Saturday, August 8, 2020

BEING MORE INTENTIONAL ABOUT VERY ORDINARY THINGS - TWENTY-ONE

This is the twenty-first in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that many people do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against haste and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same.


HAVING A SAFE PLACE TO LIVE 

My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.
God's faithfulness is a protecting shield.
Psalm 91:2,4

During this pandemic, it is very easy to focus on all the bad things that are happening - sickness, unemployment, racial unrest, nasty personal behaviors of all kinds and even death.

As an alternative to being overly focused on all that, I am making a deliberate effort to do two things - focus on the needs of others and focus on the things for which I need to be grateful.

The other day, I heard there was a tropical storm heading right for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines where I have been volunteering for the last five years. I thought of the mudslides that I have seen covering the roads after lots of rain. I thought about all those mountainside shacks that I have passed many times when I have been down there. I thought of the poor families living in them during a tropical storm, scared that a mudslide might engulf them or scared that their home could collapse around them any minute and everything they own could be swept away, leaving them dead in some ravine never to be seen again. I keep asking myself, "what is it like not having a safe place to live?"

I thought about all those people, one pay check away from eviction, wondering what in the world their families would do if they were asked to leave their rented homes. I have never had to think about being kicked out of the home I lived in because it belonged to someone else and I could not afford to pay them for the right to live there! Some of them have been going through that anxiety every month for years. Some of them have had to move more times than they can probably remember. I keep asking myself, "what is it like not having a safe place to live?"

It crossed my mind at some point that some people are forced to live in terror of physical, verbal, psychological and sexual abuse. For them, their house is not a "home," but a prison, a psych ward and a torture chamber with no escape route. I keep asking myself, "what is it like not having a safe place to live?"

I try to imagine what it would be like to live in a dangerous, high-crime area, where people have to sleep with one eye open and a gun or knife under their pillow in case of a home invasion, where people have to listen to shouting and cursing most of the night, where people are afraid to go outside even during the day or open their door to anyone who knocks? I keep asking myself, "what is it like not having a safe place to live?"

Then I look around my roomy, Germantown, paid-for, air-conditioned, secure condo and I realize how blessed I am! When I go to bed an night, I know that I will sleep peacefully and secure and with nothing really to worry about! When I really take the time to think of others, I am filled with a sense of gratitude. I realize again that my little "aggravations" are not really "problems" so surely I can at least give up complaining. When I go to bed at night, expecting a peaceful restful sleep, I pray for those who do not have that luxury in their lives. I ask God to protect them from harm. I ask God to help me break the habit of "making mountains out of molehills" because I know what it is like to have a safe place to live.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

BEING MORE INTENTIONAL ABOUT VERY ORDINARY THINGS - TWENTY

This is the twentieth in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that many people do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against haste and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same.

HOME ALONE

            
Eleanor Rigby
Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby
Picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window
Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie
Writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working
Darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people


Eleanor Rigby
Died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie 
Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people (ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people (ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all belong?


SONG WRITERS: John Lennon/PaulMcCartney


The day I drafted this blog post, I had not been out of the house all day - for several days in fact - but I never felt lonely. It was because nine people called or wrote to me just that day. In a typical day, I may be here alone, but I am certainly not without human contact. Their calls, cards, texts and lunch invitations validate the words in the picture above. "The worst feeling isn't being lonely...it's being forgotten." It was comforting to know that I may be out of people's sight, but I am not out of people's hearts and minds! For that, I am "simply amazed and forever grateful!"

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

STORES ARE PRACTICALLY GIVING SCHOOL SUPPLIES AWAY HERE....

......THEY COULD REALLY USE THEM IN SAINT VINCENT


IN AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER I AM COLLECTING SCHOOL SUPPLIES FOR THE ISLAND MISSIONS



One of the best things in Saint Vincent, in spite of its poverty, is the Catholic School system and the pride that people have in their children and the value they place on education. 
 
"Operation School Supplies" and "Operation New Priest Rectory" are in progress in my garage. Since I am always working on boxes to the missions, I have to keep my poor car outside most of the time!


Theodora McKenzie Pre-School
Saint Mary's Cathedral School 
KINGSTOWN
 (@400 children)
Saint Joseph Convent Secondary School 
(one class)
KINGSTOWN
(girls high school)
Saint Martin's Secondary School 
KINGSTOWN
(boys high school)
Saint Joseph Convent 
MARRIAQUA
(boys and girls high school) 


THE RELIGIOUS SISTERS OF SVG

Corpus Christi Carmelite Sisters 
Sr. Nyra Anne and Sr. Carmen


Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny
        Sr. Martha, Sr. Augustine, Sr. Natania and Sr. Jacinta                                
Of course, we will take whatever items you find, but we prefer the less heavy items since it costs quite a bit to send a very heavy box (spiral notebooks and filler paper). Crayons, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, glue, scissors, markers, paper clips, backpacks, erasers. rulers and the like are much lighter to ship. 

If you don't like to shop, we of course, will take monetary donations as well. It costs money to send the items down there and we maintain a small "Sisters' Request Fund" for emergency needs throughout the school year. 


MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO:
Saint Bartholomew Church - SVG Mission Fund  

SEND CHECKS TO:
Rev. Ronald Knott
1271 Parkway Gardens Court
#106
Louisville, KY 40217 

FOR DROPPING OFF SCHOOL SUPPLIES CALL:
Father Ronald Knott 
1-502-303-4571
jrknott@bellsouth.net 

Friday, July 31, 2020

CHANGE: Part THREE of a Three Part Series




MANAGING CHANGE SUCCESSFULLY
Rev. J. Ronald Knott
(originally written for the Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana)

for a video version

In week one of this column, I wrote about “change.” A “change” is any event that can shake up our understanding of the world, our old priorities and our old patterns of behavior. A “transition,” on the other hand, is a three-phase psychological reorientation process that people go through when they are coming to terms with a “change.” In a “transition” there is an ending, a neutral zone and a new beginning. 

Phase Three – Managing a New Beginning 

In last week’s column of this three-part series, I wrote about the second phase – the neutral zone. The neutral zone is an area of great discomfort. These are the pain-filled days when there is a temptation to want to return to the familiar for relief. We need only to remember the statistics of how many abused spouses return to their abusers choosing the familiarity of the known over the chaos of the unknown. The secret of success in the neutral zone is to “ride it out” with the belief that “this too shall pass.” It is rightly called a “grieving period” in which people struggle to be reconciled with reality. 

While many people stay stuck in the neutral zone, either by trying to recover some irretrievable past or by being paralyzed by the fear of letting go of a past identity and the fear of moving into a new one. The only thing that will set them free is for them to give up their self-defeating chokehold on a belief that if they just don’t like something enough it will go away. 

Only after going through each of these first two phases of transition can people deal successfully with the third phase: beginning over again, with new energy, a new sense of purpose, a new outlook, and a new image of themselves. The grieving widow starts dating again, the single mother gets her on-line degree, the new job or volunteer opportunity presents itself and the new house begins to feel like “home.” The death of the Encore Priest Program that I had created, hoped to lead and grieved over when I was about to retire from Saint Meinrad has happily morphed into an even better program - my Catholic Second Wind Guild for retired professionals wanting to offer their gifts in the Caribbean missions. 

People and organizations cause great damage when they try to make a new beginning without seeing to it that they have first completed the other two phases of transition. Denial, anger and depression should be expected. Priests and dioceses often make changes with little understanding of the transition people will have to go through if the changes are to work! 

Understandable as that blindness is - not dealing with the psychological aspects of the transition that change brings on - it is simply a luxury that has become unaffordable today. Today changes come too fast and from too many unexpected angles. There are too many stakeholders now, too many groups whose transitions, if mismanaged, will undermine needed change. 

Many leaders fail to realize the importance of managing transitions, believing that if the structural, technical and financial changes go well, the human transitions will take care of themselves. Nowhere is this more obvious than the closing of parishes. Even if it makes good financial and structural sense, it can make no sense, pastorally and emotionally. Unless people can make the psychological transitions that these changes require, these changes will simply not work well, causing great pain, heartache, alienation and even spiritual violence. The change may happen, but the result will be that everything has changed, and everything is worse, no matter what bright future the leaders of change promised. Such an organizational change is like the old medical joke about the operation that was a success . . . although the patient died. 

The entrance into any new situation, be it a priest entering a new parish or a parish welcoming a new priest, calls for a new mind. Both should begin by accepting the fact that “if you don’t get what you want, you can change your mind and want what you get.” There are no perfect parishes and there are no perfect priests. 

Priests need to enter new assignments with their shoes off because they are treading on holy ground. They need to be willing to learn as well as be willing to teach. They are called to preach, yes, but they are also called to practice what they preach. New pastors and established parishioners must be willing to learn from each other and approach each other with kindness and patience, welcoming that yet-to-be-known something new that is about to happen between them. 

Finally, the Old Testament book of Exodus should be studied by anyone interested in learning how to lead and be led. The story runs through three books of the Old Testament, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. The bulk of the narrative is, however, in Exodus.