Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Tidbits- Women Anointings

Image result for lds mary fielding smith blessing oxen
Mary Fielding Smith praying over her sick ox

   I read a lot. Lately (for the last 2 ½ years) I’ve been seriously engaged in the scriptures like never before in a fascinating study, one that I hope will eventually publish. As I read, I’m amazed at what I don’t know. I chuckle at myself sometimes as I ask the questions I do in this blog, simply because there was a time when I didn’t know the answers myself. I know this stuff only because I read, and not because I’m an expert in the Church and pioneer heritage field (I’ll leave that to the real historians, the people at the Church History department, and the pros at BYU). I’m also amazed at the things we used to do in the Church, which are no longer practiced today. For instance, the temple baptismal fonts are no longer used for eight-year old baptisms, baptisms for healing, or rebaptisms. Members are no longer sealed to a general authority, we don’t pay tithing in produce, talks or songs are not said or sung during the passing of the sacrament, we no longer endow 12-year olds, and we don’t attend fast and testimony meeting on the first Thursday of the month. The Church evolves, only because of modern and continuous revelation which allows it to evolve. The big steps in Church evolution in my years while on earth has been the priesthood given to all worthy males regardless of race, the consolidation of meeting times, and the updated scriptures. I have no doubt that before I’m called home that I will experience additional change.

   So, does it seem improbable for women in the pioneer phase of the Church to participate in anointings and blessings? All are familiar with Mary Fielding Smith and her praying over, or blessing (whichever story you read) her oxen. But, did this extend to more than just animals? In my years of reading I’ve come across a few interesting situations where women either anointed or blessed others.

In a letter to her husband, Apostle George A. Smith, on October 2, 1842, Bathsheba Smith states the following:

   George Albert was sick last Saturday and Sunday. He had quite a fever. I was very uneasy about him. I was afraid he was going to have the fever. I took him to the font and had him baptized and since then he has not had any fever. He is about well now. Looks a little pale. I anointed him with oil a good may times and washed his little body with whisky and water which was burning with fever but it did not do the good I wanted it should.

See Zora Smith Jarvis comp., Ancestry Biography and Family of George A. Smith (Provo, Utah: Zora Smith Jarvis, 1962).

                                The following from the journal of Patty Bartlett Sessions:

March 17, 1847 . . . . Mr. Sessions and I went and laid hands on the widow Holmans step daughter. She was healed.

The Diaries of Perrigrine Sessions, comp. Earl T. Sessions (Bountiful, Utah: Carr Printing Co., 1967).

Again, from Patty Sessions journal of May 29th, 1847:

   Packed 186 pounds of pork for the mountains. I then went to collect some debts. Got nothing. Then went to a meeting to Eliza Beamans with many of the sisters. Sisters Young and Whitney laid their hands upon my head and predicted many things that I should be blessed with that I should live to stand in a temple yet to be built and Joseph [Smith] would be there. I should see him and there I should officiate from my labors should then be done in order and they should be great and I should be blessed and by many and there I should bless many and many should be brought unto me saying your hands were the first that handled me bless me after I had blessed them their mothers would rise and bless me for they would be brought to me by Joseph himself for he loved little children and he would bring my little ones to me and my heart was filled with joy and rejoicing.

The Diaries of Perrigrine Sessions, comp. Earl T. Sessions (Bountiful, Utah: Carr Printing Co., 1967).

The following from the journal of Julina Lambson Smith of February 14th, 1886:

   Sister Coles came to be administered to. She has a large lump growing in her Opu [stomach or womb]. It pains her considerably. Sister Young anointed the affected part, and Jos. Albert with some of the other Elders administered to her.

Kenneth W. Godfrey, Audrey M. Godfrey, and Jill Mulvay Derr, Women’s Voices: An Untold History of The Latter-day Saints 1830-1900 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1982), 354.

Since I failed to ask a question yesterday, I will provide you with another great story from the Cardston, Alberta temple:

An experience recorded by Earl W. and Beth Hemp

   What a wonderful, spiritual experience we had that day in the 1940’s in the sealing room of the Alberta Temple with President E. J. Wood. There was a sister from Montana who was sealed to her deceased husband and then the children of her large family were placed around the altar. President Wood commenced sealing the children to their parents. After naming about three of the children’s names President Wood stopped and said, “Sister, are all your children here?” She answered, “Yes.” President Wood started naming the children again and stopped at the same place. “Sister, are all the children’s names on this sheet you gave me?” questioned President Wood. Again she answered, “Yes.” The third time President Wood commenced the sealing and again stopped at the same place and asked, “Sister, didn’t you ever have any other children?” She began to cry and said, “President Wood, I did have one baby who lived only a short time and that baby’s name is not on the sheet.” “Yes, I know. Every time I came to that place while naming the children a spirit in this room, right beside me kept telling me that it belonged to this family and to please not leave him or her-(we don’t remember which one it was)-without belonging to the family,” declared President Wood.
We didn’t hear the spirit speaking to President Wood but we will never forget that sweet, peaceful, heavenly feeling that was in that room. President Wood certainly was in tune with the Spirit to hear the spirit of that child pleading with him.

   Another person was chosen to be the proxy for that deceased child and it was sealed along with the living children to the parents. There must have been much rejoicing also in the heavens that day.

V.A.Wood, The Alberta Temple-Center and Symbol of Faith, (Self published, 1989) pg. 172-173.

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