A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

A Little Respect

Posted on: August 15, 2013

With 40 on the horizon, I returned to ITF taekwon-do a few weeks ago. So far, I’m enjoying the exercise, despite some muscle soreness. Sometimes I even get to work one-on-one with my husband or my son.

taekwon-do punch

My son shortly after he began taekwon-do training in 2007

For those not familiar with taekwon-do, this martial art involves more than kicking and punching. Respect is a major component of our classes. We bow before we enter and leave the dojang and training area. Before and after class, we bow to the instructor and the senior belt. We bow to our training partners, and we bow and shake hands before and after we spar.

Often, at the start of class, the senior belt leads us in the student oath:

I shall observe the tenets of Taekwon-Do: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, Indomitable Spirit.

I shall respect the instructors and seniors.

I shall never misuse Taekwon-Do.

I shall be a champion of freedom and justice.

I shall build a more peaceful world.

This culture of discipline and respect takes time to get used to, perhaps because respect is often lacking in our society. In schools, students seem less respectful to staff and their fellow students these days; on the roads, drivers tailgate and flash their lights at drivers who observe the speed limit (a pet peeve of mine); and in the workplace, people check their social media accounts during work hours.

I think this lack of respect extends to our approach to worship on Sundays. For example, I sometimes need to remind my son to turn off his MP3 player before we enter the church or hold off on outlining his plans for lunch or Sunday afternoon until the service is over. And on an average Sunday, I could point out most of these things in the sanctuary of my parish church:

  • people wearing clothing more suitable for clubbing;
  • children eating crumbly snacks;
  • people texting or not muting their PDA or cell phone before the service begins; and
  • people leaving the church as soon as they’ve received the Eucharist, before the blessing.

Someone observing all this might think Mass is just an ordinary part of the day—maybe even an interruption in our weekend or an inconvenience—when it’s actually a time to connect with God, in his house. That fact alone should make us want to behave in a respectful way.

And that should include leaving the workout and club wear and snacks at home, turning off or muting electronic devices, and being fully involved in the service—spending this hour or so of our week focussed on praising and thanking God, sharing with him our needs and others’, and being strengthened for the week ahead.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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