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Gérald Caussé|Dec. 3, 2013 My dear brothers and sisters, it is a joy and a blessing to address you this morning. You are such a remarkable generation in the history of gospel dispensations! Recently I participated in a dinner honoring the ambassador of a European nation. He had just finished a full day of visiting Church sites in Utah. I asked him what had impressed him the most. His face suddenly changed, and he responded in a voice charged with emotion, “What touched me most was the visit to the BYU campus and the Missionary Training Center. What beautiful youth you have!” Last year when the Lord decided to hasten His work, it was to the youth of the Church that He made the call. Following the announcement by President Thomas S. Monson that the ages for serving missions had been lowered, a wonderful wave of enthusiasm came across the Church. Tens of thousands of your generation are responding to the call of the prophet. Perhaps the change in mission age was a surprise for many people—especially those outside of the Church. Some probably wondered, “Why would the Church put so much responsibility in the hands of inexperienced young people who are barely out of high school?” I remember asking the following question of several mission presidents: “Rather than young volunteers of eighteen or nineteen years of age, if we offered to send you professional missionaries who were older and had great command of the scriptures, missionary lessons, missionary methods, and language of the country, would you take them?” They all answered without hesitation, “No, thank you. We love our young missionaries.” What is so beautiful and powerful in having a missionary force essentially composed of young men and young women without much experience? The scriptures are filled with stories of young and modest people who, having great faith and being magnified by the power of God, accomplished exceptional things. Among them were Enoch, who considered himself to be “a lad” who was “slow of speech”;1 Joseph Smith, who described himself as “an obscure boy” and “of no consequence in the world”;2 and the Virgin Mary, who marveled that she had been chosen to become the Lord’s mother, saying, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, . . . for he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.”3 These great young people had pure and humble hearts. Yet the Lord made them powerful in words and deeds to accomplish His designs. The scripture was fulfilled that said, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”4 My brothers and sisters, this scripture is now truer than ever before. I often think of the enormous challenges facing your generation. You are living in an often hostile world at a time when great personal strength must be used to maintain righteousness a
Kent P. Jackson|June 28, 2011 When I was young, my parents reminded me often that it is better to give than to receive. I used to hear this frequently at Christmastime. The statement is true enough, because the natural man is selfish, and learning how not to be selfish is one of life’s most important pursuits. But today I would like to discuss the reasons why it is important that we learn how to receive. Because this is a lesson that I am trying to learn myself, much of my address will be autobiographical. When I graduated from high school, I had the opportunity to spend the summer and fall with two friends working in a factory in a city far from home. We attended the local branch of the Church. The members there thought we were an interesting bunch—three young men away from home, going to work in a factory each day doing things we weren’t particularly good at, yet obviously surviving from day to day. We often received invitations from branch members to have dinner at their homes, and we always turned them down. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that to do so was a big mistake. You see, we turned them down because we thought it was the noble thing to do. We had sufficient finances, we could take care of ourselves, andwe didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. We didn’t realize at the time that in not accepting invitations to dinner, we were missing out on good experiences and fellowship with kindly Latter-day Saints. But, more important, we were depriving others of the blessing of serving us, and we were depriving ourselves of the blessing of receiving their service. Our real issue, of course, was pride. We were too proud to receive service from others who wished simply to bless our lives. It is remarkable how often the scriptures teach that we must receive. For example, when we are confirmed members of the Church, we are told to “receive” the Holy Ghost. We cannot compel or conjure the Spirit’s presence; we can only receive what has been freely offered. Likewise, the verb commonly used with the phrase “remission of sin” is receive. We can’t make a remission of sin, earn it, attain it, or create it. Our faithfulness is required, but it is Jesus’ agency that brings the remission of our sins to pass. And, finally, we are to be perfect, but we cannot perfect ourselves. The Book of Mormon teaches that we are to be “perfected” in Christ, something that is done “by his grace” (Moroni 10:32). The passive voice shows that we are not the doers of the verb but the receivers. Indeed, any notion that we have of personal spiritual accomplishment or self-sufficiency is shattered as we read the scriptures and come to a better understanding of the gospel. Peter learned this lesson the hard way when he refused Jesus’ humble act of servitude, saying, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” Jesus responded, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part
D. Todd Christofferson|Apr. 22, 2010 President Samuelson; trustees, faculty, and staff of Brigham Young University; honored guests; parents; family members; and graduates: My dear brothers and sisters, Sister Christofferson and I offer our congratulations, respect, and love to all of you. We thank you for the privilege of being with you on this grand occasion and rejoice with you in the achievements that we honor today. We are pleased to have been authorized to convey to you the greetings of President Thomas S. Monson, his counselors in the First Presidency, and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We extend those greetings and their commendations most warmly. In preparing my remarks to you, I have determined not to follow the example of my brother, the Apostle Paul, when he spoke to the Saints in Troas. It is reported in the book of Acts that “upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.”1 The cartoonist Garry Trudeau is purported to have said, “Commencement speeches were invented largely in the belief that outgoing college students should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated.”2 I’ll do what I can, but I don’t want to over-sedate you. It is traditional, of course, in graduation speeches to offer counsel. One sage proffered this advice: “Your families are extremely proud of you. You can’t imagine the sense of relief they are experiencing. This would be a most opportune time to ask for money.”3 Then there are references to the wisdom of the ages. I remember my father’s aphorism repeated often with some exasperation to his five sons: “For every mistake made for not knowing, 10 are made for not looking.” This afternoon, however, I would like to call upon the insights of our departed friend and colleague Professor Hugh Nibley. We knew Professor Nibley as a man of superior intellect and honest spirituality. I remember my first sighting of him during my freshman year at BYU. It was in the library as I passed a table laden with perhaps two dozen books, most of them open and stacked one upon another in a semicircle in front of an empty chair. As I wondered who could possibly absorb all of that material in one sitting, the legendary scholar appeared out of the stacks carrying three or four more books. I tried not to stare, but it wouldn’t have mattered; Professor Nibley ignored me completely and dove into the books. I was impressed and more than a little motivated. I wish I could tell you that after that experience I never again slumped over a library desk with my face in a book asleep, but dishonesty would be unbecoming in someone in my position. Hugh Nibley was a graduate student at Berkeley during the Great Depression. He was able to finance his education there with some struggle and a translation job that fortuitously
Kim B. Clark|Sep. 29, 2009 I am grateful to be with you today. I pray that the Holy Ghost will be with us and that you and I might be taught and edified by the Spirit. One summer many, many years ago, my mother decided it would be a great project for her children to refinish the dining room chairs. The chairs were painted a dark cherry color, and my mother had discovered that underneath that paint was good, hard maple wood. I will never forget that experience. We began by applying a nasty solvent called toluene to all the painted surfaces, and then we scraped the paint off. Once the paint was removed, we had to sand the wood with several grades of sandpaper in order to remove the very last bits of paint and to prepare the wood for a new finish. When the sanding was finally done, we applied a finish to highlight the grain and enhance the wood’s natural color. In the final step we sealed the new hardwood finish with two coats of varnish. Those chairs were transformed! I think about that experience every time I read Alma’s penetrating question to the members of the Church in Zarahemla: Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.1 The words “are ye stripped of pride?” evoke in me images and smells from that summer. I think of toluene and scraping and stripping and sanding to get down to bare wood. When I think of the finishing process with a vibrant color and the protecting sealing varnish, I think of the description of the Savior as “the author and finisher of our faith”2 and the words of King Benjamin to his people: Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his.3 My message today is about being stripped of pride. I want to talk with you about overcoming pride and becoming humble followers of Christ. Pride—The Universal Sin, the Great Vice Twenty years ago President Ezra Taft Benson delivered a powerful sermon on pride. It is a talk all of us should read carefully and often. Speaking in general conference, President Benson said: The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us. . . . Pride affects all of us at various times and in various degrees. . . . Pride is the universal sin, the great vice.4 Pride in all of its manifestations has played a central role in the struggle between good and evil, a struggle going back to the War
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