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Monday, January 17, 2011

Is Catholicism compatible with New Age thinking?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37
Question:   Is Catholicism compatible with New Age thinking?  
All is One
All is God
Humanity is God 

This all sounds beautiful and enlightened!  Can a Catholic embrace the New Age movement?

What is this New Age movement?  Essentially it's old heresies (some going way back to the early Apostolic age) re-packaged to look modern, sleek and sexy.  While New Age beliefs vary greatly, these are some of the essential doctrines:

  1) an impersonal god (force)
  2) an eternal universe
  3) an illusory nature of matter
  4) a cyclical nature of life
  5) the necessity of reincarnations
  6) the evolution of man into godhood
  7) continuing revelations from beings beyond the world
  8) the identity of man with God
  9) the need for meditation (or other consciousness-changing  techniques)
10) occult practices (astrology, mediums and so forth)
11) vegetarianism and holistic health
12) pacifism (or anti-war activities)
13) one world (global) order
14) syncretism (unity of all religions) 
Source here.

It's also a way, echoing the "I'm spiritual but not religious" paradigm, to feel connected with God without having to change your life or obligate yourself to a change in behavior, or acknowledge "icky" things like sacrifice and sin, God's judgment. Because it rejects dogma/doctrines and authority, this New Age systemology is becoming very, very attractive to our teens.  Source. 

Also, peculiarly, it seems to be creeping into Catholic churches, through our religious, especially our nuns.  Seemingly benign tracts on the WomenChurch movement (a "Catholic" organization which promotes "feminist spirituality") have been found in church vestibules around the country.  (Note:  The Catholic Church is NOT anti-feminist; it is pro-feminist, but in the way Jesus was, as echoed by Pope JPII See Mulieris Dignitatem:  on the Dignity and Vocation of Women)
For those who don't know the Catholic faith well it is easy to get deceived into thinking that New Age thinking is compatible with Catholicism.  It often is presented using beautiful and poetic imagery that can use Catholic language, invoking Christian themes, to attract us. Example: "The song of Easter is the glad refrain the Son of God was never crucified. Let us lift up our eyes together, not in fear but faith. And there will be no fear in us, for in our vision will be no illusions; only a pathway to the open door of Heaven, the home we share in quietness and where we live in gentleness and peace, as one together." Source here.  Sounds quite beautiful and Christian--except for the "Son of God was never crucified" part! 

Compare that to what Scripture says:  "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."-1 Cor 1:18

and the words of one of the Early Church Fathers, St. Polycarp, who sat at the feet of St. John the Apostle:

"Whoever does not confess the testimony of the cross is of the devil."

Here's another New Age tenet:  A “slain Christ has no meaning.” Source here

However, St. Paul wrote:  "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel"-Gal 1:6

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!"-Gal 1:8

According to this source, these types of New Age programs are being offered around our country under Catholic auspices:

· Dreams, discussed under the headings of “Our Cosmic Connections,”  Symbols, Archetypes, Life of the Spirit, Healing of Body, Mind, and Spirit; Prophetic and Telepathic Dreams
· Focusing:  Doorway to the body-life of spirit
· Reiki training
· Eco-Spirituality
· Star in My Heart with Sophia and She is God
· Reflexology
· Praying with Kabir
· Centering Prayer
· The Enneagram
· Dancing with the Cosmos
· Creation-Centered Spirituality using Matthew Fox’s work Original Blessing
I know that in my own experience I have been on 2 retreats, given by nuns, which turned out to be New Age practices masquerading as Catholic Spirituality.

So that was the long answer above.

The short answer to:  Can a Catholic embrace New Age thinking?

I don't believe so.  New Age constitutes a "different gospel."

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

Website of Sharon Lee Giganti, former New Age practitioner and present day Catholic Apologist

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

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