As students prepare their last assignments for the semester, one Jesuit priest prepares to lighten the mood. Father James Martin, S.J. will deliver his message of lightness and laughter to the Saint Louis University class of 2012 at this year’s Commencement ceremony at Chaifetz Arena on Saturday, May 19 at 9 a.m.
“It is important that we go out into the world and make sure that we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Martin said. “I am going to invite the graduates to lighten up a little bit.”
Martin is the culture editor of America magazine and is a best-selling author of many books including his latest title “Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life.” SLU approached Martin earlier this semester offering him to address their graduates. Martin will also receive an honorary degree during the ceremony.
“SLU is such a prestigious institution, it made it a delight to accept the offer to speak,” Martin said.
While Martin plans to address the graduates with some “Jesuit jokes” and humor, he is mainly interested in meeting people “where they are at.”
Martin is able to reach his followers by using social media. He constantly updates his social media pages with prayers, article links and religious news. Martin has assembled more than 11,200 likes on his facebook page and more than 9,479 twitter followers.
“Like Jesus, we have to go out and meet people where they are,” Martin said. “Jesus spoke to his followers in ways they could understand and that is why it is important to use media and popular culture to meet younger audiences where they are at.”
Martin is a frequent commentator in the national and international media including appearances on Fox TV’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” PBS’s “The Newshour with Jim Lehrer,” Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” the History Channel and the Vatican Radio. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1982, Martin worked in corporate finance for six years. Martin found himself “miserable” with the corporate world and decided to enter the Society of Jesus.
“The Ignatius idea of finding God in all things really spoke to me and joining the Jesuits ended up being the best decision of my life,” Martin said.
Martin said he would make his commencement address short, focusing on the advice that he has to give to the graduates.
“It is important that you don’t try to be someone other than who you are. You don’t need to become someone else to be holy,” Martin said.