An Encouraging Word — On sticking my neck out

Father J. Ronald Knott
Father J. Ronald Knott

Do not try to stop him. Mark 9:39

It’s that time of year again — for the 13th time to be precise. With this column, I conclude 13 years of writing An Encouraging Word.

As one of my fellow priests lamented, “He has never had a thought that he didn’t put into print!”

The problem with sticking your neck out like I do in this column, is that there is always someone willing to cut it off. When such comments discourage me, I comfort myself with the words of President Theodore Roosevelt.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Thank God for lay people! Without the appreciation you show, I would have given this up a long time ago. It is for you that this column was conceived to begin with. It is for you that I stay up nights and work over holidays to come up with something you might resonate with.

For my work, you generously and consistently reward me with lavish appreciation. In that sense, I am probably overpaid.

Besides being greeted by strangers in grocery stores, gas stations and mall parking lots, I get helpful feedback on such important issues as whether my beard made me look older or younger. One woman told me she liked my new picture because I “didn’t look like a gangster,” leaving me concluding that last year I did!

Volume XIII, and “every other thought I ever had and put into print,” is available from a variety of sources. For the whole shebang, I would recommend you go to, where you can have them shipped right to your home.

If you want to drive out to Tonini’s Church Supply at 966 Breckenridge Lane and look them over before buying, they will be glad to accommodate you. And The Record always has a few lying around the office in the Maloney Center at 1200 South Shelby Street.

As giraffes say, “you don’t get no leaves unless you stick your neck out.” Therefore, I am committed to sticking my neck out for a 14th year in this column, but I am also happy to announce my new blog. Please check it out at

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