For the past 15 years of my life I have trained as a Jedi. I am yet far from being a master, and I will no doubt be in training for all the days I have remaining, but I can see things now that I did not see before, and I know things that have transformed me. It has not been an easy journey. It has been a formidable and merciless walk, fraught with disappointments and skin shredding sufferings but here I am today and I here is my journey.
Star Wars is a masterpiece. As a cult phenomenon, it has captured the hearts of generations. It is welcomed in any conversation, in almost any setting. It moves us to frenzy when we contemplate the interplay of light and dark, good and evil. It lifts us from reality and fills our minds with dreams of power and passion, battle and strength. Adventure stirs a longing for a world where we could engage the forces that threaten humanity, that seek to destroy all that is beautiful. The words of Yoda are clear:
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
“If you end your training now — if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did — you will become an agent of evil.”
The journey to becoming a Jedi is one of mastering your emotions. The novice must come to a place where they are no longer swayed by their emotions, but have become masters over their emotions. A Jedi may feel the urge to act according to an emotion, but they have the strength to choose not to act. Emotions are natural and they are designed to help us. Love causes us to act for the good of a person we love. Fear causes us to avoid situations or people that may be dangerous to us. Emotions are good, but the Jedi is aware that they can also be treacherous. They can lead us into harm. Desire for Revenge can hurt us for example. A Jedi can decide freely to act or not, using reason. He has that power and freedom, because his emotions do not control him. The man who is not a Jedi is manipulated by his emotions. He has no choice, no freedom. He is a slave.
I awoke to the treachery of emotion after observing the behavior of my male friends years ago. Many of those men had girlfriends and wives. Some of them even had children. Yet in a typical night out with them I watched them fall to their desires, and often they took home other women while their babies slept sound in their beds. Something was wrong. Those men engaged in such behaviors even though their partners would have been devastated to find out. How could they not feel the humanity of their loved ones? Why were they driven to death?
I was lost. If I could not call their actions wrong then how could I stop anyone from treating me badly? I had to be able to say, “no, what you are doing causes destruction to your life and the lives of others and you must stop.” I had to have an ability to recognize good and bad. I needed a guide; a universal principle that applied to all humanity, because it’s absence meant all action, even evil, was acceptable. It was then, in those moments of confusion, that I picked up my sword, my rosary, and began to do battle.
Gradually, it came to me. My friends were not in battle. They had succumbed to their emotion. They were defeated. They had embraced the dark side and fallen to their base animal desires for self-pleasure. I do remember them getting into physical fights outside bars, but all that was a farce. Their punching others was a shadow of real masculinity. Their pathetic efforts had no struggle. It was easy. Their fighting was just another self-indulgent spectacle of pretend anger and pride. Emotion ruled them.
In my battles I have witnessed an almighty struggle to remain true to the good while avoiding the seemingly easy fall to the dark side. Indeed, I have fallen often in weakness, but every time I have clambered to my feet and struggled on. My wife has needed me to be with her as we faced times of sickness and hardship. Her holiness was my only goal. My children were entitled to my time. I worked hard to hold them up and guide them in the light of Truth, the force. I could have left my home to find comfort in the pub. I could have closed myself in a room, hidden away, playing games, watching movies and avoiding the labour of family life. The temptation was real, but they needed me. It was my choice to give. I had to engage the force, prayer to God the Spirit who granted me the grace to know, and the strength to follow. My heart said “relax,” my conscience yelled “give.”
In monasteries throughout the world there are hooded men dedicated to a Jedi craft, of mastering emotion, of living with the force through continuous and self-giving prayer to God. He grants them strength and grace. Those men are true knights of the light. They battle day and night with darkness and they dispel darkness in our lives through a dedication to mastering their own emotional movements so they can pray for us.
Out in our world so many young men are victims to cultural influences. One perfect example is the use of pornography. Poor men are shackled to this insidious practice that eats their minds like maggots eat flesh. “It is harmless,” they say. “It is natural.” Ask them to stop for three months. They are powerless. Enslaved. It destroys their connection with others and their capacity for love. They are emasculated and their women weep.
Becoming a Jedi is not easy but falling to the dark side is effortless. Truly becoming Catholic is near impossible, but it is the ideal we must always strive for. The only other option is the devil and he prowls like a roaring lion seeking to devour you and those you love. His tool is the manipulation of your emotions to entice you to engage in activities and thoughts that will ultimately destroy you. Your only weapons are prayer, the sacraments and sacrifice, entering into God, where He will protect you and give you the grace necessary to win your battles. It requires a willingness to suffer and to embrace actions that will be repugnant to the senses. Yet we must, for it is our only choice. The other side is too horrible to even contemplate, and living with that for eternity is a nightmare reserved for the damned.
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