Grandpa’s Calling


Here’s what I know about patriarchs and patriarchal blessings—from personal experience.

I never realized how important patriarchal blessings were until my family and I lived with my grandparents for three months while our new house was being built.

My grandfather is a patriarch. And his home, where people receive their patriarchal blessings, is dedicated to the Lord. For my brother, sister and me, this meant that while we lived there, we often had to be quiet, help clean the house, and try not to quarrel. If we ever argued, we were sent outside, because contention makes the Spirit of the Holy Ghost leave. You can tell my grandparents’ home is different. It’s always clean, and it seems to have a glow about it.

Whenever someone was scheduled to receive a patriarchal blessing, we would clean everything really nice the day before. We’d wash the windows and the floors, sweep the deck, and vacuum everywhere—even places where no one would be. Until after the blessing was given, we weren’t allowed to wear shoes in the house, because they would make tracks. When we finished cleaning, it was the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen. It was basically the closest thing I’ve ever felt to heaven on earth.

The day someone was coming to receive a blessing, we all planned to either stay downstairs or leave to visit relatives. Grandpa would then prepare to give the blessing. First he would put on his suit. Then he would spend time praying, reading the scriptures, and listening to appropriate music.

Before giving anyone a blessing, Grandpa always talks to them to make sure they feel at ease. He wants to make sure they understand who is giving them the blessing. He tells them that the blessing is not from him but from Heavenly Father.

Although I never knew who came to get their blessings, and though I couldn’t hear what was said, I could feel the Holy Ghost—even downstairs.

After the blessing had been given and recorded, my grandma would type the blessings, using headphones and a transcribing machine. She went over the blessing several times to make sure she had it exactly correct.

My grandma says that when she types the blessings, she feels just about everything that the person feels because she knows for a fact that the blessing is from God. Sometimes she just starts crying because it’s such a beautiful blessing. She says that after she’s done typing, she usually doesn’t remember which blessing is whose. And she’s glad that’s the way it is, because the blessings are really personal and shouldn’t be shared with everyone. It takes my grandma a lot of time to type everyone’s blessings, and I’m not sure many people realize how much she contributes to my grandpa’s calling.

About a year after we moved to our new house, I went back to my grandparents’ house to receive my patriarchal blessing. I was only 13, but I felt ready. If I hadn’t ever lived with my grandparents, I wouldn’t have known what kind of experience was in store for me. But since I knew what was waiting for me, I guess that just made me all the more eager to get it. I spent the whole day reading my scriptures and listening to Church music because I wanted to recreate the time when I felt the Holy Ghost the strongest so I would be ready to receive my blessing.

Every time I read my blessing, I understand it better. The first time I read it, there were a lot of phrases I didn’t understand. But now it just kind of clicks. Every time I read it, it grows nearer and dearer to my heart. I know it is a gift from God.

Having my grandpa be my patriarch at first made me wonder a little if some of the blessing was just coming from him because he wants the best for me. But there are parts of my blessing that he couldn’t possibly know about me. So that reconfirms to me that it was inspired. What was said and the Spirit I felt let me know it was from Heavenly Father.

Your patriarchal blessing tells you personally that Heavenly Father loves you, and it will help you through life. I know that if I listen to what my blessing says, I’ll be able to overcome my problems in life.

While I was getting my blessing, I felt the Holy Ghost more than I ever had before. And when you feel that feeling, you know it’s real; you know that nothing on earth could have caused it.

Editor’s Note: Earl Murray died unexpectedly on September 10 from injuries sustained in a fall at his home. He had served as the patriarch in the Pocatello Idaho Stake for 12 years.

As You Prepare

Ever since Christy Smith’s grandfather, Earl Murray, received his patriarchal blessing at age 19, his testimony and his blessing have been growing. “My blessing has been a living, growing thing. The same passages in my blessing have had different meaning for me at different times,” says Brother Murray, who now serves as patriarch of the Pocatello Idaho Stake.

And now that Brother Murray is on the giving side of patriarchal blessings, his testimony of these special blessings has also experienced tremendous growth.

“Having labored as long as I have as a patriarch, I believe that those who have not availed themselves of the patriarchal blessing have deprived themselves of a great aid in living their day-to-day lives,” he says. “I think patriarchal blessings can give a great deal of guidance and direction. I also believe they can add a great deal of strength and courage. And I believe they can be of great comfort in an individual’s life.”

Here are some suggestions for those about to receive their patriarchal blessings.

How Do I Know If I’m Ready?

  • You must have a sincere desire. Don’t let others pressure you into receiving your blessing.

  • Discuss your desire with your bishop. He’ll help you know if it’s time.

What Should I Do to Prepare?

  • Schedule your appointment with your patriarch in advance.

  • Be prayerful. Talk to Heavenly Father about what you are struggling with in your life right now.

  • Fast, if you wish to and if you are physically able.

  • Plan to have enough time for your blessing, so you won’t feel rushed, hurried, or under pressure.

Who Should Be There?

  • Immediate family members (specifically, your parents).

What Does a Blessing Contain?

  • A declaration of your lineage.

  • An inspired statement of your mission and life possibilities.

  • It may include promises, admonition, challenges, and warnings.

What Should I Do with My Blessing?

  • Read it regularly. It can’t be a guide in your life unless you know what it says.

  • Be cautious when sharing it. It’s too personal to share with everyone.

  • View it from an eternal perspective. Sometimes blessings won’t be realized until after this life.

  • Don’t expect your blessing to outline everything that will happen in your life or to answer all of your questions.

  • Keep in mind that the promises in your blessing are conditioned upon your faithfulness and the Lord’s will.

[photos] Photography by Welden Andersen