Holy Rule for June 8
Prayers, please, for Rose and Mr. B, both in nursing homes. Prayers for a couple trying to conceive a child. Prayers for Donna, breast cancer surgery and doing well, but not in full remission yet. Prayers for a young woman struggling bravely to work a twelve step recovery program.
Prayers for Anthony and Jeremy, both of whom took their own lives. Prayers for Danny and his wife and both their children, especially his infant son, Justin, who has some medical problems. Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Eric, for all his family and all who mourn him, especially his Mom. Prayers for a couple seeking to adopt. Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
February 7, June 8, October 8
Chapter 7: On Humility
The tenth degree of humility
is that he be not ready and quick to laugh,
for it is written,
"The fool lifts up his voice in laughter" (Eccles. 21:23).
Note that the Holy Rule does NOT say not to laugh at all, but just
not to laugh too fast! In another place, the Rule condemns "idle words"
which can "provoke buffoonery" (read immoderate laughter!) We are
not, however, forbidden to laugh at all. Life together will always produce
some truly comical stuff, and well-ordered appreciation of that gift of
humor is right in line with a good, balanced Benedictine life.
WHAT do we laugh at, and how? Do we find humor at others' expense cruelly?
Do we laugh in such a way as to make the person feel a fool, or in such a way
as to make her feel part of a shared family joke and joy? Do we laugh with
love and affection or with pompous derision? There are, make no mistake,
lots of good and bad ways to laugh.
Ever know someone who laughs too fast, too often, and at things that no one
else finds funny? Sometimes we laugh along, in kindness and charity, just to
keep such a one from feeling as out of place as they well might. Pejoratively,
we might say such people were kooks, but honestly, what we really feel is that
they lack depth or maturity or both.
Christians, all Christians, even Benedictines, are commanded to
rejoice. There is a Christian imperative to joy, even in the midst of
the sufferings promised us in this life. Picture joy with never one
single moment of throw-your-head-back-in-glorious-laughter. My!
What a prim, prudish and bloodless little party animal that would be!
What a great, lifeless remove from the abandon of genuine joy, what a
I have never known a Benedictine so bad as to never laugh at all, and
I have known more than a few who seemed to be, to all appearances,
dreadful enough. Granted, some of the holiest ones chuckled softly a
good deal more than they roared in laughter, but ALL of them laughed!
Even those holiest ones, who tended to occasionally just chuckle,
smiled a LOT and warmly!
There are, in every age, inappropriate uses of humor. Humor is often
a nervous cover-up, an avoidance, a substitute for real
communication. I think these examples are what the Holy Rule
addresses. We are called to relate to people on a more honest level
than perpetual joking about. That playfulness may be an antechamber
to intimacy, but it is no substitute. All loving friends share jokes,
but if jokes are ALL they share, they are, as yet, neither truly
loving nor friends. It takes something more than that humor alone.
It is because humor, jokes and shared laughter can be that first step
towards intimacy that they are so very necessary for a cenobitic,
community-loving Benedictine heart. Then, of course, there is also
that Christian imperative to JOY!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]