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Stephen Colbert Says Context of His Existence is to 'Know God, Love God, Serve God,' Reveals How Faith Helped Him through Tragedy

( [email protected] ) Aug 20, 2015 01:16 PM EDT
Popular comedian Stephen Colbert explained that the context of his existence is to Popular comedian Stephen Colbert recently revealed that the context of his existence is to "know God, love God, serve God" during a lengthy interview with GQ magazine published earlier this week.
"The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" premiers on CBS on Sept. 8. Lloyd Bishop/NBC

Popular comedian Stephen Colbert recently revealed that the context of his existence is to "know God, love God, serve God" during a lengthy interview with GQ magazine published earlier this week.

The 51-year-old funnyman, who is set for the premiere of his CBS "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" program in September, first explained to the magazine that his Catholic faith has helped form his character.

"The urge to be grateful, he said, is not a function of his faith. It's not 'the Gospel tells us' and therefore we give thanks. It is what he has always felt: grateful to be alive," GQ quoted Colbert as saying.

"And so that act, that impulse to be grateful, wants an object. That object I call God. Now, that could be many things. I was raised in a Catholic tradition. I'll start there. That's my context for my existence, is that I am here to know God, love God, serve God, that we might be happy with each other in this world and with Him in the next - the catechism. That makes a lot of sense to me. I got that from my mom. And my dad. And my siblings."

The talk show host, who has in the past identified parts of Matthew Chapters 5 and 6 as his favorite Bible verses, also revealed how a belief in God shaped his understanding of suffering, as his father and two of his brothers tragically died in a plane crash when he was just 10 years old.

The magazine notes that Colbert reflected on a quote by Lord of the Rings author J. R. R. Tolkien: "What punishments of God are not gifts?"

"Colbert knocked his knuckles on the table. 'What punishments of God are not gifts?' he said again. His eyes were filled with tears. 'So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn't mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head,'" the comedian said.

In 2012, The New York Times also profiled Colbert, who at the time explained in detail how the strong faith of his mother helped him process the tragedy: "She taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that's directly related to the image of Christ on the Cross and the example of sacrifice that He gave us. What she taught me is that the deliverance God offers you from pain is not no pain-it's that the pain is actually a gift. What's the option? God doesn't really give you another choice."

While he takes his relationshiph with God seriously and views it as a "beautiful gift," Colbert told Howard Stern in a SiriusXM radio interview on Tuesday that he believes faith can easily interact with the world of comedy.

"I mean, the Church is flawed. Boy, that's an understatement. The Church is greatly flawed, but it was a beautiful gift to my family and my mother and me to have faith," he said.

"I know quite a few comedians who are Catholics - and that's cool - and a bunch who aren't," said Colbert. "I don't think that what I believe is prescriptive to everybody - it works for me, and so I don't mind being mocked about it. If you can come up with a good joke about the Catholic Church, I might just steal it."

"The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," replacing the long-running version with previous host David Letterman, premiers on CBS on Sept. 8.