Thursday, May 14, 2020


This is the first in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that most of us do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against hast and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same. 

"Going to Bed"


Most people "go to bed." It is something that most of us do every night, but it occurred to me that most of us probably do it without much thought or real intention. 

During this pandemic, on my 76th birthday in fact, I decided to make "going to bed" more of a sacred ritual beyond merely "hopping into the sack" and rattling off a few prayers "just in case" I don't wake up again! 

Living alone, I have gotten into the habit of getting the most mileage I can out of my bed sheets between washings. Since retirement, I haven't even been making my bed as often as I used to because I never know when the desire for a quick nap might overtake me. It is very much akin to the complaint we used to give our mother when she insisted we wash the windows in the spring. "Why bother? They'll just get dirty again!" 

In my birthday musings I resolved that I would start being more intentional about my nightly "going to bed." I decided to treat it as the sacred ritual it deserves. I came to the conclusion that I would start preparing my bed with care and attention.

First, there is something to be said for fresh clean sheets (or even better, new ones), "turned down" to look like an engraved invitation to enter a sacred place where your body is invited to rest itself. I decided to see my bed as a "sacramental," a holy object for rest after a wearisome and stressful day. 

Second, atmosphere is important. There is something to be said for order, lighting and even smells. I decided to make sure all my clothes are put away, the lighting is soft and welcoming and even the smells are inviting, especially if I intend to relax for a while with a good book. Things like scented candles and fresh flowers need not be reserved only for the living room and dining room when guests come over. 

A relaxing warm shower, with a special soap or body wash, followed by fresh, weather-appropriate night-wear, and a good book (prayer or inspirational) all tell the body that it is time for rest without the need for sleeping pills or alcohol that anesthetize the mind and trick the body. I already knew better than watching the news an hour or two before going to bed, especially these days. 

I understand that these rituals probably need to be adapted for couples, but I think these rituals can certainly be adapted, and once adapted, they might serve to strengthen their bond by making "going to bed" more restful, relaxing and peaceful. Do it as a surprise for your partner! 

If you have any health care workers in your home (or any other persons required to work outside the home), you might consider rewarding them by carrying out these rituals for them! Help them by creating a haven of rest, a place of comfort, a sacred recovery sanctuary they can come home to. Get some flowers, place some small chocolates on the side table, light a candle, turn down the bed, lay out the night clothes, buy the nice body wash, fluff the towels, offer a prayer book, create an atmosphere of quiet - ask them what else they need to rest up before going back out. 

I once heard a German wise saying that goes like this: "A clear conscience makes a soft pillow." I am thinking here about "going to bed" free of fear, dread, pain or guilt - fear of being robbed and attacked, dread of what tomorrow will bring, pain that is chronic (either physical and emotional) or guilt about some unresolved injustice. Whoever is free from those demons should especially thank God before going to bed. 

Along that same vein, maybe it’s time to bring back the ancient practice of “examining our consciences” so that we can take stock of our bad choices, thoughtless judgments and lazy decisions in order to become masters of ourselves and be able to focus our lives in more life-giving directions. If we cannot establish mastery over ourselves, we will eventually become victims of our own passions. 

The Roman philosopher Seneca said, “We should every night call ourselves to an account. What infirmity have I mastered today? What passions opposed? What temptation resisted? What virtue acquired? Our vices will abort themselves if they be brought every day to the shrift.” 

Even secular intellectuals have recognized the value of calling oneself to account by using the term “autocritique,” a “methodological attempt to step away from oneself through a process of self-objectification.” 

St. Bernard taught: “As a searching investigator of the integrity of your own conduct, submit your life to a daily examination. Consider carefully what progress you have made or what ground you have lost. Strive to know yourself. Place all your faults before your eyes. Come face to face with yourself.” 

St. Pius X summed up our long tradition in this regard when he said, “The excellence of this practice and its fruitfulness for Christian virtue are clearly established by the teaching of the great masters of the spiritual life.” Leonardo da Vinci was right when he said, “One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.” 

Whatever you do, do it well, whether it is eating or sleeping or working! Be more intentional! Savor each moment! There is so much today that we have so little power over, why not take control of the little we can? Other-love begins with self-love! Why not make the ordinary, like going to bed, a sacred life-giving ritual? 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020



I am standing in my newly completed  monument in Cave Hill Cemetery, entitled "Father Knott: A Louisville Giant."  It will be dedicated when this carona virus pandemic is lifted or when hell freezes over - whichever comes first. 

 I have been offered the lead role in a new movie about Colonel Sanders called "Chicken Man: the Early Years." I have grown the beard and already passed the cholesterol test for grease in my arteries.  My contract promises "a bucket of chicken every day for life." My agent stipulated that it had to be "extra crispy," plus a side of biscuits and gravy. 

Very few people know that I was paid a fortune from 1975-1980 when I was a model for a Clairol hair-products commercial while serving as the first Catholic priest to live in Monticello, Kentucky. It was during those days that the rock musical "Hair," was composed about my years in Monticello and was first staged in Chicago.  

Two years ago, I personally discovered Amelia Earhart's plane wreckage, purse, cell phone and bleached bones on a secluded beach in the Caribbean after making a forced landing on one of the small deserted islands. I had to leave the plane wreckage, but her bones and cell phone are in her black purse that I carried from the crash scene. 

You can imagine my shock when Jerry Springer recently announced this on national TV in front of a live audience:
 "Father Knott, you are the Father!!!!!" 

When my eye doctor, Dr. Susan Smith, suggested that I might need a "blind date," I immediately agreed and answered "yes" thinking I knew what she meant! Silly me! She meant I needed an appointment for cataract surgery on both eyes!

When I was introduced to "His Holiness," I was still having problems with my cataract surgery. I thought it was the Pope offering to make me a Cardinal. I foolishly said, yes," only to find out that I was about to be named the Fifteenth Dalai Lama. Archbishop Kelly made me decline the offer, reminding me that I was not a Buddhist. I should have known it was a mistake because the present one is more than a year younger than me -- at that time too young to retire as the Fourteenth Dalai Lama! 

This was my second grade nun, Sister Mary Ancilla, who said to me, after I had flunked her Latin altar boy test for the third time, "Ronnie, you are a good kid, but I don't think you'll ever be any good around the altar!" I waited till I was ordained and almost retired, and she was in a wheel chair, to give her a dozen "squirting" red roses as a revenge joke! They sprayed her good! With water everywhere, we both laughed. I told her, "Sister, you're a good nun, but I don't think you'll ever be any good around the baptismal font!" 
We are now even!