Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Agey People

Good Afternoon

As I look at another season of assisting people to enter the Catholic Church, I begin to ponder many things.

One thing that will always come up is New Age teaching. Usually, the vehicles for starting such a discussion are the exclusivity of the Christian message, and Angels.

Once upon a time, I was falling quickly under spell of 'New Age' beliefs. Astrology, Eastern Religion, Tarot cards...

Of course, none of this is new at all. In fact Hinduism, one of the oft sited Eastern religions, may well be, with Judaism being the other contender, the oldest religion in the world. From Hinduism springs some meditation techniques and yoga. Astrology has been around for a very, very long time. Tarot Cards have been around for a fair while, gaining popularity, along with seances and channelling, in the Spiritist Movement of the early 20th century.

So what does all this mean for the Catholic Christian? Well, both Old Testament scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) speak against trying to predict future events. That is for God alone to know.

As I've grown in my own faith, I've wondered more and more why people find this attractive. We know that Christ died to give us the way to Heaven. If we continue along the path He paved for us, we can be reasonably sure of what the afterlife holds for us: Perfect happiness for eternity, gazing on the face of God.

If we desire some sort of contact with those who have died before us, we can call upon the Saints, and ask them to pray for us. Barring that, we know that we can ask them all the questions we want when we meet them in heaven.

Meditation and Contemplation are certainly well known in Catholic circles. A big difference between Christian meditation and other forms is that Christians should focus outside themselves...on Jesus, not inside themselves. We are to emulate Christ. We do not wish to become one with the Universe, but one with Christ.

As far as I've been able to discover, there is no uniquely Christian form of physical exercise. Many will use their exercise time as a time to pray the rosary, or the Jesus prayer. Catholicism certainly has no problem using prayer to sanctify something that is not intrinsically holy!

One thing about Christianity is that it can sanctify our daily existence. It does not need special formula. God created the world, and He saw that it was good. Why should we think otherwise?

God created humanity in His image and likeness. It does not get much better than that! Adam messed things up by being disobedient, but we know that we are to seek the perfection that Adam lost for us. The process of seeking God's perfection sanctifies us.

I think that while Adam was probably not familiar with the New Age movement, he used his God-given free will to become one of its first adherents, along with Eve. His pride and the serpent's temptation got him wanting to be like have his eyes opened.

Is this so different than meditation to find enlightenment as we seek to become one with the universe or to know the future using cards or astrology? It's gnosticism; wanting to have inside knowledge of things that should not be ours.

There is nothing good to be found in any other religions, philosophies or any other modes of thought which is not present more fully in Christianity. This is shown best in the Church Jesus founded...the Catholic Church!

God Bless

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Doom and Gloom

For some reason, of late I've been thinking a lot about the over kill of the media with regards to what they judge to be pending disasters.

Throughout my life, I have heard many. I suspect they will ring bells with many.

Remember the "Swine Flu" epidemic? I'm pretty sure I remember being told it would be as bad as the Spanish Flu pandemic of the 1918-1919. The Spanish Flu killed millions of people throughout the world.

Do you know anyone who even caught Swine Flu?

When AIDS was first detected, we were told it would be pandemic. It isn't. It does create many casualties in certain areas, but this does not match the dire warnings of the early years.

There's also Asian Flu, and Avian Flu, SARS, Purple Loosestrife...

While driving this summer, I noticed the loosestrife. It's rather pretty. But I was also seeing lots of tansy, mullein, bulrushes and other wild plants. It's been 12 years since we were warned that Purple Loosetrife would take over our wetland.

The list goes on. Global warming is the one that gets me now. Early predictions should have had us all resorting to air conditioning by now. Hasn't happened. More and more is being said by scientists who do not hold to the "party line" we've been fed. The brainwashing our kids have received at school is sickening. While in grade seven, one of my children was told, along with other blue eyed children, that she would contract skin cancer. Not may contract. Another child of ours was shown, at school by a substitute teacher, Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth". Those on the other side of the issue (and there is another side!) do not get the air time. What fear mongering!

I think the real inconvenient truth is the fact that some predictions have proven accurate, and yet have been ignored. They have not come from a politically correct source.

Early in the 20th Century, GK Chesterton, notable convert to Catholicism predicted that we would see attacks on morality.

Pope Pius XI wrote an encyclical in 1937 called "Mit Brennender Sorge" (With Burning Sorrow). In a world where, even more than today, documents from Rome were nearly always in Latin, the fact that this one was in German indicates the urgency of the topic. The document was written in an attempt to warn the German people of the dangers of the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. We all know what happened after that!

Pope Paul VI wrote an encyclical called "Humanae Vitae" in 1968. This much scoffed at document reiterated the teaching of the Catholic Church with regards to human life and its creation. He reminded the world that there were dangers inherent in the adoption of artificial birth control. He warned that widespread use would lead to a culture where life was not highly valued, where women would be more likely to be disrespected and promiscuity would arise.

Well? Now, one night stands are not unusual at all. The news is just starting to surface that women in particular are not benefitting from "friends with benefits"-type arrangements. That women who are celibate can feel very good about themselves is just counterintuitive in this society. And men who are celibate? Utterly preposterous that they can be normal individuals! That couples who do not contracept do not necessarily have a dozen kids, is not believed. Sadly, what seems to be harder to believe is that couples who DO have a dozen kids wanted, or even planned, every single one of them!

And this does not even touch on the abortion issue.

The Catholic Church, and even notable members thereof foresaw all of this. And more. Popes have foreseen the errors of modern life. Pope Benedict recently reminded us to be good stewards of the gifts God has given us. Funny, this is far from being a new teaching for the Church.

Who needs ecologists?

God Bless

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Where did the Summer go?

Well, here we are. It's September already and evenings are becoming cool. Apples and tomatoes are ripening, and we are discovering that our attempt at growing carrots in our new garden was a failure. Such is soil in this area.

It's been an eventful Summer. Dh, the kids, and I went West for the first time in twelve years. It was nice to see friends and family after so long, but it was really nice to be home.

The Holy Father finally released the long awaited (by some of us, anyway) motu proprio freeing up priests to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass. This would be known by many as the Tridentine Mass. This came into effect on the fourteenth of September. It will be very interesting to see what happens. Already, a good friend of mine has arranged to be trained in the "old" style Mass. I expect he is not alone.

It will be VERY interesting to see what new priests bring from the seminaries.

I was able to read some good books this season, too. In July, I read a novel called "The Kiterunner". It is a novel about two young boys growing up in war-torn Afghanistan. It was heart-wrenching in spots, but a very interesting read.

A real surprise was a book called "A Song for Nagasaki" by Father Paul Glynn. This book is the true story of Takashi Nagai, a man who came to Catholicism from Shintoism through atheism. The book ties together Catholic history, Japanese history and culture, and a touching (can you imagine?) account of the bombing of Nagasaki. It is a pity this book is out of print. I will be spending some time finding a copy for us, as dad made it clear he wanted his copy back!

I was given a copy of a book called "Plain Reasons Against Joining the Church of Rome" by a man named Littledale. It was published in the 1880s and did not escape the notice of John Henry Cardinal Newman, who accused the book of falsehood.

Alas, attacks against the Church have not changed much. So many of the arguments in this book are still lobbed in our direction. They show ignorance of our doctrine, misunderstanding, sometimes I'm sure, malice. Some are not untrue, but show that the Catholic Church is being held to a different standard than the denominations.

I have to admit it was a bit breathtaking to read a paragraph on priests and Bishops who have committed some impropriety being moved around, rather than being dealt with. Sadly, this has been said far more recently. Fortunately, it now seems that we have finally learned our lesson and face up to the problems rather than masking them.

Now it is time for us to think about our callings for the coming year. Music, catechetics, organization...the choices are many. And as has become usual the past couple of years, the labourers are few. As usual there is a balancing act. Family commitments should have priority, or course. Ministry is also a way of sharing ones gifts with others. It allows for the development of a particular spirituality characteristic of the ministry itself, or to the person called to that ministry.

An example of this would be the ministry of lector (or reader). Such a person is tasked with proclaiming scripture to the assembled congregation. Ideally such a person would be particularly called to develop their love and knowledge of scripture. A person in music ministry would logically see the prayer in the music they produce, as well as striving to deliver it in the best way that they are able.

It looks like Dh and I will be coordinating RCIA, which is the group which helps those who wish to join the Church. It has proven very exciting in the past, and this group looks every bit as interesting.

God Bless!