Thursday, July 22, 2021


The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once told a story about a circus that caught fire. The flames from the circus fire spread to the fields surrounding the circus grounds and began to burn toward the village below. The circus master, convinced that the village would be destroyed and the people killed unless they were warned, asked if there was anybody who could go to the village and warn the people.

The clown, dressed in full costume, jumped on a bicycle and sped down the hill to the village below. “Run for your lives! Run for your lives! A fire is coming and the village is going to burn!” he shouted as he rode up and down the streets of the village. “The village is going to burn, run for your lives!”

Curious villagers came out from their homes and shops and stood along the sidewalks. They shouted back to the clown, laughing and applauding his performance. The more desperately the clown shouted, the more the villagers cheered.

The village burned and the loss of life was great because no one took the clown seriously. After all, he was just a clown.

What news source do you trust these days? What if much of the so-called "fake news" we hear about is not necessarily "fake?" 


Tuesday, July 20, 2021



Don't tell me there is no climate change! These Canada geese never go home anymore! They are breeding like rabbits and staying around all year! 

This is only a few of the geese who regularly inhabit the pond in front of my condo! I have seen as many as thirty-six at one time. They were "cute" at first, but now they bite at each other, poop everywhere and regularly stop traffic on Eastern Parkway as they wade out into that four-lane street daring cars to hit them! 

Even if some of them have five or six goslings each, like they did this year, I'll have a "swarm" instead of a "flock" of geese inhabiting my pond next year! 

Sunday, July 18, 2021


Come away by yourselves to a deserted place. People  were  coming  and  going  in great numbers, and  they  had  no opportunity even to eat.

Mark 6

Even though it happened before I retired, I can still remember it. It was the Fourth of July, a typical holiday for me. I was holed up in my house, sitting in front of my computer cranking out RECORD columns, another homily for Bellarmine and outlining a chapter for another book. The doorbell rang and one of my friends stepped across the threshold and said quite emphatically, “I’ve come to drag you out of your hole!” I wasn’t behind in my work, necessarily. In fact, I was actually enjoying what I was doing. Like Mozart said about himself, “When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.”  I get so involved in writing that sometimes I have to set an alarm to remind me when I need to go somewhere. I have been known to wake up at 2:00 in the morning, write a paragraph or two, and go right back to sleep.

“I’ve come to drag you out of your hole!” Even though I was enjoying myself, he was right. I am one who believes that anything worth doing is worth over-doing. I find writing and public speaking “enjoyable” and vacations, recreation and killing time “hard work.”  I admit that I often overdo it. I always have to have a project. No sooner than COVID and a volcano ended my volunteer work in the Caribbean missions, than I was busy at work on the new Saint Theresa Family Life Center. Even the Rector of Saint Meinrad said about me when I was working there, “Knott, when you are 110, people will find you in some attic room working on a program for “priests who are dying!”  I hope he’s right!

I am notorious among my friends for my lack of a social life. Before I retired, even though I was entitled to one day a week off and four weeks of vacation a year, I often worked on my day off and completely forgot to plan a vacation until another year rolls around. I think I had accumulated several months of unused time off when I finally retired. It is gone because “if you don’t use it, you lose it!” Even when I did take a rare vacation, I would write most of my books, sitting on a beach chair. The first step to dealing with a problem is to own the problem. I have to admit that most of my life I have been a “workaholic.” I was addicted to my work.  Even in retirement, I am still addicted to my work.   

The story of Jesus’ disciples coming home tired from preaching and teaching and healing is one near and dear to my heart. I have been there and done that!  The text todays says that they were “so busy that they didn’t even have time to eat.”  Jesus stepped in and periodically took them away for a short retreat. Today, we are told that Jesus calls them away to a deserted place to rest, recharge and re-assess. This story has so much to teach us all.  

The first thing that stands out is that there was plenty of work to be done, the disciples seem to be enjoying what they were doing and they were reasonably successful at doing it. The problem was that it was a matter of “too much of a good thing.” Jesus knew the “harvest was great and the laborers were few,” but he also knew that his apostles needed rest, if they were going to last the long haul.

All this reminds me of a situation when I was in the “home missions.” I was lucky to have two nuns from Connecticut working with me. Their order allowed them to work in the missions without a salary, but they had no car. I begged a parish up here in Louisville to buy them a used car, which they did. A few months after they got the car, they came to me one day and said that it had quit out on the highway. We had to have it towed to a garage. It did not take the mechanic long to diagnose the problem: the engine had locked up because they had forgotten to change the oil. They simply drove it till it had run dry and the engine had locked up. We ended up having to take it to the junkyard. 

Saint Vincent de Paul, who worked with the massive numbers of poor people in his country, said it well when he spoke to those who worked with him. “Be careful to preserve your health. It is a trick of the devil, which he employs to deceive good souls, to invite them to do more than they are able, in order that they may no longer be able to do anything.”  This was why Jesus invited his disciples to “come away and rest a while.” He knew that, if they disn’t build rest and prayer into their schedules, they would soon be able to do nothing. To have something to give to others, our “wells” needs to be refilled. We need to give our bodies rest. We need some time not doing things.

It is likely that you – or someone you know – is a workaholic. Workaholics live for their work, often spending many extra hours at work, and often taking their work home with them to complete. When work becomes the sole reason for a person’s existence, above more important things (such as family, friends and God), the issue becomes critical. 

Part of the problem is societal. Americans – when compared to many other countries – are typically a work-hard culture. COVID aside, Americans typically work more hours per week than in past years, and with all the downsizing and consolidations and lack of replacement hiring, more and more workers are putting in extra hours to complete work previously done by others. We priests are not spared. Single priests are now taking multiple parishes or ministry assignments, doing the work that several priests in the past used to do. Some studies show that 40% of workers don’t even bother to take vacations. They work more and more even on Sundays, the day that God calls the “Sabbath rest.” Instead of obeying God, who knows more than we do, we now have that “endless loop,” the seven-day workweek. In some cases, part of the problem is financial. Many Americans must work multiple jobs simply to earn a living wage and keep their families out of poverty.   

Just as Jesus and his disciples discovered, it is hard to get away, even if you want to get away. The text says that they “took a boat to a deserted place, but people tracked them down.”  Today, especially, we live in a connected environment – e-mails, instant messaging, fax machines, cell phones and digital assistants – making it almost impossible to truly get away from work. Now people have even better and better ways to “track us down.” 

Another reason for working too much, which is not mentioned in this gospel, is that many of us use work as a drug to numb ourselves against having to face the fundamental loneliness that all human beings have. If we stay busy, we don’t have to feel that pain. More and more of us hide behind work so that we don’t have to deal with our struggling marriages, the constant demand for availability to our children and the lack of intimacy we need, but don’t have, in our lives. We can avoid it all, behind the respectable veil of “hard work.” 

Regardless of the reasons, workaholism can be a serious condition that can lead to the decline and destruction of families, to stress-related health problems and to a total loss of a spiritual life. When work becomes the sole reason for being – when it becomes the only thing we think about, the only thing that truly makes us happy – then it is time to “come away by yourself to a deserted place and rest awhile.” We need not confuse hard work with workaholism. Hard workers know the boundaries between work and personal time and can function normally when not at work, while workaholics have no personal times and cannot function well unless they are working.

God isn’t as dumb as many of us think. He told us to rest one day a week and we think we know better! We excuse ourselves from that one day every Sunday by claiming we don't have time to stop, go to church and rest our minds and bodies! God isn't dumb for insisting that we "keep the Sabbath," but we can be dumb when we don't do it! Is it a sin? Yes, but not as much a sin against God as it is a sin against ourselves when we think we can keep going and going without stopping to rest and without reflecting on where we have been and where we are headed, as well as where all we have comes from!