"I had a problem with alcohol and cocaine. … I remember that in this little prep school that I went to, the Dwight Englewood School in New Jersey, we had to say the Lord's Prayer in homeroom. Every morning at your desk you put your head down and say the Lord's Prayer. I was there grade seven through twelve, so it's something you remember. When I was going into this dark abyss with alcohol and cocaine, after some terrible binge, I can remember lying in bed desperate and I started saying the Lord's Prayer. What made me do that? Just--I was desperate, I was trying to ask for help. You know, who was going to get me out of this? I started searching for God.
… One day Father C. John McCloskey [a former gold trader himself] appeared at Bear Stearns. My secretary said, "This priest is here to see you." No appointment, but a lot of the partners donated to various charities. So I was ready to pull out my checkbook and write a thousand dollars to whatever. But this guy didn't want any money. He was a friend of [a friend whom I had spoken to about my curiosity in Catholicism] and he wanted to talk to me. And he was a very engaging man. (Blogger Note: Fr. McCloskey is an Opus Dei priest that has been responsible for many high-profile conversions: Robert Bork, Robert Novak, Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, New York gubernatorial candidate Lewis Lehrman, Abortion doctor-turned-pro-lifer Bernard Nathanson.)
[With addiction] You become so self-centered and self-willed that you decide you can do anything, without regard for others. I wasn't showing up for events, for friends, for my wife. I'd go missing in action for days. I've made amends to people directly, but still, I'm ashamed about that period… as I hit bottom, I lost jobs, lost all income, lost friends, and very nearly lost my wife. I was willing to surrender and take it on faith that I had to change my life.
…I was going to Mass on Sundays. And we recite the Nicene Creed, the church's statement of beliefs. There came this one day when I stopped just mouthing it and read it in an intellectual, cognitive way, and realized there's a whole story here. If you read the eucharistic part of the Mass, there's a whole story there and it's a fabulous story.
...It's--we are partaking of the body and blood of Christ. That's what I understand the Eucharist to be. We are pledging our faith in him and what he taught and all of a sudden it clicked, that Jesus Christ does not want me to touch alcohol or drugs because I wreck my body and I wreck his body and I wreck my life. Jesus died for me, too. And that is my redemption.
...The basic thought in [Fr. Richard John Neuhaus's book, Death on a Friday Afternoon] is that even we optimistic Americans mustn't ever forget that Jesus spent that time on the cross, painfully. His crown of thorns was sticking into his skull, he was nailed to the cross, and it was horrible. The book had an impact on me, because in my own mundane, low-level way, I was on the cross. I don't know if I've had salvation, but I have had a change. Sobriety is one of the keys to my faith."
There are many beautiful aspects of this conversion story. I think the most striking is that a political and Wall St. power broker reverted to a simple prayer he learned as a child when he hit rock bottom and found comfort in it.
I have followed Larry for many years, and I have to say after his conversion there is a compelling meekness about him, a noticeable humility that he did not have during his early years. A change that comes from acknowledging God's power and submitting completely to His will.
So the next time you see Larry on T.V., or hear him on the radio, be proud that he is a member of our Church and say a prayer for him that Christ will shield him from his addictions, which never completely go away. I always do.