Monday, December 1, 2008

laugh and smile

Ecclesiasticus 21:23:
A fool lifteth up his voice in laughter: but a wise man will scarce laugh low to himself.
In Latin: Fátuus in risu exáltat vocem suam : vir autem sápiens vix [ with difficulty, not easily; reluctantly] tácite [silently, secretly] ridébit [laugh].

Haydock Commentary:
Ver. 23. Low. A smiling countenance is commendable, but loud laughter is to be avoided. (Clement, Pæd. ii. 5.) --- It causes too great a change, (Plato, Rep. 3.) and is a mark of folly, Ecclesiastes vii. 5. (St. Augustine, contra Acad. ii. 2.)

Clement of Alexandria:

Pleasantry is allowable, not waggery. Besides, even laughter must be kept in check; for when given vent to in the right manner it indicates orderliness, but when it issues differently it shows a want of restraint.

For, in a word, whatever things are natural to men we must not eradicate from them, but rather impose on them limits and suitable times. For man is not to laugh on all occasions because he is a laughing animal, any more than the horse neighs on all occasions because he is a neighing animal. But as rational beings, we are to regulate ourselves suitably, harmoniously relaxing the austerity and over-tension of our serious pursuits, not inharmoniously breaking them up altogether.

For the seemly relaxation of the countenance in a harmonious manner—as of a musical instrument—is called a smile. So also is laughter on the face of well-regulated men termed. But the discordant relaxation of countenance in the case of women is called a giggle, and is meretricious laughter; in the case of men, a guffaw, and is savage and insulting laughter. "A fool raises his voice in laughter," [Sirach 21:20] says the Scripture; but a clever man smiles almost imperceptibly. The clever man in this case he calls wise, inasmuch as he is differently affected from the fool. But, on the other hand, one needs not be gloomy, only grave. For I certainly prefer a man to smile who has a stern countenance than the reverse; for so his laughter will be less apt to become the object of ridicule.

Smiling even requires to be made the subject of discipline. If it is at what is disgraceful, we ought to blush rather than smile, lest we seem to take pleasure in it by sympathy; if at what is painful, it is fitting to look sad rather than to seem pleased. For to do the former is a sign of rational human thought; the other infers suspicion of cruelty.

We are not to laugh perpetually, for that is going beyond bounds; nor in the presence of elderly persons, or others worthy of respect, unless they indulge in pleasantry for our amusement. Nor are we to laugh before all and sundry, nor in every place, nor to every one, nor about everything. For to children and women especially laughter is the cause of slipping into scandal. And even to appear stern serves to keep those about us at their distance. For gravity can ward off the approaches of licentiousness by a mere look.

St. Chrysostom notes how the two cases of biblical figures laughing is seen in unfavorable light. But he also says that he doesn't do away with all laughter:

St. Chrysostom's Homily on Matt. vi:

If thou also weep thus, you are become a follower of your Lord. Yea, for He also wept, both over Lazarus, and over the city; and touching Judas He was greatly troubled. And this indeed one may often see Him do, but nowhere laugh, nay, nor smile but a little; no one at least of the evangelists has mentioned this. Therefore also with regard to Paul, that he wept, that he did so three years night and day, both he has said of himself, and others say this of him; but that he laughed, neither has he said himself anywhere, neither has so much as one other of the saints, either concerning him, or any other like him; but this is said of Sarah only, Genesis 18:12-15 when she is blamed, and of the son of Noe, when for a freeman he became a slave. Genesis 9:25

9. And these things I say, not to suppress all laughter, but to take away dissipation of mind.

Some saints teach that moderate laughter is good but some just smiled always and never laughed.

It was revealed to Ven. Mary of Agreda that Jesus never laughed but always smiled.

Saints against laughter:

St. Ephraim the Syrian � "Laughter and familiarity are the beginning of a soul's corruption. If you see these in yourself, know that you have come to the depths of evils. Do not cease to pray God that He will deliver you from this death...Laughter removes from us that blessing which is promised to those who mourn (Matt. 5:4) and destroys what has been built up. Laughter offends the Holy Spirit, gives no benefit to the soul and dishonors the body. Laughter drives out virtues, has no remembrance of death or thought of tortures" from the "Philokalia" Russian edition, Moscow, 1913: vol. 2, p. 448

Rule of St. Benedict:

But as for coarse jests and idle words or words that move to laughter, these we condemn everywhere with a perpetual ban, and for such conversation we do not permit a disciple to open her mouth.

Rule of St. Basil:

Thus Basil, who himself possessed a very keen sense of humour, gives the order : 'Seeing that our Lord has condemned them that laugh, it is quite plain that for the faithful no occasions of laughter are permissible, more especially since there is such a multitude of those who through their transgression of the law dishonour God, and by their sins give themselves over to death. For such men we should mourn and lament.' And elsewhere he reminds us that although our Lord Himself was, as very Man, susceptible to all human emotions, yet we are nowhere told that He ever laughed. Joy, but not laughter, is the characteristic of the Christian.

Examples of saints being cheerful without laughing:

The Life of St. Charles Borromeo: "...neither too slow nor too fast and he never made an unnecessary gesture He received every one with a cheerful countenance, never laughed outright, but used to smile with much grace and sweetness. He was sparing of his words and seemed to labour from some impediment in his speech. Some thought he did so of set purpose in order that he might have time to think before he spoke so as not to offend in word. In giving audience he used to stand for the most part, or supported himself by a table or window sill. He was endowed by God with a bearing which had in it something divine and begot reverence in all who addressed him so that no one could speak to him except seriously and in fitting manner. In his latter years he was somewhat bent by continual study and austerity, and consequently looked older than he really was. It may well be said that in labours he had lived a very long life and that in St. Charles the words of Holy Scripture were verified "Being made perfect in a short space he fulfilled a long time."

The spirit of the Cure of Ars: "A smile cannot be written down and the conversations of the Cure of Ars were as the smile of his soul. He never laughed; but that smile seldom left his lips encouraging cheerfulness and inspiring confidence. The Spirit of God which was in him gave an incomparable fitness and simplicity to all his words which were animated by the extreme tenderness of his heart We might gather up his least words."

St. Anthony Mary Claret:
"Laughing did not appeal to me, although I always manifested joy, gentleness and kindness in my person....

St. Stanislaus Kostka:

There was in him a union of cheerfulness and modesty which was most winning. A smile readily appeared upon his face, but he was never heard to laugh. His laugh was only visible, not audible, because it never passed the limits of an innocent smile. There was a certain gravity, too, which mingled with the mirth of his countenance, the joy of which was a joy which breathed devotion.

Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Pillar of Scourging of Our Lord JESUS

Pillar of Scourging of Our Lord JESUS

Shroud of Turin

Shroud of Turin