The host of CBS’ Late Show, Stephen Colbert is never shy about his faith and often includes Catholic elements in his shows, which he refers to as “joy machines.” Now, during an appearance on Fr. James Martin’s Catholic talk show, Faith in Focus, he discussed his own struggle with the faith in his younger years.
The late-night star told the Jesuit priest that there was once a time when his faith was not held firm and he considered himself “convicted of [his] atheism.” However this all changed in 1986, when a 22-year-old Colbert received an unexpected gift while walking down the wintry streets of Chicago.
“I had lost my faith in God, to my great grief,” he explained. “I was sort of convinced that I had been wrong all this time that I had been taught something that wasn’t true.” “I was walking down the street and someone handed me a little green New Testament, Proverbs, and Psalms. It must have been humid and brought up to the cold because it was frozen and you kinda had to snap it. It was a really cold Chicago day. “I opened it up to a little glossary in the front and it said basically verses to read based upon [different situations]. So I went to ‘anxiety’ and it was Matthew chapter 5, it was the sermon ‘So I say to you do not worry, for who among you by worrying can change a single hair on your head or add a cubit to the span of his life?’ and I was absolutely, immediately lightened. “For the first time I understood the real meaning of the phrase, ‘It spoke to me.’ Like it read off the page. The words of Christ read off the page with no effort. So I stood on the street in the cold and read the sermon. And my life has never been the same. “This gift of religion is something that can only be given in this way … And therefore you should be humble in accepting this act of love and see what it is they gave you without rejecting it.”
Father Martin responded, “That’s beautiful, the image of you standing at the corner. I mean the whole metaphor of the Gospels being frozen and needing to be cracked open is also very powerful.”
A smile spread across Colbert’s face along with the amused expression of sudden realization, “I hadn’t thought about that!”
See the whole interview, along with more of Faith in Focus’ programing below: