If you ever want to see how bad things have become find an article in the mainstream media about the Pope or the Catholic Church, then jump down to the comments page. You’ll probably find the most sweaty, irrational, blasphemous, ignorant and rage-filled rants imaginable. I saw one this morning which called for the Pope to be killed.
I realize that one should not generalize from the rage of a few internet crazies, however, if you spend any time at all browsing such articles from media sites you’ll find that the attitude crops up in papers across the English speaking world from “respectable” sites through to the tabloids. It is pretty widespread and scary.
I had a dose of it four years ago when Fr Newman hit the headlines for saying that Catholics who voted for Obama should go to confession. I was helping out at St Mary’s at the time and Geesh! The vitriolic emails we started to receive were horrible. Most of them were totally irrational, rage fueled, tirades. Vomiting out the most insane and vile blasphemies against the Holy Father, the Blessed Mother, the sacraments–anything Catholic.
How does one deal with such demonic rage? There is no argument because the hatred it totally irrational. They were spewing groundless accusations with huge generalizations. There could be no discussion.
All one can do in such a situation is either remain silent or laugh. I recommend laughter because laughter is the opposite of the insane rage which is being expressed. Laughter, at it’s best, is an equally irrational response because comedy is generated by what is absurd or unexpected. The rage was irrational to such an extent that it was absurd.
Laughter is the grace-filled response. Truly joyful laughter in the face of evil is an unexpected yet proper response because truly joyful laughter is an expression of trust in God’s providence. I laugh at the attempts of evil to destroy because I know God is going to have the last laugh. I know, despite the terror and the tears that God is in charge, so I can laugh at Lucifer and dance on the head of the devil.
Laughter allows us to take ourselves lightly, for nothing is more contributory to pride than taking ourselves seriously. If you take yourself deadly seriously, you will soon be dead. Seriously!
Laughter takes us back to childhood and we remember that unless we become as children we cannot enter Christ’s Kingdom. So this Lent do joyful battle. Go into the fray with a feather in your hat and a sword in your hand. Joust with the devil with a joke. Skewer him with satire, pound him with a pun and laugh because joyful laughter is an expression of carefree confidence in the triumph of truth.