Thursday, November 14, 2019

THE NEW DEACONS OF THE DIOCESE OF KINGSTOWN, SVG


CONGRATULATIONS
   



LEFT TO RIGHT

Deacon Ancel Knights, Deacon Eardley Martin and Deacon Eustace Francis


I had the honor of offering them formation sessions twice. 



At the Pastoral Centre in Kingstown 



At Queen of the Universe Church in Layou with Fergal Redmond

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

SAY A PRAYER FOR GOOD OLD SANTA!

Unfortunately, Santa is held up in Ireland waiting for a health clearance to return to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in time for Christmas. Say a prayer for him because he has work to do and the kids of Saint Vincent are anxiously awaiting his return. 



The kids will be scrubbed and dressed again this Christmas, after praying for Santa's return and thanking God for all their Christmas blessings.  


After Santa returns to the islands, he will "make his rounds" to the Saint Benedict Home for Children and the Diocesan Christmas Festival. 

In preparation for his return to the islands, I have been working very hard (like an obsessive-compulsive elf) to help him be prepared to give out presents to the kids when he gets back down there. Some wonderful support-elves have been stepping up to the plate to help me, thank God! 

So far, I have gathered some things 
like dark-skinned dolls, toy trucks and cars, plush animals, insulated lunch bags, @50 pounds of "on sale" Halloween candy, several cases of snack food for school lunches, school supplies and many other useful items. 

There are a lot of kids on the five inhabited islands. I try to cover the main island of Saint Vincent for Christmas and the four populated outer islands for Easter. I have already sent six large boxes for Christmas and I am working on four more. 

I have also picked up three more good used laptops for this coming summer's Kids Computer Camp and waiting for my elf-partner, Bill Kolodey, to pick up a couple more at the Black Friday sales.  



"The Elf-Central Sorting and Packing Station"
(my garage)


CHRISTMAS MADE "BEARABLE"



Dr. Paul Kelty brought me 40 bears this past Sunday. 
They will be a real hit with the little kids! 


A BROKEN SLIDE REQUEST
Sister Nyra Anne, the Carmelite Sister who runs the orphange on Saint Vincent, sent a request for a "slide" to replace the broken one. The "house" is still intact, but the plastic slide itself is cracked and dangerous. 
I was not very sure I could find what she needed, but through the intercession of Saint Nicholas and from the photos she sent, I think I found a perfect match at WALMART for $99.00! 
I hope all those parents out there, who are looking for that "rare" requested toy, have the same luck! Ask Saint Nicholas to help?


Walmart Photo



STILL A LITTLE WAY TO GO

I hope to have gathered a few more things, and the money to cover all this shipping, in the next couple of weeks so that I can have all the Christmas gifts down there before the Diocesan Christmas Festival on December 13th. Wish me luck! 




IF YOU WANT TO HELP WITH THIS YEAR'S CHRISTMAS PROJECT OR OTHER MISSION PROJECTS

make your tax deductible check payable to:

Saint Bartholomew Church - SVG Mission Fund 

and send to me: 

Rev. Ronald Knott
1271 Parkway Gardens Court
#106
Louisville, KY 40207




I'll be going down myself this March to offer a workshop for the priests, deacons and lay leaders. Bishop County and Fergal are scheduled to come up here for my 50th anniversary in May. Another group of volunteers is going down again this summer. 


Sunday, November 10, 2019

AN AMAZING STORY OF UNSHAKABLE FAITH



A JEWISH MOTHER ENCOURAGING HER SEVEN SONS TO FIDELITY AS THEY ARE MARTYRED


BACKGROUND FOR TODAY'S HOMILY

(An Old Testament Story From a Christian Perspective)

The seven holy Maccabee martyrs Abim, Antonius, Gurias, Eleazar, Eusebonus, Alimus and Marcellus, their mother Solomonia and their teacher Eleazar suffered in the year 166 before Christ under the impious Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. This foolish ruler loved pagan and Hellenistic customs, and held Jewish customs in contempt. He did everything possible to turn people from the Law of Moses and from their covenant with God. He desecrated the Temple of the Lord, placed a statue of the pagan god Zeus there, and forced the Jews to worship it. Many people abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but there were also those who continued to believe that the Savior would come.

A ninety-year-old elder, the scribe and teacher Eleazar, was brought to trial for his faithfulness to the Mosaic Law. He suffered tortures and died at Jerusalem.

The disciples of Saint Eleazar, the seven Maccabee brothers and their mother Solomonia, also displayed great courage. They were brought to trial in Antioch by King Antiochus Epiphanes. They fearlessly acknowledged themselves as followers of the True God, and refused to eat pig’s flesh, which was forbidden by the Law.

The eldest brother acted as spokesmen for the rest, saying that they preferred to die rather than break the Law. He was subjected to fierce tortures in sight of his brothers and their mother. His tongue was cut out, he was scalped, and his hands and feet were cut off. Then a cauldron and a large frying pan were heated, and the first brother was thrown into the frying pan, and he died.

The next five brothers were tortured one after the other. The seventh and youngest brother was the last one left alive. Antiochus suggested to Saint Solomonia to persuade the boy to obey him, so that her last son at least would be spared. Instead, the brave mother told him to imitate the courage of his brothers.

The child upbraided the king and was tortured even more cruelly than his brothers had been. After all her seven children had died, Saint Solomonia, stood over their bodies, raised up her hands in prayer to God and died.

The martyric death of the Maccabee brothers inspired Judas Maccabeus to lead a revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes. With God’s help, he gained the victory and then purified the Temple at Jerusalem. He also threw down the altars which the pagans had set up in the streets. All these events are related in the Second Book of Maccabees (Ch. 8-10).

Various Fathers of the Church preached sermons on the seven Maccabees, including Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Saint Ambrose of Milan, Saint Gregory Nazianzus and Saint John Chrysostom.




TODAY'S HOMILY

We are ready to die rather than transgress the

laws of our ancestors.   

 II MACCABEES 7


Not too long ago I went to the grocery to get a few things. As I drove my cart up and down the isles, it hit me how many times the words “instant” and “disposable” are used. There was instant coffee, instant pudding and instant potatoes. There were disposable shavers, disposable diapers and even disposable needles in the pharmacy. There were even disposable trash bags to dispose of all of my disposable stuff!

It even occurred to me that the word “permanent” is gradually fading from our vocabulary. It seems that a “permanent” at the beauty parlor is not all that permanent! It may last a couple of months, at most, and then you will need another “permanent.”  Everybody knows that “guaranteed for life” really means it will last “a few years” at most!  “Long lasting” deoderant means you may make it home on a hot day before people start running from you!

I am not condemning these things. I use many of them and I find them convenient and time saving.  However, when we live in an “instant,” “disposable” and “throw-away” world, it is bound to have a downside. Many of us have grown up, used to getting what we want, right now, and if we don’t get it, we move on to the next thing!  I remember President Bush worrying aloud at the beginning of the war against terror, that we would even tire of that fight in a short amount of time.  It seems that we have a hard time sticking with anything for a long period of time, especially when it inconveniences us. As a result of all this, fewer and fewer of us have an appreciation of things that are truly permanent and lasting. This seems to be especially true when it comes to commitments, which have too often become as disposable as a used diaper!

This is certainly not true of the Jewish mother and her seven sons in our first reading today.  (Unfortunately, we read only a part of a longer story, but we read enough to get the gist of the story.) This mother and her seven sons chose to endure torture and death, rather than violate their ancient religious principles, in their case the law against eating pork!  When the first brother refused, the wicked king cut out his tongue, scalped him, cut off his hands and his feet, frying him alive in a huge skillet, right in front of his mother and brothers. The second brother endured the same tortures and died as his mother and brothers cheered him on!  When they approached the third brother, he stuck out his tongue and hands, before they even asked him. He too died in front of his mother and brothers. The fourth, fifth and sixth brother died in the same way.  Through all this, their mother encouraged them to die, rather than renege on their commitments to God.  When the wicked king came to the youngest, he tried to bribe him with a binding promise to shower him with money, gifts, friendship and a high office if he would abandon his ancestral religious principles. When this youngest son paid no attention to his offer, the wicked king appealed to the mother, urging her to advise the boy to save his life. She leaned over and whispered to her only son left and encouraged him to accept death, rather than violate his religious principles. He, too, resisted the king and was killed in an even more cruel way. Finally, after watching all seven of her sons massacred before her eyes, the mother was also killed!  

In the chapter before the one we read today, there is the story of the seven young men’s mentor, Eleazar, who had faced the same cruel fate. Eleazar was a very old Jewish man who was given the choice of eating pork against the teachings of his sacred faith or be killed.  He could have saved his life by “going along.” His friends even tried to help him devise a scheme where he would merely “appear” to eat pork. He made up his mind to remain loyal to the holy laws of God.

His reasons are worth quoting directly. “At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young men would think the ninety-year old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. Should I thus dissimulate for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I bring shame and dishonor on my old age. Even if for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether alive or dead,  escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws.” (II Maccabees 6:24-28)
   
I love this story! I always have! In a world where people abandon their commitments at the drop of a hat, often going for the latest best offer, at the sight of even a slight inconvenience, this story calls us back to fidelity and reminds us that some things are worth dying for! This courageous Jewish woman and her seven brave sons stand in contrast to many of the values of our culture. They can still inspire us and teach us that there is another way to live besides self-serving expedience. There is the way of fidelity, even if it does hurt, because some things are worth dying for!

Actually, today’s first reading scares me. What would I really be able to do if my faith were seriously threatened? Would I be willing to go back to Guatemala and face certain death, like Father Stanley Rother of Oklahoma City did to become the Church’s first official US martyr? Would I be willing to stay on the Titanic and drown with the rest of the people, instead of getting in a boat when I could and go to safety, as the three priests on the Titanic did? Would I be willing to volunteer to die of starvation in place of a married man as the Polish priest Maximilian Kolbe did in a Nazi prison camp? Would I be able to face torture and death, rather than betray my religious principles, like Eleazar and the brave mother with her seven sons in our first reading?  I pray that I would, but I hope that I won’t have to find out just how cowardly I could be!

In conclusion, I have a question for you! What would you be willing to die for? 

  

Thursday, November 7, 2019

I'M GOIN' TO BE TALKIN' ABOUT PREACHIN' IN NASHVILLE





WORD GETS AROUND

Last June, I was invited to give a presentation at the annual Notre Dame Preaching Conference up at Notre Dame University. The title of my presentation was:
Claiming the Pulpit for Spiritual Leadership and Personal Sanctification

The Diocese of Nashville heard about it and asked me to repeat it at the Pastoral Center as a "study day" for the priests and deacons of the diocese. I am honored since one of my fellow Louisville priests, Father Mark Spalding, is now Bishop Mark Spalding, the bishop of Nashville. 



Bishop Mark Spalding




My seminary classmate, Gary Marvin, is going to drive me down to Nashville in his new car. We'll have lots to talk about. 
He is always so helpful - with my computer, my blog and my research. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

YOU NEED TO SEE THIS!


SUPPLIES OVER SEAS

They are located right here in Louisville, Kentucky.
They do excellent work with their team of volunteers saving tons of good usable medical supplies from being wasted. 



We Have Sent Two Containers to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - Ten Tons

Play the video... Click on the arrow on bottom left...

Supplies Over Seas Support Video from Paper Crane Cinema Co. on Vimeo.



Sunday, November 3, 2019

LOOK BEYOND THE PACKAGING




He has gone to stay at a sinners house!
Luke 19:1-10


“You can’t judge a book by its cover!”  We have all heard this warning about disappointing contents coming in beautiful packaging. All of us, no doubt, have been fooled into buying a book with an attractive cover or rented a movie with a great-sounding trailer that turned out to be “garbage.”

In the religious world, “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is true as well! Many, no doubt, have been fooled by “religious types” with their great made-for-TV images, who were really nothing more than “wolves in sheep’s clothing!” 

In the spiritual world, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” is true as well in a very different sense. The story of Zacchaeus is a case in point. On the outside, he appears to be a rotten low-life sinner, but he turns out to be a humble, generous and religious man! “You can’t judge a book by its cover” in his case either!

Externally, Zacchaeus was a sawed-off, greedy, little crook in the eyes of his hometown folks. He was up to his eye-balls in an extortion racket under the auspices of the hated Roman government. He was one of those tax-collectors hired by the occupying Roman authorities to squeeze money out of his fellow Jews, especially the poorest of the poor, to line the pockets of the Roman Emperor, as well as his own. On the surface of things, he was one rotten little scumbag!

In the Old Testament we read, “People see externals, but God sees into the heart.” Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in a side-by-side comparison of Zacchaeus and those who judged him.

On one hand, some of the Pharisees were, from all appearances, holy, upstanding members of the community, “pillars of the church,” but underneath they were rotten to the core. Jesus called them “white washed tombs that looked real good on the outside, but inside were filled with stench and rot.”

On the other hand, Zacchaeus appeared to be a rotten, no-good, sinner in the eyes of all the people. Jesus, however, because he had the ability to see into hearts, did have the ability to judge a book by its cover. When he looked up into the tree and saw Zacchaeus, he saw a lot of goodness down deep inside this little man. “People see externals, but God sees into the heart.”

When I was growing up, many adults in my life never gave me a chance, never believed in me. I was small for my age, backward and scared. At home, I was told that I would "never amount to a hill of beans." The rector of the minor seminary called me a “hopeless case” and a "ball and chain around his leg." When kids hear that kind of feed-back enough, they tend to start believing it. Luckily, some of the monks at Saint Meinrad where I went to major seminary, got hold of me and did believe in me. They told me I that I did have potential and that they were going to help me develop it. They did not judge me from appearances or my background, but looked into my heart and soul and helped me believe in my own goodness. Because of them, I have always tried to do the same for others in my life as a priest. Because of that commitment, God has thrown hundreds of broken people onto my path to teach me to look below the surface of things before judging them.

I will never forget the day I was rushing to get vested for Mass here at the Cathedral. There were many street people hanging out around the Cathedral in those days, as there are today. They were forever asking for help of one kind or another, sometimes at the most inconvenient of times. That day, a poorly dressed, dirty-looking woman was trying to get my attention as I rushed to the sacristy to get dressed for Mass. I assumed that she wanted a handout so I mentally prepared my speech telling her to come back after Mass and that I would try to help her then. Before I could get my little judgmental speech out, she called out to me, “Father, where is the poor box? I want to give this money to the poor!” With that, she opened her hand to show me a few coins. She stopped me in my tracks and showed me that "no, you can’t judge a book by its cover!"

Before that, when we were trying to raise money to open a mission church down in McCreary County, we went to all the rich and powerful people we knew, but the most generous gift did not come from them. It came from two unlikely parishioners - an uneducated, dirt-poor couple from the mountains. They lived in a little rusted-out camping trailer. Because they looked so poor, we didn’t even ask them for a donation. One day, however, they came in with their TV and the deed to their few acres of rocky property to give to the parish. They too showed me that "no, you can’t judge a book by its cover!"  

Because of my personal experience with some of the monks of Saint Meinrad and the hundreds of situations like the two I have just mentioned, I have spent most of my priesthood reaching out to people whose magnificent goodness is hidden under some pretty awful appearances. Some of the meanest Catholics I have ever met have been those “pillar of the church” types, while some of the most devout Catholics have been those who have been rejected or hurt by the Church. Over the years, I have learned more than once that "no, you certainly can’t judge a book by its cover."

Since we can only see people’s outsides, while God can see into people’s hearts, Jesus warned us not to judge each other.  We never know for sure what’s going on inside people! It’s a sound spiritual practice, therefore, to give each other the benefit of the doubt! You just might "entertain angels unaware."