Tuesday, March 19, 2019

EVEN WITH THE BEST OF INTENTIONS.....


.....I'M STILL FLUNKING

 "RETIREMENT" 


Besides regular Masses at the Cathedral, posting regularly on this blog, presiding at funerals and attending to other normal obligations, I have the following "major events" on the calendar - some of them week-long events.  It's still early in the year, so I need to start saying "no" before my calendar fills up! It's still March, for God's sake! 

My problem is that I like doing more than is actually good for a 75 year old priest. As Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak!" I hope I can do well all the things I am committed to this year! I need to pace myself, but I have never been good at that. I tend to go and go till I get sick and have to stop. Praying for good health is always at the top of my list these days. 



Regional Parish Mission at Saint Brigid Church in Vine Grove, Kentucky, March 11-13

Inter-Diocesan Parish Mission at Holy Family Church in Louisville, Kentucky, March 25-27


Mission Trip Number Twelve to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines March 30 - April 6. 


My 75th Birthday - April 28


Clergy Conference for Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska, April 28 - May 1.

Visitor from Ireland - May 18 - 25

Priest Retreat
Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, June 9 - 13. 


Presentation on Preaching at the Notre Dame University Preaching Conference, June 25. 


Visitors from Germany, August 1 - 13. 


Priest Convocation, Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, September 9 - 11


Priest Convocation, Diocese of Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, October 21 - 24. 


Tentative Mission Trip Number Thirteen to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, December 7 -14


Blue Christmas Mass for the Grieving, Holy Family Church, December 24





SO HERE'S WHAT I REALLY THINK

Sunday, March 17, 2019

SEEING CONNECTIONS

   
FIRST THINGS FIRST

   Image result for saint Patrick's Day gif

AND NOW FOR THE HOMILY




Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became 
dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, 
and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. 
Luke 9

What a difference a few years make! Depressed by the sexual abuse scandal and feeling unsupported in my work as a Vocation Director, this time of the year in 2004 I was at an all-time low. News about the sexual abuse scandal was so bad that I asked for some time off to regain my balance. I needed to pull myself together and get some clarity about what to do next. I spent the whole month of February that year, alone, in a small cottage, on a deserted beach, in northern Florida. I probably spoke to one person that whole month. I loved it. I got my clarity. I went from having one of the worst years of my life, to one of the best years of my life. Even though things have gotten even worse, I can now handle the constant drip of bad news much better now. I guess you can get used to anything!

Last week, we read about Jesus going off into the desert, alone, for forty days. He, too, was looking for clarity about what it might mean for him to be “God’s beloved Son,” an insight he had received from God at the time of his baptism. That time-in-the-desert took place at the beginning of his ministry. It was followed by many trips to quiet places, during his ministry, to seek clarity from God about what he was supposed to do next.

Today, we fast-forward to the end of Jesus’ life, the time before his final entry into Jerusalem for his crucifixion, death and resurrection. At this point in his ministry, Jesus could read the handwriting on the wall and it spelled SUFFERING, in big letters. This time he went to the mountain, to get final clarity on whether this impending suffering was really the right thing. The question Jesus wanted an answer to, was not “what do I want to do” or “what do people want me to do,” but “what does God want me to do?”

Just as a desert is a good place for introspection, a mountain is a good place for perspective. In a desert, there is nothing to distract you. You are forced to look within. On a mountain, you can see in all directions at once. On the mountain, Jesus got a glimpse of the past, the present, the future and how they all fit together.  On the mountain Jesus was able to “see the connections” between where he was, where he came from and where he was going.  

(1) Jesus saw his connection to the past. Israel’s two great heroes appear to him and talk with him: Moses and Elijah. They told Jesus that indeed he was the one they had, centuries ago, dreamed of and had foretold would someday come. They told Jesus that he was indeed on the right path and that he should indeed proceed onward. If their word was not enough, from a cloud, God repeats the words that he spoke to Jesus at his baptism, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

(2) Jesus saw his connection to the future.  The words used to describe Jesus’ clothes becoming “white as light” are the same words used of his clothes at the resurrection.  His “white as light” clothing, gave him a glimpse of the glory to come. It helped him get a sneak preview of what was going to be on the other side of the suffering he was about to endure.

(3) Jesus saw his connection to the present, where he was on his journey. He tells his disciples, flattened with fear, that there was nothing to be scared of, even though they had to go down from the mountain and go through the pain ahead. This experience would help them through what was about to happen. In fact, this is where we get the expression “peak experience.” A “peak experience” is one of those magical times of spiritual experience that people, like good old St. Peter, like to hold onto or repeat again, but cannot. They are simply “glimpses of glory” and “sneak previews” of heaven itself. They are not meant to be permanent. They are meant to get us through the hard times. 

Going off to the desert, going off to the mountains, going off to the beach or simply going off to your room to listen to yourself think, to listen to your heart of heart, to listen to God is an absolute necessity for those who would follow Jesus.  The place is not important, but the listening is!  If you listen with your heart, you will get the clarity you need, no matter what questions you need to answer or problems you need to face.

No wonder so many in our culture seems to be so confused: our world is so crammed with noise that we cannot hear ourselves think.  We have been raised to believe that answers come when we can say what we want to do or when others tell us what we need to do. The only thing that will make us happy and get us back on our path is when we want what God wants for us.  The desert, beach, mountain or our room are just places of quiet, places quiet enough to hear that tiny whispering voice of God himself, deep within our own hearts. Lent, I believe, is not so much about giving up things as it is about giving up the constant noise that prevents us from hearing ourselves think!  

No wonder our culture seems so confused: our ears are being blasted with constant noise from cell phones, earphones and an over-saturation of electronic stimulation. No wonder our culture seems so confused: we consult our horoscopes and seek out expensive advice gurus, but we don’t take the time to go to the quiet and listen to ourselves.  We are driven to fill the quiet, to kill the quiet or to run from the quiet, as if the quiet were our worst enemy.  But the truth of the matter is, it is in the quiet that we get our bearings, clarity is given to us and a sense of who we are, and where we are going, is shown to us. 

My friends, the message today is simple: make friends with the quiet. In the quiet, everything falls into perspective, the path becomes clear and where we need to go becomes obvious. And to stay on the right path, we have to go to the quiet often, regularly and routinely, just as Jesus had to do!

   







Friday, March 15, 2019

EASTER BASKETS FOR THE KIDS ON THE OUTER ISLANDS



MY 12th TRIP 
March 30 - April 6, 2019

"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." 
Proverbs 11:25





For Christmas, I focused on the kids on the big islands of Saint Vincent and Bequia in the north of the multi-island country.  For Easter, I am going to focus on the kids on the most southern islands of Canouan, Mayreau and Union. 

I've got to come up with 96 small Easter baskets for all the parish kids on these three islands. I have already ordered the baskets and some of the candy from DOLLAR TREE to ship down in the next couple of weeks. The priest serving those islands will bless the baskets and give them out to the kids on Easter Sunday. 



WANT TO HELP ME BY SPONSORING A FEW BASKETS?

Rev. Ronald Knott
1271 Parkway Gardens Court
#106
Louisville, KY 40217

make checks out to:
St. Bartholomew Church -SVG Mission Fund














I've got to stay away from chocolate bunnies! They would melt into a mess on the way down! 




Union Island - Saint Joseph Parish 





Mayreau Island - Immaculate Conception Parish


   

Canouan Island - Annunciation Parish


Thursday, March 14, 2019

THE VINE GROVE REGIONAL PARISH MISSION

Last Night We Concluded the First of Two 

THREE-NIGHT LENTEN PARISH MISSIONS
2019







Father Dan Lincoln, Pastor of Saint Brigid. 



Tina Yates, Religious Formation Chairperson






"REFLECTIONS"
Elaine Winebrenner, Dwayne Campbell, Todd Hildreth, Don Watson, Bill Ash and Matt Scobee




Deacon Mike Ryan 



Monday Night's Hospitality Team 



Half of Tuesday Night's Reception Room



One of the three very capable lectors. 




Four of the "Caribbean Baby Dolls" I gave out to those who helped with this Parish Mission sit on the altar on the last night. 
The total collection, after expenses, goes to my volunteer work in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. 




Now, on to Holy Family Church in Louisville for our next Parish Mission 
March 25, 26, 27, 2019

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I'M EXCITED ABOUT BEING INVITED BACK TO THE DIOCESE OF CROOKSTON, MINNESOTA....



... FOR THE 2019 PRIEST RETREAT
June 9 - 13, 2019


Last time I got stuck in a late-in-the-year freak snow storm in the Minneapolis Airport. I didn't know how to handle it, but they did!  They managed to get me to Bemidji on time! This time I am flying into Fargo, North Dakota, just across the border! "It will be easier," they said! I wonder what this is going to mean? 


DIOCESE OF CROOKSTON

The Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, borders on North Dakota on the west and Canada on the north. 


Aerial view of Crookston, Minnesota, with the Red Lake River twisting through the town

Crookston is a city in the U.S. state of Minnesota. It is the county seat of Polk County. The population was 7,891 at the 2010 census. It is part of the "Grand Forks, NDMN Metropolitan Statistical Area" or "Greater Grand Forks".

Crookston is the episcopal seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Crookston. Since Crookston is close to the larger city of Grand Forks, North Dakota, many people who live in Crookston commute to jobs in the Grand Forks area.



They really are nice people all around!





Father Raul Perez-Cobo, from Columbia (South America) now a priest of the Crookston Diocese and a former student of mine at Saint Meinrad, reunite after several years for a nice cigar. He has a laugh that is contagious. He always makes me laugh when I see him.




Maybe this time Father Raul and I we will have time for a "nice" card game?



I hope the lakes are thawed this time and the cars stay on the roads where they belong!
Those are ice fishing huts! They park out on the lake beside them for convenience!





Of course, I will be flying the official state airlines - "Lutran" Airlines!
Click on their official advertisement below for a  "nice" laugh!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

BAD APPEARING TO BE GOOD




   


Jesus returned from the Jordan 
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, 
to be tempted by the devil.
Luke 4
There are two great “temptation” stories in the Bible – the temptation of Adam in the garden and the temptation of Jesus in the desert.  In the first temptation story, man falls and Satan wins. In the second temptation, Jesus wins and Satan falls. All other temptations in history have to do with these two stories of temptation.

What exactly is a “temptation?” It is a personal inner struggle with a choice that has at its base a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise. It is such a part of our everyday living that every time we say the Our Father, we pray that we will not be led into temptation. 

I am reminded of something from the Book of Sirach in the Old Testament. “Before you are life and death, good and evil, whichever you choose shall be given you. No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin.” (Sirach 15:15-20) That is worth repeating! "Before is life and death, good and evil, whichever we choose will be given to us!"

A lot is made these days of our "right to choose," but little is said about our responsibility to choose wisely, not to mention our responsibility to accept the consequences of our choices. Some people are like kids who go through life eating the filling out of the Oreos and then throwing the cookies away. They want freedom without the responsibility that goes with it! They want to choose, but they are not necessarily willing to accept the responsibility that goes with their choices.

You may have the right to eat French Fries and Chicken Nuggets three times a day, but you also have the responsibility to eat healthily.  If you only exercise your right to eat whatever you want, without accepting your responsibility to eat well, you will sooner or later have to accept the consequences of your choices. You have a right to skip class, but you also have a responsibility to go to class. If you only exercise your right to skip, you must be willing to accept the consequences of maybe flunking out of school.  If you only exercise your right to accept a credit card, without accepting your responsibility for paying for what you charge, you will sooner or later have to accept the painful consequences of your choices -ruining your credit for years to come!  Our culture is filling up with people who keep trying to beat this basic truth!    

Young friends here today, I have something to say to you. One of the benefits of being a young adult is finally being able to enjoy the freedom to make your own choices.  One of the upsides of the freedom to choose is the ability to build your own life the way you want it through a series of personal choices. One of the downsides of the freedom to choose is the freedom to ruin your own life through a series of poorly-thought-out choices. The freedom to choose, combined with the ability to choose wisely, is the ideal. Yet there are many who cannot handle their freedom well and end up losing it. Choosing what feels good at the moment, without the personal discipline to choose what would actually be good over the long haul, is a recipe for disaster.  Hearing about people ruining their lives has actually become a favorite American entertainment. Many think it is funny to watch stupid people on trash TV tell the world how they have have ruined their lives and the lives of those who have been associated with them.    

Every day people like Judge Judy, Jerry Springer and Maury Povich make big bucks featuring people who have ruined their lives and the lives of those around them because of the poor choices they have made. They have the "freedom to choose" but choose poorly. They have the "freedom to choose" but they don't have the ability to discern what is of value.  Illegitimate children, ruined marriages, sexually transmitted diseases, financial ruin, family disintegration, squandered opportunities for a good education and loss of reputation are only a few of the consequences of making choices without the ability to choose wisely.

To be able to "discern what is of value," we must develop self-mastery. By self-mastery, I mean we have to be able to name and then "stand up to" our addictions, our cowardice and our laziness in order to create the life we want to have! We must be able to "handle" ourselves and our cravings - for a higher purpose and for our long-term good. We must be able to continually clarify what we really want out of life, constantly focus our energies to reach for what we want and consistently deal in truth rather than self-deception.

People with self-mastery approach their lives like an artist approaching the task of producing a work of art. People with self-mastery know how to discern what is of value and use what they have discerned to live on purpose!  The spiritual disciplines of both East and West speak often of the practice self-mastery.  I published a new book last year on this very subject . It is an autobiography mapping the courageous choices I have deliberately made since age six and how those choices made me what I am today – for good or for bad! It is called BETWEEN COURAGE AND COWARDICE: Choosing to Do Hard Things for Your Own Good.

One of the sad things about our culture, in which freedom of choice is so highly honored, is the growing tendency to deflect responsibility for our choices after we make them.  If our culture is to survive, the freedom to choose must be combined with personal responsibility. To demand the freedom to make our own choices and then throw the blame on others when those choices backfire is the height of cowardice and irresponsibility - and yet it is so popular in our culture. Freedom without responsibility is wreaking havoc all around us.

When enough of us have the ability to discern what is of value and when enough of us have the self-mastery to choose what is of value, marriages will improve, families will improve, neighborhood will improve, the economy will improve, churches will improve, nations will improve and the world will improve. These problems can only be fixed one person at a time. In reality, no one can save us from us, but us!            

Discipline is about choosing “delayed gratification” or “good things coming to those who wait” or “the ability to resist the temptation of an immediate reward in favor of a larger prize in the future.” Numerous studies have shown that the ability to delay gratification is one of the biggest indicators of success through life – be it your ability to manage your resources, choose the right spouse, maintain your weight, becoming skilled at a sport or launching a career. Those who can resist temptation in pursuit of long-term goals are blessed with an enormous advantage over the rest of the herd. In other words, too much comfort is a bad thing – long term. Yes, lack of self-mastery has a direct impact on the quality of multiple areas of people’s lives. Those who cannot establish mastery over their appetites and impulses will no doubt see many aspects of their lives quickly unravel. The ability to subordinate a lower impulse to a higher value is the essence of a satisfying life. Leonardo da Vinci was right when he said, “One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”

The ability to discern what is of value and self-mastery in the face of severe temptation is at the heart of Jesus’ desert experience. To do his Father’s will, not his own, Jesus had to be able to see the difference between what “looked good” and what was “actually good.” Once he was able to discern what the will of his Father was, he had to have the self-mastery to follow it, no matter how tempted he was to do otherwise!