Holy Rule for Feb. 7
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Deo gratias, Scottie's knee replacement went very well and Liz's intention was answered, too.
Jack, prostate cancer and now atrial fibrillation, in hospital, and especially for Pat, his wife and David and all their children. David and Jane just lost Jane's Dad.
Eleanor, mid-50s who lost her husband 3 months ago, now struggling with advanced lung cancer after ovarian cancer ... and for their teenage daughter Maggie...
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).
Face it, beloveds, speech and laughter have a lot in common! Both are
often fake, insincere, nervous or empty. Both are often employed for
no reason other than to break a silence which makes us uncomfortable.
Both are frequently unnecessary. To the degree that both are
sometimes false, they are destructive of truth and, therefore, of humility.
I speak from experience as one of the big-time braying mules, all
too ready to lift my fool's voice in laughter! People like me are
quick to defend themselves by making the other side look dumb or
challenged: "Oh, I can't stand someone with no sense of humor!" Well,
the issue here is NOT having a sense of humor, all saints need that.
It is having a hair trigger on same or, worse. It's having a
catastrophic first strike capability to laugh when no one else does,
to see humor where it truly does not exist, or to be silly in the
presence of those far wiser than oneself.
Every good monk I have ever known has laughed. The best monks,
however, did not laugh easily. A knowing, warm smile with bright eyes
or a discreet chuckle would have been most usual for them. They were
not quick to laugh, nor did they roar loudly with laughter.
There's another connection between speech and laughter here. Their
moderate, virtuous use is connected to wisdom, which is why the person
who rarely speaks at all is usually listened to when they do say
something. Ditto the use of laughter. If Br. X, who laughs at
everything, including things that aren't funny, howls in laughter,
people don't ascribe much to the affair. On the other hand, if Br. Y,
who is NOT given to laughter, even chuckles it is a sign that
something is REALLY funny!
Stupid laughter and stupid speech are both pathetic as a first
resort. Both can stem from thinking we know something that we really
do not, or that we can see clearly and entirely what we really see
only partially, if that. Our ignorance in such matters may be missed
by others, but those we live with can usually point it out, unless
they are too polite or charitable to do so!
Having said that about ignorance, let me jump in to defend valid
laughter and truthful senses of humor. Merely being curmudgeonly and
not laughing is definitely NOT the idea! That treats the symptom, not
the cause! Joyless, cranky, unduly serious people who take
themselves, above all, FAR too seriously, are every bit as much out
of touch with reality as the braying mules.
Both laughter and speech can be cruel and ought never to be for the
Christian. But both can be loving and charitable, too. Surely there is no condemnation
implied here of charity! What of the many times when a laugh or chuckle truly
did break the ice, lighten the moment or cheer someone up. One would be hard
pressed to claim that those charitably kind uses of laughter were forbidden.
Humility is truth, remember that one? As Sheen observed, both the sense of
faith and the sense of humor are the terribly important ability to see through
The good monks I described who rarely laughed were not morose. They were not
so because they were holy enough to know better! They were cheerful, joyful men.
That stands in high (and pleasant!) relief to being either a crank or a
That's the issue here: being holy makes us humble, being holy makes
us avoid extremes!
Love and prayers,
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