First, a short story that I'd heard before:
"If I added up all the summers I spent in St. Patrick's Church, Soho Square, in London, they would amount to six or seven years. Being an American, I opened the church in the morning, for the Americans rose earlier than the English did. This particular Epiphany morning in January, a limp figure fell in - that of a young woman about twenty-four or twenty-five years of age. 'How do you happen to be here?' 'Well, where am I, Father?' 'Oh, 'Father'?' She said: 'Yes, I used to be a Catholic, but not any more.' I said: 'Were you drunk?' She admitted she was. I added: 'Men drink because they like the stuff; women drink because they do not like something else. Who are you running from?' She said: 'Three men - and they are beginning to find out, so I get drunk.'
"It was one of those typically cold January mornings in London; she had been exposed to the cold all night long. I made a cup of tea and asked her name. I pointed to a billboard across the street, asking: 'Is that your picture over there on the billboard?' 'Yes, I am the leading lady in that musical comedy.' I invited her to come back that afternoon before the matinee. She agreed on one condition: 'that you do not ask me to go to Confession.' She said: 'I want you to promise me faithfully not to ask me to go to Confession.' I said: 'I promise you faithfully not to ask you to go to Confession.' That afternoon before the matinee, she returned. I then told her that we had a Rembrandt and a Van Dyck in the church: 'Would you like to see them?' As we walked down the side aisle, we passed a confessional. I pushed her in. I did not ask her to go, for I had promised not to ask her to go. Two years later I gave her her veil in a convent in London, where she is to this very hour."
And now, the beginning of the chapter entitled 'The Lighter Side':
"By nature I am a rather serious person. But in a paradoxical kind of way, I am very fond of humour and laughter. I have had several discussions with Milton Berle on this subject and he has attributed humour to me though I have never claimed to possess it as a gift. There may be incidental flashes of it here and there but it is not one of God's gifts to me. However, there is a close relationship between faith and humour. We say of those who lack as sense of humour that they are 'too thick'; that means they are opaque like a brick wall. Humour, on the contrary, is 'seeing through' things like a windowpane. Materialists, humanists and atheists all take this world very seriously because it is the only world they are ever going to have. He who possesses faith knows that this world is not the only one, and therefore can be regarded rather lightly: 'swung as a trinket about one's wrist.' To an atheist gold is gold, water is water and money is money. To a believer everything in this world is a telltale of something else. Mountains are not to be taken seriously. They are manifestations of the power of God; sunsets are revelations of His beauty; even rain can be a sign of His gentle mercy. I remember once meeting a doorman at the Great Southern Hotel in Killarney. I said to him as I came out of the hotel door: 'Oh, it's raining.' He put out his hand and said: 'You call that rain, Father. That's holy water from Heaven and it's blessing yourself you ought to be doing with it,' as he signed himself with the sign of the Cross.
"All the parables of Our Blessed Lord are tokens of something eternal. Camels, eyes of needles, patches on clothing, seed on a roadway, the quickness of the lightning flash, redness of the western sky - all these reminded Him of moral and spiritual lessons in the Kingdom of God. That is why He began each parable with: 'The Kingdom of God is like...' The only thing He ever took seriously was a soul. He did not take even death seriously, for death is a condition of life.
"In the early days when I was on national radio, a man came into St. Patrick's Cathedral one morning and, not recognizing me, said: 'Father, I want to go to Confession. I commute from Westchester every day. I had three friends with me - all Protestants. I became very angry and spoke most disparagingly and bitterly of that young priest that is on radio, Dr. Fulton Sheen. I just cannot stand him. He drives me crazy. I am afraid that I probably scandalized those men by the way I talked about a priest. So, will you hear my confession?' I said: 'My good man, I don't think you committed a serious sin. There are moments in my life when I share exactly the same opinion about Dr. Sheen that you do. Go to Communion and reserve your confession for another day.' He left very happily, saying: 'It certainly is wonderful to meet a nice priest like you.'"