A Sanctuary from the World
President Thomas S. Monson
(Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Building Up a Righteous Posterity,
February 9, 2008)
Bringing Heaven into Our Homes
My brothers and sisters, it is in a spirit of humility that I conclude this inspiring meeting. Our thoughts have centered on home and family as we have been reminded that “the home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place nor fulfill its essential functions.”1
As we know, families come in a variety of appearances. Some include father, mother, brothers and sisters, while others could be made up of a single parent and children. Still others might consist of but one person.
Whatever the makeup of our particular family, if we follow the guidelines which have been set before us in this meeting, we will draw closer to the Lord and bring more of heaven into our homes.
When Jesus walked the dusty pathways of towns and villages that we now reverently call the Holy Land and taught His disciples by beautiful Galilee, He often spoke in parables, in language the people understood best. Frequently He referred to home building in relationship to the lives of those who listened.
He declared, “Every . . . house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25). Later He cautioned, “Behold, mine house is a house of order . . . and not a house of confusion” (D&C 132:8).
More and more the world is filled with chaos and confusion. Messages surround us which contradict all that we hold dear—enticing us to turn from that which is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (Articles of Faith 1:13) and embrace the thinking which often prevails outside the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, when our families are united in purpose, and an atmosphere of peace and love prevails, home becomes a sanctuary from the world.
When we are tired or ill or discouraged, how sweet the comfort of being able to turn homeward. We are blessed to belong and to have a place in the family circle.
At times we may become bored or irritated with home and family and familiar surroundings. Such may seem less than glamorous, with a sense of sameness, and other places may sometimes seem more exciting. But when we have sampled much and have wandered far and have seen how fleeting and sometimes superficial a lot of the world is, our gratitude grows for the privilege of being part of something we can count on—home and family and the loyalty of loved ones. We come to know what it means to be bound together by duty, by respect, by belonging. We learn that nothing can fully take the place of the blessed relationship of family life.
All of us remember the home of our childhood. For most of us, our thoughts do not dwell on whether the house was large or small, the neighborhood fashionable or downtrodden. Rather, we delight in the experiences we shared as a family.
Margaret Thatcher, when she was prime minister of Great Britain, expressed this profound philosophy: “The family is the building block of society. It is a nursery, a school, a hospital, a leisure centre, a place of refuge and a place of rest. It encompasses the whole of the society. It fashions our beliefs; it is the preparation for the rest of our life.”2
May I offer three guidelines to help ensure that our homes will be havens of happiness.
A Pattern of Prayer
First, let us establish a pattern of prayer.
As a people, aren’t we grateful that family prayer is not an out-of-date practice with us? There is not a more beautiful sight in all this world than to see a family praying together. The Lord directed that we have family prayer when He said, “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed” (3 Nephi 18:21).
As we pray with our families each day, we will help to provide the protection we all so desperately need in today’s world.
A Library of Learning
Second, may our homes be a library of learning.
An essential part of our learning library will be good books. Reading is one of the true pleasures of life. In our age of mass culture, when so much that we encounter is abridged, adapted, adulterated, shredded, and boiled down, it is mind-easing and mind-inspiring to sit down privately with a congenial book.
James A. Michener, prominent author, suggests: “A nation becomes what its young people read in their youth. Its ideals are fashioned then, its goals strongly determined.”
The Lord counseled, “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118).
Of course, the standard works offer the ultimate library of learning of which I speak. Let us read from them often, both privately and with our families, that we may be enlightened and edified and draw closer to the Lord.
A Legacy of Love
Third, may we enjoy a legacy of love.
Seemingly little lessons of love are observed by children as they silently absorb the examples of their parents. Let us make certain that our examples are worthy of emulation. When our homes carry the legacy of love, we will not receive Jacob’s chastisement as recorded in the Book of Mormon: “Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you” (Jacob 2:35).
Rather, may our families and homes be filled with love: love of each other, love of the gospel, love of our fellowman, and love of our Savior. As a result, heaven will be a little closer here on earth.
May we make of our homes sanctuaries to which our family members will ever want to return.
A Yearning for Home
Some of you may remember the story of a very young boy who was abducted from his parents and home and taken to a village situated far away. Under those conditions the small boy grew to young manhood without really being able to remember his parents or home. As he grew, there came into his heart a yearning to return to parents and home.
But where was home to be found? Where were his mother and father to be discovered? Oh, if only he could remember even their names, his task would be less hopeless.
Desperately he sought to recall even a glimpse of his childhood.
One day, like a flash of inspiration, he remembered the sound of a bell which, from the tower atop the village church, pealed its welcome each Sabbath morning. From village to village the young man wandered, ever listening for that familiar bell to chime. Some bells were similar, others far different from the sound he remembered.
At length the weary young man stood one Sunday morning before a church of a typical town. He listened carefully as the bell began to peal. The sound was familiar, unlike any other he had heard, save that bell which pealed in the memory of his early childhood days. Yes, it was the same bell. It’s ring was true. His eyes filled with tears, and his heart rejoiced in gladness. His soul overflowed with gratitude. The young man dropped to his knees, looked upward beyond the bell tower—even toward heaven—and in a prayer of gratitude whispered, “Thanks be to God. I’m home.”
I love the words found in the hymn:
O home belov’d, where’er I wander,
On foreign land or distant sea,
As time rolls by, my heart grows fonder
And yearns more lovingly for thee!
Tho fair be nature’s scenes around me,
And friends are ever kind and true,
Tho joyous mirth and song surround me,
My heart, my soul still yearn for you.3
May we ever strive to make of our homes havens of love and peace and happiness, where the Spirit of the Lord would choose to dwell. This is my prayer for all of us, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. David O. McKay, in Family Home Evening Manual (1965), iii.
2. In Nicholas Wood, “Thatcher Champions the Family,” The Times, May 26, 1988, 24.
3. “O Home Beloved,” Hymns, no. 337.