Sermoncitos, a family tradition
Everyone has a mother. My mother passed on to the next life long ago, but I am still under the obligation: “honor thy mother” (Exodus 20:12). The Lord gave this commandment to a people to whom he declared “for thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2). Yet we are not alone in honoring mothers, as this tradition has been practiced for thousands of years in all cultures. President David O. McKay said that motherhood is woman’s noblest calling.
My own mother was a full time mother, which was a long and difficult task. She was fifty four years old when her youngest finished high school. I know that surviving four teenagers was one of her greatest challenges. Yet she met this challenge with grace and dignity. She modeled the characteristics she hoped we would learn: peace and joy, service and sacrifice, patience and love. To her, motherhood was a sacred calling, a partnership with God in bringing his spirit children into the world.
Being six years younger than my brother, I spent much more of my childhood alone with my mother than with any of my siblings or my busy father. She was my first and greatest teacher. I watched her work long hours in the kitchen preparing bread by hand, blending exotic juices, or crafting deluxe menus and special table spreads. We worked out together with special exercise equipment demonstrated by Jack LaLaine on TV. I learned to sing and play instruments along with her as she played the organ. My mother believed that her most important reposnsibility was to bring children into the world and to care for and teach them. No wonder I was drawn to become a teacher and musician like my mother, instead of an engineer like my father and brother.
Helaman’s great success as a leader was due to what the young men had been taught by their Lamanite mothers about Jesus Christ (Alma 56:47). I think of the great advantage I have had over my peers, having been taught the Gospel by my mother. A mother needs to spend time with her children and teach them the gospel.
I think of the great advantage I have had over my peers, having learned a strong work ethic, having worked and played with my mother. Mothers should play and work with the children so they can discover the world around them.
I have a great advantage over my peers, having been raised in a home where a kind mother provided sweet music, gentle speech, unconditional acceptance, intellectual stimulation, and spiritual enlightenment.
I am blessed indeed to have a mother who believed that children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward (Psalms 127:3).
I am blessed indeed that Edward Howard recognized greatness in Corine as they met in Belén, New Mexico, and she became his wife; and he loved her (Gen. 24: 67).
I am blessed that my mother forgot her pains and stayed with me through my times of pain (2 Kings 4:30).
I am blessed that my mother taught me by example to respect women as teachers and leaders (Proverbs 31).
I am blessed by the way my mother prepared me by her example for my own marriage (Song of Solomon 3).
I am blessed that my mother taught me by example to care for and serve others (Isaiah 49:23), for honoring your mother prepares you to love your neighbor as yourself. (Mathew 19:19).
I am blessed that my mother prepared me to seek comfort from God by the comfort she gave me (Isaiah 6:13).
I am blessed that my mother taught me to worship by taking me with her to worship. (Mathew 20:20).
All throughout the Old Testament, each king is introduced to us by his name and the name of his mother. I honor my mother by sharing her name with you: I am Roy, my mother is Corine, daughter of Roy of Kamas, Utah.
May the Lord bless all the mothers, my wife, my daughters, and all those women who care for and love others, for the Lord’s blessing to mothers goes to all women who give of themselves to bless others (Ruth 1:14).
The Family: A Proclamation to the World
The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God's eternal plan.
Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.
We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
Mother Makes a Home
Last week after our planning meetings, we gathered in the chapel for a testimony meeting. We entered to the peaceful sound of the prelude music, and saw the sacrament table set, and the people gathered in their Sunday best. It felt different, peaceful, holy. Each person felt the Spirit, and there was much rejoicing. We were all glad to be there. It reminded me of home.
My mother was a full time, professional home maker. Dad would leave early and come home late, but mom fixed a hot breakfast. I went to school and walked home for a special lunch. After school the house smelled of home made bread. I learned to enjoy beautiful music as she selected just the right records for the stereo, and played the organ in the evening. She gave great attention to the appearance of the yard and garden, planting all the right flowers and shrubs and trees. The care she took to make the inside of the home neat and clean was part of making the home welcome for family and guests. She never rose her voice in the house, but gifted us with a place we wanted to come to.
Adam and Eve lived in a place of beauty and peace, in the presence of God. When cast out of the Eden, Adam built an altar where he called upon the Lord. When the flood ended, Noah built an altar to offer sacrifice (Genesis 12:7-8). When Abraham arrived in the promised land he built an altar where the Lord appeared unto him (Genesis 12:7,8). Joseph Smith supervised the building of temples, sacrificing to make each a place of unique beauty, a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God; ....that it may become a sanctuary, a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit to your edification” (D&C 88:119, 137).
Where I live now, many people have a hooghan apart from their dwelling, where special ceremonies and family gatherings and story telling can take place because of the special feeling that is created there by how it’s organized and how they dress to be there. Every family has a place that is special. Today to honor the mothers, we put on our best clothes and bring our families to the meeting house; not just because of the messages, but because of how it makes us feel to be here. Our families are strengthened as we share the special spirit that comes with being in a special place. All week we are in the world surrounded by people who don’t share our testimony, and by music, words, and images that are less than uplifting. We can overcome the world by gathering in a special place. The temples and churches can meet that need weekly; our homes can meet that need daily.
As I perused the recent General Conference talks for inspiration, I was overwhelmed; there are many dozen, and most are all about strengthening families. It reminds me of how my mother made sure the Gospel words were in our lives. She fixed breakfast and sent us early Sunday morning to Priesthood meeting; fed us lunch and took us to Sunday School; fixed a special Sunday dinner and off we went to Sacrament Meeting; then home to listen to Lawrence Welk and fresh baked bread and hot chocolate before singing around the organ and having family prayers. During the week she made sure we had family prayers before we went to early morning seminary; and songs and prayers at night.
My mother made sure that the blessings of the priesthood she enjoyed were available to us. Isaiah must have been thinking of the way my mother made a home when he wrote, “Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; for the feet of those who are in the east shall be established; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for they shall be smitten no more; for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted” (1 Nephi 21:13).
A Joyful Mother's Day
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed in the sun..." Rev 12:1 As righteous Mothers in Zion and faithful desciples of Christ, we are surely "clothed in the Son".
President Hinckley said, "God planted within women something divine that expresses itself in quiet strength, in refinement, in peace, in goodness, in virtue, in truth, in love. And all of these remarkable qualities find their truest and most satisfying expression in motherhood."
As we emulate the Savior in our role as Mothers, we are fulfulling our divine calling as partners of Christ. Through His example of love, charity, warmth and compassion, we develop our own talents and skills to progress in our own personal lives...at the same time...we comfort, cheer and bless the lives of our husbands and children, along with those around us. Elder James E. Faust said, "I affirm my profound belief that God's greatest creation is womanhood. There is no greater good in all the world than motherhood. The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation."
I am thankful for our two righteous faithful sons and for their sweet companions. There is great joy to know your children walk in truth and continue teaching their families to do the same. Motherhood requires love, faith, prayer, patience, nurturing, humor and of course the 3 C's...cooking, cleaning and counseling. L.M. Child said, "Any effort made for the happiness of others lifts us above ourselves."
Motherhood is an eternal calling, one that never ends...even when she passes on. I'm thankful for a good mother who raised her children in the Gospel. Sometimes when I pose a question..."what would mother do?"...I feel her loving influence and know she is still concerned for my happiness. Years ago the First Presidency issued the following, "Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels." May you have a joyful Mother's Day...
Love, JoAnn F. Howard