An Encouraging Word – A time to be born and a time to die

Father J. Ronald Knott

Father J. Ronald Knott

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

I have decided to give you fair warning. At the end of September, after 15 years, I will end this weekly column. After a serious discussion with The Record’s editor, Marnie McAllister, and ending Sept. 28, I will end my weekly column An Encouraging Word. I will use the next three columns to say, “thank you.”

I came to this decision on my own, not because I am tired of writing it or because people are tired of reading it, but simply to give others a chance to use this space. After 15 years, this is going to be very hard for me.

In 1997, I asked Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly if I could resign as pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption after 14 wonderful years. That was very difficult for me as well, but I expect my decision will lead to yet another life-giving phase of my life just as it did the last time.

As I announce this, I am reminded of what has been called the “Cincinnatus Factor.” It is a phrase used to describe “knowing when to quit.”

Cincinnatus was a famous Roman General who gave up his highly visible and successful career to go into obscurity on his own terms.

When I started this column, I certainly never expected to be doing it weekly for 15 years. As many of you know, I started writing this column during the days when the news of clergy sexual abuse was in high gear.

It seemed that all the news coming out of headquarters was about victims, abusers and settlements. I asked if I might try to speak to the average person in the pews and offer a word of encouragement.

“Knowing when to quit” is something that all of us have to deal with at different points of our lives. The opposite is “overstaying your welcome.” Parents have to do it all the time. They have to know when the time comes when they have to let go of their role as a parent. Clinging to their children and interfering with their lives after they have grown into adults can be disastrous.

Senior citizens are faced with the prospects of letting go all the time. A day comes when they have to give up their driver’s license and even their homes. Trying to hang on surely courts disaster — leaving them and those around them resentful.

It is built-in for priests to let go of parish communities and ministries every few years. Their inability to let go often leads to resentment by the new pastor and the development of priest personality cults.

An unknown author once said: “There are things that we never want to let go of, people we never want to leave behind, but keep in mind that letting go isn’t the end of the world, it’s the beginning of a new life.”

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