An Encouraging Word – Seeking a peace-filled Christmas

Father J. Ronald Knott

Father J. Ronald Knott

Peace to those on whom his favors rests. Luke 2:14

I am flunking “retirement.” I have been working like a dog. Besides helping-out here and there in parishes, visiting two local nursing homes weekly, writing this column and maintaining a blog, I have conducted seven priest retreats in three countries and two parish missions in two states — all since August. Even a full-blown obsessive-compulsive type such as myself could use a little sympathy, folks!

I am a sprinter, not a long-distance runner. Taking a regular day off each week would simply not work for me. Instead of a nice easy pace, I work in bursts of energy that last a couple of months and then I need to stop and rest.

One of those rest periods started at Thanksgiving and will last till February. I was so looking forward to staying home, sleeping late, meeting people at the coffee shop, cooking for friends and writing, always writing.

Writing is something I cannot do when I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Writing takes long hours of rest and quiet.

I am so looking forward to Christmas this year. Christmas has become the least stressful time of the year for me. I don’t put up a tree, usually, because few will see it but me. My siblings and I do not exchange presents.

Rather, we meet for a “home Mass” and dinner one Saturday night before Christmas. Since I am retired, even from Bellarmine, I am going to go down to my home parish of St. Theresa Church in Rhodelia, Ky., for Christmas Mass. I haven’t been able to do that for more than fifty years!

A relaxing Christmas does not come easily in our culture. We must fight for it, even wrestling it into submission over several years. There are so many traditions, expectations and communal pressures working to make it one of the most expensive, wasteful and stressful times of the year. It’s a lot harder to dramatically simplify things with families, but it can be done. It might surprise you that simplifying could make Christmas even more enjoyable than ever.

If I had a choice, I would be down in the islands handing out presents on Christmas morning to those abandoned and abused children that Father Thomas R. Clark and I met this past fall.

Since I have no kids and my siblings and I do not “do presents,” I sent some money down to the Carmelite Sisters who take care of them to shop for the 30 kids they keep and for 80 more kids coming to the diocesan Christmas party. It will not buy much, but for kids something is always better than nothing on Christmas morning.

If you are tired of giving stuff to people who already have too much of it, consider making a check out to St. Bartholomew Church-SVG Mission Fund and send it to me at 1271 Parkway Gardens Court, #106, Louisville, Ky., 40217. I know how to make it count.

To read more from Father Knott, visit his blog: FatherKnott.com.

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