An Encouraging Word – Parish missions offer solid preaching

Father J. Ronald Knott

Father J. Ronald Knott

Faith comes from what is heard and what is heard comes from the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

When I was a young boy, I liked going to church. I especially liked Benediction and parish missions. We always had Benediction following Mass on Sunday. Parish missions came around every couple of years — very much like Protestant “revivals” that went on each evening for days.

I liked Benediction because we got to sing and pray in English — and it was short. I like parish missions because of the extended high-energy preaching. The Passionists were especially good at the “good old hell fire and brimstone” approach. Of course, I always thought the presider was talking about somebody else. I always left church “pumped” as they say today.

Back then I never imagined I would be doing parish missions myself, but I have more than 75 and counting under my belt. I believe it was Father Bill Griner who actually got me started at St. Edward Church about 30 years ago.

A few of the themes have been: “Reasons for Hope,” “Consciously Christian, Deliberately Catholic,” “Living a Life Worthy of Your Calling,” “A New You for a New Church” and recently “Sent to Shine.” I have conducted so many parish missions all over Kentucky, southern Indiana and south Florida that I have actually lost count. I have another one next Lent in Naples, Fla.

The best thing about parish missions is that Catholics get to hear solid extended preaching beyond the 10-12 minutes that are normal at weekend Masses. Another advantage is that parish mission homilies are usually well prepared, not those “wing it,” “off the cuff,” rambling fervorinos that some get away with most weekends.

The worst preachers are usually the first ones to brag about not using notes, misusing Mark 13:11 to excuse themselves — “do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.”

There seems to be a greater need for parish missions than there are people willing to do them. When I got into doing priest retreats and convocations, I tried to get out of the parish mission business. Now that I am “retired,” I can squeeze a couple of them in each year.

The next one is a county-wide parish mission for all the parishes of Meade County Aug. 8-10. The planners are so optimistic that they are planning to hold it at the Meade County Fairgrounds. Catholics, practicing or not, along with their friends from other churches or no church at all, are welcome. Move over Billy Graham!

The other one will be held Sept. 10, starting at 8:30 a.m., at St. John Paul II Church at the (St. Paul campus) in Sellersburg, Ind., ending with 4 p.m. Mass. It’s a short drive north on I-65 and, it too, is open to all.

Father J. Ronald Knott

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