Obi Wan

My little niece loves everything “Star Wars.”  She has seen every one of the movies.  She knows each and every character and plot.  She has the dialogue memorized.  She knows what star system they come from.  She knows what planet they live on.  She even knows their ancestry.  She knows the names of all the space ships they fly.  She can understand the noises the droids make.   I believe she speaks fluent “Wookie.”  I pretend to understand, but she knows I don’t.

Of this I am sure: It all started with someone called Obi Wan Kenobi.  We first met him back in the mid-1970s when the Star Wars insanity began.  I really don’t know who Obi Wan Kenobi was and my niece gets mad at me for not knowing everything about Obi Wan.  What I do know is that Obi Wan was played by one of the greatest actors of history, Sir Alec Guinness who died at the turn of the millennium.  For all his great work in movies such as Bridge on the River Kwai and his work in the English theater he will always be remembered as Obi Wan Kenobi.  He hated the movie and called it “fairy tale rubbish.”  The movie made him immensely wealthy.

He played a priest very well in the movie Monsignor Quixote.  He was Pope Innocent III in the movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon, and he portrayed an imprisoned Cardinal in the movie The Prisoner.  For all the clerics he played in movies Guinness was not a Catholic.  However he very suddenly became a most devout Catholic.  While on set filming a movie he was dressed as a Catholic priest.  The cast broke for lunch and Guinness walked into the little French village to get a quick coffee and sandwich.  Not enough time to change his clothes.  As he walked in solitude along the dirt road a little boy jumped from the hedges and ran to Guinness and immediately took hold of his hand as they walked.  “Bonne après-midi, mon père, said the little boy. Guinness was astonished by the complete and utter trust of the little boy.  Although the child had never seen Guinness before, he saw a priest and ran to put his hand into the “priest’s” hand in utter trust.  Guinness was astonished and wrote in his biography that this was the instant he decided to become a Catholic.  He knew the Catholic Church was the “real deal” because of the trust of the innocent of God’s creation.

Before his death Sir Alec Guinness wrote a letter to his non-Catholic wife Merula with words of encouragement.  She was apprehensive of this Catholic Church, but Sir Alec wanted to share his faith with her in the truth of the one, holy Catholic Church.  He wrote about the importance of stopping in to visit the real presence of God in any Catholic Church in the world:  “I accept absolutely that I am in the actual presence of God on the altar.  There have been very few days this year when I haven’t paid a visit—even if for only three minutes—to a church, merely to kneel and be astonished at the humility of God.  My prayers are always full of my requirements—but somehow I can feel a steadying from the Blessed Sacrament.”

And so from beyond the stars, in a galaxy far, far away…Christ is found.


– Fr. Gerard Gordon