Thursday, July 7, 2016



The chapel in the Kingstown Diocesan Pastoral Centre in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where I volunteer, is in desperate need of enlargement and upgrading, as you can see in the picture below. It holds about 6-8 people uncomfortably. It has no windows to outside light. It is closet-like. 

The dream of a larger chapel is part of a bigger dream to upgrade the whole diocesan center so that it be a more welcoming space for the professional volunteers who will be part of the Catholic Second Wind Guild, as well as for Bishop County and his diocesan staff and the diocesan gatherings and retreats held there. 



This is how it is envisioned. The old space would enclosed by a new glass wall with doors.

This is how the area looks now.  It is a seldom used lounge area with a wasted gorgeous view.

This is what Mass attendees would see as they face the ocean.

Rear wall with Mary statue and Stations of the Cross.

A simple altar and pulpit.

Metal and wood tabernacle stand, candle holders, processional cross and credence table.

Simple chair for the chapel, dining room and guest rooms.

If you, or your family, is interested in this unique opportunity, please let me know and we can meet to discuss the details. Imagine flying down and being there for the dedication someday in the near future! 

Father Ronald Knott


Tuesday, July 5, 2016


The Curse of Distorted Thinking 

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It has taken me 65 years to show this photograph of myself at age 8 or 9 to the public. In fact, I could not stand to look at it myself for most of my life. Look at those teeth! Look at those ears!

Why am I showing it now? I am showing it because I heard the other day that over 3% (more or less) of the population suffers from the mental disorder of distorted thinking. I spent a lot of time in my youth and young adulthood suffering from this disorder. I know there are probably even more kids out there today who suffer silently from this disorder because of our obsessively body-conscious culture. Maybe something in this post might help them.

As a child and as a minor seminarian my ears and teeth were the butt of much teasing and, as a result, much suffering on my part that led to some pretty severe distorted thinking. I remember only one adult comforting me in my situation. She was a school teacher and neighbor - Ruth Hardesty. Visibly distressed by teasing, she said to me one time, "Ronnie, don't worry about it! You will grow to fit them!" I guess I can show that photo now because I have almost grown to fit them and I don't care anymore anyway.

Today, when I look at that picture I see a sweet, kind and creative kid with the bright eyes and nice smile. I see a courageous survivor. I wished I had treated him better.  I wish I had been capable of offering him more encouragement, instead of talking down to him and believing all those criticizing and discounting comments that were hurled at him - from within and from without! I wished I had honored him more! I wished I had patted him on the back every day! 

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder characterized by an obsessive preoccupation that some aspect of one's own appearance is severely flawed and warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix it. In BDD's delusional variant, the flaw is imagined. If the flaw is actual, its importance is severely exaggerated. Either way, one's thoughts about it are pervasive and intrusive, occupying up to several hours a day. (Amen to that! I did not perform well academically in minor seminary because so much of my time was spent obsessing about how ugly I thought I looked!)

A fairly common mental disorder, affecting some 1.7% to 2.4% of the population, BDD usually starts during adolescence, and affects men and women roughly equally. Besides thinking about it, one repetitively checks and compares the perceived flaw, and can adopt unusual routines to avoid social contact that exposes it. Fearing the stigma of vanity, one usually hides the preoccupation itself. (I must have done a pretty good job at hiding my pain because people who went to school with me, even friends, seem genuinely surprised when I tell them. Some have even accused me of making it up.) Commonly unsuspected even by psychiatrists, BDD has been severely underdiagnosed. Severely impairing quality of life, BDD involves especially high rates of suicide and suicidal ideation.
It took years, as well, for me to show this picture taken when I was a sophomore in college because I thought I was hideously thin. I could barely stand to look at it myself, much less show it to others. To show you how distorted my thinking was back then, today I would love to be that weight again.


I have been healthy most of my life since I was hospitalized in the third grade for kidney poisoning caused by my tonsils. Once my tonsils had been removed, I had not been to the doctor for anything but routine physicals until the last few years. Recently, I have had out-patient rotator cuff surgery and I have been hospitalized for a blood clot. Once I started taking a couple of "old people" prescriptions, I made the mistake for a while of reading those  "product information" sheets that the pharmacist staples to your refill when you pick them up! Diarrhea, vomiting, blurred vision, suicidal thoughts, dizziness, rashes, heart attack, stroke, liver problems, deafness, difficulty speaking and sudden death ---- as I read down the list I can almost feel all of them coming on!  Because of a recent blood clot in my leg, it doesn't help that one TV ad offers to get you in touch with lawyers willing to sue those who make Xarelto is followed almost immediately by a second TV ad promising the life saving qualities of the same product.  Thee role of "product information," my doctor assures me, is more to protect the manufacturers from lawsuits than give the patient useful information. Anyone susceptible to distorted thinking should read them with a grain of salt (or in some cases a bag of salt) or he will be overcome with phantom symptoms.   


I am one of those people who likes to plan ahead because a disaster could very possibly happen and I want to be prepared. Since I read stories all the time about the growing numbers of dioceses that are underfunded in their priest retirement funds, I don't trust the Church to take care of me when I am old. I hope it does! It has promised to, but what if it can't? At fifty-five, I started making payments on an in-home nursing care policy so that I can have more options than moving into some "old priest home" that looks and feels like "seminary warmed over!" 

Since I travel a lot, sometimes to some pretty poor countries, I worry about getting sick while I am there. Health care may not be perfect here, but I do not want to be trapped in a hospital in a poor African nation or Caribbean country. Therefore, I bought an emergency medical evacuation policy a year ago. They will fly you to a good hospital nearby via an air ambulance, or back home if necessary, and even fly someone to wherever you are to escort you.   

This may be in the "slightly distorted thinking range,"  but I believe in "better safe than sorry." 


Ever since I "retired" a year and a half ago, someone pointed out that I talk a lot about aging and death. Well, I am certainly not rushing "to go," but I do like to have things in order. I don't mind seeing the spot where I will be buried, having my will up to date, my funeral arrangements pretty well nailed down and even looking at a picture of my casket - my lovely free casket to retired staff people from Abbey Caskets at St. Meinrad Archabbey.

I don't consider this is "distorted thinking," because I am planning on living for a whole lot longer. For me all this preparation is like the RONCO rotissiere oven commercial that tells us to "set it and forget it." My thinking is: why burden others with the tasks of "cleaning up after you? 


Fighting my own distorted thinking and that of others around me has been a central thread of my life. Somewhere along the line, I learned the wisdom of Henry Ford in the insight quoted above. I have learned to stand up to and reject my own distorted thinking and that of significant others around me so as to believe that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)  

In every assignment I have had as a priest, another priest has told me how impossible that assignment was going to be. I chose not to believe them each time and as a result they have been wrong in every case - whether it was becoming a priest in the first, as a home missions, as a country parish, as a vocation director, as a seminary staff member and as a "retired priest." Much of my "success" has been the result of thinking I can, while much of my "failure" has been the result of thinking I can't.  I have learned that when I am committed, Providence moves to help me to get to unimagined places..


Whether its your own distorted thinking or the distorted thinking of others, W. C. Fields was right. "It's not what they call you. It's what you answer to!"


1. All-or-nothing thinking – You see things in black-or-white categories. If a situation falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure.
2. Overgeneralization – You see a single negative event, such as a romantic rejection or a career reversal, as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words such as “always” or “never” when you think about it.
3. Mental Filter – You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors a beaker of water.
4. Discounting the positive – You reject positive experiences by insisting that they “don’t count.” If you do a good job, you may tell yourself that it wasn’t good enough or that anyone could have done as well.
5. Jumping to conclusions – You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion. 
6. Magnification – You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize the importance of your desirable qualities. This is also called the “binocular trick.”
7. Emotional Reasoning – You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are.
8. “Should” statements – You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be. “Musts,” “oughts” and “have tos” are similar offenders.
9. Labeling – Labeling is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of saying “I made a mistake,” you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” You might also label yourself “a fool” or “a failure” or “a jerk.” Labeling is quite irrational because you are not the same as what you do. Human beings exist, but “fools,” “losers” and “jerks” do not. These labels are just useless abstractions that lead to anger, anxiety, frustration and low self-esteem. You may also label others. When someone does something that rubs you the wrong way, you see them as totally bad.
10. Personalization and Blame – Personalization comes when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under your control. Some people do the opposite. They blame other people or their circumstances for their problems, and they overlook ways they might be contributing to the problem.
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Monday, July 4, 2016


I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many active duty members and veterans of our military. It has occurred to me on many occasions that I have been the recipient of religious and political freedom without doing much to earn it. It is a gift given to me by others, often by sacrificing their lives and often by suffering from debilitating wounds. I would include in my "thank you" their families and friends who have suffered with them and who have felt the pain of their loss. The very least I can do is express my gratitude when opportunities arise. I certainly want to do that today.