Saturday, April 4, 2020


Never in my lifetime could I ever have imagined it!

Maybe its absence will help us treasure it more when it returns!

A televised Mass, in an empty Cathedral, with Cardinal Collins of Toronto, Canada, presiding.

I spent four weeks with Cardinal Collins and most of his nearly 900 priests a couple of years ago. I led four of his annual priest convocations over two years. He even talked me into sharing what I gave his priests with his seminarians in a retreat at his St. Augustine Seminary in Toronto.  

Cardinal Collins, personally, gave me a tour of his Cathedral (first photo above) as it was being renovated.  Cardinal Collins is a very engaging, and well known,  preacher. When I met him, he was on the Vatican Finance Committee. 

Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins

One of my favorite stories of his, one he told me over lunch one day when we were sharing stories about being marginalized as children, was the one when he said, citing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, "Oh yes, I remember not being invited to share in the reindeer games!" 

He is very charming, well-read, personable and down-to-earth. When he asked me to come back for the second year, I jokingly told him I would come back if he would come to Saint Meinrad Seminary. I expected him to be unable to accept such an invitation.  However, I was shocked when he accepted my invitation to present a prayer day for the opening of the school year.  He was a hit with the seminarians.  

I also had the privilege of talking to him alone in my car for about three hours as I drove him to and from the Louisville airport to and from Saint Meinrad Archabbey.  He is very easy to talk to! I'll never forget all my experiences with him. If we had had the time that day, I would have turned south in Corydon and taken him to see Rhodelia, my hometown! I don't think a Cardinal has ever been to Rhodelia! Heck, I don't even know if a Canadian has ever been to Rhodelia for that matter! 

Friday, April 3, 2020



I realize that most people do not have the advantage of living alone where silence and solitude are readily available. Because of that a little silence and solitude may become even more important. Therefore, people who live in families and in large groups must be very imaginative and creative in finding a few moments of quiet and solitude.

I would suggest that getting up early, earlier than anybody else,  for a quiet moment, with a cup of coffee, for some prayer time, might be part of the solution for some. Staying up later than anybody else, or even getting up in the middle of the night as I do sometime, might work for a few. 

It's a radical idea, but the family might agree to establish a "quiet zone," one  part of the house, for an hour or so each day where people can go to "get away from it all" for a few minutes. "Where there is a will, there is a way!"

Friends, remember that it is worth it to find a few moments somehow to "stay in touch" with God who is always "in touch" with us. 



Belgian woman, Suzanne Hoylaerts aged 90, dies of Covid 19 after refusing a respirator, telling her doctors "Save it for the youngest [who need it most], I've already had a beautiful life."

(for my Archdiocese of Louisville readers)


I am very grateful to WAVE 3 News who has graciously agreed to air live our Holy Week liturgies from the Cathedral of the Assumption. This is a wonderful service to the Catholic community and to all people in the WAVE viewing area (please see list of counties in our Archdiocese below) who will benefit from viewing these beautiful liturgies. Below is the lineup of these offerings on all platforms:

Watch the following Cathedral of the Assumption Holy Week services on TV (Spectrum Channel 6, Wave 3.1),, the free WAVE 3 News app on your cell phone, on Facebook and on ROKU, Amazon Fire and Apple TV:

Note: Archbishop Kurtz will preside at all liturgies except for the Wednesday Tenebrae Service.

4/5 at Noon: Palm Sunday Mass
4/7 at 7:00 p.m. Chrism Mass
4/8 at 7:00 p.m. Tenebrae Service (Cathedral pastor Fr. Michael Wimsatt Presiding)
4/9 at 7:00 p.m. Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday)
4/10 at 7:00 p.m. Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion (Good Friday)
4/11 at 8:30 p.m. Easter Vigil

WAVE TV Viewing Area:

Patti Vance also has been collecting information for your online Masses next week. A link to this information can be found on the at If you have information for your parish, please send to Patti at

Thursday, April 2, 2020



The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has issued a mandate that incoming passengers will be required to surrender their passports until the expiration of a two-week quarantine.

Incoming passengers required to surrender passports until expiration of 14-day quarantine
Over 80 passengers who arrived recently on AA#1427 from Miami were made to surrender their passports to Immigration Officers, as authorities step up efforts to ensure that persons entering St Vincent and the Grenadines complete the required two-week quarantine.


I am convinced that if I had decided on March 14 to ignore the warnings and go anyway, I could possibly be grounded down there right now with no way to get home.  I have become convinced, even consoled, that I can actually be more helpful to them from here, which I am trying my best to do. 

American Airlines has one flight a week from Miami to St. Vincent. It started a little over a year ago and is the only direct flight from the United States into Saint Vincent. 

Inter-island Liat Airlines has cut back from seven flights a day to one. This is sad for an already struggling economy with a new airport to manage, but lives matter more!  

March 31, 2020

Our Lady of Guadalupe Home for Girls as it is seen being consumed by fire. This is a home for at-risk girls, initially founded by a community of Sisters in Cane End, near the town of Mesopotamia, on the island of Saint Vincent. 

I visited the Home in April of 2016  One Saturday afternoon, I met most of the residents and took a tour. They sang a couple of songs for me and then served me lunch on the porch (as they all watched me eat it). 

The year before, 2015, I celebrated Holy Saturday Services with them at the local parish, Saint John's in Mesopotamia. For a treat, I was able to sponsor a pizza party.

Everybody made it out safely and are accounted for, thank God! The cause of the fire is still unknown at this time! 

This tragedy makes me very, very sad! 
As if their lives were not hard enough! 

I used it at my First Mass in 1970 and have played it on every anniversary since. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020


A Sunday or two ago, I woke up, fixed myself a cup of coffee and looked out the window. It all "looked" so normal, but it wasn't! I thought about all the things I used to do, all the things I could do, but couldn't do that day because I was forced by circumstances to "shelter in place," a euphemism for "being a prisoner in my own home." As much as I would have liked for all of this to go away, I knew I was totally and completely powerless to do anything about it. 

Like most people these days, I have had a lot of time to think during this epidemic. One of the things that has been on my mind most consistently are my feelings of powerlessness. 

Ever since I left home back in 1965, I have tried to be self-reliant, self-sufficient and "in charge" of my own life and its direction. Never, since 1965, have I felt as powerless over the direction of my life as I do these days. I feel if I do exercise my freedom of movement right now, it could actually kill me. 

Because of this pandemic, I cannot move about freely even though I have a car right outside the door, enough money to eat at any restaurant, shop in any store and plenty of friends in various places to go visit. Instead, here I am "locked down!" 

Because of this pandemic, I am powerless to make plans. That's hard for me because I have always loved "making plans." I will most probably have to cancel the celebrations I have been planning for my fiftieth ordination anniversary. I cannot say for sure when I will be able to return to the Caribbean missions. Vacation trips are unthinkable. The presentations I have been asked to give elsewhere have been cancelled. I have enough frequent flyer miles now on American Airlines to go about anywhere in the world, but I am powerless to make plans to use any of them. It seems my life is now "on hold until further notice." 

Because of this pandemic, I even feel powerless as a priest. I have been a priest for fifty years, but now I feel more useless and unneeded than ever. Masses have been cancelled. Hospital visits have been curtailed. Nursing home visits are prohibited. Funerals, baptisms and weddings are cancelled, on hold or delayed indefinitely. Instead of face to face ministry, it is now almost totally electronic. 

Because of this pandemic, the powerlessness I am feeling must be somewhat similar to the powerlessness that an elderly person feels when their drivers license is taken away and when they are committed to a nursing home against their will. Yes, it might be safer for them not to drive. Yes, it might even be a "nice" nursing home, but for them it is the beginning of an avalanche of "powerless" feelings: what time they go to bed, what time they get up, what they choose to eat, whether they want to take medicine, when they take a bath and even who gives them a bath! They surely feel, in many ways, that they are truly "victims of circumstance." It doesn't help when they have to listen to politicians who are beginning to insinuate that, when it comes right down to it, the elderly are "replaceable, unnecessary, irrelevant, expensive and wasting precious resources." 

Because of this pandemic, it occurred to me that all this social chaos is merely a practice run for where I am headed in the years to come as I let go of my freedoms and learn to accept powerlessness. That, my friends, scares me more than this pandemic! Maybe if I can handle this, I can handle that? I hope so, because it appears that, if I live through this pandemic, I may have no other choice! 

Last of all, as powerless as I feel, I try to remind myself over and over again, "Ron! No whining! You are still alive! You seem to be free of "underlying health issues" and you are right now safer than most health care workers! The least you can do is to resist whining about "inconveniences!" Remember the exhausted health care workers, the terminally ill and people living with families on the margins of poverty! So far, you are alive! You are not in some hospital hooked up to a respirator so get a grip and don't even think about feeling sorry for yourself!"


Monday, March 30, 2020



Unification By “Alien Invasion"
What would it take for us to work out our differences?

Posted May 25, 2018 in Psychology Today

In 2014, when he was a guest at Jimmy Kimmel Live, former president Bill Clinton talked about the possible existence of alien species out there in the ever-expanding universe. He finished the interview with a curious sentiment. “It may be the only way to unite this increasingly divided world of ours,” he said. And by “it" he meant an alien invasion from outer space.

This was not the first time this notion was put forward by a major political leader. Thirty years earlier, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in 1987, President Ronald Reagan said: “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside of this world.”

These sentiments all stem from the fact that countries, societies, and communities are getting increasingly polarized. And the future looks bleak too. Those who govern us, often find it effective to break us up strategically to conquer our attention, loyalty, and votes. Social media and online networks seem to be using our own psychological tendencies to exacerbate and calcify the divides to gain more users, views, and profits.

It seems that we are not able to naturally reverse this tide. So, before we further turn on each other, could a strictly external, common adversary do the trick?

The fantastical unifying effect of an alien invasion

Science fiction has, in fact, recurrently played with the notion of uniting humans against a common, alien enemy. Like Twilight Zone, Watchmen, the famous comic-book series and the film based on them, also imagined a main character make up the threat of a hostile alien invasion to prevent a nearing world war. Independence Day, the 1996 movie, envisioned a scenario where that invasion actually happens. And lo and behold, citizens of the world work out all their differences and unite against the common enemy to ultimately defeat it.

How realistic is this notion? Not very, unfortunately. Two top scientists on the topic, Dr. Michio Kaku and Dr. Stephen Hawking recently crushed these dreams of collective heroism against invaders from out of this world. Both agreed that, unlike our perfect track record in Hollywood movies, such an encounter would be disastrous for us, as the invasion would be likely led by aliens that are so advanced that we would be obliterated before we could even think about anything.

Hence, for now, a proper alien invasion as a precursor for a unified and harmonious world is off the table. Yet, a society that respects each other’s views and rights, and refrains from violent conflicts is far from fiction. Humans have time and time again faced the disastrous consequences of social and economic divides, which lead them to establish alliances that align their incentives and help them act in unison.

Could there be other threats out there against which all humanity can unite and actually stand a good chance? Here’s a non-exhaustive list…

Speaking of outer space, could an impending asteroid impact do the trick? You may once again recall this scenario from films, such as Armageddon and Deep Impact. While this catastrophe seems possible, it is distant both in space and time. Hence, if it will ever bring peace and balance to society, it won’t happen for some time. Not a very good candidate to help us quickly find common ground.

Does the common enemy always have to come from outer space? Not really. There’s ongoing famine in the world, for instance. One in ten people in the world are currently fighting malnourishment and millions are dying every year due to poor nutrition. The same people are also killed by a wide variety of curable diseases. Their existence is in danger. Unfortunately, however, these are problems that don’t seem to concern those who don’t have them. Thus a unifying common enemy needs to be affecting, at least potentially, everyone.

So, what about incurable diseases? Ebola? Zika? These are problems that for the most part we managed to contain so far, but could become a serious candidate. Can a virus wipe us out? Can we unite against it? Our track record in this domain, unfortunately, is discouraging. For example, quite recently we failed to unite against AIDS. Instead, it even gave rise to severe societal stereotypes and discriminations. Not a great candidate.

War is raging in different parts of the world. Civilians are killed and wounded by tens of thousands due to military conflicts. Yet, these tragedies often remain local. And now that attacks can be carried out by drones, the risks, the losses, and the skins in the game are further reduced for those who use them. Thus, a real common enemy needs to be more global. What about a nuclear war, then? This manmade sudden apocalypse would potentially obliterate millions in a manner of minutes. Yet it is still a war between us. In fact, nuclear proliferation historically expanded and strengthened divides rather than reducing them. So, unlikely to do the trick.

Climate change. Now, here’s a global problem with potential. Our planet may be changing in ways that will make all our lives miserable. Yet unlike a spaceship traveling at the speed of light through a wormhole, it is too slow, at least at this point of its progression. Its fuzzy nature also makes sure that a considerable number of people deny it even exists. World leaders met at the end of 2015 to see if they could find consensus on the issue. The outcome was “meh.” And since that accord, things have not progressed towards more unity, quite the opposite.

What about bacterial resistance? It is approaching faster than anticipated, it will affect everyone, it can take us back in time in terms of medical technology and effectiveness, and it will be a global threat. It can thus shake us to our core and credibly threaten our prosperity and survival.

WHO issued a statement in 2014 that the problem is no longer a future one. More bacteria will soon become antibiotic resistant. These are also called superbugs, microscopic super villains that can dodge all our available medicinal bullets. Until we will be able to devise remedies for them, our advanced treatment methods to treat diseases like cancer may be rendered less useful, as our immune systems weakened by these treatments will now become vulnerable to this new threat. This is a real possibility, right at our doorsteps.

Finally, artificial intelligence could eventually become a global threat. Currently, it is useful because it does what humans program. But who will be in control when these programs learn by themselves how to program others and we no longer know their goals? In time, they could easily question why humans even exist. One could make a long list of versions of such a dystopia, starting with the premise of the film Matrix. Who knows… we may be growing a population of aliens in our very midst.

Sunday, March 29, 2020



“Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”
John 11:40

Jesus had a large circle of friends, both men and women. On the fifth Sunday of Lent, we get an inside glimpse at three of those friends: Martha, her sister Mary and their brother Lazarus from the little town of Bethany, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It was that special place in the life of Jesus where he and his disciples could stop in, get some rest, enjoy a hot meal and then go on their way!  If you pay attention to the details of John’s gospel story about Martha, Mary and Lazarus, you soon realize just how close Jesus was to these people.  This is a story about intimate friends, affectionate friends.

First, we know that this Mary was the Mary who kissed Jesus’ feet in public, washing them with her tears, drying them with her hair, and rubbing them with perfumed oil.  (When was the last time anybody kissed your feet?  You must be pretty close to do that, not to mention in public!)  Read down the text and you see that John underlines, again and again, just how intimate these people were with Jesus: “Lord, the one you love is sick.”  “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus very much.”  “See how much he loved him!”  They are even so close that these two women can “chew him out” and get away with it: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would never have died.”  And finally, seeing Mary weep, we are told that “Jesus began to weep,” too.

One usually thinks of this story as the “raising of Lazarus,” but Jesus’ raising of Lazarus actually occupies a very small part of this story.  Of the forty-four verses that constitute this story, only seven of them take place at Lazarus’ tomb.  The miracle of the raising of Lazarus is the climax of this story; it is not the center.  This is a dialogue between Jesus and the two women about God’s power in our lives.

In his gospel, John’s stories always have two levels:  one on the surface which is true and another below the surface which is truer still.  This intimate story is meant to reveal to us not only the depth of their friendship, but also how intimate is God’s relationship with us!  The pain of this family is the pain of God for his people.  By listening in to the dialogue, we are also taught what they were taught:  about the depth of God’s love for us, about God’s willingness to give us new life, and about God’s power over our worst enemy – death.

(1) We are taught about the depths of God’s love for us.  One of the biggest challenges I have faced as a priest is to convince people of God’s unconditional love for them.  Why is it that so many of us have been trained by people who have dismissed these intimate stories of God’s love and have combed through the Scriptures, piecing together condemning, judging, and damning messages that they turn into a religion?  Why did they, and why do we, find those negative messages more believable?  I have received more letters questioning my “too lenient notions of God’s love” than any other critical letters since I became a priest.  Jesus revealed the “true God,” not this “false mean god” that people have created since Adam and Eve.  Even in that story, God says to Adam and Eve, “Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11).  In other words, “Who told you that you were bad, separated from me, and defective?  I certainly didn’t!”  Jesus came to talk us out of the mean God we keep creating in our own minds.  I can’t imagine trying to live my religion without being in love with God! I can’t imagine practicing a religion based on fear and dread!    

(2) By listening in on the conversation between Jesus, Martha and Mary, we are taught also about God’s willingness to give us new life.  This eternal life is on both sides of death.  Death does not have the last word.  Eternal life is not just some promise for the future; it is available to us right now.  We are in it, as we speak! Through Jesus and in Jesus, those of us who are “dead on our feet” can be resurrected now.  We can be born again.  We can act boldly on our own behalf to live purposeful lives, to help others, and to claim the powers that lie dormant within us.  One of my favorite old movies is Harold and Maude.  This is Maude’s message to Harold throughout the movie: “Oh, how the world dearly loves a cage!  There are a lot of people who enjoy being dead.” Jesus came, not just to bring a wonderful life after we are dead, but right now!  

(3) And, as this gospel teaches us, God has power over our worst enemy – death.  We live in a death-denying culture.  Some of our expensive funeral practices would leave outsiders with the impression that we believe that we are going to come up with a cure for death someday!  That makes about as much sense as leaving the runway lights on for Amelia Earhart.  We don’t even know how to die.  Modern medical technology robs us of the spiritual experience of “letting go” of this part of our life.  Through Jesus and in Jesus, we are able to see in death that “life is changed, not ended.”  I feel sorry for those who are conscious at death’s door without this faith. 

Over the years, I have had the awesome privilege of talking to some very conscious people getting ready to die: especially those with AIDS and with cancer.  Some were not pious people, but most were deeply spiritual.  Some were able to tell me that they accepted their approaching deaths and they wanted to “do it well.”  Some were extremely thankful for the “eternal life” they had experienced in this world.  Some looked with “joyful hope” for the “eternal life” ahead of them.  You know, if you’re facing death, it doesn’t get any better than that!  I hope I can do half as well. I pray for the ability to be conscious, filled with gratitude and ready to go when the time comes! Yes, I want to be conscious! I want to choose to let go and leap into that great unknown, to leap into the arms of God!

The message in this gospel is this:  God loves you very, very much.  He wants you to enjoy the eternal life that you experience right now, and he wants you to know that death does not have the last word.  You can enjoy “eternal life” forever, yes starting right now!


My friends, I hope you have enjoyed my journey through the hotspots of Lent: the desert, the mountain, the well, the doctor and the grave. The disciplines of Lent (prayer, fasting and almsgiving) are important external ascetical practices, but it is what happen inside us that count. Unless there is some change in our hearts, minds, outlooks and behaviors, all those ascetical practices are, in my book, just one big waste of time! As I Samuel (16:7) says, “People see externals, but God sees into the heart.”