by Father Mark Goldasich
Many recent books, TV shows and movies would have us fear being feasted upon by zombies or vampires. Me?
I’m not afraid of either, since they’re not real. It’s the crepe hangers, which do exist, that give me the willies.
What is a crepe hanger? According to UsingEnglish. com, it’s “one who always looks at the bad side of things and is morbid or gloomy. In olden days, crepe was hung on the door of a deceased person’s home.” Not to scare you or anything, but crepe hangers are all around us — in the “talking heads” of TV news, on the editorial pages of newspapers, on countless blogs, and in the halls of state and national governments. They appear to be especially rampant on talk radio. Listening to them, it’s hard to imagine why they even get out of bed in the morning.
To be honest, most of the time, crepe hangers don’t bother me too much. What does make me sad, though, is when the crepe hangers are Christians, people of faith. I wonder where — or even if — they see the role of Jesus in their lives and in the world. Yes, there are problems, even big ones, that plague us, but this imperfect world has always had them (and, honestly, always will; after all, this isn’t heaven).
As Catholics who celebrate Respect Life Month in October, maybe we need to remind ourselves of the life that we have in Jesus. Some signs of that life are a joyful confidence and hope.
We don’t have to look far to find an excellent exam- ple of this in Pope Francis. In his booklet “10 Things Pope Francis Wants You to Know,” John Allen Jr. writes: “Francis wants to be an evangelizing pope, someone who can reach out beyond the confines of the already convinced and represent Christianity to the wider world. He knows that doing that with a smile rather than a frown is likely to be a more winning missionary strategy… Francis seems to be telling Catholics at every level that it’s quite all right to laugh.”
So, let’s lighten the mood a bit with a few tidbits from Deacon Tom Sheridan’s first “Book of Catholic Jokes” (ACTA Publications, 128 pgs.; $10.95):
• How cold was it the other day? So cold the diocesan director of development had his hands in his own pockets!
• 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.”
And my favorite (adapted just a bit):
• A deacon, a priest and a bishop were about to be executed for preaching the Gospel in a foreign land.
They bring out the deacon first, and the guard shouts, “Ready, aim . . .” and suddenly the deacon yells, “EARTH- QUAKE!” While everybody scatters, the deacon slips away.
Next, they bring out the priest, and the guard shouts, “Ready, amin…” and suddenly the priest yells, “TORNADO!” When everyone ducks, the priest runs off.
Lastly, they bring out the bishop. Following the example of the other clerics, when the guard shouts, “Ready, aim . . .,” the bishop confidently yells, “FIRE!”
During this month, especially if besieged by crepe hangers, turn to the saints for relief. For example, St. Teresa of Avila once said, “God save us from sour-faced saints.” And St. Francis of Assisi reminds us in his “Canticle to the Sun” that, in the midst of our flawed world, the hand ofGodcanbeseeninallof creation.
Finally, if all else fails — or if you find yourself mor- phing into a crepe hanger — turn to this St. Francis de Sales prayer:
“Have no fear for what tomorrow may bring. The same loving God who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. God will either shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.”
And that’s no joke.