Sunday, December 17, 2017


Diocese of Kingstown
St. Vincent and the Grenadines

December 16 and 17, 2017



Bishop County and I standing ready in the Sacristy for the bell to ring. 

The Entrance Procession comes through the door. 

Bishop County presided and I preached under the watchful eye of the statue of St. Vincent the Deacon and under the St. Vincent and the Grenadines blue, green and yellow flag. (See homily below)

Concelebrating Mass with Bishop County.

The Cathedral youth took a leadership role during Mass

The younger youth did an Advent skit after communion. 
You can see the great musicians in the very back of the photo. 

up at the Pastoral Centre after the Saturday Night Mass

Some of the youth waiting for the food to be served at the party.

Since it was his birthday yesterday, the youth sang "Happy Birthday" to Bishop County and crowned him with some "reindeer antlers." 


In the morning I presided at the 9:00 am Mass at the Cathedral where I had the great honor and privilege of baptizing six beautiful babies. I don't think one of them cried, even though the church was very hot and the Mass was long! I did OK, but I went into it totally unprepared. They tend to prefer to "play it by ear" and "let it happen as it happens" down here. 



Communion to the Sick

Bishop County, Desmond and I took communion to Aneke Soulade (originally from Nigeria) in her home at the top of the mountain. She, until this health situation came up, has been volunteering in social service projects with Martin, a full-time volunteer from Ireland.  


The family of Elna Howard had quite a birthday party for her at her home. She and her husband, Ronnie, have been married for 70 years. They lived in the US for thirty some years, when he worked as an attorney. They have been back living and working on St. Vincent for the last thirty plus years. Some of their family from the US were visiting. Some could not make it because of it being so close to Christmas. 

Here they are at the head table. You can see the grand buffet in the background. He began by saying, "This is not a time for
speeches," but ended up giving several long ones himself. He obviously loved her very much! 

Two of the three beautifully decorated tables under the white tent. 

I got to sit with a lovely family. He is a pilot for SVG AIRLINES. His young son's name is Luke. That is Luke's grandmother, I believe, looking over his head and his mother and father across from him. 

Even the Governor General, Sir Fredrick Nathaniel Ballantyne, of SVG was in attendance.  He represents the Queen of England and he is a local surgeon.

“Clearing the Path”
Rev. Ronald Knott

Make straight  a highway for our God.
Fill in the valleys. Level the mountains.
Smooth out the rough spots. Flatten the

Roads are vitally important. We take them for granted. For the last several years I travel down the street in front of my house. It is a four-lane parkway that makes it easy to get from one side of the city to the other. However, for the last year, they have been digging it up replacing the old sewer system. There are aggravating delays and gridlock traffic every day. Down here, twice I have witnessed a road block. Once going up to St. John, there was a land slide covering the whole road!  Another time, on our way to Corpus Christi, which should have been an easy drive, was a maddening circling around and back and around again for what seemed like hours because of some road repairs. They have been digging up the street in front of my condo up home for a year, with another year to go. 

In the ancient world, roads were rare, often no more than animal paths, and generally not well kept. When a king wanted to visit part of his kingdom, he had to send messengers ahead to tell the people to prepare the roads so that he could get to them in a timely fashion, without a lot of obstacles in the way. When people out in the country got the news that the king was coming for a visit, they got to work grading the rough spots, filling in the pot holes, leveling the hills and smoothing out the bumps so that the king could have a safe and comfortable trip.

John the Baptist refers to this kind of road-work when he quotes from Isaiah the Prophet, but he isn’t talking about actual road repairs. He is a messenger, not for an earthly king, but a heavenly king. The clearing, leveling, smoothing and filling that he talks about is spiritual. He tells people to prepare themselves to welcome God into their hearts and to do that they must remove all those invisible, inner obstacles that prevent them from seeing, recognizing and welcoming God. He calls people to “clean house,” spiritually, so that God can easily get to them, where they live, into their hearts and minds.

When Jesus left his private life and began his public ministry, the first word out of his mouth was “metanoia,” “change the way you think, the way you look at things, the priorities that you now hold” so that you can see God right in front of you! He said, “you do not have to go looking for God “out there” somewhere, all you have to do is remove the scales from your eyes, take the plugs out of your ears and get out of your old-thinking rut and you will realize that God is there in front of you!  The kingdom of God is at hand!  It’s right here, right now!

My friends, Advent is about preparing ourselves to welcome God’s Son at Christmas, to allow God to change us. To be changed by God, all we have to do is remove obstacles that keep God at a distance. We don’t have to go looking for God. God has already been looking for us. He is at hand! How close is God?  Isaiah, the prophet, puts it quite tenderly. “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock and gathers the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart, leading the ewes with care.” That’s intimate! That’s close! The problem, then, is not that God doesn’t want to get close to us, it’s that we are uncomfortable having God that close. We put up barriers, roadblocks and hindrances because a God, too close, makes us nervous.

Without this inner leveling, clearing, flattening and filling in that Advent calls us to do, there is no way we will really get what Christmas is all about. Without the inner work of Advent, Christmas will end up being no more than a gaudy orgy of excess that will leave us empty once again. Advent is a spiritual retreat, a time to think and pray, a time to rid ourselves of any of those things in our minds and hearts that keep God at a distance.

Poor Advent! It doesn’t have a chance in hell. It’s not about doing more, but doing less. We are invited to empty our lives so as to make room for God.  When we hear the words “get ready for Christmas,” most people think in terms of shopping, buying gifts, decorating, baking and other frantic activities. Advent is about something else. Advent is about “getting ready for Christmas,” not in some external way, but internally. Advent is a time of retreat, spiritual renewal and a house-cleaning of the soul. The “feel good” of Christmas is a “feel good of the heart,” not of the senses. Advent is not about adding more to our lives, but about adding by taking more away. This is very hard to do in the frenzy of excess that we know as “the Christmas holidays.” It is so telling that depression and suicide spike dramatically right after Christmas in countries like mine. Expectations are raised and then not met. It’s too much for some people.

Now before you kick me out the door as a guilt-inflicting party pooper, let me tell you that I love Christmas. I have always loved it. I love it more every year. I love it more because I try harder every year to simplify my life and enjoy the invisible things more.  One of the biggest stressors was the annual gift giving nightmare.  I have four sisters, two brothers, four brother-in-laws and twenty nieces and nephews. There are five in my support group.  Trying to get something substantial, with a limited amount of money, for that many people made the weeks before Christmas aggravating and stressful. A few years ago, my brothers and sisters chose not to exchange gifts, but get together for a wonderful meal at my sister's house, have Mass together in her home and simply enjoy each other. It has been amazing. We love it so much better. The gift giving ritual actually created tensions among us. My support group gave up the practice years ago. We get together, eat and enjoy each other’s company. This gives me more time to prepare blog posts, take old people to breakfast and visit people I haven’t seen for a while. I do give one nice gift or two. I look around among the people back home who I have met over the year who are really in a financial pinch and surprise them with a small check: a single mother, an elderly widow or a struggling student. This is my second year to support your diocesan Christmas program for kids.  This year I have added Bequia, Canauan, Mayreau and Union. This year I have put a special emphasis on the kids up at the St. Benedict and Bread of Life Homes for Children.  

When I get to Christmas Day Mass, I am relaxed and rested, feeling good from the inside out. That’s what Advent and Christmas is all about: feeling good from the inside out!  That gift cannot be bought. God gives it away for free. All we need to do is clear the path and straighten the road!


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