An Encouraging Word — When the bell no longer rings

Father J. Ronald Knott
Father J. Ronald Knott

When I was young and innocent, I sought wisdom and until the end I will cultivate her. Sirach 51:13-14

For most of the last 65 years, I have been “going back to school” every September. This year, however, I won’t be doing that. I must admit, there is a sense of sadness in that fact.

When I was growing up in Rhodelia, Ky., and even after I moved to Louisville permanently in 1966, going back to school was the most exciting part of the year. From 1950, when I entered the first grade, to 1970 when I was ordained, September was always a time marked by a strong sense of new beginnings and new hopes, not to mention the acquisition of new clothes.

I went back to school full time every fall for 20 years and part-time for another three and a half. Now, I no longer direct the Institute for Priests and Presbyterates and I have finally retired after 17 years as chaplain at Bellarmine University.

Before those positions, I taught a while at Somerset Community College and offered special classes at St. Meinrad Seminary and a couple of high schools. I have attended many ongoing formation programs and ministry conventions.

Just because I am not “going back to school” this September, does not mean I am no longer committed to learning and growing. I have always been a proponent of St. John Paul II’s idea that “all formation is ultimately self-formation.”

He said that unless one chooses this idea of a life-time commitment to self-formation, one cannot maintain one’s “youthfulness of spirit.” 

I am a little rattled that I will not be “going back to school” this fall, either as a teacher or a student, but I am certainly not giving up my passion for personal and vocational excellence.

Because I am not going back to school this fall, does not mean that I am ready to commit what I call “spiritual suicide.” The idea of “spiritual suicide,” in my book, is the result of routinely saying “no” to opportunities to learn, to change and to grow. 

I am dedicated to reinventing myself as many times as I can before the end. I want to remain interested and, hopefully, interesting as long as I am here and as long as I am able.  To do that, I must continue to confront my own cowardice and latent lazy streak. To rest on my laurels is to invite decline and decay.

I may not be going back to school this fall, but I want a Dylan Thomas kind of future. 

“Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

In the words of American author Shauna Niequist, “I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. I want my every day to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift!”

To read more from Father Knott, visit his blog:

Tags from the story
The Record
Written By
The Record
More from The Record
Luncheon will benefit the Catholic Enrichment Center
Record Staff Report The sixth annual “Heroes of Hope Awards Luncheon: Saluting...
Read More
0 replies on “An Encouraging Word — When the bell no longer rings”