Thursday, March 16, 2023



This coming August 16th, I will have been blogging 3-4 times a week for the last 8 years! How many "posts" have I composed? There have been a total of 1,600 so far! How many times have people looked at them? There have been 326,500 "views" from several different countries so far! 

I wrote 50 columns a year for 15 years for our diocesan weekly paper, The Record. I have published 37 books and written thousands of homilies, retreat talks, pamphlets and class presentations.  I guess that alone qualifies for "a lot of writing!" 

While quite a few people have given me some positive feedback, and several have told me how much my material has helped them, at least one of my brother priests was not so ready to heap praise on me. Most of them never mention my writing efforts, but this one said about me in front of several other brother priests where I could hear it, "Oh, that Knott! He's never had a thought that he hasn't published!" Maybe he's right? After all, I do a lot of writing. I usually write something every day! 

My weekly column in The Record was called "An Encouraging Word." I carried that name over when I started my blog. My books are published under the name of Sophronismos Press. The Greek word "sophronismos" is an almost untranslatable word for "knowing what to do in the face of panic" or "knowing how to keep your cool." 

I chose the name "An Encouraging Word" because I deliberately try to look for goodness to affirm in people as I write, rather than look for their weaknesses and sins to condemn. I have learned that putting one's thoughts "out there" in writing exposes oneself to the world for possible judgement so I decided to publish my books under the name "sophronismos" because you have to be able to "keep your cool" when you expose yourself to people who can evaluate, attack and judge you. As they say, "if you stick your neck out, there is always somebody willing to take a swipe!" 

I keep writing because I enjoy writing and because of the mostly positive feedback I get. I try not to worry about the possible judgment and ridicule behind my back. I know it's "insane" to believe that everybody should like me or like what I do! I also understand that "visibility can lead to vulnerability." Maybe I do write "too much," but maybe the quote below is much truer than "he's never had a thought he hasn't published!" 

Either way, for my own good, I will probably continue to write even if the day comes when no one reads what I write! As Flannery O'Connor said, "I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say."



Sunday, March 12, 2023


Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst.
John 4:14

On the first Sunday of Lent, Jesus invited us to conversion of life by going to the desert. The desert is a place devoid of distractions, a place to gain insight. On the second Sunday of Lent, Jesus invited us to go up the mountain with him. Mountains are places where you can go to gain perspective, to get the big picture. From a mountaintop you can see into the distance – where you’ve been, where you are and where you are headed. On the third Sunday of Lent, Jesus invites us to go to the well, a place one goes to quench one’s thirst. 

In many ways, people today are thirsty, restless and looking for meaning. The Prophet Haggai, about 520 years before Christ, described our culture quite well when he wrote, “You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; you have drunk, but not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; and you have earned wages for a bag with holes in it.” We “have it all” on one hand and yet we are still not satisfied on the other. We are constantly “craving” for more!

It has been suggested that our consumer culture has spawned a new climate of thirstiness and restlessness. The experts call it ‘churn,’ using the word to describe our short attention span and our ‘what’s next’ attitude. This restlessness is seen in a consuming lust for endless distractions and amusements. This restlessness is being fed, some believe, by the overstimulation and excessive exposure to violent movies, fast-paced videos, computers and cell-phones, loud hard-wired music and over-scheduling. All these together exacerbate agitation, restlessness and hyperactivity.

What the world seems to be craving right now is what Jesus called “rest for one’s soul.” He said on one occasion, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus offers “rest” to those who are “worn out” in their search for “meaning.”

In this gospel, we meet a wonderful woman who is an example of all that! Jesus meets this woman at a well. She is tired - tired to the bone. She is physically tired - tired of being thirsty and having to constantly draw water and carry it long distances. She lived a half mile away and the well was over 100 feet deep. She was emotionally tired - tired of trying to find satisfying relationships in her life. She had been “looking for love in all the wrong places,” as the country song goes. She had been married five times. She was tired of being discriminated against by others. Jews hated Samaritans like her and women in general were considered socially inferior. She was spiritually tired – tired of a burdensome religion that was not really satisfying. At the well, she meets Jesus and pours out her heart to him and he, in turn, gives her “living water” and “rest for her soul” in the form of respect, acceptance and love. 

Fellow seekers, all of us are like this woman in some degree. We all have a void in our lives that we try to fill. Some of us strive frantically our whole lives to fill that void by gaining material things, gaining stature, gaining status, gaining fame, finding the perfect relationship and on and on. The fact of the matter is we will never fill that void with “things or stuff” because that void was put there for a specific purpose. We have a built-in missing piece – a missing piece given to us by God himself.

What is the purpose of that void? What is that missing piece? It is the place where God belongs! Only God can fill that hole. Saint Augustine of Hippo described it best when he said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you!” 

It’s as if we are all running around with a hole in our souls that we are desperately trying to fill. The truth of the matter is that only God can fill it, and yet we try our best to fill it with unsatisfying distractions, amusements, relationships and material things. Lent is a time to stop by the “well” for “living waters” and find “rest” in God.

The best meditation for this gospel could be Francis Thompson’s famous poem “The Hound of Heaven” where God is pictured as a hound pursuing us throughout our lives that we are trying to run away from! “I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind; and in the midst of tears I hid from Him…”

I have always loved the words of Celie in the movie “The Color Purple.” Celie feels that there is a great big a hole in her life. She is more than a bit aggravated by the feeling of God’s absence in her life – what she refers to as God “just sitting up there glorifying in being deef.” She speaks for many people today when she says, “It ain’t easy trying to do without God. Even if you know he ain’t there trying to do without him is a strain.” Those who experience the strain of trying to “do without God” will no doubt feel a hole in their souls, a hunger and thirst that nothing seems to satisfy. Yes! Lent is good time to re-connect with God after "trying to do without him.”

So far this Lent, Jesus has taken us to the desert, to the mountain and to the well so that he might lead us to conversion of life, a life that is full and satisfying, a life that includes him!