Who are good parents? They are those who have lovingly, prayerfully, and earnestly tried to teach their children by example and precept “to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” This is true even though some of their children are disobedient or worldly. Children come into this world with their own distinct spirits and personality traits. Some children “would challenge any set of parents under any set of circumstances. … Perhaps there are others who would bless the lives of, and be a joy to, almost any father or mother.” Successful parents are those who have sacrificed and struggled to do the best they can in their own family circumstances.
A patriarchal blessing from an ordained patriarch can give us a star to follow, which is a personal revelation from God to each individual. If we follow this star, we are less likely to stumble and be misled. Our patriarchal blessing will be an anchor to our souls, and if we are worthy, neither death nor the devil can deprive us of the blessings pronounced. They are blessings we can enjoy now and forever.
As with many other blessings, patriarchal blessings should ordinarily be requested by the one desiring the blessing. Responsibility for receiving a patriarchal blessing rests primarily on the individual when he or she has sufficient understanding of the significance of a patriarchal blessing. I encourage all members of the Church having this maturity to become worthy and obtain their blessings.
As moved upon by the Holy Spirit, the patriarch declares by inspiration the lineage in the house of Israel of the recipient, together with such blessings, spiritual gifts, promises, advice, admonition, and warnings the patriarch feels inspired to give. The patriarchal blessing is, in essence, a prophetic blessing and utterance.
Because this is a very spiritual work, we can expect help from the other side of the veil. We feel a pull from our relatives who are waiting for us to find them so their ordinance work can be done. This is a Christlike service because we are doing something for them that they cannot do for themselves.
In the marvelous experience of Brigham Young in February of 1847, when the Prophet Joseph appeared to him in a dream or vision, Brigham pleaded to be united with the Prophet. Brigham Young asked the Prophet if he had a message for the Brethren. The Prophet said:" 'Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and to be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the still small voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the Brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it.'"The Prophet further directed Brigham Young as follows: 'They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God.' (Manuscript History of Brigham Young: 1846–47, Historical Dept., The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pp. 528–31.) . . ."I testify that as we mature spiritually under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, our sense of personal worth, of belonging, and of identity increases. I further testify that I would rather have every person enjoy the Spirit of the Holy Ghost than any other association, for they will be led by that Spirit to light and truth and pure intelligence, which can carry them back into the presence of God.
The office of patriarch is an office of the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is one of blessing, not of administration. It is a sacred and spiritual revelatory calling which usually continues for much of the patriarchs life. Our patriarchs devote themselves fully to their callings and do all they can to live in faith and worthiness so that each blessing is inspired. The patriarchs calling becomes a beautiful, sacred, spiritual, and fulfilling experience.
The patriarch has no blessing of his own to give. We heard Elder LeGrand Richards tell of a patriarch who once said to a woman, I have a wonderful blessing for you. But when the patriarch laid his hands on the head of the recipient, his mind went completely blank. He apologized. I was mistaken. I do not have a blessing for you. It is the Lord who has the blessing for you. The woman came back the next day, and after the patriarch had prayerfully importuned the Lord, a blessing came that mentioned many concerns known only to this good sister. All blessings come from God.
Our blessings can encourage us when we are discouraged, strengthen us when we are fearful, comfort us when we sorrow, give us courage when we are filled with anxiety, and lift us up when we are weak in spirit. Our testimonies can be strengthened every time we read our patriarchal blessings.
What is discipleship? It is primarily obedience to the Savior. Discipleship includes many things. It is chastity. It is tithing. It is family home evening. It is keeping all the commandments. It is forsaking anything that is not good for us. Everything in life has a price. Considering the Savior’s great promise for peace in this life and eternal life in the life to come, discipleship is a price worth paying. It is a price we cannot afford not to pay. By measure, the requirements of discipleship are much, much less than the promised blessings.
The fruits of industry and thrift may appropriately be put into sound investments. A good solid investment can equal years of toil, and there is some risk in all we do. But investments that are highly speculative and promoted with unsound, vague promises of inordinate return should be viewed very carefully. The leaders of the Church have long warned against speculation.
Perhaps in this life we are not given to fully understand how enduring the sealing cords of righteous parents are to their children. It may very well be that there are more helpful sources at work than we know. I believe there is a strong familial pull as the influence of beloved ancestors continues with us from the other side of the veil.
We must recognize that our natural gifts and abilities are limited, but when augmented by inspiration and guidance of The Holy Ghost, our potential increases manyfold. You need help from a power beyond your own to do something extraordinarily useful. You young men can have opportunities and receive blessings beyond your wildest dreams and expectations. Your future may not hold fame or fortune, but it can be something far more lasting and fulfilling. Remember that what we do in life echoes in eternity.
There are some investment counselors who urge speculative credit practices described as “leverage,” “credit wealth,” and “borrow yourself rich.” Such practices may work successfully for some, but at best they succeed only for a time. An economic reversal always seems to come, and many who have followed such practices find themselves in financial ruin and their lives in shambles.
Owning a home free of debt is an important goal of provident living, although it may not be a realistic possibility for some. A mortgage on a home leaves a family unprotected against severe financial storms. Homes that are free and clear of mortgages and liens cannot be foreclosed on. When there are good financial times, it is the most opportune time to retire our debts and pay installments in advance. It is a truth that “the borrower is servant to the lender.”
In ancient and modern times angels have appeared and given instruction, warnings, and direction, which benefited the people they visited. We do not consciously realize the extent to which ministering angels affect our lives. President Joseph F. Smith said, “In like manner our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, or reproof and instruction, to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh.
Some of us are too content with what we may already be doing. We stand back in the “eat, drink, and be merry” mode when opportunities for growth and development abound. We miss opportunities to build up the kingdom of God because we have the passive notion that someone else will take care of it. The Lord tells us that He will give more to those who are willing. They will be magnified in their efforts, like the little blue engine as it pulled the train up the mountain. But to those who say, “We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”
Fundamental to temple worship is the principle that ‘God is no respecter of persons’ (Acts 10:34). Within the hallowed walls of the temples, there is no preference of position, wealth, status, race, or education. All dress in white. All receive the same instruction. All make the same covenants and promises. All receive the same transcendent, eternal blessings if they live worthy to claim them. All are equal before their Creator.
The Divine Shepherd has a message of hope, strength, and deliverance for all. If there were no night, we would not appreciate the day, nor could we see the stars and the vastness of the heavens. We must partake of the bitter with the sweet. There is a divine purpose in the adversities we encounter every day. They prepare, they purge, they purify, and thus they bless. When we pluck the roses, we find we often cannot avoid the thorns which spring from the same stem. Out of the refiner’s fire can come a glorious deliverance. It can be a noble and lasting rebirth. The price to become acquainted with God will have been paid. There can come a sacred peace. There will be a reawakening of dormant, inner resources. A comfortable cloak of righteousness will be drawn around us to protect us and to keep us warm spiritually. Self-pity will vanish as our blessings are counted.
This caused great sadness, “for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning.” Does this not place some responsibility on the followers of Christ to show concern for loved ones who have lost their way and “are shut out from the presence of God”? I know of no better way than to show unconditional love and help lost souls seek another path.
Patriarchal blessings should be read humbly, prayerfully, and frequently. A patriarchal blessing is very sacred and personal, but it may be shared with close family members. It is a sacred guideline of counsel, promises, and information from the Lord; however, a person should not expect the blessing to detail all that will happen to him or her or to answer all questions. The fact that one’s patriarchal blessing may not mention an important event in life, such as a mission or marriage, does not mean that it will not happen. In order to receive the fulfillment of our patriarchal blessings, we should treasure in our hearts the precious words they contain, ponder them, and so live that we will obtain the blessings in mortality and a crown of righteousness in the hereafter.