Presiding Bishop, General Authority Seventy, businessman and — concert pianist?
Those are just some of the titles that could easily be bestowed upon Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé, especially after the LDS Business College devotional on Tuesday morning.
Bishop Caussé, along with Nicolas Giusti, an Italian pianist and conductor, played an impressive duet on two pianos on stage in the Assembly Hall in downtown Salt Lake City on Sept. 25.
“We share the same passion for music, but he is a musical maestro while I am only a simple amateur,” Bishop Caussé said.
Their friendship began nearly ten years ago while Bishop Caussé was visiting a stake conference in Rome, Italy. He opened up the Saturday evening session to questions from members.
“After several minutes of silence, a very distinguished man sitting with his family on the front row stood up and asked the first question,” the Presiding Bishop recalled. “I can still hear his words, expressed with great enthusiasm and a huge smile: ‘My family and I were baptized just a few months ago. Before my baptism, I had a million questions in my mind, but since meeting the missionaries, all of my questions have been answered. I feel completely satisfied, and I no longer have any questions. Is that OK?’”
Recognizing that Nicolas’ question “concerns all of us,” Bishop Caussé said it has continued to run through his mind even years later.
“Today I would like to give him a more complete answer,” said Bishop Caussé.
The leader then spent the next half hour discussing different elements of learning and knowledge, emphasizing the importance of pondering as an essential foundation for learning.
“I am always surprised to observe how many people in our day, even after having been introduced to the gospel, do not find the truth simply because they feel no particular need or desire to learn more about it,” he said. “Religious indifference is one of the evils of our day.”
Whether a person is satisfied with his or her current beliefs, is afraid to know the truth or is caught up in a world view, that doesn't change the fact that there is truth available.
"Not wanting to know the truth does not change the reality of things," he said. "The vital need for all individuals to find happiness should inspire them to seek the truth continually."
Stating that the discovery of the restored gospel and receiving long-awaited answers to life's questions can produce deep feelings of joy, wonder and fulness, Bishop Caussé said that although people may have received a fulness of the gospel it doesn't mean they have received all knowledge.
"God's intelligence is so vast and infinite that 'it is impossible that man should find out all his ways,'" he said. "However, it does mean that we have received everything necessary to accomplish the purpose of our existence or, in other words, to obtain our eternal salvation and exaltation."
Recognizing there are still more truths to receive, Bishop Caussé spoke of the pursuit of knowledge and revelation and shared four pieces of advice:
1. Make reading, studying and pondering the scriptures — in particular the Book of Mormon — and the words of the modern-day prophets a “nonnegotiable part of your daily routine,” regardless of time constraints.
“Always remember that the knowledge of gospel truths comes from a spiritual witness and not from the intellect,” he said. “We may, at times, experience periods of spiritual doubt. However, these doubts are rarely resolved by a search for rational explanations. Although certain scientific or intellectual discoveries may occasionally comfort us and strengthen our testimonies, spiritual knowledge cannot be proven by logic or by tangible means.
“Use the gift of the Holy Ghost that you have received. Use it without restriction.”
2. Always have at home or on a mobile device, one or several well-chosen books available to read.
“Your spiritual learning should not be motivated by doubt, but rather by a sense of awe and wonder for the truths of the gospel,” he said.
3. Base a search for knowledge on recognized and reliable sources of information rather than on the “hodgepodge of content often found in social media.”
“Expose yourself to a wide variety of thoughtful, reasoned opinions to provide you with an understanding of different points of view and enable you to make quality decisions for yourself,” he said.
Bishop Caussé warned students of being fascinated by the sensational or of intellectualizing spiritual concepts.
“The gospel is made of plain and simple truths, which even a child should be able to understand,” he said. “Rejection of the principle of simplicity and clarity has been the origin of many apostasies.”
4. Cultivate faith, humility and simplicity, and seek the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.
“Choose your sources of information with great prudence and wisdom,” he said. “The invasion of technology in our society has impaired spirituality and resulted in a great deal of confusion.”
Recognize that with the internet comes an “uninterrupted avalanche of extreme opinions” that provide often insignificant pieces of information.
“This information overload can often become disconcerting and paralyzing. How can one distinguish between truth and error?”
Bishop Caussé encouraged students to use sources of information that are recognized as reliable and to avoid social media sites that may not be accurate.
“Be willing to consider differing, well-considered opinions about the issues of our day. … The broad perspective provided by these information sources gives me a good foundation upon which to form my own opinions,” he said.
So, in response to Nicolas’ inspired question from a decade before, Bishop Caussé responded:
“I feel great joy in knowing that, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, even though we have received a fullness of essential gospel knowledge, we can still continue to ask questions and learn every day of our lives. Thanks to personal revelation, we have access to an ever-increasing flow of spiritual and secular knowledge and understanding.
“In fact, seeking light and truth should be a necessity and a duty for every one of us. I invite you never to stop quenching your thirst for knowledge at the fountains of truth.”
For Mayanin and Megan Pazos, LDS Business College students and sisters from Pueblo, Mexico, listening to Bishop Caussé gave them new insights about receiving revelation.
“He didn’t say this but I felt like I should write it down — we can find revelation, and seek revelation in spiritual things," Mayanin said. "But also in school. I can use the Spirit to understand it.”
Megan agreed, and added, “I don’t have to have deep questions about the gospel to acquire knowledge — I can find knowledge in all aspects of life and in school.”