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Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
March 10, 1991     Arkansas Catholic
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March 10, 1991

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ARKANSAS CATHOLIC MARCH 10, 1991 PAGE 3 Moral dimensions Mouth iece Mission help Contr~utod by Willie Lisko 1is picture postcard, dated in the 1920s, shows the church grounds in L to R: First parish hall, second church, convent (first rectory). The cond rectory is dwarfed between the hall and church. The photo may ve been taken the day of the blessing of the church hall. people choose up sides. []r LI[ I Humor is one of the r, t gifts to go when " our lives get stressed or our spirits suffer. l lores Curran We can no longer laugh at our own or others' absurdities. We search for hidden M meanings where there are no meanings at . any, many ),ears ago when I was a all. girl on the farm, we were having If we need one message to give our spirit %eshers to din- lives a boost, it's to lighten up. God did not er. My mother create us to be depressed. Why do we search %rked hard all for a sinister side to situations that happen rning to put on naturally in the course of human behavior? , e hearty meal Humor is a God-given gift but, like all utat 15 farmers ex- gifts, we have to be ready to receive it if it eCted and one is to be of value. Babies are born with a comoared sense of humor, just watch them reactwith the one they glee when they discover their toes. But, -,u the day before depending on their environment, they % another farm. quickly learn to utilize or abolish humor in Minutes before ~ey came in, my Other told me to .Nlag in the bowl of I she grapes. thought ~,d gravy so I lifted the hot and heavy bowl .~gravy, dropped it and watched it spread crude oil over the floor. My mother tln't see it. %Vhere are the grapes?" she asked me. Pae grapes are all spilled," I replied. I don't recall the inddent all that well heard about it for years. "rhe grapes ~e all soilled" became a familv euDhemism rest minute catastrophes. ~a~ears later I ask,,ed her what she did. k"aat could I do? she laughed. "I just ghed and told the men they had to put grapes on their potatoes.' aal at mother. She knew how to my c' e humor work for her in the most dire ,~rCUrnstances. The farmers enjoyed the ~ry far more than they would have the Gravy they got every day. good A hugh ey didn'L ,, I think of that incident when I think of their lives. A few years ago I was introduced to the Fellowship of Merry Christian, a group which publishes The Joyful Noiseletter, a newsletter which claims, "Our modest aim is to recapture the spirit ofjoy, humor, unity and healing power of the early Christians. Gravy they got every A good hugh they didn't. Wc try to be merry more than twicc a year." They "also make the disclaimer, 'qlae opin- ions expressed in this newsletter are not ahvays those of the editors or of God." (P.O. Box 668, Kalamazoo, MI 49005.) What a needed ministry today. As co ntercultural as it seems, I believe that humor, play and silliness can lead us to God by lifting our spMts and giving us a balanced perspective toward life and living. Sacred does not have to mean grim. Humor releases the same endorphins in the spirit that jogging does in the body. It heals, relaxes, teaches and reinstillsjoy that has been hammered out of us. We can't control situations around us but we can control our internal responses with humor. That's power. And when we can laugh at our struggle to become more God-like, we become more God-like. Capy~ 1991 All Pub~btg Co. ~hValue and need for humor today. ere did all the humor go?" people who ' ~II/ 0 ember it ask. ," 7hy can t we laugh at tlrselves, anymore? _ ,,,t. I" )'here s a lidity in their question, vmen this column over 20 years ago, we ghe.z ,, more. I could write about absurdv I ~ in the Church like people refusing to [ ~Owledge others during the sign of but ifI write about such things today, I~ar Editor~. Thank you for keeping us attuned to the moral dimensions of the Persian Gulf crisis, and for letting us know the official Catholic response through the messages of the pope and our bishops. You exercised the mission of a Catholic newspaper admirably. Abbot Jerome Kode11, OSB Subiaco Dear Editor:. It is two years since I have received mis- sionary help of religious articles from your readers. To keep the real faith and prayer life alive we need your continued help. Hence may I request that your readers send us more rosaries, statues, medals, scapulars, used magazines, used greeting cards and other mission helps for our work. They will be shared by many Catholic priests and sis- ters in their districts. The donors will be kept in my holy Mass and priestly prayers. Rev. Patti Cruz Kada Voor Omrch Mathilil P.O., Wuilon - 691 601 gerala, India Dear Editolt~. I am disturbed to see my bishops' and Church's stand on the present Gulf War. Contrary to their view, this war is just and the men and women serving over in the Kuwait Theater of Operations are true he- roes in my eyes not the "politically correct tie dye types" and turncoats who are pro- testing it. Does the Church, this paper, and the Pax Christi supporters want our country to put its head in the ,sand at every intemational crisis? Where would you have been in World War II, seeking Conscientious Objector sla- ms? Saddam ks a tyrant who must be stopped regardless of the empty measure of sanc- tions. Come on! The Arkansas Catholic has always stood for justice in the past ~taether it be abortion, repression in El Salvador, and the collapse of the Communists in Eastern Europe. Don't be a mouthpiece for the Iraqi propaganda ministry. William N. Dobbhas Little Rock II Chr. Rev. William Gould 30: 14-17, 19-23 * Eph. 2:4-10 * John 3:14-21 "Why didn't you tell me about this?" Do these words sound familiar? Most of us have heard this question. Many of us have even asked iL Our seminary rector once men- tioned that itwas a question newly-ordained priests often asked the faculty when they retumed to visit the semi- nary. The response they re- ceived was usually short and sweet: "We did. You just didn't hear us." Things often have to be repeated. We often do not hear them the first time around. That is the way it is with today's Scripture readings and their message. In the opening sentence of the epistle, St. Paul tells us: "God is rich in mercy;, because of his great love for us he brought us to life with Christ when we were dead in sin." The words are dear. The message is profound. Yet many people do not believe that God can possibly love them - and that His love cannot possibly be unlimited and total. Why do the Scripture readings repeat this message and theme "in season and out of season"?. We older Catholics grew up in a Church that seemed to base religion more on fear than on love. Sin, judgment and punishment were emphasized. Many sermons and retreats appeared to put us down and to be trying to "scare the Hell" out of us. I remember one retreat talk where I actually thought that I smelled brimstone. One of my seminary profes- sors put it this way: %re Catholics act as though the only way we'll get to heaven is with singed backsides." We laughed at his remark, but he was right. That was one devotional approach. It worked to some degree. But today's emphasis has changed and we are now remembering that "God is love" (I John 4:16). But enough of the old approach still remains in many of us that we find it hard to really believe how much God loves us. That is why God and the Churcl" continue to remind us. "Early and often dic God offers us everyflai as a the Lord, the God of their fathers, send hi: free gift with no strings attached. messengers to them, for he had commissior on his people and his dwelling place." Our fwst reading reminds us that God's love is the one constant in our lives. No matter what happens - no matter how gravely we sin and how much we might despair of forgive- ness - He forgives us and loves us. This is St. Paul's message. It is also that of Jesus to Nicodemus. Jesus was "lifted up" for us so that we (even when we were sinners!) might experience the fullness of life both here and in the hereafter. He has not come to condemn us, but to save us. He continues to live among us so that we might experience all the wonderful things Cod wants to give us. St. Paul reminds us of that word "give". It is important because God offers us everything as a free gift with no strings attached, is not your doing, it is God's gift; neither is it a reward for anything you have accomplished." "Why didn't someone tell me about this?" They did; they still do. But many of us need to hear it a lot more before we will really believe it. But God is willing to take all the time required and to repeat Frmaself as often as necessary.