Saturday, April 26, 2008

Of Laughter and Confession

In reference to the May 7, 2000 New York Times article, by Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, at the above URL:

Earlier this year, I attended a seminar with the author, and he was exactly as he appears in the article—a vaudeville comedian who articulates orthodox, lofty theology with laser like precision, in a way that anyone can understand.

Personally, I have never understood the phenomena of laughter. I always found Freud's explanation of humor depressing and unsatisfactory. The way the Puerto Rican Albacete bundles the teaching of serious topics with humorous stories is outside my Irish Catholic comfort zone. I mean, how can you tell jokes about something as serious as the confession of sins? Nevertheless, I immediately understood Lorenzo's comments about giddiness and laughter. It explains my awful, embarrassing habit of laughing while at funerals and at other inappropriate situations.

Note Albacete's implied criticism of formalism, of which I am guilty. I also appreciate his casting of confession as something that is less of a moral accounting, of which I am also guilty, than it is an act of completely exposing our innermost selves in front of the Ultimate.

Albacete is trying to teach us that a sincere confession of sin is something beyond the mere formal or legalistic expiation of moral guilt. It is a deep, gasping cry of desire to be loved by the Ultimate-- by the mysterious God who loves me, despite my insignificance. And what joy! I may be just starting to understand this laughter and giddiness business.

3 Comments:

Blogger Suzanne said...

Thanks for this! I really needed to read it.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Alex Vitus said...

Stephen,
I meant to post this earlier, but forgot. Thank you for the post.

Have you read "Undertaking" by Thomas Lynch? It is funny and wonderful, and about... well.. undertaking. I was reading, and just finished it, and thought of it when I read your post.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

(1) "Nevertheless" is one word.

(2) The Devil HATES laughter. Laugh so much each day that those around you are just shy of thinking that you would be better off in a rubber room.

Nice blog, by the way.

7:26 AM  

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