Influence of 'sacred house'

Who among us has not felt our souls lifted by the sight of the Salt Lake Temple? Whether we see the temple itself or look at photographs or paintings, we are inspired by its grandeur and beauty.

Ever since it was dedicated on April 6, 1893, the Salt Lake Temple has stood as a physical reminder of the spiritual blessings that can be part of our mortal experience. It has influenced many individuals, some even before they entered its doors. For example, a woman tells how the temple's spires served as a guide to her nearly 40 years ago much in the same manner as a lighthouse directs sailors to a safe harbor:"We lived a short distance from the Salt Lake Temple. One summer, when I was about 8 or 9, I made a wonderful discovery: If I could make my swing go high enough, I could see the temple from my backyard. Several times during the summer, I would swing up high and catch a glimpse of the temple's spires and the statue of Angel Moroni. I would say, `Someday, I'm going there.' And I did."

The young girl rose above her ordinary surroundings to catch a glimpse of the temple. As we rise above our worldly environment, we may enjoy the beauty of the temple, not only in how we see it from the outside, but also for what we gain inside.

We can only imagine what feelings of excitement mounted 100 years ago as Church members realized the Salt Lake Temple's doors would open soon for them to enter. But they were not to enter without proper preparation. On March 18, 1893, the First Presidency - Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith - issued an epistle regarding the approaching dedication of the temple. In it, they wrote:

"For forty years the hopes, desires, and anticipations of the entire Church have been centered upon the completion of this edifice in the principal city of Zion. . . . Looking upon it as the Temple of temples, the people during all these years have labored with unceasing toil, undiminished patience, and ungrudging expenditure of means to bring it to its present condition of completion; and now that the toils and the sacrifices of forty years are crowned so successfully and happily, now that the great building is at last finished and ready to be used for divine purposes, need we say that we draw near an event whose consummation is to us as a people momentous in the highest degree? . . .

"No member of the Church who would be deemed worthy to enter that sacred house can be considered ignorant of the principles of the Gospel. It is not too much to presume that every one knows what his duty is to God and to his fellowman. None is so forgetful as to have lost sight of the admonition that we must be filled with love for and charity toward our brethren. And hence none can for a moment doubt the supreme importance of every member of the congregation being at peace with all his or her brethren and sisters, and at peace with God. How else can we hope to gain the blessings He has promised save by complying with the requirements for which those blessings are the reward?

"Can men and women who are violating a law of God, or those who are derelict in yielding obedience to His commands, expect that the mere going into His holy house and taking part in its dedication will render them worthy to receive, and cause them to receive, His blessing?

"Do they think that repentance and turning away from sin may be so lightly dispensed with?

"Do they dare, even in thought, thus to accuse our Father of injustice and partiality, and attribute to Him carelessness in the fulfilment of His own words?

"Assuredly no one claiming to belong to His people would be guilty of such a thing."

The First Presidency, in those days preceding the dedication of the temple 100 years ago, called upon presidencies of stakes, high councils and bishops and their counselors to set aside March 25, 1893, as a day of fasting and prayer. They were to "confess their sins one to another, and draw out from the people all feelings of anger, of distrust, or of unfriendliness that may have found a lodgement; so that entire confidence may then and there be restored and love from this time prevail through all the congregations of the saints."

In his book, The House of the Lord, Elder James E. Talmage wrote of the First Presidency's epistle: "It was evident that the authorities of the Church realized the importance of preparing for the great event of the dedication in other ways than by material construction and costly furnishings. The hearts of the people had to be made ready; it was necessary that Israel be sanctified. Throughout the length and breadth of Zion there was a general cleansing of mind and soul; enmity was buried; bickering ceased; differences between brethren were adjusted; offenses were atoned and forgiven; a veritable jubilee was celebrated."

As we commemorate the anniversary of this great event in Church history, may we similarly prepare our hearts, minds and souls.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed