David O. McKay story about Temple Preparation

In our day, instances of lack of preparation have been cited by our prophets. When the Los Angeles Temple building program was commenced, President McKay called a meeting of the stake presidents of the Temple district. During this meeting, President McKay took occasion to express his feelings about the holy endowment. He indicated how some years before, a niece of his had received her ordinances in the house of the Lord. He had learned that she only recently before that had received an initiation into a sorority at the local university. She had had the crassness to say that she found the sorority initiation superior in effect and meaning to her than the endowment. President McKay was open and frank with them about the experience of one in his own family with the endowment. He wasn’t worried about their audible gasps. With characteristic aplomb, he paused, and then said, “Brothers and sisters, she was disappointed in the Temple. Brothers and sisters, I was disappointed in the Temple. And so were you.” Then he said something incredibly important that should be engraven on all our souls. “There are few, even Temple workers, who comprehend the full meaning and power of the Temple endowment. Seen for what it is, it is the step-by-step ascent into the Eternal Presence.” Then he added, “If our young people could but glimpse it, it would be the most powerful spiritual motivation of their lives!”- From Andrew Ehat, “‘Who Shall Ascend into the House of the Lord?’ Sesquicentennial Reflections of a Sacred Day: 4 May 1842”- TAW: 48-62. The story is also told by Truman Madsen in The Radiant Life (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994): chapter 10. BACK

President McKay elsewhere recounted similar feelings.

“Do you remember when you first went through the House of the Lord? I do. And I went out disappointed. Just a young man, out of college, anticipating great things when I went to the Temple. I was disappointed and grieved, and I have met hundreds of young men and young women since who had that experience. I have now found out why. There are two things in every Temple: mechanics, to set forth certain ideals, and symbolism, what those mechanics symbolize. I saw only the mechanics when I first went through the Temple. I did not see the spiritual. I did not see the symbolism of spirituality… I was blind to the great lesson of purity behind the mechanics. I did not hear the message of the of the Lord…How many of us young men saw that? We thought we were big enough and with intelligence sufficient to criticize the mechanics of it and we were blind to the symbolism, the message of the spirit. And then that great ordinance, the endowment. The whole thing is simple in the mechanical part of it, but sublime and eternal in its significance.” From Gregory Prince and Wm. Robert Wright. David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005): 277.

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