Friday, January 15, 2016

Jobs I've Held

"Been There and Done That!"    

During the summer of early high school seminary, @1958-1960, I had a "job" at Vessels store in my home town of Rhodelia. It actually looked very much like this picture. I pumped gas, candled eggs, sliced balogna, stocked shelves, loaded animal feed bags into trucks, checked people out at the cash register, bagged their groceries and whatever else I was asked to do, except work in the post office. There must have been some government regulation against children post masters.

My mother had a large garden, from which she canned and froze vegetables. It took up most of our summer time. If I had to, I could feed myself if I had a plot of ground. My grandmother taught me to "garden' when I was a very small boy. She even gave me my own plot. She worked her plot while I worked mine. She also taught me how to churn butter.

My Dad bought a farm during my growing up years to go with his lumber business We had one cow for milking and lots of beef cattle who knew how to break out of their fences at the most inappropriate times - like when we were on our way to church. Yes, I know how to milk a cow! Who doesn't?

This is not me in the picture. We had chickens, but I don't think I ever smiled around chickens.

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Pigs! We had pigs too! Pigs never give birth in good weather. They always wait till there is a blizzard or freezing rain and then create a crisis that must be dealt with in the middle of the night. I did get good at loading pigs into a truck because they are not that smart. I took great delight in seeing the backs of their heads on the way to market. I probably heard my "call" while feeding pigs. It went something like this. "God, surely there is something else you want me to do in life besides this!" "Ronnie, be a priest!"

My father founded Knott's Supply before I went to the seminary, so I spent a lot of time loading and unloading concrete blocks, dry wall, paint, lumber and all the other things you need to build a house, barn or other buildings. Now they have forklifts. Back in my day, it was child labor. We loaded and unloaded everything by hand.

My brother, Mark, now owns the company. He has done a marvelous job of expanding it and making it grow. He is a self-made man in the truest sense of the word!
PARAMOUNT PICKLES (defunct): A Louisville favorite since 1886 (they were GOOD pickles), the company and its Fern Valley Road plant were bought by Dean Foods in 1995; the plant quickly shuttered and the brand was subsumed and spun off variously. Phyllis Diller's ads for the brand in the 70s are well remembered. I wrote a news piece about them and toured the plant; the air was acrid inside. I knew someone who had worked there and they claimed the bad pickles went into the relish bin. (KevinR@Ky): Bad Pickled, Ferns Valley, Pickled Defunct, News Pieces, Dean O'Gorman, Dean Food, Roads Plants, Funky Louisville Kentucky, Valley Roads
In the summer of 1965, I ran away from home. I got a job at Paramount Foods (Pickle Factory) in Louisville loading semi-trucks in the hot sun while breathing in forklift exhaust fumes to the point that I could not keep my eyes open by 10:00 am. I learned what a minimum wage job can buy and what it's like to "get by."

In the summer of 1966 , I worked at the now defunct St. Joseph Infirmary on Easter Parkway. I worked in the chapel, on the grounds, in the emergency room, medical library and front desk - everything but surgery!!!!
In the summer of 1967, I was a house painter in Wheaton, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I even smoked back then. That's a Marlboro 100 in my right hand! Thank God I had the sense to stop

In the summer of 1968, I worked in Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Besides being a student minister in a United Church of Christ program called "A Christian Ministry in the National Parks," I was the night desk clerk. I also filled in as a garbage truck driver, bar tender and wine steward. My crowning achievement that summer was to be the Master of Ceremonies for the Miss Crater Lake Beauty Pageant. Some one gave me a 1951 Buick and dared me to drive it back to Kentucky. I had to get a push to get started on a 26000 mile trip. I made it home and it never started again. When you are young, you do things like that!
In 1969 I became a deacon and I was assigned to work at St. John Vianney Church on Southside Drive in Louisville. I also worked as a chaplain assistant at Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital.
Here is a bit of confidential information. Don't tell anyone. Since I was assigned there as a deacon, I was staying there when I was ordained a priest. After the ordination, I went back to the rectory and was stopped by a woman who wanted to go to confession. I heard my first confession in my first hour of priesthood. Since I did not know what to do with myself after ordination, (my class mates were tied up and my family was obsessing about the reception the next day) I went to Churchill Downs which was very close and got there for the second race. Yes, I went to the track on my ordination day! If that woman hadn't held me up, I would not have missed the first race!

All this has been followed by 45 years of priesthood!

I could not be happier with my decision to leave the pigs, the planks, the paint and the pickles for the altar!

Associate Pastor
St. Mildred Church
Somerset, Kentucky

Student Commons Building

Part Time Campus Minister
Somerset Community College

St. Peter (Monticello, KY)

Good Shepherd (Whitley City, KY)

St. Peter Church - Monticello, Kentucky
Good Shepherd Chapel - Whitley City, Kentucky 

Holy Name of Mary Church
Calvary, Kentucky

Cathedral of the Assumption
During my years at the Cathedral, I conducted over seventy parish missions in Kentucky, Indiana and Florida. 

Vocation Director
Archdiocese of Louisville

Director of Catholic Worship 
Bellarmine University
1999 - 2016

I have been a columnist for The Record for over thirteen years.

In the last fifteen years I have published twelve books for clergy 
and three for use in my ministry at Bellarmine University. 

2015 Stoking the Fire group photo

One our our popular mini-sabbatical programs. 
Director of the Saint Meinrad School of Theology
Institute for Priests and Presbyterates

In my years at Saint Meinrad, besides my work at the seminary, I conducted over 100 priest retreats, priest convocations, priest study days in seven countries and seminarian study weeks or major addresses in five seminaries in two countries.
In retirement I am volunteering in the foreign missions in the island country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines not far from South America. I am continuing to write my weekly column in The Record, as well as continuing to be involved in campus ministry at Bellarmine University, leading priest retreats and conducting parish missions.  Many might call all this a full-time job. I call it "cutting back." 

Thursday, January 14, 2016




"Give me the truth, doctor!"
"Father Knott, you need to get off the banquet circuit!"
"Not that truth!"


I get one every year, and a mid-term check up as well, but I am always a bit paranoid.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Image result for oblivious images

"I can take reality in small doses, but as a way of life I find it much too confining!"
"Trudy," a Lily Tomlin character

Image result for oblivious images

Ever wonder about the fact that the words obvious and oblivious are so close?

Getting ready to move from the sacristy into the Cathedral to be ordained a priest after 12 years of preparation, I look like I am going to a hanging! Did I smell a rat or was I just taking things seriously? 

Haven't we all had that feeling of winning and losing at the same time? 

"Does she have any idea just how sharp those tools are?"

We all know the type! They are the last to "get it!" 

One of the problems with talking about God all the time is the pitfall of starting to think you are a god! I try to void that at all costs! It wouldn't work anyway! 

"Michael, not everything you are proud of should be shown to your mother!" 

Some new ideas are just plain bad! 

Ever tried to be helpful and wished you hadn't? 

Obviously oblivious!

Damn! Out-dressed at another party! What was I thinking when I chose black - again? 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

HOMILY 1-10-16



It must have been a practice for a long time because here is a detailed description of a baptism service in 215 AD by St. Hippolytus of Rome in his work "Tradition of the Apostles." In fact, children were baptized first, then men and last of all women. It is amazingly similar to what we do today. 
At the hour in which the cock crows, they shall first pray over the water. 2When 
they come to the water, the water shall be pure and flowing, that is, the water of a spring 

or a flowing body of water. 3Then they shall take off all their clothes. 4The children shall be 

baptized first. All of the children who can answer for themselves, let them answer. If there 

are any children who cannot answer for themselves, let their parents answer for them, or 

someone else from their family5After this, the men will be baptized. Finally, the women, 

after they have unbound their hair, and removed their jewelry. No one shall take any 

foreign object with themselves down into the water.

6At the time determined for baptism, the bishop shall give thanks over some oil, which he puts in a vessel. It is called the Oil of Thanksgiving. 7He shall take some more oil and exorcise it. It is called the Oil of Exorcism. 8A deacon shall hold the Oil of Exorcism and stand on the left. Another deacon shall hold the Oil of Thanksgiving and stand on the right.

9When the elder takes hold of each of them who are to receive baptism, he shall tell each 
of them to renounce, saying, "I renounce you Satan, all your servicea, and all your works."  

10After he has said this, he shall anoint each with the Oil of Exorcism, saying, "Let every 

evil spirit depart from you." 11Then, after these things, the bishop passes each of them on 

nude to the elder who stands at the water. They shall stand in the water naked. A deacon, 

likewise, will go down with them into the water. 12When each of them to be baptized has 

gone down into the water, the one baptizing shall lay hands on each of them, asking, "Do 

you believe in God the Father Almighty?" 13And the one being baptized shall answer, "I 

believe." 14He shall then baptize each of them once, laying his hand upon each of their 

heads. 15Then he shall ask, "Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was 

born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and 

died, and rose on the third day living from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat 

down at the right hand of the Father, the one coming to judge the living and the dead?"  

16When each has answered, "I believe," he shall baptize a second time. 17Then he shall 

ask, "Do you believe in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Church and the resurrection of the 

flesh?" 18Then each being baptized shall answer, "I believe." And thus let him baptize the 

third time.

19Afterward, when they have come up out of the water, they shall be anointed by the  elder with the Oil of Thanksgiving, saying, "I anoint you with holy oil in the name of Jesus Christ." 20Then, drying themselves, they shall dress and afterwards gather in the church.

21The bishop will then lay his hand upon them, invoking, saying, 
"Lord God, you who have made these worthy 

of the removal of sins through the bath of regeneration, 

make them worthy to be filled with your Holy Spirit, 

grant to them your grace, 

that they might serve you according to your will,

for to you is the glory,

Father and Son 

with the Holy Spirit,

in the Holy Church,

now and throughout the ages of the ages.


22After this he pours the oil into his hand, and laying his hand on each of their heads, says,
"I anoint you with holy oil

in God the Father Almighty,

and Christ Jesus,

and the Holy Spirit."

23Then, after sealingb each of them on the forehead, he shall give them the kiss of peace and say,

"The Lord be with you."

And the one who has been baptized shall say, 

"And with your spirit." 



To Baptise or Not to Baptise, That is the Question?




You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.
Luke 3

I don't actually know how many people I have baptized over the last 46 years, but I do know that there have been several hundred for sure! Every once in a while, one of them will show up here in this very chapel, reminding me just how old I am getting! Are any of you here today? If so, raise your hand!

The pouring of, or immersion in, water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the essence of the baptismal ritual. Every time you enter a Catholic Church, from then on, you are invited to dip your hand into baptismal water and cross yourself to remind you that you are forever an adopted child of God and to remind you of your mission to the world.  Just as God's voice from heaven said to Jesus "You are my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," at  your baptism the Church said to you, "Your are, from this day forward, God's adopted son or daughter, in whom He is well pleased."  After the water is poured over you, the priest or deacon anoints you on the top of the head with chrism - the oil used in the Bible to anoint priests, prophets and kings - and says that you and Christ are bound together, from now on and forever!

Just as Jesus' baptism marked the beginning of his ministry of love and service to the world, as his adopted children and heirs, our baptisms marked the beginning of our commission to carry on that ministry of love and service to the world until he returns in glory.  Our baptisms, not just ordinations, are initiations into ministry.  In a certain sense, we all become priests at baptism, all off us were given some share of Christ's ministry to the world.

After a lifetime of being his ambassadors, representing Christ in the world, when we have drawn our last breath and have been prepared for burial, our family and friends will bring our bodies back into the church one last time. Our baptisms and our funerals are two bookends to our lives. Just as was done at our baptism, the priest will meet your casket at the door, sprinkle it with baptismal water and dress your casket in a white pall  reminiscent of that little white dress they put on you at your baptism so many years before.  This moment at the door of the church is especially poignant for me on those occasions when I can remember baptizing the deceased many years before, as I have actually done on occasion.

Students! Today is the day we remember the baptism of Jesus, the day he officially began his public ministry. Today is also one of those days when we are asked to remember our own baptisms, the day we were officially charged with carrying on his ministry. In a few minutes, we will again renew our profession of faith in the Trinity and repeat again the vows that made for us our baptisms and vows we confirmed at our Confirmations - vows to be a force for good in the world.  To seal the deal on this renewal, I will sprinkle you again with the water used for baptisms to remind you once again that you are indeed a child of God, with whom he is well pleased!
  Students! In the next several years, many of you will get married and have children. One of the things I try to do in here is to help you start getting ready for that - help you  to make remote preparation to become serious marriage partners and parents - so that you will be ready when that time comes!  To do that, you need to be serious spiritual seekers now!   Now is the time to begin preparing yourselves for marriage and parenting. That is why renewing your own baptismal vows is so important!

Since this is the week we pray for vocations in general - vocations to carry on some part of Christ's ministry - hopefully some of you will search your hearts to see if God is calling you to lead others to holiness as a priest, deacon or religious brother or sister - to assist and support those who have been called to marriage and parenting and to bring the gospel to those who do not believe or whose faith is in crisis!   If you are called to ministry, respond like Isaiah, "Here I am, Lord, send me! I will hold your people in my heart,"  rather than try to run from it like Jonah!  

If you are called to marriage and parenting, decide today that you will break the cycle of going through a showy Catholic wedding with no intention of practicing the Catholic faith afterwards that is so common these days! Decide today that you will break the cycle of demanding the baptisms of your children with no intention of bringing those children up in the practice of the faith that is all too common today! Nemo dat quod non habet. If you don't have it yourself, you cannot give it!  Repeating the vows of your baptism and sprinkling you with the water of baptism today is just a hollow ritual if there is no intention in the heart  to renew your commitment to be a serious follow of Christ! If you are not a serious disciple yourself, going into it, there is no way you can be a serious partner in a Christian marriage, no way can you be a serious Christian parent, no way can you answer a call to ministry!  Decide today to be who you really are - a child of God, with whom he is well pleased!