Friday, November 29, 2013

The Triumph: Medjugorje Movie Vaughan Screening at AMC Theatres



The Triumph is a powerful new documentary film about a miracle taking place in a village in Bosnia-Herzegovina; a miracle with global implications. This movie is playing at AMC Theaters on December 7th at 9:30am. Yes, I wrote "am" in the morning, that is not a "typo." Tickets are $12.00 for adults, and $6.00 for youth and students. To purchase tickets now, click on this link, Vaughan Screening. For more information about the movie, please visit the home page at www.thetriumph.net.

If you are new to Medjugorje, here are some details to bring you "up to speed." Our Lady first appeared on June 24, 1981 on the Feast of St. John The Baptist to the first two of six visionaries, Ivanka Elez and Mirjana Soldo. She later appeared to the other four: Marija Lunetti, Jakov Colo, Ivan Dragicevic and Vicka Mijatovic. At these apparitions, Our Lady Queen of Peace as she has entitled herself, has prayed with the visionaries, granted blessings and given messages for the world. The four basic messages of Our Lady are: prayer, peace, fasting and penance. Here is Our Lady's basic messages in Her own words on June 6, 1988:
Dear children, it’s going to be seven years soon that I have been coming to you. I ask you to renew in yourselves the messages I have given to you. These are messages of prayer, peace, fasting, and penance. Make some penance yourselves. All of the other messages come from these four basic ones, but also live the other ones. Thank you for responding to my call. I am your Mother. Open your heart to the grace.
The most important message to understand from her basic messages is the call to conversion. Our Lady stated on February 25, 1996, “Dear children! Today I invite you to conversion. This is the most important message that I have given you here…” Part of that conversion process includes prayer.
Medjugorje is not officially recognized by the Catholic Church, but Canon Law allows for devotions even when the process of approval has already begun and is on going. In the interim, the faithful are permitted to go on pilgrimages to Medjugorje. So important is Medjugorje that Pope John Paul II had encouraged pilgrims at Medjugorje. This was revealed to us by Mirjana, one of the first two visionaries to see Our Lady on June 24th, 1981, who was quoted in an interview when she saw Pope John Paul II at the Vatican:
...(Mirjana) What are you trying to tell me?” Then we talked. Among other things he said to me, (Pope John Paul II) “I know everything about Medjugorje. I’ve been following Medjugorje. Ask pilgrims to pray for my intentions, to keep, to take good care of Medjugorje, because Medjugorje is hope for the entire world. And if I were not Pope, I would have been in Medjugorje a long time ago....
You can read the full interview at Deacon John Giglio's Blog. In that interview, Mirjana also speaks about Pope John Paul II giving his shoes to be placed at Apparition Mountain, which now are at Mirjana's hotel, next to her home in Medjugorje.

I have yet to see this movie, but that will soon change on December 7. To all those who will attend the AMC Vaughan screening, see you there!  

Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.









Thursday, November 28, 2013

The New Age: The Human Person, God and The World

New Age Practices - Rolfing, Homeopathy, Polarity Massage & Biofeedback

Like my previous posts on the New Age, today's post specifically draws from the Vatican document, Jesus Christ The Bearer of The Water of Life, a joint effort by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council For Interreligious Dialogue. The focus of this post will be on what the New Age says about the human person, God, and the world. I will conclude with a section on why the New Age has grown so rapidly, and spread so effectively.  

If you are not familiar with the topic of the New Age or unclear as to what it is all about, you are probably not alone. The subject matter can be somewhat ambiguous, and at times, difficult to absorb and recall. This is one of the reasons why I have chosen to deal with the aforementioned document in selected sections. To do otherwise would inundate any visitor to my blog with too much information.

In a "nut shell," the New Age is basically is an alternative view of the world that differs substantially from the Christian tradition. At times the differences can be a sharp contrast, and a complete contradiction to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Any serious reading about the New Age will require you to run the gauntlet of unfamiliar ideas, perspectives, approaches, practices, attitudes and thinking. I have run through this gauntlet a few times, and my posts on the New Age are aimed at making your run an easier one.

Today's post forms part of a series of posts that I have been developing to expose the New Age within my community, and bring awareness to others. You might want to consider reading my previous posts on the New Age to strengthen your understandingThe New Age: A Basic Introduction  and The New Age: Further Aspects

What does the New Age say about the human person?

Fundamental to the New Age thinking with respect to the human person is the belief that we can achieve perfection solely by implementing a variety of techniques and therapies, available to us for the choosing. This is in sharp contrast, and a total contradiction to the Christian tradition which views perfection as something we can certainly strive for, but only available and achievable by divine intervention; that is, grace.

The New Age views one's "self" as the source of fulfillment because apparently, available to us are a set of values which we can create and achieve with our own strength. So, there is no need for a higher authority, nor a recognition of God's role in our lives. It is all about us, and our decisions. As a matter of fact, the New Age view of the human person is in accord with Nietzsche's idea that Christianity has prevented the "full manifestation of genuine humanity." (2.3.4.1)

So how does the New Age reveal each individual's "divine power." From the New Age perspective, the answer is "mind expanding" techniques. These "techniques" amount to the exaltation of humanity, which points to the second major contradiction with Christianity because it overturns the correct relationship between Creator and created being.

This rebellious spirit is characteristic of the Evil One, who desired to be held in high regard, and worshipped when refusing to accept the Father's plan for humanity with the life and death of Christ. An example of one of the more extreme forms of this self fulfilling mind expanding process is Satanism. (2.3.4.1) Some of the characteristics of Satanism are: selfishness, aggression and violence. This contrasts the message of the New Testament of peace and harmony.

The esoteric culture that this New Age approach to the human person promotes has infiltrated the realm of politics, education, legislation and ecology. In particular, the New Age view of the human person is certainly evident in ecology, where people illustrate by a variety of methods, the preference and belief in the "self" and their negation of God. Examples are such efforts are population control strategies and genetic engineering. In essence, this amounts to "playing God" with life which spotlights another contradiction. God is the author of life, and life is sacred specifically because of God's creative act when each human being is conceived. This truth is completely ignored in the New Age view of the person.

Some other ideas of the human person that stems from the New Age thinking are: we are co-creators, we create our own reality, there is no sin only imperfect knowledge, the identity of every person is diluted in the universe. There is more to this list, but you get the general idea of how alternative the New Age thinking is with respect to the human person.

What does the New Age say about God?

The New Age does not recognize and acknowledge the one and true God of Israel, but has a preference for Eastern or pre-Christian religions, which according to the New Age view, have not been "contaminated" by the Judaeo-Christian traditions. This paves the way for the New Age to seek a whole host of alternative ideas, and approaches that has a very anti-Christian character about it.

You will find in reading about the New Age, the intentional use of the word, "God," is never in reference to the Holy Trinity. It is always some alternative false god. The New Age god is not a personal one, but impersonal; nor is their god a sustainer of the universe, but an "impersonal energy" existing throughout the world in some sort of "cosmic unity." (2.3.4.2) This so called unity is referred to as: monistic, pantheistic and more precisely, panentheistic. Although, the document, Jesus Christ The Bearer of The Water of Life, does not get into their specific meanings, I thought to provide a brief definition of each:

  • Monism - is a philosophical position which argues that the variety of existing things can be explained in terms of a single reality or substance. The wide definition states that all existing things go back to a source which is distinct from them. The common, restricted definition implies also a unity of substance and essence. Contrasting with monism are metaphysical dualism  and metaphysical pluralism.The term monism originates in western philosophy, but has also been applied to religions.
  • Pantheism - The idea that all things are both a manifestation or revelation of God and a part of God at the same time. Pantheism was a common attitude in the early societies of Egypt, India, and Greece—the term derives from the Greek pan meaning "all" and theos meaning "deity. A pantheist is someone who believes that God and the universe are the same.
  • Panentheism - (from Greek πᾶν (pân) "all"; ἐν (en) "in"; and θεός (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a belief system which posits that the divine (be it a monotheistic God, polytheistic gods, or an eternal cosmic animating force) interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it. Panentheism differentiates itself from pantheism, which holds that the divine is synonymous with the universe.

Perhaps the most contrasting aspect of the New Age's view of God is with respect to the use of the word "Christ." The New Age does not speak or refer to "Christ" as in Jesus of Nazareth, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world, but refers to a state of consciousness that one arrives at where the individual perceives himself or herself as being divine. (2.3.4.2) For the New Age, Jesus of Nazareth was not the "anointed one" or Christ, but one of many historical figures in whom the "Christic" nature is revealed.

If this wasn't enough, the New Age calls what they consider to be the "holy spirit" (not in the true Christian meaning) as the "innermost and personal ("psychic") level on which "divine cosmic energy" is "heard."

What does the New Age say about the world?

The New Age's view of the world is not only alternative, but perhaps one of the most challenging views to comprehend. The New Age does not accept the traditional mechanistic model of classic physics, but instead proposes a "holistic" world. This so called "holistic" world is one of modern atomic and sub-atomic physics, based on the concept of matter as waves or energy as opposed to particles. (2.3.4.3) According to this alternative view of the world, the "universe is an ocean of energy, which is a single whole or networks of links." What the New Age refers to as spirit is the energy animating the universe.

Why has the New Age has grown so rapidly and spread so effectively?

The New Age appeals to many individuals because it promotes much of what today's culture promotes, the "self." Many people are rejecting the traditional Christian tradition, yet are still seek some spiritual fulfillment. This is where the New Age "captures" those searching souls with enticing language and a wide variety of practices, therapies, ideas and approaches to choose from.

The New Age approach attempts to provide warmth to those who have experienced harshness in the world, operating on the level of feelings and emotions. In reaction to all of the world's problems, be it political, economic, social or environmental, the New Age encourages individuals to seek an alternative, "harmonious" relationship with the cosmos. (2.5

The New Age broadens its appeal with a rejection of morality. Moral people are considered intolerant of others. In an atmosphere where "anything goes," being different and alternative is not only acceptable, but preferable. In most cases, it is not so much being a member of a group or organization, but more a result of an attraction to therapies and practices, without understanding or having full knowledge of them. The Vatican document, Jesus Christ The Bearer of The Water of Life, provides an example of such a scenario when those who use aromatherapy or listen to New Age music are interested in the health effects and benefits for their well being, but only a minority will actually seek the truth behind the experience. (2.5)

If you have read this post, and my two previous posts on the New Age, together with Jesus Christ The Bearer of The Water of Life, then you have made it through the "gauntlet." The remainder of this Vatican document beginning from section three, New Age and Christian Faith, is a relatively easy read that specifically focuses on the contrasting spiritualities between Christianity and the New Age.   

For what ever reason, Jesus Christ The Bearer of The Water of Life, has not received the kind of attention it deserves considering how the New Age has infiltrated into the main stream culture. For those who have not read it, I hope my posts will encourage you to do so. May it strengthen your understanding, and empower you to share it with others. We need to be better informed about the spiritual threats to our respective communities. This document certainly helps in that process. May all who endeavour to spread awareness be successful in their efforts.









Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christ The King and Pope Pius XI's Encyclical Quas Primas

Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) and an image of Christ The King

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ The King. It was originally instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in response to the evils of the day, and the fact that the majority of the laity discarded Christ's royal authority and inclusion in their lives. The absence of Christ in the hearts and minds of so many individuals was made evident by the reality of Christ's removal from private affairs and politics. In response to this spiritual crisis, Pope Pius XI instituted the Solemnity of Christ The King, a feast to be celebrated by the entire universal Church during the last week of the liturgical year. In addition, Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical, Quas Primas (In The First) to accompany the insertion of this new feast.

One of the most important points in Quas Primas is located within the first paragraph where Pope Pius XI stated, "...[A]s long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ." (1) It is a message that is very applicable in today's state of affairs in the Church and in the world. How fitting a read this document is with Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year, just one week away on December 1.

In reading Quas Primas, it becomes evident very quickly just how dear a subject this was for Pope Pius XI.  Not only had he acceded to the demands of many of the Cardinals, Bishops and lay faithful, by inserting the solemnity of "the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ," issuing this encyclical in the process, but he wrote it in such a way that it is sure to kindle in the heart of the the reader, a strong desire to insert Christ as King in each one's life. Here is what he expressed in his own words:
It has long been a common custom to give to Christ the metaphorical title of "King," because of the high degree of perfection whereby he excels all creatures. So he is said to reign "in the hearts of men," both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge, and also because he is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all mankind. He reigns, too, in the wills of men, for in him the human will was perfectly and entirely obedient to the Holy Will of God, and further by his grace and inspiration he so subjects our free-will as to incite us to the most noble endeavors. He is King of hearts, too, by reason of his "charity which exceedeth all knowledge." And his mercy and kindness[1] which draw all men to him, for never has it been known, nor will it ever be, that man be loved so much and so universally as Jesus Christ. But if we ponder this matter more deeply, we cannot but see that the title and the power of King belongs to Christ as man in the strict and proper sense too. For it is only as man that he may be said to have received from the Father "power and glory and a kingdom,"[2] since the Word of God, as consubstantial with the Father, has all things in common with him, and therefore has necessarily supreme and absolute dominion over all things created. (7) 
Pope Pius XI went on to cite references that further spotlighted Christ as King. Cited are scripture references from Numbers and the Psalms, and the testimony from the Prophets Isaias, Jeremias, Daniel and Zachary. Also quoted is the Archangel Gabriel, when he announced to the Virgin that she should bear a Son, that "...[T]he Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." (10) Pope Pius XI noted that it was Christ himself who spoke of his own kingly authority when publicly questioned by the Roman magistrate, and also when He appeared to the Apostles and called himself "king" and declaring publicly that "...[A]ll power was given him in heaven and on earth." (11) In addition, Pope Pius XI also explained the nature and meaning of the lordship of Christ, that our Redeemer's empire embraces all men. He quoted Pope Leo XIII on this point, "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ." (18)  

Pope Pius XI stressed that there is great significance for a society that embraces Christ as king. Only in a society that acknowledges this, can its leaders preserve their authority and increase prosperity amongst its citizens. However, when a society moves in the opposite direction; that is, excluding God from political life, and with authority derived not from God, but from man, the very basis of that authority has been taken away, because the fundamental reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been removed. What results is a society "...[T]ottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation." (18) Just as the feast of Christ The King was established to remedy the needs of the day, it also should be used to remedy the problems of our modern day society.

How pertinent and relevant are Pope Pius XI's words for today's Canadian society. In Pope Pius XI's time, anti-clerical attitudes brought on by the spirit of evil, encouraged men to error and to impious activities. What resulted then, was much of what has continued today, as Pope Pius VI states:
...The empire of Christ over all nations was rejected. The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied. Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them. It was then put under the power of the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of princes and rulers. Some men went even further, and wished to set up in the place of God's religion a natural religion consisting in some instinctive affection of the heart. There were even some nations who thought they could dispense with God, and that their religion should consist in impiety and the neglect of God. The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences...(24)
What have our political leaders done to recognize Christ as king. Are we not witnessing in our own day anti-Christian attitudes, indifference to Christ, and an overall secular mentality that has gripped the national psyche. Do our laws reflect moral and ethical thinking rooted in Christianity. Should our laws not be a continuation of Canada's Christian heritage. Was not our nation founded by Christian people, the French and the British, and among them many Catholic missionaries and Orders that evangelized and converted so many in what was then considered to be the "New World." Sadly, in today's Canadian political life, "God and Christ" has been removed by those who have been entrusted to work and build for the common good.  

Need proof of "God's and Christ's" removal from the Canadian political landscape? All you have to do is look to Canada's most recent abortion history, the chronology of laws that have made abortion legal and available on demand. This is "proof positive" not only of a lack of respect for human life, but a rebellion against God, a defiance of God and his holy laws, which are characteristic of the spirit of evil. Abortion directly contradict's God's holy law of "thou shall not kill." (Exodus 20:13) It is a commandment that Jesus reminds the rich man, who asked Jesus as to how he may have eternal life? Jesus replied, "...You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal..." (Matthew 19:18)  With the 1969 omnibus bill, the murder of babies in the womb, euphemistically referred to as, "therapeutic abortions" was ushered in for use in hospitals. Hospital committees determined when a pregnancy "qualified" for an abortion and in almost every case, hospitals approved abortions. The truth is that the 1969, omnibus bill became a "carte blanche" to perform abortions, which eventually became available on demand in 1988, with the infamous Dr. Morgantaler's constitutional challenge. It was a challenge which resulted in the Supreme Court of Canada striking down section 251 of the Criminal Code, the section governing abortion, declaring it unconstitutional. From that point on, there was no legal restriction against abortion, nor was it considered criminal activity.

Most recently, we are confronted with another life threatening issue, euthanasia. In Quebec, Bill 52 an effort to legalize euthanasia, was proposed under the euphemistic bill title, An Act respecting end-of-life care. In the province of British Columbia in October'2013, The BC Court of Appeal had struck down the decision by Justice Smith and upheld the current laws which protect Canadians from euthanasia and assisted suicide. Sentiments in favour of euthanasia have also been echoed by Ontario's premier Kathleen Wynne who has publicly proposed that Canada should have a national debate on euthanasia. Any discussion on euthanasia and any proposed bill is an effort to rationalize the legalized killing of Canadians. Proponents for euthanasia may have a litany of excuses as to why euthanasia should be legalized, such as the ending of suffering, too costly for the state to treat the individual, performed at the request of the patient, terminal illness and more. What ever the arguments for euthanasia are, it does not negate the fact that one individual is killing another individual. Here in Canada, we call this murder. Not only is murder against God's holy law, but it ignores the sacredness of human life, a sacredness which is noted and clearly defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church's Article 5 The Fifth Commandment:
Human life if sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being. (2258)
As Pope Pius XI pointed out, it is only as when the kingdom of Christ is received by nations that happiness will abound amongst all men, individuals and families. Pope Pius XI saw the wisdom in not only announcing "Christ The King," but inserting His kingship as an annual feast to properly encourage it and reach all the faithful. Announcements only reach a privileged few, but feasts reach everyone.

I hope that the Solemnity of Christ The King will become better known and understood by all in the Church, and that it will result in the restoration of Christ in society. It is a hope that Pope Pius XI also expressed in 1925, "We firmly hope, however, that the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in future will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to our loving Savior. It would be the duty of Catholics to do all they can to bring about this happy result." (24) 

May God grant us all the grace to understand the importance of Christ's kingship and accept His royal authority in our lives. 











Thursday, November 21, 2013

The New Age: Further Aspects

New Age Practices - Tai-Chi, "Healing" Treatment and Yoga

Today's post is a continuation from my previous post, The New Age: A Basic Introduction, and like that post, draws from the Vatican document Jesus Christ The Bearer of The Water of LifeThis document provides a detailed Christian reflection of the New Age, and is considered one of "the" documents on the subject matter.

In case you have not read my initial post, perhaps it best I state right from the beginning that the New Age is not for Christians. Many of the New Age aspects have no use for, and contradict Christian tradition. Case in point, the New Age's "new era" of Aquarius. This "new era" is much anticipated by New Age devotees because it will replace the previous "era," Pisces which unfortunately from the New Age perspective, was dominated by Christianity.

The New Age is an entire set of alternative ideas, approaches, practices and thinking, many of which are in sharp contrast to Christianity. Not only does the New Age have a very different view of the world, one that it hopes to project to others, but some of the New Age aspects go beyond the alternative, and embrace evil methods and practices.

Language also plays an important part in endeavouring to understand the New Age. The many unfamiliar concepts, unknown philosophies, esoteric traditions and Eastern religious rituals and practices all contribute to a great sense of ambiguity and bewilderment when reading about the New Age.

The aforementioned document does not spare any details, so decoding the New Age aspects will require your undivided time and attention. Many times as soon as you feel you conquered, and successfully made it through the maze of alternative explanations and ideas, an entire new set awaits you on the horizon. At other times the language of the New Age is explicitly a direct contradiction to fundamental aspects of the Catholic faith.

If all this was not enough, one needs to be on guard against the combination of placing the unfamiliar with the familiar. A typical example is to express New Age concepts within an "eco-living" environment that attempts to convince the believer that, it is all necessary to achieve harmony with nature. This can be quite confusing and deceiving for participants because what ever positive feelings of relaxation and calmness are derived from being at such settings, the assumption may be that it is due to the New Age concepts and practices that are mingled in with the experience. Of course, this is all in sharp contrast to Christianity in which our relationship with nature is certainly to be a harmonious one, but also as stewards of God's creation, and not worshiping the earth as some false god.

Another example that illustrates the subtlety of the New Age combining the unfamiliar with the familiar is with respect to certain practices at medical centers. Specific examples such as: reflexology, rolfing, polarity massage and others which I list further on in this post. Also, be weary of rehabilitation centers that offer up New Age practices as part of a recovery program. An example would be the inclusion of yoga for "meditation and relaxation" and reiki promoted as either head or body treatments for "general health" in all the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects.

Proponents of the New Age introduce these practices in what appears to be very positive settings. All you have to do is visit a dedicated yoga shop for example. Bright colours, clean atmosphere, and smiles and happiness abound. One can easily get the sense that these practices are "the way."

Yoga practices are not "the way" because what they lead to is an "altered state of consciousness." This is a "Trojan horse" and just part of yoga spirituality, which can have dire spiritual consequences, including exposure to the demonic. Proponents of yoga claim to separate the spirituality from the so called "exercises," but there is no separation. These movements and practices in yoga have a specific meaning and that can not be negated just because some one wants it to be so.

For Catholics and Christians alike, Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, no one goes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6) The remainder of this post below will explain some of New Age aspects to be aware of, and at times place the spot light on the "true way."  

New Age "Angels" and Extraordinary Manifestations

A common element of the New Age "spirituality" is a fascination with extraordinary manifestations, and in particular with paranormal entities. You may have heard or read about "mediums," people who claim to have the ability communicate with the spirits of the dead. This ability is known in the New Age phenomenon as "channeling." The manifestations that result from the use of mediums are indeed spiritual, but not from God.

Despite the language of love and light, channeling should be properly understood to be not a form of spirituality, but a form of spiritualism. Spiritualism is a system of beliefs or practices based on supposed communication with the spirits of the dead. The successful communication is always with the demonic. Communicating with the dead is not a Christian tradition, and is considered an evil practice and sinful, a grave offence to God.

Part of the fascination with extraordinary manifestations also includes the acknowledgement of "other friends and counsellors" from the spirit world which they refer to as "angels." These so called "angels" are not angels from Heaven, and are often invoked non-religiously to help in relaxation aimed at better decision making, and control of one's life and career.

In the New Age, some people are considered "mystics," not in the Christian sense, but people chosen by these spirits to teach. In Christianity, a mystic is a person who seeks by contemplation, and self-surrender to obtain unity with God with the understanding that certain spiritual truths are beyond the intellect. This is a gift from God and not some thing one can choose to obtain. To gain a further understanding of Catholic mysticism, below is a definition from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary:
The supernatural state of soul in which God is known in a way that no human effort or exertion could ever succeed in producing. There is an immediate, personal experience of God that is truly extraordinary, not only in intensity and degree, but in kind. It is always the result of a special, totally unmerited grace of God. Christian mysticism differs essentially from the non-Christian mysticism of the Oriental world. It always recognizes that the reality to which it penetrates simply transcends the soul and the cosmos; there is no confusion between I and thou, but always a profound humility before the infinite Majesty of God. And in Christian mysticism all union between the soul and God is a moral union of love, in doing his will even at great sacrifice to self; there is no hint of losing one's being in God or absorption of one's personality into the divine. 
In the New Age, some nature spirits are described as powerful energies existing in the natural world, and also on the “inner planes”; that is, those which are accessible by the use of rituals, drugs and other techniques for reaching altered states of consciousness. Altered states of consciousness are typically characterized by a significant reduction of logical thought and passivity of will, induced by a variety of techniques. Altered states of consciousness differs from the Christian mystical experience in that in the Christian tradition, such experiences come in the form of visions, ecstasies and prophetic revelations and not as a result of performing some technique. In the Christian tradition, mystical experiences are produced spontaneously and directly by the action of the Holy Spirit.

Harmony, Understanding and Good Vibrations

Essential to this aspect of the New Age is being in tune with nature or the cosmos. In New Age thinking, there is no distinction between good and evil. Human actions are considered to be the fruit of either illumination or ignorance. To believe in the existence of evil can only create fear and negativity.

This is in sharp contrast to Christianity in which there is a distinction between good and evil, illustrated by the life of Christ and the existence of the Evil One. In the Gospel of Matthew 4:1-11, the biblical account of the temptations of Christ spot lights the distinction between good and evil. Christ came to redeem and save man, the Evil One has been working to destroy him ever since his fall from heaven.

In the New Age thinking, the answer to negativity is love, but it is not the love that we as Christians understand and know it to be, as deriving from God. In the New Age, love is a set of attitudes in the mind. Love has an energy, a high frequency vibration, and the secret of happiness is to find one's place in the great chain of being. (2.2.2) Some examples of this type of thinking can be found in New Age practices at the Findhorn Garden in Northern Scotland which seeks to unveil a new level of consciousness within an eco-village setting. There is also the Feng Shui approach to harmony, a philosophical system that seeks to harmonize human existence with the surrounding environment.

Holistic Health

In keeping with the New Age's alternative approach to traditional thinking, a variety of therapies, treatments, practices and procedures have been developed that rejects traditional medicine and curing of sickness and ailments, in favour of a "total healing." From the New Age perspective, traditional medicine does not provide healing, but only cures isolated ailments that fails to look at the broader picture of a person's health. So the New Age has developed "holistic health" alternatives that look at the whole person, and seeks to heal rather than only cure.

Essential in the New Age approach to healing of the whole person, is the engagement of the mind, and its ability to concentrate and positively impact the healing process. An example of this is the Hindu chakra system, typically used in yoga. This Indian chakra system contains seven different chakras or "energy centers" that can be filled with prana or "divine energy." This so called "divine energy," is attained by yoga techniques, to bring one into an "altered state of consciousness," which can be extremely dangerous from a spiritual sense. An altered state of consciousness is generally characterized by a significant reduction of logical thought and passivity of will. The dangers which may result from altered states of consciousness are: mental illness, demonic influence, spirit possession, and occult bondage. If that was not troubling enough, whether one practices Hatha or Raja yoga, the ultimate purpose of both is the realization of one's own divinity, a concept that is in sharp contrast to Christianity.

Although yoga is probably one of the most familiar, and common New Age practices that attempts to make one realize one's own "divinity," there are several others. The following is an excerpt from Jesus Christ The Bearer of The Water of Life, which lists a variety of New Age holistic approaches:  
...Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, kinesiology, homeopathy, iridology, massage and various kinds of “bodywork” (such as orgonomy, Feldenkrais, reflexology, Rolfing, polarity massage, therapeutic touch etc.), meditation and visualisation, nutritional therapies, psychic healing, various kinds of herbal medicine, healing by crystals, metals, music or colours, reincarnation therapies and, finally, twelve-step programmes and self-help groups. The source of healing is said to be within ourselves, something we reach when we are in touch with our inner energy or cosmic energy. (2.2.3)
The Essential Matrix of New Age Thinking

New Age thinking is said to be found in the esoteric-theosophical tradition. It was a tradition that was widely accepted in the European intellectual circles of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, that also found particularly strong expression in freemasonry, spiritualism, and occultism. The world view of this tradition was one that viewed the visible and invisible universes as linked by a series of correspondences, analogies and influences. Believers of this tradition could contact the "upper and lower worlds" by means of their imagination or through a medium, and rituals as well. (2.3.2)

Certain elements of traditional esotericism, such as alchemy, magic, astrology and others had integrated with aspects of modern culture including the search for causal laws, evolutionism, psychology, and the study of religions. (2.3.2) The clearest expression of this development took the form of the Theosophical Society, established by a Russian medium, Helena Blavatsky and an American, Henry Olcott in New York in 1875. To illustrate its anti-Christian character, Blavatsky's efforts to emancipate women involved her attack on the "male" God of Christianity in an effort to promote the "return" to the mother goddess of Hinduism, and the practice of feminine virtues. (2.3.2) Today this continues in Wicca under the banner of "women's spirituality." Wicca is a neo-pagan witchcraft "religion" that does not worship the one, true, and only God, but instead worships demonic spirits.   

I am sure by now you have realized that the Vatican document Jesus Christ The Bearer of The Water of Life, contains a dense amount of information, and is quite thorough in its detailed explanation of the New Age. Certainly, one blog post will not suffice to capture the several sections, and provide clear thinking from a Catholic perspective as to what the New Age is all about. To do justice to this document, I will be publishing additional posts, each dealing with selected sections to help you get through the New Age "maze" of thinking and world view. 

I hope that today's post continues to encourage your discovery of the truth about the New Age. May it also strengthen your understanding, and put you on guard against any of those New Age elements that have subtly, and openly entered into your community. 










 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The New Age: A Basic Introduction

Aquarius - The "New Era"
If you are struggling to identify, and define what the New Age is, you are probably not alone. I was a member of that club until a little over a year ago. In late'2012, I took it upon myself to do some research on the New Age. It was the beginning of a clarification process: an unravelling of all the ambiguous language, practices, approaches, alternative thinking, and trying to grasp the very different world view contained at the heart of the New Age movement. My need to discover the truth about the New Age stemmed from a concern that I had regarding all the New Age elements within my local community and the adjacent communities, which no doubt mirrors the penetration of New Age phenomena into the mainstream culture on a regional and national level. Today's post extends my concern for all communities in Canada, and throughout the world. 

My research began by seeking the truth, and it led me to three main sources, which I consider essential for any Christian seeking to understand the New Age, especially with respect to some of the more popular New Age elements such as yoga, tai-chi and reiki. In preparing for this and subsequent posts, I began the process of rereading, and reviewing my main sources which I would like to share with you now:
The first source, the Vatican document Jesus Christ The Bearer of The Water of Life, provides the reader with a detailed Christian reflection of the New Age from a Catholic perspective. This document is an important source for any one seeking a comprehensive understanding on the truth about the New AgeIt provides Catholics with a solid foundation by which we can respond positively in the defence of our faith, and explain the truth about the New Age, and its many forms of expression in the mainstream. By doing so we accept the invitation of St. Peter in his first letter:
Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?  But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:13-17)
The second source, the Vatican document Letter to The Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation, was issued to address the needs of spiritual growth for many Christians, in particular with respect to meditation. So many Christians have abandoned Christianity, and wandered to Eastern religions to discover what they have to offer, failing to realize that the Catholic faith provides for complete spiritual growth in the form of meditative prayer.

The main thrust of this document focuses on the "genuine Tradition of the Church," seeking to ensure that the many forms of prayer, including new ones, never lose their correct personal and communitarian nature. The document also provides clarity for those Christians who not only have come into contact with other religions, but for those who have inquired about what value non-Christian forms of meditation might have for Christians.

The third source, Br. Max Sculley's book, Yoga, Tai-Chi and Reiki - A Guide For Christians, is a timely warning against these popular mainstream practices that claim to provide wellness, health and relaxation, but in fact are closely linked to Eastern philosophies that are incompatible with Christianity.

Brother Max exposes the deceptive techniques in which devotees are invited to engage their minds to enter into an "altered state of consciousness," claimed to be necessary to provide any real benefit. This is where the danger lies. The practitioner is introduced into a world inimical to the Christian faith. The entire process is synonymous to a "Trojan horse" for dangerous spiritual infiltration that can eventually lead to exposure to demonic forces, and ultimately spiralling downward that any person who follows these religious philosophies to their full extent can find themselves worshipping a false God.

Jesus Christ, The Bearer of The Water of Life and what does it reveal about the New Age?

Today, I will begin my New Age awareness solely focussing on the first source, Jesus Christ, The Bearer of The Water of Life. It is a thorough fifty nine page document that essentially decodes the New Age streams of thought and approaches, which are fundamentally, alternatives and a contradiction to Christianity. To counter the details and the newness of ideas stemming from this movement, the reader throughout the document is orientated back to Jesus Christ and Christianity, culminating with a dedicated section, Jesus Christ Offers us The Water of Life. The Notes section provides a thorough list of resources for further reading. Part of this list cites references to various experts in the New Age research field, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well to many documents from Pope John Paul II.

What exactly should one understand about the New Age? Basically, it is an alternative thinking and approach to a view of the world that is in sharp contrast to Christianity. It is referred to as a paradigm shift, a wholesale transformation of perspective of a person and a community's beliefs, values, and more.(2.1) The New Age exists not so much as a single, uniform movement, but as a loose network of practitioners whose approach is to "think globally but act locally." It is spread across cultures and finds expression in music, films, art, seminars, workshops, retreats, therapies and much more. Some traditions that flow into the New Age are: ancient Egyptian occult practices, Cabbalism, Early Christian gnosticism, Sufism, The lore of the Druids, Celtic Christianity, Medieval Alchemy, Renaissance Hermeticism, Zen Buddhism and Yoga. This list is not an exhaustive one by any means, but it does provides you with a glimpse of how far ranging the New Age movement is. It is clear from the above listed traditions alone, that the New Age provides alternative world views that are not consistent with Christianity.

The New Age in many ways is a "child" of today's culture. Many people are increasingly detaching themselves with any connection to institutions, and do not rank official judgements above their own. The increased focus on the individual has to some extent promoted an internalizing of religion, which has provided the ground work for a celebration of the sacredness of self. In certain New Age practices, God is reduced to further the advancement of the individual. (1.1) The New Age appeals to people who have absorbed the values of modern culture, such as freedom and self-reliance, and with those who have problems with patriarchy. The New Age is easily accepted by many because it demands very little faith. (1.1)  

One of the most defining characteristics of the New Age, similar to gnosticism of the second and third centuries, is that it represents something of a compendium of positions that the Church has identified as heterodox. (1.4) Heterodox is defined as "not conforming with accepted or orthodox standards or beliefs." Under the section entitled, The New Age and Catholic Faith, there is a reference to a warning from Pope John Paul II: 
John Paul II warns with regard to the “return of ancient gnostic ideas under the guise of the so-called New Age: We cannot delude ourselves that this will lead toward a renewal of religion. It is only a new way of practising gnosticism – that attitude of the spirit that, in the name of a profound knowledge of God, results in distorting His Word and replacing it with purely human words. Gnosticism never completely abandoned the realm of Christianity. Instead, it has always existed side by side with Christianity, sometimes taking the shape of a philosophical movement, but more often assuming the characteristics of a religion or a para-religion in distinct, if not declared, conflict with all that is essentially Christian”.(6) An example of this can be seen in the enneagram, the nine-type tool for character analysis, which when used as a means of spiritual growth introduces an ambiguity in the doctrine and the life of the Christian faith. (1.4)
The message is clear, the New Age is not compatible with Christianity, and is something that Christians must completely avoid. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by the subtlety of some of the elements or by the philosophies, and anything that the New Age practices and approaches claim to be and provide. The New Age is something to be on guard against, and to be totally rejected.

One of the most bizarre characteristics of New Age is the anticipated entry into a "new era," the Age of Aquarius. According to New Age thinking, we currently live in the "Age of Pisces" one that has been dominated by Christianity. Apparently, this current age is to be replaced by the "Age of Aquarius," early in the Third Millennium. This alternative world vision is one encouraged by those in the movement who desire to change the culture of the world, and how we relate to it.

As you can read from this introduction to the New Age, it encompasses and includes a wide range of ideas, approaches and practices that have subtly made their way into the mainstream culture. The acceptance of the New Age in gyms and health clubs, retreat and community centers, health and grocery stores and many other places, as well as in the hearts and minds of many devotees of yoga, tai-chi, reiki and other New Age practices , is a troubling reality in my community and the surrounding ones. So, if you too are a "member of the club," and want to understand the New Age, I hope that this post has begun the process for you. It is only when we know and understand the truth, can we then filter out the many New Age lies and deceptions that threaten the spiritual health of our communities.  
  




Monday, November 11, 2013

Horoscope Calendars: Occult Material In My Community

Zodiac signs
Recently, I was exposed to occult material at a local store here in Woodbridge, Ontario.

On display at the counter of a customer service center, was a stack of several horoscope calendars. I notified both the local store manager and the head office of the occult items in their store.

On both occasions the information was well received and I could easily determine from the conversations that the individuals who I spoke with were not aware of the inappropriateness of horoscopes. One of the individuals even considered them to be a "form of entertainment." Although, I was not totally surprised by the ignorance I was confronted with, it did prompt me to think of the matter on a higher level. I pondered who else in my local community may have no idea that horoscopes are inappropriate. After taking some time to pray and think about it, I decided to dedicate my next post to the topic of horoscopes.

If you always had some inkling that horoscopes were wrong and never really quite knew why, you will definitely appreciate today's post. Perhaps this is the first you have ever read that there is something wrong with horoscopes. What ever your understanding may be, today's post explains the problem with horoscopes and illustrates how the Catholic faith, put into action, can be relevant and practical in our daily lives.

Catholic faith put into action certainly can begin with an observation, but an observation is not enough. To really make a difference in the community, we need to take action and inform others. Today's post is part of my effort to do just that, something that I feel is quite necessary considering that the community in which I reside is predominantly Roman Catholic and Christian, yet tolerates the presence of occult items.

In my view, the problem of occult material tolerated in my community stems from a sharp decline in faith that has led to disbelief, apathy, and a lack of knowledge and understanding. What would it take for enough members of my community to inform a store manager, write an email, and/or place a phone call? Very little! How many are blogging about such an experience or other ones in their respective lives? Just as I am making an effort to inform others and share my gift of faith, so too can others do likewise. If you are one of those people who is active and doing something, "bravo for taking action and helping to make our community a better place!"

There is one thing we can be certain of and that is, the fact that a store would boldly display and promote occult material in the form of divination, is an indication that we have lowered our spiritual guard and subsequently become vulnerable to this subtle demonic deception.

You may have experienced a few other examples of such deception in the form of: a quick invitation to hear your horoscope for the day by a family member or friend, a colleague at work wanting to share a horoscope app reading, your attention drawn to a horoscope calendar hanging on a wall. Perhaps the most successful example of Satan's subtle deception has been to convince people that horoscopes are innocent, that they do not cause any harm, they are a form of entertainment, just some fun. No matter what the deception is, the truth is that horoscopes are quite the opposite. Horoscopes are evil and sinful and should be completely avoided.

Even if you are skeptical about the dangers of horoscopes because you never had any serious intention of following the guidance and predictions, you should abandon this practice. The reason being, it is a way of opening yourself up to the occult. Horoscopes are a form of divination. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states regarding divination:
All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone. (2116)
Regardless of your intentions, the best thing to do is to cease any connection to horoscopes and any other occult material by going to confession. The Catholic parishes here in Woodbridge have confession available on Saturday, typically between 4:00pm-5:00pm before the Mass, or by appointment during the week. The sooner you receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the better. Cut all ties to Satan! 

So the next time some one asks you to listen to your horoscope, politely reveal the truth about it and refuse the reading. Seize the opportunity that may come your way to inform others, be it a colleague, a neighbour, friend, store manager, who ever it may be, identify and expose the occult elements in the community. Let your faith knowledge and understanding translate into action. This is what we are called to do, that our faith may not be a dead faith, but alive, active and evangelizing. (James 2:14-26)




Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fr. Gabriele Amorth's Follow Up Book - An Exorcist More Stories

Father Gabriele Amorth, Rome's Former Chief Exorcist
Today's post is on Father Gabriele Amorth's book, An Exorcist More Stories, a follow up to his previous book, An Exorcist Tells His Story. I thought it fitting to dedicate a post to Amorth's follow up book, not only due to the richness of the content, but in continuity with one of my previous posts, The Expulsion of The Devils From Arezzo - The Spiritual Battle

Amorth's second book was his effort to provide a service to the enormous interest generated from his first book. Initially, Amorth planned to make the second book a series of cases with his commentary, but soon realized that he needed to expand on topics that were not covered in the first book. Not only has Father Gabriele added new topics to his second book, but included several cases which are in his words, "fundamental for understanding the subject matter." Each chapter begins with its own topic and concludes with an actual case. In addition to his own vast experience, Fr. Gabriele also draws from the experience of other exorcists.  

In An Exorcist More Stories, Amorth sets the tone immediately in his second chapter, Wanted: Exorcist, by asking the question, "Why, today, is there such a high demand for exorcists?" He answers the question by including a few reasons, such as: the demon being more active today, the incidence of demonic possession has increased, and the frightening decline in faith coupled with a growth in superstition. Amorth cites many factors to the growth in superstition: the media which not only promotes pornography, but spiritism, the occult and oriental rituals. In addition, there are certain types of gatherings, subliminal messages in satanic rock music, horoscope reading in newspapers and more. A statistic that Amorth refers to from the March 1991, Perugia congress, Magic, new Religions and the Esoteric it Italy, that more than 12 million Italians have visited magicians, sorcerers, card readers etc. (13)  

In the chapter on
Satan in Action, Amorth makes an important point on how many have come to disbelieve in the presence and existence of evil. To illustrate this point, Amorth begins this chapter with a scripture quote, "While men were sleeping, his enemy the devil, God's enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat" (Mt 13:25). Amorth's comments on this quote by stating that, although this is true in every age, it seems to ever more alarming how it is that much more prevalent in today's society because, "...[W]e refuse to believe in the presence of weeds, much less in the existence of the enemy; the devil." (57) Such a situation is alarming indeed. Without any belief in the presence of the enemy, no spiritual battle is fought and many succumb to the demonic deceptions and traps. All this can lead to becoming victimized with extraordinary diabolical activity which Amorth details in both his first and second books.

Father Gabriele attributes part of the problem of disbelief due to the reluctance of modern Catholic clergy to deal with the realities of evil, which he states is a result of, "...[A] lack of formation, lack of experience and widespread doctrinal errors." (57) This is in sharp contrast to the Church's Magisterium which has provided unchanging biblical-theological doctrine about Satan and his activity. Amorth goes on to mention that in support of the Magisterium's teaching on the topic of evil, there are eighteen texts issued from the Second Vatican Council, three speeches from Pope Paul VI and twenty two speeches from Pope John Paul II. The mention of these documents is an encouragement and opportunity for both the clergy and the laity, to better inform ourselves and further our understanding.  Of these documents, Fr. Gabriele has included the full text of Pope Paul VI's November'1972 general audience catechesis on Satan. Below is a excerpt of that catechesis which high lights the importance of understanding evil:
Jesus also calls the demon "murderer from the beginning", "father of lies". He is the sophisticated seducer of man's moral balance. He is the evil and cunning charmer who knows how to infiltrate everyone's individual psychology. He finds the open door and comes in: through our senses, our imagination, and our concupiscence---what today we call fomite. Again, through utopian logic, disordered social contacts, bad friends and bad wordly ideas, [he slips] into our actions and introduces deviations that are all the more deadly because they appear to conform to the physical or psychological and instinctive structure of our person: this is why temptation is so seductive. These structures run deep and influence our personality. He takes advantage of our fabric, our makeup, to enter our psychology subtly. (p.68)
Pope Paul VI's general audience text is still relevant today as it was when given in 1972. In addressing the needs of the Church, Pope Paul VI identified and focussed on the "combat against darkness." He had asked the ever important question, "...Why do we not speak about it anymore? We do not speak about it because we lack a visible experience. We believe that what we do not see does not exist." (65) Pope Paul VI expanded his thoughts from this initial question and stated later on in the text, "We should rediscover the chapter of Catholic doctrine that deals with the demon and with the influence that he is able to exert on individuals, communities, entire societies, and events. Instead, today we seldom think about it." (68) The point is clear, that due to the invisibility of the fallen angels, their existence and presence in the minds of many, ceases to be a reality. The disbelief and inability to recognize evil, clearly points to a lack of faith and understanding. This is perhaps one of the most dangerous aspects of today's society, because we do not realize the battle is being waged against us.

After having reviewed both of Fr. Gabriele's books for my posts, I could not help but reflect on how so many of the causes that led the need for exorcisms, actually exists right here in my local community. With Woodbridge being a predominantly Roman Catholic community, you have to wonder how could such evil be tolerated and accepted. Is this not an indication of our disbelief in the presence and existence of evil? Do we not recognize the "weeds among the wheat" or do we dismiss altogether that the weeds even exist? It only begs the question, do we really understand our Catholic faith? Or is it also a matter of apathy and our unwillingness to do something about it? If so, Edmund Burke's quote, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing," definitely identifies part of our problem.

As a resident of Woodbridge since 1978, I have witnessed the influx of new age and occult elements into my community, which have contributed to the development of a "culture of death." On our main streets, we have boldly advertised "psychic readings," dedicated yoga shops, yoga classes in health clubs, tattoo parlours and tarot card readers/fortune tellers. One can only imagine what else may exist that we do not see in front of our eyes but are done in secret, such as the use of ouija boards, seances, and more. Father Gabriele notes many of these occult and New Age elements are the beginning of a process that can eventually lead to demonic possession. Some are more dangerous than others. For some, it depends on the level of involvement of the participants. Of course, overlying it all is God's permission, as nothing happens without God's permission. One thing is for certain, occult and New Age elements are incompatible with Christianity and as such, should be completely avoided.

Accompanying the decline of our Catholic faith has been a proportionate lowering of our spiritual guard. As each successive generation fails to fully transfer the Catholic faith to the next, knowledge, devotion, understanding and interest wanes considerably. The fact that the aforementioned evil elements exist in Woodbridge is "proof positive" of the absence of God in the hearts and minds of many of the residents. If the opposite was the reality, then very few if any, would patronize yoga shops or attend yoga and tai-chi classes, receive reiki treatments, go to fortune tellers, mark their bodies/face with tattoos, buy and read occult books like Harry Potter or New Age material like Deepak Chopra and support the growth of many other "weeds."   

It is up to us here in Woodbridge as to what we are going to do about it.  We can begin by better informing ourselves on the occult, New Age and any other evil elements in our community. When we are armed with the truth, we can cut through the world's lies and deception and inform others of the dangers in our community. Part of the reason for today's post is to do just that, to bring awareness to others. If we continue to allow the "weeds" to grow with the "wheat," can we reasonably expect to yield a plentiful harvest? 

Let us unite in prayer all that we endeavour to do, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, that she may intercede for us, correct and complete what is lacking in our own efforts and present it to Jesus in a manner that is pleasing and acceptable to Him.

May God have mercy on us all.