Throughout his life, Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was renowned as a theologian and philosopher, but was most iconic for being a rarity in the realm of Catholic preaching. As a host on nighttime radio and later two television programs, “the golden-voiced Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen, U.S. Catholicism’s famed proselytizer,” had weekly audiences of up to 30 million.
Life Is Worth Living, his first television program, ran for 5 years starting in 1952 and featured Venerable Sheen speaking to the camera and discussing moral issues of the day.
One of his most celebrated sermons, “The Divine Sense of Humor,” was given on the show in 1959 and delves into the divine sense of humor – not always eliciting laughter, but instead an invitation from God to see beyond our material reality to deeper spiritual realities.
“Humor is not just the comic. Humor means for us the ability to see through things. We generally say a person has a sense of humor if he can see through things. A person lacks a sense of humor, he cannot see through things. A person who has a sense of humor sees the world as something like a window. It’s transparent. It looks out into another world. The words he hears, the things he sees tell him about something else.
Now that we’ve explained a peculiar definition of humor, we will qualify it with the adjective ‘Divine’. When our Blessed Lord came to this earth he had the divine sense of humor. There was nothing in this world that he ever took seriously except … the salvation of the soul. That is why he said, What does it profit man to gain the universe, lose a soul? One thing that he does not show, one thing he saved for those who have a divine sense of humor. It was one thing he saved for heaven that will make heaven, heaven. And that was… his smile.”
Watch Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s full sermon on “The Divine Sensor of Humor” below: