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David O. McKay Diaries – “Sacrament”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Sacrament.” You can view other subjects here.

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Wed., 15 May, 1946:

“[Telephone call]  Milton Bennion regarding partaking of sacrament by non-members.  ‘We should let the partaker be responsible for his partaking of the Sacrament.  Many people have had their feelings wounded over this.'”

Fri., 6 Oct., 1950:

“Bishop Wirthlin called to present the question of a Bishop who when his ward is dedicated wanted to have a special meeting for the ward officers and teachers, where the sacrament would be administered.  Pres. McKay said it would not be wise to pass the sacrament, but that a testimony meeting could be held for this group.  If they wanted to administer the sacrament in one of the dedicatory sessions where the whole membership is invited, that could be done; but thought it would be unwise to have the sacrament for just a select group.”

Wed., 1 Nov., 1950:

“President Delbert Stapley, called from Phoenix–he asked regarding the interviewing of missionaries by him as a General Authority of the Church.  I told him that he should emphasize two things (which are included on the blanks to be used for the interview)–one, regarding the morality of the prospective missionary, and second, whether or not the missionary is leaving any debts.  I explained that we have missionaries who are leaving debts, and their creditors are extending their credits until the missionaries come home, and then some of the missionaries are failing in their obligations when they come home.  We therefore should like the missionaries to clear up their debts before they leave for the mission field.”

Wed., 20 Feb., 1952:

“[First Presidency meeting]  I called attention to a growing tendency in the Church to feel that no member of the Church should hold the sacrament while he himself partakes of it; further, that it is a breach of proper procedure to partake of it with the left hand.

The Brethren felt we should keep away from formalities and leave it to the custom or development of the custom.  They felt that while the partaking of the sacrament is a covenant and it is the custom to use the right hand in making covenants, failure so to do would not vitiate the covenant.”

Wed., 15 Oct., 1952:

“[First Presidency meeting]  I reported my attendance at a sacrament meeting Sunday, where the deacons who passed the sacrament all wore white shirts.  President Richards agreed with me that it would be an improvement to have the deacons dress uniformly in white shirts when passing the sacrament.”

Tues., 25 Nov., 1952:

“8:45–First Presidency meeting.  Considered the following matters: . . . . (8) Objection of older people in Danish Mission to deacons passing sacrament when elders are present . . .”

Thurs., 2 July, 1953:

“Note about the Sacrament–statement made at Council meeting today

What a strength there would be in this Church if next Sunday every member who partakes in the sacrament would sense the significance of the covenant made in that ordinance–every member willing to take upon him the name of the Son, a true Christian, proud of it, and always remember him, in the home, in business, in society–always remember Him and His commandments and that He has given them.  Comprehensive!  That they may always have His Spirit to be with them.  How comprehensive that blessing, and how significant the covenant we make each Sabbath.  It would be a good thing to have our people sense that more deeply than they do, I think.  I believe that many do sense it and are trying to live up to its principles.  It is a glorious service.  It reminds us always of the institution of the sacrament in the upper room.  People call it the Last Supper, but it is not; they partook of the supper before; the sacrament was instituted.  They met and partook of the supper before; the sacrament was instituted following that.  The early Christians continued both.  The brought food with them and then partook of the sacrament, and Paul changed that.  He said:  ‘You do not come to a feast but to partake of the sacrament.’  It would be advisable for us to emphasize the significance and sacredness of this holy ordinance.”

Wed., 13 Aug., 1958:

“9 – Presided at the regular meeting of the First Presidency

President Clark present – Pres. Stephen L. Richards still recuperating in West Yellowstone.

A number of important church matters were taken up, among which were –

2.  It was decided that the sacrament should not be administered to the inmates

of the Utah State Prison because of the sacred nature of the covenants and 

obligations and because of their inability to keep them.

Thurs., 19 Feb., 1959:

“10:25 to 3:30 p.m. – Was convened in the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple.

At this meeting, in preliminary remarks, I said that if every member of the Church who partook of the Sacrament last Fast Day kept the covenants that he or she made that day in partaking of the Sacrament, we would be pretty close to the Millennium even now.  If every person kept his covenants to take upon himself the name of Christ and to keep his commandments without any exception, worshipping God and being true to Him, treating his brother as he would have his brother treat him, and always be guided by his Spirit, I repeat, we would be pretty close to the Millennium.  And that is our obligation – the obligation of the General Authorities – to make them feel the responsibility of membership in the Church of Christ.”

Thurs., 7 Apr. 1960:

“10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Was engaged in Council meeting.  Just prior to the administration of the Sacrament, I made a few remarks regarding the sacredness of the Sacrament.  How simple and impressive the administration of the Sacrament is!  That is just the way it was administered by the Savior when he instituted it among his Apostles.  They sat probably on the floor, and he washed their feet.  He gave them instructions and then administered the Sacrament.

I saw the Pontifical High Mass as administered by the Catholics at the funeral services of Bishop Duane G. Hunt the other day, and as I listened to the strains of the chants, saw the red robe carried by a priest behind the Cardinal — the other robes put on and off — there passed through my mind the words of Burns in ‘The Cotter’s Saturday Night’–

‘The Power, incens’d,. the pageant will desert,

The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole;

But haply, some cottage far apart,

May hear, well-pleas’d, the language of the soul,

And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enroll.’

In our Church, we have the language of the soul, and each makes his testament and bears witness that he is willing to take upon himself the name of the Son.  And what is more:  will always remember him and keep the commandments which he has given, that they may always have his spirit to be with them.  No spreading of incense, no changing of robes, just the devotion of the heart.

God help us always to keep that simplicity, reverence, and devotion I constantly pray.

I then told the brethren that it was sweet to meet and commune with the Savior after our glorious Conference – the best we have ever held.  Each one is the best, but this time it is.  We were nearer to the Savior — the people were — it seems to me, than ever before.  It is glorious to meet with the brethren — each one looked better to me this morning than they have ever done before – nearer!”

Wed., 16 Oct. 1963:

“Sacrament in Sunday School and Sacrament Meetings

President Tanner briefly reviewed the inquiry of a branch president in England as to the propriety of administering the sacrament in Sunday School and a few hours later on the same day in the Sacrament Meeting.  I advised that the inquirer be informed that the practice was established in the days of President George Q. Cannon, General Superintendent of Sunday Schools of the Church, who decided that this be done.  I told President Tanner to inform the Branch President of this, and to tell him that it is the established practice of the Church to pass the Sacrament in both the Sunday School and Sacrament Meetings.”

Tues., 3 Aug. 1965:

“Sacrament – Administration of in Sacrament Meetings

Consideration was given to an inquiry as to whether or not in our Sacrament Meetings the Bishop, when announcing the Sacrament, should indicate that it will be blessed and passed to the members of the Church.

I said it is not necessary to indicate that it would be passed to members of the Church.  I suggested, however, that it would be well for the Bishop or one of his counselors to say a few words in the Sacrament meeting explaining the meaning of the Sacrament and the covenants that are made in partaking thereof.

Thurs., 2 Feb. 1967:

“10:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Was convened in the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple.

Following the administration of the Sacrament, I made the following remarks to the Brethren:

‘This is one of our blessed moments.  We meet today as the Savior and His Apostles met in the upper room.  This morning we have the privilege to be near Him, as we always have been when partaking of His Sacrament in His presence.  No other men in this world have this great privilege that we have here in this upper room, and He is near us.  He knows our weaknesses, physical and spiritual, and we have the right to say to Him with all our hearts:

We love you.  We ask Thy blessing, and may we feel Thy presence near us this morning as we have never felt it before, and may that right ever be ours to an extent that we have never had it before in our lives.  May we realize that each one of us, members of the Twelve, may feel the blessing that comes from Thee in a greater extent than we have ever had before because we need Thy presence, and need to feel near to Thee.  No other men have a greater right or as much right as we have this morning to be in the presence of the Lord and Savior Himself.  We need strength as we have never needed it before, and we desire to be in the presence of our Father through His Beloved Son.

May we have Thy Spirit and hear Thy voice through that Spirit.  May the love we have for one another be manifest in great abundance.  May we know one another’s hearts as perhaps we have never known them before, and may the realization be so real that the strength that comes therefrom be manifest in behalf of each individual present.  May our wives feel that blessing, especially the sisters who are ailing.  And as President of the Church, I ask Thee, Heavenly Father, to grant those blessings, that the sisters who are suffering or who have in any way been affected by what we call a stroke, may be benefitted as a result of our devotion this morning expressed in this prayer.  O Lord, may we be near to Thee through this blessed privilege, in the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ, Amen.

At my suggestion, the brethren then sang the hymns ‘I Need Thee Every Hour’, and ‘Rock of Ages’.” 

Sun., 5 Feb. 1967:

“Minutes of conference held with President David O. McKay and Dr. Ernest L. Wilkinson, President of the Brigham Young University, Sunday, February 5, 1967, at 4:00 p.m.

By invitation, I met with President McKay to discuss a number of matters as follows:

1)  Refusal to Play Basketball on Sunday.  I told President McKay that his son, Lawrence, had inquired of me as to who made the decision not to permit our basketball team to play on Sunday; that I had made the decision; and that I wondered if I had acted properly.  President McKay said that he was ‘thrilled’ with the decision, and that if he hadn’t already had confidence in what I was doing, he did now.

Mon., 8 Jul., 1968:

“9:00 a. m. 

Held a meeting of the First Presidency in the office in the apartment at the Hotel Utah.

Among the general matters discussed were:

Sacrament — Administration of in Remote Area For One Family: 

In a memorandum dated June 28 to President Tanner, Elder Thomas S. Monson mentioned a family by the name of Quetzal Doty of Australia who have been transferred to Nigeria by the State Department. Brother Doty is a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and it is stated that he, his wife and children, will likely be the only members of the Church in the community where he will be stationed. Brother Doty asks if permission may be given for him to bless and administer the sacrament in meetings of his family.

The brethren agreed that this might be done, but that this permission should be limited to him and his family.”

Tues., 25 Feb, 1969:

“9:30 a.m. Meeting of the First Presidency in the President’s Hotel Apartment. Present were Presidents Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith and Alvin R. Dyer.

The following were some of the matters discussed:

Boy Scouts — Passing the Sacrament in Uniform

President Brown brought up a question for the Presidency’s attention of whether it is permissible for Boy Scouts who are Deacons to pass the Sacrament on Scout Sunday while in uniform. The Brethren agreed that it is.