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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Can Catholics practice Reiki?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, 
         and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

Reiki (pronounced ray-kee, or sometimes ray-EE-kee) is a New Age spiritual practice that is creeping into Catholic Churches, Catholic retreats and Catholic hospitals that attempts to harness and manipulate a universal healing energy.  "It uses a technique commonly called palm healing as a form of complementary and alternative medicine and is sometimes classified as oriental medicine by some professional bodies. Through the use of this technique, practitioners claim to transfer healing energy in the form of ki through the palms." source.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has written an article on this, Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy, and said, essentially, it is a superstitious practice and ought to be avoided.  The principle from which Reiki is founded upon borrows from the occult and ancient forms of sorcery and magic. 

Reiki's foundational tenet is that disease is caused by an imbalance in one's "life energy".  By manipulating and controlling this life force Reiki practitioners attempt to influence the healing power of this life force energy.  The Bishops caution that
"neither the Scriptures nor the Christian tradition as a whole speak of the natural world as based on a 'universal life energy' that is subject to manipulation by the natural human power of thought and will." 

Catholics may be enticed by some of the Christian language espoused by Reiki and believe that it is compatible with Christian principles.  Some Reiki practitioners may even add a prayer to Christ in an attempt to "legitimize" this practice with Christians or make references to God as the "divine healing mind".  However, according to the US Bishops:
"The fact remains that for Christians the access to divine healing is by prayer to Christ as Lord and Savior, while the essence of Reiki is not a prayer but a technique..."  Even if the Reiki practitioner invokes Christ's name or speaks of the "Divine Consciousness", Reiki is still a technique that attempts to channel this "universal life energy" at the disposal of human thought and will.  "For this reason Reiki and other similar therapeutic techniques cannot be identified with what Christians call healing by divine grace."

From Jonette Benkovic: "In an effort to “Christianize” this pagan practice, some Reiki practitioners assert that the universal life force they are channeling is actually the Holy Spirit; however, this is a specious argument."

"Nowhere does Scripture teach us to ‘channel energy’ in the way characteristic of Reiki,” writes Father Gareth Leyshon, a Cardiff-trained astro-physicist. “And in fact, presuming that God will assist in a way which He has not revealed to be His will constitutes the sin of ‘tempting God.’”
Some go so far as to claim that Jesus used Reiki to perform miracles because of how He used His hands to heal. But this argument is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the use of the hands during Christian prayer. In the Christian tradition of laying on of hands, the hands are used as a “sign” of intercession, not a means of channeling energy."

However, we are not to understand this cautionary note against Reiki to be a condemnation of all non-medical healing practices.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges that some human beings have been given a special healing charism, so as to
"make manifest the power of the grace of the risen Lord."  CCC 1508. 

"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


  1. Very interesting blog!

    I clicked the link on CAF (I'm 'Pier' there=)

    See you on the threads!

    God bless you.

  2. I don't think I've ever seen so much misinformation written about Reiki on one page in my entire life.

    1. I am not sure how to address this position, as Anonymous has not offered any arguments to support her (?) position. It would have been helpful to offer what she thinks is the "misinformation" that has been written.
      -Does she think that it's "misinformation" to say that the Catholic bishops have said that Reiki is to be avoided? If so, can she offer a bishop's statement in support of Reiki?

      -Does she think that it's "misinformation" to say that Reiki is pronounced "ray kee" or "ray-EE-kee"? If so, how is it to be pronounced correctly?

      -Is it incorrect to say that Reiki is a New Age spiritual practice that's creeping into Catholic churches and Catholic hospitals? If so, it would have been helpful if Anonymous had offered some evidence that this is not occurring. I myself will offer evidence to the contrary:

  3. As Christians…. we are supposed to seek the truth and answers from our creator…. GOD. We know that Jesus is the truth, the way and the life. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me”. John 14:6 Practically speaking… if God wants us to heal… we will be healed. We must only ask him for healing, and then God will guide us to the correct source(s) for healing or perform a miracle. Sometimes God does not want us to heal because the answers for our lives are contained in the suffering or experiences we encounter during our illness. It may seem God is not compassionate, but it is just the opposite. He loves us so much that he is trying to help us to learn through illness or suffer for some reason or purpose. This means… we must pray to become enlightened and then awaken to our circumstances and situation. Thereafter, we must be able to discern the truth through our hearts.

    If we are led to a medical doctor for healing… we know a doctor is a “non-spiritual” man or woman who practices a physical discipline that was developed by man. Medical Doctors are trained in their discipline through a university and then practice based upon their education, knowledge, experience, understanding and skill. Medicine is a science that attempts to prevent, alleviate and / or to cure a disease or to mantain the health of a patient through a variety of non-spiritual means. The practice of medicine is “physical” and it is not a spiritual discipline or religion. It is a science that came from God and was manifested through mankind. God manifests the science of medicine through man by endowing men (and woman) with gifts they use to heal others. These gifts are usually in the form of intelligence, dexderity, insight, etc..

    On the other hand… if we seek a Reiki healing… we are led to a “MASTER” who performs a spiritual healing that emanates from an unknown power source. The “MASTER” receives his power from another REIKI MASTER…. not from a university or from God. Reiki is a hands over, no touch (non-physical), visualization techinque that attempts to alleviate pain or cure a disease by correcting the flow of life energy in a person. The original source of the Reiki power came from Mikao Usui in the late 1800’s and not from God. Although Usai was Buddist, he also studied history, medicine, Buddhism, Christianity, psychology, and Taoism. Usai developed his practice of Reiki by researching healing arts that originated in ancient Tibet more than 10,000 years earlier. He was not born with the gift of healing. All Reiki Masters can be traced back to Usui. Many teaching of Reiki still remain secret.

    If we use medicine, massage, chiropractic, accupuncture, holistic therapy or herbal or vitamin therapy, we are taking a physical approach to curing or affecting a disease or condition of the body. This physical approach does not require any spiritual perspective. We are allowing another to heal use through the use of physical modalities. However, Reiki is different because it requires us to rely upon a person who does not touch us but attempts to heal us through the use of spirit. A MASTER who does not even understand where the source of the spirit exists. The source or the spirit of the MASTER is not God. Do you want to go to God or the MASTER? It is your choice.

  4. The path of a reiki practitioner or teacher is noble and a service , it is a calling from God for gods people.all of it, reiki is not a religion , it is a path of,service thT hRms none and god put it here to help and love one another , if,jesus came down here he would be very happy that reki is here, it is the path of the modern day healer , hope this helps all to understand
    GOD CREATED it all of it

    1. Thanks for your comments, Anonymous. However, no one has said that reiki is a religion.

      And there is no more evidence that God created Reiki than there is that God created shellgames.

  5. Hi! I'm a different Anonymous than the last poster. I was attuned to Reiki many years ago, and have rarely practiced in the intervening time period. Recently, I've returned to my Catholic roots and have worked very hard to align my life with the Church's teachings.

    I found this posting here precisely because of this realignment in my life: in my desire to be of service and to bring more light in to the planet, I wondered if it would be time to begin to use my Reiki as a means to help facilitate the healing of others. Other Anonymous is correct in that Reiki practitioners are taught that we are just conduits for the healing energy of God.

    I understand that there is cultural conflict (with translated terms from the Japanese: master, teacher, etc.), and I see that there is some misunderstanding in how it's practiced (I learned a hands-on, no visualization technique) -- but none of this matters, really, given that I see clearly that the Church rejects Reiki, which means, for me, that I have some things to figure out, given that I have a very sincere desire to follow the teachings of the Church.

    One interesting thing to grapple with, for me, is that there is no way that I know of to turn Reiki "off." Even though Reiki is not a central part of my life, (I am not a professional practitioner or even someone who occasionally practices just on myself), I can feel the healing energy flow out of my hands when I'm touching someone who is in pain. In other words, for example, if I rest my hand on the shoulder of a friend, I can tell by the sensation of Reiki flowing out of my hand that my friend has a sore shoulder. When I ask if the shoulder is sore, then, my friend will confirm. Given that the Church rejects Reiki, I wonder, then, how to rectify this in my own life, given that Reiki practitioners learn "hands on, Reiki on" -- or that Reiki will start flowing, if needed, simply by putting our hands on someone regardless of the context of the touch. Clearly, this presents a problem for me given that the Church has come out against it.

    At any rate, thank you for your posts, all of you.

    1. I appreciate your thoughtful response, Anonymous.

      God bless you on your faith journey back to the Church!

      I commend you for your attempt to conform your views to the Church's, rather than "church shop" for a denomination which teaches everything which agrees with your own palates.

      If God is truly God, His ways are way above our ways (as our Gospel this coming Sunday proclaims), and there are going to be things which He professes, through the Church, which we may not find sensible, palatable or comfortable.

      But we must conform our views to His. Not find a church which conforms to our views.

      That is the essence of creating a god in one's own image, no?

    2. I know it's been three years, but ... I was once initiated into a Buddhist sect through a ritual. When I returned to the Church, it was many years later, and I'd forgotten about it, until something brought it to memory during my last examen before Confession. I immediately emailed my priest, who responded right away, advising a session in the Confessional, which was that afternoon. He wasn't scheduled to hear Confessions that day, so I went to Confession planning to explain to the other parish priest. Instead, I found the one I had emailed, ready for me -- for all I know, he might have asked to hear Confessions because of my email. He seemed relieved to see me. He performed a minor exorcism on me, using the formula "In the Name of Jesus Christ, I bind you spirit of Buddhism, and send you to the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ to receive your sentence." In your case, anonymous, I would advise speaking to your priest -- and if he isn't gifted with the special graces of an exorcist, he might not recognize the need for a minor exorcism, so you may want to request one, using this formula. If he denies the request, go to another priest until you find one who will. If you do have to seek out a priest who will perform the exorcism, trust that it is God testing your desire for healing through His grace -- accept it as part of your temporal punishment (consequences), and keep asking God to lead you to His priest who will give you healing. The only way to remove the reiki spirit is to exorcise it. You will also have to renounce all vows and contracts you have made with the spirit, whether explicit or implicit (through practice and other means).

  6. From my point of view reiki healing is not effective technique though i have not personal experience but still
    Can you explain me why its so effective.

    1. Can you give some studies that document the effectiveness of Reiki?


    Prayer is healing energy. Love is life and healing energy. Maybe the bishops should pray more.

    I have never used Reiki but have used accupuncture.

    The Spirit blows where it will.

    To call what is good - evil is sinful. The Pharisees did that too.

    Satan does not cast out Satan.


    1. But the Bible is clear that Satan can do miracles to deceive us. The Church is clear that no Catholic we can practice Reiki because it's contradictory to Christianity and its teachings. They have totally different philosophies.

    2. Satan doesn't cast out satan.... BUT if a person sins, it gives satan certain rights over them, and God may allow satan to cause illness...which satan can then "heal." When reike "works," it may be a disease caused by satan. Casting out demons is a whole different issue -- demonic harassment, oppression, obsession and possession (especially possession) are satan's claims on souls. He won't give them up. He will mimic healing, and miracles, when he can, to lead souls into his lair so that he has rights over them and can possess them.

  8. Thanks for your comments, Anonymous.

    I noticed that you are calling something evil yourself. The Pharisees did that, too.

    I hope you're not permitting for yourself what you object to in others, namely, the right to call something wrong.

    Incidentally, the Pharisees also said that Jesus should pray more, too.

  9. This is all racism masked under "theological" argument. You people should be ashamed of yourselves. My husband is a chemical engineer (phd), and he joked, "Oh no, you just touched me and you're warmer than me. You just transferred energy to me. That's satanic and you need to have an exorcism for your satanic actions." He's obviously being sarcastic, but he also makes a good point. Now, with that said, yes, I do believe minor exorcisms are real and needed in people's lives at times and that there are things to be avoided - witchcraft. But Reiki is NOT "New Age" by any stretch of the word. Just because some New Age people use it, doesn't make it New Age. It's Japanese. And energy is something that flows in and out of our bodies all the time (that's hard science - basic engineering 101 heat and energy transfer classes). When you touch someone's shoulder, you are transferring energy to them, whether you like it or not (i.e the person who is saying they have reiki energy flowing from them when they touch their friend), THEY DON'T NEED TO BE EXORCISED. THEY DON'T HAVE A DEMON ATTACHED TO THEM. That is a blatant misunderstanding and under education of energy. Just because the Japanese approach the idea of Energy from a mystical perspective doesn't mean it's not scientific. I have no problem with Catholic hospitals not using Reiki, but you people on this page are so extreme and so inexperienced it's laughable. And no, don't respond by calling me a Pharisee to make yourself feel better about your extreme view. In fact, I might even claim you're the Pharisee because you're the one with the extreme view (Jesus was the moderate when he walked into the picture - doing miracles on the sabbath and breaking rules). And, also, the person who said that satan can do miracles too. That's true. Do you know what Protestants say about Saint Padre Pio, that he's the work of Satan, that his Stigmata and his ability to bi-locate and other saints who levitated, that THAT was the work Satan, too. Some Protestant churches even believe that the entire Catholic Church is led by Satan. I'm a faithful Catholic and think those people are insane too - they're the extreme of the Protestant faith and insane, as well! But when you start throwing that statement around that "oh even Satan can perform miracles" be careful because someone can say that about Catholics, too...and then strifes happen (Protestant Revolution). Catholics called them heretics for decades and now they're accepted. But before priests and the catholic church accepted protestants as brothers and sisters in faith, the catholic church believed that they were all led by satan. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe God allowed it because of the horrible Pope(s) that were in power (e.g. Borgia) at the time. WHO KNOWS. But guess what, it seems that God blesses and loves Protestants as much as he loves Catholics. Point being, when you go off on "satan can perform miracles too" then that's a slippery slope. And the Pharisees claimed that Jesus was led by Satan too. JUST AN FYI. If you're going to accuse someone of being a Pharisee. And side note, if you're wondering how Christian I am, I once had a dream where I saw Jesus in the dream and he took my hand and lifted me into white light. And in that light I heard God's voice. I work for a Christian evangelism non-profit. And I regularly attend church, pray the rosary, and I'm an advocate for the Catholic faith. So I probably out Catholic all ya'll. And my husband most certainly out educates all ya'll. Dropping the mic!

    1. Thanks for your comments, Anonymous.

      There are several things that need to be addressed which you are mistaken about.

      Firstly, you can't make the accusation of "racism" while also feeling you have to educate us that Reiki is Japanese.

      Secondly, no one denies that touch transfers energy--or, specifically, heat. Where your error liesis in thinking that this transfer of heat has any power to heal someone. That's just anti-science woo-woo.

      Thirdly, your husband may out educate some folks...on engineering...but unless he's got a PhD in Theology, he's as educated (or perhaps less so) than everyone else here.

      Just like you wouldn't go to a chemical engineer to find out why Johnny can't roll over at 9 months old, we don't go to a chemical engineer to find out whether Reiki is permissible or not.

    2. We as Catholics often with the best intentions,complicate everything. Love one another was his Word to us. Unless his beloved, John, failed miserably to communicate the Word of Christ, it is the true basis of our Creators intent. His light, which shines within each us and who we are in this God created universe, is best when shared through hearts of empathy and compassion.

      If I have faith in his existence and love in the life he has blessed me to live, I will fear nothing practiced here and will find my peace to work towards his greater good.

  10. No. Catholics cannot practice Reiki. Catholics don’t have to. We can pray for healing. We can lay on hands and speak words of comfort and compassion. It could be that ‘the Master’ is the One true God, but that is a mystery not for this Catholic to decide. One of my favorite teachers is a man named Thomas Merton. I know these posts are very old, but I pray that everyone for and against look him up. Pax

  11. My only worry is that when in the discernment process to become a nun, I received a book from the sisters. It had anedotes of how to merge cultures to promote harmony, the issue lay in the fact that through the process of enculturation they've adopted the beliefs, traditions and customs of their locality.

    So now I have sisters who are also reiki practitioners, who practice yoga, and use mantras that name drops the hindu god Ram.

    I'm not sure what's happening here and I'm very confused.

    1. Yes, sometimes religious sisters are the first to succumb to this nonsense.