An Encouraging Word — Journal-writing is a spiritual practice

By Father J. Ronald Knott

Write down all these things that have happened to you. Tobit 12:20

I have been keeping journals since I was ordained. I have about 17 volumes all together. It is a way of helping me remember things I want to remember, as well as what I was thinking and feeling at about any point along that 42-year path.

There were periods of excitement and discouragement — and everything in between. One of the things that stand out is that most of the things I worried about never happened, while many of my imagined “tragedies” actually turned out to be blessings in disguise. Some of the entries are funny and some are sad. I thought it might be interesting to share a few samples with you.

This is a note I wrote to myself when I became pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption in 1983: “When I was a kid, my Mom always bought my shoes very loose and large for my feet. (One pair had to last all year.)  When I complained, she always said, ‘You’ll grow into them!’ As a boy, my ears seemed too large for my body. Ruth Hardesty told me, ‘Don’t worry! You’ll grow to fit them!’ As a result of those bits of wisdom, I now choose things deliberately that are too big for me because I know that I can grow to fit them!”

Here is something from 1988 that is worth remembering during the horror of the endless sexual abuse scandal: “The validity of the message does not depend on the goodness of the messenger!”

Once I had a meeting with the late Bishop Charles Maloney about our budget when I was still new as pastor of the Cathedral. When I asked to take more money out of our savings, he answered, “We are not a bottomless pit of money, you know!” He paused a moment and added, “Have I said that before?” I responded, “Oh, bishop, I think it’s on your coat of arms!”

During one period, after several weeks of four and five Masses a weekend, I had a dream. God appeared to me in that dream and said, “Shut up!”

During my last days at the Cathedral, I wrote something the janitor said to me. When I said to him that I felt like I had been on “cloud nine” for the last several years, he responded, “Well, then, it’s time to get on “cloud ten!” That remark was prophetic.

In May 2004, I had just begun working at St. Meinrad. I noted in my journal that I was a little overwhelmed with anxiety about whether I had made the right move so I went out for a walk. As I came around the corner behind Bede Hall, out over the valley, there were two rainbows right in front of me!” That entry still gives me cold chills because the last eight years have been magic.

Journaling is an effective spiritual practice. It’s a way of tracking your spiritual progress. Try it!


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