July 15, 2011 – Catholics Can Laugh Too

I think I have mentioned this before, but hey, after almost 150 blogs, I think I’m due to use an occassional repeat reference.  One of the most inspirational people I have ever seen is Jim Valvano.  He was a college basketball coach who was known for the inspirational speeches he gave to his team and for winning games even though he probably had the team with less talent.  He died of cancer in 1993 at the age of 47.  About 2 months before he died he received an award for courage and gave one of the greatest speeches I ever heard.  If you would like to see the speech, here is the video link:

My favorite part of the speech is when he talks about the three things that people should remember to do everyday.  First, you should take time to laugh every day.  Second, you should spend some time in thought every day.  Finally, you should allow your emotions to be moved to tears everyday, whether they be tears of joy or sadness.  If you do these three things, you’ve had a fulfilling day.

I was reminded of this speech after reading an article this past week, particularly the part about remembering to laugh every day.  Some people may have the impression that religious people are not the happiest people in the world, that they have an aura of seriousness.  This article, written by a Jesuit priest, talks about the importance of humor in our lives, and the fact that there are moments of humor even in the Bible.  Here is the link to read the article:

www.catholicreview.org/subpages/storyarchnew.aspx?action=10264

Sometimes it can be a challenge for us to remember to laugh some days, especially when times are tough.  But there comes a point when it’s time to let our humor come out.  When I was going through my illness a couple of years ago, I got comments from several people that they knew I was starting to get better because they saw me smiling again.  When we have experienced a loss, such as the death of a loved one, there is of course a period of mourning, but eventually there is a time to laugh and remember the good times we experienced with that person. 

I try to make laughter a part of my ministry.  In my 7/8 grade religion classes, I realize that kids that age can get, how can I put this delicately, bored out of their skulls after an hour or so of class, so I try to lighten up the mood at least a little bit with a joke or a light-hearted comment.  During our Parish Council meetings, I realize that people make a sacrifice of time away from their families, etc. to be present, so I think it helps to keep the mood light and to try to inject some humor into the proceedings.  There is of course time for serious discussion, but there are also appropriate times to share a laugh.

So I think it begs the question of whether there is a place for humor during the Mass.  I think the vast majority of us at St. Mary’s would say a resounding yes (depending on the quality of the joke for that week – lol).  Humor can be a good way to introduce the lesson that is being taught, and it is a good way to get people’s attention.  I think there can be humor as a part of the Mass without taking away from those parts of the Mass when reverence is appropriate.  After all, when we come to Mass, we are attending a celebration. 

I of course cannot complete a blog about humor without a joke.  A gentleman attended confession and he told the priest that he had had affairs with seven different women.  The priest told him that he should go buy seven lemons, get a glass of water, squeeze the juice of the lemons into the water and drink it.  The gentleman asked whether this was for his penance.  The priest replied “no, this is so you wipe that big grin off of your face!”.

You may have noticed the last couple of weeks that attached to the bulletin have been handouts that begin to explain the revisions in the order of the Mass that take effect on the First Sunday of Advent (November 27).  This coming week I hope to put some more links on the website about these changes, including links to the handouts from the bulletin in case you may have missed any.  Remember that when this is first beginning, and half of the congregation is saying one thing and half is saying another, that it is another opportunity to show that we Catholics do indeed have a sense of humor and that we can laugh at ourselves.  After all, Cubs fans have been laughing at themselves for the last 103 years!

Well it sounds like next week is going to be brutal due to the heat.  Take care of yourself, don’t get overheated and pray that all of our air conditioners stay humming.  Have a good week.  Peace.

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