Australian Jesuit Richard Leonard was recently in Ireland to give talks on the importance of faith. On Ash Wednesday, 18 February, Richard travelled to Moyross Parish in Limerick City where he addressed parishioners in Corpus Christi Church in a lunchtime talk, on dealing with suffering from a faith perspective. He spoke about how we understand the presence of God in our lives when we are faced with suffering.
Using his own experience of a family tragedy, which he wrote about in his book Where the Hell is God, Richard shared about the suffering of his sister Tracy who was left paralysed from the neck down after an accident, and how it caused him to react from a faith perspective.
“If I thought God had sat in heaven picking my sister Tracey to have an accident that would leave her paralysed from the neck down, I’d leave the Church and abandon Christianity,” he said.
Later that evening Richard, who is also the author of Why Bother Praying, addressed a large attendance in Galway Bay Hotel in Galway about the importance of faith and prayer, emphasising that the season of Lent is supposed to be a joyful one. “Lent is meant to be a season of joy – we’re told that in the preface of the Mass for the First Sunday of Lent,” he said.
While in Ireland Richard spoke to a number of media outlets. In a wide-ranging interview with Pat Kenny on Newstalk, he spoke about the importance of Lent for Christians in reflecting on their lives and opening themselves to receive the love of God. He also talked about finding God in pain and suffering, on the value of prayer, and on the role of women in the Church.
In the course of that interview he also gave his views on the film Fifty Shades of Grey, as he has worked a great deal with the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting and is a lecturer on cinema and theology.
Richard also gave interviews to Galway Bay FM and to Spirit Radio, where he spoke to Wendy Grace on The Morning Show about his books and his personal response to the recent debate sparked by Stephen Fry’s recent interview on RTÉ’s Meaning of Life Programme.