Receiving you own patriarchal blessing is a common practice within the Mormon Church. These blessings are given by the Stake Patriarch to the youth and to those who are recent converts to the Church.
What are Patriarchal Blessings?
Patriarchal Blessings are given to every worthy member of the Church who desires to receive one. Their Patriarchal Blessing includes their lineage in the house of Israel, as well as provides warnings, guidance and comfort for their life. Mormons believe these blessings are “inspired” direction from the Lord.
Church members consider their patriarchal blessings sacred and are counseled to avoid sharing their blessing with anyone except with a spouse or immediate family (father, mother), and most all they’re not to compare their blessing with another’s.
Where did this practice come from?
When Joseph Smith began organizing the Mormon Church he started restoring things he believed were lost, one of these things was the priesthood, and along with that the office of patriarch. Smith patterned the practice of giving blessings after those fathers gave their children in the Old Testament (Genesis 27, 49).
As I was talking about this article with Michelle we were wondering if patriarchalwas even a real word, and given Joseph Smith’s propensity to make up stuff has he went along this wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. The word patriarchal, as defined on dictionary.com is:
1. of or pertaining to a patriarch, the male head of a family, tribe, community, church, order, etc: my father’s conservative, patriarchal ways.
2. characteristic of an entity, family, church, etc., controlled by men: the highly patriarchal Mormon church.”
Ok, so it can be used as an actual word, but if Joseph Smith’s plan was to pattern the practice after those given by fathers to their children in the Old Testament why do strangers give these blessings to those not in their bloodline?
How does one receive their own Patriarchal Blessing?
First you must be a baptized member of the Mormon Church, and have a desire to receive your own blessing. After you’ve been interviewed by the Bishop and receive a recommend from him you must call and schedule an appointment with the Stake Patriarch to receive your blessing.
Before he lays his hands upon your head to reveal your blessing he’ll take a few minutes to talk to you and get to know you. He’ll ask you about the things going on in your life at the moment, see if you have any issues, or any questions you hope to find answers to.
In a talk given at BYU on March 30, 1980, James E. Faust spoke of the importance of Patriarchal Blessings and the role they play in the lives of those who receive them.
“The office of patriarch is one of the great separate priesthood offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood. The patriarchal office is one of blessing, not of administration, nor of counseling. It is a sacred, spiritual calling that usually will be the remainder of the patriarch’s life. Our patriarchs give total devotion to their callings and do all they can to live in faith and worthiness so that each blessing is inspired”
“When moved upon by the Holy Spirit, the patriarch makes an inspired declaration of the lineage of the recipient together with such blessings, spiritual gifts, promises, advice, admonition, and warnings as the patriarch feels inspired to give. It is in essence a prophetic utterance.”
Mormon leaders have compared these “prophetic utterances” to a road map for the Mormon’s life, or as one church leader put it their own “personal scripture”. Mormons believe these blessings are unique and tailored just for them, which is why they see their blessing as a guide to how they should live. It also gives them warnings of the blessings that won’t come should they fall away as well as the blessings that will come if they follow its counsel.
The blessing pronounced upon the recipient that day is meant to be not only for this life but for the next as well. This is sort of a loophole for the Church, when someone begins to feel discouraged those blessings and promises they were given will never to come to fruition, all they have to do is consider that maybe that particular promise isn’t for this life. The crisis is averted and that person can go on thinking “the Church is true”. Amazing isn’t it?
Christians have a “roadmap” and a “personal scripture” as well, it’s called the Bible. Mormons also have the same guide for their lives, but they refuse to acknowledge it as such and desire something a little more current that tickles their ears as they make their way to exaltation.
All throughout His word God has made it clear that we’re supposed to use the bible as a guide and roadmap for our lives.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Isaiah 55:10-11 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
As we spend time in prayer and in studying God’s word we will know of His will for us. I know it can be a struggle wondering what direction the Lord wants you to go, but if you have His word and the Holy Spirit you have all you need.
Not long after I was baptized I received my patriarchal blessing. It was about a page and a half long and told me that I was from the line of Ephraim, that I would soon go through the temple with my husband and my son and be sealed as a family, it told me that my spiritual gifts were knowledge and wisdom, to not fear man but fear God, and that if I lived worthy I would one day work in the temple, that my children would have every opportunity to serve the Lord and finally that I would arise on the morning of the resurrection.
After I received my blessing I felt very disappointed. I think I felt that way because I was hoping to learn something new about myself, I wanted to feel special. Instead all I received was more of the same recycled teachings I’d heard the over past year I spent in the Church. If I do this, God will do that but if I don’t do this or that God’s hands are tied and He can’t bless me. Everything in Mormonism is that way. God’s ability to bless you is based on your performance.
I’m so thankful He saved me from a life time of trying to decipher and figure out what the “prophetic utterances” in my patriarchal blessing meant, for a life of studying His word and knowing by the power of the Holy Spirit what His plan, and His will is for me.
Melissa Grimes (firstname.lastname@example.org)