ADMINISTRATION FOR THE SICK
WHAT IS MEANT BY ADMINISTRATION FOR
This is an ordinance which was practiced by Jesus and his ministry for the relief and cure of physical, mental and spiritual illness and suffering, and is available in the church as in days of old. Briefly described, the ordinance is one where the elders of the church anoint the head of the sufferer with oil, lay their hands upon his head and offer a prayer for healing and blessing.
WHAT IS THE SCRIPTURAL BASIS OF THIS
When Jesus sent his followers forth to carry his message to the world, he included among other promises, "They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover."-Mark 16:18. The Apostle James has given the most comprehensive statement in the Bible on this ordinance:
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."-James 5:14, 15.
HOW SHOULD ONE PROCEED TO SHARE IN THE
The one indisposed by illness should first of all call for the elders. The failure to do this robs the needy one of the privilege of preparing his soul by faith. The steps leading to the actual call obviously include some spiritual preparation and realization of one's relationship with God and the church. Therefore the sick should not expect the ministry to anticipate the requirement of this service. Some have felt injured because the elders have not moved into the life of the sufferer without request. It should be remembered that though the work of the elders includes the teaching and leading of the members to understand their duties and privileges, the duty of the sufferer is clearly to take the first step in the application of this great ordinance. The duty, therefore, of the sick, where there is neither incapacitation by age or lack of ability to make the request known, is to call for the elders. The sick person himself may call for the elders or a member of the, family or an attendant may issue the call for him if he is not able, providing it is known that this would meet the desires of the sick person.
HAS THE MINISTER ANY RESPONSIBILITY TO DECIDE
It is the duty of the elders to ensure that the ordinance is entered into seriously and with reverence and understanding to the degree necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. Where one is incapacitated so that he is unable to make his wishes known, the prayers and supplications of the elders will naturally be fitting to the circumstances and be related to family wishes or requests.
WHAT DEGREE OF FAITH IS REQUIRED FOR THE
"He that cometh to God must first believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of all those that diligently seek him."
"Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief."
The healing ordinance of the church involves a co-operative approach between member and minister to God. The faith and preparation of the sufferer must be co-ordinated with that of the church and its ministry for God to vouchsafe the full blessing. This ordinance is free to all, whether of the church or not, providing that it is approached with sincerity.
WHAT IS MEANT BY, "AND IF THEY HAVE COMMITTED SINS
This should be understood to refer to those in which sin is a causative factor in the condition of the sick person. Sin may have been committed in ignorance or willfully, and the statement indicates that the mercy of God is in operation. Nevertheless, it appears that before healing can take place, where there is a commission of sin, repentance and a determination to avoid that sin in the future are required. The Master's reaction to this kind of situation was, "Go and sin no more."
This provision of the scripture finds a counterpart in the most modern medical practice and scientific treatment. It takes account of the fact that many human ills are caused by mistakes, social maladjustments, and sin. It is well known that mental distress and tensions can result in physical suffering, functional disturbances, and even organic changes and lesions. In these cases one of the first steps necessary is to clear the soul of the feeling of guilt and obtain forgiveness of sin. Physicians are familiar with such cases, and psychiatrists build important parts of their therapy around basic principles involved in repentance and forgiveness.
In disease and injury, the sufferer knows when he is healed. But in the mental cases the medicine needed is the statement from an authoritative and divine source before healing can begin. The divine wisdom is revealed in making this statement a part of the text.
WHAT OIL IS USED AND UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS?
Olive oil, traditionally used in Palestine in the days of Jesus, is used, and this is consecrated or set apart to be used for this purpose alone. While there is no specific command to consecrate oil for this purpose, it is reasonable and suitable that such be done as one would bless or set apart any other agent used consistently for sacred purposes.
IS THE ANOINTING ALWAYS MADE UPON THE HEAD?
It is customary during administration for one elder to anoint the head of the sufferer with oil, offering a very brief statement and prayer as to the purpose of the rite. Following this, the associate elder offers a prayer of faith to God, for the healing of the sick one. It is customary to anoint the head, although there are occasions when the afflicted part is also anointed. It is obligatory upon the elders to observe strictly the proprieties in this matter. In this the recognition of the plural, "elders," is a wise thing, and where the sick one is alone, the rule should be considered definite.
IS THIS ORDINANCE AVAILABLE FOR PHYSICAL ILLS ONLY?
Any condition, physical, mental, or spiritual, may call for the benefit of this rite. As medical science increases knowledge of the healing art, more of our physical ills can be treated by human agencies. And the call for mental and spiritual blessing becomes more imperative as the strain and stress of modern life causes a growing need of peace of soul and spiritual poise being gained or regained through a correct and devout approach to this ordinance of healing.
SHOULD IMMEDIATE AND MIRACULOUS RESULTS BE EXPECTED FROM THE FIRST CALL?
This is not necessary. The Scripture records a number of gradual healings. There may be factors that only the sufferer can put right and that may require time. The prayer for wisdom, both that the sick one and the elders may know what course should be pursued, is an important consideration. It is generally recognized that where help, either by the person himself or by medical therapists, is available that help should be used with wisdom.
SHOULD THE SUFFERER REFRAIN FROM MEDICAL OR
Both human and divine aid may be invoked, the sick one doing all possible to aid recovery, while asking God to work through him to that end also. The law requires that we call medical aid in all cases where life is definitely endangered. Both calls may be made simultaneously without violence to the spirit of faith.
WHERE SHOULD THE ADMINISTRATION BE PERFORMED?
The obligation to call suggests the home of the sufferer, or it may be performed at the pastor's home or at the church. It may also be desired at the hospital. It is felt that the purpose and spirit of the ordinance are best served where the administration is carried out in the presence of those most vitally concerned, and for this purpose the home or the church office are very suitable. There are times when it is wise and desirable that a congregation may be called in fasting and prayer for the benefit of the sick, and if advisable the pastor will so arrange. However, the meetings of the church should never be made an occasion for a parade of the ordinance where those not previously known to be desirous of administration approach the elders successively for administration in public. In this the wisdom of the pastor must be the guide. The circumstances should be those that allow for undivided prayer and faith to be operative. Even hospitals at times are not conducive to this spirit and in a ward a screen is usually desirable, not because of a wish to conceal the administration but because of the previously stated need for a unity of spirit in those witnessing.
MAY A PERSON CALL FOR MORE THAN ONE ADMINISTRATION FOR THE SAME ILLNESS?
There may be need for frequent and regular approach to God through this ordinance. The need for strengthening faith may be the greatest factor, and continuous approach through this rite may be had. There may be need for continued searching after light and wisdom, and only in this way might benefit be obtainable. Consideration should nevertheless be shown for the sacrifice and consecration given by the elders at all times to such calls. Under no circumstances should mere whim be made the cause of unnecessary hardship to the elders. The principle of these men, never to refuse to give what help lies in their power, requires of us that our requests be timely and reasonable.
The ordinance for the healing of the sick is One of the most comforting and fruitful of the Restored Church, and for that reason it should be highly regarded and used with restraint and understanding, which alone can maintain dignity in the exercise of spiritual privileges.
THE PATRIARCHAL BLESSING
WHAT IS A PATRIARCHAL BLESSING?
This is a blessing given by the patriarch accompanied by the laying on his hands. The words of the patriarch are recorded by a stenographer as they are spoken at the time. A copy of the blessing is given to the candidate and one is kept for reference by the Order of Evangelists.
IS THIS THE ONLY FUNCTION OF THE
Of this minister the Doctrine and Covenants of the church states, "The patriarch is an evangelical minister. The duties of this office are to be an evangelical minister, to preach, teach, expound, and exhort, to be a revivalist, and to visit the branches and districts as wisdom may direct, invitation request or the Spirit of God determine and require; to comfort the Saints; to be a father to the church; to give counsel and advice to individuals who may seek for such; to lay on hands for the conferment of spiritual blessings and if so led to point out the lineage of the one who is blessed."
It is seen from this quotation that the conferment of blessings is but one, even if an important one, of the many privileges that may be received at the hands of the patriarchal ministry.
The patriarch is a minister who is free from the problems of administering the organized departments of the church and so is free for this personal and helpful ministry. Though one may seek the advice of this minister in the problems of personal sainthood, he is not available for the settlement of difficulties either personal or official between the Saints. It is the duty of every member to know this and to approach him for ministry in accordance with the provision of the Scriptures.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A BLESSING?
The chief purpose of the patriarchal blessing is indicated in the term itself: to give authoritative, priestly blessing, invoked by a spiritual father representing God and the church. That chief function should not be forgotten. Little children receive a blessing before they are aware of what is happening or able to comprehend its meaning. More mature people come voluntarily to receive a blessing into the spirit of which they may enter intellectually and emotionally. This ordinance coupled with faithful obedience to the will of God brings divine blessings and guidance and may be a help through life.
Other chief functions caught up under the primary one just mentioned are to give comfort when needed, or admonition, and especially good counsel as to a godly way of life, to rededicate and to consecrate, to bring a benediction from above, to help one find himself or herself and make an adjustment to life and its problems.
In the centuries since the children of Israel were taken into captivity, they were scattered and have become known as the "Lost Tribes" of Israel. Some of them were mingled with many other nations, and migrations have taken them to various parts of the world. Their descendants have a spiritual heritage which appears in those patriarchal blessings that indicate such a lineage.
Some may have attached too much importance to the naming of lineage; whether they are to be numbered among the children of Ephraim or Manasseh or perhaps Judah. Remember, however, that this rests with the patriarch as he shall feel directed, whether he shall indicate the lineage in each case. Do not be unduly concerned if this is not done. It is not the primary purpose of blessing.
WHAT PREPARATION SHOULD ONE MAKE FOR
It is well that those who are to receive a blessing shall make some definite preparation, if time permits. This preparation should include prayer, meditation, self-examination, perhaps fasting if the state of health permits, reading of certain Scriptures and meditation thereon.
Suggested readings are: Doctrine and Covenants 11:4, 5; John 14:1; II Peter 5:11; Romans 8:31-39; Matthew 5:2-16; I Corinthians 13:1-7; 2 Nephi 13:27-32.
If the time does not permit this Scripture reading before the service, it may be well that something of the kind be taken up afterward as a help to a definite reconsecration and forward movement.
The one receiving the blessing should have some clear idea concerning the purpose of the blessing and what may be expected. Some have erred in thinking that the blessing is a sort of adventure in fortunetelling, a prying into the future. This is not so. This does not mean that the spirit of prophecy may not be present, for fine promises have been made and kept; but the spirit of prophecy has other and more important functions than predicting future events.
IS THERE ANY CHARGE FOR
There is no charge for this service, for like all other privileges of the gospel, it is free. Should the one receiving the blessing desire to make an offering he may do so. Certain expenses are incurred in the operation of this function, and such may be used for this purpose.
It is important to remember that the general approach when receiving a blessing must be made in the spirit of seriousness and sincerity. It must arise out of a real personal desire and sense of need, in a prayerful spirit and with the intention to heed the counsel given. Coming in that spirit one may claim the promise, "ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you."
THE BLESSING OF CHILDREN
The laying on of hands is taught in the Scriptures for several purposes; for confirmation, administration for the sick, ordination to the ministry, the conferring of patriarchal blessing, and for the blessing of children.
THE SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR THE BLESSING
When Jesus was teaching the multitude, some of the people who surrounded him brought their children forward that he might touch them. The disciples rebuked them and would have sent them away, but the Master said, "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
From this statement we draw the conclusion that little children are pure in the sight of God. The Book of Mormon is particularly clear on the innocence of children. Read Moroni, chapter 8, for a very beautiful exposition of this truth.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF BLESSING CHILDREN?
It is in the nature of a dedication of the little child to God. The parents should recognize the heavy responsibility that they have assumed in undertaking to bring to maturity a little child and in so doing naturally desire to seek divine aid in the task.
WHERE IS THE BLESSING OF CHILDREN PERFORMED?
This may be performed in the home, but it has become customary for the parents to arrange with the pastor for a service of dedication in the church. This custom has dignified the ordinance by providing an opportunity for the serious contemplation of parental responsibility and the holding before the congregation the symbol of purity which characterizes the Christian aim. This service thus provides the occasion for one of the most beautiful ceremonies of the gospel.
IS THE BLESSING IN THE NATURE OF A
There is no similarity between this rite and that of other denominations known as christening. The parents have already named the child, and though it is customary for the elder blessing the babe to make particular mention of its name, it is in no sense a christening which is to other churches a substitute for baptism. Baptism is for the remission of sins, and until a child is eight years of age, the church holds that he is not a fit subject for baptism. See chapter 1.
WHAT THEN ACTUALLY OCCURS WHEN A CHILD
At the appropriate time in the service, the parents bring the child forward to the elder or elders. If the child is small, one of them takes it in his arms while the other (if two) also places his hands upon him. The elder offers a prayer of dedication, praying for protection through life and for wisdom in the parents to guide the development in body, mind, and spirit, a great responsibility.
SHOULD A CHILD OF MORE THAN EIGHT YEARS OF
The church has given instructions to the elders that when a child has reached the age of eight years he is to be then considered a prospect for full membership in the church and therefore should not be accepted for blessing. The parents and church officers should then consider it their responsibility to teach the child what is required of one growing to the age where he rightly makes a choice of his path in life.
DOES THE FACT THAT A CHILD HAS BEEN BLESSED
No rights of membership are conveyed by the ordinance of blessing nor is the name recorded upon the roll of membership. However, a certificate of blessing is issued, and the record of the blessing is kept at the church office for reference.
IS THE SALVATION OF THE CHILD IN JEOPARDY
While we consider the presenting of every child for blessing to be a very proper and desirable procedure, it is unscriptural to affirm that this is an ordinance of salvation. Such fear is a relic of superstitions which have been wrongly taught by those departing from true Christian doctrine. Should parents be so unfortunate as to lose a child before blessing has been had they can rest in the comfort of the words of the Master, "For of such is the kingdom of heaven."
IS IT NECESSARY THAT THE PARENTS SHOULD BE
This ordinance is free to all whether the parents are members of the church or not. The elders of the church are pleased to perform this ordinance wherever the parents indicate their desire and reverently approach the occasion of blessing.