June 11, 2011

Teasing and Charity

In Capuchin Spirit and Life, Fr. John of Meerle discusses charity of speech:

Charity should at all times govern our speech so that we avoid such faults as slander, detraction, quarrels, harsh and unfriendly criticism, rude and short answers, complaints when asked to do a service, excessive teasing and ridicule. (134, my emphasis)

Apparently only excessive teasing is against charity. Fr. John goes on:

Excessive teasing also fails against brotherly love. You might say that some people like to be teased, yes, they even take offense if they are left to themselves and not taken notice of. This may be true, yet there is no one who finds a joke or pleasantry enjoyable if it is mixed with gall. Those who are inclined to pass a joke at the expense of another, or enjoy teasing others, should be very careful not to overstep the bounds of charity and should have the proper sense of judging what will be within the limits of legitimate amusement and what will rather hurt and offend another. (135)

In other words, teasing does have a place in religious community, even as a work of charity. Anyone who has been in religious life knows that sometimes humor is the safest vehicle for fraternal admonition and one of the quickest means of deflating those who struggle with temptations to vanity.


Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, teasing was the bane of my existence at school. I was teased because of my surname, my weight (a bit on the pudgy side), and because I did well in my studies. Bottom line: I have an extreme sensitivity to teasing in general. Now married 33 yrs. and counting, I endure teasing from my husband -- not always affectionate, sometimes downright nasty. I try to ignore it, but sometimes respond when at the end of my rope. Major dust-ups follow. As we age (both in our early 60s), it gets harder to brush it off. I have tried explaining how this hurts, but he says "you're a grown-up, get over it". Do you have any ideas to help me cope with this?

Thank you and God bless you,

Greg said...

Great thought exercise. Discernment needed to sort out the good humor among brothers from the hostility masked as humor. Ridicule is clearly an attempt to make little of another, while true joy lifts up the other.

Peace and all good.