Sunday, July 3, 2011

Jedi Catholics

Lately, I've been thinking about a particular plague to my spiritual life.  Maybe it's a plague to yours as well.  I call it Jedi Catholicism.

Jedi Catholics want to master the faith as if it were the force. They want to master spirituality.  They want to master the Church.  Really, they want to be the best of the best in the Catholic world.  In my case, it goes hand-in-hand with a sense of duty.  I feel strongly drawn to perfectionism and so I want to be the best at what is most important to me: my faith.

At the heart of this is pride.  We should want to be saints, but we should not want to be masters of the faith.  Saints follow the faith and practice the virtues of faith, hope, and love.  They have faith.  Jedi Catholics try to know everything and do everything associated with the faith.  They want to control the faith and make it their own, something they have conquered, an achievement they have gained.  Will they despair when they realize they can never master it?  Thinking foolishly that they have mastered it, will they move on from Christ to try to tackle other things?  Saints have humility, Jedi Catholics have pride.

Secondly, saints are saintly in Christ.  They participate in His holiness by having faith and living out that faith in the moral life, in prayer, and in the sacraments.  They share Christ's holiness.  Jedi Catholics want to be stand-alone gurus of Catholicism.  Once a person strives to master something, and goes at it with all his pride, he will want to be the greatest master.  A Jedi Catholic doesn't want to share in Christ's holiness.  He wants to be holy on his own (which is impossible).  Eventually, he may even get delusions of grandeur and become jealous of Christ, wishing that he himself could be crucified or have the stigmata.

If you ever experienced this temptation, you know how vicious it can be.  It is nothing short of demonic, because it wishes to dethrone Christ and claim dominion over everything He gave to the Church.  If you find yourself acting like a Jedi Catholic, know that you are being drawn to the Dark Side.  Run to humble yourself in prostration before the Sacred Heart.  Call to mind that you are dust, and that you are only anything when you are in Christ, and that you wish only to receive His graces, not to claim anything for yourself.

Pray briefly and humbly something like the following, the Sub Tuum Praesidium, the oldest Marian prayer in the Church:
Under thy protection
we seek refuge,
Holy Mother of God;
despise not our petitions
in our needs,
but from all dangers
deliver us always,
Virgin Glorious and Blessed. Amen.




  1. Were you listening to my conversation with my priest? ;-) Great post. I definitely relate. I think there's an added dimension to it with being a convert, and often wanting to appear as i I have "mastered" it, especially in the face of criticism from family.

  2. I think you'll change your mind as soon as you can move that mountain...

  3. Okay, you may think me a goober, but I was watching "Kung Fu Panda" for the fourth time on our road trip, and the part where Shifu says, "Obeying your master is not weakness" reminded me of what Catholics are accused of sometimes: we are weak because we obey our master (the Pope, acting on Christ's teachings). It is not weakness to obey our master, it is strength.

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