Editor's note: Our bi-weekly Friday column, “Found in the Footnotes,” explores some of the footnotes from remarks given by General Authorities and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Since we published the last "Found in the Footnotes" column, life looks remarkably different for many. Several have packed up their office and are working from home. Sacrament meeting is being held in living rooms instead of in chapels. And each time I look out onto the Salt Lake Valley and see the steeples of the Utah temples, my heart hurts as I question when I’ll next be able to go inside.
"COVID-19 and its resulting illness has affected thousands of lives and interrupted many regular routines," President Russell M. Nelson said in a recent video message.
Those interruptions make life feel more turbulent than normal, and I have found myself needing the word of God, "the word which healeth the wounded soul" (Jacob 2:8).
In Elder Dale G. Renlund’s talk, "Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing," he gives us another way to find healing.
"As we participate in family history and temple work today, we also lay claim to ‘healing’ blessings promised by prophets and apostles," he said.
What are these healing blessings? Elder Renlund cites 22 talks in his footnotes, and as I have studied those messages, I have found blessings that I think many people need right now. Even though temples are currently closed, many of us can find joy as we spend more time seeking out our ancestors. I've included some of the quotes that stood out to me below, with some of the promises bolded for emphasis.
1. President Dallin H. Oaks, "Family History: ‘In Wisdom and in Order’"
"There are family organizations to be formed, family projects to be planned, hearts to be touched, prayers to be offered, doctrines to be learned, children to be taught, living and dead relatives to be identified, recommends to be obtained, temples to be visited, covenants to be made, and ordinances to be received. As we fulfill our responsibilities to teach and show our brothers and sisters how to help bring to pass the eternal life of man, we will all be blessed, for this is his work and his glory."
2. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "The Redemption of the Dead and the Testimony of Jesus"
"We are anxiously about the task of searching out our fathers and mothers of generations past and binding them to us and us to them. Is not this the strongest possible evidence of our conviction that Jesus Christ will come again to reign upon the earth? We know He will, and we know what He expects we will have done in preparation for His return.
"In the scriptures, the spirits of the dead are sometimes referred to as being in darkness or in prison. Contemplating God’s glorious plan for the redemption of these, His children, the Prophet Joseph Smith penned this psalm: 'Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free' (Doctrine and Covenants 128:22)."
3. President Boyd K. Packer, "Your Family History: Getting Started"
"Family history work has the power to do something for the dead. It has an equal power to do something to the living. Family history work of Church members has a refining, spiritualizing, tempering influence on those who are engaged in it. They understand that they are tying their family together, their living family here with those who have gone before."
4. President Thomas S. Monson, "Constant Truths for Changing Times"
"I admonish all families: search out your heritage. It is important to know, as far as possible, those who came before us. We discover something about ourselves when we learn about our ancestors."
5. President Henry B. Eyring, "Hearts Bound Together"
"He is Jehovah. He sent Elijah. He conferred the powers of the priesthood to seal and to bless out of perfect love. And He has trusted you by letting you hear the gospel in your lifetime, giving you the chance to accept the obligation to offer it to those of your ancestors who did not have your priceless opportunity. Think of the gratitude He has for those who pay the price in work and faith to find the names of their ancestors and who love them and Him enough to offer them eternal life in families, the greatest of all the gifts of God. He offered them an infinite sacrifice. He will love and appreciate those who paid whatever price they could to allow their ancestors to choose His offer of eternal life."
6. President M. Russell Ballard, "Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits"
"And there is also much focus on extended family, genealogy, and personal family history, providing young and old with a stronger sense of roots, identity, and belonging. The highest and most sacred ordinances of our faith relate to our families, both living and dead, and some of these ordinances take place in our temples."
7. President Russell M. Nelson, "Salvation and Exaltation"
"Any discussion of family responsibilities to prepare for exaltation would be incomplete if we included only mother, father, and children. What about grandparents and other ancestors? The Lord has revealed that we cannot become perfect without them; neither can they without us be made perfect. Sealing ordinances are essential to exaltation. A wife needs to be sealed to her husband; children need to be sealed to their parents; and we all need to be connected with our ancestors."
8. President Russell M. Nelson, "Generations Linked in Love"
"Consider the spiritual connections that are formed when a young woman helps her grandmother enter family information into a computer or when a young man sees the name of his great-grandfather on a census record. When our hearts turn to our ancestors, something changes inside us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves. Our inborn yearnings for family connections are fulfilled when we are linked to our ancestors through sacred ordinances of the temple."
9. Elder David A. Bednar, "The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn"
"As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives."
10. Elder Richard G. Scott, "The Joy of Redeeming the Dead"
"Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life? Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple to stand as proxy for them to receive the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As you grow older, you will be able to participate in receiving the other ordinances as well. I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in your life."
11. Elder Quentin L. Cook, "Roots and Branches"
"Jesus Christ gave His life as a vicarious atonement. He resolved the ultimate question raised by Job. He overcame death for all mankind, which we could not do for ourselves. We can, however, perform vicarious ordinances and truly become saviors on Mount Zion (Obadiah 1:21) for our own families in order that we, with them, might be exalted as well as saved."
12. President Thomas S. Monson, "Hastening the Work"
"There are millions upon millions of spirit children of our Heavenly Father who never heard the name of Christ before dying and going into the spirit world. But now they have been taught the gospel and are awaiting the day when you and I will do the research necessary to clear the way so that we can go into the house of the Lord and perform for them the work that they themselves cannot perform.
"My brothers and sisters, I testify that the Lord will bless us as we accept and respond to this challenge."
13. President Henry B. Eyring, "The Promise of Hearts Turning"
"Those of you who perform ordinances for family members are reaching out in love, as did the sons of Mosiah and the prophet Nephi. Like them, you will feel joy for those who accept your offering. You can also expect to feel the same great satisfaction as Ammon, who said of his missionary service among distant family members:
"'Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel' (Alma 26:16)."
14. Elder David A. Bednar, "Missionary, Family History, and Temple Work"
"The time has come for us to capitalize more effectively on the potent combination of the mighty change of heart, made possible primarily by the spiritual power of the Book of Mormon, and the turning of hearts to the fathers, accomplished through the spirit of Elijah. A yearning for connection to our past can prepare an individual to receive the virtue of the word of God and fortify his or her faith. A heart turning to the fathers uniquely helps an individual withstand the influence of the adversary and strengthen conversion."
15. Elder Neil L. Andersen, "‘My Days’ of Temples and Technology"
"There is something powerful in searching out those who need temple ordinances, learning who they are, and then being part of their receiving these sacred ordinances. This is how you become 'saviors on Mount Zion' (see Obadiah 1:21 and D&C 103:9). There is a joy and satisfaction that is understood only through spiritual feelings. We are linked to our ancestors forever."
16. Elder Neil L. Andersen, "Sharing the Temple Challenge"
"As you accept this challenge and as you teach it to others, I promise you that you will feel the beautiful link that binds us together as families through eternity. You will feel a happiness for those who accept your sacred offering. Your hearts will truly be turned to your fathers and you will feel their hearts turn toward you. You will feel purpose and strength that will help you to avoid the temptations that surround you. The gift of the Holy Ghost will be a stronger influence upon you. Your belief in and appreciation for the Savior will increase. You will better understand the power of His Atonement and you will be safeguarded from the distractions that can so easily pull you from His commandments."
17. Elder Quentin L. Cook, "The Joy of Family History Work"
"As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I promise that if you look beyond the bonds of time and mortality and help those who cannot help themselves, you will be blessed with more closeness and joy in your family and with the divine protection afforded those who are faithful in His service."
18. Elder Gary E. Stevenson, "Where Are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood?"
"Can you see the relationship between priesthood keys and blessings? As you engage in this work, I think you will find that the Lord is in its details."
19. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "In Praise of Those Who Save"
"As we emulate the Savior’s love, He will surely bless and prosper our righteous efforts to save our marriages and strengthen our families.
"May the Lord bless you in your untiring and righteous efforts to be numbered among those who save."
20. Elder Quentin L. Cook, "See Yourself in the Temple"
"Often in the temple, and as we engage in family history research, we feel promptings and have impressions from the Holy Ghost. Occasionally in the temple the veil between us and those on the other side becomes very thin. We get additional assistance in our efforts to be saviors on Mount Zion."
21. Elder Dale G. Renlund, Sister Ruth L. Renlund, and Sister Ashley R. Renlund, "Family History and Temple Blessings"
"Brothers and sisters, I promise protection for you and your family as you take this challenge to find as many names to take to the temple as ordinances you perform in the temple and to teach others to do the same.
"If you accept this challenge, blessings will begin to flow to you and your family like the power of the river spoken of by Ezekiel. And the river will grow as you continue to perform this work and teach others to do the same. You will find not only protection from the temptation and ills of the world, but you will also find personal power—power to change, power to repent, power to learn, power to be sanctified, and power to turn the hearts of your family members to each other and heal that which needs healing."
22. President Dallin H. Oaks and Sister Kristen M. Oaks, "Connected to Eternal Families"
"As servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are all involved in discovering our ancestors. We learn better who we are, where we come from, and are blessed with a clearer vision of where we are going. When individuals and families search out their ancestors' inspiring actions and words, they will receive strength and direction for their own lives."