Monday, February 06, 2006


I received the life story of my great grandmother from my dad today, and while reading it was struck by the repeated use of the word "sealing". It was obvious that it had something to do with being a Mormon as it came right after the part where great grandma went to Utah and met so-and-so Smith this person and so-and-so Smith that person (yes, those Mormon Smiths) and gave her coveted lemon pie recipe to yet another Smith while hosting a dinner in Montana (I think this really means my sister should try to get her Bananas Foster and sugarless cake recipes passed on to someone famous). So I went and looked it up, and as near as I can tell, being born to a married couple of the Mormon faith still leaves you pretty much a bastard (just not in name) until your parents have "sealed" their marriage, and then take the trouble to "seal" you as children.

My friend Dan'l's mother was trying to get her (Catholic) marriage annulled for a long time, the end result of which would have bastardized him, so she's probably a little disappointed she wasn't brought up Mormon - it might have all been taken care of becuase someone forgot the appropriate sealing ceremony. Then again, on Superbowl Sunday we learned that Dan'l's dad is dating eighteen and twenty year olds with the intention to start a "new family" of half-siblings for Dan'l, so maybe being bastardized might have been the best move in the long run.

Here's the full definition of Sealing - pilfered from a page on Mormon ritual:
Mormons believe that the family relationships - between husband and wife and between parent and child - can be made eternal by the authority of the Mormon priesthood. The ceremonies in which this is done are called "sealings."
Young Mormons are taught that their goal in choosing a life's mate should be to select another Mormon who is worthy to be endowed and married in a sealing ceremony in the temple. To marry anyone else, they are taught, would be to sacrifice one's hopes of exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom of heaven, since only those people whose marriages are sealed "for time and all eternity" will be in that highest glory.
Thus, good Mormon couples first get their endowment, and then have their wedding in the temple, in one of the sealing rooms. Since only worthy Mormons can enter the temple, frequently many friends and family members - even parents of the bride and groom - are excluded from witnessing the ceremony, and must wait outside the temple, or in a waiting room at the entrance foyer which is not part of the sacred precincts.
Weddings are scheduled so that a number of them can be performed at the same time, so that sometimes a bride must share her special day with several other brides. If she has not received her own endowment before her wedding day, she and her bridegroom (and their entire wedding party, if worthy) may go through an endowment session before their sealing ceremony. The bride is allowed to wear her special wedding gown during the endowment session, with the apron and other ritual clothing worn over it. Or she may get her own endowment a few days before her wedding day. If the bride and groom have both been previously endowed, then they and their wedding party can proceed directly from the dressing rooms to the sealing room, dressed in the temple clothing.
The actual sealing (wedding) ceremony is very brief. When the wedding party has assembled in the sealing room, the officiator, dressed like all temple officiators in a white suit, instructs the couple to kneel at the altar, facing each other across the altar, and to join hands in the Patriarchal Grip. Simple vows are exchanged, and the officiator pronounces them husband and wife "for time and all eternity." The exchange of rings is optional, and is not part of the ceremony. During the ceremony there is no music, no flowers, no reading of poetry, no "giving the bride away," no photographs.
A Mormon couple which has already been married in a civil ceremony may, after a certain waiting period (designed to discourage such civil ceremonies), go to the temple and have their marriage sealed. Any children born already to them can be brought to the temple and sealed to them as their children. Such children are not required to go through a worthiness interview, but are simply brought to the parents directly in the sealing room, dressed in white, when the sealing is scheduled. Children born to a couple already sealed do not have to go through the ceremony; they are considered to be already sealed to their parents automatically, since they are "born under the Covenant" (referring to the "New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage" as described in the revelation on plural wives and celestial marriage in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132.
Sealings for the dead are essentially the same ceremony. They are much more perfunctory, of course. Generally a group of Mormons will gather to "do sealings" in one of the sealing rooms. The officiators have long lists of families of the dead, listing the names of the parents and all children. They will ask the appropriate number of males and females to kneel at the altar, and quickly recite the words which seal the family together, calling out the name of each deceased family member, then mark the family sheet as completed, and call another group to kneel at the altar for another family. Dozens of families of the dead can be sealed in just a few hours.


Anonymous said...

Dan would have been thrilled to know he was suddenly a bastard. I think he was looking forward to it and disappointed that it didn't actually happen. Although that may have opened the door to his grandmother bothering us EVEN more - there must be some Catholic ceremony to fix that predicament so you can get into heaven.

And no discussion on your blog about how mad you are that I beat you in Texas Hold'em Sunday night?

Anonymous said...

Nod to Nothing got beat by a Cookie!