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“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…” or

“A joyful heart is the health of the body…”

Prov. 17:22

We are currently doing a series of blogs on “humor”. When several joke and anecdotal books came into our store in 2015, it provided some practical source material for this subject. Our owner/manager had suggested the blog months previously. Then, with the books in our hands, we had a “kick-off” point… which then stimulated some thoughts and perspectives on humor.

Thus, a series of six blogs.The middle blog will be a “joyously serious” one. (Joy is an amazing topic! This next and third blog in the series will go a bit deeper. It will “sandwich” in some vital and life-giving perspectives on a deeper gladness—the “joy of the Lord”, and will continue into Part IV.) The last two parts will cover “relationship humor” and “aging”, consecutively--and be almost all jokes and anecdotes.

This second article in the series deals with the funnier aspects of religion and church life--with many jokes and anecdotes. Humor is actually one of the few things that is included on the “short list” of what is usually allowed in church. (We need not go into the long list of what is not allowed--although, come to think of it, that could be fun.) 

Instead, this blog will begin with a reflection on humor from Deacon Tom Sheridan included in the “Introduction” of one of his books.


“Humor is very malleable. In researching thousands of jokes…one thing became clear to me. There’s a thread of humor running through nearly all faiths. In fact, many of the jokes in this book began in one faith tradition and ‘swam the Tiber’ to find a home among Catholics. …[M]any have swum the other direction as well. (For example, a Mormon newspaper writer took several of the jokes from my first book of Catholic jokes, changed all the characters to Mormons, and published them in his review of my book. They all worked just fine.)

While the majority of jokes in this volume have a Catholic slant, others look at our sometimes warped understanding of God, the Bible, the afterlife, and even other faiths and denominations… Always… in the spirit of love…”1


So, in the spirit of his comments, let’s launch into an “ecumenical” perspective on changing a light bulb. (Those of us who have some personal knowledge of the various categories mentioned may enjoy the descriptions even more...)

“How many church people does it take to change a light bulb?

Charismatics: Only one. (His hands are already in the air.)

Roman Catholics: None. (They use candles.)

Baptists: Change?

Pentecostals: Ten. (One to change the bulb, nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.)…

Mormons: Five. (One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.)

Methodists: At least 15. (One to change the light bulb, and two or three committees to approve the change. Oh, and one to bring a casserole.)

Unitarians: (We choose not to make a statement either in favor for or against the need for light bulbs. However, if in your own journey, you have found a light bulb that works for you, that’s fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal relationship with your light bulb, and present it next month at our annual Light-bulb Sunday Service, in which we will explore a number of light-bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.)”2


“The question for religious people is always whether or not we have the courage—and the faith—to laugh at our own foibles and pretensions and not, as Archbishop Sheen warned us against, take ourselves so seriously all the time.”3

How true! However, it takes some amount of humility to not take ourselves too seriously. and to have a merry heart—especially when the joke is on us, or we need to laugh at a ridiculous situation that we find ourselves in the middle of--or maybe even the cause of. (For simpler situations, sometimes the shortest way out is a laugh and a do-over or a start-over.) And it takes humility to live forgiveness as a continuous life-choice in order to keep a merry heart—filled with the Lord’s peace and love—only possible by grace. Then when we find ourselves challenged by the unpleasant events—and, at times, some difficult people— in the day, the deeper choices (of attitude, priority, perspective and “life” direction) have already been made.

After making the comment in the introduction quoted above, Deacon Tom shares some “pretentious” (or, at least, “euphemistic”/ ultra “politically correct”) anecdotes in his book. Here’s one--and then one by another author.

The Smiths… were proud of their long family history. …The family lineage had included business and political figures and more than a few priests and bishops. There was even one cardinal.

They decided to compile a family history, a legacy… They hired a fine author. But there was the problem of how to deal [with] the story of Great Uncle George, who had been executed for murder in the electric chair.

The author assured the family he would handle the story as tactfully as possible. When the book appeared it read,

“Great Uncle George occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important governmental institution and was attracted to his position by the strongest of ties. His death came as a great shock.”4

Brother Cyril, a visiting lecturer, was introduced to the class by Susan, the adult formation minister, as ‘a very warm person’. ‘Initially,’ said Brother Cyril, ‘I thought that was a beautiful introduction. But since I have my dictionary handy, I looked it up only to discover that warm is defined as “not so hot”. ‘

Totally embarrassed, Susan assured him and the members of the class that she meant the introduction in a very positive way. ‘The reason that we invited you to speak,’ she explained, ‘is because you are a role model on the topic we are addressing.’ Out of curiosity, Brother Cyril opened his dictionary again. ‘I see,’ he said. ‘According to the dictionary, a model is “small imitation of the real thing.” ‘

Susan responded, ‘While you’re at it, Brother, why don’t you look up “insufferable”?’”5

Speaking of Brothers

“Did you know that in Las Vegas there are more churches than casinos? Not surprisingly, chips sometimes end up in the collection basket. Since the churches get chips from many different casinos, they’ve devised a method to collect the offerings.

The churches send their chips to a nearby Franciscan monastery for sorting and then the chips are taken to the right casino to be cashed in…. You know who does this? The chip monk, of course.”6

Deacon Tom comments further--this time on specifically Catholic jokes:

“…You’ll find some which poke a little good-natured fun at Catholic practices or stereotypical Catholic behavior, or even gently rib the Church’s internal workings, but I assure you they are offered in the spirit of faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love for the Church that has been and remains in my retirement an integral part of my life.”7

“After a successful career in business, a man discerned that he had a late vocation and entered the seminary. After ordination he was assigned to a parish. One Saturday afternoon he was about to hear confessions when he met an old friend from his former life.

‘How do you like the new job?’ the friend asked.

‘Well,’ said the new priest, ‘The pay’s not so good and the hours are long.’ Then, pointing to the confessional, he said, ‘But what I do like is that in this business, the customer is always wrong!’ “8


During our first blog on humor (“WHY HUMOR?”), we looked at all kinds of “good” effects of humor and laughter. But we ask the question, “Where is the ‘good’ in humor?” We’ve all been there when a “joke” cut a little too deeply, and left the listeners feeling awkward and uncomfortable--or some hurt or offended.

In reality, some people are still reeling from misused and hurtful humor in their lives which may make them unable to appreciate even good and well-intentioned funny comments.

The truth be told, things can be “funny” (at least somewhat, or to some people) and still not be “good”. (Just like there are things that can feel or look good and not truly be ‘good’, right? Do I hear, “Oh, c’mon, spoil sport! It’s only a joke! Can’t you take a joke?!”) So… where are the lines? Some comedians believe that “comedy” is a cover-all, carte-blanche privilege to be applied freely.

So… again… where are the lines to be drawn? What is the measure? Would it be surprising if we said “love” is the measure? Isn’t love meant to be the measure… of everything? (Remember Jesus “boiling down” the law and the prophets to “Love the Lord… and …Love… one another”?)

Somehow, kindness and consideration need to factor in. The “hurt” component needs avoidance or an available apology. And since some of this ends up being very individual and personal to groups, families, relationships and personalities, there are some wide lines and gray areas.

We can say that: some things do not need to be promoted as funny in most settings when they cross the line into true ridicule or off-color jokes. Opinions vary as to where that line is. And laughter sometimes erupts before the “appropriate filter” kicks in. But—as in everything else—I believe that love, respect and mutual consideration need to reign. And if that isn’t operative up front, there is always: “I’m really sorry…”


What about the after-life? …especially heaven? …that very real and joyous, happy and fun, joy-filled place to go-- eternally. Jokes about heaven certainly abound. Even better than the jokes are the true stories—more like “reports”— brought back from heaven by those who have actually been there.. and returned. (Sorry! That’s not on the agenda this time…) So we’ll settle for the very-fictional versions.

“The elderly priest was surprised when he arrived in heaven and discovered that a New York cab driver had been awarded a higher place than he.

‘I don’t understand,’ he complained to God. ‘I devoted my entire life to the Church.’

‘Our policy here is to reward results,’ God explained. ‘Now, did your parishioner listen attentively when you preached a homily?’

‘Well,’ the priest had to admit, ’some people did fall asleep from time to time.’

‘Exactly,’ said God. ‘And when people rode in this man’s taxi, they not only stayed awake, they prayed as if their lives depended on it.’ “9

“A man who had spent his life as a devout Christian dies. He’s met at the gates of heaven by St. Peter, who begins to give him a tour of the wonderful place where he’ll spend eternity.

As the tour goes on, St. Peter points out all the different Christian enclaves scattered around heaven. ‘There are the Baptists. Over here are the Lutherans. There are the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Disciples of Christ…” Finally they approach one group way off by themselves. St. Peter motions for the man to come closer and whispers, ‘Now, as we pass by this next group, we need to be really unobtrusive. These are the Catholics, and they think they’re the only ones here.’”10

What about communication… and talking? Recently— as the “newness” has worn off, and all the “side effect” realities have set in—we hear comments that, despite the up-side of texting and email, we may need to: sometimeswhen we can… just pick up the phone, or go face-to-face, and just talk to one another! Perhaps the phone would have been a better alternative in this anecdote… Let’s take a look at just how far amiss we can go with our modern, technologically savvy communication attempts, as we tell our last from-the-book story. (And our condolences go out to a dear widow in Dallas…)

A Catholic couple in Chicago made plans to visit Florida in order to thaw out during a particularly cold winter… They planned to stay at the same hotel where they had honeymooned two decades before. Their busy schedules, however, made it impossible for the couple to travel together. So the husband flew to Florida on Thursday, and his wife planned to arrive the following day. The husband checked into the hotel and decided to email his wife from the hotel’s business center. However, he mistyped her email address.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, a widow who had just returned home from her husband’s funeral checked her email, expecting messages of condolences from relatives and friends. She read the first message, screamed, and fainted. The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw this on the computer screen:

To: My Loving Wife

From: Your Departed Husband

Subject: I’ve arrived

I know you’re surprised to hear from me so soon, but they have computers here now and I thought I’d let you know I’m already here and have been checked in.

Everything is ready for your arrival tomorrow.

PS: Sure is hot down here!”11

It’s great when we can enjoy some vacation time in sunny, warm climates—particularly during shivering, frigid weather. But, when we consider our eternally extended stay destination, that’s another story. May it be far, far less than “hot”!

The Lord is good—no matter what life shouts to the contrary in certain situations, troubles, and pain we experience. Let’s determine to spend both the quality and quantity time here and now with Him, so that He can multiply the blessings of our time astronomically in an eternity delighting in His untold pleasures!


At the beginning of this blog, we mentioned that humor was on the “short list” of what was allowed in church. At that time we said that we would not go into the long list of what was not usually acceptable practices in church, “although that might be fun”. We posted the initial versions of this blog series in 2015, and immediately after posting this “Part II”, something happened.

That very next weekend—which was Fourth of July— produced an exception. So we include and repeat it here. We end with this personal anecdote—a short story.

Over the 4th of July weekend I was dog-sitting and house sitting for my daughter. The modest, house in an old neighborhood overlooked the riverfront area of downtown Cincinnati, from a distance. My sister (visiting from New Orleans) and myself thoroughly enjoyed the fireworks over the Reds’ stadium and all around the additional panoramic river view—on both Friday and Saturday evenings. On Sunday morning we went to an old and nearby gothic church, which held their summer services in the air conditioned basement area that doubled as a reception room for weddings, dances etc. Mass was celebrated on a platform that was like an open stage area, against the back wall.

Midway through the mass, at a very quiet time, everyone watched as Father’s adult male server went silently up the stairs from a lower position. He went behind the altar, across the back of the platform in front of the huge wall cross, and turned on a wall switch. The basement ceiling was quite low, and my sister and myself sat in the middle of the room. Immediately, a few feet above our heads and almost close enough to touch, a mirror ball came to life and began spinning, casting light in every direction. It suddenly broke the very solemn mood. (Was this meant to be a glittery finale to the fourth of July weekend? Surely this festive nod to Independence Day must be a mistake…)

Meanwhile, with eyes cast down piously, the dignified server made his return trip. He failed to realize the effects of the light switch, and continued to quietly make the long walk to his seat. He was still looking down, completely unaware, as suppressed laughter spread throughout the congregation.

The first assisting (probably a) deacon left the altar beside the priest. He quietly chuckled to himself as he traveled to the lower spot where his co-minister had sat down--quite oblivious to it all. The deacon tried unsuccessfully for awhile in conveying to the other server what happened.

At first, he communicated quietly and unobtrusively … then repeatedly with hand motions and pointing. Finally he ultimately succeeded when he spoke quite directly, in his face (face-to-very-close-face), what had happened. Smile was eventually met with smile. Laughter throughout the congregation grew and continued, freed to become louder by the spontaneous smiles of the two ministers.

The stately gentleman who had flipped the switch then got up, with eyes cast down. He made another fervently slow, sauntering trip to the light switch, and turned it off. Dignity was restored. (The temptation to get up and dance had passed.)

Well, we hope that these anecdotes make you hungry for more smiles. If so, join us for the rest of our blogs in the “Humor and Joy” series. Three of the blogs contain primarily jokes. Our next one examines more than just jokes.

Our third blog on “Humor” is intended to enrich life in a fuller way as we dig deeper in pursuing a glad and satisfied life. There will still be some jokes and anecdotes near the end of the article. I, too, am getting a bit addicted to them… But then, a “Humor Anonymous” group—should I ever need one—sounds very inviting to me. I’ll even start one if need be…

Our next blog will be in early August to celebrate the feast day of St. John Vianney. Then we will return to this series.


We began with:


(Potentially useful information, and several jokes near the end…)

You just finished reading:


(Self-explanatory. Yes, almost all jokes.)


Here, we take a closer look at the differences in these related subjects. Each can have a very blessed place in our lives. Hope it gives both food for thought and some encouragement.

Next, we look further at the pursuit of joy—a life-giving aspect of our walk with and for the Lord. We’ll share some papal views and see where scriptures, humor and laughter fit in.



Then we focus on a subject that has great humor potential:

“PART V: LAUGHING IN RELATIONSHIPS” (mostly jokes… Really!)

Finally, for our ending, (as in real life) we arrive at…

“PART VI: AGING…” Tread lightly, but Enjoy! (Yes, almost all jokes)

This series is based on one we did in the summer of 2015. It was a series called, “HUMOR”, and was written and posted at trinitychurchsupply.com/blog by Kathy Boh. We enlarged it in 2017, and now present our newer version this summer of 2019.



1.The Second Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 10, 11

2.The Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 34

3. The Second Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 11

4.The Third Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 51

5.Oh, Brother , by Brother Loughlan Sofield, ST, p. 24

6.The Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 54

7.The Last Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p.16

8.The Last Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 35

9.The Second Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 90

10.The Second Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 44

11.The Second Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 18

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