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 God...to 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!