July 21, 2017

Editorial

Laughter and humor: Good companions on our journey of faith

Life is a serious matter. So is living a life of faith.

But even Pope Francis knows that occasionally weaving laughter and humor into situations can be healthy for us—spiritually, emotionally and physically.

And those funny moments can lighten the mood and help put things in perspective as we continue, God willing, on our journey to eternal life.

During an address at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September of 2015, the Holy Father broke away from more serious topics to share some humor, saying, “Families quarrel … sometimes plates can fly and children give headaches. I won’t speak about mothers-in-law.” The off-the-cuff comment drew hearty laughter from the thousands in attendance.

His humor and spontaneity helped tie in the challenges that families face today, and later in his talk to the fact that “perfect families do not exist.”

Pope Francis also playfully put on a red clown’s nose provided to him by a newly-married couple in November of 2013 in Rome. The husband and wife were members of the Rainbow Association Marco Iagulli Onlus, a charity that use clown therapy to cheer up sick children, so the pope decided to “clown” along.

His actions demonstrated his sense of humor as well as his never-ending concern for children, especially those struggling with serious illnesses.

More recently, visitors to Pope Francis’ Santa Marta residence at the Vatican saw a sign posted on his door: “Vietato Lamentarsi,” which translated into English means, “No complaining allowed.”

According to several media reports, the red and white notice explains to visitors that “transgressors are the object of a syndrome of victimization,” which has as a consequence a lessening of a person’s sense of humor and of the capacity to solve problems.

Complaining in the presence of children, the sign adds, would lead to a double sanction.

To become the “best of yourself,” explains the text, “you have to concentrate on your own potential and not on your limits. Therefore, stop complaining and act to make your life better.”

The sign was the work of Italian psychologist and psychotherapist Salvo Noé, who gave it to Pope Francis after attending a general audience in June in St. Peter’s Square.

Though the pope promised to put the sign up on his office door, he thought it would look out of place in the Apostolic Palace and decided to instead put it up at Santa Marta.

Pope Francis has spoken more than once about the dangers of excessive complaining, and his gentle reminder—albeit with a strong dose of humor—is something many people in today’s world should appreciate and take to heart.

If the pope’s goal in the above examples was to get us to laugh, we believe we can share with him “mission accomplished.”

But we also believe our Holy Father’s mission in each case includes tying in the old adage that “laughter is the best medicine,” especially where some of life’s challenges grip us.

We have learned much during Pope’s Francis’ four years as universal shepherd of the Church.

We have read encyclicals and papal exhortations about joy, mercy, love and discipleship. We have seen a pope who takes to heart our faith’s mission of evangelization and also embraces the lonely, the disabled and all men and women, no matter their walk of life.

And we see a shepherd who realizes that laughter and humor are good companions to have on our journey of faith.

Seriously.

—Mike Krokos

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