'The Late Show' Host Stephen Colbert Says Context of His Existence Is to 'Know, Love, Serve' God

Stephen Colbert poses backstage with his awards for Outstanding Variety Series and Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sept. 22, 2013.
Stephen Colbert poses backstage with his awards for Outstanding Variety Series and Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sept. 22, 2013. | (Photo: Reuters)

Comedian Stephen Colbert, who is set for the premiere of his CBS "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" program in September, has said in a recent interview that as a Roman Catholic, the context of his existence is to "know God, love God, serve God."

In a wide-ranging interview with GQ magazine published earlier this week, Colbert touched upon his Catholic faith, and revealed that it helped shape who he is.

"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 wrote, quoting Colbert.

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"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."

In past interviews, Colbert has touched upon a tragedy he suffered in 1974, when at the age of 10 he lost his father and two of his brothers in a plane crash.

"There's a common explanation that profound sadness leads to someone's becoming a comedian, but I'm not sure that's a proven equation in my case," he reflected back in 2010.

"I'm not bitter about what happened to me as a child, and my mother was instrumental in keeping me from being so. 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," he added.

The talk show host also talked about suffering in his recent GQ interview, and 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 another interview in March with Fr. James Martin, editor-at-large at America magazine, Colbert also discussed his favorite saint and Bible verses.

"I always liked Peter because he's the rock, but the rocks were between the ears. Because he has the insight, or the grace, to know that you are the Messiah, the Son of God. And then he denies Christ. He's angry, like he's known as having anger. I like him because he's super flawed," Colbert said.

He identified parts of Matthew Chapters 5 and 6 as his favorite Bible verses, quoting the portions where Jesus tells His followers not to spend their time worrying about food, water, or clothing, because God will provide.

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

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