Friday, 21 November 2014

My Own Personal Liahona

“Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night. It will guide you through life’s dangers.” - Thomas S. Monson
We've been urged by Church leaders to receive a Patriarchal Blessing so that we can receive inspiration from the Lord. Had I known this, I'd have gotten it a lot sooner. Fortunately, however, I have it now. Even though it four months to get to me after I had it done.

Let's back up a little. What is a Patriarchal Blessing? Well, a blessing is spiritual guidance, comfort, and inspiration from our Heavenly Father through a worthy Priesthood holder. But a Patriarchal Blessing is a blessing from from a Patriarch specifically.

And what is a Patriarch, you ask? Well, Abraham was a Patriarch. In the English language, it quite literally means "father". In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one Patriarch is called to watch over a stake (more on stakes here). This Patriarch, therefore, becomes a father to stake, available for guidance and council. This calling, unlike most other Church callings, is a lifelong calling.

With that in mind, we return to the Patriarchal Blessing. Patriarch's hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, as well as keys to the office of Patriarch, so that he may administer blessings to those who seek them out.

The difference between a Patriarchal Blessing and a normal blessing, primarily, is that Patriarchal Blessings are only received once. In fact, the information, inspiration, warnings, promises, and declarations given are typically enough to last a lifetime. Whereas a normal blessing targets a specific event or occurrence.

In our Patriarchal Blessing's, we receive specific revelation to guide, inspire, warn, and promise to us throughout our lives. Here we learn which tribe we fall under with regards to the Abrahamic covenant, what Heavenly Father deems to be of importance to us, and what He desires that we look out for or seek out for.

I remember my Patriarchal Blessing as I walked into the High Council room with Brother Comrie (our local stake Patriarch). It was the first time we'd met and I was there on my own. We began with a prayer and he went on to teach me about Abraham, his covenants, our covenants and shared with me his own personal experiences. We dabbled a bit into my conversion, as well as my family situation and offered support, as would a father. It is here that I learnt exactly what the role of a Patriarch was.

He went on to giving me my blessing, and I remember how the Spirit warmed my soul. The words kept coming and the messages seemed endless. I knew I wouldn't remember it all, but much was impressed on my mind since that day. As he ended, he counselled me to share with others of my faith what had been said. This briefed as curious to others, because this is typically kept secret (another sacred vs secret debate). It is peculiar, though, as to what I have mentioned to a select and what I have not. Sometimes I long to share, as is my nature to share all things, but I'm held back because I've been told countless times not too. It's the conflict between doing what I've been counselled to do by my Patriarch and what other members continue to remind me of with regards to keeping it to myself.

But that is besides the point. Our Patriarchal Blessings are there for us, specifically. We need to study them out and learn what it is our Heavenly Father wills us to do. Sometimes the words are vague, requiring constant prayer and seeking out, while other times they are as specific and detailed as can be. A suggestion put forth was to type out and print out a pocket sized copy to keep on me at all times. I like that idea.

Let me end off with the somewhat humorous process of getting a printed copy of my Patriarchal Blessing. I received mine on the 3rd of June 2014 (the blessing that is). And then I moved to Alberton (out of previous stake boundaries). Brother Comrie sent out a printed copy via postal service. The postal service went on strike. Two months later he sent out another copy. Still no post. I was unable to fetch it from him in person due to my busy schedule with Church and work in Alberton.

We organised that he give it to Centurion 1 Ward clerk so that he could give it to Centurion YSA rep who would give it to another YSA who would then bring it to me at Institute. The great Mormon grapevine. That didn't work. Something about one being there and the other not and one week the wrong Patriarchal Blessing was brought.

Eventually, when Elder Cook came to town for a YSA devotional (okay, he was here for the missionaries - first Zimbabwe, Harare and then South Africa, Johannesburg - and just fit us YSAs in) I had planned on going. So I asked Brother Comrie if I could fetch it from him there. Needless to say, more chaos.

Brother Comrie gave it to President Martin (Stake President) to give it to me. He even went to the pulpit and called for a "Jonothan Smith". I was not there. It was my sister's honour's evening at school, so I needed to be there to support her. I found out too late and the message didn't get to him until afterwards.

A friend of mine even spoke to President Martin, saying that he was looking for me as well. After discussing with this with that friend, I began mustering up a new plan to get my Patriarchal Blessing.

A week later, the Centurion 1 Ward clerk messaged me to say that he took my Patriarchal Blessing from Pres Martin to give to a sister in Institute so that she could give it to me. I believe I missed a week to go teaching with missionaries and then we left before we had time to discuss it, then she forgot it at home.

Fortunately, we live in the digital age, so she sent me photos... and I was finally able to receive the physical copy a week later. It took four months, but I finally got it. I don't know why he didn't just email it to me in the first place (as he suggested after I finally got the copy).

Anyway, I'm glad to finally have it. I know that it will continue to help me as it already has begun to. Whatever the reason for the delay, it was worth it. And I'd recommend all baptised members to work towards it. And to everyone else, read the Book of Mormon and learn for yourself. Who knows, you might be waiting for your Patriarchal Blessing for four months as well. But I can promise you, regardless of your decision, you'll never regret it.

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