Holy Laughter


Even though icons and holy cards often depict the saints and the entire Holy Family with a miserable scowl on their unhealthy looking faces, the truth is that the saints lived in God’s presence and in His joy. St. Francis of Assisi is the most famous, joyful saint.  Look at our pope, whose name sake is Francis; his very countenance radiates authenticity, kindness, joy and the love of God.

Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, not a gift given to a select few, but a by-product of living in the Spirit. Sacred Scriptures exhort us to trust and embrace the joy of the Lord.

The very first time my husband heard holy laughter was 26 years ago while making a retreat atthefamousTrappist monastery near Oka in Quebec. He was walking quietly down a hallway, trying to be silent and unobtrusive when a monk  threw his head back and let loosegales of full-out belly laughter. It sparked joy in everyone who heard it. That’s what holy laughter does; it ignites the joy of the Lord in everyone who is open.AnotherTrappist, Thomas Merton,was asked if  it was possible to tell ifa  another person had truly undergone inner transformation.

“It is very difficult to tell but usually it is accompanied by a wonderful sense of humour.”

There are many amusing stories about the saints. While on a journey to visit one of her convents,  a donkey threw St. Teresa of Avila  into a stream of freezing cold water.  Standing in her water-logged, heavy habit, she yelled at God,
“If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few!”

Did you ever wonder how the plain, hard-working, celibate, 17th-century Shakers got their name? It is because they shook under the power of God and they danced! No wonder they were persecuted and chased out of Europe; they scandalized staid, proper, miserable Christians. Just like King David danced before the Lord in complete abandonment. Do we look on with scorn when we see anyone moving and dancing in the Spirit? Remember how God reacted to not only David but his wife Michal;

2 Samuel 6

Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.

20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes….

23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

I am willing to wager that almost all religious, faithful Catholics would not model David but scowl along with Michal.

Humour, the ability to laugh at myself and not take myself too seriously, puts the process of inner transformation into perspective. If I am self-centered instead of God centered, everything becomes intense and dramatic. When I take my eyes off myself my faith, my religious practices,  my spiritual ‘progress’, and look at my Saviour, everything comes back into the proper perspective. I am filled with joy, the joy of the Lord. Watch out, it’s contagious and extremely infectious.

15 thoughts on “Holy Laughter

  1. You are so right. Just a few short years ago, I was still being healed from many deep wounds from…well, life in general. My heart was heavy, my manner very serious and somber. I’m so thankful for the Lord who taught me to laugh – at myself, at others, at circumstances. The joy of the Lord has indeed become my strength. There’s still much work for Him to do, but He’s faithful – and gentle, too. What a wonderful Savior!

    This week I have the honor of being part of the flag worship team for Vacation Bible School. I love to dance before the Lord. It’s one of life’s great delights.

    Thanks for sharing this article with me. One set of grandparents were Catholic. They lived in Wisconsin, and we in California, though. There wasn’t any time for them to demonstrate their faith in action.

    As a 12-year-old, I began going to church after a bout of drinking and being caught. I felt guilty, and that was my way of trying to make amends to my aunt (whose house I “baptized” after I blacked out) and my mom. Eventually my parents joined me. It was a Baptist church…of the very legalistic variety, and the sort that were not very gracious towards Catholics. 😦 Fortunately, the Lord moved me to another house of worship in my 20’s.

    Since then I’ve found dear “family” across all denominations. Jesus showed me that the “brand” is not the issue…He is.

    I appreciate knowing that Catholics get holy laughter too! I love St. Theresa of Avila’s comment to the Lord! That’s priceless.

    Have a blessed week-end, and thanks for sharing!

    \o/

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    1. I am a convert to Catholicism, raised Presbyterian, conversion experience with a lovely missionary, joined a Jesus People Church, baptized in the Spirit, bevame a speaking in tongues, Charismatic Catholic..not by choice. God put Mary in my heart while my mind was a horrified protestant!

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      1. That’s funny! He turned this Baptist, scared stiff of the Holy Spirit, everyone else is going to hell teenager and healed me through a charismatic prophetess, after which I was baptized in the Spirit and began speaking in tongues as well. My favorite is to sing in tongues. I certainly didn’t go looking for any of this…I did my best to fight Him every step of the way!

        God sure must get a kick out of us and our hangups!

        \o/

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  2. Love, love, love this post!! Ah, the JOY of the Lord inside…needs to bubble up and overflow…into love and laughter…great big belly-laughs, preferably!! Ha!!

    My son and I direct a drama team, and we’re going to add Christian Improv this year in our outreaches. He does Imrov with the Naples Players…and we love to laugh!!! God Bless!

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      1. Amen!!! I’ve always taught my son…being a Christian is fun…if not, why would anyone else want to follow our Christ! I told him not to concentrate on what we can’t do, but to concentrate on all we get to do in Christ!!

        Love good, clean fun, laughter, and joyful liberty in who we are in Christ! God Bless!

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