Take five, and call me in the morning

by Father Mark Goldasich

A few years ago a man went to his doctor, complaining of constant headaches. The doc examined the man and then asked whether he drank, smoked, got enough rest, or did anything for fun.

The patient replied that he didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, was in bed by 10 every night and was way too busy for recreation.

“My dear fellow,” the doctor replied, “my diagnosis is simple: Your halo’s on too tight!” (Adapted from a story by spiritual writer Brennan Manning, found in the Oct. 31 Weekday Homily Helps by St. Anthony Messenger Press.)

I bet this diagnosis would apply to a lot of folks, judging from the conversations I’ve heard lately. Happily, the situation is not terminal: There’s a cure for tight halos and, best of all, it’s free! Because of the potential extra stressors that the holiday season brings, the time for preventive medicine is now. In addition to a flu shot, I would prescribe massive doses of rest and laughter.

One of the most effective ways to rest is by celebrating National Game and Puzzle Week from Nov. 23-29. Nothing takes a person’s mind off of his or her immediate problems faster than a good crossword or jigsaw puzzle, a rousing round of Uno, or some good old-fashioned board games. With Thanksgiving gatherings, you should have no problem finding players. For even more fun, create your own Word Search, Cryptogram, or other puzzle by visiting the Web site: http://puzzlemaker. discoveryeducation.com.

To boost the free flow of laughter, I’d recommend “The Book of Catholic Jokes,” by Tom Sheridan (Skokie, Ill.: ACTA Publications, 2008; 95 pgs.; $10.95). Though most of the jokes in the book were familiar to me, it’s nice to have them collected in one place. And, lest someone think it’s irreverent to link religion and humor, the author observes: “If Jesus was as dreary as we sometimes seem to consider him, he’d hardly have been invited to as many parties as he was.”

So if your family holidays are less like a Norman Rockwell painting and more like a docudrama, try out these smiles from Sheridan’s book:

A little girl was sitting on her grandfather’s lap as he read her a story. From time to time, she would take her eyes off the book and reach up to touch his wrinkled cheek. She was alternately stroking her own cheek, then his again. Finally she said, “Grandpa, did God make you?”

“Yes,” he answered, “God made me a long time ago.”

“Did God make me, too?” she asked.

“Yes, indeed, honey,” Grandpa said. “God made you just a little while ago.” Feeling their respective faces again, the sweet child observed, “God’s getting better at it, isn’t he?”

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A priest was asked by a politician, “Name one thing the government can do to help the church.” The priest replied, “Quit making $1 bills!”

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After the baptism of his baby brother, Little Johnny cried all the way home in the back seat of the car. His dad asked what was wrong and finally the boy sobbed, “That priest said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, but I want to stay with you guys!”

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How cold was it the other day? It was so cold the diocesan director of stewardship and development had his hands in his own pockets.

Bet you can feel your halo loosening up already!

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