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BYU graduates told to develop spiritual capacity

By Barbara Christiansen daily Herald - | Apr 24, 2014

More than 5,000 students received degrees Thursday from Brigham Young University as part of commencement exercises.

They were conducted by Cecil O. Samuelson, who is stepping down as BYU’s president. 

The keynote address was by Elder Craig A. Cardon of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He focused on the phrase “And Thus We See,” which he said is unique in scripture to the Book of Mormon, in which it is used 21 times.

It relates to the importance of both gaining knowledge and ensuring that the knowledge is founded in truth and applied consistently with the counsel of God.

“I would like to explore with you the educational values embedded in the phrase, ‘and thus we see,'” he said. “Those values have much to do with your continuing education. We will focus on how just two of the Book of Mormon writers, Mormon and Nephi, use the phrase.”

Mormon’s use of the phrase came from a perspective from patterns he saw occurring over centuries. Nephi’s came from events he personally experienced.

The latter’s experience included the incident in which he broke his bow and his family was unable to find food. Instead of murmuring, Nephi went to work, making a bow and arrow out of wood. Then he asked his father where to go to obtain food. His father was directed to use the Liahona to determine where to get food. When they did, they found additional writings to give the family guidance. 

Nephi responded.

“And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things,” he wrote.

Cardon compared that incident to those graduates will face in their future, both for short- and long-term situations.

“In your continuing education, in your employment, in your families, in life, you are going to face both kinds of circumstances,” Cardon said. “Some circumstances you encounter will be rooted in self-justifications that have been perpetuated over long periods of time. You will also face circumstances that are rooted in personal responses to immediate, direct challenges.”

He encouraged the graduates to combine spirituality with secular knowledge.

“In all of this, your education will be greatly enhanced by your ability to see the spiritual lessons and connections that evidence the true underlying principles that can lead to resolution,” Cardon said. “With that capacity you can also be ‘and thus we see’ scholars.”

He summed up his thoughts with a challenge.

“As your continue your education, make sure you continue to develop an essential spiritual capacity, as the prophets have done, to see as the source of all knowledge sees, and thereby to know and understand as he knows and understands,” he said. “In these continuing efforts, may the unique Book of Mormon phrase ‘and thus we see’ typify and be a reminder to you of the spiritual capacity your are developing.

“I promise that as you enthusiastically embrace this spiritual element, you and your families will receive everlasting blessings.”

It was Samuelson’s last time to conduct a commencement. He asked the students to include him and his wife as part of the graduating class.

“Because we are also leaving, we hope you will not be offended if we consider ourselves to be quasi-members of the class of 2014,” he said. The graduates apparently agreed, as that statement was met with applause.

Samuelson said the students and others had been privileged to have been at BYU, and they now bear responsibilities that many others do not share. He cited the scriptural phrase “unto whom much is given much is required.”

“That part is easy,” he said. “Perhaps more difficult for all of us is determining what is required of us as we move into the next phases of our lives.” The graduates will have differences in their interests, aptitudes, talents, opportunities and choices, but there are some commonalities, he said.

“I am impressed that the Lord wants all of us to remember that whatever else we are doing with our lives, our work is to keep the commandments,” Samuelson said. “Not to put them on hold until we finish graduate school, land the job of our dreams, acquire a home and a mortgage, or anything else that currently is so proximately important to us.”

President Dieter Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church, presided at the commencement. He said he and his wife were also in the audience 24 years ago, watching over 10-month-old twin boys in a stroller as their parents, Uchtdorf’s daughter and son-in law, graduated. 

“One of those twins is graduating today,” he said. “That is time and that is progress. Look forward to these wonderful things in life.”

“Take what you have learned at BYU,” he added. “It is a commencement, build on this. You will see, when you add to this the constant companionship of the spirit, you will be fine in life.”

The student speaker, Megan Hirschi, said she at times wondered what she had come to college to learn, as some knowledge she initially acquired she had already forgotten. ‘

“Contrary to my initial opinion, what we came here to BYU to learn was just not a series of facts or skills,” she said. “We came to learn patterns of thinking, methods of problem solving, and techniques for lifelong learning.

“As we move forward into the world, we must continue to ask questions, create solutions, and pursue that which enlarges our souls and enlightens our understanding.”

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