Friday, January 11, 2008

Why is St. Francis de Sales the patron saint of this blog?


A friendly reader named Greg wrote me to adjudicate an argument about what exactly is appropriate humor from a Christian perspective. I guided him to all those interviews on Christians and humor blogging, but I also promised him this piece from St. Francis de Sales' spiritual masterpiece Introduction to the Devout Life (and the reason St. Francis is the patron saint of this blog!).

Scoffing at others is a wretched practice. God detests this vice. In the Old Testament he inflicts strange punishments on scoffers. There can be nothing more opposed to love and devotion than to despise and condemn your neighbor. Poking fun and scoffing are the same thing. Derision, mockery, scorn, and contempt are sins.

There are some good-humored words that can be spoken in modest jesting that are acceptable. This is innocent fun. The Greeks called it eutrapelia. We call it pleasant conversation. With it we can have a friendly, amusing discussion about human imperfections.

The trick is to avoid moving from light-hearted mirth to vicious scoffing. Scoffing produces laughter through scorn and contempt of another. Laughing banter comes from freedom and familiarity in clever expression. Jokes and puns can be healthy.
--St. Francis de Sales

Please, God, I hope I am doing the second paragraph.

10 comments:

Kevin said...

You must also have as patron St. Philip Neri, the joyous saint. Oh, the tricks he used to play on people.

Anonymous said...

St. Neri,

My favorite was his priest follower who gave such a great sermon that everyone in Rome was talking about it. St. Neri told him, "Great Sermon! Now give it every day until I tell you to stop."

St. Neri waited a very long time before tellinghim he could stop. The poor priest became known as the "One sermon wonder".

Anonymous said...

I love St. Philip Neri, he's my patron saint. Did you hear the story of him shaving half his beard before offering Mass?

Greg

Anonymous said...

Wow, you're back. I thought the ironic catholic had become the dead catholic...

Shieldmaiden96 said...

Well THAT was a bit of a buzzkill. I guess I'd better spend a little time in contemplation before I write my next rant.
Gotta love St. F de S though. He doesn't tolerate a lot of nonsense.

Gashwin said...

Howdy y'all ... the Greg mentioned above is a friend of mine. In fact, he and I (along with other friends) had this discussion at New Year's Eve . The particular humor in question that he simply doesn't get is the kind of humor between friends (especially between guys) that seems to be belittling, but is actually a sign of affection.

I've articulated this a bit more at my blog.

Greg and I have been having a fun email exchange back and forth. Any wisdom from y'all would be great! :)

radio45 said...

Yes, you are doing that thing you prayed to God you hoped you were doing.

PraiseDivineMercy said...

I figured you would be all about St. Lawrence...

Brittany said...

Oh yes, definitely the second group, and I always knew you were a Salesian at heart!

Don Bosco loved de Sales and Neri.

I think DB would get a kick out of IC, too. ;-)

a Visitation Sister said...

St. Francis de Sales is also the patron saint of journalists...and as a blogger your surely qualify! God bless your work.