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Saturday 18 May 2013

Is this ok to do?

Pray for the Pope to move into the Papal Apartments.

Pray for these young men

Announcing the Rome Experience Class of 2013

TheRomeExp_sealThe Bishops’ Advisory Board, faculty, priests and staff of the Rome Experience are very pleased to announce and welcome the Class of 2013!
2013 marks the fifth year of the Rome Experience and our largest class with 30 seminarians from 20 dioceses around the USA.

The Rome Experience Class of 2013

Oswaldo Agudelo  
Archdiocese of Miami
St. Vincent DePaul Regional Seminary
Matthew Biedrzycki    
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
Gregory Bierbaum  
Diocese of Colorado Springs
Blessed John XXIII Seminary
Daniel Button  
Diocese of Madison
St. John Vianney Seminary
Mark Cavara 
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
Callan Davis
Archdiocese of Boston
St. John’s Seminary
David Doseck    
Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West
Shayne Duvall    
Archdiocese of Louisville
St. Meinrad Seminary
Miguel Flores 
Archdiocese of Chicago
Mundelein Seminary
J. Thomas Gignac  
Archdiocese of Boston
St. John’s Seminary
Stephen Graeve  
Diocese of Lincoln
Mount St. Mary’s Seminary
Ricardo Izquierdo    
Diocese of Lincoln
Mount St. Mary’s Seminary
Darrell Kostiha
Diocese of Austin
St. Mary’s Seminary
Peter Langenkamp    
Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West
Gervan Menezes  
Diocese of Nashville
Assumption Seminary
Curtis Miller  
Diocese of Burlington
St. John’s Seminary
Samuel Miloscia  
Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph
Pontifical College Josephinum
Daniel Morris    
Archdiocese of Kansas City
Mundelein Seminary
Matthew Nagle   
Archdiocese of Kansas City
Kenrick-Glennon Seminary
Tuan Van Nguyen 
Diocese of Bui Chu, Vietnam
St. John Vianney Seminary
Brandon Oman 
Diocese of Marquette
Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Luis Pavon 
Archdiocese of Miami
St. Vincent DePaul Seminary
Benjamin Rexroat  
Diocese of Gaylord
Pontifical College Josephinum
Wisman Simeon
Diocese of Palm Beach
St. Vincent DePaul Seminary
Bradley Sjoquist
Diocese of Marquette
Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Andrew Teeter
Diocese of Madison
St. Gregory the Great Seminary
Michael Thiel  
Diocese of Green Bay
St. Francis De Sales Seminary
Guillermo Trevino, Jr.
Diocese of Davenport
Mundelein Seminary
Alvaro Vega  
Archdiocese of Miami
St. Vincent DePaul Seminary
Alexander Witt    
Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West

A personal note and a public note--synchronicity

There is some merit in accepting pain if it is endured for the sake of God: anyone who does what is right is a child of God, alleluia. from Universalis today

Pope Francis and Iowa

MYOB is the greatest export out of Iowa-"Mind Your Own Business". My mother taught me not to gossip, as did the good nuns. We did not talk about other peoples' lives at all at home. We were idea people and people who talked about the Church or science, or the hobby of all Iowans, politics.

We did not even talk about our relatives. And, good thing, too.

The Pope's admonition is fantastic. One of the greatest blessings about the silence of the convent is that there is no wasted talk; no gossip, no slander, no trivia, no winging. I loved it.

I raised my son in some silence and the ability to MYOB.

Here is a snippet from the Pope's talk.

"We supply misinformation: we tell only half that suits us and not the other half, the other half we do not say because it is not convenient for us. Some smile ... Is that true or not? Did you see that thing? It goes on. The second is defamation: When a person truly has a flaw, it is big, they tell it, 'like a journalist' ... And the character of this person is ruined. And the third is the slander of saying things that are not true. It is like killing ones brother! All three - disinformation, defamation and slander - are sins! This is sin! It is to slap Jesus in the person of his children, his brothers. "

That is why Jesus does with us what he did with Peter when he says: "What is it to you? Follow me, "The Lord in this instance" points the way ":

"'This kind of talk will not do you any good, because it will just bring to the Church a spirit of destruction. Follow me! '. These are the beautiful words of Jesus, it is so clear, that he has so much love for us. As if to say: 'Don’t have fantasies, believing that salvation is in the comparisons with others or in gossip. Salvation is to go behind me '. Following Jesus! Today we ask the Lord Jesus to give us this grace not to ever get involved in the lives of others, not to become Christians of good manners and bad habits, it is to follow Jesus, to walk behind Jesus on his way. And this is enough. "

Text from page
of the Vatican Radio website 

Serious Snakes in the Grass

Now that the good Bishop in Australia has given the kibosh to the evil of The Warning site, I can concentrate on another one brought to my attention and through the blog carer a few days ago. Thanks to CS for this information.

I have now looked at a New Age movement in England which is not only dangerous psychologically, as it is based on pseudo-science, but also has gained popularity in Catholic charismatic groups here in England. I have known for years that the danger of the charismatic groups in England is that these frequently lack discipline and the grounding in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Too many people want experience and not solid teaching. Many of those who attend the prayer meetings have not read the CCC or Vatican documents, and lack knowledge in science or technology. There is a strong strain of anti-intellectualism in some of these groups.

The website will show you the problems-not much discernment is necessary here.

If you know anyone who is getting involved with this, please warn them.

This is not what God means by becoming a new creation. And, the dubiousness of recovery of so-called suppressed memory may be seen here.

I also suggested, if you are interested, looking at some of these articles and books.

Adler, J. 1994. The age before miracles. Newsweek, Marels 28, p.44.
  • Andreasen, N. C. 1988. Brain imaging: Applications in psychiatry. Science, 239: 1381-1388.
  • Baker, R. A. 1992. Hidden Memories Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.
  • Briere, Jolso N. 1992. Child Abuse Trauma. Newbury Park, Calif: Sage Publications.
  • Buckman, R., and K. Sabbagh, 1993. Magic or Medicine? Au Investigation into Healing. London: Macmillan.
  • Byrd, K. R. 1994. The narrative reconstructions of incest survivors. American Psychologist. 49:439-440.
  • Campbell, T. W 1994. Beware the Talking Cure. Boca Raton. Fla.: Social Issues Resources Service (SirS).
  • Chu, J. A. 1992. The critical issues task force report: The role of hypnosis and amytal interviews in the recovery of traumatic memories. International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality and Dissociation News, June, pp. 6-9.
  • CNN. 1993. “Guilt by Memory.” Broadcast on May 3.
  • Cronin, J. 1994. False memory. Z Magazine. April, pp. 31-37.
  • Gardner, R. A. 1991. Sex Abuse Hysteria.
  • Creskill, N.J.: Creative Therapeutics.
  • Gold, Hughes. and Hohnecker. 1994. Degrees of repression of sexual-abuse memories. American Psychologist, 49:441-442.
  • Goldstein, E., and K. Farmer, eds. 1994. True Stories of False Memories. Boca Raton, Fla.: Social Issues Resources Service (SirS).
  • Gottmao, J. 1994. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Harris, M. 1974. Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture, New York: Vintage Books.
  • Houli v. Hoult. 1993. Trial testimony. U.S. District Court for District of Massachusetts. Civil Action No 88-1738.
  • Kandel, M.. and E. Kandel. 1994. Flights of Memory. Discover, 15 (May): 32-37.
  • Kessler, G. 1993a. Memories of abuse. Newsday, November 28, pp. 1,5, 54-55.
  • —;. 1993b. Personal communication, Newsday, letter to EL dated December 13, 1993.
  • Lindsay, D. S., and J. D. Read. 1994. Psychotherapy and memories of childhood sexual abuse: A cognitive perspective. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 8:281-338.
  • Loftus, E. F. 1993. The reality of repressed memories. American Psychologist. 48: 518-537.
  • Loftus, E. F, and K. Ketcham. 1994. The Myth of Repressed Memory New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  • Lyon, S. J., and M. R. Nash. 1994. Truths in memory. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 36:194-208.
  • Mack, J. 1994. Abduction. New York: Scribners.
  • McHugh. P R. 1992. Psychiatric misadventures. American Scholar, 61: 497-510.
  • Neimark, J. 1994. The Harvard professor and the UFO’s. Psychology Today March-April. pp. 44-48, 74-90.
  • Poole, D., and D. S. Lindsay. 1994. “Psychotherapy and the Recovery of Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse.” Unpublished manuscript. Central Mielsigan University.
  • Rabinowitz, Dorothy. 1993. Deception: In the movies, on the news. Wall Street Journal, February 22. Review of television show “Not in My Family.”
  • Reich, W. 1994. The monster in the mists. New York Times Book Review May 15. pp. 1,33-38.
  • Rogers. M. L. 1992. “A Case of Alleged Satanic Ritualistic Abuse.” Paper presented at the American Psychology-Law Society meeting, San Diego. March.
  • Sagan, C. 1993. What’s really going on? Parade Magazine, March 7, pp. 4-7.
  • Stevenson, I. 1994. A ease of the psychotherapist’s fallacy: Hypnotic regression to “previous lives.” American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 36:188-193.
  • Steele, D. R. 1994. Partial recall. Liberty, March, pp. 37-47.
  • Trevor-Roper, H. R. 1967. Religion, the Reformation, and Social Change. London: Macmillan.
  • Trott, J. 1991. Satanic panic. Cornerstone, 20: 9-12.
  • Victor, J. S. 1991. Satanic cult survivor stories. SKEPTICAL INQUIRER, 15: 274-280.
  • Watson, B. 1992. Salem’s dark hour: Did the devil make them do it? Smithsonian, 23: 117-131.
  • Yapko. M. 1994. Suggestions of Abuse. New York: Simon & Schuster.

I also remind readers of the excellent Vatican document, quoted below in part: 

A Christian reflection
on the “New Age”

7. Appendix 
8. Resources 

The present study is concerned with the complex phenomenon of “New Age” which is influencing many aspects of contemporary culture.
The study is a provisional report. It is the fruit of the common reflection of the Working Group on New Religious Movements, composed of staff members of different dicasteries of the Holy See: the Pontifical Councils for Culture and for Interreligious Dialogue (which are the principal redactors for this project), the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
These reflections are offered primarily to those engaged in pastoral work so that they might be able to explain how the New Age movement differs from the Christian faith. This study invites readers to take account of the way that New Age religiosity addresses the spiritual hunger of contemporary men and women. It should be recognized that the attraction that New Age religiosity has for some Christians may be due in part to the lack of serious attention in their own communities for themes which are actually part of the Catholic synthesis such as the importance of man' spiritual dimension and its integration with the whole of life, the search for life's meaning, the link between human beings and the rest of creation, the desire for personal and social transformation, and the rejection of a rationalistic and materialistic view of humanity.
The present publication calls attention to the need to know and understand New Age as a cultural current, as well as the need for Catholics to have an understanding of authentic Catholic doctrine and spirituality in order to properly assess New Age themes. The first two chapters present New Age as a multifaceted cultural tendency, proposing an analysis of the basic foundations of the thought conveyed in this context. From Chapter Three onwards some indications are offered for an investigation of New Age in comparison with the Christian message. Some suggestions of a pastoral nature are also made.
Those who wish to go deeper into the study of New Age will find useful references in the appendices. It is hoped that this work will in fact provide a stimulus for further studies adapted to different cultural contexts. Its purpose is also to encourage discernment by those who are looking for sound reference points for a life of greater fulness. It is indeed our conviction that through many of our contemporaries who are searching, we can discover a true thirst for God. As Pope John Paul II said to a group of bishops from the United States: “Pastors must honestly ask whether they have paid sufficient attention to the thirst of the human heart for the true 'living water' which only Christ our Redeemer can give (cf. Jn 4:7-13)”. Like him, we want to rely “on the perennial freshness of the Gospel message and its capacity to transform and renew those who accept it” (AAS 86/4, 330).

The following reflections are meant as a guide for Catholics involved in preaching the Gospel and teaching the faith at any level within the Church. This document does not aim at providing a set of complete answers to the many questions raised by the New Age or other contemporary signs of the perennial human search for happiness, meaning and salvation. It is an invitation to understand theNew Age and to engage in a genuine dialogue with those who are influenced by New Age thought. The document guides those involved in pastoral work in their understanding and response to New Age spirituality, both illustrating the points where this spirituality contrasts with the Catholic faith and refuting the positions espoused by New Age thinkers in opposition to Christian faith. What is indeed required of Christians is, first and foremost, a solid grounding in their faith. On this sound base, they can build a life which responds positively to the invitation in the first letter of Saint Peter: “always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. But give it with courtesy and respect and a clear conscience” (1 P 3, 15 f.).

1.1. Why now?
The beginning of the Third Millennium comes not only two thousand years after the birth of Christ, but also at a time when astrologers believe that the Age of Pisces – known to them as the Christian age – is drawing to a close. These reflections are about the New Age, which takes its name from the imminent astrological Age of Aquarius. The New Age is one of many explanations of the significance of this moment in history which are bombarding contemporary (particularly western) culture, and it is hard to see clearly what is and what is not consistent with the Christian message. So this seems to be the right moment to offer a Christian assessment of New Age thinking and the New Agemovement as a whole.
It has been said, quite correctly, that many people hover between certainty and uncertainty these days, particularly in questions relating to their identity.(1) Some say that the Christian religion is patriarchal and authoritarian, that political institutions are unable to improve the world, and that formal (allopathic) medicine simply fails to heal people effectively. The fact that what were once central elements in society are now perceived as untrustworthy or lacking in genuine authority has created a climate where people look inwards, into themselves, for meaning and strength. There is also a search for alternative institutions, which people hope will respond to their deepest needs. The unstructured or chaotic life of alternative communities of the 1970s has given way to a search for discipline and structures, which are clearly key elements in the immensely popular “mystical” movements. New Age is attractive mainly because so much of what it offers meets hungers often left unsatisfied by the established institutions.
While much of New Age is a reaction to contemporary culture, there are many ways in which it is that culture's child. The Renaissance and the Reformation have shaped the modern western individual, who is not weighed down by external burdens like merely extrinsic authority and tradition; people feel the need to “belong” to institutions less and less (and yet loneliness is very much a scourge of modern life), and are not inclined to rank “official” judgements above their own. With this cult of humanity, religion is internalised in a way which prepares the ground for a celebration of the sacredness of the self. This is why New Age shares many of the values espoused by enterprise culture and the “prosperity Gospel” (of which more will be said later: section 2.4), and also by the consumer culture, whose influence is clear from the rapidly-growing numbers of people who claim that it is possible to blend Christianity and New Age, by taking what strikes them as the best of both.(2) It is worth remembering that deviations within Christianity have also gone beyond traditional theism in accepting a unilateral turn to self, and this would encourage such a blending of approaches. The important thing to note is that God is reduced in certain New Age practices so as furthering the advancement of the individual.
New Age appeals to people imbued with the values of modern culture. Freedom, authenticity, self-reliance and the like are all held to be sacred. It appeals to those who have problems with patriarchy. It “does not demand any more faith or belief than going to the cinema”,(3) and yet it claims to satisfy people's spiritual appetites. But here is a central question: just what is meant by spirituality in a New Age context? The answer is the key to unlocking some of the differences between the Christian tradition and much of what can be called New Age. Some versions of New Age harness the powers of nature and seek to communicate with another world to discover the fate of individuals, to help individuals tune in to the right frequency to make the most of themselves and their circumstances. In most cases, it is completely fatalistic. Christianity, on the other hand, is an invitation to look outwards and beyond, to the “new Advent”
of the God who calls us to live the dialogue of love.(4)

1.2. Communications
The technological revolution in communications over the last few years has brought about a completely new situation. The ease and speed with which people can now communicate is one of the reasons why New Age has come to the attention of people of all ages and backgrounds, and many who follow Christ are not sure what it is all about. The Internet, in particular, has become enormously influential, especially with younger people, who find it a congenial and fascinating way of acquiring information. But it is a volatile vehicle of misinformation on so many aspects of religion: not all that is labelled “Christian” or “Catholic” can be trusted to reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church and, at the same time, there is a remarkable expansion of New Age sources ranging from the serious to the ridiculous. People need, and have a right to, reliable information on the differences between Christianity and New Age.

1.3. Cultural background
When one examines many New Age traditions, it soon becomes clear that there is, in fact, little in the New Age that is new. The name seems to have gained currency through Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, at the time of the French and American Revolutions, but the reality it denotes is a contemporary variant of Western esotericism. This dates back to Gnostic groups which grew up in the early days of Christianity, and gained momentum at the time of the Reformation in Europe. It has grown in parallel with scientific world-views, and acquired a rational justification through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It has involved a progressive rejection of a personal God and a focus on other entities which would often figure as intermediaries between God and humanity in traditional Christianity, with more and more original adaptations of these or additional ones. A powerful trend in modern Western culture which has given space to New Age ideas is the general acceptance of Darwinist evolutionary theory; this, alongside a focus on hidden spiritual powers or forces in nature, has been the backbone of much of what is now recognised as New Age theory.
Basically, New Age has found a remarkable level of acceptance because the world-view on which it was based was already widely accepted. The ground was well prepared by the growth and spread of relativism, along with an antipathy or indifference towards the Christian faith.
Furthermore, there has been a lively discussion about whether and in what sense New Age can be described as a postmodern phenomenon. The existence and fervor of New Age thinking and practice bear witness to the unquenchable longing of the human spirit for transcendence and religious meaning, which is not only a contemporary cultural phenomenon, but was evident in the ancient world, both Christian and pagan.

1.4. The New Age and Catholic Faith
Even if it can be admitted that New Age religiosity in some way responds to the legitimate spiritual longing of human nature, it must be acknowledged that its attempts to do so run counter to Christian revelation. In Western culture in particular, the appeal of “alternative” approaches to spirituality is very strong. On the one hand, new forms of psychological affirmation of the individual have be
come very popular among Catholics, even in retreat-houses, seminaries and institutes of formation for religious. At the same time there is increasing nostalgia and curiosity for the wisdom and ritual of long ago, which is one of the reasons for the remarkable growth in the popularity of esotericism and gnosticism. Many people are particularly attracted to what is known – correctly or otherwise – as “Celtic” spirituality,(5) or to the religions of ancient peoples. Books and courses on spirituality and ancient or Eastern religions are a booming business, and they are frequently labelled “New Age” for commercial purposes. But the links with those religions are not always clear. In fact, they are often denied.
An adequate Christian discernment of New Age thought and practice cannot fail to recognize that, like second and third century gnosticism, it represents something of a compendium of positions that the Church has identified as heterodox. 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.

1.5. A positive challenge
The appeal of New Age religiosity cannot be underestimated. When the understanding of the content of Christian faith is weak, some mistakenly hold that the Christian religion does not inspire a profound spirituality and so they seek elsewhere. As a matter of fact, some say the New Age is already passing us by, and refer to the “next” age.(7) They speak of a crisis that began to manifest itself in the United States of America in the early 1990s, but admit that, especially beyond the English-speaking world, such a “crisis” may come later. But bookshops and radio stations, and the plethora of self-help groups in so many Western towns and cities, all seem to tell a different story. It seems that, at least for the moment, the New Age is still very much alive and part of the current cultural scene.
The success of New Age offers the Church a challenge. People feel the Christian religion no longer offers them – or perhaps never gave them – something they really need. The search which often leads people to the New Age is a genuine yearning: for a deeper spirituality, for something which will touch their hearts, and for a way of making sense of a confusing and often alienating world. There is a positive tone in New Age criticisms of “the materialism of daily life, of philosophy and even of medicine and psychiatry; reductionism, which refuses to take into consideration religious and supernatural experiences; the industrial culture of unrestrained individualism, which teaches egoism and pays no attention to other people, the future and the environment”.(8) Any problems there are with New Age are to be found in what it proposes as alternative answers to life's questions. If the Church is not to be accused of being deaf to people's longings, her members need to do two things: to root themselves ever more firmly in the fundamentals of their faith, and to understand the often-silent cry in people's hearts, which leads them elsewhere if they are not satisfied by the Church. There is also a call in all of this to come closer to Jesus Christ and to be ready to follow Him, since He is the real way to happiness, the truth about God and the fulness of life for every man and woman who is prepared to respond to his love.

Christians in many Western societies, and increasingly also in other parts of the world, frequently come into contact with different aspects of the phenomenon known as New Age. Many of them feel the need to understand how they can best approach something which is at once so alluring, complex, elusive and, at times, disturbing. These reflections are an attempt to help Christians do two things:
– to identify elements of the developing New Age tradition;
– to indicate those elements which are inconsistent with the Christian revelation.
This is a pastoral response to a current challenge, which does not even attempt to provide an exhaustive list of New Age phenomena, since that would result in a very bulky tome, and such information is readily available elsewhere. It is essential to try to understand New Age correctly, in order to evaluate it fairly, and avoid creating a caricature. It would be unwise and untrue to say that everything connected with the New Age movement is good, or that everything about it is bad. Nevertheless, given the underlying vision of New Age religiosity, it is on the whole difficult to reconcile it with Christian doctrine and spirituality.
New Age is not a movement in the sense normally intended in the term “New Religious Movement”, and it is not what is normally meant by the terms “cult” and “sect”. Because it is spread across cultures, in phenomena as varied as music, films, seminars, workshops, retreats, therapies, and many more activities and events, it is much more diffuse and informal, though some religious or para-religious groups consciously incorporate New Age elements, and it has been suggested that New Age has been a source of ideas for various religious and para-religious sects.(9) New Age is not a single, uniform movement, but rather a loose network of practitioners whose approach is to think globally but act locally. People who are part of the network do not necessarily know each other and rarely, if ever, meet. In an attempt to avoid the confusion which can arise from using the term “movement”, some refer to New Age as a “milieu”,(10) or an “audience cult”.(11) However, it has also been pointed out that “it is a very coherent current of thought”,(12) a deliberate challenge to modern culture. It is a syncretistic structure incorporating many diverse elements, allowing people to share interests or connections to very different degrees and on varying levels of commitment. Many trends, practices and attitudes which are in some way part of New Age are, indeed, part of a broad and readily identifiable reaction to mainstream culture, so the word “movement” is not entirely out of place. It can be applied to New Age in the same sense as it is to other broad social movements, like the Civil Rights movement or the Peace Movement; like them, it includes a bewildering array of people linked to the movement's main aims, but very diverse in the way they are involved and in their understanding of particular issues.
The expression “New Age religion” is more controversial, so it seems best to avoid it, although New Age is often a response to people's religious questions and needs, and its appeal is to people who are trying to discover or rediscover a spiritual dimension in their life. Avoidance of the term “New Age religion” is not meant in any way to question the genuine character of people's search for meaning and sense in life; it respects the fact that many within the New Age Movement themselves distinguish carefully between “religion” and “spirituality”. Many have rejected organised religion, because in their judgement it has failed to answer their needs, and for precisely this reason they have looked elsewhere to find “spirituality”. Furthermore, at the heart of New Age is the belief that the time for particular religions is over, so to refer to it as a religion would run counter to its own self-understanding. However, it is quite accurate to place New Age in the broader context of esoteric religiousness, whose appeal continues to grow.(13)
There is a problem built into the current text. It is an attempt to understand and evaluate something which is basically an exaltation of the richness of human experience. It is bound to draw the criticism that it can never do justice to a cultural movement whose essence is precisely to break out of what are seen as the constricting limits of rational discourse. But it is meant as an invitation to Christians to take the New Age seriously, and as such asks its readers to enter into a critical dialogue with people approaching the same world from very different perspectives.
The pastoral effectiveness of the Church in the Third Millennium depends to a great extent on the preparation of effective communicators of the Gospel message. What follows is a response to the difficulties expressed by many in dealing with the very complex and elusive phenomenon known asNew Age. It is an attempt to understand what New Age is and to recognise the questions to which it claims to offer answers and solutions. There are some excellent books and other resources which survey the whole phenomenon or explain particular aspects in great detail, and reference will be made to some of these in the appendix. However they do not always undertake the necessary discernment in the light of Christian faith. The purpose of this contribution is to help Catholics find a key to understanding the basic principles behind New Age thinking, so that they can then make a Christian evaluation of the elements of New Age they encounter. It is worth saying that many people dislike the term New Age, and some suggest that “alternative spirituality” may be more correct and less limiting. It is also true that many of the phenomena mentioned in this document will probably not bear any particular label, but it is presumed, for the sake of brevity, that readers will recognise a phenomenon or set of phenomena that can justifiably at least be linked with the general cultural movement that is often known as New Age.

For many people, the term New Age clearly refers to a momentous turning-point in history. According to astrologers, we live in the Age of Pisces, which has been dominated by Christianity. But the current age of Pisces is due to be replaced by the New Age of Aquarius early in the third Millennium.(14) The Age of Aquarius has such a high profile in the New Age movement largely because of the influence of theosophy, spiritualism and anthroposophy, and their esoteric antecedents. People who stress the imminent change in the world are often expressing a wish for such a change, not so much in the world itself as in our culture, in the way we relate to the world; this is particularly clear in those who stress the idea of a New Paradigm for living. It is an attractive approach since, in some of its expressions, people do not watch passively, but have an active role in changing culture and bringing about a new spiritual awareness. In other expressions, more power is ascribed to the inevitable progression of natural cycles. In any case, the Age of Aquarius is a vision, not a theory. But New Age is a broad tradition, which incorporates many ideas which have no explicit link with the change from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. There are moderate, but quite generalised, visions of a future where there will be a planetary spirituality alongside separate religions, similar planetary political institutions to complement more local ones, global economic entities which are more participatory and democratic, greater emphasis on communication and education, a mixed approach to health combining professional medicine and self-healing, a more androgynous self-understanding and ways of integrating science, mysticism, technology and ecology. Again, this is evidence of a deep desire for a fulfilling and healthy existence for the human race and for the planet. Some of the traditions which flow into New Age are: ancient Egyptian occult practices, Cabbalism, early Christian gnosticism, Sufism, the lore of the Druids, Celtic Christianity, mediaeval alchemy, Renaissance hermeticism, Zen Buddhism, Yoga and so on.(15)
Here is what is “new” about New Age. It is a “syncretism of esoteric and secular elements”.(16)They link into a widely-held perception that the time is ripe for a fundamental change in individuals, in society and in the world. There are various expressions of the need for a shift:
– from Newtonian mechanistic physics to quantum physics;
– from modernity's exaltation of reason to an appreciation of feeling, emotion and experience (often described as a switch from 'left brain' rational thinking to 'right brain' intuitive thinking);
– from a dominance of masculinity and patriarchy to a celebration of femininity, in individuals and in society.
In these contexts the term “paradigm shift” is often used. In some cases it is clearly supposed that this shift is not simply desirable, but inevitable. The rejection of modernity underlying this desire for change is not new, but can be described as “a modern revival of pagan religions with a mixture of influences from both eastern religions and also from modern psychology, philosophy, science, and the counterculture that developed in the 1950s and 1960s”.(17) New Age is a witness to nothing less than a cultural revolution, a complex reaction to the dominant ideas and values in western culture, and yet its idealistic criticism is itself ironically typical of the culture it criticizes.
A word needs to be said on the notion of paradigm shift. It was made popular by Thomas Kuhn, an American historian of science, who saw a paradigm as “the entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques and so on shared by the members of a given community”.(18) When there is a shift from one paradigm to another, it is a question of wholesale transformation of perspective rather than one of gradual development. It really is a revolution, and Kuhn emphasised that competing paradigms are incommensurable and cannot co-exist. So the idea that a paradigm shift in the area of religion and spirituality is simply a new way of stating traditional beliefs misses the point. What is actually going on is a radical change in world- view, which puts into question not only the content but also the fundamental interpretation of the former vision. Perhaps the clearest example of this, in terms of the relationship between New Age and Christianity, is the total recasting of the life and significance of Jesus Christ. It is impossible to reconcile these two visions.(19)

from today's breviary...what does it mean to be a new person?

Therefore if somebody should say to one of us, “You have received the Holy Spirit, why do you not speak in tongues?” his reply should be, “I do indeed speak in the tongues of all men, because I belong to the body of Christ, that is, the Church, and she speaks all languages. What else did the presence of the Holy Spirit indicate at Pentecost, except that God’s Church was to speak in the language of every people?”
  This way is the way in which the Lord’s promise was fulfilled: No one puts new wine into old wineskins. New wine is put into fresh skins, and so both are preserved. So when the disciples were heard speaking in all kinds of languages, some people were not far wrong in saying: They have been drinking too much new wine. The truth is that the disciples had now become fresh wineskins, renewed and made holy by grace. The new wine of the Holy Spirit filled them, so that their fervour brimmed over and they spoke in manifold tongues. By this spectacular miracle they became a sign of the Catholic Church, which embraces the language of every nation.
  Keep this feast, then, as members of the one body of Christ. It will be no empty festival for you if you really become what you are celebrating. For you are the members of that Church which the Lord acknowledges as his own, being himself acknowledged by her, that same Church which he fills with the Holy Spirit as she spreads throughout the world. He is like a bridegroom who never loses sight of his own bride; no one could ever deceive him by substituting some other woman.
  To you men of all nations, then who make up the Church of Christ, you the members of Christ, you, the body of Christ, you, the bride of Christ – to all of you the Apostle addresses these words: Bear with one another in love; do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Notice that when Paul urges us to bear with one another, he bases his argument on love, and when he speaks of our hope of unity, he emphasises the bond of peace. This Church is the house of God. It is his delight to dwell here. Take care, then, that he never has the sorrow of seeing it undermined by schism and collapsing in ruins.

One of the reasons the Church is weak is that those of us who are baptized have not allowed God to make us a new person. A new person in Christ is not the same person we have created by our own efforts. Now, a parent, who forms a child in the way of God and the virtues, cooperates with God in the making of that new person.

There can be nothing of the world in the new person-nothing. One cannot play footsy with the world and be the person God wants each one of us to become.

To be a new person is to allow God total control over one's will-total.

One cannot hang on to anything. If one has experienced this change and the process takes time, one KNOWS it. If one has not experienced this, pray for it.

No one enters the Kingdom of God without becoming new.

This has nothing to do with gifts or charisms. Becoming new has everything to do with letting God change one in the very core of one's being. 

Sometimes, the person going through this feels like a child, and this is good.

Here is a key sign that one is in the process-ONE BECOMES DETACHED FROM ONE'S SELF.

This means the death of plans, gifts, goals, unless those are from God.

Tomorrow, at Pentecost Mass, give yourself entirely to God. Only then will you be made perfect.