Saturday, April 3, 2010

Risus Paschalis-The Easter Laugh

“God has made me laugh; every one who hears will laugh with me” (Gen 21:6).

Before he became Pope, Joseph Ratzinger quoted these words, spoken by Sarah when she was told she would conceive and bear a child, as he shared the custom of Risus Paschalis-The
Easter Laugh, from the Baroque period, when the Easter homily always contained a joke to make people laugh so the entire church would ring with joy. He said, “On Easter, we imagine Jesus' laughter of redemption. We who share an Easter faith can say, like Sarah, 'God has made me laugh.'”

When I was in third grade, my parents allowed me to invite my best friend, Terry, to stay overnight at my house. The next morning, Terry came to Mass with me and my family. Two overtired girls sitting in the front row at Mass is not a good idea. We soon began a game of nudging each other with our elbows until we struggled to control our laughter. It wasn’t until we received simultaneous glaring looks (or so it seemed) from my mom and the priest, that we finally settled down.

Some people never grow up, and it seems that I am one of them. Recently, at daily Mass, my children and I sat in silence while some of our elderly friends brought up the offertory gifts. Our dear friend, Mrs. B. was one of them. Since we were in the front of church, we overheard Fr. Dave call her by her first name, Aileen, as he thanked her for the gifts. Mary, my eight year old, third grade daughter, nudged me and whispered, “I like her name, its pretty.” Now I know better than to encourage conversation with my daughter at Mass. Usually I'm the one giving the stern look with a finger to my lip for silence, but this time, I couldn’t help but reply with “That would be a nice name for your first daughter!” Which brought her response, “No, my first daughter will be named Anne and my first son will be named Paul after dad, or maybe...Paula!" She was referring to a form she saw where my husband's name was misspelled with an "a" added at the end. She had thought that was hilarious. Then she whispered, “Mom, remember the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? You know how the wedding invitation said “Rodney and Harry” instead of Harriet?” Those few whispered words about a silly movie were all it took to make us both work to stifle our giggles.

As Fr. Dave was lifting the Host for the consecration, I wondered if we were insulting Jesus by smiling and laughing instead of focusing on His sacrifice. I decided that Jesus was probably smiling and laughing himself to witness the joy of a mother and daughter, especially a mother who had shed so many tears at Mass. I think He gave me the gift of laughter at that particular time to help me understand that I was created for joy, and to let me know that my joy is pleasing to Him. After all, we know that laughter makes the devil cringe and run, so what better time to laugh than during Mass!

I pray that you all enjoy a hearty Easter Laugh this year and make the devil tremble from the joy of Christ's believers! A blessed Easter to all!

And since we also know that the devil cringes from the prayers of Christ's believers, I ask that you join in a spiritual bouquet during the fifty days of Easter sponsored by the Cardinal Newman Society for our beloved Pope Benedict during this time of his trial and suffering.
H/T to Esther at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii and Sarah at More Than Enough.

“He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” Job 8:21

“May the Lord continually bless you with heaven’s blessings as well as with human joys.” Psalm 128:5

“Your sorrow will turn into joy” (Jn 16:20)


  1. Ah, yes! The church laugh. For those of us who have never grown up it can be quite a problem :) Happy Easter to all of you, Anne!

  2. Happy Easter, Anne!

    Your post on Easter laughter led me to one of my favorite Eucharistic memories. An elderly lady with dementia came up with her daughter to receive Eucharist. This lady was famous for making inappropriate and sometimes noisy comments in the midst of Mass. When the Cup was extended to her, her face lit up as she reached for it, saying (loudly) "OOH - A PARTY!!!"

    And you know what?

    She was right!

    Each week we're invited to share in a feast of great joy. Should we respect the Eucharist? Certainly. But we should also be overjoyed at the celebration!!!

    Again, Happy Easter!

  3. My hubby included a joke in his homily for the Easter Vigil tonight and he got a good laugh! I will have to tell him about your post! Happy Easter!

  4. Wishing you a blessed Easter -- full of laughter!

  5. Anne, I join all our Blog friends in wishing you and all your loved ones a truly blessed Easter.

    Indeed, He is risen!

  6. Happy Easter to you and your family Anne!

  7. Thanks for sharing the Easter laugh. I had never heard of it. I hope that you had a joyfilled Easter day with much laughter.

  8. Thank you for sharing Risus Paschalis! I love finding out things that I did not know! Happy Easter!

  9. Thanks, Anne, this is the first I've heard of the "Easter Laugh." It makes a lot of sense to me and your story was perfect. Since God has an infinite sense of humor, I'm sure He was smiling and laughing with you and your daughter.