Thursday, July 19, 2012

Yoda's Catholic Wisdom

Dear Theophilus,

As a catholic high school teacher, I’m constantly looking for ways to help my students get in touch with their faith. One of the things I like to do is to write an inspirational quote on the board and leave it there for a week or two for the kids to meditate on. Some of my favourites include:

Remember, you are in the presence of God.

Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.


If we all let the light of Christ shine through, just imagine how much brighter the world would be.

I’ve often wrestled with the idea of adding a quote from the Star Wars character Yoda: Do or do not. There is no try. As a teacher, my first inclination is to use this quote as a way to encourage kids to get their homework done, but recently I’ve come to realize that there is a Catholic element to the Jedi master’s words.

In the last little while I’ve repeatedly heard the phrase Cafeteria Catholicism. It’s a light hearted way of referring to Catholics who pick and choose which teachings of the Catholic Church they wish to follow; the same way you would pick and choose what you want to eat from the cafeteria.

The last time I heard the expression Cafeteria Catholic, it was followed by the rhetorical question: Is it possible to be only 75% Catholic? When I heard this, I turned to my 5-month pregnant colleague beside me and with my usual sarcastic nature asked her if she were only 50% pregnant. One can only begin to imagine the eyebrows that raised in the room. The person who asked the first rhetorical question then asked us to imagine the reaction if a husband were to get up to speak at his golden wedding anniversary celebration and proudly tell his wife that over their 50 years of marriage he had managed to be faithful 98% of the time – almost perfect.

The point was clearly made. Either you are Catholic or you are not. You can’t pick and choose from the catechism like from the Ponderosa salad bar – you may not like all the toppings, but everything needs to go on your plate.

Yoda’s words will be on my classroom blackboard come September, and if the kids ask, I’ll explain both meanings. I’d be interested in hearing of your Catholic inspirational phrases I could use to help my students uncover their faith.

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