Patriarchal Blessings


 

A Patriarchal Blessing is a special blessing “given to worthy [Mormon] Church members by ordained patriarchs. A patriarchal blessing contains the Lord’s counsel for the person receiving the blessing and declares that person’s lineage in the house of Israel. Fathers may give special blessings as the patriarchs of their families, but such blessings are not recorded or retained by the Church.”[1]

Every Mormon can receive a patriarchal blessing once in his lifetime. This usually is done when the person is a teenager. A patriarch is set apart within each stake of the Mormon Church to give these blessings. The practice arises out of the blessings given by the Old Testament Patriarchs, such as Jacob, to their children (See Genesis 48-49). Before receiving this blessing, the individual must be interviewed by a bishop to determine that the person is worthy and that he or she understands the nature of patriarchal blessings. The blessing is considered highly personal, and Mormons are counseled not share their blessings with people outside of family members. The actual reception of the blessing is generally preceded by a period of prayer and fasting by both the patriarch and the individual.

The blessing is given through the laying on of hands, and is recorded. A written transcription is sent to the member from the Church, and a copy is kept by the Church. A patriarchal blessing’s primary purpose is to declare the recipient’s lineage within the House of Israel and what blessings and responsibilities are his in this life. It can also reveal talents and strengths which the person should develop during his life. Often, individuals receive guidance about weaknesses or temptations they may face. Sometimes, but not always, prophecies may be made regarding the person’s life. Other blessings are promised which are contingent upon the faith and obedience of the recipient.

Elder Richard D. Allred stated, “I can testify to you that these blessings are inspired and are personal revelations to the recipient. Patriarchal blessings are a guideline or similar to a road map that indicates the paths that may be traveled and destinations that may be reached if we stay within those paths. They may bring comfort and joy and encouragement when we have need to look, to listen, and to feel of the contents of these blessings so that we may go forward on life’s journey, not alone, but with the accompanying Spirit of our Father in Heaven” (Ensign, Nov. 1997, 27).

In the Latter Day Saint movement, a patriarchal blessing (also called an evangelist’s blessing) is a blessing or ordinance given by a patriarch (evangelist) to a church member. Patriarchal blessings are modeled after the blessing given by Jacob to each of his sons prior to his death. They are gifts of knowledge and strength of one’s coming challenges and blessings.

 

Patriarchal blessings during the life of Joseph Smith, Jr.

The first Latter Day Saint patriarchal blessings were performed Joseph Smith, Sr., the father of founder Joseph Smith, Jr.. Smith, Jr. ordained his father to the role of patriarch on December 18, 1833, with a mission to provide “father’s blessings” to those without fathers in the Priesthood. As Smith, Jr.’s father, Smith, Sr. gave his son a blessing on December 9, 1834, prophesying that the younger Smith would establish Zion, subdue his enemies, enjoy his posterity to the latest generation, and “stand on the earth” to witness the Second Coming.[1][unreliable source?]

Before Joseph, Sr. died on September 14, 1840, he ordained his eldest living son Hyrum Smith to succeed him as Patriarch to the Church. From that time forward, Hyrum gave patriarchal blessings until his own death on June 27, 1844.

Patriarchal blessings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a patriarchal blessing is given when an authorized patriarch (a man ordained to the priesthood office of patriarch) places his hands on the head of the recipient and pronounces said blessing. The recipient must have previously received a recommend for the blessing from their bishop, which is only given after an interview to determine the recipient’s worthiness. The purpose of a patriarchal blessing is (1) to identify the tribe of Israel to which a Latter-day Saint belongs; (2) to bless the member with knowledge and spiritual gifts; (3) to give advice or help to the individual (often this includes foretelling of possible future events, opportunities, and temptations). Within the Church, a patriarchal blessing is considered to be a revelation for the recipient, with the promises made in the blessing considered conditional upon the recipient’s obedience to gospel principles.

A person is informed of the tribe of Israel to which they belong. This is done to acknowledge the fulfillment of the Church doctrine that through baptism members become part of the house of Israel. Additionally, it is believed that each tribe differs slightly and a person may come to understand the unique circumstances of his or her life better by knowing to which tribe they belong. The differences between the tribes are generally acknowledged to arise from the differences in the blessings Jacob pronounced upon his sons and Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.

A patriarchal blessing is usually pronounced upon a member only once. In certain rare circumstances, a person may receive permission to receive an additional Patriarchal blessing.

The blessing is usually performed in the home of the Patriarch or of the person seeking the blessing. In general the only other people present are very close family members such as parents or the person’s spouse. The Patriarch places his hands on the seated person’s head and speaks the blessing aloud. A recording of the blessing is made at the same time. Transcribed copies of all blessings are stored in Church records and are considered by the church to be revelation.

Members receive a copy of their blessing, and are advised to consult it throughout their life. Since members of the Church consider the blessings to be direct revelation from God, they are advised to treat their blessing as sacred and not share them casually with others.

Any member found worthy and spiritually mature by their priesthood leader may receive a patriarchal blessing. Individuals who have been members from childhood generally ask to receive their Patriarchal blessing as adolescents.

According to former Church President Ezra Taft Benson, “A patriarchal blessing is the inspired and prophetic statement of your life’s mission together with blessings, cautions, and admonitions as the patriarch may be prompted to give.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1986, pgs. 43-44).

Although they may not be ordained patriarchs, every Latter-day Saint father that holds the Melchizedek Priesthood can pronounce blessings upon his child or spouse, as necessary. Such blessings do not reveal the Tribe of Israel to which a person belongs. The Church encourages families to create their own records of these blessings, but does not admit them into the official Church archives in Salt Lake City as they would a blessing from an ordained Patriarch.

Lineage

As with the pre-1844 church led by Joseph Smith, an important part of patriarchal blessing in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the declaration of lineage.[2] Members receiving the blessing are told which of the twelve Israelite tribes they belong to. There are differing opinions about whether the lineage is intended to mean literal ancestry, or whether the lineage is more metaphorical or adoptive, as there are many recorded instances of children having a different lineage from their parents.[citation needed] However, the Church’s official stance is that “in a patriarchal blessing, lineage is being declared … when terms indicating direct descent are used, such as “son of,” “daughter of,” “seed of,” “blood of,” “descendant of,” or “from the loins of.”” [3] The church also says that “Because each of us has many bloodlines running in us, two members of the same family may be declared as being of different tribes in Israel” [4] By Mormon Wiki

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