Tuesday, February 4, 2014

(48) Fr. Larry Richards Wows the 250 Men at the 2013 Steubenvile Diocesan Men's Day of Renewal

          About 250 men traveled from all over the far flung diocese, some two hundred miles from north to south, for a day of renewal, featuring two great talks by Fr. Larry Richards, a Penance Service, and Mass, presided by our new Bishop Jeffrey Montforton.  For the first time teens were also invited so that in many cases it was a father and son retreat.  Thus men of all ages participated and sang with enthusiasm.  It was a great day of renewal and enjoyable fellowship.  One of the men remarked:  "This was by far the best of the three Conferences I attended.”  Another: “The speakers were great and the best of all was to have the opportunity for Eucharistic Adoration all day and be just a few feet away from Him”
            In both the morning and afternoon sessions, Fr. Richards lived up to his billing as being a dynamic, enthusiastic, and entertaining speaker.  Most agreed that this Men’s Conference was the best one yet in the Diocese of Steubenville.  There’s no way that I can do justice to all that in these highlights; nor can I communicate the main points in the way he did on paper, but here goes. 

The Role of Confession as an Aid to Salvation
            Fr. Larry Richards gave an excellent talk on sin and the need for Confession.  The fundamental points he brought out are so important for today because most of us are poorly catechized.  We are often vague on morality and the difference between right and wrong.  We don’t take advantage of monthly confession and its graces.

            He captured our attention by referring to a phrase from Frank Sinatra: We want to do it our way instead of God’s way and that gets us into trouble.  The focus of Confession is “metanoya” which means repentance or a change of direction, a change of thinking, a change of life as well as true sorrow for our sins and a resolve not to repeat them. 
The way to heaven is through humility……to see ourselves as we really are, sinners dependent upon God for everything.  We have to have the humility to do it not our way, but His way.  Pray for the strength to do His will.  That’s in the “Our Father” prayer”, but we don’t pay any attention to it.
Fr. Larry drew on the biblical quote: “Though He slay me, I will continue to praise Him”.  One man, who lost his family in a disaster, praised God because his loved ones are in Heaven.  No matter what; it’s His will.  Continue to praise Him.
God loves us, but not necessarily the way we are.  He wants us to cooperate with His grace.  A football coach would never say: “I love you the way you are”.  We expect the same of priests.

In hell every person is alone.  So he won’t be with his buddies.  Most people go to hell.  At Fatima, Mary said souls fall into hell like snowflakes in a snowstorm.  Even St. Paul was afraid that he might be lost.  Fr. Larry makes it a practice to go to confession every two weeks.  If we compare ourselves to Christ, we’ll always be short.
Christ challenges us in mercy.  He wants us to feel guilty.  Mortal sin is a serious offense against God, involving full knowledge that the action is sinful and there is full consent of the will.  Fr. Larry concluded his talk with a brief review of an examination of conscience before confession.
The1st Commandment includes the greatest sin.  We don’t love God above all things.  Just trying is not good enough.  Skipping daily prayer is a sin. 
The 2nd Commandment states that it is a sin to say God’s name with no reason.
The 3rd Commandment covers the Sunday Obligation.  Missing Mass on Sunday on purpose for no good reason is a serious sin.
The 4th Commandment requires that we honor our parents.  It is a sin to neglect calling a parent in a nursing home every day.  Pray for your deceased parent(s).
The 5th Commandment covers abortion and anger, which is often due to fear or a hurt.  Fr. Larry himself had a problem and went through anger management.  A kid is supposed to see God in his/her father because God is a true father.
The 6th & 9th Commandments involves sins of the flesh.  It’s OK to admire a beautiful woman as God’s wonderful creation.  But to fantasize sex is a sin.  In masturbation one turns to self.  It’s like having sex with one’s self.  A good rule is nothing below the neck and never sex outside of marriage. Any foreplay or oral sex must end in intercourse.  The couple must always be open to life and therefore contraception is sinful.  A husband can never force sex on his wife, which would really be rape.  To desire sex with another woman outside of marriage is wrong.
The 7th Commandment covers stealing, cheating, dishonesty, etc.
The 8th Commandment includes lying or distorting the truth.  One cannot gossip even if it’s the truth because it defames the person or destroys one’s good name or reputation. 
The 10th Commandment involves jealousy and envy……. emotions which occur when a person resents another's superior quality, achievement, or possession. 

                                       Esto Vir,,,,,,,Be a Man

In the afternoon, Fr. Richards talked about his specialty, the title of his book, “Be a Man”.  Click on http://www.ignatius.com/promotions/be-a-man-book/ to order it.   Be a man?  Go to the Bible to find what an authentic man is…..St.Joseph for example.  Sports stars are not good examples of what a man should be.
“He’s a man after my own heart”……a biblical reference made by God regarding David.  Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ.  The Old Testament is promise of the Redeemer; the New Testament is fulfillment.  The husband should have his Bible and the wife her own to underline, make notes, etc. 

On his deathbed David gave instructions to his son Solomon:  "I am going the way of all flesh.  Take courage and be a man.  Keep the mandate of the Lord, your God, following his ways and observing his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do, wherever you turn,....."  (1Kings 2:1-4)  
When you come to serve the Lord, prepare for trials.  St. Paul said: “The life I have is not my own”, but he knew that he was loved by God.
Fr. Larry professed celibacy, but asserted that God gave him thousands of kids throughout his career.
The Importance of Prayer.  Be a man of prayer, first.  God always talks to us, not only through the Bible.  But we don’t listen.  “Shut up!”  Remember the Psalm: “Be still and know I am God”.  Trust.  Be in conversation with Him all day.  Let God put you to sleep each night.  Prayer is more listening than talking.
Sonship.  God said in Mark1:11 “You are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”  Since God made us to His image and likeness, each one of us is an adopted son.  God will never stop loving us, no matter what the circumstance.  “Perfect love casts out fear”.  So we should respond to God with love instead of fear.  At the same time Christ commands us: “Love one another as I have loved you”………even to the point of giving one’s life if necessary.  We must experience Christ before we can follow Him.
Priorities in Life.  First is God.  Second is family and others.  Finally “I” is third.  That is unselfish love as a priority.  Fr. Richards tells the women: “Submit to your husband”.  But he tells the men: “Die for your wife.  Put her needs in front of yours.  Love your wife as Christ loves the Church.  The way to hell is to expect one’s wife and kids to serve him.  On the contrary, the husband must die to his family everyday…….giving of self. 
Some men complain “My father never said that he loved me”.  Fr. Larry spent his life judging his father.  We all come from dysfunctional families.  Get over it.  The ideal is as Christ says in John 15:9, “As the Father loves me, I love you”.   We should imitate Christ, the most perfect man.
When we die, nothing ---money, success, accomplishments, etc.--- will matter except relationships.  Fr. Richards closed his talk saying: “Esto vir…….Be a man”.  “Tell your kids and wife that you love them every time they walk out the door”.        

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