Why Being Funny Helps You Seriously Practice the Catholic Faith

By: Theresa Zoe Williams

“He who dwells in Heaven is laughing at their threats; the Lord makes light of them.” (Ps. 2:4)

Don't Call Me Shirley The Office Meme

We laugh because we have the hope of the Lord. Laughter is an integral part of a healthy spiritual life for just this reason. We have been delivered, so while salvation and our souls are very serious matters, we need not worry. Worry can lead to all sorts of vices like scrupulosity and even anger. But we were not delivered from death just so that we could worry ourselves out of friendship with God. He is a loving and merciful God! As such, the more we laugh, in good cheer and faith, the closer we can come to Him.

G.K. Chesterton on Humor

G.K. Chesterton once wrote in Orthodoxy that “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” What he meant by that was that angels are so secure in the love and friendship of God that they are burdened by nothing. And what happens when you are unburdened? You can fly! “Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Chesterton elaborated on his above statement very thoroughly. He said,

“The tattered cloak of the beggar will bear him up like the rayed plumes of the angels. But the kings in their heavy gold and the proud in their robes of purple will all of their nature sink downwards, for pride cannot rise to levity or levitation. Pride is the downward drag of all things into an easy solemnity. One ‘settles down’ into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness. A man ‘falls’ into a brown study; he reaches up at a blue sky.

Seriousness is not a virtue. It would be a heresy, but a much more sensible heresy, to say that seriousness is a vice. It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one’s self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do. It is much easier to write a good Times leading article than a good joke in Punch. For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity.”

Faith and Fun

Philip Neri

Don’t let this serious picture of Saint Philip Neri fool you he loved playing practical jokes. He once shaved half his beard to be funny!

Laughter is a leap of faith. It takes faith and hope to know that you are good and truly saved. Laughter says, I do not fear death or destruction. I laugh because God has saved me. Life is not meant to be all seriousness. Life is meant to be full of joy and what is a better sign of joy than laughter!

Saint Philip Neri is called the patron saint of humor because he often told jokes and played practical jokes. He would walk into meetings with half of his beard shaved off and other such shenanigans. Once, a follower asked Neri if he could wear a hairshirt as penance and Neri replied, “Only inside out and over your cassock.” Faith can be taken seriously while laughing.

Laughter reminds us of all that is good in the world. St. Neri said, “A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one,” and “Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life; wherefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.” We have been given so much and we should be happy for it! A joyful heart can be made more perfect because it knows the goodness of God and that there is so much more to explore and learn. Even some self-deprecating humor, like St. Neri showed, can lead us to holiness! It is certainly one way to ground ourselves in humility, recognizing that we are not everything but that we are good, all the same.

Fulton Sheen on Humor and Faith

Fulton Sheen humor quote

Venerable Fulton Sheen has even weighed in on the topic, saying, “A divine sense of humor belongs to poets and saints because they have been richly endowed with a sense of the invisible, and can look out upon the same phenomena that other mortals take seriously and see in them something of the divine.”

This is something that I, personally, try to live in every moment of my life. It’s not about where to look but how to look. It is easy to see God everywhere and in everything, if you know how to look. The goodness of God is as in the delicate flower as it is in thick eyebrows and we should rejoice in both the same. You merely have to look around to see the goodness of God everywhere, even when people fail.

Comedy is Good

Kramer Laughing

So it is good to laugh! It is good to be entertained by the world around us and by comedians and poets and the class clown. It is good to laugh at yourself when you trip or make a silly mistake. It is good for comedians to tell jokes and for writers to write bits that will make an audience laugh. This is the work of God just as much as teaching the Faith or working directly for the Church are. Sometimes that’s hard to remember.

It is easy to think humor is a lesser good, not as important, and to belittle the efforts of those who are called to this because joy is hard to accept. But we must remember what Chesterton said, “It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.” Don’t choose the easy path! Be light! Be so light that your soul simply floats up to the highest heavens to be with God. “God save us from gloomy saints!” St. Teresa of Avila said and isn’t it true.

Find Laughter Opportunities in Your Life

Laughter is best medicine

Mother Angelica, who had a quick wit, too, once said, “I try to laugh a lot, because life is funny, and everybody today is too serious. The only tragedy in the world, my friend, is sin.” The only tragedy in life is sin. Look around a little bit and see what is there to rejoice in and laugh at. I promise you, there’s so much. Laugh at the butterfly in flight or the bunny hopping to its burrow. Laugh at the baby delighting in a spoon for the first time or dancing to music. Laugh at yourself when you look in the mirror, knowing that you are so good and made in so much love and dignity. Shave half of your head! Whatever it is, laugh and laugh a lot.


Theresa is an author and entertainer who has contributed to two books, hosts a comedy podcast Up Too Late, and is working on two books of her own. She blogs at www.TheresaZoeWilliams.com and you can find her on Twitter @TheresaZoe.

Theresa Zoe Williams

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Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 8

Hope you had a blessed Independence Day (to my American readers)and a wonderful weekend!

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday:

Think twice before using this Christian pick up line. 😉
DJ pope in the house!
😅😆🙂
Totally going to use this next time I get hit with anti-Catholic rhetoric online. 😉
“When you sing you pray twice.” —Saint Augustine
Checkmate Satan.

That’s all I have this week. Stay alert for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

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Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 7

Hope you had a blessed Feast of the Most Precious Body and Blood of Christ!

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday:

Spoiler alert: there’s no second ark!
Jesus came to save all mankind. ❤️
😅😊 😄
I’m guilty of this too. 📚📖

That’s all I have this week. Stay alert for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

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Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 6

Hope you had a blessed Feast of the Most Precious Body and Blood of Christ!

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday:

Mass is the real deal!
Get your Sunday morning exercise in. 😊😂
One of the funnier memes I’ve seen the past week. 🤣😂😅😊😁
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” —John 15:12
Accurate.

That’s all I have this week. Stay alert for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

Thank you for sharing!

Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 5

Hope you had a blessed Pentecost! Today marks the official start (or resuming) of Ordinary time in the Liturgical year. But Monday are anything but ordinary. In case you’re having a typical Monday melancholy here’s some Catholic memes to inject humor and inspiration into your day!

God gave us ten digits for a reason.
A belated Pentecost meme.
Another Pentecost meme. 🕊️🔥😊
Adam and Eve weren’t the only Apple users in the Bible. 😂
Biblical typology for $2000
So true!

That’s all I have this week. Stay alert for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

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Planetary Peregrination II—Reviewing C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra



Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 23, 2017.


We already looked at the first novel in C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy—Out of the Silent Planet. Here’s my thoughts and analysis of his second installment of his Space Trilogy—Perelandra. Like the diversity of the planets of our solar system so too does Lewis paint another vivid portrayal of Dr. Ransom’s trip to Earth’s other neighbor: Venus.

venus

Perelandra: Lewis’ name for Venus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book opens up with Dr. Elwin Ransom a few years removed from his celestial journey to Malancandra [Mars]. Here he receives an assignment from Oyarsa—the angelic ruler of Malacandra—to travel to Perendra [Venus] to thwart an attack by Satan! Before I continue on with the synopsis, I want to point out something interesting I discovered about the first name of Dr. Ransom. While I do not necessary know the exact motivation for Lewis’ selection of appellations I think it is telling, along with a type of foreshadowing, that Elwin is a splicing together of the ancient word for God plus win thus equaling God wins as a meaning of the main character’s name!

Now to go back to  the story, Ransom travels to the second planet from the Sun in a coffin-like  spaceship and wakes up to a vastly different world from his time on Malancandra. Kaleidoscopic and oceanic, Perelandra is largely composed of fluid raft-like islands and the planet contained a singular geographic feature called the Fixed Land.

New Mission (and Planet) for Dr. Ransom

Unlike his first space adventure, Ransom initially only encounters a single rational being—known as the Queen of the planet, an Eve-like figure. The green-skinned Queen hints at Ransom’s mission of savior and prevention of a reenactment of the Genesis Fall when she says, “that in your world Maleldil [Jesus] first took Himself this form, the form of your race and mine…Since our Beloved became a man, how should Reason in any world take on another form?” (p. 54). What the Queen refers to is that the Incarnation of God only happened once—on Earth.

perelandra

Perelandra represented a “New Garden of Eden”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Garden of Eden/The Fall

It is not until the antagonist Weston from the first novel suddenly arrives on the scene that the battle over Perelandra begins.  Through a constant onslaught of materialistic arguments Weston, who is possessed by the Devil, tried to get the Queen to disobey Maleldil’s order to avoid sleeping a night on the Fixed Land.

Weston continues to charismatically expand on his reasons for the Green Lady to disobey Maleldil and spend a night on the Fixed Land. He focuses on the fact that this command does not really seem to make much sense and urges her that rules are meant to be broken.

The possessed Weston says,

These other commands of His—to love, to sleep, to fill this world with your children—you see for yourself they are good. And they are the same in all worlds. But the command against living on the Fixed Land is not so. You have already learned he gave no such command to my world. And you cannot see where the goodness of it is. No wonder. If it were really good, must He not have commanded it to all worlds alike? For how could Maleldil not command what is good? There is no good in it. Maleldil Himself is showing you that, this moment, through your own reason. It is mere command. It is forbidding for the mere sake of forbidding (p. 100).

The Incarnation Happens Only Once

Eventually, the diabolical argument posed by Weston crescendos when he tells the Queen the side effects of the First Fall on Earth—namely Maleldil becoming Incarnate to save humanity.

While hope is seemingly lost, Dr. Ransom realizes through a guidance of the divine voice that he himself is the savior of Perelandra. Lewis writes,

What happened on Earth, when Maleldil was born man at Bethelham, had altered the universe for ever. The new world of Perelandra was not merely a repetition of the old world Tellus. Maleldil never repeated himself. One of the purposes for which He had done all this was to save Perelandra not through Himself but through Himself in Ransom (p. 123)

Ransom eventually defeats the Un-man [Satanic possessed Weston] and the Queen is reunited with the King and the heavenly bliss continues on Perelandra. Finally, Ransom returns to Earth and continues to follow Maleldil’s mission to fight evil.

The Verdict

I loved reading this book! Like Out of the Silent Planet I give Perelandra four out of five stars. The only real downside to the book was the minimal amount of characters used throughout the novel. Aside from that issue, I enjoyed the abundant and colorful descriptions of the planet and the theological insight provided by Lewis.

So far this is the only book I have ever read that satisfies my speculative theological appetite and scientific curiosity about extraterrestrial life. The author also provides a compelling explanation for how life may exist on other planets without contradicting the Christian truth of Jesus Christ as the sole mediator.

Due to the linear nature of time, God never repeats Himself and as a result only one Incarnational event took place—2,000 years ago in Israel. Our mission as Christians if intelligent life exists outside of Earth is to unite ourselves to the One Mediator and evangelize. I highly recommend this book to any curious soul that loves C.S. Lewis, space travel, or theology!

Incarnation

Related Links

Planetary Peregrination—Reviewing C.S. Lewis’ Science Fiction

Planetary Peregrination III- Reviewing C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength

The 3 Temptations of Perelandra’s Eve and Mary’s Immaculate Conception

 

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Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 4

Another weekend gone and a new Monday is here.

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday. 😊

I can’t unsee this now. My eyes will automatically flip spiralled churches to the side. 😊😅
This meme never fails to hit you on the funny bone.
#truthbomb
Love endures forever!
Be an encourager. 😉

That’s all I have this week. Stay alert for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

Thank you for sharing!