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The Sacrament of Fun


Bro. Brian Poulin


June 4, 2022 – The Vigil of Pentecost



The other day, I encountered God through Hungry Hungry Hippos. That probably doesn’t make any sense unless you understand that I was facilitating rounds of Human Hungry Hungry Hippos (Hungry Hungry Human Hippos?) at the annual Marist Youth Gathering held every Memorial Day Weekend. 


Does it still sound unlikely?


Yes, we believe that God is always with us in theory, but I am not merely affirming God’s presence during game time in the abstract. Nor am I simply giving thanks that we avoided concussions or other injuries throughout the various activities. Rather, the felt experience of our loving God welled up in me, moving me to the brink of tears, yes, during Human Hungry Hungry Hippos. God was reminding me that the song and dance, games and activities of the weekend were not merely silly fun… rather they were holy fun.


As Marists striving to follow Mary’s example, how can we not want children to have fun? Although there are cultural differences in how children play and how parents play with their children, Mary (and maybe Joseph) would have absolutely played with the child Jesus, regardless of how difficult their lives would have been as economically vulnerable refugees. Yes, there would have been chores and prayers, and other serious matters, but also play.


Yet, Christian tradition rarely includes depictions of Jesus at play. There are numerous images of Jesus with Joseph in the carpentry shop, some of which show him making little crosses—which is really messed up, especially when we consider that crucifixion was a form of execution that was particularly deployed against members of subjugated populations, such as Jews in ancient Palestine. Yet somehow images of Jesus fashioning real or miniature crosses at a point in history when they were still symbols of oppression rather than redemption are more prevalent than those of him playing peek-a-boo. 


There is a small but vocal segment of our Church that elevates suffering as a good unto itself while regarding pleasure with suspicion. In fact, “there is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.” There is a time for building discipline through sacrifice, but mortification is in itself no holier than enjoyment. Remember that Jesus himself liked a good party and was at times criticized because his followers didn’t fast strenuously like those of the ascetic John the Baptist.


Of course, nobody should hold fun as a good unto itself either, and various spiritual traditions from multiple continents have identified the relentless pursuit of pleasure as a source of ultimate suffering in our world. Nonetheless, we need to end where we began: fun can indeed be holy. And seeing these young people together, laughing and making friends after the last two years we’ve had, and being part of helping to make that happen? What could be holier?


The child Jesus was there, playing among us.



This month’s ‘ear candy’ is actually the theme song that was used during this year’s Marist Youth Gathering. It encourages us to rejoice both in sunshine and in shadow, which is a great message for me as I lie on my sickbed writing this reflection on a wonderful and inspiring weekend. The ‘brain food’ addresses some of the challenges facing the Catholic Church as we exhort all people to rejoice in who they are and how God made them to be in the divine image and likeness. Enjoy and rejoice!


Ear Candy: “Life Is Beautiful” by Rend Collective

Brain Food: “The Catholic Church Needs L.G.B.T. Saints” by Jim McDermott


Come back on the first Saturday of next month for a new post!




Previous Posts:


May 7 – How They Love

Apr 2 – Be Like Mary

Mar 5 – Unbound

Feb 5 – Glitch 

Jan 8 – Making It Real


Dec 4 – Reason for Hope

Nov 6 – Unspeakable Love

Oct 2 – God of the Always

Sep 4 – Time Unchained

Aug 7 – Pray for Us

Jul 3 – Real Presence

Jun 5 – Bag of Squirrels

May 1 – Brothers 

Apr 3 – Plan B

Mar 6 – Times 40

Feb 6 – Testimony 

Jan 2 – Unconditional 


Dec 5 – Gestation

Nov 7 – Where Hope Lives

Oct 3 – Enough 

Sep 5 – Assembly Required

Aug 1 – Stumped 

July 4 – Bitter and Sweet

June 6 – Fire

May 30 – Brother’s Keeper

May 23 – Remote

May 16 – Getting By

Apr. 25 – Thank God It’s Saturday

Apr. 18 – Joseph’s Fiat

Apr. 11 – Bells & Sirens

Apr. 4 – Adaptation

Mar. 28 – Guest Column

Mar. 21 – Moving Forward

Mar. 14 – Reality Check

Mar. 7 – Soar 

Feb. 29 – Hiking Lessons

Feb. 22 – Love in the Desert

Feb. 15 – Beautiful Life

Feb. 8 – Bad Science

Feb. 1 – All Shall Be Well

Jan. 25 – Let Somebody Love You

Jan. 18 – Extraordinary Time

Jan. 11 – L’Chaim!

Jan. 4 – Decisive


Dec. 28 – Can’t Alone

Dec. 21 – Unexpected Gifts 

Dec. 14 – No Room

Dec. 7 – End of the World

Nov. 30 – Elective Unpleasantness

Nov. 23 – Always Greater

Nov. 16 – Coloring Book

Nov. 9 – Justice and Mercy

Nov. 2 – Together in Loneliness

Oct. 26 – Gently

Oct. 19 – Flow

Oct. 12 – In This Place

Oct. 5 – Why Understanding

Sep. 28 – Stone to Flesh

Sep. 21 – Let God

Sep. 14 – Passion

Sep. 7 – Hermanos

Aug. 31 – 525,600

Aug. 24 – Pathway

Aug. 17 – Crazy Together

Aug. 10 – To Bridge

Aug. 3 – Stripes

July 27 – Ghost Town

July 20 – Adrift

July 13 – Borders without Borders

July 6 – Little Bit at a Time

June 29 – Holy Dissent

June 22 – Old Kentucky Home

June 15 – Steamer Trunk

June 8 – Squad

June 1 – Legacy

May 25 – Live like You’re Loved

May 18 – Purity of Heart

May 11 – Builders and Creator

May 4 – Value Proposition

Apr. 27 – Vital Signs

Apr. 20 – Let It Be Real

Apr. 13 – Meet Self

Apr. 6 – Let Go of the Best

Mar. 30 – Thirst

Mar. 23 – Back Home

Mar. 16 – Say Goodbye

Mar. 9 – Garden and Desert

Mar. 2 – In Transit

Feb. 23 – Wealth

Feb. 16 – In Place

Feb. 9 – Each and All

Feb. 2 – Not Disneyland

Jan. 26 – Pilgrim People

Jan. 19 – Waking Dream

Jan. 12 – Called and Sent

Jan. 5 – Divine Encounter


Dec. 29 -- Resolution

Dec. 22 – Room for Love?

Dec. 15 – Humbug!

Dec. 8 – Let It Begin with Me

Dec. 1 – Driven by Love

Nov. 24 – What Manner of King

Nov. 17 – Stranger

Nov. 10 – I Need Help to Be Holy

Nov. 3 – Fully Alive

Oct. 27 – Behind the Curtain

Oct. 20 – Questions. Answers?

Oct. 13 – Stumble & Fall

Oct. 6 – Young World

Sep. 29 – Defend Us in Battle

Sep. 22 – The Taste of Water

Sep. 15 – God’s Plan

Sep. 8 – Life Finds a Way