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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Laughter Is Still the Best Medicine!

It's been a little over a week and I have already begun my classes...
My schedule is somewhat lighter this semester as I have finished almost all the major courses last year and now can enjoy the fruits of a lesser stressed timetable. Meanwhile, I have a class on Dominican spirituality entitled "The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality: A Drink Called Happiness". My class professor for this subject, Fr Paul Murray, O.P., is also the author of the book of the same name, which is the reference text for the class lessons. If there is an apt review for this class it would come from the Angelic Doctor himself, St Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican too, who said that if a person in incapable of saying something funny, that person is morally unsound! Alright, I am paraphrasing too much here, but you have that quote in his Summa Theologica, II-II, question 168, article 4. Furthermore, we even have G.K. Chesterton mentioning that angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.

What I am getting at here is, the need to NOT take ourselves too seriously! What is happening these days is that we take ourselves too seriously, when we should be taking God more seriously instead. This is also commented by the celebrated Catholic theologian, Han Urs von Balthasar who mentioned that those who are extreme progressives or extreme conservatives (those group of people who are at the ends of the spectrum), both tend to be fault finders, grumblers and think that they have the monopoly of infallible judgment - in short, they are fanatics!

What Aquinas, Balthasar and Chesterton are saying is that light-heartedness and humour do have a place in our Catholic tradition! Our moral life must be more able to be open to the rubrics of happiness. What we see more often is the influence of the rubrics of obligations instead. No wonder we never always look redeemed! Perhaps that may be one of the 'push' factor that discourages potential candidates to the priesthood. If we paint a morose and sombre picture of the priestly vocation, intentionally or unintentionally, we lose their interest, perhaps even scare them away!

Speaking of vocation and humour, here is another person who found his happiness and having a chuckle or two at the expense of the Wall Street traders. Henry Quinson, abandoned his life as a high flying Wall Street trader to join the Trappist monks at a cheese-making monastery in the French Alps at age 28. That was 20 years ago. Today he works as a schoolteacher, lives among the poor in France's multi-ethnic city of Marseille and looks at the financial crisis convulsing markets worldwide with detached amusement. When asked about the recent economic turmoil, he said, "I told everyone who asked me a year ago to get out of stocks. I don't know if they listened to me." He goes on to say, "Today, my annual teacher's salary is about the same as a monthly bonus I was earning as a trader. But I have much more power as a teacher than as a trader. Education is the only true wealth" (full story here).

So, be good, but don't forget to laugh once in a while!


Joanne W said...

Hi Father!
I totally agree with this post!!

Unknown said...

I love this post Father.Ya dont take life seriously..hehehhehe..


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