“President Monson Offers Counsel, Comfort,” Ensign, July 1999, 76
President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, gave an address at Brigham Young University’s commencement exercises and later spoke at the funeral of a full-time missionary.
“Lessons from the past, challenges of the future display dramatically the need for heavenly help today,” said President Monson at BYU’s 124th annual spring commencement exercises, during which BYU’s largest class in history graduated. “Earnestly seek it, and you shall surely find it.”
Speaking of the past, President Monson said: “Remember that the roads you travel so briskly lead out of dim antiquity, and you study the past chiefly because of its bearing on the living present and its promise for the future. When one fails to learn from the lessons of the past, he is doomed to repeat the same mistakes and suffer their attendant consequences.”
Speaking of the future, he said: “Learning is not just an in-class activity but an all-day, everywhere process. It is not all formal, rarely neat, and not at all cut and made to order. The truth is that the person who quits learning upon leaving the university is giving in to an idea of limited usefulness, limited satisfaction, and limited happiness.” He continued: “Your future will present insurmountable problems only when you consider them insurmountable. Your challenge is to keep faith with the past while you keep pace with the future.”
Speaking of the present, he said: “Ahead is the open road. Those who walk it successfully ignore irrelevant attractions and refrain from activities which do not contribute to the attainment of their purpose. They disregard the billboards designed to divert them into this or that blind alley of ease and pleasure. They stand on their own feet, set their own goals, and win their own victories.”
Also speaking at the commencement were President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Jehan Sadat, wife of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat; and writer Madeleine L’Engle.
On 3 May President Monson spoke at the funeral of Jonathan Philip Barrett of Morgan, Utah, who was murdered in a random attack while serving in Africa’s Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission. After repeating President Joseph F. Smith’s teaching that missionaries who die in the mission field finish their missions in the spirit world, President Monson said, “He has just graduated a little early from mortality.” Also speaking at the funeral were Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder L. Aldin Porter of the Presidency of the Seventy.