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The ‘New Age’ Movement
On February 3, 2003*, the Vatican released a Provisional Report [available from Pauline Publications, Mumbai for Rs.30, and a must-read for Catholics in ministry and leadership] titled:
“Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the ‘New Age’.”
Commenting on it, Pope John Paul, according to the secular press, saw the ‘New Age’ as “one of the greatest threats to Christianity in the third millennium”. *[This ministry has been reporting on the New Age Movement in the Indian context since 1999].
The press also termed it “an unusually frank Church Document”. And this is the reason why.
Broadly classifying “New Age spirituality” into the categories of alternative therapies [holistic health], Eastern meditational techniques, psychospiritual techniques and activities involving the occult and the paranormal, the hard-hitting Document pulls no punches as it exposes the dangers posed by the ‘New Age’ to the Christian, spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23) when it says:
“We live in the last times”… “Christianity has to be eliminated and give way to a global religion”… “The real danger is the holistic paradigm. New Age is based on totalitarian unity and that is why it is a danger”. (n 4)
“New forms of psychological affirmation of the individual have become very popular among Catholics, even in retreat houses, seminaries and institutes of formation for religious”. (n 1.4)
“It must unfortunately be admitted that there are too many cases where Catholic centers of spirituality are actively involved in diffusing New Age religiosity in the Church”. (n 6.2)
The last quoted line continues:
“This would of course have to be corrected, not only to stop the spread of confusion and error, but also so that they [the Catholic centers of spirituality] might be effective in promoting true Christian spirituality”.
That being a clear admission of the present situation combined with the recommendation of the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, it rests upon all of us who have a burden for the Church, and who are the Church, to do our part to the extent possible to “stop the spread of confusion and error” in “Catholic centers of spirituality”.
Primarily we are called to pray for those of us who are involved in the practice and propagation of ‘New Age’. It is significant that one of the prayer intentions for the National Day of Intercession (November 1, 2003) of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal was:
FOR THE CHURCH: That Christians may safeguard themselves from falling prey to the New Age Movement which is subtly infiltrating into the Church and undermining the Lordship of Jesus. [CHARISINDIA]
As servant-leaders, prophets and watchmen, we must be equipped to identify ‘New Age’ spirituality in order to protect ourselves from deception, warn others and, in love, correct those who may be ignorantly involved.
“My people perish from want of knowledge! Since you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from my priesthood.” (Hosea 4:6) “Of the Issacharites, their chiefs were endowed with an understanding of the times, and knew what Israel had to do.” (I Chronicles 12:33)
Detailed articles, reports and analyses identifying the “centers of spirituality” - the Catholic organizations in the Church in India that are promoting ‘New Age’ spirituality- and determining that their philosophies and practices are incompatible with and diametrically opposed to Scripture and Church teaching, are available from this ministry as hardcopy, free of cost.
Their purpose is not to condemn those engaged in a genuine spiritual search who are led into ‘New Age’, but to create awareness so that Catholics may safeguard, and pray for, one another, with the conviction that the answer to the search for holism and deep contemplative prayer is not to be found in techniques and therapies but only and completely in Jesus Christ, ‘the Bearer of the Water of Life’ (John 10:10, 4:14).
The writer has been exposing the errors and dangers of New Age alternative medicines and eastern or oriental meditational exercises through short talks, seminars and writing articles from 1999. They are generally tailored to fit the Indian context and situation, but do not exclude the wider perspective. There are two broad categories of articles produced by this ministry. The first comprises of write-ups on the issues mentioned immediately above, from Acupressure to Zen Buddhist meditation.
The second consists of reports on Catholic-run organizations and institutions like the Catholic Health Association of India [CHAI], Dharma Bharathi, the Holistic Health Centres run by nuns, the KRIPA Foundation, the World Community for Christian Meditation [WCCM], the Ashrams Movement etc. which propagate New Age ideologies and practices.
All reports are intensively researched and, as far as is possible, backed with personal visits, interviews and documented information. They are prepared in the light of the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church in its Encyclicals and Documents and on Revelation in Scripture.
Other than the articles and reports posted on this website, there are several available only in hardcopy [which are sent by snail-mail against individual request] but they are being gradually transferred to the computer. New articles, exposés, analyses and reports are hosted on the web site at regular intervals.
Letters and reports from this ministry have been regularly sent to every one of the more than 170 Bishops of the Church in India and all their Commissions, and to all dicasteries of the Holy See.
This ministry has received hundreds of letters of acknowledgement, appreciation and encouragement from the Apostolic Nuncio to India, our Cardinals and Bishops. And a few from Rome.
The encouraging letters from priests and seminarians, from heads of all major retreat centres, a large number of national and regional leaders in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, from eminent Charismatic Renewal leaders worldwide, and from several hundred servant-leaders and lay persons who share a common burden for the Church and who stand for truth and the Truth (John 14:6) cannot be counted.
This ministry is deeply grateful to the many Catholics who have supported it with intercession and encouraged it with information, and moral, logistical, and financial support to make its continued presence and increasing outreach possible.
I am especially thankful to my webmaster Antony Vijayendran who does not charge me for his invaluable services in managing this web site.
Suggestions are most welcome. Please contact this ministry if you would like us to study a particular New Age issue that is troubling you or your local parish. Information submitted for study or use must be fully documented.
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