Approximately 2,400 undergraduate and 428 graduate students were counseled during BYU's 115th annual commencement April 26 to follow the blueprint left by Jesus Christ.
"When the Lord was in His personal ministry, He spoke of building homes," explained President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, who conducted the commencement ceremonies. He quoted, "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even 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." (D&C 88:119.)"When we build our lives after this blueprint, there will be no regrets," President Monson continued. "We will learn the importance of the word duty - duty to God, duty to family, duty to self."
In his remarks, President Monson quoted the Apostle Paul, who taught that "ye are the temple of God, and . . . the Spirit of God dwelleth in you." (1 Cor. 3:16.)
"Oh, there's strength in that statement," exclaimed President Monson. "There's also power in the magnificence of the declaration that we have been created in the image of God. Let us remember that and then let us pattern the personal house we build after the revelation of the Lord.
"This is your building project: to perfect the house which you occupy," he concluded.
Others attending the commencement ceremonies included Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy, Bishop Henry B. Eyring of the Presiding Bishopric, Relief Society Gen. Pres. Elaine L. Jack and Young Women Gen. Pres. Ardeth G. Kapp. Elder Dunn presented a diploma to his daughter, Kimberly.
The commencement address was given by Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard University law professor, who also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from BYU.
"That glorious feeling of immense unexplored potential has a special quality for all of us this year because your entry into a new phase of your life coincides with what seems to be a new beginning on the stage of world history," she told the graduates.
"The sense of almost infinite possibility, mingled with a measure of nervous uncertainty that you may be feeling right now, is being felt by men and women all over the world as political events unfold that only a year ago few would have believed possible."
The world is faced with serious threats to national and social environments, the speaker pointed out. "And we can see . . . how desperately the democratic experiment needs to restore a sense of connection with our past and future. I do not see where citizens with that sense of connection will be found, except in religious communities and strong families that keep alive the counterculture - but culture-saving - sense of connection with those who have gone before us and those who will follow."
BYU Pres. Rex E. Lee also addressed the graduates, giving them "one last piece of advice.
"It is this," he declared. "With all the demands that will be made on your time, attention, and other resources over the course of your future lives, do not overlook the importance of your family. Don't assume, when you get home at night, that there are no longer important things to do that require thought and planning. More specifically, do not assume that unlike other consumers of your time and attention, your family members do not need your constant, conscious efforts, simply because they are your family and will always be there. . . .
"Anything in this life that is really worthwhile, whether it is a testimony, the ability to think, play the piano, run a marathon, shoot a basketball, operate a computer, or anything else, will not come about automatically, nor can it be maintained without extensive continuous effort on our parts," Pres. Lee continued.
"The same is true, I believe, of our relationships with our family. I suspect that most of us would agree in the abstract that those relationships are just as important to us as being good chemists, good geologists, good historians, good pianists or good lawyers, doctors, or business managers. And what I am telling you is that those family relationships require just as much care, tending, conscious attention and effort as do your professional, physical, and other objectives."
Prophet presents two diplomas
Those attending graduation ceremonies for BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School or the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences received a rare treat April 27 - the prophet attended part of both services.
President Ezra Taft Benson, accompanied by his wife, Flora, presented diplomas to two family members.
The Church president, clad in a black commencement gown, first attended the Law School convocation, held in the Provo Tabernacle, where he presented a juris doctorate diploma to his grandson-in-law, Karl M. Tilleman, who was a student speaker at the services.
During his address, Tilleman credited his decision to attend BYU's law school to President Benson.
Because both convocations began at the same time, President Benson left the law school exercises immediately after presenting the diploma. A waiting car whisked the prophet and his wife to the Marriott Center.
There, he gave a diploma to his grandson, Michael Taft Benson, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science. A hearty hug accompanied the diploma.