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Monday, November 12, 2012

Ordering Patriarchal Blessings

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I recently took advantage of the church's patriarchal blessing service by requesting the blessing of my great-great-great-grandfather, Marriner Wood Merrill. Within a day someone from the Patriarchal Blessing section of the Church History Department had contacted me, and other than having to hop through a few extra hoops because he is a former apostle, I received not one, but two patriarchal blessings for Marriner Wood Merrill in the mail.

The blessing above, given on December 18th, 1885 just after Marriner became the first president of the Logan Temple, is written in beautiful cursive by Zebedee Coltrin, church patriarch. Not surprisingly, I found the language more elegant and stirring than that contained in my own blessing. Here are a few examples:
"And thou shalt be enabled to proclaim the gospel of the Son of God aloud, for thy voice shall be as the voice of a trumpet, and thou shalt be enabled eventually to roar like a lion from the forest, proclaiming and announcing the mighty work of God about to be poured out upon the children of men; ..."

"And thou shalt have power before the Lord to control the elements, that they shall not have power to injure thee, nor to injure the Temple in which thou presidest, ..."

Angels shall be at thy command, if it is necessary; and the powers of the heavens shall be exerted in thy behalf, for the Lord, thy God, has raised thee up for a great and a mighty purpose and thou shalt become the father of a mighty people; and thou shalt be blessed with a posterity that shall be great and powerful upon the earth, and the Holy Priesthood of God shall rest down upon them throughout all their generations upon the earth."

"... and thou shalt behold the Lord when He shall come to this Temple ..."

"... and thou wast ordained unto this office and calling in the spirit world, and it shall be carried out in thee in thy days upon the earth; and no hand lifted against thee shall prosper."
Reading these two blessings moved me, and it takes a lot to spiritually move me these days. I'd be surprised if the boldness of language and specificity of promises contained in these two blessings were common within today's church. Enough fortunes generally have not come to pass (for example, Marriner was promised in his first blessing, in 1865, that he would be living upon the earth at the time of the Second Coming) that I imagine today's patriarchs are rightfully more general in their proclamations.

That being said, the prophetic elements of today's blessings, even if watered down, would have to be considered remarkable. That LDS youth continue to seek out patriarchs in order to be guided by these "life roadmaps" bears testimony that patriarchal blessings are powerful personal documents. And that I, as an adult, continue to be occasionally moved by my own - and now my ancestor's - patriarchal blessing(s), shows the value to be found in them as well.

So, pick an ancestor and request their blessing. I think you'll be glad you did.

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