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. 















Wednesday, July 29, 2020

CHANGE: Part TWO of a Three Part Series




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

for a video version
 

With all the changes that are coming at us, it is important that we understand the difference between a “change” and a “transition.” In last week’s column, I wrote about “change.” A “change” is any event that can shake up our understanding of the world and our old priorities. 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 Two - Managing the Neutral Zone

The neutral zone is an area of great discomfort. This phase is reminiscent of the People of God wandering around a desert between Egypt and the Promised Land. These are the days after the funeral, the job loss, the resignation, moving into the nursing home, moving from one parish to another, leaving a spouse abuser and after a divorce. These are the pain-filled days when there is a temptation to want to return to the familiar for relief. The secret of success in the neutral zone is to “stay the course” and “get through” it. 

The “neutral zone” phase of transition is a no-man’s land where people wander between two worlds, one dead and the other not yet born. It is a dangerous time. It is rightly called a “grieving period.” Some remain in this phase for years, suspended between death and life, pitifully clinging to a past identity, afraid to let go and afraid to move on. A mistake the Fathers of Vatican Council II made, was not warning us about a painful neutral zone. They forget to tell us about the “desert.” In pain, we have some who are yearning to go home to the “fleshpots of Egypt.” 

I have spent so much time in the neutral zone phase that I wrote a book about it. It is the closest thing to an autobiography. The book is called

One of my very favorite “neutral zone” stories from that book happened a few weeks after my ordination fifty years ago, This “change” was unwelcomed. 

All through seminary, after spending years in rural areas, my heart was set on an urban assignment. I had a fabulous chance of seeing that dream come true because newly ordained priests typically became associate pastors in large urban parishes. 

When the call came from the Priest Personnel Board. I was told that I was being assigned to the “home missions” of our diocese, in Appalachia, down along the Tennessee border. The area was what the Glenmary Fathers called “No Priest Land.” 

Unable to change their minds, I went into a depression, angrily packed my bags, bought a map and drove toward my hated assignment. Halfway there, I had a conversion experience. I learned something about all unwanted “changes” - I could change my mind! I started telling myself, “If you don’t get what you want, you can always want what your get!” Because of that mind change, it become a great assignment, better than I could have ever imagined. 

Another favorite “neutral zone” story from my autobiography, happened as I left the Archbishop’s office after I told him, after fourteen successful years as pastor of our Cathedral, that I thought it was “time” to move on. Even though this “change” was welcomed, I remember sitting in my car feeling like I had just burned my life’s most important bridge. In the following weeks, I felt like my niece after her husband’s funeral, “I knew who I was yesterday, but I don’t know who I am today.” My time in the “neutral zone” was shortened greatly because of all I had learned about change. In a year or two, I found myself in yet another “Promised Land” as a staff member at Saint Meinrad Seminary. 

At the end of those wonderful fourteen years, I “induced labor” yet again and went into retirement. Even though that transition did not go smoothly, and the neutral zone was painful, I came out of it again and arrived at a new level of excitement as a volunteer in the Caribbean Missions. 

Now, another unwelcomed change has challenged that serenity, an international pandemic. This time I am confident that I will get through this neutral zone too. I am doing what I have always done during times like this, I engage in “self-talk” by journaling and reading collected wisdom literature on “transitions” and pray that I can embrace yet another “new beginning,” believing that it too will be good.