Nationally renowned speaker and author Fr. Larry Richards was featured at the Guadalupe Radio Network Summer Speaker Series annual event held this past Thursday at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas. In addition to his role as Pastor of St. Joseph Church/Bread of Life Community in Erie, Fr. Larry is also the Spiritual Director of the TEC Retreat Program for the Diocese of Erie and founder and president of The Reason for Our Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the Good News by educating others about Jesus Christ (www.thereasonforourhope.org). Fr. Larry is the author of 2010 best-selling Ignatius Press book Be a Man! Becoming the Man God Created You to Be. His second book Surrender is coming out this fall. Fr. Larry also hosts a radio show on Relevant Radio called Changed Forever with Larry Richards.
In his talk titled Surrender and Discover Peace, Fr. Larry lived up to his reputation as an engaging, entertaining and inspiring speaker. In his own words, Fr. Larry describes his preaching experience as thus: “The Holy Spirit sets me on fire and people come to watch me burn.” In no uncertain terms, this is exactly how the evening played out. With his no nonsense approach to life and the truth revealed in Christ, Fr. Larry challenged the audience to come to know and grow with the Lord in a lifelong committed relationship.
Throughout the evening, Fr. Larry explained that the Greatest Commandant (John 13: 34-35) is the key to developing a meaningful relationship with the Lord. Fr. Larry explained, “If you are in love, then you WANT to spend time with the person you love.” Prayer is pivotal to building that relationship with the Lord: “If you don’t pray every day, then you don’t really believe. You are a pagan.” He goes on to further explain that “prayer is not a burden because it is not about you. It’s about the Holy Spirit who lifts you up into the very relationship of God- love itself.” Fr. Larry challenged the audience to make daily meaningful prayer a priority in their lives. And in that prayer time, they should be real with God and fully surrender to the Holy Spirit: “Holiness is realness. Holiness is where God’s will and our will become one.” He explained that Blessed John Paul II surrendered every day to the Holy Spirit in a prayer given to him by his father when he was a boy. That daily surrender was imperative not only to his vocation on earth, but also to his path to saint hood.
In addition to prayer, Fr. Larry spoke about the role love plays in man’s relationship with God. Not only is he to love God above all else, but also to love others more than himself. Fr. Larry explained, “God asks us to love the world. Not the sins of the world, but the people of the world… People will not come to know Christ because we judged them. They will come to know Christ because we loved them.” In his own personal story involving his alcoholic father, Fr. Larry acknowledged that it is not easy to always love the people of the world- especially the people closest to us. He explains that it is possible “with daily surrender. When you die to yourself, then Christ can live through you.”
So, where does it all begin? How do we gain this meaningful prayer life? Fr. Larry offers this advice to young people, but it is applicable to all of us: It begins when they come “to know that they are beloved to the father. They are a beloved son. Jesus’ whole ministry began when he was baptized. And the sky opened up and the father said ‘you are my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.’ So, for me, that is where all things begin. Knowing that we are loved… It’s knowing you are beloved to the Father and then living in that meaningful love. It’s transforming… My advice is pray that you come to know that you are loved by God. You have to listen. You have to let God hold you… It’s about entering into a relationship with the one who will love you more than anyone ever could.”
Guadalupe Radio Network (GRN) hosts the Speaker Series each summer at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas. The event is made possible through generous sponsors and contributors. Also, the Speaker Series allows GRN to raise funds so it may continue to bring quality Catholic radio to airwaves in North Texas, South Texas and Washington D.C. The planning committee is already making arrangements for the speaking event in 2012. Please visit the GRN website, www.grnonline.com for more information.
Fr. Larry’s weekly homilies, speaking schedule and publications can be found on his website www.thereasonforourhope.org.
Copyright 2011 Lori Miller