My Initial Observations of Father Larry Richards talk on ‘The Truth’ (I was a Non-Catholic, at the time)

Fr. Larry Richards talks on tape are available from Catholicity

I would like to share something with you that i wrote on the 18th September 2003, concerning my personal observations of Fr. Larry Richards ‘talk’, after having listened to ‘The Truth’ Part One:

Well, it was a roller coaster ride of emotion all the way through it! I loved the way that Father Larry Richards spoke, the way that he made me feel as though he was talking to me, personally. It felt as though he was in the room with me. He has sincerity and a familiarity about him that enabled me to warm to him. I felt so comfortable listening to what he had to say.

From the outset his humour made me smile, I can fully understand why not only teenagers love him, but all other ages also. I like his simplicity and his normality. He doesn’t complicate things, doesn’t cause confusion. I felt like I was one of those soppy teenagers that he talks about in the opening stages of the talk. I too have responded to the questioning of none believers in such a banal and easily disproved way!

Father Larry makes it all so simple! To Know that God is real; we need to KNOW him, to LOVE him, to SERVE him. Not know about him, to read about him, to believe in him because the Bible tells us so. We need to experience him personally. WOW. It’s like you listen to what Father Larry say’s and then thing’s really click into place and you find yourself thinking…’why didn’t I realize that before?’ I’ve only called myself a Christian for like, 18 years, and only now, am I beginning to really understand it!

As Father Larry explains, there is only one way to know God and that is through prayer. I smiled when he tells of St Francis DeSaille saying that we should spend ½ an hour daily in prayer, and that if we are too busy to do that, then we should spend an hour in prayer.…That was so profound! How true that we should be organising our daily lives so as to bring ourselves before the Lord each day with true and glad hearts, and not squeeze in a prayer time between other more ‘demanding’ or pressing activities and commitments.

Father Larry speaks of How we can know God personally. And therefore I ask myself;

How can we experience the love of God? By getting close to Him. By spending time with Him without distractions, to allow God the opportunity to embrace us with His love. I for one, know that I have a need of doing that more! Father Larry draws our attention to the Rosary, he say’s it doesn’t matter how much we say the rosary if we don’t know God.

As someone who is struggling and at working fairly hard to learn the Rosary, the various prayers and mysteries, at first I failed to understand…and then it got through to me. I’ve been worrying about saying it right, doing it right, not yawning through the whole thing, getting through it all without any interruptions…it really doesn’t matter whether I say one decade or ten. It’s the intention and the heart that goes into it that matters most. If I spend time with God daily, then I get to really know him, that’s what it’s all about. I could say the whole rosary 50 times a day and still not know God personally…

It really bought things home to me when Father Larry said that what we do NOW, how we live our lives NOW, determines our eternity…how simple those words sound, and yet how easily we forget to live each day as though it could be the last, serving God, serving others! That the very simple answer ( in the words of Father Larry Richards) to why we were created is this: to know God, to love God and to serve God in this world, so that we can be happy forever in the next. How simple and yet how deeply moving. I cried when I heard those words. How I wish that everyone could hear those words and KNOW as I KNOW, that they are truth.

The non believer cries out “What is the meaning of life?”, they look for a million and one different ways to discredit the Bible, to discredit Christianity, to discredit God’s authority and to discredit the meaning and intention for their lives. Some people really believe that they can find the answers anywhere but in God. It would just harm them so greatly to climb down from their long held stance of disbelief for a moment and get down on their knees and cry out “God, are you real, show me that you are real”.

Perhaps some of us have such hardened hearts that even then we would reject Him. I suppose then, what it really comes down to, is do we WANT to know God. Are we prepared to go deeper with God. Those of us who think that we already have a fairly good relationship with Him, might do well to listen to the tape that I listened to. I only listened to side one so far, and already I feel the Lord working through it to reach me, to convict me, to enable me to reach a fuller understanding.

The story that Father Larry relates concerning the dream that he had was not only amusing but served to bring me to an awareness of my own lack of understanding. He dreams that all his family are possessed by evil and though he attempts to exorcise the evil spirits, they refuse to budge. Father Larry get’s a little worked up and say’s something like ‘Hey, didn’t ya hear me, I said ‘In the name of Jesus, be gone”. Then God kind of taps Father Larry on the shoulder and say’s, you know what, you DO have the power to cast out this evil, and the reason you can do that is because you are my son.

Well, now the penny drops and Father Larry doesn’t have to tell the evil spirits to leave the bodies of his loved ones, Father Larry just tells his loved ones that they are Gods children, ‘you are a son of God’ / ‘you are a daughter of God’. Immediately that Father Larry tells them this the evil disappears. We who are children of God have the power to overcome the vileness within us, we are Gods children, His Holy Spirit resides within us, how can evil conquer? When we do things in our own self righteousness, because we think that we have the authority to do something, then we are prone to failure. When we do things through God’s authority we have every reason to expect an entirely different outcome.

Well, there was still another hugely emotional part of the tape I had to deal with and that was the image that I had in my mind, of God crying. Father Larry was speaking of his grandma, and of how upset she was that he refused her gift ~ well, when we don’t allow God to love us we grieve God in a similar way. Sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to receive Gods love because we don’t think we deserve His love.

I really could identify with that. I have low self esteem issues and like many people who have low opinions of themselves, I feel that I am not worthy of love. I know I shouldn’t , but I doubt the sincerity of those who tell me that they love me. I want to believe that God can love me, and I fully expect Him to love everyone else, but for some reason, it always comes down to me feeling that my particular sins are not as forgivable! That I am less able to be loved than others. What an arrogance! I’m no more special than any one else, how could I possibly think that I should require more work to be forgiven of my sins, to be loved by my Heavenly Father – well, there I go, putting boundaries on God again!

So, I realize, that just as Father Larry talks about his need to accept that he was loved by God, I realise that I still, even now, have that need . That was very emotional realisation for me. Particularly understanding the scripture that Father Larry quotes;

Isaiah 43:1-5 ~

But now, this is what the Lord says –
He who has created you, O Jacob
He who formed you, O Israel:
Fear not for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
And when you pass through the rivers,
They will not sweep over you
When you walk through the fire,
You will not be burned;
The flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD, your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honoured in my sight
And because I love you
I will give men in exchange for you,
And people in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
And gather you from the west.

I can’t help but wonder how God can love a wretch like me, but I have to believe that He does. If I don’t accept that He loves me, then I am rejecting the love of the creator who made me. Father Larry’s talk, made me see things in a whole different light. He made me think about how I grieve God by not accepting His gift of love. Just as Father Larry mentions how he hurt his grandma’s feelings by not allowing her to give him things, I realise that when I choose not to allow God to love me, even the really bad bit’s, I am causing Him to feel the pain of rejection also. When I think how bad I would feel if I made a love one cry, how much worse should I be feeling, to cause God that same pain. God, my life, my world, my creator, my ever present help in times of trouble ?

Well, I thought that the tears were over, but there were more to come.
Father Larry draws our attention to the One commandment that Jesus gives us…the commandment to love one another;

John chapter 15:9,

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love”

And we know that Jesus commands us to love one another and that when we love one another, we are called to do so without a get out clause. We are to love one another without judgement . How might we love others ? By putting the needs of others first. How much do we do for others ? How much more could we do? I laughed and I cried when Father Larry relates the story of a woman who get’s all upset because of her daughters prayer. One night, as the mother pray’s with her husband and children, her daughter ends her prayer with the sentence “ and please let Mummy be as nice at home as she is at church”…Well, out of the mouths of babes!

That made me cry so hard. I felt the Lord speaking to me through that. I try so hard to be a good Mum to my children. I feel angry sometimes that I have such a job to do and i have been resentful that i carry the responsibility for my children with relatively little support. I often feel that I have little time for me and that my life revolves around my children. And yet, when I heard Father Larry relate that story, those tears just streamed down my face. I have been guilty of doing the exact same thing. Giving an appearance to others (or wishing to) that I was some kind of superwoman, who had everything organised, who was totally loving, who was Mrs’ Wonderful at multi tasking and had a cuddle for her children and a kind word on her lips all day long. That is so not me! I try, the Lord knows how I try, but I am guilty of displaying anger and impatience to my children, when I really should have just stopped cooking dinner or what ever and hugged them. Even if it took twenty hugs and cuddles and a cold dinner to make them feel loved, then so be it. I have so much to learn about being a mother and yet my eldest child will be an adult in just a few short years!

Finally, we come to the ending of the tape, and what a tear jerker ending it is! How important it is to tell others that we love them. Not to wait until it’s too late and the chance has past us by. Life is too short for resentment and game playing and confusion and judgment and time wasting, and we hear in the story that Father Larry relates the incredibly sad and heart rending true story of when Father Larry is in the Seminary, and he has a phone call asking him to go visit someone who is in hospital, gravely ill through the self abuse of alcohol . Father Larry relates that this man had left his kids and his wife, moved to a different state, married another woman , had more kids …moved again…this man had experienced a great many things and had witnessed many terrible things, and he had taken to the bottle as a way of dealing with life. Well, Father Larry goes to see the man.

He see’s this man lying in a hospital bed, a shadow of who he once was and could have been. This man is so desparately ill that he is on a respirator and is unable to communicate with him other than through the use of writing notes. Father larry spends a week with the man, praying for the man and talking to him. They both know that the man is going to die. Father Larry say’s his goodbyes at the end of the week and makes his way towards the door…something stops him.

He looks back and the man lying in the bed is trying to summon up all his strength, he’s flailing his arms trying to get Father Larry’s attention. Father Larry walks back over to the man and the man hugs him real tight, so close, like he didn’t ever want to let go…and Father Larry hugs’s the man back and say’s “I know Dad…I love you too’.

Oh, well I can’t tell you how that got to me, actually I can hardly see what I’m writing, because I’m all choked up just relaying that story.
Father Larry comment’s that he had called himself a man of God and yet had judged his own father, his whole life, because he had been an alcoholic. They hadn’t shared the intimacy of truly being able to say those incredibly meaningful and often misused words ‘I love you’.

Well, that really got me blubbering too, because I know that I would just love to tell my own Father that I love him and yet though I’m sure that he knows that I do, I think that we both pretty much feel uncomfortable about saying it out loud! It isn’t that we have a difficult relationship, he isn’t an alcoholic or a gambler, or a convict…he never abused me , he never did anything but love and support me, and yet I can’t bring myself to say those word’s…is it enough that he knows it? You might say that it could have something to do with the fact that I don’t ever recall hearing him say those words to me. But…some relationships just speak their depth of love in other way’s…I think that’s the kind of relationship that we have…there’s nothing that we wouldn’t do for one another…so perhaps the words aren’t as important as testifying to that love in the way that it becomes evident when we are together, or even when we are apart.

I can’t tell you how listening to this tape has touched my life. I would encourage any one to listen to it, it is truly incredible.Fr. Larry Richards has a great website with lot’s of information on how to order his tapes :Fr. Larry

God Bless.

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3 Responses to My Initial Observations of Father Larry Richards talk on ‘The Truth’ (I was a Non-Catholic, at the time)

  1. Daughter of St. John says:

    LOL, you posted this ages ago and I am just now reading it. I was searching for that verse from Isaiah that I knew Fr. Larry used and it brought me here to you.

    I was struck by the last bit of your post. If you haven’t yet told your Dad that you love him, DO. Don’t wait. Even when people know they need and want to hear it. Even if they won’t say it back.

    If you can’t say it, write it in a letter. Some of the deepest things I wanted to share with my Dad I put in a letter years before he was ill. Sometimes our best conversations were on the phone or over email. Other things I said to him as he was dying. We always said “I love you” to one another, but if I could have the chance to tell him just “one more time” I wouldn’t miss it.

    God bless!

  2. ukok says:

    Daughter of St. John,

    I only just came across this comment of yours by accident tonight. Thanks so much for your insightful words, they are very much appeciated.

    God Bless you!

  3. Jenny says:

    I feel the same way about Fr. Larry. He just happens to be the pastor of my church, St. Joseph Church – Bread of Life Community in Erie, PA…and even though I’ve heard him preach nearly every Sunday, I still feel so moved by every word he says. Many people here get completely perturbed by him, which, if you knew his complete personality, you would understand. Fr. Larry just tells it like it is, he never leaves room for questions, what he says goes! But I had the great priviledge to work with him at at TEC (To Encounter Christ) retreat, and throughout the whole weekend, all 4 days, I hung on his every word. It’s amazing after hearing almost every single one of his “usual” sermons, I can still listen so intently. He just has that power over people.

    I’ll give you a suggestion. If you liked “The Truth” you will definately like “Confession” by him as well. I’ll tell you, I didn’t go to confession for 3 whole years and after that talk, I was called to go, I could feel the Holy Spirit working through me. Also, since Lent is coming up, you should also hear his Passion Talk. It brought me to tears both times that I heard it. It’s truely moving.

    I hope you liked my insight into Fr. Larry! By the way…he has a website its great you should really check it out!

    Love in Christ
    through Mary, our Mother,


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