Proverbs 9:10

Last Saturday I was sitting in a Catholic Mass in Naples, Florida. This is probably the only time in my life when I will be able to say that. My husband’s company paid for one guest to accompany employees to a convention, and luckily he picked me. Having been born and raised in Utah, I am not very acquainted with the world. The humidity of Florida clung to my skin, the foliage was jaw-dropping, and the people I met were fascinating. We were the only Mormons at the event, and some of the glances I received made me feel like I should have been under glass in a museum with a plaque that reads “Peculiar” (without the “in a good way” subtitle).

We linked up with two other couples, one Catholic and the other non-denominational Christian (sounds like the beginning of a good joke). Neither of them drank alcohol, so it was easy for us to sit together at meals. We got a lot of ribbing about being “dry,” though I think many times our table laughed louder than the tipsy ones.

There was a Catholic church within walking distance of the hotel, and our friends decided to attend Mass on Saturday afternoon. We knew we would miss our church services on Sunday because we would be traveling all day, and we thought it might be nice to do something worshipful, so we asked if we could tag along. We had visited the church earlier in the week and admired its stained-glass windows and quietness (we also stopped in at a United Church of Christ which had a rockin’ jazz combo rehearsing for an evening concert).

At the Mass, the chapel was so crowded that our husbands stood in the aisles along with many others. My friend flipped the pages in the missal, finding the text of the service so I could follow along. It was the first Sunday of Lent, and I learned about how this is a season of sacrifice in preparation for Easter. I managed to catch on to most of the hymns and sang “The Lord’s Prayer” with some degree of confidence. I sat while my friend knelt and remained quiet during the Nicene Creed. After the Communion service, she wiped the tears from her face. “I always cry when I feel close to God,” she later said.

On the way back to the hotel, we asked each other a few timid questions. We were equally ignorant of each other’s faiths. I did not know that they had their own Bible, and they did not know that we read the Bible at all. She asked if we believe in Jesus, and I fumbled as I tried to express all I feel in just a few sentences. “Do you believe He is coming again?” she said. “Oh, yes!” I replied. We were standing in the hotel lobby by then, and it was noisy and busy—difficult to talk. We separated to our rooms to get ready for the evening’s activities. I was left wishing we could have continued.

They used the word “holy” a lot that week—they want their children to be holy, their neighbor is a holy man, etc. Perhaps this is a Catholic thing; I’m not sure. LDS vernacular uses different words—words like righteous, reverent, humble. I like the concept of being holy, mostly because it leaves no doubt about its source. I can be righteous without God, reverent without God, and humble without God, but I cannot be holy without God. Holiness is bestowed by Him through grace. I think about holy ground and how the dirt did nothing of itself to become so titled. Granted, we are more than dirt, and we do bear a responsibility to cultivate attributes like righteousness, reverence, and humility. Yet we are also told that we are as the dust of the earth1, even less than that at times.2 Perhaps I might hope to be as the dust of holy ground.

We are also told to stand in holy places.3 I thought of this as I sat in the empty church, gazing at the windows and the candles and the stations of the Cross. I thought that perhaps I could create a holy place of my own, a quiet place where I might pray and think and just be still.4

I am not as holy as my Catholic friends. I want to wipe away tears after taking the sacrament and feel the joy of being close to God. Like them, I want to pray openly, speak boldly, and be completely unashamed.5 And most of all, I want to never take for granted the light and knowledge I have—my testimony of the Restoration and the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

“The knowledge of the holy is understanding.” I hope I am beginning to understand.

1. Mormon 9:17

2. Hel. 12:7-8, Mosiah 2:25

3. D&C 45:32

4. Psalm 46:10

5. Romans 1:16

About Melissa Y.

(Emerita) is a native of Utah and lives in Mapleton with her husband and four children. She is currently working toward an MA in TESOL at BYU (and feels that is far too many acronyms for one sentence).

7 thoughts on “Proverbs 9:10

  1. I love this, Melissa. I’m better at being reverent and righteous than I am at being holy. I have been reminding myself every day to stop, to commune with God, to let Him, fill me. My natural tendency is to busy myself too much, to deny mysefl the blessings of the Atonement.

  2. Angie, I feel the same way with the busy-ness. Sometimes I feel good about it, like I am about my Father’s busy-ness, but in some moments of clarity I realize that in all this business of building the kingdom, I am missing the boat. I am failing to truly commune. I realize that this is a common problem, especially for LDS moms with small children (I try to at least catch the THEME of each talk from sacrament meeting, from the three sentences I get to really hear), but I know if I don’t stand up to the busy-ness and BE STILL, it will be what comes between me and God rather that what brings us together.

    Also, I love to hear the testimonies from people of other faiths, especially about Jesus. It reminds me that the Holy Ghost witnesses of truth. Always.

  3. Melissa, this is beautiful. I loved growing up in Michigan in a largely Catholic community. I was a strange oddity, and not all the Catholics were very holy, but there were many holy and righteous people.

    I’m glad you had a great experience, and I, too, want to take the sacrament more seriously, and walk away from Sunday feeling more holy.

  4. Thank you. In all of my struggles to just simply be, I’ve completely forgotten to be something more…more holy, more peaceful, more sincere. I needed the reminder.

  5. Melissa, what a beautiful post. More holiness is something I long for too.

    I love that we can learn so much from good people of other religions. I have always been very uncomfortable with the us/them rhetoric we hear so often in the church. I cringe when I hear those “I could tell right away that she was LDS because of her glow” stories. Truth is, I’ve met plenty of glowing Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Buddists in my time!

    I had a student once who was a Born-Again Christian (at BYU; imagine!) and she was the best little witness of Christ I’ve ever known. Now this girl had a serious *GLOW*! She radiated joy and, in a completely natural and unpretentious way, took every opportunity to speak of Jesus and her love for Him. Talk about someone letting her light so shine. I learned a lot from that kid.

  6. I just got back from BYU’s “Beholding Salvation” exhibit. I felt connected to those believers, across time and across religious traditions. There were Eastern Orthodox icons, Rembrandt etchings, and (always a favorite; I love to imagine her painting away in rural Idaho) Minerva Teichert. We are all connected to the divine, and therefore to each other.

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