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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Everyone needs a holy fool

The holy fool was a saintly figure in Eastern and Western Christianity who walked the line between sanctity and insanity. While the fool acted foolish, many believed that the fool truly acted from a higher and more spiritual wisdom. For example, one holy fool once poured tomato soup all over his beard as a sign telling people not to be overly concerned with physical appearance. The image of the holy fool that most people are familiar with is probably Saint Francis but it really applies to anyone who acts foolish to prophesy against their contemporary society. Because the holy fool was considered the voice of God, the fool could often say harsh things to rulers without fear of retribution whereas those who did not have the status of the holy fool would be punished.

It seems to me that just as the holy fool played an important role in lives of people of old, it would be a good idea to seek out a personal holy fool today. Many religious are advised to seek a spiritual director to provide advice on prayer and living the Christian life, but I think that a personal holy fool would be good as a source of keeping a more realistic vision in our lives. Sometimes in ministry it is easy to believe the hype. By that I mean that in ministry people tend to thank you and give you words of appreciation and delusions of grandure may arise. The holy fool can be there to remind us that we still put our pants on like everyone else. If we feel overly stressed with our ministerial responsibilities, the holy fool can be there to tell us to "snap out of it". The holy fool helps us to keep our feet in reality.

Find yourself a holy fool, you'll be glad you did.


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