Thursday, December 31, 2020

GOOD-BYE 2020 - HELLO 2021

So I'll Never Forget, I Wrote It Down
   Order your copy from MY BOOKSTORE link on the right of this page

Good riddance! I am happy to see an end to the political and the health nightmares we have been through, especially since the end of last February! I am looking forward to hopefully getting back to a "normal" political climate and I am looking forward to getting both of my Covid-19 vaccination shots so that I can hopefully get back to leading a somewhat "normal" life!  I don't want to go through either of those nightmares ever again! 

I will always remember 2020 as the "Year of the Face Mask and Other Personal Protective Equipment." the "Year of the Respirator," the "Year of Toilet Paper," the "Year of Live-Streamed Masses," the "Year of the Essential Worker," the "Year of the Morgue Truck" and "the Year of the So-Called Rigged Election." How could a year with such a perfect sounding number, 2020, turn out so badly? 

Tomorrow, letting by-gones be by-gones, I look forward to a new political climate, getting my vaccines shots (as many as I can get), eating out more and having people in more and maybe even traveling again. I will try to never complain about "normal" again!  Today, at least, "normal" sounds "heavenly" to me! 

Of course, in hindsight, I hope to see that there may have been several "good things" about 2020. My list may be short now, but I hope that by looking back on 2020 I will be able to add more and more "good things" to my list. Right now, I realize that I learned in 2020 just how fragile life can be, just how convenient "normal" is and just how lucky I am just to have survived. Right now, I realize that I learned in 2020 just how grateful I am to have health care, how grateful I am to have food and an income, how grateful I am to have a safe and comfortable place to live and how grateful I am for scientists who are able create a vaccine against this pandemic. 

HELLO, 2021
Welcome! Come on in! So glad to see you! 
Now tell me where I can get those vaccinations!!!!

What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives 
haven’t even happened yet.” 
Anne Frank

Wednesday, December 30, 2020



Vincentians Urged to Stay Away As La Soufriere Volcano Oozes Magma

The Seismic Research Centre at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine is monitoring the La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent after reports of some volcanic activity on December 29.

The alert level associated with the volcano, was on Tuesday, raised from yellow to orange, the third-highest on the four-color scheme, as the volcano entered an effusive eruption stage.

This means that magma is oozing from the volcano and is distinct from the explosive eruption, such as that of 1979, although one could follow the other.

With the orange alert, residents of the northern third of St. Vincent – from Georgetown to Fancy, in the east, and north of Belle Isle, in the west — have been told to prepare to evacuate at short notice, should such an order be given.

“What is happening now is a serious thing. The volcano is erupting,” Professor Richard Robertson of the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre, in Trinidad and Tobago, told reporters by video link.

He said that scientists would try their best to give at least 48 hours warning in the case of an explosive volcano.

“We are trying to make sure you have whatever the time you need to move people out of harm’s way — whether it is 48 hours, 24 hours, whatever time that is. We want to be in a position to give you that and we will try as hard as we can to that,” said Robertson, whose team could be in St. Vincent, bringing additional equipment as soon as Wednesday evening.

“I think you have to prepare for a rocky road for the next couple of months, unfortunately. Prime Minister, I think St. Vincent dodge COVID, but I am not sure you are dodging the volcano, unfortunately,” Robertson said.

Speaking at the same press conference, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, urged residents in the red zone to be ready to evacuate at short notice but emphasized that the alert was not an order to evacuate.

Robertson said that increased activity had been noted at La Soufriere since November 16.

He said that while notifying the public – this is a decision for Kingstown, as there had been similar levels of activity at the volcano, in the past, which were not followed by an eruption.

However, there were eight activities on December 23, followed by a quiet period during which no activity was recorded.

Then on Sunday, the center’s staff was made aware that a NASA satellite had detected a hotspot in the crater of the volcano.

Therefore, the center arranged with Kingstown’s, National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) to visually investigate what was happening.

When the La Soufriere Monitoring Unit, in Kingstown, visited the 4048-feet high volcano on Tuesday, they discovered that there is a diffusive emission of magma extruding out of the volcano.

“What is happening now is similar to what was happening in 1971-1972,” he said, adding that unlike then, there is no lake in the volcano.

“But you have the same kind of mass growing on the side. The mass is currently confined in the crater of the volcano. Because of the configuration of the crater, a lot of the hazards, as it presently stands, are in the crater itself and on the immediate rim of the crater. So the hazard would be from the rock itself, which is simply coming out and the rock is going to be hot, so you don’t want to be close to when it’s growing.”

He said that the other threat is the possibility of something else happening and warned against unofficial persons visiting the doom of the volcano, saying that in addition to the dangerous emissions, rapid change at the crater is a serious threat.

“Don’t do it. It’s a bad idea… I’ll say this about volcanoes, no matter what people think, and La Soufriere is one of them: whatever you think – the volcano, when it does what it does, you take action, otherwise it is too late for you. So those who go on the mountain and want to look in and get overcome by gasses – I hope they are just sensible enough not to put themselves in harm’s way.”

He said the volcano either erupts effusively as is happening now or explosively, as in 1979.

He said that in the coming weeks or months, scientists will evaluate whether the volcano is moving from one stage to the next and try to give enough warning so that residents could take the necessary actions. Robertson, however, said that the eruption could remain just effusive.

According to Prime Minister Gonsalves, the center is expected to deploy a team to St. Vincent and the personnel could arrive as soon as Wednesday.




Posted on Dec 16, 2020

There’s nothing cozier than the warm glow of a Christmas tree filling a room. Add the scent of live evergreen, and you’re practically living in a Hallmark movie.

But once the holidays pass and January creeps in, the task of removing your beloved tree awaits. For many, this may seem a solemn duty, signaling the end of a joyous season and the beginning of several holiday-less months ahead. But there is some good news: Instead of throwing your live Christmas tree out with the trash, you can give it new life… as a fish habitat!

You read that right. The tree that’s currently twinkling in your living room could soon be home to native Kentucky species like Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, and Crappie. Through a program called “Christmas for the Fishes,” the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife (KDFW) collects discarded Christmas trees and sinks them in bodies of water around the state to create fish habitats.

This is needed due to the depleted woody habitat in many of Kentucky’s lakes and reservoirs, especially those in excess of 50 years old, explained Joseph Zimmerman, a fisheries biologist for KDFW.

“The vast majority of lakes in Kentucky have some age on them,” Zimmerman said. “Fish need structure in order for them to feed. They need structure for cover and refuge. Because of the lake age in Kentucky, a lot of that woody debris is broken down or might be covered up in sediment. A lot of our lakes have big winter drawdown – if you go visit some of the lakes in Kentucky during winter, they look like a moonscape. It’s those areas where there is no woody debris on the bottom where we go in and build sites for fisheries.”

Staff at KDFW have been running this program since the 1970s, but volumes have significantly picked up as of late. Zimmerman said tree donations have skyrocketed from a couple thousand to upwards of 6,000 in recent years.

Depending on a site’s specific needs, KDFW may place up to 100 trees in one location.

“We’ll place these Christmas trees in areas based on the specific lake management goals,” Zimmerman said. “So, for instance, if we build a habitat site on a large flat in a lake, we may cluster it up real tall to create a ‘reef of Christmas trees’ by placing 50 to 100 trees in one location.”

Once the habitat is placed, KDFW staff can evaluate its success using electrofishing equipment. (At one point, they tried scuba diving, but visibility was too low in Kentucky’s murky lake waters.) Electrofishing is a technique used by fisheries biologists to sample and study fish populations in bodies of freshwater.

“We tend to find out the sites where we cluster these habitat sites in 75-80 Christmas trees, the more fish they’re going to hold,” he said.

Habitat building is necessary regardless of the “Christmas for the Fishes” program, so having access to already-cut trees is a big advantage from both an environmental and feasibility standpoint.

“This program is an easy way to get a lot of woody material to put in our lakes,” Zimmerman said. “We use Christmas trees because they’re already cut. Otherwise, we would spend a lot of time throughout the year going to areas and collecting trees for fish habitat. It’s a lot for work having to cut your own trees and haul them to the lake.”

The goal? To create a gratifying environment for anglers across the state. KDFW publishes GPS coordinates of these habitats online so that fisherman can easily access them.

“The angler catch is the end goal,” Zimmerman said. “When you get a phone call or an email from an angler that says they found one of our sites and that they caught a lot of crappie, that’s the rewarding side of the job. A lot of these sites really attract a lot of gamefish. If you create that kind of predator-prey interaction, those will be areas where our anglers can improve their catch.”

Interested in recycling your Christmas tree into a fish habitat?
First, remove any lights, ornaments, or other artificial decorations from your live tree. Then, drop it off at one of the more than 30 sites across the state designated by the KDFW. This year, collection will begin immediately following the holidays and run through Jan. 15. Sites are open during daylight hours only (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and will be unstaffed but clearly marked using signage. To find a drop off location near you, visit

By Kelsey Thomas

Tuesday, December 29, 2020



During this pandemic, it has been hard to stay positive and see anything good in it. After I got home from my latest of three funerals (Eddie Hardesty),  I went to my computer to look at the live-stream recording to see how it went. As I was watching the funeral in beautiful color, I started to think about how much more unbearable it would be if we had to go through this pandemic without computers! 

We have been able to stay connected, even while maintaining "social distance." We have been able to grocery shop and Christmas shop from home and have it all delivered wherever it needed to go. We  can talk to friends, family and grandchildren as if they were right in front of us. I can talk to my friends, as I see them "live" on the screen, as far away as Ireland, Germany and the Caribbean. We can do it as often as we like and mostly for free!

Maybe one of the greatest advantages of the computer is the ability to stay connected to our churches without having to be there. We can watch Sunday Masses live-streamed from our parishes in living color! We can even attend funerals of loved ones even if we are too old, too busy, too scared or too far away to attend. I noticed as I watched Eddie Hardesty's funeral a couple of days following, over 500 people had already viewed the video, even though no more than 50 people were there in person!  

Yes, even with "clouds" there seems to be a "silver lining." During this pandemic, one of the biggest "silver linings" has to be the computer. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020


"Extra Chrispy" George Hamilton

This year each child in Saint Benedict Home for Children (an orphanage) received $25.00 USD. Out of that, each child will make a donation to the parish Christmas collection where they go to church. (I like to add a teaching element to everything we do down there.) We want to teach them to be givers, not just takers. Out of what's left, they went shopping for their own Christmas present in Kingstown and bought lunch at the Kentucky Fried Chicken and took it home for safety concerns. Sister taught them something about Kentucky and where their gifts came from in the USA. (I have provided a world map, a United States map and a Kentucky map along with some pictures of famous Kentuckians and places.) (Again, I like to add a teaching element to everything we do down there.) If they had any change left over, it went into their personal savings accounts that we set up for each child. I believe that the knowledge each child will have that they actually have a little growing "nest egg" will have a profound affect on their self-esteem and morale.

The savings accounts are a new idea, but a very important one. In the past, when and if it was time to leave the Home they had nothing to begin a new life outside.  We will continue to put small amounts into their savings accounts as we go along.


Can you hear "My Old Kentucky Home" on the steel drum?
The excited kids all saying "thank you!" Notice
the photo of "Father Ronald" high up on the wall surrounded by garlands.
Waiting for their bus ride to town to shop for their Christmas
presents, they are waving their money around. For most, it might 
be their first time to have their own money. 
More excitement and anticipation 

Nothing like a Kentucky Fried Chicken box after a hard
day of shopping. Sister Nyra Anne said they were "starving" by the time they
got home from their shopping trip to town. 

KFC boxes and kids as far as the eye can see! 
(I may have to give Sister Nyra Anne photography lessons!)
Even the young one's love KFC
Even the staff can't wait to dig in! 
Even those who need help eating, enjoyed their KFC box. Many in the orphanage 
are severely handicapped. 

Below are some of the reports from the kids themselves about their shopping trip

Dear Fr. Ron

Please find quotes of the children thanking you and other donors for your Christmas blessings.

“I bought a kitchen set, a doctor set, a toy phone, and a water toy with rubber bands inside” – Kelsie Cato

“I bought a water balloon, three slimes, a doctor set, a new play toy phone, and a hand sanitizer and I want to thank Father Ronald for the money” – Kashaniah Patterson

“With my money, I bought a magic wand, five slimes, a beauty set and a dolly and I would thank Ronald Knott for the money because he is a donor and I’m happy for that” – Skye Roberts

“I thank Father Ron and other donors for giving us the money to buy gifts and KFC. I bought a glass, a birthday glasses and a birthday ribbon” – Reecia Sutherland (Her birthday was the day after shopping day).

“I bought a toy car and water balloon” – Edmond Medford

“I thank Father Ron for the money and gift. I got a new car, working things, phone and pictures” – Daniel Alexander

“I thank you for going to town and for the gifts” – LeeTanya Davis

“I thank Father Ron and I enjoy myself a lot in town” – Aneisha Sutherland

“I am thankful for the Christmas tree, light, and camera” – Zimran Gage

Thank you. God bless you. Yours truly,

Sr Nyra Anne Pajotte O. Carm. 

Kimberley (above) and Catherine (below), two of my most dependable helpers, help unbox, sort and prepare 
the "goody bags" and snacks for the children of Saint Vincent and the Grenadine. 

A few of the 300 "goody bags" we made available to the kids on Saint Vincent and the four outer island parishes. 
Some of the appreciative children of Corpus Christi Parish
Another thankful child with her Dollar Tree elf doll and candy. 
A proud father and son.
A happy young girl.
Did you notice the young child in the bucket on the right? Is it a bath or a
swimming pool? Cute! 
More grateful children with their snacks and "goody bags" in hand. 


Our "goody bags" filled and ready to be given out.  
Snack plates ready to be served.
A whole lot of happy kids.

JOY TO THE WORLD by Father Peter and the kids of our Lady of Lourdes Church
when they got their "goody bags" and Christmas snacks. 


A committee member helps prepare some of the "goody bags." 

A few of the "dressed for a party" kids with their "goody bag" gifts at the Cathedral.  

Open the box!

Come and get yours! 

Everyone got theirs? 

Looks like a lot of happy kids!


Father Boniface calls them up one at a time.

One happy young boy!

Two excited young girls!

Everyone got theirs? 



Thank you, donors! 
You made a lot of kids happy this Christmas!


Friday, December 25, 2020




Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged


Rev. Ronald Knott 

December 25, 2020


The angel said to the shepherds. “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you and all people good news of great joy. A savior has been born to you.

Luke 2:11


Do you know what the first thing human beings said to God? According to the Book of Genesis, the first thing we said to God was this: “I was afraid.”  The word “afraid” appears many, many times in the Bible, most of the time along with the command, “Do not be afraid.” They were the words of Gabriel when he appeared to Mary when she first conceived. They were the words of the angel to Joseph when he decided to accept Mary and her unexpected pregnancy. They were the words the angel said to the women after the resurrection. They were the words of Jesus to his disciples when he appeared to them in the upper room after he had risen from the dead. They are his words to the shepherds in the gospel today and they are words addressed to us gathered here again this Christmas, in the midst of a COVID epidemic at the year 2020! 

As one who has preached 50 Christmases, it has occurred to me several times that more often than not, we have the tendency to reduce the Christmas story we just read to childish sentimentalism, when underneath it  has at its core a very adult and real message of hope in times of great disappointment and loss.  When we reduce it to pious sentimentalism, we can just keep it safely “out there” somewhere. When we infantilize it and reduce it to mere “cuteness,” “sweetness,” “sentimentalism,” and “niceness” we don’t have to deal with its very adult message. Santa Claus is for children, but the message of Christmas is for serious adults.  

“Do not be afraid,” is a message directed to the shepherds and to us! “Do not be afraid,” however, is easier said than done! Most of us are afraid at some time or another and some of us all the time. We are afraid of the dark, afraid of being alone, afraid of strangers, afraid of flying, afraid of heights, afraid of the water, afraid of germs, afraid of getting old and sick, afraid of dying, afraid of crowds, afraid of closed spaces, afraid of failure, afraid of success and, yes, afraid to move on after a terrible loss - the list goes on and on.

It occurred to me the other day that the fear we experience after a loss is not so much about fear of what has happened to the person we lost, but fear about what is going to happen to us without the one we lost.  Sometimes the hardest part of a loss isn’t letting go of the past, but rather learning to start over. It is embracing a “new way of being” that most fills us with doubt and fear. It’s as if the question “What am I going to do now?” keeps flashing before our eyes without letting up! My own niece summed it up quite well when her young husband died of cancer. “I knew who I was yesterday, but I don’t know who I am today!” That’s what fear is usually all about – not the past, but the future – our future.

Five years ago, I had to go through the death of a dream I had for retirement. It hit suddenly and it hit hard, leaving me disappointed, angry and confused. I had to come to terms with the fact that the future I expected, wanted and planned on for years was not going to happen after all. I went through a grieving process – a painful process of letting go. One day, I read something that restored my hope and helped me let go. This is what it said: “A “plan B life” can be just as good or better than a “plan A life.” You just have to let go of that first dream and realize that God has already written the first chapter of the new life that awaits you. All you have to do is start reading that new chapter.” Thinking about it, this has been true over and over again in my life. As it turned out, my plan B life is actually better than my plan A life would have been.

As I waited for God to reveal “plan b” for my next few years, I remembered a quote from Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, that applied to me.  You will probably remember part of the quote, but maybe not know who said it. “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

Jesus was right when he said, “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.”  In my own life, it seems that the closer I have become to God, the less afraid I have become of life’s ups and downs. The older I get, the more I can look back on the times I was afraid and realize that most of it was useless. I like to think of it as practice for facing the “big fear,” my fear of dying.  The more times I have been able to let go of my fears and chose to trust God, the more I can do it.  Most of the things I worried about never happened. In fact, most of the time when I have been able to trust God, unimaginable good things have happened instead. I did get through the seminary, even though the head priest at St. Thomas Seminary called me a “hopeless case!” I did enjoy my assignment in Somerset even though I thought it was going to be hell! I was successful at the Cathedral even though I thought it was way beyond my abilities. Even though I thought the world was coming to an end when the sexual abuse scandal hit Louisville, it led to writing my column in the Record weekly for fourteen years and publishing 32 books instead. I thought my years as a vocation director was a disaster, but instead it led to a $2 million dollar grant to implement my dream of starting the Institute for Priests and Presbyterates at St. Meinrad Seminary. I thought leaving Saint Meinrad was a disaster, but now am happy working in the Caribbean missions.   

Friends, the words in Isaiah are meant for us. “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: be strong, fear not!” The words of the angels to the shepherds in the gospel today are meant for us: “Do not be afraid!” The words of Jesus in both the gospels of Mark and Luke are also meant for us, “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.”  These words are invitations to turn it all over to God and wait for “plan b” to reveal itself.  Remember, also, that many of the things that appear to be a tragedy one year may become something marvelous, more marvelous than we could ever imagine, the next! The secret is not to give up or give into our fear. As Dale Carnegie said “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”  Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” An unknown author said this, “Don’t get discouraged; it is often the last key on the ring that opens the lock.”

And so, I say to any of you whose hearts are frightened today, “Be strong! Fear not!” Today’s breakdown may just be tomorrow’s breakthrough.  In the meantime, tell yourself this: “Do not be afraid! With God’s help, I will be able to handle this too!”


Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy.


Thursday, December 24, 2020



This was sent to me from Fergal over in Ireland, my SVG volunteer partner in SVG. We know it by 

"Lo, How A Rose 'Er Blooming," but this video adds a Irish touch - instruments and voices.   


Reprinted from The Record December 17, 2020


Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host…praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”

Luke 2:13-14 

As I think about all of you who have attended any of my seven Blue Christmas Masses, and those of you who would have attended this year if not for COVID, I am aware of so much sadness, loss and grief that I really don’t know where to start!

I thought long and hard about whether to cancel this year’s Blue Christmas Mass, but I concluded that it might be the safer thing to do. One of the suggestions for replacing it was to publish what I would have said that night in The Record for people to read, while hoping things will be better next year.

Every year, I have tried to find something in the Christmas readings that speak to those who are experiencing sadness and grief during the holidays. This year I want to focus on the singing angels in Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus.

In Luke’s version of the Gospel, Jesus is presented to us as a God with a big heart, a God who embraces all, especially the poor, the left out, women, children, the sick and the those going through pain and loss. Jesus is reported as crying in John's gospel when his close friend, Lazarus, died. 

A perfect example of this tenderness is Luke’s inclusion of singing angels at the birth of Jesus. His Jewish readers would have known that if Jesus had been born at home in Nazareth, the neighbors would have swarmed the house with musical instruments, ready to burst into song, when it was announced that “it’s a boy!” In the absence of joyful neighbors, Luke has singing angels filling in to replace what was missing, bringing joy to the holy family’s sad predicament and reminding readers that God is with us, even in situations like theirs. “Emmanuel” means “God-with-us!”

The first Christmas is a portrait of separation, poverty, pain and tragedy. In spite of that, what the angels saw brought them to singing. They saw through that dark veil and saw a savior being born, relief from sin and a glorious destination for God’s people.

Friends, we often tend to forget that God is present when things are going well and tend to think God is absent when things are going badly. The truth is that God is also there with us even in the bad times. Luke makes that gloriously obvious in his touching stories.

As I contemplated how this story of the singing angels at Jesus’ birth, might apply to those of you who are grieving, either from losses of years past or from losses only recently, several things came to mind.

First, do not stifle your grief. If you suppress grief too much it can well redouble. Second, the more loss you feel, the more grateful you should be for whoever it was that you had to lose. It just means that you had something worth grieving over. Third, if you feel like crying, go ahead! As Patty Loveless used to sing, “Cry and cry if it makes you feel better.” Research has found that shedding emotional tears, besides being self-soothing, releases oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals reduce physical pain and ease emotional pain. Fourth, grief is really an aching heart trying to reconcile itself with a painful reality that you find extremely hard to accept. Reconciliation with reality takes time.

Last of all, someday soon you will hopefully come to realize that your loss is actually gain for those for whom you grieve. They are in God’s embrace. As you grieve your loss, as you feel your hurt and as you shed your tears, know that they are now part of that same multitude of the heavenly host that sang at the birth of Jesus.  Just as that heavenly choir looked down on that pathetic scene around the birth Jesus  – a poor young couple away from home without their family’s support and having to give birth to the Savior of the world in a smelly animal stall – they look down on your grief and sing to you of the love that God has for you and your loved ones!  

Finally, if you found any of these words helpful, feel free to cut them out, copy them and send them anyone who might benefit from them. For more weekly encouragement go to this blog:












Sunday, December 20, 2020



The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a virgin named was Mary. He said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” She was greatly troubled at what was said. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you will conceive in your womb, bear a son and name him Jesus. Mary said, “I am the Lord’s handmaid. Let it be done to me according to your word.” 

Luke 1:26-38

God created us and God invites us, over and over again, during our lives to growth and change. In other words, he offers us his grace, his free unsolicited help, so that we can become all that he has called us to be. The only thing God requires of us in return for the investment he makes in us is a “yes” or “no” response of acceptance or rejection.

All of you married people said your “yes” to God, in a formal way, when you originally made your weddings vows! You have said your “yes” again and again, every year that you have renewed your vows. Most importantly, you have said your “yes” every day you got out of bed and put your feet to the floor and carried out your marriage commitments. I have done the same, in my own way, every day for fifty years since I was ordained.

God does not require that we be perfect, he only requires that we be in a serious relationship with him – that we give him our best. He knows that our best is better on some days than other days, but that’s OK as long as we keep coming back to try again. 

I define personal and spiritual suicide as the result of always saying “no” to God’s invitations to growth and change. The biggest sin is not to fail, but to never really try! I am so convinced of this dynamic that I wrote a book about it two years ago. This book is really my autobiography. I sat down and wrote about all those times I can remember being offered an opportunity to growth and change from age six to the present. I tracked the times I said “yes” and how those “yeses” have made me who I am today. That little book is entitled BETWEEN COURAGE AND COWARDICE: Choosing to Do Hard Things for Your Own Good.

As I read the story of the angel Gabriel’s message to Mary today, and thought of last Sunday’s story of the baptism of Jesus when he heard a voice from heaven, I was reminded of many similar invitations that have come to me during my own life. None of them were delivered by angels, but I believe they came from God, none the less! Whether you are aware of them or not, you have had similar invitations in your own life.

Remember those old cowboy movies? Remember the scenes when the good guys are “holed up” in a little cabin outside town, surrounded by “bad guys?” Inevitably, the “bad guys” would tie a message to a rock and throw it through the only window in the cabin. I have always thought that was a good image of the invitations that come to us from God. It’s like we are just going along comfortably doing our thing, when one day a rock comes crashing into our lives with a message attached that reads, "You have just been invited to change! Signed: God!" Once you have been through this enough times, you know how it works! You are then ready to start "throwing rocks through your own windows." You no longer wait till change comes to you, you go out to meet it. You "induce your own labors pains" of growth and change. 

A favorite “throwing rocks through my own windows” story from my autobiography, happened at the end of my tenure as your pastor. After fourteen successful years as pastor of this Cathedral, even though Archbishop Kelly told me I could stay as long as I wanted, I started to think that "it was time” to move on. I set up an appointment with Archbishop Kelly and told him I thought my time was up - that I had made my contribution. Even though I had just "caused" that change and "set it in motion," I remember sitting in my car, after I left his office, feeling like I had just committed professional suicide. In the following weeks, I felt like my niece after her husband’s funeral, when she said, “I knew who I was yesterday, but I don’t know who I am today.” My time in that painful "in between world" was shortened greatly because of all that I had learned in previous years about change. In a year or two, I found myself happily in yet another wonderful job as a staff member at Saint Meinrad Seminary.

At the end of those wonderful fourteen years at Saint Meinrad, having reached the age of seventy, I “induced labor” yet again and decided to go into retirement. Even though that transition did not go smoothly, and that "in between world" was painful, I came out of it again and arrived at a new level of excitement as a volunteer in the Caribbean Missions. I am sure the day will come when I will have to give that up too - either by circumstance or by choice! 

On this day when we remember Mary saying “yes” to God that led to the birth of our Savior, let's remember our “yeses” to God when we either got married or was ordained, let's remember the many times you said “yes” to God when you accepted a child or I took on new ministries and finally let's look forward to all the “yeses” we will make to God before that big “yes” when we have to leave this world! How will we be able to keep saying all those “yeses?” We will do it like we have always done it - with God’s help - because “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)