October 17, 2008

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Welcome happy, holy humor into daily life

Shirley Vogler MeisterIn a previous column, I shared a challenging yet humorous cooking experience.

I enjoy clever comedy, and I love laughter. Although I even try to find the silly side of not so silly situations, I am certainly not a comic.

Yet, even when I am alone, I find myself smiling or laughing daily over some silliness or faux pas. Good humor keeps us all more human, more humane and closer to God.

Which brings me to the introduction of a couple already known by many Catholics—and Christians of other denominations—in our archdiocese: Cal Samra and his wife, Rose McBride Samra. She worked for the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education some years ago before moving to Michigan.

Years ago, they developed The Joyful Noiseletter, which they describe as “a voice laughing in the wilderness.”

The Samras said their “modest aim is to recapture the spirit of joy, humor, unity and healing power of the early Christians.”

Except for dual June/July and August/September issues, this delightful publication comes to readers monthly.

For years, I enjoyed my subscription. Because of extenuating circumstances, I lost track of what delighted me so much for so long. Now I am back on track.

My reintroduction came about because of what I call “a nudge from God.” I won’t elaborate except to say that it was powerful, and it sent me searching for—and finding again—The Joyful Noiseletter.

Then I remembered that I have two of the Samras’ books. One is The Joyful Christ: The Healing Power of Humor. The other book is Holy Humor: Inspirational Wit and Cartoons, a compilation of the best from The Joyful Noiseletter.

Not only did I re-read the books, but—believe it or not—I had forgotten that I have a light verse in one book in the form of a prayer: “Grant me faith, grant me hope. Let good humor help me cope. Let me spread the love you give and find a peaceful way to live. Use my talents, bless my daring, to show others Christian caring. Build my friendships, grace and levity, but—primarily—grant longevity.”

To learn more, log on to www.JoyfulNoiseletter.com for a list of wonderful services and items of interest, including many books, not only by Cal and Rose Samra, but also by well-known authors and cartoonists, such as Charles M. Schulz and Bil Keane.

Their address is The Joyful Newsletter, P.O. Box 895, Portage, MI 49081-0895. You can also call 800-877-2757 or contact them by e-mail at JoyfulNZ@aol.com.

Any of these books would be perfect as wonderful gifts, especially Humor for the Holidays.

According to the Samras, one item that is extremely popular with both Catholics and Protestants is a reprint of a painting titled “The Risen Christ by the Sea,” which depicts Jesus smiling. This image of Jesus is known as “the Easter Laugh.”

However, I know in my heart that Our Lord must smile often if we are living happy and holy lives—with a good sense of humor.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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