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Priest | Priests

Jokes at Mass | Joking at Mass

Joke in Sermon | Jokes in Sermons

Jokes in Homily | Jokes in Homilies

Are Jokes Appropriate in Sermons?

Laughing in Church | Laughter in Church

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Arrow Question / Issue:

"Should priests make jokes in their sermons?"

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

[click link(s) below, as applicable]

According to St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church...

"Although jokes are at times fitting and pleasant, nevertheless they are incompatible with the ecclesiastical rule..."

According to St. Francis of Assisi... (emphasis added)

"Blessed is that religious who takes no pleasure and joy except in the most holy words and deeds of the Lord and with these leads people to the love of God in joy and gladness. Woe to that religious who delights in idle and frivolous words and with these provokes people to laughter."

When one considers that church is a house of prayer and that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the re-presentation of Calvary, the inappropriateness of jokes & laughter become quite clear. Some other relevant quotations appear below...

"When you hear Mass, do you come in the same frame of mind as the Blessed Virgin at Calvary? Because it is the same God, and the same Sacrifice." (St. John Vianney)

"Therefore, [those who] are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer worship pleasing to God in reverence and awe." (St. Paul, Heb. 12:28)

"Holy things must be treated in a holy way and this sacrifice is the most holy of all things." (Council of Trent)

"Nothing so becomes a church as silence and good order. Noise belongs to theatres, and baths, and public processions, and market-places: but where doctrines, and such doctrines, are the subject of teaching, there should be stillness, and quiet, and calm reflection, and a haven of much repose." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church) 

"When you are before the altar where Christ reposes, you ought no longer to think that you are amongst men; but believe that there are troops of angels and archangels standing by you, and trembling with respect before the sovereign Master of Heaven and earth. Therefore, when you are in church, be there in silence, fear, and veneration." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church) 

"Keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary. I am the LORD." (Lev. 26:2)

"Serve the LORD with fear; with trembling bow down in homage" (Ps. 2:11)

"Now the exhortation of the Apostle, 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,' requires that all Christians should possess, as far as humanly possible, the same dispositions as those which the divine Redeemer had when He offered Himself in sacrifice: that is to say, they should in a humble attitude of mind, pay adoration, honor, praise and thanksgiving to the supreme majesty of God. Moreover, it means that they must assume to some extent the character of a victim, that they deny themselves as the Gospel commands, that freely and of their own accord they do penance and that each detests and satisfies for his sins. It means, in a word, that we must all undergo with Christ a mystical death on the cross so that we can apply to ourselves the words of St. Paul, 'With Christ I am nailed to the cross.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

Remember that priests act in the place of Christ and we do not see Christ making jokes in Holy Scripture. Nor do we see the Lord provoking people to laughter especially – of all places – in God's house!

Besides the above, priests should definitely NOT be encouraging the laity to laugh in the Lord's house considering that so many lay persons today already seem unaware of how to act appropriately in the church. The priest should set a good example, not provoke bad behavior! If you wouldn't laugh during the crucifixion of Christ (and is not the very thought of that horrifying?), you shouldn't laugh during the re-presentation of Calvary – the Holy SACRIFICE of the Mass.


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