Have you ever wondered where priests and preachers get their short, funny sermon anecdotes from? How do they find the right one to match the readings of that day? Is there a warehouse somewhere that stocks them?
Well, there’s probably not a warehouse but there are websites dedicated to sermon jokes. And while it may seem like just a simple way to entertain the masses before diving into the deep stuff, humor is actually a great way to make religion more engaging and approachable. Read on to discover how humor can enhance your spirituality.
Reflections on Humor and Spirituality
Some of the most prominent spiritual figures of our day have shared their thoughts on humor and spirituality, and how the two can help enhance each other. It’s a great way to inform our own understanding of how the two relate to each other.
For example, Pope Francis himself sees the merit of keeping a healthy sense of humor. After a 2014 Lenten retreat, he said that he wanted “to follow Jesus more closely, without losing hope in his promises and without losing a sense of humor.”
Then, in a 2016 interview, Pope Francis commented again on humor and religion by saying “a sense of humor gives you relief, it helps you see what is temporary in life and take things with the spirit of a soul who has been redeemed. … It's a human attitude, but it is very close to the grace of God.”
Of course, Pope Francis wasn’t the only pope to embrace humor. Pope John XXIII, for example, was known in part for his cheerful personality. One of his most famous quips came about after a reporter asked him, “how many people work in the Vatican?” He replied, “About half of them.”
There have even been books written on the subject, like Between Heaven and Mirth. This book, by Fr. James Martin, examines the sometimes neglected relationship between humor and religion.
In an interview with PBS, Martin said “I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding that says that religion needs to be serious all the time and gloomy and dour. A lot of things about religion are serious — it’s concerned about your salvation, the afterlife, suffering, those kinds of things. But I think that we tend to focus so much on that to the exclusion of joy.”
Martin makes the point that spirituality is not only focused on the afterlife and sin, but on fellowship and joy. However, he also stressed that there’s a line in humor between being funny and being offensive. Your spirituality is a serious thing, and you don’t have to poke fun at it to enjoy it.
Benefits of Humor and Spirituality
Humor can bring more joy and levity to your spiritual life. However, it can also bring health benefits.
Some of the health benefits of humor include:
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased immunity
- Boost in creativity
- Pain relief
- Improved mood
And when it comes to good health, spirituality also plays a role. There are a lot of reasons religion is good for you, but some of the major ones include lower blood pressure, more satisfaction, reduced stress, and longevity.
By nurturing the two, you can lead a happier, more holistic lifestyle.
Prayer for Good Humor
St. Thomas More, a 15th-century lawyer, theologian, and writer, has a prayer for good humor that Pope Francis is known to pray (although some contend the prayer is misattributed). It’s a lighthearted prayer that helps remind us to find joy in everyday life:
Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest.
Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humor to maintain it.
Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good
and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil,
but rather finds the means to put things back in their place.
Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs and laments,
nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called “I.”
Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor.
Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke to discover in life a bit of joy,
and to be able to share it with others.
Living Well at The Esquiline
Embracing humor and spirituality is one way to begin living holistically. By not only enhancing your physical wellness but your intellectual, spiritual, and social wellness, you can live a healthier, more fulfilling life.
At The Esquiline, we believe that living well is multi-faceted, yet simple. Our goal is to help you live an engaged, enriching life at our Christian retirement community. Feel free to explore our website, contact us online, or give us a call at 618-394-6400 to learn more about our community.