Monday, January 31, 2011
Enter Spring/Fr. Larry Richards
If dryness in prayer, lack of fervor and failure to feel the presence of God in our difficulties is a winter of the spirit, then it was this past Saturday, in the deep of the actual season of winter, that my soul entered spring. I was consumed by joy, excitement and gratitude for the blessings that surrounded me that day.
It was at the annual Women of Christ Conference, a full day packed with speakers, exhibits and prayer that my season changed. There was so much filling my senses and my spirit that I may need this entire week just to share all that I experienced in that single day.
It was shortly after my friend Susi and I arrived and began to set up our shared exhibitors table where she was promoting the Vocations Office (who better than a mother to introduce her son to the thought of priesthood!), and I was promoting the Monthly Prayer Request for Priests which I began with the help of the Vocations Office last September for the Milwaukee Archdiocese, when I spotted Fr. Larry Richards.
It was a little over a year ago when I had written about Fr. Larry for Matt Warner's "Support a Catholic Speaker" month. I had chosen to write about Fr. Larry because although I had heard his name, there was not much else that I knew about him. After I had written my story, I knew that if I ever had the chance to hear Fr. Larry speak, I would be first in line to buy a ticket, and now that desire came true!
Before I left the house in the morning, my husband was watching You-Tube with the headphones on so I didn't know what he was listening to, but I kept hearing him laugh, so I peeked over his shoulder to see what was so funny. It was Fr. Larry Richards Confession talk!
Before long, Fr. Larry was standing next to me in the exhibit hall and was admiring the Seminary's fabulous video of this past year's ordinations. He was telling me that he didn't know much about Milwaukee's Archbishop Listecki, but that he knows our former Archbishop Dolan. I was so pleased to tell him how wonderful Archbishop Listecki is and about how much we are all enjoying his presence in Milwaukee. He has truly emphasized love during his first year here, and this cold, northern locale is much warmer because of him!
Later that morning I was thanking God that I had gone to confession before Fr. Larry's talk, because by the time he was through speaking, and shared his classic examination of conscience, the line for confession seemed as if it was nearly two blocks long!
Memorable lines from his talk~
his opening line: "I am blessed among women!" (There were nearly 2500 women in attendance at the conference!)
on praying the rosary: "When you pray the rosary, Mary takes you by the hand and says, "Come here, I want you to watch the life of my son with me. For example, when you are praying the third joyful mystery, Mary looks at you and says, "Here, would you like to hold him?" and you rock the son of the Universe. And when you receive Communion, you take the Son of God that you held in your arms and now you have Him inside of you, just like Mary did for nine months."
on reading scripture: "When you read scripture and you feel that God is speaking to you, write it down. Carry it with you all day in your pocket or your purse and take it out from time to time and look at it and pray about it. In this way, you will have a continual conversation with God all day long."
and: "Don't tell me that you don't have time to read scripture! If you have time to read your newspaper, a novel, your blogs, you have time for scripture!"
on scrupulosity and selfishness: "Christianity is the forgetfulness of self. If you follow Jesus because you want to get to heaven, its all about you. You are following him for a selfish reason."
on eternal life: "When you were inside of your mother for nine months, all of your needs were met; you were with her night and day, and even though it was messy in there, you liked it. In fact, you didn't want to come out! You screamed when you entered the world. But you couldn't see your mother until you were born. Right now, we are in the womb of God. Everything we have comes from Him. Things can be pretty messy, but we usually like it here and worry about dying. But we can't see Him while we are here. So who's more blessed? The one who dies at four or the one who dies at ninety?"
on daily Mass: "If you really believe that Jesus is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Eucharist and you don't go to daily Mass, then you are a liar! When we pray the Lord's Prayer we say give us this day our daily bread, not give us this day our weekly bread!"
His talk, both entertaining and uplifting, proved him to be a priest who won't back down from what he believes in and one who speaks his mind without adding any sugar-coating to his words. If I ever get the chance to hear Fr. Larry Richards speak again, you can be sure that I will be first in line to buy a ticket!
And on this day when the weather forecasters are predicting nearly two feet of snow in the next few days, my soul is warmed by remembering all that occurred at the Women of Christ Conference. During the upcoming days, I hope to write a bit about Immaculee Ilibagiza, Archbishop Listecki, the Monthly Prayer Request for Priests, and about some of the wonderful women I had the opportunity to meet on that very special day set aside for the Women of Christ; the day that felt like spring.
"Not saying thank you keeps us from going deeper into our faith and into healing." Fr. Matthew Widder
continuing to count the blessings...
~delicious morning sunshine after too many cloudy days
~blasting the Newsboys in the car on the drive to work
~water-cool and refreshing down my throat
~taking a breather from work with a lunchtime walk
~warm, fuzzy slippers on winter-cold feet
~Wildflour Bread from Sister Doris
~Dad helping youngest with homework
~jars of seaglass on front porch; reminders of lazy walks on the beach in warmer weather
~a busy week at work
~14-year-old son reading a bedtime story to his nine-year-old sister
~steam that rises from a newly opened bottle of champagne