Saturday, February 3, 2024


You hear people complaining about the present day and age because things were so much better in former times. I wonder what would happen if they could be taken back to the days of their ancestors - would we not still hear them complaining? You may think past ages were good, but it is only because you are not living in them. 

St. Augustine of Hippo

Thursday, February 1, 2024



As you may have read in this blog, I volunteer to help out with Masses down the street at St. Joseph Home for the Aged operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor, behind Audubon Hospital. Under Mother Paul, the previous Mother of that Community here in Louisville, I was designated the Official Confessor for the Sacrament of Reconciliation as well.  

It may be my imagination, it may be my advancing old age, but it seems like the whole world in on edge, ready to bite somebody's head of, pull a gun on them in a road rage event, attack somebody on a plane or just complain about how waiters, clerks and service personnel are not fast enough or attentive enough to quickly wait on them! 

One of the things I have learned working in a nursing home is that almost everything is slower: getting people seated, getting heard when people can't hear all that well, eating a meal, readers coming up to the pulpit to read the Scriptures, getting people ready for a doctor's appointment and almost everything else! 

The thing that I have noticed most of all is how much patience it takes by the staff to work there, whether it be from the Sisters, the paid staff or the volunteers! I am sure that the residents themselves require a lot of patience, after they have pushed the button for help, for that help to arrive!  Amazingly, a place like that should be full of complaints, but surprisingly I don't hear nearly as much as I had expected! 

I have always tried to give the residents I meet as much affirmation and attention as I can when I am there. One of the new things that I am training myself to do is to notice the staff more! It is easy for me to say nice things to the elderly in wheel chairs, but lately I have been making a special effort to do the same thing to the staff person pushing the wheel chair, the janitor mopping the hallway and the receptionist behind the desk!

I have extended this practice to the woman seated near the door as I enter the bank, the grocery employee overseeing the self-check out lanes and the overwhelmed mother pushing her grocery cart to the car - even offering her the bag of cookies in my own cart!

The mystery question of the month is this! Why is it easier to complain and bite someone's head off than it is to show a little compassion and gratitude?    It could just be a  bad habit we have fallen into, but I think it is more! When we are self-focused, it is easier to complain and attack. When we are other-focused, it is easier to show gratitude and compassion. 

This coming Lent, I am going to try my best to become more other-focused than self-focused. I resolve to be on the look-out for individuals who could use a smile, an encouraging word, a pat of the back or an even more sincere "thank you!" It's my small effort to resist the growing present trend to be nasty, mean and short-tempered in public as well as in private. The only way this present trend can be turned around is one person at a time! Join me in this effort. It makes a lot more sense than giving up sweets and can do a world of good for a whole lot of discouraged individuals! 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024



After working together in an organization we started in the Caribbean Missions, called RJ MISSION PROJECTS, my good friend Jim Patterson II and I took on another project in 2016-2017. He renovated the shrine at Monte Cassino at St. Meinrad Archabbey and Seminary in honor of his mother and I built a prayer garden in the side yard in honor of my mother. 

Mr. Jim Patterson II waving on the right and Fr. Ronald Knott in the outdoor pulpit on the left at the dedication. 




If you are ever in the area of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, or want to take a nice drive over there, visit the Monte Cassino Shrine and Prayer Garden. 


Sunday, January 28, 2024



They came to Capernaum and on the sabbath. Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority.
Mark 1:21-28

Among the many religious teachers of his day, Jesus stood out like a sore thumb. I am not talking here about his oratory skills or his ability to understand the Hebrew texts he could read so easily. I am talking about his ability to connect with people and their needs and issues. I am remined of that line in the story of the call of Samuel where it says, “Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.” When we hear the words “Jesus taught them as one having authority and not like the Scribes,” they mean that Jesus had an amazing ability to “connect” to people and his words had “effect.” The Scribes, on the other hand, said all the right words, but their words were as dry as sawdust and they kept missing their mark leaving the people disappointed with their empty words.

When I was teaching at St. Meinrad, I talked a lot about the difference between a “designated spiritual leader” and a “real spiritual leader,” one who speaks “like a Scribe” and one who speaks “with authority like Jesus.” In another words, spiritual leadership involves a lot more than a title, a theology degree or even a valid ordination. It involves the ability to influence people to move from where they are to where God wanted them to be! As St. Gregory the Great wrote so insightfully in his handbook ON PASTORAL CARE, that I used to quote all the time, “Although those who have no knowledge of the power of drugs shrink from presenting themselves as physicians of the flesh, there are those who are utterly ignorant of spiritual precepts but not afraid of professing themselves to be physicians of the heart.” Father Donald Cozzens said so convincingly at the time I was teaching, “The most pressing need facing Catholicism today is the quality of its priestly leadership.” We need to pray for more than just “more” priests, we need to be praying for “more effective” priests – priests with a convincing voice and credible spiritual leadership abilities, like Jesus in today’s gospel!

When I was teaching at St. Meinrad, one of the most fundamental issues I tried to address with them is that simply being a priest (as a noun) is not enough. They needed to know how to priest (as a verb). In other words, a valid ordination is not enough in today’s church. They also need to be effective as priests. They needed to be able to move hearts! As St. Gregory the Great knew, a designated spiritual leader does not mean that one is a real spiritual leader. A Roman collar and a title alone, does not make a real or effective spiritual leader!

This is a vital distinction because I believe that seminaries are still overly focused on a seminarian’s personal piety and not enough on developing effective spiritual leaders for our faith communities. As I liked to joke, their job will not be in having people see golden light come out of their rectories, but in seeing golden light come out of the homes of their parishes. It is not good enough today for them to be pious champions of the “truth,” they must have the skills to lead others to want to accept and live that “truth!”

In that course, I defined “spiritual leadership” as the ability to influence people to move from where they are to where God wants them to be through invitation, persuasion, example and the skillful use of the Church’s rites, rituals and rules. The focus of “spiritual leadership” is on an internal movement to deeper discipleship. That’s exactly what Jesus was able to do from the pulpit in Capernaum in today’s gospel, leaving people delightfully astonished and amazed at his preaching! He did not just spew out facts about God as they were used to hearing from the Scribes!

This idea is confirmed in Scripture in Jesus’ teaching on the “Good Shepherd.” In the Greek text, there are at least two possible words for “good,” agathos and kalos. Agathos means “good” as in “morally good,” while kalos means “good” as in “good at” or “effective at” something. The “Good Shepherd,” in the gospel” is said to be kalos, as in “good at” shepherding. Personal holiness and goodwill alone, in a designated spiritual leader, are not good enough, I don’t care how personally pious and sanctimonious they may appear to be! They must also be able to effect internal change in people if they are to be known as real spiritual leaders. In other words, today’s “good shepherds,” must not only appreciate and value green grass and flowing water and how vicious wolves can be, they must know how to find green grass and flowing water is, how to lead their flocks to it and be able to handle vicious wolves who attempt to decimate the flock! Spiritual leadership is ultimately not about their personal piety, but "know how!"

My friends, there is no doubt that organized religion has lost its ability to impose unquestioned rules on behavior on our people and that one of the most pressing needs facing Catholicism today is the quality of its priestly leadership. No amount of ranting and raving about how we ought to be listened to will change this situation. We simply must get better at our ability to influence and persuade instead of blaming and condemning people for their lack of faith and the culture for its secularism and moral relativism.

My friends, I believe that our people “want their visions lifted to higher sights, their performance to a higher level and their personalities stretched beyond normal limitations.” I believe that our people want to become holy, but they are often left “like sheep without a shepherd.” We need effective spiritual leaders, spiritual leaders who are more like Jesus, and less like the Scribes who were “all bun and no beef” as the old 1984 Wendy’s commercial used to say! More and more Catholics today are asking, “Where’s the beef?”