Sunday, May 19, 2019



As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you
Have love for one another.
 John 13

There was an old television commercial that I found very funny. I don’t even remember what they are advertising, but it shows a pathetic couple being married in one of those hideously tacky Las Vegas wedding chapels while two old ladies look on. The old ladies both oooh and aaah before looking at each other and saying, “They don’t have a clue!”   

When it comes to choosing between Hollywood and Jesus, most people in our culture choose Hollywood when it comes to defining “love.” No wonder!  Hollywood says that “love” is about “having strong feeling of attraction for someone” and Jesus says it is about “laying down one’s life for another.”

Hollywood love is about “feeling good.” Jesus love is about “doing good.” Hollywood love is about “getting love.” Jesus love is about “giving love.” Hollywood says that love is a kind of magic “feel good” spell that you fall into, and when you fall into it, you have no choice except to have sex or get married. When you fall out of it, the only thing you can do, of course, is to get a divorce.

George Bernard Shaw said this about people who get married simply because they have strong physical attraction for each other. “When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal and exhaustive condition continuously until death do them part.”

Dr. Scott Peck says that the experience of “falling in love” is an illusion which in no way constitutes real love. As a psychiatrist, he says that he weeps in his heart almost daily for the ghastly confusion and suffering this myth fosters. He says that millions of people waste vast amounts of energy desperately and futilely attempting to make the reality of their lives conform to the unreality of this myth.

Hollywood says that “love” is “having strong feelings of attraction” and “getting your needs met.”  Jesus says that love is not a feeling, but a decision. Jesus says that love is not about “getting,” but “giving.” Jesus says basically that “love hurts,” because it is about self-sacrifice for the good of another, regardless of what one gets back. Hollywood love is “Toyota love.” Toyota’s old slogan was: “I love what you do for me.”  Jesus’s slogan is “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Since most young people get more Hollywood than Jesus pumped into them, it’s no wonder preparations for sacramental marriages in the Catholic Church is such a knock “down-drag out” collision of perspectives. Most weddings in our culture reflect Hollywood’s notion of romantic love more than they do Jesus’ notion of decisive, unconditional, self-giving love.

When I used to talk to young couples preparing for marriage, I tried to get them to take their focus off what their partners-to-be had to offer them and ask themselves if they had what it took to love that person unconditionally, off what they would get out of the marriage and onto what they had to bring to the marriage. Asking “what you have to give” is more important than “how do you feel.” Physical and emotional attraction is important, but it is not enough to sustain a marriage.

In my own case, I guess I was attracted to priesthood for many reasons, one of them being that it made me feel good and respected. If that had been the only reason, I would have been gone a long time ago!  The only important question is this!  Do I have what it takes to be an effective priest when it doesn’t make me feel good, when things don’t go well, when I don’t feel like I am making a difference, when my profession is disgraced?  A crisis like the one we are going through certainly purifies one’s motives.

When I worked at Saint Meinrad Seminary, I used to joke with those about to be ordained, saying, “The first forty years are the hardest, but then it gets better!” I used to tell them, if you want to know what kind of priest you will be, wait till the ordination honeymoon wears off, wait till those times when it isn’t fun anymore, wait till you get to the day when you are not the center of the universe anymore! If you become a priest because of what you will get out of it, you will surely be in crisis most of the time. If, however, you are a priest because of what you can give to others, the message of God’s unconditional love - teaching it and modeling it - you will never be disappointed.  

It might seem odd for some of you to hear me compare marriage and priesthood.  The new catechism of the Catholic Church does just that! Five of the seven sacraments are geared to our salvation as individuals. The other two, marriage and priesthood, are geared toward the salvation of others. We enter these two sacraments, not for our own good, but for the good of others. We become priests and we become marriage partners, not for what it can do for us, but because of what we can do for others. Both are about laying down our lives for the good of others. Both are about being love givers. Couples marry to focus their love on their partners and their children. Priests are celibate in order to be able to give their love to a community of people, rather than to one person. Either way, marriage or priesthood, it’s about being love givers, about laying down one’s life for others.

Our confusion about love comes, I believe, from a failure to understand God and how God loves. Many religious people believe that God loves us when we are good, quits loving us when we are bad and starts loving us again when we shape up.  We believe that, not because it is true, but because that is how we love others. The truth of the matter is that God loves without condition, no matter what we have done or fail to do. We are called to do the same. We are called to be love givers to everyone, even our enemies, even when we don’t feel like it and even when they don’t deserve it. Anything else is not “Christian”  love. 

Friday, May 17, 2019



As it left Louisville for Saint Vincent a couple of years ago. 

As it arrived in Saint Vincent and was met by representatives

of the Ministry of Health and the Diocese of Kingstown.


Me, Mr. Fergal Redond (full-time volunteer from Ireland) and Ms. Sandra Davis (representing the local SVG medical establishment) brainstormed the logistics during my 12th trip to Saint Vincent in early April of this year.  

Above, just a few of the 100 or so boxes and crates ready to go into the container at S.O.S with an amazing amount of surplus medical supplies out of our area hospitals, clinics and nursing home.

Below are samples of some of the liturgical items going to the churches in the islands.


A monstrance from Sisters of Charity 

Re-conditioned paschal candles from old donated ones from Church of the Epiphany.

Wall crucifix from the Sisters of Providence in Indiana.

Mary statue from Louisville Ursuline Sisters.

Chairs from the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville.

Stations of the Cross from Louisville Ursuline Sisters.

Tabernacle from the Sisters of Providence in Indiana. 


On Tuesday, May 7, a bunch of generous hardworking people loaded 160 of the old chairs and kneelers out of our Cathedral into trucks to take to Supplies Over Seas to be loaded into our second 40' shipping container of valuable surplus medical supplies, used church furnishings, childrens' snacks, used lap top computers, school supplies, toys, childrens' clothes and household furnishings to be sent to the Caribbean country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines where I have been volunteering. 

With workers from Supplies Over Seas surrounding me, you can see part of the 160 chairs behind us on the truck. 

In this picture, with 160 kneelers in the background,  I have Tim Tomes on the left and Karen Crook on the right. They will both be going down in July to help with our second computer camp for kids and our first field day for orphans. 

On Tuesday, we witnessed the loading of our second container at the Supplies Over Seas warehouse. 

May 14, 2019

Along the wall, as far as the eye can see in both directions and then some, is the stuff going down to Saint Vincent. 

(14,000 pounds) 

Loading in process. 

Dr. Paul Sherman is a volunteer-to-be in July, but here he is loading the container. 

Myself, SOS staff, with Mrs. Paul Sherman MD (volunteer-to-be in July) posing in the middle, with the container filled. 

Our truckload of  donated medical and church supplies loaded and ready to go. 

I again had the privilege of attaching the seal to the container as it prepares to head out to the railroad and then to a ship. It should arrive in Saint Vincent @ June 6.

I am so happy to see that truck leave! We have been working on this for almost half a year! 

Thursday, May 16, 2019



The time up till ordination seemed like a hundred years. 
The time since ordination seemed more like twenty-five years. 

The day I left for the seminary with a dream, early September 1958, age 14. 

Right before I left for the Cathedral to be ordained a priest on May 16, 1970. I was 26 years old. 

Moments before my dream was about to be fulfilled - dressed and ready to process into the Cathedral. 

What the Cathedral looked like at my ordination - two renovations ago - in 1970. 


Since all my classmates were busy, since I was stationed at Saint John Vianney Parish near Churchill Downs and since I wanted to avoid the next day's "reception preparations" down in my home parish, I decided to stay in Louisville and go to the track!!! 
I was ordained at 10:00 am and I got to the track for the second race! I would have made it to the first race, but a woman met me in the parish parking lot and wanted to go to confession - my very first and she had not been to confession since 1950!

My "First Mass" at Saint Theresa Church, my home parish in Rhodelia. 

Dressed for my "First Mass," Pentecost Sunday, May 17, 1970. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


No, not Saint Fergal of Ireland! 

Fergal Redmond, from the  Galway Bay area of  Ireland,
my fellow volunteer in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines!

Fergal will be here May 18- 25 for his second Kentucky visit. 

He and I started volunteering in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines about the same time. He is full-time and I am part-time. I raise the money and, as a retired CPA, he keeps up with it, protects it and spends it! 

Monday, May 13, 2019


May 8, 2019

After a brave fight against cancer, another of my "Calvary friends" died on May 8. Two of her daughters brought her to see me "one more time" recently. Because of commitments here that I could not break, I am unable to preside at her funeral. See her obituary below. 

She was one of the many wonderful people I loved, and who loved me back, when I was their pastor at Holy Name of Mary Church outside of Lebanon 1980-1983. 


Betty Jean Spalding, 87, went to be with the Lord on May 8, 2019 after a year-long struggle with cancer.

A loving mother and homemaker, Betty was a friend to many, young and old. She was a life-long member of Holy Name of Mary Church, a past member of the Altar Society and Calvary Homemakers. She loved playing Tripoli with "The Monday Morning Church Ladies". She always loved country music and was an awesome dancer. Up until a few weeks ago before her death, she was always up for a friendly game of cards with two of her life-long friends, Leona Lee and Patsy Mattingly. She had an unending love for her family and the companionship of her special friend, Joe Osbourne.

She was preceded in death by: husband, Donnie Spalding; three grandchildren, Bobby Joe Spalding, Steven Spalding, and Shannon Spalding; two brothers, Phillip (Toddler) Brussell and Charles "Sonny" Brussell; three sisters, Kay Lindsay, Henrietta Gootee, and Ethel Reynolds.

Survivors include: five children, Rafe (Sandy) Spalding, Gayle Spalding, Darnell (Jim) Considine, Kim (Steve) Brown, and Joe Donnie (Lisa) Spalding; brother, John Brussell; sister, Evelyn Cissell; 10 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; special friend, Joe Osbourne; and a host of other friends and relatives.

The family would like to extend their gratitude to all the staff at Cedar's during her brief stay, her Norton Cancer Institute team of doctors, and her loving and caring Hosparus team.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 14, at Holy Name of Mary Church, Calvary.

Visitation is 4 p.m. Monday, May 13, at Campbell-Fisher Funeral Home, Lebanon, with a prayer service at 7 p.m.

Pallbearers are Michael Brown, Gary Caudill, Jody Spalding, Chad Spalding, Chris Spurling, and Jimmy Garrett,

Honorary pallbearers are Adrienne Spalding, Lauren Elstone, Heather Jaynes, and Haley Sprowles.

Campbell-Fisher Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Published in The Lebanon Enterprise on May 15, 2019

October 3, 2018

Here was another funeral I certainly hated to miss. I owe Dorothy so much from my days as her pastor. I was always hanging out at her house and there was nothing she would not do for me in those days. I was in Calgary, Canada, leading a priest retreat when she died and came home with a terrible case of the flu on the day of her funeral. I presided at her father's funeral and at least two of her brothers Below is a copy of her obituary. 

Dorothy M. Spalding, 99, Calvary, passed away peacefully on Oct. 3, 2018 at the Village of Lebanon.

Dorothy was born to Robert S. and Mary Catherine Spalding on April 16, 1919 at her home in Calvary, where she lived until her death. Dorothy was a devoted daughter, sister, and aunt who lived every day to its fullest. Upon the passing of her parents, Dorothy lived every day of her life to nurture and care for her brothers, nieces, and nephews.

Among her passions in life were cooking and antiques. Dorothy owned and operated Calvary Hill Antiques for over 40 years. She was a life-long member of Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church. Dorothy was employed by the Marion County Courthouse for years and retired from there in 1985 in order to spend more time caring for her family.

She was preceded in death by: her parents; and eight other siblings.

Survivors include: three brothers, Bernard Spalding and Mike Spalding, both of Calvary, and George D. Spalding Sr. of Louisville; 43 nieces and nephews who considered her the grandmother that most of them never had the opportunity to know. She will always remain in each and every one of their hearts.

Sunday, May 12, 2019



Even though MOTHER'S DAY is a civil holiday, rather than a Church feast, I want to wish all of you mothers, grandmothers, step mothers, foster mothers and various mother substitutes a very happy MOTHER'S DAY! 

My mother died on this day (May 12, 1976) of breast cancer at age 58. At the time, I thought she was old. I still miss her and wish I could talk to her.  


Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice…and they follow me.”
John 10:27

God speaks to me everyday, usually through people, often through events, and sometimes in dreams, but especially through the reading of Scripture. I feel it and I don’t doubt it and I try to carry on a constant dialogue with God in my heart as I go through each day.

One of the most life-changing dreams I ever had that led to a dramatic change in my understanding of God happened when I was about 30 years old.  Many of you know it because I have mentioned it often. It happened when I was serving as the first Pastor of Saint Peter Mission Church down in Monticello, Kentucky, south of Lake Cumberland.

In the dream I was on top of a small mountain. It had no trees or bushes or rocks. It had only very short green grass like a golf green. I was sitting in a folding lawn chair and God was sitting in one next to me. We were sitting side-by-side facing the setting sun without speaking. We were both smoking cheap King Edward cigars! I knew it was God, but I was afraid to look over. We just puffed on our cigars and watched the sun set on the horizon. Finally, God leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Ron, isn’t this wonderful!”  I woke from the dream at that point and the world looked forever different to me. All of the emotional chains that were holding me back had melted away. I felt a lightness in my heart that I had never felt before. It was OK to be me. I fully understood what it meant to be “created in the image and likeness of God.” I was that lost sheep that Jesus embraced. I was the prodigal son who made it home to an unexpected warm welcome. I felt that I could succeed and do some good things. For the first time in my life I felt that I was good enough for God just the way I was. This experience was the beginning of a new way of preaching. Instead of looking for sins to condemn, I started looking for goodness to affirm. I believe that the years following the dream prepared me to offer a clear message of “good news” that appealed to so many alienated Catholics which led to the rapid and consistent growth of this very Cathedral parish a few years later.

The only time I can remember anything like being spoken to by God directly was a few years ago, right after I left the cathedral. I was moping around the house in a funk, worried about whether the best part of my life was over, and worried whether I could ever get interested in anything else the way I was interested in the cathedral. My mind was obsessing with negative mind chatter. I was home alone. All of a sudden, I heard a voice, clear and distinct, that said, “Don’t worry!” It startled me. I look around thinking that it came from the TV. It wasn’t even on!  I thought I might have left the front door open and a friend had slipped in unheard. No one there!  I will never know for sure whether I really heard it or just imagined it, but, regardless, it was a very helpful message, a message that certainly guided me through that slump and the fear that I would never experience anything like my years at the Cathedral again!  

It has been twenty-two years since I left here as your pastor – and, yes, that voice was right! I didn’t have anything to worry about! I don’t have time to list the many wonderful things that I have experienced since I left here. To add icing on the cake, I get to come back almost every weekend after my long journey speaking to 165 priest groups in 10 countries and counting, teaching in the seminary, writing a column in the diocesan paper for 15 years (not to mention publishing 25 books and a blog) and now working in the Caribbean missions! “Don’t worry?” What the voice really meant was, “Don’t worry! I have more great things for you in the years ahead!  You can have more than one great thing!”  As Jesus said in another place, “Fear is useless! What is needed is trust!” Alexander Graham Bell once said, "When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us." 

In our gospel, Jesus uses one of his very favorite images of himself – a good shepherd.  Today he focuses on the voice of the shepherd, his voice, God’s voice. The voice thing was extremely important in the shepherding business. Sheep roamed and fences were few, in that part of the world at that time. Flocks often mingled during day as they searched for the scarce grass among the rocks. When the time came for them to be penned up for the night, all a shepherd had to do was to call out in his certain, unique way and his sheep, and only his sheep culled themselves from all the others, simply by being able to distinguish his voice from all the other calling voices filling the air.

The question Jesus asks us to think about today is rather simple: as you graze through life, who’s voice do you pick out, from the many voices calling out to you? Which of those competing voices do you listen to for guidance and direction?  Do you listen consistently for the voice of Jesus to guide you or do follow one voice one day, another the next and still another the next?  Do you listen to Jesus on one issue, Hollywood stars on another, a talk show audience on another?  Maybe the only voice you listen to is that voice in your own head that tells you to take the easy way, the expedient way, the way that will get you what you want at that moment? The message today is simple: if you are going to claim to be a “Christian,” it is essential you know who Jesus was, what he taught and what he wants from you – and you can’t do that without listening carefully to his voice and to listen to his voice, you have to be able to recognize his voice from all other voices.