Rev. James Martin, S. J., to deliver Fairfield University's Bellarmine Lecture: "Laughing with the Saints: Joy, Humor and Laughter in the Spiritual Life"


Did you ever wonder how to make spiritual life more joyful? That's exactly what Rev. James Martin, S.J., a corporate executive turned Jesuit priest, specializes in.

On Wednesday, Feb. 4 at Fairfield University, Fr. Martin will deliver the University's annual Bellarmine Lecture, entitled "Laughing with the Saints: Joy, Humor and Laughter in the Spiritual Life." The talk is free and open to the public and will take place on the Fairfield campus at 8 p.m. in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room.

Fr. Martin, who is associate editor of America magazine, the national Catholic weekly, will look at some serious reasons for keeping a sense of humor in your daily life and why it's necessary in the life of the church. "Spirituality and religion are often seen as overly serious topics. Yet the great spiritual masters and the saints knew that joy, humor and laughter are essential elements for a healthy spirituality," he said.

The Bellarmine Lecture series provides the community with a chance to hear and interact with distinguished Jesuit scholars. The series is sponsored by the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield.

In addition to offering his views on religion and spirituality for numerous radio and television news organizations, Fr. Martin is a popular author on spirituality and served as a "theological advisor" on "Doubt," the recently released film based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play.

This year's lecture will touch upon themes Fr. Martin explored in his book, "My Life with the Saints" (Loyola Press, 2006). The book received a 2006 Christopher Award, and was also named one of the "Best Books" of 2006 by Publishers Weekly.  Booklist marveled over Fr. Martin's personal stories of his favorite haloed heroes: "They include Jude, patron saint of lost causes, whom Martin refers to as "the saint of the sock drawer" because that's where, when a young man, Martin kept a statuette of Jude; Ignatius Loyola, who inspired Martin to look for God in his daily life; and St. Joseph, whose quiet service to Christ motivates Martin."

In his most recent book, "A Jesuit Off-Broadway" (Loyola Press, 2007), Fr. Martin wrote about his intriguing time as a theological advisor for the Off-Broadway play, "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot," directed by Oscar winning-actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. (He also helped Hoffman in that capacity when the actor played a priest in "Doubt.")   

Fr. Martin graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in 1982, where he received a bachelor's degree in finance. After working for six years in corporate finance and human resources with General Electric Co., he entered the Society of Jesus in 1988. He was ordained a Catholic priest in June 1999, a year after he began working for America magazine.

Besides his articles in America and other Catholic publications such as Commonweal, U.S. Catholic, and The (London) Tablet, Fr. Martin has written for The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and other national newspapers and websites, including beliefnet.com and salon.com. He has appeared on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air with Terry Gross," PBS's "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer," Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," as well as on the major networks, CNN, MSNBC, the History Channel, the BBC and Vatican Radio. Fr. Martin is also the author of the book, "Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints" (Paulist, 2006). CBS News said of it: "This compelling book is a kind of prayer." 

Fr. Martin conducts seminars and retreats and assists on Sundays at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 23, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 189