Laughter, Mirror of the Soul

The world speaks one language called laughter. It is the shortest distance between people. It is the place where people of every continent, race, religion, and culture meet. Mark Twain got it perfectly when he said: “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” It brings people together. It is the one irresistible phenomenon that connects and opens the most distressed of hearts. Laughter is a powerful medicine. No one can do without this medicine for too long. A perfect dose of it creates a healthy and well-balanced person. While God remains the Prime Mover over the universal, laughter is the prime connector wherever there are people. Those who can tactfully handle the “serious” world and the “funny” world simultaneously rule the world. Laughter is the master key; it opens all doors. No heart is too grim; no person is inaccessible.Closeup portrait of a group of business people laughing

Laughter reveals the truth about the human person. Although the manner a person carries herself, speaks, acts, thinks, cries, what he believes, and gets involved in reveals a great deal about that person, laughter is the quickest way to know that person. Through laughter, the innermost secrets of the person’s soul are revealed. It is the mirror of the human soul. It touches the deepest layer of the soul. While a smile only touches the lips, laughter bursts forth from the soul, overflows, and bubbles around. Many trust and judge others by their laughs. Fyodor Dostoyevsky went so far as to say: “If a person laughs well, he’s a good person”. That means if he/she lets the heart expresses itself, the real self comes out. Our true color is a beautiful reality that is fundamental good. Laughter brings it out.

lllA sincere, genuine, effortless laughter is irresistible. Who does not like a person with an easy laugh? Who can be unmoved before the laughter of an innocent child? Who does not throw a smirk when he sees or hears a loud, deep, joyful laugh? It can bail a person out of anything. Ingrid Betancourt, a French journalist who was held in captivity for 6 years by the Columbian guerillas, asserts “I knew of no instruction manual for reaching a higher level of humanity and a greater wisdom, but I felt intuitively that laughter was the beginning of wisdom, as was indispensable for survival”. Apparently laughing was the only antidote to her misery in the jungle. She chose laughter in the midst of darkness and light was found. So laughter can empower us. In this sense comedian Craig Ferguson is right: “You gotta laugh because if you didn’t, you’d cry”. Laugh! It will change your interior disposition and your thoughts. Laughter gives rives to a new you—new world, new perspective, and new horizon. Learn to laugh and do it often. Cultivating a cheerful disposition is the most conducive mean to laughter.

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It is universally accepted and scientifically proven that there are many social and healthful expediencies to laughter. Just being around people who laugh often causes laughter and creates a better atmosphere. It is very contagious. Laughter is attractive. A good sense of humor is part of the top three features women look for in men. Having a good humor should be everyone’s priorities. Everyone knows how people who laugh easily create us by their laughter. As victor Hugo puts it: “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face”. No one enjoys winter. Laughter is beneficial for relationships. Research shows that people who use laughter and smile when discussing a sensitive subject feel better in the immediacy and report higher levels of satisfaction in their relationship. Happier relationship means longer relationship.

If only we could always laugh. Life requires us to be serious. Those who laugh too much are not taken seriously. This is where the ancients’ view of laughter makes sense. From Plato to Aristotle to Kant, laughter is seen as disgraceful. They saw it as an emotion that overrides self-control. The Stoics and Aristotle concur with Plato; they believe that laughter should be permissible, but ordered. In this vein, St. Basil the Great wrote “raucous laughter… is indication of a disordered soul, and a lack of self-mastery”. All other theories are a footnote of Plato’s view of laughter. It is only in the last century has laughter accorded so great a value. So although it is a necessity, it is the sign of a good life, it must be exclaimed virtuously.

mI hope this did not start a negative view of laughter in your mind. I only wanted to present both sides. As you know, nothing good exists without a good rule. Self-control is the rule by while laughter is measured. A cheerful and joyful heart is a peak into the eternal chamber of God. God has a good sense of humor as we often say. It is believed that if we could grasp the universe as it truly is, we would have to laugh because it would be interesting seeing the divine wisdom behind it all. That’s why holy people who get a privileged glimpse into God’s mirror always have a good sense of human. They see purely and it is humorous.

In conclusion, while laughter is beneficial to the soul and a sign of happiness, it needs to be done with control and under the right circumstances. So when Dostoyevsky says that laughter reveals the man, he is right after all. It tells you what moves that person. So do laugh, but do it appropriately.

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Behold Joseph the Man!

famThe Mother of God is elevated to the highest pedestal attainable by a human being. She deserves this because her life on earth matches the blueprint in God’s mind; she is, and deservedly so, the highest honor of our race and the mother of our salvation. This honor is due to her fiat and her intrinsic connection to the divine Son of God. She is Theotokos— God’s bearer—and the mother of all mankind. However, something would be amiss if the Son of God was deprived of a father. Thus Joseph occupied a pivotal place in the economy of salvation. He is the second greatest saint in the eyes of the church. He was handpicked to fulfill a primordial role.

 

His role was indispensable in helping Jesus develop into mature manhood. He taught him what it means to be man; as any father should, he must have taught him to pray the psalms, the Jewish’s devotional prayers, how to behave in synagogue, and in temple; he must have taught him how to sit at table, comport himself in public, how to deal with his peers etc. many of Jesus’ mannerisms must have been Joseph’s; it is difficult for a young boy not to imitate his father. Any father trying to figure out how best to father, look to Joseph. He had to learn to fall in love with his vocation and assignment. He learned to love the holy family as God loves them without counting the cost. Through this new finding, Joseph was able to discover and appreciate the great gift he has been given to care for the greatest thing that has happened to the human race.

jjjHowever, this role was not a walk in the park. Like Mary, he was not given a special grace from birth to be the father of God. He was a sinner striving to be virtuous. So it was not easy for him to deal with mystery, so he must have struggled to accept the angel’s annunciation to him. Someone being pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit is mind blowing and unprecedented. Although a man of faith, he could not have swimmingly accepted this occurrence. To make things worse, out of all the possible mediums, God chose a dream to announce the greatest of news. Sheer madness, however that’s God’s madness. Madness that comes from God is much more beautiful than wisdom of human origin.  Despite all the researches done on dream, we still don’t know how best to take dreams. So human that he was, he struggled to decipher what was being asked of him. When things come to light however, he cooperates wholeheartedly. That’s a lesson for all of us. It is reasonable to struggle to figure out God’s plan for our lives, but once evident, leave no room for doubt. Commit as if there had never been any doubt.

Although scripture presents him as a just, pure, gentle man, he was real. When he learned that his fiancée was carrying a child, he sought to end the relationship, silently. It’s worth pondering how he chose to do that. Knowing that she would be stoned to death, he wanted to leave without scandalizing her. That’s love. That’s a great example for all men trying to find a good person to marry. It may happen that things don’t work out; no matter how it ends, that does not call for humiliation, insults and the likes. Remember that person was going to be the love of your life. So end it while keeping her dignity intact. The same is true for women. It may hurt I know, but your reaction shows your true identity and character. Let Joseph be your model.

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He is the perfect model for all young man aspiring to be a biological or a spiritual father. Every man should have a devotion to him because he is the man that every woman is looking for and the one they espouse in ideal when marrying a man. He does not speak; he is a man of action. He is the man that every man wants to become when he seriously scrutinizes himself. He is the desire that all gentlemen want to cultivate in secret. He is the model that all men want to imitate due to his commitment and to his vocation. He is the man that all women wish their husband were. Every young woman being courted is looking for an exemplary love that exceeds any sort of egotism. Joseph’s life incarnates this kind of love. Those who put themselves at his school will discover how best to espouse this ideal love in their love life.

He is the ideal for priest and spiritual leaders as well. He serves Jesus and Mary with great diligence although she was his wife only in ideal and his son by adoption. When the Lord asks him to flee to Egypt, he does so readily, promptly, and obediently. He left in the middle of the night and went through dangerous impasse to reach Egypt. Out of concern for his family and as a matter of prudence, at his return from Egypt, he stationed in Nazareth instead of Bethlehem. He cooperates with this mysterious role knowing God is at work in him. Doesn’t a priest do the same? He is the father of the community he serves only in ideal, yet he would lay down his life for them if necessary; he is readily available for them as a husband to his wife in labor.

ppMoreover, Joseph teaches the priest how to deal with mysterious phenomena. Joseph was human dealing with God’s mystery (Jesus) and the greatest human (God’s spouse). The priest is a human being dealing with God (the Eucharist) and fragile souls that he must save. As eli the prophet once remarked when his sons were mishandling the sacrifice of the temple: “If a man sins against another man, God can mediate for the guilty party. But if he sins against the LORD, who can intercede?” (1 sam. 2:25).

If you have not yet had a devotion to St. Joseph, begin one. That’s the best spiritual gift you can give to yourself. He silently teaches us how to serve our family, church, and country. You can never go wrong following in the footsteps of Joseph. He always leads to his Son.

Devotion to St. Joseph starts this year on January 28. It’s a simple devotional prayer that is prayed every Sunday for seven weeks that ends on March 19, which is the Feast Day of St. Joseph. Then find a good prayer to St. Joseph to pray daily.

Here is the one I pray daily:

Remember, O most illustrious Patriarch St. Joseph, on the testimony of Saint Teresa, thy devoted servant, that never has it been heard that anyone who invoked thy protection or sought thy assistance has not obtained relief. In this confidence I come to thee, my loving protector, chaste spouse of Mary, foster father of the Savior of men and dispenser of the treasures of His Most Sacred Heart. Despise not my prayer, but graciously hear and answer my petition.