Laughter and the Saint who Shaved Half of His Beard

Hi Dear Friends in Christ,

First, I want to welcome all of you who have recently joined the God is my Glue Community! I am very happy you are here! Thank you for spending a moment of your day and for your kind words of encouragement! I am most grateful to God for you!

I love a good joke. Laughter is a special gift from God and one that we need to utilize more, especially in these difficult times. The first Saint that comes to mind when I think of merriment is St. Philip Neri. I learned about him when my son chose him as his Confirmation Saint. He is the Patron Saint of Rome, US Special Forces, Joy, and Humor! St. Philip Neri was a Christian missionary and founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, a community of Catholic priests and lay brothers. He was born in Florence on July 21, 1515, and died on May 26, 1595. He brought Christianity back to Rome and is considered the third Apostle of Rome, after Peter and Paul. He cared for the sick, poor, and lonely. He tended to both their physical and spiritual needs, whether it was in the streets or in the hospitals. He had a knack for striking up conversations with people and they were instantly attracted to his friendly and cheerful demeanor. St. Philip Neri used these encounters to speak to people about God and encourage them to a life of meaning, dedicated to following the example of Jesus. St. Phillip Neri would ask the young men who followed him, “WELL! And what good shall we do today?”

He sought to share His immense love of God with others, a love that God especially endowed upon him. In 1954, on the eve of Pentecost, St. Philip Neri was praying in the catacombs when he was struck to the ground. A fiery small globe entered his mouth and went to the left side of his chest where he felt his heart dilate. He was so overcome with the immensity of God’s love that he finally said, “Enough, enough Lord, I can bear no more.” St. Philip Neri then noticed swelling over his heart, though it caused no pain.  When St. Philip Neri died many years later, doctors stated that the two ribs over his heart were in the form of an arch, obviously giving room for the tremendous love poured into his heart by God.

He is amazing because he used humor, joy, and funny antics to evangelize, instruct, as well as help himself and others stay humble.

One such example was related to a woman who was known to speak unkindly of others. St. Philip Neri gave her money and asked her to go to the market and purchase a chicken that had just been killed and pluck the feathers off, one by one on her way home. She was very proud of the fact that she had been asked to do this task. When she arrived at St. Philip’s door, she excitedly gave him a perfectly clean chicken.

He thanked the woman and then said, “Now go back once more, and gather up all the feathers of the chicken you just plucked!”

The poor woman was dismayed. She said, “But that is impossible, Father!  The wind has scattered the feathers in every direction!”

Then St. Philip scolded, “Let this be a lesson to you, for it is exactly the same with your wicked words.  Just as the chicken feathers have been scattered by the wind in every direction, so have your wicked words been scattered in every direction by other people, repeating your stories!”

Another instance was when St. Philip Neri noticed a man always left church immediately after receiving Holy Communion. After one such time, he asked two altar servers, holding candles to follow the man through the streets. Infuriated, the man eventually came back to St. Philip Neri and asked him why he did such a thing.

St. Philip Neri said, “It is to pay proper respect to Our Lord, whom you are carrying away with you. Since you neglect to adore Him, I sent the servers to take your place.”

St. Philip Neri wanted to help the man understand that after receiving the Body of Christ, we become living tabernacles of God. This is especially a time to pray and kneel in thanksgiving.

He wanted to be sure he kept himself humble so he wore big, funny white shoes in the streets, shaved half of his beard when attending important events, purposefully mispronounced words during homilies, and was seen reading joke books when dignitaries came to visit him.

The medical profession has proven what St. Philip Neri knew centuries before, that humor is beneficial for our mind, body, and spirit. According to a recent article from the Mayo Clinic, laughter has the short term benefit of positively stimulating many organs, releasing endorphins, and easing tension. Long-term effects include improved immunity, decreased pain, and improved mood and connection with people. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

As we go about our day, let us remember to keep the bouquet of humor, laughter, and joy in our hands, ready to pass along to all we meet.

St. Philip Neri said it best:

The true way to advance in holy virtues is to persevere in a holy cheerfulness.

If you wish to go to extremes, let it be in sweetness, patience, humility, and charity.

Some ways to keep your funny bone tickled:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H0q6_0bv7k  Dry Bar- Clean Comedy

Movies: Enchanted, Night at the Museum, My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Books by: Erma Bombeck

Heavenly Father, help us to be so filled with your love that we cannot help but share it with others through acts of joyful charity. May we not take ourselves too seriously, be truly humble, and find moments to laugh every day.  We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ and with the intercession of St. Phillip Neri. Amen.

You are in my prayers! God bless you abundantly with His love and joy!