Relief Society becoming 'choice, virtuous and holy'
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Each month, the Church News publishes a message to complement the Relief Society visiting teaching message found in the Ensign magazine. The article on this page is based on the August 2011 message, "A Society of Holy Women."
Relief Society prepares daughters of God for the blessings of eternal life. Through Relief Society women are given leadership, service and teaching opportunities that aid in their progression in the gospel. As sisters actively participate in the society of holy women, they fulfill the purposes to increase faith, strengthen families and provide relief.
"The scriptures give us names of several women who have blessed individuals and generations with their spiritual gifts. Eve, the mother of all living; Sarah; Rebekah; Rachel; Martha; Elisabeth; and Mary, the mother of our Savior, will always be honored and remembered. The scriptures also mention women whose names are unknown to us but who bless our lives through their examples and teachings, like the women of Samaria whom Jesus met at the well of Sychar (John 4), and the faithful woman who was made whole just by touching the Savior's clothes (Mark 5:25-34).
"As we look at the history of this earth and at the history of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, it becomes obvious that women hold a special place in our Father's plan for the eternal happiness and well-being of His children" (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Influence of Righteous Women," Liahona, September 2009, 2-7).
Sister Irene Russo, a Relief Society president in the Schwamendingen Ward, Zurich Switzerland Stake, told of a woman in her ward who exemplifies being holy — despite difficulty that comes with life's hardships. The faithful sister, Helen Roffler, has been able to keep a greater perspective and help others do the same, even after losing her husband, losing a child and caring for a child with special needs.
"I think the main difference is she has an eternal vision," Sister Russo said. "When challenges come … she has always been faithful because she knows there is hope, there is a life after, there is the opportunity and possibility to be together with her family to be reunited with her son. … I think that helps her to stay strong."
Because of Sister Roffler's faith and Christlike demeanor, she stands out as an example to others, setting her apart from women of the world.
"She truly knows who Jesus Christ is," said Sister Russo. "When you look into her eyes you know that she has gotten to know Him as her Comforter, Savior and Redeemer in her personal life."
In this month's visiting teaching message a quote from Eliza R. Snow, second Relief Society general president, teaches, "It is the duty of each one of us to be a holy woman. We shall have elevated aims, if we are holy women. We shall feel that we are called to perform important duties. No one is exempt from them. There is no sister so isolated, and her sphere so narrow but what she can do a great deal towards establishing the Kingdom of God upon the earth."
It is through participating in the work of serving and saving others that individuals can become personally sanctified. As sisters participate in Relief Society, they are able to create a group of holy women that Joseph Smith described as "separate from all the evils of the world — choice, virtuous and holy" (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:570).
"You, my beloved sisters, know who you are and what God expects you to become. Your challenge is to bring all for whom you are responsible to a knowledge of this truth."
— President Thomas S. Monson, "If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear," October 2004
"There are many benevolent groups of women who do great good. There are many who have overpowering feelings of sympathy for the unfortunate, the sick, and the needy. But this organization is unique and has been from its start. …
"This society is composed of women whose feelings of charity spring from hearts changed by qualifying for and by keeping covenants offered only in the Lord's true Church. Their feelings of charity come from Him through His Atonement.
— President Henry B. Eyring, "The Enduring Legacy of Relief Society," November 2009, general Relief Society meeting
Service in the Relief Society magnifies and sanctifies each individual sister. Your membership in Relief Society should be ever with you. When you devote yourself to the Relief Society and organize it and operate it and participate in it, you sustain the cause that will bless every woman who comes within its influence.
— Elder Boyd K. Packer, "The Circle of Sisters," Ensign, November 1980
"Sisters, we, your brethren, cannot do what you were divinely designated to do from before the foundation of the world. We may try, but we cannot ever hope to replicate your unique gifts. There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman."
— Elder M. Russell Ballard, "Mothers and Daughters," Ensign, May 2010, 18–21
"We have a vital role to play in helping build the kingdom of God and preparing for the Lord's coming. In fact, the Lord cannot accomplish His work without the help of His daughters. Because of that, the Lord expects us to increase our offering. He expects us to fulfill the purpose of Relief Society as never before."
—Sister Julie B. Beck, "Fulfilling the Purpose of Relief Society," Ensign, October 2008