Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life

Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life

James Martin

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0062024256

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Between Heaven and Mirth will make any reader smile. . . . Father Martin reminds us that happiness is the good God’s own goal for us.” —Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York

From The Colbert Report’s “official chaplain” James Martin, SJ, author of the New York Times bestselling The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, comes a revolutionary look at how joy, humor, and laughter can change our lives and save our spirits. A Jesuit priest with a busy media ministry, Martin understands the intersections between spirituality and daily life.  In Between Heaven and Mirth, he uses scriptural passages, the lives of the saints, the spiritual teachings of other traditions, and his own personal reflections to show us why joy is the inevitable result of faith, because a healthy spirituality and a healthy sense of humor go hand-in-hand with God's great plan for humankind.

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Seeing the repentance of all the living, God relents from his punishment. Nineveh is saved. More humor: Jonah is furious! Apparently, he had preached the same message in his own country to no avail. Why do the Ninevites listen when his own people do not? Or perhaps Jonah is angry that God’s terrible wrath did not come upon his enemies. So Jonah does what any petulant prophet would do—he asks the Lord to kill him. “Please take my life from me,” he says. God says, bluntly, “Is it right for you

out, “And blessed are you among women!” Everyone laughed at this line from Scripture, and I felt right at home and could talk about my retreat with them.51 Laughter had welcomed me. 8. Humor is healing. Physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists have shown how laughter helps the healing process in the physical body. Laughter releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that can relax the body, reduce stress, relieve feelings of frustration, and produce an overall feeling of well-being. Scientists

drop of red paint in a can of white paint. It’s a powerful image. The red represents your one problem. You have an entire can of white paint—let’s say, a job, a roof over your head, a loving family—and you choose instead to concentrate on the one tiny red drop—the one thing wrong in your life. Suddenly the whole can turns red; that’s all you see. That is where choice comes into play. Sometimes, when presented with the mixed bag that life hands us, we can choose to focus on what makes us happy,

been the best way to start.” So I told her one of my father’s favorite jokes, about the old man who was hit by a car as he’s crossing a street. He’s lying in the street, waiting for the ambulance, and a police officer comes up and asks him, “What happened?” “I got hit by a car,” says the man blandly. “Oh no!” says the policeman. “Are you comfortable?” “Eh,” says the man, “I make a living.” Paula stared at me impassively. “See,” she said, “that just doesn’t make me laugh. I know that

prayer and imagining God sitting joyfully with you. Or it could mean bringing to God not only the difficult parts of your life, but the enjoyable, exciting, and funny parts too. For example, has anything happened recently that made you laugh or made you laugh at yourself? The story in the last chapter about my nephew yelling out during Mass, “That’s my part!” seemed, at least to me, an indication of God’s playfulness. That night in prayer, I smiled about the incident with God. God may have been

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