Sorry this is so late today! But a blessed Pentecost to all! 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!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 foolish as they well might. Pejoratively, we might say such people
were jerks, 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 without one
single moment of throw-your-head-back-in-glorious-laughter. My! What
a tasteful, discreet 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,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery