In “The Call to Holiness” Pope Francis gives play to the importance of humor by quoting a prayer of St. Thomas More: ‘Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor.’ To my way of thinking humor helps to keep ourselves properly tuned amidst the experiences of life. None of us should take ourselves too seriously.

When couples celebrate their golden wedding anniversaries I ask them what made their marriages successful. Often they respond that one of the elements was a sense of humor. In a homily at a funeral a humorous anecdote about the deceased can help bring healing to the mourners. A few good laughs at an event can make for an enjoyable evening and help build a spirit of community. (By the way I am not speaking about crude, biting and derogatory humor. I am speaking about good humor that makes one chuckle about life in a positive vein.) We can reduce stress in our own lives when we can laugh at our foolish mistakes. It is said that God has a sense of humor because he created each of us with our own idiosyncrasies but at the same time has destined us to be with Him forever in the glory of heaven.

A keen sense of humor can help keep us from making harsh and unreasonable demands on ourselves as well as on others. I wonder if one of the reasons so many young people have taken their own lives might be a fear of failure to live up to the demands they make upon themselves or others have made upon them. As adults do we lay heavy burdens on our young people to succeed at all costs? Do we take the joy of youth out of their lives? I think of Jesus’ yoke and burden which is light. My father used to say that one can get too much religion – meaning too many rules and demands and missing the heart of religion which is faith in God. What we desire in ourselves is the fullness of God.

“Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor.”

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