New Age Superstition vs. Christianity

News: Commentary
by Paul Brock III  •  •  August 17, 2022   

'A quick way of finding God'

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Everybody seeks transcendence, but it's too often found in a counterfeit form. As such, real and authentic spirituality — which only comes from the absolutely transcendent God — ends up being ignored or rejected.

St. Paul 

In 1989, the Vatican warned of New Age practices, stating that Eastern prayer and meditation can be harmful to Catholic spirituality.

The document issued by the Vatican, which was put together by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, identified New Age methods as erroneous, labeling them "a quick way of finding God."

A quick way to find God, as St. Paul tells us, is to look around the natural world and recognize an intelligent Creator (Romans 1:20). But this mere philosophical truth about God's existence cannot fulfill our transcendental desires. The yearning for true transformation is accomplished through the intellect and will, along with the passions.

In the intellect, man comes to know God. In the will, man chooses, through his actions, to love God. And with the passions, man comes to serve God by freely ordering even his emotions towards Him.

But all this first requires grace — then a cooperation with that grace. And this is what New Agers deny.

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In 2003, well over a decade after the CDF issued its initial document on the New Age, the Vatican again weighed in on the growing problem, cautioning the world that "New Age practices are not really prayer." The Vatican stated that from the perspective of the New Age ideology, "God's function is seen as supplying all our needs."

A real transcendence, which is the entire purpose of life, is not achieved through this "prosperity gospel" type of approach.

We are called by the Father to unite our wills to His.

God does not exist for our subjective wants, like a genie in a bottle. In fact, His nature forbids this from happening, for He would never give us something detrimental to our salvation.

Therefore, the only possible "genie in a bottle" approach to God that might work is set forth by St. Thomas Aquinas:

From the very fact that we ask for temporal things not as the principal object of our petition, but as subordinate to something else, we ask God for them in the sense that they may be granted to us in so far as they are expedient for salvation (ST, II–II, q. 83, a. 6).

In seeking an earthly salvation over a heavenly one, there is a "selfishness at the heart of this New Age," according to the Vatican.

The Agony in the Garden and the Annunciation

Prayer is a conversation between a child and his Father. More specifically (and for us fallen human beings), prayer is a plea from a lost, desperate and lonely adopted child to his all-powerful, infinite and loving Father. It is only from this disposition that man is brought to his knees in adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication.

Our Lord prayed in the Garden, "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39); and Our Lady told the angel Gabriel, "Be it done to me according to thy word" (Luke 1:38). 

Though we are not divine like Christ or immaculate like Mary, we are called by the Father to unite our wills to His, as they did.

Transcendence, therefore, is not so much a sheer exertion of the will, but rather, it's a kind of non-exertion. That is, in order to increase in holiness, we must completely open ourselves up to the will of God. In doing this, there is a humble, receptive and childlike readiness in the soul. This humility serves as the foundation for the spiritual life, which results in knowing God, loving Him and serving Him in this life.

To learn more about the New Age movement and the Catholic remedies to this erroneous ideology, watch this week's Mic'd Up, wherein David Gordon talks with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., author of Catholics and the New Age.

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