In the Baroque period (c. 1600 – 1750) the liturgy used to include what was called the ‘risus paschalis’, the Easter laughter. The Easter homily had to contain a story which would make people laugh, so that the church resounded with joyful laughter.
I learned that from Pope Benedict. He thought it beautiful and appropriate that joyful laughter become yet another symbol of Easter—not shallow surface laughter, but a deep genuine joy flowing from our faith and hope in the Risen Lord. The following prayer will hardly send you into joyful laughter, but may give rise to a quiet smile at how real and practical it is and a realization of how little human nature changes over the centuries.
— Fr. Ignatius Waters
17th Century Nun’s Prayer
Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and someday will be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from the craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end. Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.
Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of other’s pains, but help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and lessening cock-sureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint; some of them are so darn hard to live with. But a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Give me the ability to see the good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.