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BYU commencement: Celestial quest is to live the celestial law'

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Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve speaks during Brigham Young University commencement exercises.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve speaks during Brigham Young University commencement exercises. Photo: Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

The core purpose of this mortal experience is a moral test, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve told students during Brigham Young University's spring commencement ceremony April 22, in the Marriott Center. The real test of this life is if individuals will, in fact, do all things the Lord commands.

Using gospel scholar Hugh Nibley as an example, Elder Christofferson spoke of a time when Brother Nibley had a "life-after-life" experience after suffering from appendicitis. This physical calamity changed his perspective on the importance of education. Although a formal education was still an important pursuit of Brother Nibley, he understood more of the importance of a "higher education," or one that cannot be learned in a classroom.

Elder Christofferson quoted from Brother Nibley's writing: " 'We're just dabbling around, playing around, being tested for our moral qualities, and above all the two things that we can be good at: We can forgive and we can repent.' "

The color guard leads the procession as faculty and students walk to the Marriott Center for commencement exercises.
The color guard leads the procession as faculty and students walk to the Marriott Center for commencement exercises. Photo: Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

Elder Christofferson spoke of the importance of gaining light and truth, like Brother Nibley, while still continuing to serve one another and achieve personal holiness.

"In my experience, those who have cultivated their capacities of mind and spirit, who have developed an uncommonly large store of knowledge and wisdom, are typically the most humble of men and women," Elder Christofferson said. "In diligently applying themselves, they have gained a greater sense of the vast breadth and depth of truth."

Drawing from the example of a man who didn't have the opportunity to go to college, Elder Christofferson said that no matter a person's education or employment, all have the opportunity to live a moral life.

"Our central quest is to learn and to live the celestial law," he said. "If we can learn to abide the celestial law, we become what the scripture calls persons of a celestial spirit."

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve walks behind the color guard in the procession to the Marriott Center.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve walks behind the color guard in the procession to the Marriott Center. Photo: Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

Elder Christofferson said it is important to remember the celestial law and Christian standard of greatness as graduates look forward to a new phase of life, especially within one's own family.

"If it is not already yours, seek for the blessings of marriage and family where your service can be the most vital, the most unselfish, the most fulfilling. And if this blessing is denied you until later, … bless all those you can with your wisdom and means."

As individuals repent, forgive and serve those around them, they are more able to live the higher law, Elder Christofferson said.

"Today we recognize your very significant achievements. ... We place robes on your shoulders and mortarboards, tassels and other marks of honor upon you head and about your neck," he said. "At the same time, my plea to you is not to let this achievement or any other success or failure blind you to your central purpose on earth — to learn to do whatsoever the Lord your God may command. ... I urge you to keep your eye on the prize. Let your cap and gown point you to the infinitely greater robe and crown that await you in God's celestial realm."

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