Tag Archives: Fr. John Riccardo

God desires ‘renovation’ in each person

In the parish where I am blessed to serve, we are undertaking a transformation of our church sanctuary. On January 7, 2019, workers “invaded” the church and immediately began the process of transformation. Within hours, demolition began on the floor and the seating. A massive wall was torn down. The altar was moved out of the sanctuary and into a temporary location so we can continue celebrating Mass during the time of construction in our church-proper. The tabernacle was relocated into a chapel where we have perpetual Exposition, so workers would be able to do their job without constantly having to pause, genuflect, and acknowledge the Lord’s Presence. Finally, a wall was erected that virtually encloses the entire sanctuary, to ensure the safety of the project. The wall is painted, but it’s unsightly to say the least. 

I share this because our sanctuary renovation has been a powerful visual for me of the “renovation” that God desires to do in us personally. One of our deacons preached about this visual the first Sunday after demolition began, making a comparison between what the builders are doing in our sanctuary and what God desires to do in us. Deacon Steve shared that when we first considered our sanctuary, we thought it could simply be “tweaked,” with minor alterations and adjustments here and there, and all would be well. As we looked more carefully, though, we realized this project (as with all building projects!) was going to be a bit more involved. He went on to say that’s exactly how it is with the work God desires to do in us. I don’t need minor tweaks; I need a major renovation. While I was hoping God would be content with the equivalent of some new paint and some minor alterations, in reality He’s looking to knock down walls and build new wings. He wants to make of me, and of you, a fit dwelling place for Him to live. He wants me to be a sanctuary. “Jesus came,” he said, “to transform us from creatures of God to sons and daughters of God.

This “renovation project” is a way to think about the purpose of Lent, at least the first few weeks of Lent. In these wondrous days, as we prepare for the celebration of the wondrous events of our redemption by Jesus’ Passion, death, and Resurrection, the Lord invites us to let Him “go to work” in and on us. He is the Master Builder, the Grand Architect, and He offers abundant grace in these days to cooperate with His Spirit. He wants to conform us more into the image of Jesus. He wants to do this so that we experience the fullness of life only He can give, and so we will then be eager to go out and tell others of the One who is the only answer for all that ails the world in which we live. St. Francis heard the Lord say to him shortly after his conversion, “Francis, go and rebuild My Church, which, as you can see, is in ruins.” We have clearly and painfully seen in the past few months that His Church is in desperate need again. You and I — and not just the cardinals and bishops — are “the living stones” in His Church, and I for one know how many repairs are urgently needed in my own heart and mind. Let us pray for each other, and the whole Church, that in these days of Lent the Lord will fashion of us something truly beautiful, so that those who do not yet know the One who is Beautiful beyond words might come to know Him and the life only He can give.

FR. JOHN RICCARDO is a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He was ordained in 1996 and currently serves as pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, MI. He is passionate about the new evangelization and offering others a life-changing encounter with Jesus.

What is most important right now? Fruitful discipleship.

Fr. John Riccardo

I personally find the beginning of a new year a most helpful time, an especially energetic time, a time to think deeply about making some new goals regarding those areas in my life that I most want to turn my attention to, both physically and spiritually. As St. Teresa of Avila was fond of saying, albeit in an entirely different context, the new year is a time to “begin again.” I know that many of you share these or similar sentiments at this time of year. With that in mind, could there possibly be a better theme for this Faith Matters article than “Renewed Purpose?”

The theme calls to mind a question that I increasingly ask myself, thanks to Pat Lencioni and his excellent book The Advantage: “What is most important right now?” Questions in general are helpful, for they serve to clarify things for us, but this question in particular I find especially helpful and continually return to it. Another way to think of this question is, “If I could only do one thing over the course of the next six months, what should that one thing be?” This question can be used at work, in marriage, in family life and for our personal lives as disciples of Jesus.

Perhaps for some of us the answer to that question is to finally make a commitment to set aside time each day to pray. Not to squeeze God in, not to settle for praying in the car or while I’m working out (though those are fine places to pray!), but to put into my calendar an appointment to “waste” time with Jesus daily. For others of us perhaps we might decide to make a commitment to spend time each week for an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament, to attend daily Mass, monthly Confession, or pray the rosary every day. Maybe for more than a few of us it will be to commit to ponder over the Word of God in a deliberate and intentional way each day, perhaps starting with the Gospels.

Countless others, I’m sure, come to mind. Let me offer one resolution in particular, though, that I think is worth pondering at length as we enter this year with “renewed purpose.” It comes by way of Curtis Martin, a co-founder of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). Curtis makes it a point to say that Jesus calls us not simply to be faithful disciples but to be fruitful disciples. From my experience, many (most?) Catholics don’t think this way. Many see faithfulness, getting my life finally under the Lordship of Jesus, as the “ultimate” goal. Now, to be sure, you and I are called to be conformed to Jesus, to put the mind of Christ, to bring everything in our lives under His loving rule. However, as Curtis reminds us, Jesus called the disciples – you and me! – to bear fruit (cf. John 15:1-10), and to go out and make disciples. This isn’t the task of bishops, priests, deacons and religious; this is the task of every friend of Jesus. And in a particular way, I think, this privilege is worth the members of Legatus praying about intently.

As a priest and pastor, I believe that one of the most helpful things men and women like you can offer the Church and the world is to spiritually multiply, that is, to ask the Lord, “Who are You calling me to share my life with in the year ahead, Jesus? Who are You inviting me to walk with in a deliberate way, to mentor, to disciple (yes, that’s a verb)?” You know how many people respect and look up to you. This is a gift God has given you. He has placed you on a lampstand so as to shine with His light, and to bring them into a life-changing encounter with the only One who can satisfy the desire of every human heart: Jesus. May the year ahead be one filled with renewed purpose and abundant fruit!

FR. JOHN RICCARDO is a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He was ordained in 1996 and currently serves as pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, MI. He is passionate about the new evangelization and offering others a life-changing encounter with Jesus.

Heaven Starts Now

Fr. John Riccardo
Word Among Us Press, 2016
144 pages, paperback $12.95

Popular Michigan pastor, preacher, teacher, podcaster and speaker Fr. John Riccardo helps readers dive into the scriptures in order to apply them to one’s daily life and begin now to live the life of heaven. In an inspiring and incisive way, he addresses the obstacles faced by those striving to become mature disciples.

Subtitled Becoming a Saint Day by Day, the book helps answer such profound questions as: How do we learn to forgive? How do we combat fear and understand suffering? How do we worship the Lord, love others as Christ loves us, and fully surrender our lives to God?

Order:  Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Success and building the Kingdom

Tom Monaghan writes that Catholic business leaders must draw others to Christ . . .

Thomas Monaghan

Thomas Monaghan

Father John Riccardo, who many of you may be familiar with from his radio program, Christ is the Answer, recently gave a talk to Legatus’ Ann Arbor Chapter. He used his father as an example for Legatus.

His father, also named John Riccardo, was the president and CEO of Chrysler Corp. Since stepping down from Chrysler, he has spent his retirement years using his considerable talents and experience to serve the Church in numerous ways.

I personally witnessed one example of this when I served on the board of Franciscan University of Steubenville with him. During that time, Mr. Riccardo spent many hours and countless trips between Detroit and Steubenville helping Franciscan miraculously dig out of the financial mess it was once in, enabling it to become the fine Catholic university it is today.

At our chapter meeting, Fr. Riccardo shared with us the following story about his dad:

“My dad had an experience while lying in a hospital after a heart attack in 1979, and a priest walking into his room and telling him, ‘When you die and you stand before the Lord, it won’t make one damn bit of difference whether or not you saved Chrysler.’ Upon reflection, my dad came to understand that perhaps the main reason he was able to hold the position he did career-wise was so that he could be a credible witness to his peers (and others) about Jesus. After all, he had the world by the tail. He didn’t need a ‘crutch,’ as some foolishly refer to faith.

“So it is with those in Legatus. This is rarified air. But are the men and women realizing that a platform has been given to them — not to socialize with others who also have so much (not that there’s anything wrong with that) — but so as to be influential in leading others to Jesus?

“God has given a stage to you. Yes, you have all cooperated with His gifts freely given and worked hard. But at the end of the day, it’s all made possible by Him. What are you doing with that stage?”

Father Riccardo’s message was truly inspired. I don’t think there was a member present who didn’t believe his message was for them personally. I believe this is a message for all of us in Legatus.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter.