Friday night, some of the Bellarmine University staff hosted a small dinner party for me at Volare on Frankfort Avenue. I have had a couple of farewell events, but this was the icing on the cake. It was so good to be with so many long-time friends from my seventeen years as chaplain.
"When he retired, they gave him a rocking chair and he rocked himself to death."
"If you're not in a relationship that continually challenges you for growth and development, and becoming a better version of you day to day; it's like sitting in a rocking chair, rocking, it gives you something to do but you're going nowhere."
MY FASCINATION WITH ROCKING CHAIRS STARTED HERE
My earliest memory of my mother was in this rocking chair. I may have been three or four. It was a wonderful breezy spring afternoon. My mother took the time to rock me to sleep for my afternoon nap. I can remember feeling so special, so loved, so cared for as we rocked and the sheer curtains in front of us waved in the breeze coming through the window.
On the porch of a Tennessee State Park. I looked at them, but I didn't sit in them. They scare me.
On the deck of my condo. I never sit in them unless someone is with me.
On the porch of Skytop Lodge in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I sat in them for a few minutes, but I couldn't take it for long.
The rocker in my living room once belonged to the Rhodes Family of my home town of Rhodelia.
I now own this rocker, but I never sit in it. I'm almost afraid that if I do, I will never get out of it.
This chair is my retirement gift from Bellamine University. It looks like it should have rockers on it, but it doesn't. Maybe it can be an intermediate step.
HERE I GO AGAIN MORE LAITY, MORE BISHOPS, MORE PRIESTS, MORE TALKING AND.... ...MORE MONEY FOR THE MISSIONS
County-Wide Parish Mission, Brandenburg, KENTUCKY Parish Mission, Sellersburg, INDIANA Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, CANADA Archdiocese of Portland, OREGON Discalced Carmelites of Dallas Retreat, TEXAS Diocese of Pembroke, CANADA Diocese of Davenport, IOWA Diocese of Bridgetown, BARBADOS THE SPRING SCHEDULE Parish Mission - St. Agnes Church, Naples, FLORIDA Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, MONTANA Archdiocese of Vancouver, CANADA Diocese of Beaumont, TEXAS
....HAS NOT COME WITH AGE! "OLD PEOPLE ARE OFTEN IMPATIENT, BUT FOR WHAT?" Jonathan Carroll, American Author
Many people try to live in the past. Not me. I try to live in the future. I cross bridges before I even get in my car. I don't just count my chickens before they hatch, I even start eating them. I burn my candle at both ends and down the middle. I not only accept wooden nickles, I collect them. I watch for the pot to boil even before I turn on the stove. I grease the wheel before it has a chance to squeak.
I don't think I am "impatient" as much as "driven." I am tenacious when it comes to waiting for a dream to be realized. I don't let go of dreams easily. These days I feel the pressure of getting on with things! I hate pussyfooting around more than ever! In that sense, I guess I am impatient. I find myself itching to "get on with it" more than ever because I hear a big old clock ticking in the background. If I were a bishop, my coat of arms would have the Larry The Cable Guy motto - "Git Er Done!"
Why? I think it is because I am 72, realizing that I will be 80 in less than 8 years and 90 in less than 18 years and maybe even dead before that! I think I might have answered my own "why" question in a column in The Record recently.
"Could it be that "the end" is like a pack of barking dogs over the horizon that I must try to outrun?"
Rev. Ronald Knott
An Encouraging Word
July 22, 2016
God has always placed me in situations where I can learn what I need to know going forward. It has been a pattern in my life. For instance, when I had a problem relating to authority figures in my late thirties, I was called out of my little country parish where I lived alone, to live with Archbishop Kelly. I never imagined that I would live that close to the throne! What happened was that even that myth was shattered. Bishops are just ordinary people in special robes with extraordinary responsibility. That experience taught me to move from fear to empathy.
These days, I am working in the islands of the Caribbean. Down there, everything seems to move much more slowly - sometimes excruciatingly slow for my taste. It is an adjustment that I find extremely difficult at times. It occurred to me the other day, that God has placed me in this situation to teach me patience in preparation for the years ahead when I will not be able to "git er done" so easily and so quickly. I believe that I am being prepared to let go of the burning need to accomplish something and to be able to relax and rest on my laurels.
I may get there someday soon, but for now I am still in the "bargaining stage," holding out for a few more years of obsessive compulsive living, even while I am in training to be more patient. I am not rushing to get it over with, but I do want to do as much as I can before it's all over with!
MY SEVENTEEN YEAR RUN
Today, I finally ended my time as the longest serving campus minister in the history of Bellarmine University. It is quite interesting that I would end with a Convocation Mass for those just beginning.
The final Mass, the Fall Convocation Mass, was held in Knight's Hall at 11:30 am today.
MY REPLACEMENTS - FRANCISCAN FRIARS FROM INDIA
Father Antony, Father George, (myself) and Father John
We would have been lucky to find one young priest, but we found three!
Our capable musicians for Mass.
Some of the University staff and Mass attendees.
In the center is a Methodist family from Somerset, where I started out as a priest! We know some of the same people.
Thanks for the memories. I am going to miss this place.
Don't turn the lights off yet. Maybe I will get a chance to return once in a while!
THE LAST HOMILY #731
"All Are Welcome"
Students! This is a very special day for both of us! It is the day you officially begin your time here as students of Bellarmine University. After seventeen years, it is the day that I officially end my duties as Director of Catholic Worship at Bellarmine University. We both begin something new in our lives: you as college students and me as a retired college chaplain. Let us pray that we both have a bright and prosperous future ahead of us!
When priests and deacons preach, they do not get to pick the readings for Sunday Masses. Passages are simply handed to us and that, I believe, is a good thing! Why? Well if we got to pick the readings ourselves, most of us, out of laziness, would avoid the hard ones, the one’s that take a lot of work to figure out, the ones which address difficult subjects, the ones that challenge us personally.
Lord, will only a
few people be saved?
Today’s gospel is one of those readings that I did not want to deal with when I first read it. However, in light of something that happened last week, I think it just might be a perfect passage to preach on. Why do I say that? Last week the University had a farewell brunch for me in the new campus ministry office. The food was fabulous. The crowd was good. They even gave me a beautiful chair with the University seal and my name on it. At the beginning of the brunch, I was invited to bless the new office. The moment that really impressed me was when they unveiled a poster with my picture in the background with a quote of mine in the foreground. This is my quote. “We welcome all, not because they are Catholic, but because we are Catholic.”
Below that quote were these words, “From his earliest days on campus Fr. Knott suggested, "Let us be consciously Christian, deliberately Catholic and unapologetically ecumenical and interfaith in our approach to ministry.” “He invited us to join him in reflecting upon the unconditional love, limitless mercy, and faithful patience of God who seems to delight in diversity.” That describes my philosophy perfectly and I was so proud that someone “got it” and “memorialized it.”
Lord, will only a
few people be saved?
The temptation to exclude, rather than include has been, and continues to be, a problem in religion, even in some denominations of Christianity. That has been true all the way back to the beginning. We see it in today’s gospel. Jesus was making his way through some towns and villages on his way to Jerusalem, when someone along the way asked him this question: “Will only a few be saved?” From the tone of the question, I am sure the questioner was implying, “Besides me and you, of course, will only a few be saved?” I am reminded of a bumper sticker I once saw. "I'm saved! Sorry about you!"
As he often does, Jesus answers the questioner in a round about way, but he seems to be saying four things (1) everyone is invited to accept salvation (2) not everybody will accept the invitation (3) not everybody who says they accept, will be strong enough to follow through on the invitation and (4) when all is said and done, some people will be absolutely shocked by who will be saved and who won’t.
Are you saved? If you died tonight, would you get into heaven? If so, why? If not, why not? Is it up to God or is it up to you? Do you even know?
These are some of the questions I have wrestled with while writing this homily. I will try to summarize, in simple everyday English, what I think this gospel means for you and me, today, in our own time.
1. God wants everybody to be saved – everybody! Regardless of how many religions like to claim that they are God’s favorites, the fact remains that God loves all of us. He willed that all of us should be saved.
2. God not only wants us to respond to his invitation to be in a love relationship with him, now and for all eternity, he has also bent over backwards to reach out to us and show us his love. Time and time again we have let God down, but God has never quit loving us, even when we killed his only Son. As the old Second Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation put it, “Time and time again we broke your covenant, but you did not abandon us. Instead you bound yourself even more closely to the human family by a bond that cannot be broken. When we were lost and could not find our way to you. You loved us more than ever. Jesus, your Son, innocent and without sin, gave himself into our hands and was nailed to a cross.”
3. We don’t have to do anything to earn an invitation to salvation. These invitations are free for the taking. All we have to do is accept our free invitation and live as a child of God!
4. If we do accept his invitation to salvation, then what we do for God will not be done to earn his salvation, but will be a grateful response to his free salvation.
5. The “narrow gate” that Jesus talks about is that moment when we “get it,” when we understand what is being offered to us and what we are being invited to! That “squeezing through” is that point in the spiritual life when we are strong enough to say “yes” rather than “no” to that invitation.
6. We don’t have all day. God is patient, but there does come a time when we have to “lay the egg or get off the nest,” we have to accept or reject God’s invitation.
7. Last of all, there are going to be some huge surprises when we get to heaven. The first will be last and the last will be first.” Some of those we would least expect will be there, while some of those we most expect may be missing. Some who appeared to have said “no” by their external behaviors may actually be the ones who said “yes” in their hearts; while some who appeared to have said “yes” by external behaviors, may actually be the ones who said “no” in their hearts. “People look at externals, but only God can see into people’s hearts.”
Will only a few people be saved? Well, that does not depend on God, at this point, as much as it depends on us! God wills that all of us be saved, that all of us have a love affair with him for all eternity. His Son has made it possible and invites us to accept this salvation, but he also leaves us free to turn it down. Will only a few people be saved? In a sense, that depends on us, now, doesn’t it?
As we leave this pulpit and approach the altar, let us remember that we have not come here to ask God to love us. We come here to give thanks because God already loves us. Christ has done his part. He has made salvation available to us free of charge. Now all we have to do is accept it and say thanks and live in its light. If that acceptance and thanks and living is sincere, our behaviors will change to be more aligned with God’s will. Let us pray today that the Holy Spirit will give us the ability to accept, give thanks and change!
We opened this Mass with the hymn All Are Welcome. As I stated in that wall poster in the Campus Ministry Office, on this campus, in the Spirit of Pope Francis, “we welcome all, not because they are Catholic, but because we are Catholic.” Jesus Christ is our Savior and Savior of the world!