In light of Disney’s recent acquisition of an entire solar system, history, and zealous fanbase,I decided I was going to write an article about the sheer awesomeness of the priesthood and religious life using the slightly less awesomeness of Jedis (Jedii? Jedipods?), which is something I’ve always pondered as a correlation but never really had the evidence to back up.
However, shortly after setting out in this endeavor, I came face to face with my own woeful inadequacy. I am nerdy enough to have a favorite Jedi (Obi Wan Kenobi, of course.) but not nerdy enough to remember what color his lightsaber is. And because I am 600 miles away from my little brother, I resigned myself to research.
And luckily, this project has coincided with my class on early Church history and my completely impractical acquisition of Cardinal Dolan’s Priests for the Third Millennium, which I purchased two weeks ago off of Amazon for $4 while spazzing over Dolan’s goobery wonderfulness. Because come on. Four dollars.
So here we go. Research.
Then about three seconds into a wiki-style (or… wookie-style…) website article on Jediism (which is apparently also a real thing, although, their whole creed seems to be “We’re not roleplaying”) I stumbled upon a quote attributed to “Unidentified humanoid Jedi, 5,000 BBY” and knew I was once again in over my head.
So this is me, admitting that I am totally incapable of writing this article with the expertise it deserves.
And this is me writing it anyway.
So besides the awesome similarities of the uniform, what is there?
How about morality, discipline, and self-sacrifice.
The first and most obvious similarity lies in the gift itself. Not just anybody can be a Jedi, and not just anybody can be a priest (or brother or sister!). Or maybe more appropriately, being a priest or religious makes you no longer able to be just anybody. Once you are in harmony with the Force of Christ in that manner (see what I did there?), you are changed. You are somehow above and beyond what you were before. You are no longer your own, and you serve a higher purpose. This specialness, this other-worldly nature, is what makes both parties so remarkable, and on top of that, what makes them so hard to beat. You can’t beat a handle of Jedi with an army of clones. You can’t beat a handle of consecrated celibates with an army of evil. They’re just.too.good. For every hour a padawan (or… seminarian) spends practicing his art, he is increasing in the skills necessary to conquer any evil with which he is met, to be indelibly good and moral and just, and take care of and guard those around him. They (and Catholics in general!) are given the entire arsenal of elegant weapons, from a more civilized age, with which to fight this battle for holiness and souls.
Secondly, discipline is necessary in both… orders. Since the earliest days of organized monasticism, St. Benedict recognized the absolute necessity for obedience and discipline in the life of a monk –not only for the sake of his own holiness, but for his brother monks’ as well. Without the continual subordination of the will to your spiritual Father (the Abbot, in their case, but only as a vicar to our Heavenly Father), you remain in a state of pride and self-reliance, and cannot reach your own potential. When Anakin refuses to subordinate himself to the wisdom of dear Mr. Kenobi, he is eventually overtaken by his own malicious pride. He cannot stand under the weight of all that power, in the same way that any given monk or priest could not stand under the weight of the grace given him without the continual spiritual humbling gained in self-discipline and obedience.
And of course, the total gift of self. When a man becomes a priest or monk, when a woman becomes a nun, they give their whole self to a cause worthier than they. It is a total outpouring of all their desires, wishes, plans, and lives. They give up their families (current and potential), careers, and sometimes even personal safety to become unlike anyone our society has ever seen. This act of total gift can only be embraced as a mirroring of the total gift Christ gave on the Cross, and for it, these remarkable men and women give up their lives. Jedi Knights give their whole selves to their art, giving themselves to die for the cause of justice and peace.
But ultimately, Jedi Knights pale in comparison to celibates. There is a Dark Side to the Force where there is no Dark Side to grace. They fight for temporal goods where others fight for eternal. And honestly, seeing a monk walk around in the rain with his hood up and his rosary in hand is about 8 billion times cooler than a Jedi in a kimono with a lightsaber.
PS. You are also allowed to use this analogy while having debates about whether religious should wear habits. Because if I’m gonna be a nun, I want to darn well look like a Jedi. (Wait… do normal students not have this debate? #catholiccollegeproblems)