I have read about the ordinance of Calling and Election, and Second Comforter – the what and why’s of this. But I have never found the “hows”. How is this done? Are you recommended by your priesthood leader? Is this something you ask for? Is it like a calling where you are called in and just receive it? Is it done through Heavenly Messengers?
Having one’s calling and election made sure (also referred to as “receiving the Second Comforter” and “receiving the more sure word of prophecy”) is not an “ordinance” that is performed through Church authority. Rather, it comes through a personal manifestation from Jesus Christ Himself. Joseph Smith explained:
After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, `Son, thou shalt be exalted.’ When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.
Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and the substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions–Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.–Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 150,151.
On this topic I would refer you to Roy Doxey’s article entitled “Accepted of the Lord” in the July 1976 Ensign; as well as the Encyclopedia of Mormonism’s entries on the “Second Comforter” and “Calling and Election”.
Others have asked me in the past about the sacred temple ordinance sometimes called the “second anointing”, and I have consistently been very reluctant to deal with those questions directly. (See, for example, this post and this post.) I do, however, feel comfortable making the following five points which may be helpful as you continue to ponder your question:
First, it is reasonably common knowledge that when one receives one’s own temple endowment, one also receives their “initiatory ordinances” which include symbolic “washings and anointings.” There are specific promises made during those ordinances, describing what one may eventually become if one continues to faithfully live the Gospel and keep the covenants that they have made.
Second, it can be logically deduced from Doctrine and Covenants 132:19 that at some point a man and his wife, sealed in the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, may be promised “thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers”.
Third, it might be instructive to look at ancient practices of “anointing” kings as they were applied to David, the archetypal king of Israel. As we read through his story as chronicled in the Old Testament books of 1 and 2 Samuel, we see that David was anointed three times in conjunction with his kingship:
- In his youth, David was anointed by the prophet Samuel to become a king at some future time. (1 Samuel 16:7.)
- In Hebron, David was anointed king over his own tribe (Judah)—in other words, over that group that was already predisposed to honor and accept him as king. (2 Samuel 2)
- Again in Hebron, once David’s rivals and enemies had been effectively subdued, David was anointed as king over the entirety of his rightful dominions—in his case, over all of Israel. (2 Samuel 5)
This pattern—of first anointing someone to become a king (or queen) in the future, then anointing them again privately to actually recognize them as a king, and then awaiting a public anointing to occur at a time when all enemies have been finally overcome—may have some implications for some of the things that happen in modern temples.
Fourth, faithful and respectful LDS historians have used publicly available Church sources from the mid-to-late nineteenth century to confirm the existence of a priesthood ordinance called the “second anointing” which was administered to some married couples who had previously received their endowment and their temple sealing. It seems that this ordinance was also performed, on a very limited basis, by proxy on behalf of deceased couples. One interesting source on this is Sister Jennifer Ann Mackley’s excellent Wilford Woodruff’s Witness: The Development of Temple Doctrine; available through Deseret Book. Also, less-reputable sources (particularly on the internet) are often happy to spread rumors and even purportedly first-hand anecdotes from people who claim to have received a modern variant of the second anointing. To the extent that any such accounts may have some element of truth behind them, I find it deeply unfortunate that the authors would treat the experiences with such contempt.
Finally, and most germane to your original question: Most priesthood ordinances are connected with an increase (or “endowment”) of spiritual power that is enabled by, but distinct from, the ordinance itself. For example, we associate receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost with the ordinance of “confirmation”. But these are actually two separate and distinct events, as Elder David A. Bednar taught in his October 2010 Conference address “Receive the Holy Ghost”:
The simplicity of this ordinance may cause us to overlook its significance. These four words—“Receive the Holy Ghost”—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not simply to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26). The Holy Ghost does not become operative in our lives merely because hands are placed upon our heads and those four important words are spoken. As we receive this ordinance, each of us accepts a sacred and ongoing responsibility to desire, to seek, to work, and to so live that we indeed “receive the Holy Ghost” and its attendant spiritual gifts. “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift” (D&C 88:33).
Similar spiritual outpourings were promised to those who received the “Kirtland endowment” (equivalent to the modern intiatory ordinances), and yet again to those who received the “Nauvoo endowment” (equivalent to the modern ceremony we simply call the “endowment”); and it seems logical to me that those spiritual outpourings similarly do not come automatically—they must be carefully sought.
The point I am trying to make here is that receiving the second anointing is not the same thing as having one’s calling and election made sure. A priesthood ordinance has no eternal value if it is not “sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise” (D&C 132:7); so as with any other priesthood ordinance, one could participate in the second anointing under proper authority but fail to receive the spiritual outpouring associated with that ordinance. And we also know that people can have grand manifestations from heavenly beings—including the Father and Son Themselves—without having received any prior priesthood ordinances; Joseph Smith’s first vision being an example of this.
Given that the Church has said so little about the second anointing through official channels, I think that any discussion of the “hows” would probably be inappropriate beyond surmising that if the Lord wants a particular Church member to receive it, He will make that known to those who hold the appropriate priesthood keys. That said, I would suggest that we both can and should hope to have our callings and election made sure, as Joseph Smith teaches and as Peter admonishes us in 2 Peter 1:10. While such an event may or may not happen in this life, the Church has given us some very clear “hows” for pursuing this goal. Scripture tells us that our callings and elections are made sure through a process of
add[ing] to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Or, as Elder Bruce R. McConkie put it in the verse he appended to the familiar hymn “Come, Listen To A Prophet’s Voice”: