Sr Lois Ann Richardi learned the meaning of real joy from St Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa). She is a spiritual director who helps those wishing to have a closer relationship with God open to what God is saying to them. She shared her wisdom with us.
God wants to be friendly. In fact, God is funny at times, according to spiritual director, and Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Sr Lois Ann Richardi csfn.
People seek guidance from Sr Lois when they are hurting or in crisis and want to know why. Others hope spiritual direction will guide them when they are not feeling fulfilled. Sometimes, people feel they know what God is asking of them, yet want clarity around this.
Spiritual direction focuses on our desired relationship with God. A spiritual director or spiritual companion helps us to deepen our spirituality by helping us pay attention to thoughts and emotions. Rather than leading us in any particular way, the spiritual director will accompany us on our journey closer to God.
“We usually have the answers to the questions that concern us within ourselves,” says Sr Lois Ann. “The key is vulnerability, to be completely honest with ourselves while allowing God to be completely honest with us.”
She admits it is difficult for us to be honest with ourselves. “We have protected those skeletons for so long,” she says about the parts of our story we have consciously or unconsciously chosen to bury, suppress or forget. “Once we look at them realistically, we become free and open to what God wishes us to hear.”
She smiles a little when we discuss atheists who do not believe in God. “There is no such thing as a self-proclaimed atheist who claims that God does not exist, yet at the same time loves God’s creation and humankind – for God is love!”
We talk about fundamentalists who set parameters and rules around religious beliefs. She feels that such inflexible thinking hinders us from knowing and enjoying God. After all, says Sr Lois Ann, there are only two fundamentals of our faith – to love God and to love our brothers and sisters.
When asked what a “free” person looks like, Sr Lois Ann refers to the time she spent with St Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa).
“Despite conflicting emotions, enormous pressures, and opposing forces in her life, Mother Teresa was, for me, the epitome of a ‘free’ person who followed the inspiration of St Augustine: ‘love and do what you like’,” says Sr Lois Ann. “This set her free to be a channel of God’s love and joy to all people.”
Sr Lois Ann’s tips for a closer relationship with God
- LOVE and do what you like.
- Look closely within yourself, for self-knowledge leads to freedom and joy.
- Believe that crisis is a chance for personal growth. Be open to what you can learn in a crisis.
- Trust that God wants a relationship with you even more than you want a relationship with God.
- Notice how God gets your attention. Is it through dreams, nature, silence, circumstances…? Listen!
This article was originally featured in the Ordinary Time/Winter 2021 Edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine.