The Rome Mormon temple complex will be a magnificent tribute to our Lord Jesus Christ by His followers, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There will be an open house conducted before the dedication of the temple for higher ordinances, and when the public has the opportunity to tour the temple, they will feel the unmistakable spirit of God filling it with light and peace. The public will also be impressed with how beautiful and well-appointed the temple is, how perfect the workmanship. A Mormon temple is literally a House of the Lord, and it needs to be as close to perfect as possible. What will really amaze visitors is that no debt was incurred in the building of the Rome Temple complex. The Church of Jesus Christ believes in being debt-free. Its house is in order.
Temple building is made possible by the tithing of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ. Tithing is, by definition, an offering of ten percent of one’s income, and paying tithes has always been part of God’s kingdom on earth. No one is too poor to pay tithing, and if even the poorest person should experiment on God’s word and test the process, he would find that the Lord blesses the full tithe-payer so abundantly that by giving ten percent, the person has more than if he had withheld the tithe. In Malachi 3:10 it says,
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Tithing goes for more than building and maintaining Mormon temples. The LDS Church builds approximately one new meetinghouse each week, somewhere in the world. Meetings all over the world are correlated — all congregations are organized the same way and use the same manuals. All materials, translated into many languages, are paid for with tithing funds.
The LDS Church has a remarkable educational system with three universities and one business college (BYU Utah, Idaho, and Hawaii, and LDS Business College) supported by tithes. Seminary for high school students and Institute for college students provide a venue for scripture study and gospel learning, plus social structure for LDS students. Often, seminary and institute classes take place in buildings constructed just for that purpose, with trained instructors — all financed with tithing.
The missionary program of the LDS Church is also funded by tithes. Even though Mormon missionaries support themselves on their missions, the Church of Jesus Christ pays to maintain the mission and necessary buildings, plus transportation and training for those who serve, plus materials costs. In the fall of 2012 there were about 58,000 Mormon missionaries, but that number will quickly swell since the qualifying age for service has been lowered.
Mormons Donate More than Tithing
As if ten percent of one’s income were not enough, Mormons continue to give (studies name them as the “givingest” people in the United States). The first Sunday of each month is called “Fast Sunday,” because Mormons fast for two meals (24 hours) and donate the value of the meals to the poor. Many Mormons give much more than the value of two meals, too. These donations go to fund the vast welfare system of the Church of Jesus Christ. The welfare program is based on self-reliance, and while temporarily helping members (and disaster victims) who are down and out, offers training and employment counseling.
At the heart of the welfare system is a recently opened facility in Salt Lake City, the Bishop’s Central Storehouse. It warehouses mountains of food and supplies, which are distributed to central storehouses in five other regions of the United States and Canada. From those five regional storehouses, food and goods are again distributed to more than 200 smaller bishops’ storehouses, to be used for the Church’s welfare system. The Bishop’s Central Storehouse also keeps emergency equipment and supplies that can be instantly dispatched whenever a catastrophic disaster occurs.
The size of the Bishop’s Central Storehouse gives a sense of scale to Mormon welfare and humanitarian efforts. Situated on 35 acres, the building’s current footprint is 570,391 square feet, with plans to add 100,000 more. The total planned capacity of the building is 65,000 pallets, and it stocks hundreds of foods—from corn, beans, and cereals to cheese, ice cream, and peanut butter—as well as toiletries, tools, and electric generators. It has its own trucking company, complete with nearly 50 tractors and 100 trailers, as well as a one-year supply of fuel, parts, and tires for the vehicles. The facility has even been built to withstand a 7.5-magnitude earthquake. 
Mormons give fast offerings to the welfare program, but they also invest their time and energy in making it work, volunteering by canning peaches, harvesting crops, etc.
The Church of Jesus Christ also has a vast Humanitarian Aid program, which due to the volunteer efforts of members, is able to give 100% of earmarked donations to real aid. The LDS Church has many ongoing projects around the world and stands at the ready to offer aid in case of disasters. Mormons are not only often the first to arrive in these cases, but the last to leave. Rebuilding projects are still going on from the 2004 tsunami in southeast Asia. Mormons may give specified donations to the HA department, but again, they also volunteer their time. There are HA projects going on all the time on the congregational level and at large events, and in the members’ own homes, where they make quilts and assemble hygiene and baby care kits and other necessities for aid.
The Church has a Perpetual Education Fund to help returned Mormon missionaries in poorer countries achieve higher education. Once they begin to earn money, they pay the fund back. There is also a general missionary fund for those who want to serve but can’t afford it, a fund to help families get to the Mormon temple once in their lives, a fund to supply Books of Mormon for the mission field. There are so many ways to give. Mormons will often give in other ways, helping missionaries in their own congregation finance their missions, helping poorer members who are also their neighbors, attending to the sick and lonely, and in addition, doing good in their community and schools. To read more about the good Mormons do, go to Mormon Church.org.
Some people say the leaders of the LDS Church live richly off of tithing funds. This is completely untrue. The leaders of the Church, called General Authorities, who serve full-time as long as they live, may choose to receive a modest stipend, though not all need it. They are called out of their chosen vocations, and many are already successful and have funds. Those who need a stipend are never paid from the tithes of the Church, but are paid from the profit-making ventures of the Church — broadcasting, publishing, and the farms and ranches that also support the welfare system.
There is no paid clergy in the LDS Church, but there are employees, again paid from profit-making ventures or other sources as warranted.
Many people are unfamiliar with what actually takes place during a worship service in a chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Research also shows that there are many people who feel that they are not welcomed inside an LDS chapel to worship with Latter-day Saints to be able to observe for themselves that Mormon worship is focused on the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is often the basis for misunderstandings among communities where Latter-day Saints live and leads many to believe that the close-knit ties of the Latter-day Saint community is both clannish and secretive. Part of this misconception may be caused by the differences between worship services in LDS chapels and temple worship. All are invited to attend services in LDS chapels, but only those members of The Church of Jesus Christ who are deemed worthy and hold a valid temple recommend are permitted to enter the sacred temple – the House of the Lord.
The infographic below is an excellent comparison of worship in an LDS chapel and temple worship.
The Mormon Temple Endowment is the main ordinance that is received in a Mormon temple. Mormon doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the “Mormon Church”) teaches that there is a series of ordinances that are essential to obtaining salvation. They are all equal in importance, so the endowment is not any more or less important than the others, but it often comes to mind as the ordinance performed most frequently in Mormon temples.
The first ordinance necessary to salvation is baptism and confirmation. The second is the Sacrament, which is similar to the Eucharist or Communion, and is administered every Sunday to members of the “Mormon Church.” It is a renewal of one’s baptismal covenants. The third ordinance, according to Mormon doctrine, is the Mormon temple endowment. In this Mormon temple rite, the participant learns more about his or her true relationship to God. Participants covenant to live a higher law than other people are held to, though there are no surprises in the covenant. All these commandments are contained in the scriptures; the difference is participants are making sacred promises to live these commandments.
Consequences come along with the covenants. If the person keeps the promises he or she has made, specific, wonderful blessings are promised in return. If the person fails to keep those covenants, there will be eternal consequences. The purpose behind all of this is to live with God again. However, God cannot tolerate the least degree of sin. This means that in order to live in His presence, we must also be perfect beings and live His laws exactly. This lifetime is a probationary time we have to learn, by trial and error, to live the laws that God lives. Certainly no one will achieve perfection in this life, but if we are doing our best to live these laws, constantly exercising the cleansing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives, we will be much further along the road in the next phase of our existence.
The Mormon temple endowment is a sacred ordinance and is a wonderful experience. It is filled with symbolism to keep the participant learning at his or her own level. Each time someone returns to the temple, he or she can learn something new. Impressions come through the Holy Spirit which speak peace to the heart and soul and enlighten the mind.
Some people feel suspicious that there must be something shady going on if people refuse to talk about these things outside of Mormon temples. However, it is only because of the sacred nature of these things that they are not discussed outside of Mormon temples. They are not to be mocked or treated lightly, so only those who have already proven themselves willing to live a higher standard are permitted to enter Mormon temples. Again, this is not to keep people from participating; it is to protect them from the consequences of breaking eternal covenants with God if they are not prepared to keep them.
The gospel of Jesus Christ invites all who will come to come and partake of the living water of His teachings. His whole purpose is focused on bringing souls back to God. There is not one soul He esteems above another. However, He also recognizes that God’s law is absolute and those who wish to be in His presence must abide by that law.
I can say from personal experience that participating in Mormon temple ordinances like the Mormon temple endowment is a wonderful opportunity that I cherish. It brings me closer to the Savior and makes me a better person. I am grateful each time I go to a Mormon temple for what I learn and am able to participate in. It gives me a chance to separate myself from the cares of the world and serve selflessly, boosting my spirit and bringing me peace.
There are a lot of questions about how Mormons worship. Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They prefer to be called Latter-day Saints, but their church is also frequently misnamed the “Mormon Church.” This mix up with names gets to be confusing, because there are radical groups which have broken off from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who also refer to themselves as “Mormons,” but who practice and believe very different things than Latter-day Saints do.
The most important thing to understand about Mormon worship is that they recognize Jesus Christ as their Savior. Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) are often accused of not being Christian because they do not hold to the traditional Christian creeds. This is because the creeds were created by men two hundred years after Christ’s ascension into heaven. The fulness of the gospel had already been lost when the keys of the priesthood were lost with the Apostles. Just because Latter-day Saints do not accept the creeds as doctrine does not mean that they do not recognize Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.
Mormon doctrine teaches that faithful Latter-day Saints should model their personal lives after the Savior’s life. This means that Mormon worship entails a great deal more than just going to church on Sunday. Mormonism is truly a way of life.
Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) meet each Sunday for a block of three hours. The most important meeting is Sacrament meeting. During this 70-minute meeting, the Sacrament (Eucharist or Communion) is blessed and passed to the congregation. Traditionally, bread and water are used in this ordinance, though in times when one of those things is not available, other items can be used instead (“Prepare for the Days of Tribulation,” Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, November 1980). Water is generally used rather than the wine that is traditional in other Christian denominations because Latter-day Saints do not drink alcohol. The bread is blessed and passed first, then the water. Visitors who have not been baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not encouraged to take the Sacrament, because the ordinance is seen as a renewing of one’s baptismal covenants. If a person has not been baptized, he has not covenants to renew.
After the Sacrament has been passed, the balance of the meeting typically consists of speakers from the ward (congregation) who have been invited by the bishopric (local ecclesiastical leaders) to speak on a certain topic. All Mormon clergy is lay clergy. This means they are everyday people who have separate careers. They serve voluntarily in their local congregations when asked to by their leaders, and they are not compensated, though they are certainly blessed for their service. This is a unique aspect of Mormon worship.
Once a month, the congregation has a Fast Sunday. This is a day set aside for members to fast from two consecutive meals. They are encouraged to seek guidance through prayer during this time for any personal issue, or sometimes for a member of their ward. The money that a family or individual would have spent on those two meals is typically donated to the bishopric, who then decides how to use those funds. If there are people in the ward who need financial help, the funds are used for that. If the funds donated exceed the need, the balance is sent on to Church headquarters to be redistributed as needed. Mormon worship shows how much the community cares about those in need. On Fast Sundays, special meetings are held during Sacrament meeting. Rather than having speakers assigned to share their thoughts on a particular gospel topic, anyone from the congregation may stand and bear personal testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The two other meetings held on Sundays for Mormon worship are 40–50 minutes each. During Sunday school, class members learn more about specific gospel principles. The Mormon canon consists of four books of scripture: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants (a collection of modern revelation), and the Pearl of Great Price (a collection of ancient scripture translated or revealed in modern day). Each year, the Sunday school lessons will focus on a book of scripture. The Old and New Testaments are taken separately, and the Pearl of Great Price is combined with the Old Testament. This means that every four years, the whole canon is studied: Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants. Sunday school classes are divided by ages for children with teachers for each class, and the adults meet together.
During the last block of meetings, the men and women separate and the children have a meeting together. The men’s meeting is called Priesthood; the women’s is Relief Society. The young men and young women (ages 12–17) meet as separate groups, and the children under age 12 meet together in Primary.
No matter which class a person is in, he or she is taught the gospel. Members of the ward discuss gospel topics and learn from each other about how these things are relevant in our daily lives and how we can apply gospel principles. Mormon worship is about focusing on the Savior and His atonement for repentance, forgiveness, and redemption. We all need each other and should reach out in service to all those who stand in need.
Many have used the existence of evil and suffering in the world as reason to disbelieve in God. They envision a God who controls all aspects of life in order to prevent any sort of suffering, evil, or unhappiness. Mormons (as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often nicknamed or misnamed) understand that such a God would render life on Earth meaningless, empty, and devoid of opportunities to grow, learn, and overcome.
For Mormons, the explanation for the why evil and suffering exit is found within the explanation of the purpose of life. Mormons believe life began before birth, when God created our spirits. We stayed with Him in a premortal existence for a while, and during that time we developed our personalities and character. We knew God’s plan for us and had time to think about whether or not we wanted to be a part of that plan.
The plan required us to come to Earth for the next stage of our eternal progression. In this stage, we would gain a body, a family, and an opportunity to have new experiences. Since we wouldn’t remember our life before Earth—because that would interfere with the need to develop faith—we would need to seek out and find God, Jesus Christ, and the gospel. We would have help, of course, in the form of the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. From time to time, small reminders of our past or confirmations of truth would be offered to those willing to listen. For those who lived at a time when the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was on the earth, they would also be able to accept or reject that gospel.
What does all this have to do with evil and suffering in the world? Another gift God gave us is that of agency—the right to choose for ourselves, make our own decisions. We had this agency before we were born and used it to choose whether to come to earth or to follow Satan from the beginning. We are expected to use our time on this earth to have experiences and make choices that will impact our eternal lives. We can choose our actions—choose good or evil, choose obedience or disobedience—but we cannot choose the consequences of our actions. Prior to birth, we had the opportunity to choose God or Satan. Those who came to Earth are those who chose God. We have agency today. We continue to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, God and Satan.
One of the challenges of agency is that while we can choose our actions, we can’t choose who the consequences impact. This means that sometimes innocent people suffer because of the choices of others. There is no way to avoid this. In order to prevent all evil and suffering, we would have to come to Earth as puppets, with our every action and thought controlled. This is what Satan wanted for us. He wanted us to be entirely controlled in order to make sure everyone was “saved,” but of course, that couldn’t save us, since salvation must be freely chosen. We rejected Satan’s idea, which was the result of his own selfishness and desire for power, since it came with a price tag that required us to reject God and replace Him with Satan. And so, we have evil and suffering in the world today, because we were wisely unwilling to sacrifice agency.
Agency, while it has the potential to bring suffering, also has the potential to bring joy and growth. We learn from our experiences, our choices, and our mistakes. Many who have experienced great trials in life have leveraged those trials to become more than they ever imagined they could be. They’ve found joy despite their suffering and in the growth that came when they chose to face trials with joy, faith, and hope.
Mormons see the world from an eternal perspective. This life is only a very small part of an eternal life. Everything we become goes with us when we die, and so the trials and experiences we have will affect who we are in the next life as well. Our trials are often calculated to give us just the experiences we need to grow and meet our potential. That doesn’t mean God creates suffering and trials, but He allows them to happen, sometimes to protect the concept of agency and sometimes because He knows we can, if we choose, use the trial to strengthen us and make us more than we would have been without the trial. Of course, we can also choose to spend our lives feeling sorry for ourselves because of our trials, but that is our choice. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our attitudes toward those events.
We also cause some of our own trials. We all make foolish choices in life and those choices sometimes cause us trouble—and sometimes also cause others to suffer. We need experiences and trials, but we don’t need to have more than necessary. The ones we cause ourselves through our poor choices are generally unnecessary, but even these can be used for our good if we repent and call upon the healing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
There is evil and suffering in the world because this is a temporal existence—imperfect and separated from God. People choose evil and that affects others. Imperfection in this world causes suffering through myriad ways: disease, death, etc. God intended life to be joyful, and most often, whether or not it is joyful will be up to us. He can help us cope with trials and suffering and can make the best out of bad situations.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the “Mormon Church”) has reached a milestone in Italy. For decades, it has sought status with the Italian government. A small victory was achieved in 1993, when the government finally recognized the “Mormon Church” as a legal entity. However, it was recognized only as a charitable institution, not as a church.
July 30, 2012, saw the “Mormon Church” gain status as a “partner of state” with the Italian government, when Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano signed the Intesa con la Stato, or legal agreement giving the church far more freedom. Earlier in the month, the Italian Senate had already approved the Church’s request for an intesa, which only a few religions have received, including Catholics, Jews, Baptists, and Methodists. This document will soon be published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale, the official record of the Italian government.
What this recognition does is enable the LDS Church (“Mormon Church”) to own property. It also gives LDS ecclesiastical leaders the power to perform marriage ceremonies, which power they had previously been denied. Now the LDS Church is recognized as a church, not just as a charitable institution.
John Zackrison, director of the International Coordinating Committee for the Church, explained: “It [the intesa] will eliminate current barriers that frequently interfere with our Church leaders performing marriages and otherwise ministering, it will smooth the process for obtaining visas for missionaries and mission presidents, and it will grant unquestioned freedom for the Church to perform any functions or activities deemed essential to its worldwide mission.” Another freedom granted the Latter-day Saint clergy is the ability to visit members and those in need with automatic access to state hospitals, prisons and military barracks.
One of the most significant changes the Church’s new status brings is strengthened relationships with government officials, which will enable the Church to work more effectively in community relief efforts with the Catholic Church and other recognized religious denominations.
Being recognized as a partner of the state is a huge symbolic victory for the “Mormon Church,” especially for Italian Latter-day Saints. While the 25,000 Italian Latter-day Saints look forward to the completion of the Rome Mormon Temple, they feel they have earned recognition and respect, as well as more freedom.
To appreciate the significance of this step, compare Mormonism in Italy to Islam, the second-largest religion in Italy (second obviously to Catholicism), with 1.25 million members, which has not yet been granted an intesa. Latter-day Saint leaders have worked closely with the government for many years. The faithful Latter-day Saints in Italy have shown by example and faith that they are worthy to be recognized by the government. Hopefully faithful members of other religions will also be granted the freedom to worship how they choose.
Article by Doris
Differences between Mormons and Catholics
Mormons (as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often misnamed) hold services on Sunday. If you plan to attend a Latter-day Saint service for the first time, it is good to have an idea of what to expect.
In Catholicism, when you attend Mass, there is a feeling of anonymity; you are left listening to the gospel readings and reciting various prayers in unity with the congregation to reflect on your personal relationship with Christ. If you do not attend Mass, no one asks about your attendance (or they very rarely do). Latter-day Saint congregations are a little different from other denominations. Latter-day Saints are expected to attend all of their meetings regularly. Congregations are often tight knit, so people notice when other members are not there and reach out in fellowship.
Mormon Clergy and Sunday Meetings
Mormons do not have a paid clergy, and although members participate in various activities similar to what other religions call ministries, in most cases individuals do not volunteer to participate. Rather, they are called to service through prophecy and revelation. It is an individual choice to be a willing hand and accept various assignments as asked, or to refuse for whatever personal reason.
Latter-day Saints have a three-hour block of meetings on Sundays. The meeting usually starts around 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning, though this could be later, depending on the number of congregations meeting in one building. For example, my ward (congregation) starts meeting at 12:00 and lets out at about 3:00 p.m. Mormon parishes or congregations are divided into what Latter-day Saints call wards.
Sacrament meeting is the most important of the three hour-long block meetings. This is the meeting in which Eucharist or communion is provided, which service Latter-day Saints call the “Sacrament.” It is usually the first meeting of the day, followed by Sunday school and then priesthood or relief society meeting. Classes are also provided for children and youth during this time. If you are visiting and are unsure where to go, just identify your age group and someone will direct you to the right place.
Sacrament meeting is presided over by the ward’s bishop or perhaps a higher authority, if one is visiting. A man is called to serve as bishop, just as other members of the ward or congregation are called to serve in other capacities. All ward members support themselves and do not receive monetary compensation for their service.
The Sacrament is prepared by holders of an office in the priesthood called the teachers, usually young men age of 14–16. However, any priesthood holder higher than a deacon may participate. The Sacrament is blessed by priests, who are usually young men age 16–18, and is administered to the congregation by deacons, who are usually 12–14 years of age.
The Sacrament is blessed as laid out in scripture. The prayers for the blessing of the bread and water are two of the few memorized or recited prayers in the Mormon Church. If a mistake is made in reading or reciting the Sacramental prayer, the bishop or other officials may signal that the prayer must be re-done. Afterwards, the Sacrament is then passed to the members in the congregation by the deacons.
Mormons believe that the bread and water is symbolic of the sacrifice made by Christ. It is not the actual flesh or blood of Christ. The sacrament is distributed to the members in the rows or pews. It is not necessary to go to confession prior to partaking of the Sacrament. One’s sins are confessed directly to God through personal prayer. The exception to this is for serious sins (e.g. sexual sins or sins that involve criminal activity), which should be confessed to the bishop.
Because Latter-day Saints believe that partaking of the Sacrament is renewing the covenant they made with God upon being baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, non-members are generally discouraged from taking the Sacrament. Younger children often choose to partake of the Sacrament, though they are considered pure and innocent, but it points them towards the covenant they will make upon being baptized at age 8.
During the administration of the Sacrament, members of the congregation are asked to reflect on their personal faith and sins and to renew their commitment and testimony. It is suggested that members think of Jesus and how they can more fully live His gospel during the coming week. Those who feel unworthy to partake of the Sacrament until they have repented are free to not take the bread or water. They are not pointed out or ridiculed. Most times, no one even notices.
There are no altars in Mormon chapels and no crosses. Most Latter-day Saint chapels do not have pictures, though many pictures will be found throughout the rest of the meetinghouse. Latter-day Saints do not use crosses to depict the Lord’s atoning sacrifice because they believe a large part of the atonement took place in the Garden of Gethsemane. Also, they choose to focus on the resurrection of the Savior rather than on His crucifixion.
Usually there is an elevated platform at the front of each chapel and a speaker’s lectern. Church officials such as members of the bishopric, stake high council, or other stake or visiting officials will sit on those seats facing the congregation.
The meeting usually starts with an opening hymn followed by an opening prayer by one of the congregants. Then the Sacrament is administered. After the blessing and passing of the Sacrament, there are usually 1–3 speakers, usually members of the congregation, who have been assigned to speak on a certain gospel topic. Then there is a closing song and prayer.
Generally the first Sunday of each month is set aside as a Fast Sunday. All members of the congregation are invited to abstain from two meals on that day and donate what they would have ordinarily spent on those meals as a donation to the poor in their own congregation. Funds are given to the bishopric and spent as they direct. Sacrament meetings on Fast Sunday follow a slightly different format. After the Sacrament has been passed, anyone can speak and bear witness of their testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Following Sacrament meeting is Sunday school. Members and visitors proceed directly to a Sunday school class. There are usually classes for children based on their age groups. Any member will be happy to help you and your children find your way.
Adults usually attend either a gospel doctrine class or a gospel principles class. Non-members are invited to attend the gospel principles class to gain a basic understanding of Mormon doctrine. They can attend this class with friends or by themselves, but they will be welcome either way. If you are ever unsure of where to go, ask anyone. Members will always be happy to help you.
Priesthood and Relief Society
After Sunday school, the third hour is dedicated to priesthood and Relief Society meetings. These meeting are usually segregated by gender to help members strengthen friendships and gain deeper understandings of their callings and responsibilities. On fifth Sundays of the month or special occasions, there may be a joint meeting.
One thing that often concerns visitors is that some Mormons seem to be nosy. Please do not be insulted or concerned. Latter-day Saints are always excited to have visitors and are really trying to be welcoming and personable. Latter-day Saints love the gospel and have an earnest desire to share their knowledge with others, to share the joy that the gospel has brought into their own lives.
Mel Borup Chandler writes about science and technology. He is a graduate of Weber State University. He is a former certified document examiner and handwriting analyst and is knowledgeable about archival, and preservation methods for old books and documents. He was once a regular contributor to Autograph Collectors Magazine. His Email address is mbccomentator @roadrunner.com.
Construction is continuing on the Rome Italy Mormon Temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which church is often misnamed the Mormon Church). Pictures of the progress were recently released. The Rome Italy Mormon Temple is being constructed in the Settebagni area of Rome. The temple and its complex of beautiful buildings reside on a 15-acre piece of land and will serve more than 23,000 members of the Church in Italy and neighboring countries.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the temple took place on October 23, 2010, with church president Thomas S. Monson in attendance. “My heart is filled with gratitude,” President Monson declared. “Members throughout Italy, and the entire Mediterranean area, will be able to come here.”
The Rome Italy Mormon Temple has been a long time in the making. Local authorities recognize the advantages of cultivating such a nice area for committed religious worship, however. “A ceremony that profoundly touched me for the sincere and heartfelt appreciation of those attending,” said Senator Lucio Malan, one of the local government representatives, “A positive day for Italy because those who profess to obey the laws of the state and the laws of God make the country in which they live a better place.”
The beautiful temple grounds will focus on the Rome Italy Mormon Temple, but will also house a new religious and cultural center, including a multifunctional meetinghouse, a visitors center, a family history center, and housing for patrons of the temple. Many of the buildings will be open to the public and will be of benefit to the community. The gardens will also be open to the public.
While the Rome Italy Mormon Temple will not be open to the public once it has been dedicated, there will be an open house period during which members of the public can take a free guided tour and learn a little bit more about what temples mean to Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) and what takes place in them. Faithful Latter-day Saints participate in sacred ordinances in Mormon temples like eternal marriages. Mormon doctrine teaches that families can be together forever, not just for their temporal lives. In order for a family to receive the blessing of eternal ties, however, certain covenants must be made in a Mormon temple. Other ordinances take place in Mormon temples where participants covenant with God to live a higher law. These covenants are taken very seriously.
The Rome Italy Mormon Temple exterior will be made from granite with decorative glazing. As with all Mormon temples, the interior will also be made of and decorated with the finest workmanship. This temple will be decorated with marble, woodwork, Venetian plaster, and decorative painting. The final size of the temple will be about 40,000 square feet. It will have two large spires.
When it is completed, the Rome Italy Mormon Temple will be the twelfth Mormon temple in Europe and the first in Italy.
By Dallin Kimble
From Adam to the present day, men and women have always sought communion with God. He is our Heavenly Father and will answer our prayers as we show our faith in Him. One way the Lord has taught us to show our faith in Him is through the construction of holy structures and the participation in sacred rituals and worship within them.
In ancient and modern Judaism, construction of altars, tabernacles, synagogues, and temples have been used to provide a place for the words of God, for the gathering and teaching of the people, or the performance of sacrifices and other rituals, respectively.
The synagogue is perhaps the most prominent structure for modern-day Jews. It functions similarly to how a church building may function in Christianity as the center of a religious community. Synagogues are always deliberately constructed to face Jerusalem. Synagogues are places of prayer, study, and education. They are also used for charitable efforts and as social centers.
Synagogues are considered second in sanctity only to the Temple, (which for faithful Jews means the temple of Solomon to be rebuilt in Jerusalem by the Messiah). Though Jews can pray anywhere, certain prayers can only be said in the presence of a group of 10 adult men and greater merit is given to prayers spoken in groups. Children receive their basic religious education in synagogues, and observant Jews will study their entire lives from the library found in most synagogues. For these reasons, rabbinical literature sometimes refers to a synagogue as a “little temple.”
A synagogue may also host both religious and non-religious social events and activities. Synagogues provide a place for people to discuss the important issues in their communities and for collecting and dispensing money and goods to aid the poor and needy.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (called“Latter-day Saints” or often nicknamed “Mormons” for their belief in the Book of Mormon) also build different kinds of structures with different purposes and different degrees of sanctity. Church buildings, also sometimes called meetinghouses, serve the general needs of the membership much like a synagogue does for Jews. Here Mormons will hold worship services, participate in the sacrament (or communion) which takes place in the chapel of the meetinghouse), study the scriptures, and host various social gatherings or activities in less sacred areas of the building such as the cultural hall.
To faithful Latter-day Saints, temples are the holiest structures on earth. In temples, couples may wed and families can be bound together forever. God promises in temples to give all that He has to those who covenant to obey His commandments and to lead virtuous lives. Those same blessings can be extended to deceased family members as living descendants complete the same ordinances and rituals on behalf of their ancestors. Latter-day Saints believe that deceased individuals may then choose to accept or reject these ordinances.
Mormon temples are dedicated as houses of the Lord where the Lord himself may come. They are sanctuaries from the world where we may feel closer to our Heavenly Father. As a result, temple worship brings peace, spiritual strength, and answers to the prayers of those who participate. Worthy Latter-day Saints may return frequently to learn the Lord’s will for them, pray for comfort or strength for themselves or those they love, or to participate in ordinances that bring families together forever.
Though Jewish synagogues are more similar to Mormon meetinghouses than they are to Mormon temples, all of God’s children from Adam to the present day have found answers to sincere prayers as they have shown their faith in God. If you desire to know whether temples really are houses of God where we can unite ourselves with our families for the eternities, we invite you to kneel in prayer. If you ask in faith, God will surely answer.
Dallin Kimble is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (ʺMormonʺ). He is a devoted husband and father of two, a freelance writer, a leader is his local town and a graduate student of Public Administration at Arizona State University. More of his writing can be found on his blog at principlesofthegospel.blogspot.com.
“You believe in strong families, don’t you?” a new acquaintance asked after he found out I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (referred to as Mormons or LDS). I assured him that building a strong family was vital to the Mormon faith.
Perhaps it is because Mormons believe that to raise a family is an honor and sacred obligation. God trusts parents to be the stewards of His spiritual children and expects that they will be well-taught and safeguarded at all costs. It means that the welfare of the family is central to all thought and action. The result is a stable home where children gain confidence, sound moral judgment and strength of character.
In 1995, Gordon B. Hinckley, then prophet and president of the LDS Church, his counselors and the twelve apostles explained the importance of the family unit in The Family: A Proclamation to the World:
…Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children…Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.
Over the years, as I have watched many people flounder—uncertain of how to raise kids, and sometimes sorry they have had a family, it takes me back to the day I held our first daughter. I didn’t have a clue what to do—although I’d lived gospel principles my whole life.
You may think it strange that I felt inadequate since I was close to completing my BA degree in Child Development and Family Relations. But the philosophies of men didn’t provide a sense of direction. I prayed that we would guide her correctly and that our family would be resilient regarding the mistakes we would make.
For the first time I appreciated the loving messages from Church leaders that taught us how to parent. From them I was able to recognize a clear path and a joyful journey. For example, President Hinckley gave the following instruction in his talk, Stand Strong Against the Wiles of the World:
To you wives and mothers who work to maintain stable homes where there is an environment of love and respect and appreciation I say, the Lord bless you. Regardless of your circumstances, walk with faith. Rear your children in light and truth. Teach them to pray while they are young. Read to them from the scriptures even though they may not understand all that you read. Teach them to pay their tithes and offerings on the first money they ever receive. Let this practice become a habit in their lives. Teach your sons to honor womanhood. Teach your daughters to walk in virtue. Accept responsibility in the Church, and trust in the Lord to make you equal to any call you may receive. Your example will set a pattern for your children. Reach out in love to those in distress and need.
We discovered through trial and error that when we followed God’s instructions, our family was happier and stronger. Things seldom went as smoothly when we got out of the routine that centered around the gospel of Jesus Christ.
LDS Church leaders suggest having a weekly family night (called Family Home Evening) where lessons relevant to family needs are taught by using gospel principles. Some of our favorite family memories come from those times together.
Families are also encouraged to have daily scripture study and family and individual prayers and attend and participate in church meetings for three hours each Sunday. Since the LDS Church has a lay (unpaid) ministry, members serve in callings such as teaching, ministering to the sick and needy and leading the congregation. Families serve the church, community and each other.
Developing loving and trusting relationships within the family has been the most gratifying experience of my life. It wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it. I am grateful for the unique and amazing kids we were entrusted with and feel blessed that they have each chosen to follow a gospel-centered life that has led us to fulfillment and joy.