Caring for the fatherless and the widows

See the pitiable plight

Hear the silent pleadings- Communicate . . . heart to heart

The fatherless and the widows were paid tender attention by President Thomas S. Monson during the Sunday morning session.

President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of having attended in Berlin many years ago a large gathering of Church members, about half of whom were widows of World War II.

"Their faces reflected the grim effect of war's cruelty," President Monson said. "Their hopes had been shattered, their lives altered and their future had in a way been taken from them. Behind each countenance was a personal travail of tears."

He referred to an account in the book On Wings of Faith, written by Frederick W. Babbel, who accompanied Elder Ezra Taft Benson, then of the Council of the Twelve, on his post-war visit to Europe to assist the struggling Saints.

The account was of a mother of four small children. Her husband was killed during the final days of battles in their homeland of East Prussia; she and her children fled to West Germany, undertaking a thousand-mile journey on foot that began in mild weather but continued in snow and ice. All of her children died on the trek.

"Though perhaps not so cruel and dramatic," President Monson continued, "yet equally poignant, are the lives described in the obituaries of our day and time when the uninvited enemy called death enters the stage of our mortal existence and snatches from our grasp a loving husband or precious wife, and frequently in the young exuberance of life, our children and grandchildren."

President Monson said the plight of the widow is a recurring theme in the scriptures. He spoke of the widow at Zarephath, (1 Kings 17:12-16), and of the widow of Nain. (Luke 7:11-15.)

"What power, what tenderness, what compassion did our Master and Exemplar demonstrate," President Monson declared. "We, too, can bless if we will but follow His noble example. Opportunities are everywhere. Needed are eyes to see the pitiable plight, ears to hear the silent pleadings of a broken heart; yes, and a soul filled with compassion, that we might communicate not only eye to eye or voice to ear, but in the majestic style of the Savior, even heart to heart."

He said the word "widow" appears to have had significant meaning to the Lord. "He cautioned His disciples to beware the example of all the scribes, who feigned righteousness by their long apparel and their lengthy prayers, but who devoured the houses of widows. (Luke 20:46-47.)

"To the Nephites came the direct warning, I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against . . . those that oppress the . . . widow.' (3 Ne. 24:5.) To the Prophet Joseph Smith He directed,The storehouse shall be kept . . . and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor.' " (D&C 83:6.)

President Monson said, "Hopefully, all of us may again hear the echo of words spoken by the Master, inspiring us to good deeds, `Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these . . . ye have done it unto me.' " (Matt. 25:40.)

President Monson spoke of a severe drought that struck the Salt Lake Valley many years ago. Many commodities, especially fresh fruit, were not "found in abundance" at the storehouse at Welfare Square. He said he, as a young bishop worrying about the numerous widows in his ward, prayed one evening that they might receive what they needed.

The next morning, he said, he received a call from a ward member, a proprietor of a produce business, who said he wished to donate a semi-trailer filled with oranges, grapefruit and bananas. The storehouse was alerted, each bishop was telephoned and the entire shipment was distributed.

President Monson expressed appreciation to all who are mindful of the widow.

"Frequently, the need of the widow is not one of food or shelter but of feeling a part of ongoing events," he observed.

He spoke of a widow who went to the Church Administration Building, desiring to contribute to the Church's General Missionary Fund the proceeds of two insurance policies on the life of her deceased husband. "I saw the receipt made in her name, but I believe in my heart it was also recorded in heaven," President Monson said.

He then described the tender scene of a visit he and his wife made to a 95-year-old widow in a nursing home. They found her in the dining room, holding a Christmas card that Sister Monson had mailed the week before. With some emotion in his voice, he related that an attendant said, " `I don't know who sent the card, but she will not lay it aside. She doesn't speak but pats the card and holds it to her lips and kisses it.' "

President Monson said, "We need not wait for Christmas, we need not postpone 'til Thanksgiving day our response to the Savior's tender admonition to us: `Go, and do thou likewise.' " (Luke 10:37.)

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