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Meridian Magazine is in Rome covering the temple dedication there in a series of stories. See all of our coverage including meeting local members and probing about all the struggle and inspiration that went into this magnificent edifice at www.latterdaysaintmag.com/Rome.
All photographs in this article are taken by Scot Facer Proctor.
The stake center on Rome Temple Square was filled to capacity with Saints standing along all the walls as the youth and their families gathered to hear the words of the prophet. Though President Russell M. Nelson, Sister Wendy W. Nelson, and President M. Russell Ballard were the main speakers, the youth also looked up to the stand and saw seated Elder and Sister Holland, Elder and Sister Uchtdorf, Elder and Sister Rasband, Elder and Sister Renlund, and Elder and Sister Soares. It was an unprecedented night.
The prophet’s message was clear and profound, letting the youth know that “now that we have a temple in Rome, your friends will watch you more carefully than they ever have before.” With that prophecy, he outlined ten points to help them—five things he wants them to know and five things he wants them to do.
Know The Truth and Stand For It
“As the world grows more and more secular and less spiritual, your growth should be more and more spiritual and less secular,” President Nelson said. This point is made to a group of youth who generally stand alone in their schools and communities.
Mariajosa Torres, a young single adult in Rome who attends institute in the heart of the city, shared how standing alone has blessed her. “[Institute] is a special place. I can’t find the Spirit in other places. Here there are other YSA. It’s very special to spend time with them learning the gospel. In other places, you can find members at school. Here there is just one member in every school. It’s difficult, but that makes us stronger and have more faith.”
Know And See Yourself As The Creator Sees You
Not only did the prophet discuss the innate value of each person as divinely created in the image of God, but he encouraged the youth to use that knowledge to protect, maintain and strengthen their spirits and bodies by not allowing themselves to be defiled.
He specifically mentioned God-given appetites, which are natural and essential for survival but are sometimes used as a tool for Satan to tempt us. Put simply, he said, do not eat something you shouldn’t, do not drink something you shouldn’t, and do not love in a way you shouldn’t.
You Will Be Accountable For Your Deeds And Your Desires
President Nelson reminded the youth to maintain an eternal perspective and turn to the Lord despite the temptations sent their way. “Just remember, you are living for eternity, not just for this mortal life period. You are here to be tested, to be tried, to develop faith, and you will be accountable for your life.”
On the eve of this historic temple dedication, a call for the youth to live for eternal life and not just live in the moment was a call for them to look to the temple they sat so near to that night and to sincerely desire to be close to the Lord.
Know Your True Identity
The Italians are extremely family-oriented people. As we’ve talked to so many and asked them what they love about the Italian culture, they always mention their family-centered lives. President Nelson said that knowing who you are requires harking back to your parents, their parents, your ancestors, and the lineage in your patriarchal blessings to understand deeply who you really are. This comes with getting “busy with your family history”.
No matter what family you have now or how much family history research they can do, part of the identity of every member of the Church is having the heritage of the covenant. President Nelson said, “When the Lord calls us His children of the covenant, understand what covenant you’re children of.” You can discover your own identity by studying the scriptures and covenants.
Know Your Purpose
“You’re sent to earth for a reason,” he said. “Find out what that is. You may not know for the first 90 years. You may have to wait as long as I did before things change a little.” President Nelson referred to his calling as the prophet in 2018 and how his whole life purpose became clearer.
Sister Nelson, in her talk, told the youth about how President Nelson’s revelation has increased exponentially since becoming the prophet. While he woke up in the night occasionally to write down revelation during his apostleship, once he became the prophet, he is recording revelation through the night often. He never anticipated becoming the prophet in his earlier years, but all along, the Lord had a purpose for him and where He was leading President Nelson’s life.
Prepare For Marriage
With the new temple in the capitol of Italy, the prophet emphasized the importance of looking forward to and preparing for marriage. The key to being desirable to a potential spouse, he said, was to “increase your education, your experience, and your emulation of the Lord”. With his wife sitting behind him on the stand who was single for 56 years of her life, President Nelson told the youth that if they have to wait for marriage for a while, to continue to prepare.
In the wake of his comments on withstanding Satan’s temptations to give in to carnal appetites, he made this short, powerful statement: “Sexual purity is essential for a happy marriage, and your personal purity is a priceless gift to your children yet unborn.”
Prepare For And Pursue Your Education
The prophet opened to the minds of the youth the eternal purposes of gaining an education. “Do you realize with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, education is a religious responsibility? The glory of God is intelligence, and education is the difference between wishing you can help other people and being able to help other people.”
Many young adults in the Rome area who were in attendance at the fireside go to the institute building during the week to work on the Pathway Program and BYU-Idaho Online. These online courses enable the youth to follow the prophet and further their ability to bless their communities.
Feast On The Words of the Lord
President Nelson gave this promise to the youth: “If you will read the scriptures daily, you will have spiritual life insurance.” Learning the teachings of the Lord in his scriptures will help in all circumstances of life. With that, he encouraged the youth to pray, whether kneeling, standing or folding arms.
After a long journey to Italy, and undoubtedly facing jet lag with a seven-hour time difference, the prophet told the youth that some of his most fervent prayers have been wide awake as he sat on an airplane. “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and He will direct thee for good.”
Pay Your Tithing
Not only did the prophet promise both spiritual and temporal blessings for paying tithing, but he stated that paying tithing would teach the youth honesty and was something vital to look for in a future spouse.
“When you come to marry someone, make sure your companion knows how to pay tithing because your companion will be a lot better 50 years from now if he is a tithe payer,” he said.
Honor Your Parents
President Nelson told the story of his grandmother from Norway who came to the U.S. with her twin sister when they were just babies. After living in Illinois, the family took the journey west with the pioneers and, along the way, his grandmother’s twin passed away. The prophet told the youth that with such a rich life history and so much to learn from his grandmother, the thing he loved most about his grandmother growing up was her cookies. He never asked her what it was like to cross the plains. “So do better than I did. Learn from your grandparents. As you treat your parents, so you will be treated by your children.”