Aaronic Priesthood brings great blessings

To illustrate the importance of young men honoring the priesthood they hold, President James E. Faust told of some deacons who had gotten a bit careless in their attitude toward passing the sacrament and began to think of it as a chore, something no one else wanted to do.

One Sunday, they were informed by their adviser that the responsibility of passing the sacrament had been taken care of, said President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, in his priesthood session address. The young men arrived at sacrament meeting, late as usual. There they found that their adviser and the high priests of the ward were seated on the deacons' bench.

"They were all dressed in dark suits with white shirts and ties," President Faust said. "But more than that, their bearing was one of total reverence as they took the sacrament trays from row to row. Something was deeper and more significant about the sacrament that day. Those deacons who had become so perfunctory in their duties learned by example that passing the sacrament was a sacred trust and the greatest of honors. They began to realize that the priesthood is, as the Apostle Peter called it, 'a royal priesthood.' "

President Faust said that in his home ward in Salt Lake City, there is a good number of faithful, older members but few of Aaronic Priesthood age. Over the years, he said, he has watched them reverently pass the sacrament.

"For a while," he said, "this group of priesthood holders included a senior federal judge, a candidate for the office of governor of the State of Utah, and other prominent men of stature. Yet they were honored and obviously felt privileged to perform this sacred priesthood duty."

Noting that the Aaronic Priesthood holds the keys of ministering of angels, President Faust said, "We do not consciously realize the extent to which ministering angels affect our lives. Their ministry has been and is an important part of the gospel."

He cited the ministering of angels to Joseph Smith as he re-established the gospel in its fulness and to Alma the Younger in the Book of Mormon.

Regarding Alma, he said, "To be instructed by an angel would be a great blessing. However, as Alma taught us, his final and lasting conversion came only after he had 'fasted and prayed for many days' (Alma 5:46). His complete conversion came from the Holy Ghost, which is available to all of us if we are worthy."

President Faust noted that while holding the Aaronic Priesthood brings great blessings, it carries great obligations. He listed these: magnifying one's calling, qualifying for the higher priesthood, being a good example with clean thoughts and proper behavior, strengthening fellow priesthood holders, studying the scriptures and learning the gospel to prepare for a mission, and learning to pray and recognize answers.

He explained that as young men are ultimately ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, they will still keep and act in the offices of the Aaronic Priesthood.

In qualifying to have the Spirit with them in their personal lives as well as in home teaching, preparing or passing the sacrament, or other priesthood activities, young men need to avoid some stumbling blocks, one of the biggest being addiction, President Faust said. "At this time Satan and his followers are enslaving some of our choicest young people through addiction to alcohol, all kinds of drugs, pornography, tobacco, gambling, and other compulsive disorders. . . .

"The Lord in His wisdom has warned us that substances that are not good for us should be totally avoided. . . . Curiosity and peer pressure are selfish reasons to dabble with addictive substances. We should stop and consider the full consequences, not just to ourselves and our futures, but also to our loved ones. These consequences are physical, but they also risk the loss of the Spirit, and cause us to fall prey to Satan."