At the Rail: Carlin, Communion, & Crabby Priests

Father James writes “At the Rail” to create a chance for interaction with you.  

I was asked to write a blog for our church website. The only thought that came to mind was: “We drink the wine so you don’t have to.” I completely drew a blank on any serious subject to write about. Luckily Denny, one of my parishioners, suggested that I relate what celebrating the Eucharist means to me as a serious topic. Being the big clown that I am at heart, I still thought that ‘drinking the wine so you don’t have to’ was appropriate for both the serious side of serving the Eucharist and the humorous side.

In some religious circles joy, humor, and laughter are viewed the same way a crabby priest sees levity: as excessive, irrelevant, ridiculous, inappropriate, and even scandalous. But a lighthearted spirit is none of those things. Rather, it is an essential element of a healthy spiritual life and a healthy life in general.

The late comedian George Carlin was raised in the Catholic Church and told lots of funny stories about that experience. I laughed at those stories as a teenager but I find them even funnier now that I’m a priest. The bit about suppressed laughter at the altar rail making the wine shoot out your nose always brings a smile to my face as I serve young people Communion.  I want young folks to know that humor is an essential part of faith and that Jesus laughed and made jokes, as did many of the saints.

When we lose sight of this serious truth, we cease to live life fully, truly, and wholly. Indeed, we fail to be holy. And that’s what my goal as a priest is all about: to share the value of joy, humor, and laughter in this spiritual life with those around me.  Holy people are joyful. Why? Because holiness brings us closer to God, the source of all joy. So have your people call my people – we’ll do Mass.