SALT LAKE CITY -- Church members were asked to remain grateful, even when facing their trials, during the 180th Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday.
During the morning session, President Thomas S. Monson wiped away tears as he spoke of his gratitude for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and of an elderly woman in a rest home who once was grateful for his visit.
Through gratitude, Monson said, miracles can happen.
Speaking of the miracle of the fish and loaves as told in the New Testament scripture Matthew 15: 32-37, Monson pointed out that the Savior gave thanks before he broke the bread and the fish, creating enough food to feed a multitude.
"Notice that the Savior gave thanks for what they had -- and a miracle followed," he said.
As he spoke of the church's stand against marriages for same-sex partners, President Boyd K. Packer, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, talked about trials some members may face.
"To legalize that which is basically wrong or evil will not prevent the pain and penalties that will follow as surely as night follows day," he said.
"Regardless of the opposition, we are determined to stay on course. We will hold to the principles and laws and ordinances of the gospel."
Packer also spoke about an official proclamation of the church, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," which, among other things, reserves marriage as a union only between a man and a woman.
"You must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong," he said.
Packer also urged the faithful to steer clear of pornography and to repent if addicted to its use.
"Pornography will, always will, repel the spirit of Christ and will interrupt the communications between our heavenly Father and His children and disrupt the tender relationship between husband and wife."
Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke of all types of addiction.
"If anyone who is addicted has a desire to overcome, then there is a way to spiritual freedom, a way to escape from bondage, a way that is proven," he said.
"It begins with prayer -- sincere, fervent and constant communication with the creator of our spirits and bodies, our Heavenly Father."
He also outlined a number of sources people may turn to for help.
During the afternoon session, Monson acknowledged the challenges of today.
"We live in a troubled world, a world of many challenges. We are here on this earth to deal with our individual challenges to the best of our ability, to learn from them and to overcome them.
"Endure to the end we must, for our goal is eternal life in the presence of our Father in Heaven."
In his talk Sunday morning, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of trusting God and thoroughly studying the words spoken by the church leaders during conference sessions.
"If you trust God enough to listen for His message in every sermon, song and prayer in this conference, you will find it. And if you will then go and do what He would have you do, your power to trust Him will grow, and in time, you will be overwhelmed with gratitude to find that He has come to trust you."
Several speakers focused their talks on the importance of revelation to the church.
"Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations and where is our religion? We have none," said Elder Jay E. Jensen, of the Presidency of the Seventy, quoting Joseph Smith in the History of the Church 2:52.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve, said members would do well in their lives if they can find a balance between a priesthood line and a personal line of revelation.
"If personal religious practice relies entirely on the personal line, individualism erases the importance of divine authority," he said. "If personal religious practice relies too much on the priesthood line, individual growth suffers."
Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, suggested three ways to receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost: Sincerely desire to receive the Holy Ghost; appropriately invite the Holy Ghost into one's life; and faithfully obey God's commandments.
"I testify the Holy Ghost is a revelator, a comforter and the ultimate teacher from whom we should learn," he said.
Elder L. Tom Perry, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke specifically to those young men, ages 12 to 18, who hold the Aaronic priesthood in the church.
"Young men, I challenge you to build your lives on a foundation of truth and righteousness. It is the only foundation that will stand the pressures of this life and endure through the eternities."
He also urged them to prepare for full-time missions for the church and to receive the higher Melchizedek priesthood.
"I promise you, if you will prepare to receive His holy priesthood, He will literally pour out blessings upon your heads."