A patriarchal blessing, which is a personal revelation from God to each individual, can be both an anchor and a guiding star, said President James E. Faust.
President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, addressed the Sunday morning session. He spoke of how priesthood blessings can give divine, magnifying and strengthening power to the lives of individuals."A priesthood blessing is sacred," he emphasized. "It can be a holy and inspired statement of our wants and needs. If we are in tune spiritually, we can receive a confirming witness of the truth of the promised blessings. If through our priesthood blessings we could perceive only a small part of the person God intends us to be, we would lose our fear and never doubt again."
He recalled that as a child he had been intrigued by a magnifying glass and its ability to make things appear larger. It also focused the rays of sunlight to become "absolutely amazing."
He compared this magnifying power to a blessing received in ancient times by Jacob. Jacob's blessing included his name being changed to Israel. And like Jacob, as heirs of Abraham, "through the blood of Israel, we also receive blessings of divine favor."
These blessings, in the Church, "are available to all who are worthy through those authorized and even appointed to give priesthood blessings. Such individual blessings are part of the continuous revelation that we claim as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," said President Faust.
He explained that ordained patriarchs are authorized by their priesthood office to give blessings and declare lineage. This calling is "a sacred and spiritual revelatory calling which will usually continue for much of the patriarch's life. 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."
Following the directions of the blessings will make members less likely to stumble and be misled, he said.
President Faust explained the responsibility to receive a patriarchal blessing rests with the individual when he or she has sufficient understanding of the significance of the blessing. "I encourage all members of the Church, having this maturity, to become worthy and obtain their blessings," he said, adding that all blessings are conditional upon worthiness.
He explained that patriarchal blessings are a guide to the future, not an index to the past. "Therefore, it is important that the recipient be young enough that many of the significant events of life are in the future."
Patriarchal blessings should be read humbly, prayerfully and frequently, said President Faust. A sacred, personal patriarchal blessing contains "counsel, promises and information from the Lord."
He said because blessings do not mention some important events in life does not mean such events 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 blessings in mortality and a crown of righteousness in the hereafter."
He noted that although his own patriarchal blessing is short, it has been "adequate and perfect for me. As a boy I read it over and over again. I pondered each word. Having that blessing early in my life guided me through all of the significant events and challenges of my life."
President Faust quoted the late Elder John A. Widtsoe, who said:
" `It should always be kept in mind that the realization of the promises made may come in this or the future life. Men have stumbled at times because promised blessings have not occurred in this life. They have failed to remember that in the gospel, life with all its activities continues forever and that the labors of earth may be continued in heaven.' "
This principle was illustrated by the blessing given President Faust's father, who was promised he would be blessed with many beautiful daughters, explained President Faust. No daughters were born to his parents, but they treated the wives of their sons as daughters.
Years later at a family gathering, related President Faust, he noticed his father's daughters-in-law, granddaughters and great-granddaughters and realized that his father's blessing had been literally fulfilled.
"The patriarch who gave my father his blessing had spiritual vision to see beyond this life," he declared. "The dividing line between time and eternity disappeared."
President Faust said that all are eligible to receive blessings promised to the seed of Abraham, regardless of whether they are of blood lineage or adopted. And because of the intermixture of the tribes of Israel, one child in a family may have dominant blessings in one tribe, and another child in the same family have dominant blessings of another tribe.
Sacred priesthood blessings strengthen the lives of those who receive them, said President Faust. "Thus, father's blessings, patriarchal blessings, and other blessings are a remarkable privilege . . . a powerful witness of the love of the Lord, Jesus Christ, in seeking to bring exaltation to each of us. They are our personal revelation from God."