody refer to a reverse mesmerism of the speaker by the congregation.

    Comment by kevinf — September 5, 2012 @ 11:43 am

  6. Was it just the 120-years-old part, or something else?

    Maybe it was my ignorance of the finer points of mittens that gave it away, sort of the way the old lady knew Tom Sawyer in drag was really a boy, when he put his legs together to catch the thimble (or whatever it was she dropped) and actually hit the rat when he threw a rock at it.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 5, 2012 @ 11:46 am

  7. Ardis,

    I know you are busy, but is there any context that makes all errors of doctrine (or that seem like errors to us now) any more comprehensible?

    I guess that every time I won a speech or debate tournament I should have given my award to my competitors for their strength of character, which allowed me to win. And think of all the rounds I have judged since leaving high school. I was the only one listening, so my strength of character must have fluctuated wildly. (Okay, I will step off that horse. I just remember hundreds of speech qualifying rounds with terrible speeches.)

    Julia
    poetrysansonions.blogspot.com

    Comment by Julia — September 6, 2012 @ 8:43 am

  8. I don’t know what to say other than the reason for posting many of the materials I do is not to teach doctrine or behavior — I’m a historian, not a theologian or ethicist. I post them because they show the flavor of the time, or how we used to teach things pre-Correlation, or how our practices have changed over time without necessarily changing the animating principles. I trust readers recognize that I’m a believing member of the Church, and that I’m not rattled by these artifacts of our past; I am intrigued, or amused, and I expect you-all to be, too.

    One thing to remember is that not everything taught in the past — or today — is doctrine. Some of it is advice, or culture, or practicality. It’s easy to recognize that in some cases: nobody would think knowing how to burn hotdogs over a fire is doctrinal, even though our Scouts spend endless hours and dollars seeming to learn just that. I think exactly the same is true of these early 20th-century girls’ lessons: Whoever wrote them was trying to incorporate ideas she had absorbed from reading the latest philosophy or psychology news in the magazines, in order to teach correct behavior. She wanted girls to be respectful and attentive to speakers in religious settings, so she pulled in some pop psychology about how a speaker absorbs the good vibrations of a reverent audience. Doesn’t make it doctrinal. It’s advisory. It’s an attempt to make old-fashioned reverence relevant to the modern girl of 1901.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 6, 2012 @ 10:51 am

  9. That is a good reminder Ardis. I was reading a post about 7 Habits and the cultural part that combines with LDS ideas.

    I do appreciate the huge variety of voices that you let us hear! Thanks!

    Julia
    poetrysansonions.blogspot.com

    Comment by Julia — September 6, 2012 @ 10:59 am

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