Thomas S. Monson: The Priesthood—a Sacred Gift
At the beginning of his priesthood session address, President Thomas S. Monson cited words from a familiar Latter-day Saint hymn: “Come all ye sons of God who have received the priesthood.”
“Let us consider our callings; let us reflect on our responsibilities; let us determine our duty; and let us follow Jesus Christ, our Lord,” President Monson invited the priesthood holders. “While we may differ in age, in custom, or in nationality, we are united as one in our priesthood callings.”
“I prepared most conscientiously the records I kept, for I wanted to do the very best I knew how to do in that calling,” he recalled. “I took great pride in my work. Doing all I can, to the very best of my ability, has been my goal in any position I have ever held.”
He said he hopes each young Aaronic Priesthood holder is given a spiritual awareness of the sacredness of his calling and opportunities to magnify it.
He recalled that he received such an opportunity as a deacon when asked to take the sacrament to a shut-in member. He described placing a piece of the bread to the man’s lips and holding a cup of water that he might drink.
“As I departed, I saw tears in his eyes as he said, ‘God bless you, my boy.’ And God did bless me—with an appreciation for the sacred emblems of the sacrament and for the priesthood which I held,” he said.
He told of visits the Aaronic Priesthood holders in his ward made to Clarkston, Utah, to see the gravesite of Martin Harris, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon.
“We developed a love for that sacred record and for the truths found therein,” he said.
President Monson recounted his memory of an interview with his stake president, Paul C. Child, prior to his receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood as he approached his 18th birthday and prepared to enter mandatory military service during World War II.
The stake president had him recite from memory Doctrine and Covenants 13 the words of John the Baptist as he conferred the Aaronic Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
“Brother Monson, never forget that as a holder of the Aaronic Priesthood you are entitled to the ministering of angels,” President Child said.
“It was almost as though an angel were in the room that day,” President Monson reflected. “I have never forgotten the interview. I yet feel the spirit of that solemn occasion as we together read of the responsibilities, the duties and the blessings of the Aaronic Priesthood and Melchizedek Priesthood.”
President Monson recalled that as he was at the train station to depart for his service in the U.S. Navy, a member of his bishopric placed in his hand a small volume titled Missionary Handbook. He said he laughed and commented that he wasn’t going on a mission.
“Take it anyway,” the bishopric member said. “It may come in handy.”
It did. Just before Christmas, his buddy in the adjoining bunk, a Mormon boy, Leland Merrill, moaned in pain, at length asking for a priesthood blessing.
“I had never before given a priesthood blessing,” President Monson recounted. “I had never received a blessing, and I had never witnessed a blessing being given. As I prayed silently for help, I remembered the Missionary Handbook in the bottom of my sea bag. I quickly emptied the bag and took the book to the nightlight. There, I read how one blesses the sick. With many curious sailors looking on, I proceeded with the blessing. Before I could put everything back into my bag. Leland Merrill was sleeping like a child. He awakened the following morning feeling fine. The gratitude each of us felt for the power of the priesthood was immense.”
President Monson said he has had more opportunities than he could possibly count to provide blessings to those in need.
“Each opportunity has found me deeply grateful that God has entrusted to me this sacred gift. I revere the priesthood. I have witnessed its power time and time again. I have seen its strength. I have marveled at the miracles it has wrought.”
He declared, “Brethren, each of us has been entrusted with one of the most precious gifts ever bestowed upon mankind. As we honor our priesthood and live our lives so that we are at all times worthy, the blessings of the priesthood will flow through us.”
He said, “I love the words found in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 121, verse 45, which tell us what we must do to be worthy: ‘Let thy bowels. . .be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.’ ”
President Monson concluded: “As bearers of the priesthood of God, we are engaged in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have answered His call; we are on His errand. Let us follow in His footsteps. Let us live by His precepts. By so doing, we will be prepared for any service He calls us to perform. This is His work. This is His Church. Indeed, He is our captain, the King of Glory, even the Son of God.”