Thursday, September 7, 2023



                                                                                AGE 7
When I made my First Communion at age 7, Sister Mary Ancilla asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. It was the first time I publicly announced that I wanted to be a priest. Not too long after that, I proceeded to flunk the altar boy test three times! Sister Mary Ancilla, who also trained the altar boys, threw up her hands after I flunked the third time, saying "Ronnie, you are a good kid, but I don't think you'll ever be any good around the altar!" We remained friends until she died, but as "punishment" for that remark I made her sit in the front pew at my first Mass to remind her of her doubting words! We always laughed together about it. Sadly, she did not know that you should not tell a Knott that he can not do something! 

                                                                                   AGE 14
                                               "YOU WON'T MAKE IT TILL CHRISTMAS"
When I was in the eighth grade in 1957-1958, I heard that there was a new seminary in Louisville that would take boys right after the eighth grade. I talked my Dad into taking me to see Father Johnson so that I could get his permission and help getting into that seminary. His response was not positive! He looked me over and barked, "No, you are too little and too young! Go home, grow up and then we will talk about it!" My only defense was to cry! With that, he said, "OK, I will fill out the papers, but you won't last till Christmas!" With that prediction bouncing around in my head, I left for St. Thomas Seminary the fall of 1958 to begin a 12 year program to priesthood! By the time I was ordained, I had spent almost half my life in a seminary! What Father Johnson did not know was that you should not tell a Knott that he can not do something! 

                                                                                  AGE 16
Well, I limped through my first year of seminary - barely! As a country boy, from a very small town, thrown into a urban world with other mostly urban kids, I went into cultural shock. It was like I was from a foreign country trying to learn their language and their culture without any help as far as counseling and guidance went! As a result, in the middle of the first semester of my second year - age 16 - I was called into the seminary Rector's office (Father White). He delivered this blow to my heart and soul, "Mr. Knott, you are a hopeless case! We are sending you home in the morning!" My only defense was to cry again! With that, the Rector backed off and gave me another chance! What he did not know was that you should not tell a Knott that he can not do something! 

AGE 26
I was not sad, but reflective, in this photo as I waited to go into the Cathedral on May 16, 1970 to be ordained a priest. With my new priest-chasuble over my arm, I guess I could not believe that I had survived 12 years of seminary and had finally made it to priesthood. I was probably thinking about all the people who did not know that you should not tell a Knott that he can not do something! 
  AGE 26 
When I finally made it, neither Father Johnson or Father White were around to give me a chance to gloat or to allow me to rub it in! However, other naysayers were waiting in line. At one of the post-ordination receptions, a young woman asked me how long I had been in school. When I answered, "counting grade school, I have been in school for 20 years" she gasped and said, "My God, you could have been something!" She was probably thinking that I could have gone into something like law or medicine where I could have made a lot of money? What she did not know was that you should not tell a Knott that he can not do something! 

                                                                                   AGE 77
                                                             "FIFTY-ONE YEARS AND COUNTING"
In 1995, I celebrated my 25th anniversary. In 2021, I celebrated my 50th Anniversary (a year late because of COVID). I have now passed my 53rd anniversary. I will be 80 next year on my 54th anniversary. I don't know how many anniversaries I have left, but I do know one thing. By choice, I will be buried right next  to Father Johnson in the St. Theresa Cemetery. He was the pastor who predicted in 1958 that in the seminary I "wouldn't make it to Christmas!" I just wanted to remind him, and anyone looking at our graves, that you should not tell a Knott that he can not do something! 

With God's Help and Your Courage, Even Impossible Things Become Possible. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2023



“It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place 
in between that we fear . . . . It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in 
the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to.”
Marilyn Ferguson 

I've been here so many times before that I know what is happening - that uncomfortable time when one world ends and another one hasn't started yet, when one dream is completed and another hasn't hatched yet! I call that period the "in betweens" when you know that one era of your life has been completed and you are not sure what the next era will be like. You might say I am in psychological "limbo" again. "Limbo" comes from the Latin word "limbus" meaning "edge" or "boundary."  "Limbo" is "an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition." One of my nieces described it clearly this way when we were sitting on her porch after her young husband's funeral. "I knew who I was yesterday, but today I don't know who I am!" 

For me, the "in betweens" are not as much scary as they are uncomfortable. It's a lot like an extended freeze-frame moment when you jump from one rock to another without be able to see clearly where you are jumping.  Now that I have finished my latest three-year project, the completion of the St. Theresa Family Life Center and Guest House, I feel like I am floating in a vacuum waiting for the the next rock to appear before I can land again. As Marilyn Ferguson puts it, "it's like being between trapezes" or "its Linus when his blanket is in the dryer." 

I find myself sort of bouncing around feeling some mild doubts about whether this time there will ever be another rock to land on, feeling a bit unmotivated, unproductive and directionless. I am feeling a bit like a control freak without his control, a bit like an addict without his drug.  

I've been here so many times before that this time I know in my heart of hearts that there will no doubt be another rock to land on, another trapeze to grab onto and the dryer will once again finish its job. I know that for a time I will be like a workaholic without his work so I just need to rest up, wake up and be ready to step up in God's time, not mine! 

During this "down time," I have counted no less than twenty-five times when I can remember having been in the "in betweens." Three years ago, after it became obvious that my work in the Caribbean Missions and traveling around the world leading priest convocations had come to an end, I found myself in the "in betweens."  It was during that uncomfortable period, when I wondered whether "if I turned the key off whether the car would ever start again," that it occurred to me that I might set out to build the  St. Theresa Family Life Center and Guest House down in Meade County. Now that my latest project is completed, I find myself again in the "in betweens." I know down deep that the next step will be a partnership between me and God. God will offer me a new opportunity, but it will be up to me to see it and seize it so I need to be vigilant and be ready!

It may sound a bit melodramatic, but what all my remembered twenty-five times of being "in between" have in common is that each of them have been comparable to those short periods between classic "quests" in literature. 

A quest in literature is an adventurous journey undergone by the main character or protagonist of a story. The protagonist usually meets with and overcomes a series of obstacles, returning in the end with the benefits of knowledge and experience from his quest. It is clear that a quest also means something that is difficult to achieve but the hero is all set to achieve it through any means and that it means good for the people as well as for the quester. Its real function is to show not only how a quester goes through a test set for him, but it also teaches the readers that such realities could emerge in their cases and that they should also be able to surmount such things with their intellect, perseverance and courage. 

As I said above, a quest is not only good for the quester, but also those who read about his quest. That, my friend, is why I write about my quests - not to be admired, but to be imitated - to invite others to step out on their own quests. 

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

The quote above, to me, says simply that anything can happen and you can go anywhere. Just take that first step without knowing where you might end up. That kind of travel is addictive. You can get ‘swept up’ so just put one foot in front of the other and keep going.

And yes, things might go wrong, something bad may happen, but if you don’t take that risk, how will you ever know? On such a quest, keep your wits and common sense about you -- ‘keep your feet' as Tolkien said. 

I really like the idea of a Road that Tolkien wrote about, and that if you leave the safety of your house and take that Road, it can take you to some amazing places.

Sunday, September 3, 2023


Peter took Jesus aside and began to scold him.
Matthew 16:21-27

Up to this point, things were going very well in the ministry of Jesus.  A deaf man had regained his sight. Five thousand had been miraculously fed on one day and four thousand on another. A blind man had regained his sight. A successful exorcism had been performed on a young demon-possessed girl. Another young girl had been lifted well from her sick bed. A woman with a hemorrhage had been restored to health. An insane man had given back his sanity. A man with a withered hand had had it made healthy again. A leper had been cleansed from his leprosy. A crippled man was made able to walk. A deaf man with a speech impediment was able to hear and speak plainly.

Peter was so overcome with excitement by all these miraculous things that he was moved to call Jesus the "Messiah."  In this gospel, Peter was the very first one to do this. The "Messiah" was the "promised one to come" that Jews had looked forward to for centuries, the one who would do the very things that Jesus was doing. The lights went on for Peter! He came to the conclusion that Jesus just had to be the "Messiah” – the awaited One that had finally come!

Jesus immediately took the wind out of his sails, telling him that the Messiah would not only do wondrous things, but would have to go through great suffering, rejection by religious authorities and even death on a cross. Only then would he rise victorious from the dead after three days.

Peter did not like what he was hearing one bit, so he took Jesus aside to scold him. "Look, Jesus, we are on a roll here. The people are behind you. Soon we will be able to conquer these foreign Roman invaders occupying our country and finally throw them out. Then you can be our King and we can all be part of your royal court. Please don't blow it now with all your negativity about suffering and death!" 

When he heard this, Jesus spun around in disgust and thought to himself, "Satan said he would be back to tempt me again and here he is disguised as one of my leading apostles, Peter!" Jesus then looked around at all of his disciples and addressed Peter directly, "Get behind me, Satan! You are not thinking like God, but like human beings! I went through these kinds of temptations in the desert before I began my ministry! I rejected them then and I reject them now! What you are thinking about is not God’s plan for me! Now stop it right now!"

As Peter's face fell, Jesus addressed the whole crowd following him, "Now listen up, because you all need to get one thing straight! If you are going to follow me, you need to be ready to suffer with me, for whoever loses his life my sake will save it. Otherwise, if you go down the path that Peter has just proposed, you will certainly lose your life! You will not be thinking like God, but like human beings!"

Just because Jesus stood up to Peter in this story, we do not need to conclude that it's never OK to scold and argue with God. The fact is, many of the major figures in the Bible and church history argued, scolded and had words with God - people like Job, Jeremiah and Theresa of Avila. Just as Peter learned a lesson today, sometimes the only way they learned what God's will was for them was through a struggle. As any good teacher knows, encouraging, challenging, questioning, discussion and debate are the best way to learn. Like students, when disciples are allowed to think through and discover things for themselves, the best learning takes place.

The prophet, Jeremiah, is a case in point.  Jeremiah was a very young man when God called him to be a prophet and to preach in his name. God said to Jeremiah, "Hey, Jeremiah! I've had my eye on you since the moment you were conceived! I have a job for you! I want you to go to the people and preach my message to them!" What was Jeremiah's response? "No thank you! I'm not interested in preaching to anybody! I'm too young! I have other things I want to do in life! Besides, I'm not good at public speaking!" God snaps back, "Do as I say and don't give me any of your lame excuses! Wherever I send you, I will be with you! Don't worry about what you are to say. I will put the right words into your mouth as you go along."

This wasn't the last time that Jeremiah argued with God. After he was deeply involved in his ministry as prophet, and everything seemed to be going wrong, Jeremiah returns to give God a royal chewing out.  "You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.  I should have known better than say “yes” to you! When I speak in your name, I am the butt of people's jokes and mockery. I’ll tell you what! I quit! Take this job and shove it. I ain't working here no more! From now on, I am never going to mention your name again!"   

After he had unloaded his guns on God, Jeremiah must have felt better because he follows his rant with these words. "On the other hand, God, I have to admit that your words are like a fire in my heart. They are embedded in my bones. I grow tired trying to hold them in. I guess I'll just have to keep doing what you want me to do!"

Saint Theresa of Avila was a great woman of very deep faith, but she was not afraid of giving God a piece of her mind every once in a while. One time, I read somewhere, she went to the chapel and prayed for a safe trip on one of her many journeys around Spain. Everything imaginable went wrong on that trip. When she got back to the convent, she marched right into the chapel and yelled, "If this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few!"

Many of us grew up being told that faith is about unthinking trust and acceptance of God, the Bible, the teachings of the Church and the trials of life. To question any of those things was to demonstrate a weak faith and a blasphemous heart. However, faith does not grow through unthinking submission, but through a process of questioning that leads to understanding. Just as Jacob wrestled with the angel of God in the Book of Genesis, a real commitment to God often involves a deep, honest and sustained wrestling with God.  The only sin is never to enter the wrestling ring, but just walk away because the struggle is too much trouble! The real sin is to dismiss God without ever really engaging him, without even arguing with him! If you insist on rejecting God and his Church, at least do it after an honest fight! At least, give God a chance to win!  

I challenged you today to enter the ring with the rest of us who remain in the church. Remember, we go into the ring as a tag team. Together, we wrestle with God - in here and out there. We need to put up a good fight and not wimp out just because we are just too lazy or too scared. God will win, of course, but when the match is over, we will know more about God and how he operates than we did when we first entered the ring.  We will have flexed spiritual muscles we never knew we had, and we will be strong enough to handle the inevitable struggles of marriage, family life, priesthood or whatever profession we find ourselves in!