An Encouraging Word — Revitalizing our lives

I will put spirit in you, that you may come to life. Ezekiel 37:1-14

Father J. Ronald Knott
Father J. Ronald Knott

I was lucky enough to get my doctorate in ministry, in the area of “parish revitalization,” from McCormick Presbyterian Seminary in Chicago 35 years ago.

Since then, I have tried to become a specialist of sorts in bringing parishes back to life and making sure these skills are taught in the seminary.

I even established a personal “parish revitalization endowment” at Saint Meinrad Seminary for that purpose. It is important because we seem to have more resources on how to close parishes than we do on how to keep that from happening.

My work of revitalizing myself goes back further and may even have been more intense! I trace it to a conversion experience that led me from a crippling bashfulness to a passionate commitment to personal growth and vocational excellence.

Revitalizing who I am and what I do, has been a major theme throughout my adult life — the doing of hard things on purpose. I hope to take that commitment into my retirement.

This, of course, is not something one does with personal will only. Rather it is something that God accomplishes in a person who is committed to it. One of my favorite quotes in this regard comes from W.H. Murray.

He puts it this way, “the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too.”

As Aeschylus taught, the creator “loves to help him who strives to help himself.”

Summer is reunion time — family reunions and alumni reunions. Reunions, I believe, are mostly about measuring ourselves.

People attend family reunions to remember their roots, but also to celebrate and measure their progress. They celebrate the addition of new members, the progress of present members and the memory of former members.

Two of the reasons people attend alumni reunions are: to remember and recapture the enthusiasm and hopefulness of their college or high school days and to measure how far they have advanced in their dreams or how far back they have fallen from them.

As Margaret Fairless Barber put it, “To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it more fit for its prime function of looking forward.”

If we have advanced, we can be proud of ourselves and even show off a bit. If we have fallen back, we are reminded that we can always “begin again,” because
“it’s never over till it’s over.” We are not really through, until we are through changing. With God’s help, and our own deliberate efforts, even our dry old bones, our old wineskins and our old dreams can be renewed.

Sophia Loren said this: “There is a fountain of youth; it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

Father J. Ronald Knott

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2 replies on “An Encouraging Word — Revitalizing our lives”
  1. says: Jeanie Kallis

    Father knott,
    Just a note to let you know how much I enjoy your articles in the record. It has been a unifying force for my mom (a young 84) and me( a young 50):). She has been particularly sad and bitter since my dad died < 1 ur ago. Although we often disagree on how good life has been to us, we always come together with your words. Thank you, Jeanie

  2. says: Rev. Ronald Knott

    Thank you, Jeannie, for writing! It made my day to know that you and your mother
    find my words helpful! Keep reading and I will keep writing.
    Fr. Ron

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