The other day I was listening to a Catholic satellite radio show in the car. The host is supposed to be a funny, hip Catholic guy, "just one of the guys," and invites guests onto his show to shoot the breeze. I don't normally tune in but my son and I were in the car and we turned the radio on. It was our first time listening to him. He had a guest on the show, a speaker on the Catholic circuit. They were chatting amiably about an idea the host seemed to think was extraordinarily clever: a "new" set of mysteries to add to the Holy Rosary. He called it the "mundane mysteries" and he had put a shout-out earlier for listener suggestions. Who could come up with the funniest "mystery?" He was interested in knowing what parts of Jesus' daily life would be mundane or boring, that we could all relate to, and if they were funny enough, he would (tongue in cheek, of course) include them as a new decade of mysteries! I raised an eyebrow but said nothing, not sure how the conversation would go. I like to think I have a good sense of humor and can laugh at lots of things. I figured I shouldn't rush to judgement, it was a Catholic radio show on a well-known Catholic satellite station; how bad could it be?
The host proceeded to read the suggestions put forth from these callers to which his guest would give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down response. They ranged from "Jesus makes a sandwich," to "Jesus stands in line at the DMV," to "Jesus sweeps the sawdust from the floor." My son and I glanced at each other, admittedly a bit uncomfortable, but figuring it probably wouldn't get worse than that. Nothing prepared us for the one the host and his guest began to guffaw about: "Jesus clips his toenails." They laughed and talked about it on an on, just enjoying the thought. Oh, they thought it was soooo amusing. In my gut, I knew it was wrong, but I could not get over the shock of what I was hearing. My son and I looked at each other and talked about how disrespectful it was. I turned off the show before it had the opportunity to get even worse and become an occasion of sin. Nice programming for Catholics, I thought. Could it have been worse? Sure, it could have. But it was bad enough. I felt like calling in and asking him to reach for a higher standard. The secular media continuously scrapes the bottom of the barrel, must the Catholic media stoop to that as well? Shouldn't they be striving for a higher plane instead of disrespecting Our Lord with junk like this? And encouraging others to do the same? Shameful. I so long for humility in the Catholic media, don't you?
There are those who may say it's all in fun, but to insult Our Lord like this? NOT funny in the least. I have a good time being silly. I like to joke about Catholic things, like how funny it is when you almost accidentally genuflect in a movie theater (apparently lots of Catholics have this problem!), awkward things that happen in the pew at Mass now and then, the jokes about toddlers who innocently try to drink the holy water, how Catholics always seem to sit in the same seat every week, stuff like that. Cute, harmless, poking fun at ourselves. Think of most of Catholic comedian Jim Gaffigan's material (not all, but most). There are funny memes out there that capture these funny instances of Catholic life in a gentle but respectful way that make us all laugh at our foibles on the way to holiness. But here's the thing: It's always about the awkward things WE do, as people. We are making fun of ourselves. Nothing is funny about poking fun at the Savior of the world. Who even goes there, who even tries to take Our Lord's human side and make a joke out of it? I think they were trying WAY too hard to fill airtime. I'm sure they did not mean to be disrespectful and would argue that it was all in fun, but that does not change the fact that it WAS disrespectful and bordering on the blasphemous.
I wonder how our young people ever learn about the reverence we are expected to show toward Our Lord and the Mass when self-professed Catholics-- who are supposed to be representing the Faith in the media-- do not even understand what that means.
Humor is good in its proper time and place. We all need a good belly laugh; our world is so fallen and finding the funny aspects of life is healthy and good; Our Lord surely wants that for us. Let's just keep it respectful and remember about Whom we are speaking.
Let's say the Golden Arrow prayer that Jesus gave to Sister Mary of St. Peter, a French Carmelite nun in 1843. Sister Mary called it "an act of Praise that Our Lord Himself dictated to me, notwithstanding my unworthiness, for the reparation of Blasphemy (insulting or disrespectful thoughts or behavior) against His Holy Name."
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.
What a crazy, crazy world we live in, friends. Keep praying.