Priesthood: Commission to serve
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In his priesthood session address, President Thomas S. Monson related several incidents about priesthood service to illustrate the motto "Do your duty; that is best. Leave unto the Lord the rest."
Several of the accounts pertained to Aaronic Priesthood youth. President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, began by recalling his experience as a young deacon. "As we were taught the procedure in passing the sacrament, we were told how we should assist Louis McDonald, a particular brother in our ward who was afflicted with a palsied condition, that he might have the opportunity to partake of the sacred emblems," President Monson said. He added that as he performed that act of service for Brother McDonald, "I felt I was on holy ground. And indeed I was. The privilege to pass the sacrament to Brother McDonald made better deacons of us all."
He mentioned speaking two months ago to 5,000 young men and their leaders in a sacrament meeting in an outdoor amphitheater at the National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. He said 65 priests officiated at many large sacrament tables placed throughout the assembled group, and about 180 deacons then passed the sacrament. "What an awe-inspiring sight I witnessed that morning as these Aaronic Priesthood young men participated in this holy ordinance."
President Monson told teachers and priests that every one of them should be given the assignment to home teach with a companion who holds the Melchizidek Priesthood. "What an opportunity to prepare for a mission," he declared. "What a privilege to learn the discipline of duty."
He told of Johann Denndorfer from Debrecen, Hungary, who, following World War II, "found himself virtually a prisoner in his own land of Hungary. How he longed for contact with the Church." From Germany Walter Krause and his home teaching companion departed for Hungary to fulfill their home teaching assignment and visit Brother Denndorfer and others.
"Brother Denndorfer had not had home teachers since before the war," President Monson related. "Now, when he saw the servants of the Lord, he was overwhelmed. He did not shake hands with them; rather, he went to his bedroom and took from a secret hiding place his tithing that he had saved for many years. This tithing he gave to his home teachers, and then he said, "Now I can shake your hands."
Regarding the duties of priests, President Monson told of a young man he knew 55 years ago, Robert Williams, who had the responsibility to perform a baptism as a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood, despite his uncontrollable condition of stuttering. But he uttered the baptismal prayer with no impediment. "Not once did he stutter!" President Monson exclaimed. "Not once did he falter! A modern miracle had been witnessed. Robert then performed the baptismal ordinance for two or three other children in the same fashion." Following the baptisms, however, he was once again unable to speak without stuttering.
President Monson reminded those who might be shy by nature or consider themselves inadequate to respond to a calling that "this work is not yours and mine alone. We can look up and reach out for divine help."
He said, "The priesthood is not really so much a gift as it is a commission to serve, a privilege to lift, and an opportunity to bless the lives of others."
When he served as a bishop many years ago, President Monson said, he and one of his counselors visited a widow and her daughter. As they were leaving the apartment, a woman from across the hall stopped them to ask if he were a bishop. She told him she often saw him visiting others in the building, then said, "No one visits me or my bedfast husband. Do you have time to come in and visit with us, even though we are not members of your church?"
President Monson said as they entered the apartment, they noticed that she and her husband were listening to the Tabernacle Choir on the radio. Bishop Monson returned as often as he could. Eventually the wife was baptized, and sometime later, her husband died. Bishop Monson conducted the funeral. Later, the wife, Angela Anastor, whose native language was Greek, translated the widely used pamphlet "Joseph Smith Tells His Own Story" into the Greek language.
President Monson commented that his former teachers quorum adviser had passed away the previous week and that President Monson had the privilege of speaking at his graveside service. He told the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, "You will ever remember your quorum advisers and your fellow quorum members, thereby experiencing the truth expressed by the poet, James Barrie: 'God gave us memories, that we might have June roses in the December of our lives.'"