Are You a Yada Yada Catholic?


The phrase Yada yada has been around for a long time, with varied origins proposed, but the phrase’s popularity was re-ignited by a 1997 episode of the Seinfeld sitcom.  The double use of yadda implies a shorthand way of fast-forwarding boring or expected parts of life or speech. It is literally the equivalent of et cetera or blah blah.

For example, a student might tell her absent classmate, “The professor did his usual lecture on the scientific method, yada yada, and then she cancelled class early.” The implication is that the yada yada part is the usual, mundane, unimportant, and/or redundant stuff already experienced by the parties involved.  The idea is that such parts are so predictable that repeating them is a waste of time since people could figure out what was implied anyway.

Part of the irony and attempt at humor was that one party thought that Yada yada was appropriate, practical, and self-explanatory in a given context and the other party was only further confused by the phrase.  Rather than save everyone a lot of thought, the phrase only threw the confused party into a sea of unanswered questions and unsure assumptions.  A life immersed only in the secular can often be a paradox of such ironic tragedy in the midst of patronizing presumption. Such a life is pulled between satisfying flimsy and changing societal conventions and trying to grasp effective and fulfilling self-perceptions.  We are often pulled between satisfying others and ourselves by a society that idolizes popularity and self at the same time. Like the townspeople pretending that the naked Emperor is wearing clothes, we are often too obsessed with looking right to do what is truly right.

Yada Yada Catholics

I am fairly certain that this might be the first use of Yada yada to describe Catholics, so embrace my pioneering spirit. As I see it, many of us might be tempted to fast-forward, assume, practicalize, and short-hand our Faith. Why would we do this?  Perhaps, whether we admit it or not, we have allowed our Faith, or at least our perception and experience of it, to grow stale, mundane, predictable, and even boring.  We have lost the transcendent power and meaning of our beliefs and practices to the point where we now see the practice of our faith as nothing more than commercials we want to fast-forward through on the DVR of our lives. This tragedy explains parents missing mass with their kids in order to take them to swim meets and soccer games.  It explains folks treating the most Blessed Sacrament as nothing more than a weekly white cookie.  It explains hordes of Catholics too ignorant about what their Faith is about to explain much less defend it.

The Five Culprits of Catholic Yada Yada

I believe that there are many reasons for Catholic Yada yada, but the five main ones are, in no particular order:  1) Ignorance   2) Distraction  3) Arrogance  4) Defiance and 5) Distance.

Thanks to a diluted and sometimes distorted religious education system, many Catholics have been raised increasingly ignorant of core Catholic beliefs and the relative importance and centrality of those beliefs.  Many Catholics, for example, do not know, understand, or care about the Divine Presence.

Secondly, modern society embodies so many distractions, from technology to twisted values, that many Catholics are easily confused and readily blend truth with subjective whim and myth. Third and fourth, current social values promote and foment rampant personal arrogance and defiance against any absolute moral code.  Morality is what each person defines as morality.  Anyone who even attempts to guide others toward ethical behavior is labeled an intolerant and divisive threat to society.  It is troubling that increasing numbers of Catholics stubbornly and cluelessly latch unto distorted, warped, and very subjective interpretations and applications of their Faith.

We see scores of Catholics encouraged and convinced that attending a wedding between two divorced Catholics without annulments is acceptable to “maintain the peace” and exhibit “love and acceptance”.  Finally, all of these things and more cause many Catholics to grow distant from their faith.  Their beliefs become nothing more than distant relatives they admit to being related to but barely know.  All too often, many Catholics become Peter at the fire warming himself while Christ, their Faith, is interrogated.  We too may deny Christ many times through our words, actions, and omissions merely to avoid trouble and criticism.

The Surprising Meaning of Yada and Its Implications

The most surprising part of my preparation for this piece was the discovery that a single Yada is a Hebraic word meaning a knowing dedication and sharing often based on love, mercy, and justice which is often referenced in the Old Testament. The obvious question is how can such a beautiful and positive word suddenly become so negative and dismissive when doubled?  I think that the answer may lie in the idea that we often take what is most important for granted out of convenience, impatience, and a warped search for what I will call external novelty.

The process by which this terrible thing happens might begin with expecting core, profound, and central ideas to continually inspire and radiate their own wonder. Rather than embracing our responsibility to cultivate and refresh the wonder of the most transcendent, we tend to sit back and expect the transcendent to entertain and inspire us.  It is almost as if we have come to equate greatness with the innate ability to generate greatness without any effort or participation on our part.  A fantastic health speaker may provide us with a wonderful diet and exercise strategies, but our health will not improve unless we take, apply, and make those ideas work in our lives. Similarly, we are the hands of Christ in this world, not merely his audience eating popcorn and waiting for the next miracle or magic trick.

We tend to exhibit the obnoxious trio of lazy impatience leading to an obsession with finding the most convenient path to anything.  In our rush to get to the next great thing which is often not that great at all, we tend to overlook the very greatness right under our noses.  Ultimately, we seek external novelty, automatically assuming that new is better and new must come from outside of what is presently before us.  In this context,  the Hebraic Yada’s power and beauty are dismissed when we lump all of the Yadas in our lives into a convenient pile while impatiently looking elsewhere for the freshness and wonder we already have before us if we only care to look.  Many Catholics, for example, are too distracted with the cares of the day to truly consider the majesty of the Divine Presence. Similarly, many folks go the bathroom exactly during the elevation of the Eucharist at the Offertory. Lastly, how many Catholics truly consider that we are just as present at the Last Supper, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord as the Apostles were when we attend mass?  For far too many Catholics, the Holy Mass has conveniently become a weekly social ritual.

One Yada is Enough

Given what we know about the meanings of Yada as opposed to Yada yada, we can perhaps conclude that one Yada is more than enough when it comes to our Faith.  We must see our Faith as a knowing dedication to Christ and sharing of that dedication with others in love, mercy, and justice.  That view, however, invites us to continually seek the internal novelty of ways by which we may practice and apply such dedication, sharing, love, mercy, and justice. The answer does not lie in the society and world around us, to believe so would imply that the value of our Faith is dependent upon this world and its values.  Rather, the beauty and power of our faith are to be found within the Faith itself and our ability to discover, extract, and apply what we find to a needy world.  We cannot be lazy observers of our own Faith merely waiting to be entertained while continually handcuffing our beliefs to the whimsical chains of this world. Rather, it is our duty, mission, and purpose to draw out from our Faith the necessary tools to both glorify God and bring Christ to everyone we meet.

One Yada is enough because one Yada tells us all we need to know and use to follow Christ.  Once we let this world convince us that it has the prescription to improve our Faith, we will become Yada yada Catholics who think that convenience, entertainment, external novelty, and compromise will ever bring us closer to our Faith much less to Christ.  The internal novelty of our Faith is simply its transcendent ability to provide us with new insights and applications through Christ and his example. By necessity, any external novelty will be subject to the superficial and distorted values of this world.  Ultimately, when it comes to the Yada in our Faith, less is more!

2019   Gabriel Garnica

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13 thoughts on “Are You a Yada Yada Catholic?”

  1. Gabriel Garnica

    More than four-in-ten Catholics in the United States (45%) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ. Pew Survey 2010. Situation is likely worse now.

    1. Yes Gabriel, that is pretty obvious when only 31% of 50-59 year-old Catholics attended mass in last 7 days. …so the remaining 24% KNOW that it IS the Body and Blood and choose NOT go to mass. The punishment for the servant depends whether or not they are aware of their master’s will…woe indeed for “what we failed to do”. There are many Catholics in politics (both sides) who support gay “marriage” or fail to support “orphans, widows, and resident aliens” (repeatedly mentioned in scripture). Am I doom and gloom? No, “the netherworld shall not prevail against [the church] and “of his kingdom there will be no end”, but “woe to those who don’t preach it”. Thank you for doing so. God Bless.

    2. Gabriel Garnica

      Thank you for your insight and input, Christopher. You have brought up additional points which support the rather obvious notion ( at least to those paying attention) that many if not most Catholics do not know, do not care to know, do not agree with, or disagree with their faith, which is what this article was all about. Those who get caught up in the details of who goes when to the bathroom during mass or in other side points made in my piece are truly delusional and are part of the problem. The main point here is what matters, and it is that many Catholics are indeed Yada yada Catholics who do not appreciate or embrace the richness and power that is their own faith. Thank you for your wonderful input !

    3. “Those who get caught up in the details of who goes when to the bathroom during mass or in other side points made in my piece are truly delusional and are part of the problem.”

      I didn’t write the bathroom comment. You did. I’ll even repeat it: “many folks go the bathroom exactly during the elevation of the Eucharist at the Offertory”.

      Now you’re back-pedaling. Oh no, it was just a “symbolic statement.” Symbolic of what? Why do you hold your fellow Catholics (especially the ones who actually attend mass) in such low regard?

      I’m sure the answer will be fascinating.

  2. Gabriel Garnica

    I gave witnessed such things and know many who have. I respect and appreciate your optimistic view of Catholics today. I certainly would not call your views absurd. However, perhaps my editors believe, as I do, that our Faith is being disrespected more and more every day. This tends to happen when delusion and denial set in. Have a nice day

    1. You have not seen “many folks go the bathroom exactly during the elevation of the Eucharist at the Offertory”.

      Unless you have appointed yourself the “bathroom monitor” and do not really pay attention to the offertory either.

    2. Gabriel Garnica

      Have you ever heard of a symbolic statement? Many not necessarily going to the bathroom but definitely talking, distracted, and yes busy with other things. The point is simple. Do you think that more or less respect is given to the Eucharist now or 30 years ago? If you say no change or more now you are dekusional and lose all credibility right there. I have taught religious ed for years and most kids and parents know less about their faith today than ever. Also, many parents complained bitterly when mass attendance was made mandatory fir their kids. You can argue details, but you are in denial and delusion if you think the mass and our Faith us given the proper respect today. Get your head out if the sand

  3. Ah, yet another expert who presumes to know what all his fellow Catholics think and believe.

    “Many Catholics, for example, are too distracted with the cares of the day to truly consider the majesty of the Divine Presence.”
    “For far too many Catholics, the Holy Mass has conveniently become a weekly social ritual.
    Do you have data to back these claims?

    “many folks go the bathroom exactly during the elevation of the Eucharist at the Offertory”
    Oh, now this is utter nonsense.

    I can’t for the life of me imagine your motivation for writing this piece, and I can’t understand why the editors of the site approved it. I hope the admissions committee of your diaconate program see this. I would not want such a divisive mindset in any deacon in my area. It really disturbs me to know that people think such absurd thoughts about their fellow Catholics.

    1. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matt 5:12

    1. Gabriel Garnica

      Thank you for your input. Please pray for me as I am trying to seek formation as a deacon.

  4. Michelle Mudd

    I am BLOWN AWAY and inspired by this “article”/faith lesson/challenge above. I happened to do an internet search for Saul and Stephen to supplement my morning devotion and came across my first Gabriel Garnica article. I was so enthralled and inspired, that I had to search out more. It led me to this article and I see many more that I will be reading voraciously. THANK YOU for your courage in speaking the truth about our beautiful faith and its call for us to abandon lukewarmness and embrace Yada! I have so much to learn and I’m pumped to have such thoughtful, trustworthy, and insightful material to add to God’s Word in my spiritual growth. It “ain’t” always easy to grow, but I’m sure of one thing…JESUS, I trust in you. ❤️

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