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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Comedian Gaffigan Preaching Gospel Through Laughter...

Tired but with a heart full of light...
Mark Twain once wrote that, "Against the assault of laughter, nothing can withstand."

Well, comedian Jim Gaffigan and his wife Jeannie are trying to prove just that.  They're using laughter to, not only entertain but, bring forth a message of faith, love and hope, through the ordinary and mundane.

In their semi-autobiographical television series on TV Land, The Jim Gaffigan Show, where the comedian plays himself and Jeannie, an actress by trade, is his co-writer and co-producer, the couple addresses topics from marriage and parenting their five children to his considering a vasectomy, from a Jeannie-forged friendship with a young priest from their parish to a real camaraderie with Jim's Atheist womanizer best friend, from dealing with negative publicity about his faith for posing for a photo with a Bible and to his undeserved recognition in a magazine article for being a super dad without ever mentioning her role.  While never overt or gratuitous, their Catholic faith is ever present in the way they go about their normal lives.

Their subtle evangelization, humility and self-deprecating and “clean” comedy has gained the attention of many Catholics, so much so that last weekend, the Grammy nominated funnyman and his wife were invited to deliver the commencement address at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC., where, aside from his complaints about her lack of support for his mail order guacamole business, they discussed how faith has influenced their career choices, decision on having a large family and philosophy of life.

Jim Gaffigan:  "Before I met Jeannie I had lived across the street from a Catholic church for 15 years. I didn’t notice it. I never went in it once.
Because of Jeannie that same church became the place I was married, the same church my 5 children were baptized in and the church where once a week I’m reminded to keep focused on priorities;  God, family, then work."
Jeannie Gaffigan: "I can’t take all the credit. My mother has been saying perpetual novenas for 15 years."

In addition, the Gaffigans were awarded with honorary doctorates in fine arts for “bearing positive witness to the Catholic faith in the public square."

Only there an hour and got a degree...
Jeannie:  "Today, after years of hard work, many sacrifices, long hours of classes and studying..."
Jim:  "...And tens of thousands of dollars..."
Jeannie: "...You have come to this moment of incredible achievement: receiving your degree."
Jim:  "Then again, Jeannie and I are getting a degree and we have only been here for an hour."

Jim comes from a large family himself.  He is the youngest of six children and attended Catholic school growing up.  Meanwhile, Jeannie comes from an even bigger family.  She was the oldest of nine children!  Both attended Jesuit universities; Jim attended Georgetown and Jeannie attended Marquette.    

They have been married since 2003, have five children under the age of 12, and are not shy about living in accordance with Church teaching, albeit, humorously. 

Jim says, "I'm Catholic. Jeannie's Shiite Catholic.  There's no goalie."

In one of his two books, Dad is Fat, Gaffigan writes, "I guess the reasons against having more children always seemed uninspiring and superficial.  What exactly am I missing out on?  Money?  A few more hours of sleep?  A more peaceful meal?  More hair?  These are nothing compared to what I get from these five monsters who rule my life... each one of them has been a pump of light into my shriveled black heart."

In September, the couple was invited to meet Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, where Jim performed his stand-up routine and shared the stage with Mark Wahlberg before the Holy Father’s address in front of an audience of about 1.5 million.

Still, being poster children for Catholic Christianity is not something they are comfortable with.  In an NPR interview, he said, "I don't want myself to be presented as somebody who is a great Catholic. The idea of being a practicing Catholic, for me, it's like I need a lot of practice."

At the end of their commencement address to the 1,750 students and their families on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday, the couple shared some final words of advice:

Jeannie:  "As you put your trust in God, things that seem impossible will become possible.  The love you are given and the love you give will be the most important force driving you through life. Life is nothing without love."
Jim:  "Remember, happiness is not found in accomplishments, income or the number of Twitter followers you have.  True happiness is found in family.  Living for each other, sacrificing together and enjoying the blessing of fresh guacamole delivered promptly to your door."

For more on the commencement speech, see here.


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