We don’t often think of putting the words “laughter” and “holy” together – at least I don’t! Sometimes people assume as a sister-in-training I must be very serious. In fact, in my experience of religious life, joy and laughter are central. Recently, a sister shared a memory from her college professor days: a student, overhearing the loud laughter of sisters, exclaimed how much fun they were having while he was stuck in his room studying! And, yes, she laughed as she told me that story.
From another sister, I learned about a tradition I’d never heard of: the risus paschalis (Easter Laugh). Homilists would tell jokes in their Easter Sunday preaching to make the assembly laugh all together – a welcome change after solemn weeks of Lent. Some sources say that the ancient practice of the Easter Laugh symbolizes the Resurrection’s triumph over evil. Like the bells, flowers, water, and fire that are used during the fifty days of the Easter season, laughter can be liturgical symbol of joy and life!
As Easter people, joy and laughter are part of our spiritual lives. With Sarah, our foremother in faith, we can say “God has made me laugh; everyone who hears will laugh with me!” (Gen 21:6)
When was the last time you had a good laugh?