The Jedi and the Communion of Saints


"You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine." (Episode IV: A New Hope)


In a very similar--though more demure--way, St. Therese of Liseux (the namesake of this blog) addresses her own approaching death: "I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth." [St. Therese of Lisieux, The Final Conversations, tr. John Clarke (Washington: ICS, 1977), 102.]"


St. Therese is a fine and powerful example of the Communion of Saints. In this article, I suggest that the Communion of Saints' action in this world is similar to Obi-Wan Kenobi's helping Luke Skywalker, following his journey from the Jedi netherworld.


How does Obi-Wan come back from the dead after Darth Vader kills him? Let's cover a little background. Yoda and Qui-Gonn Jinn answer this question at the end of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.


At the end of Episode III, George Lucas does a lot of connecting the dots for us; for example:

  • We're shown how Leia becomes an Organa and Crown Pincess of Alderaan.
  • We see the construction of the first Death Star with a cameo from a young, beefy Grand Moff Tarkin.
  • We find out why Obi-Wan and Yoda go into exile, to Tatooine and Degoba, respectively, to learn Qui-Gonn's new trick.
What's Qui-Gonn's new trick? First off, Qui-Gonn is Obi-Wan's old Jedi Master. We find out at the end of Revenge of the Sith that Qui-Gonn has "returned from the netherworld of the Force" and is ready to teach Yoda and Obi-Wan the same. It seems Yoda had a conversation with Qui-Gonn's spirit in much the same way that Obi-Wan will later aid Luke.

On a side note, the book adaptation of Revenge of the Sith includes more details about Yoda and Qui-Gonn's conversation. Yoda regrets harboring doubts of Qui-Gonn's abilities, saying "A great Jedi Master you always were, but too blind I was to see it ... Your apprentice, I gratefully become."


Dead Jedi and Saints 
When a Jedi dies, he or she is not truly dead. They are alive in the Force, in the Netherworld of the Force. So it is with Saints. Christians live beyond death. They are alive in Christ. All baptized Christians form one, united body of Christ: the communion of saints.

Paragraph 2683 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this. The witnesses who have entered the kingdom of heaven before us (cf. Heb 12:1), especially those that the Church has recognized as saints, "share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today." They take care of those members of the communion who remain on earth, being "put in charge of many things" (cf. Mt 25:21). Refer, also, to the quote from Saint Therese at the beginning of this article.

Just as Saints help those who remain on earth build up the kingdom of heaven, Obi-Wan helps Luke destroy the Death Star, directs him to Yoda in Degobah, and helps him discern his ultimate battle with his father.

With parting words similar to Obi-Wan (and St. Therese), St. Dominic instructed his brothers, "Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life."

Sidenote: Should we compare the Jedi Netherworld to Heaven?
No. I think the Netherworld compares better to Sheol (cf. Job 7:9; Ps 18:5-7, 86:13, 139:8; Jonah 2:2). Sheol is a twilight sort of place, the destination of both the righteous and unrighteous. This is a Hebrew conception of the afterlife similar to Hades in Greek mythology, a gloomy place of shadows. Sheol is a place awaiting the Resurrection of Christ.

Use of the word "Netherworld" and a lack of a true resurrection lead me to this Sheol connection. Sheol is sometimes translated as "netherworld" and the two words are at least regarded as synonyms.

Also, the Messianic figure of Anakin Skywalker does not possess the power to resurrect his own life, though he very much sought this power credited to Darth Plagueis, as I've described in my post, "The Virgin Birth of Star Wars." Following his resurrection, Christ walked the earth as a glorified body; Anakin's resuscitated body, dependent on mechanical parts to keep him alive, is very different from this. Very different, as Saint Obi-Wan describes in Return of the Jedi,
"He's more machine now than man; twisted and evil."
The argument could be made, however, that Qui-Gonn's first return from the Netherworld and later instruction to other Jedi is similar to Jesus leading his disciples to the Resurrection. Not only is Jesus a teacher, he is the Resurrection, itself, and life (cf. Jn 11:25).

4 comments:

  1. I love the connections you make between "Star Wars" and Catholicism. It's a shame that most Catholics don't know enough about their own religion to make a meaningful connection to "Star Wars." The way Obi-Wan is more powerful after death, watches over and inspires Luke, and welcomes the redeemed Aniken to the saintly fellowship at the end of "Return of the Jedi" is so much like the Communion of Saints.

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  2. Really cool analogies! Myself, I've always likened Optimus Prime as a modern Christ figure kind of like Aslan the lion.

    www.prime1-marco.blogspot.com

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  3. I've enjoyed reading your weblog. Are you writing anywhere else now? My wife and I are planning on converting to the Church this year and we're looking for more and more sources of information.

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  4. Great article. Interesting analogies.

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