Father Larry Richards' Nuggets of Wisdom from Be a Man!
From Chapter 1: Be a Man Who Stays Focused on the Final Goal
You are going to die!
Nice way to start a book, huh? I know, but I want you to let this thought sink in: You are going to die. This is the truest reality there is. This is what makes us all the same. It doesn't matter how rich we are, or how popular we are, or how powerful we are: we are all going to "kick the bucket" one day. Isn't that a nice thought?
Okay, you may say, so what? After we come to accept this basic reality, we have to make sure we do everything with our end in mind. God tells us in the Book of Sirach, "Call no man happy before his death, for by how he ends, a man is known" (11:28 [RNAB]). The world is filled with examples of men who began well and ended badly! We need to make sure we are not one of them!
From Chapter 2: Be a Man Who Lives as a Beloved Son
The thing is, mere creation doesn't make you a son or daughter of the Father. That makes you a creature of God. God is your creator. That's why when this hogwash goes around and we hear, "Oh, don't call God 'Father'; call Him 'Creator'", that's garbage! The reason it is garbage for Christians is it takes out the relationship aspect. If I create a car, I'm the creator of the car, but I don't have a relationship with the car. If God is just our creator, it's not enough. So what? He also created my dog, Rudy, but my dog is not a son of the Father. Rudy is a creature of the Creator. Big difference. When we start playing these games with God and say, "God, you are the creator of all things", we are missing the point. We never enter into a relationship with God. The way we know who we are is through the sacrament of baptism. The teaching of the Church is clear. The day you and I got baptized, we were adopted by God. When we were baptized, the sky opened up just like it did upon Jesus, and spiritually, God the Father, the Creator of the universe, looked at you and me and said, "You are My beloved son." Whether you got baptized at one month old or whether you were fifty, God looked at you and said, "You are My beloved son." You stopped being a creation of the Father and you became a son of the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit.
From Chapter 3: Be a Man Who Repents
Christ teaches us how to be men through repentance. The problem is nobody likes repentance. Most people today come to Jesus Christ on their own terms: "What are You going to do for me today?" or "If You don't give me what I want then I am mad and I am leaving." Jesus is telling us that we have to change our minds, our attitudes, and our ways of life. Repentance comes from the word "metanoia", which means "to turn". If we are truly going to be disciples of Christ, truly going to be men, we have to stop running away from the reality of the sin in our lives. We have to start dealing with it.
From Chapter 4: Be a Man Who Lives in the Holy Spirit
If God's power makes us witnesses for Him, we must figure out the definition of "witness". In the Greek, the Greek word for "martyr", is "witness". Therefore, God gives us the power to lay down our lives. So the power we get from the Spirit of God is to die to ourselves by bearing witness to Christ. Every single apostle, except for John, died witnessing to Christ. The question then is, are you willing to die every day to witness to Christ? Will you lay down your life for your wife and for your children? Sometimes people play games with that. They say, "Yes, I am in charge of the family and they have to do what I tell them. They listen to me." That is not laying down your life; that is being on an ego trip. That is pride. Instead, you must show them Jesus by dying for them. Isn't that great? That is why I say lots of times celibacy can be the most selfish life in the world. I do not have to give up the remote control for my TV. I can watch anything I want anytime I want. Celibacy has its privileges. You have to hand over the remote control, if you are a true servant of your wife. "Here, sweetheart; we will watch anything you want to watch." I am sure you want to be great servants so start tonight and tell your wife, "Sweetheart, let me do the dishes tonight." That might just kill some of you — good.
From Chapter 5: Be a Man Who Is Strong
I always hear excuses about people's pasts. Gentlemen, you will never grow in strength, you will never grow in the Lord, until you take responsibility and start making the decisions necessary for your future. Know that every decision you make is going to affect your future, so take responsibility from this moment on.
A great illustration of this in Scripture is when Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and wanted to go to Him (see Mt 14:22-33). Jesus told Peter to come to him, so Peter started to walk toward Jesus. As long as he looked at Jesus, the strength and the power that came from Christ allowed him to walk on the water, but as soon as he looked to himself and his weakness, probably thinking, "I am weak, I can't walk on water", or thinking, "Oh my gosh, there is a storm going on", he fell. If we are going to be strong, we can't look at ourselves and we can't look at the situation. We have to look at the Lord and His strength and His power, knowing that we can do anything because it is Christ Who gives us the strength. In Philippians it says , "I can do all things in him [Jesus] who strengthens me" (4:13). Do you believe that? "But, Father, I had a bad past." We can do all things. If we believe that, we will always have hope. We can change the world.
From Chapter 6: Be a Man Who Is Loving
(On telling family that you love them.) If you are one of those guys who says, "I don't have to do that, Father, because they already know", let me give you a hint: you will never in your life regret that you told your wife and your kids and the people that you love that you love them — never. You won't be lying on your deathbed one day, saying, "I can't believe that I daily told my loved ones that I loved them. What is the matter with me?"
I have been to a lot of deathbeds throughout my priesthood, so I know what it is going to be life when you are dying. While you are lying there, the thing that is going to be most important to you is your relationships — the people that you loved and the people that in return loved you. Then why don't we live every day with that in mind?
Some of you ought to write a letter to your parents as well. Don't tell me, "Well, Father, they never told me they loved me." Get over it. You be the first to start it.
Make the decision to never let your wife or your kids go to bed or walk out the door without telling them first that you love them — life is just too short! It will change your family. It will change the world.
From Chapter 7: Be a Man Who Is Wise
I like to tell high school students on retreat, "Ladies and gentlemen, everything you see around you is going to disappear one day. One day all you see is going to be nothing. All of us are going to be dust." We need to know in the deepest part of ourselves that this world is not our home; we are just passing through. Our true home is in heaven, and we need to do everything in our power to cooperate with the grace that God bestows on us.
That is why a wise person lives for eternity and doesn't live for the world. An unwise person puts all his money in the world. It is a losing bet, gentlemen. Everything you have is going to be gone one day. So what kind of wisdom is that? Are you building up treasure in heaven? Jesus says, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Mt 6:19-21).
From Chapter 8: Be a Man Who Lives as He Was Created
When you talk to people, you should be giving them an example of the Father of the universe. You are called to give people the image of God because you were created in God's image and likeness. What a responsibility!
This responsibility should bring us to a great humility. St. Augustine was once asked, "What are the three most important virtues?" He responded that the first one is humility; the second one is humility; and the third is humility. Humility means "from the earth". Humility doesn't mean putting ourselves down and saying we are no good. Humility is truly knowing who we are. It doesn't matter if you make a million dollars a year of if everybody thinks you are the most wonderful person; you are still dirt. Remember that and you will be kept humble before your Lord. We are all going to be the same one day — the same! When we realize we are dirt, we gain freedom.
From Chapter 9: Be a Man Who Is Holy
From all eternity God has chosen us to be holy. Ephesians 1:4-6 says, "He [God] chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." Before you and I were ever created, He chose you to be holy and blameless in His sight.
Who we are in Christ is what we are. If I were to ask you, gentlemen, "Are you holy?" what would you say? The correct answer is, "Yes, I am holy, Father, not because of me, but because of Christ, Who lives inside of me. The day I was chosen and baptized, God set me apart as His own. Now I am holy in God."
From Chapter 10: Be a Man Who Changes the World
Part of our job as witnesses is feeding others the truth about Jesus Christ. Are you ashamed of Jesus Christ or is your goal to evangelize and change the world? If Jesus were to say to you, "If you love Me, then I want you to feed My sheep", don't say, "Let me love You the way I want to."
Feeding God's sheep begins with your family, then with your friends and co-workers. Then it goes out to the world. Jesus continues in John 21:18 by saying, "I say to you, when you were young, you fastened your own belt and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will fasten your belt for you and carry you where you do not wish to go." John tells us that Jesus was indicating what sort of death Peter would have in order to glorify God. When Jesus had finished speaking to him, He said, "Follow me" (Jn 21:19).
We must go back to the opening line of this book: You are going to die. Now ask yourself, "Will my death glorify God?" Or will it glorify you or glorify what you worked for, or glorify your company? Whom will your death glorify? Jesus told Peter that in order for him to be a man, he would have to serve Christ his whole life. Jesus said, "Follow me." Follow Jesus to the cross.
Men are rediscovering the importance of the spiritual life. And Father Larry Richards is helping them do it. While some writers apply a one-size-fits-all approach to the Christian life, Father Richards draws on his many years of ministry and his own experience as a man to inspire other men as men.
In Be a Man!, he recounts his struggles to learn true manhood, as well as the inspiring stories of others he has served in his decades as a priest. He tells men how to focus on the right goal, how to live as a beloved son of God, of the need to acknowledge one's faults and to live according to the Holy Spirit, to be a man of true love and of wisdom... (read more)
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