Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Medjugorje Alert: Beware Of The Polish Catholic Renegade Group The Knights Of Christ The King

Knights of Christ The King Group ascending up Cross Mountain (Križevac), June 24th, 2014.
Father Piotr Natanek is the individual in the middle carrying the cross.

If you are somewhat surprised by the title of this post and wondering what it might be all about, I am sure you are not alone. This too was my reaction when I first saw an article on Medjugorje Today's web site entitled, Renegade Group Is Loose On The Mountains.

The concern surrounding this Polish Catholic group is with respect to its wrongful acceptance of "private revelations" of a suspended Polish Catholic priest, Father Piotr Natanek, who in his dissension, has spread wrongful opinions regarding the regality of Jesus. As a result Fr. Piotr has gained a Catholic cult following which the above photo depicts. 

My initial reaction to this matter had an added meaning not only because of my connection to Medjugorje, but due to the fact that I recognized the Polish group from my first climb up Križevac (Cross Mountain) this past summer. I was intrigued to read more about this matter so I decided to do some research. Today's post shares that information, in which I hope to not only inform those pilgrims that I journeyed with in the Summer'2014, but to also forewarn those individuals that are planning a pilgrimage to Medjugorje.

The suspension of Fr. Piotr was ordered by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the former special secretary to Saint Pope John Paul II. It was not a suspension ordered in haste, but was the result of having exhausted all communication efforts to reach Fr. Piotr and have him obey his superiors.

Father Piotr is known for his controversial homilies and messages, which increasingly became a problem for the Catholic Church in Poland because his sermons were being published on the internet. One sermon, in which Fr. Piotr preached against the incursion of Satan in the lives of young Polish people, was published to the internet and within a few days and was seen by more than half a million people.

After having examined the case by a theological commission, Cardinal Dziwisz decided to suspend the rebel priest for his disobedience.

Cardinal Dziwisz explained that Fr. Piotr received more than one admonition and in response should have demonstrated greater self control, and obeyed his superiors. Some of the communication efforts to try to reach Fr. Piotr included disciplinary directives and invitations to meet with his superiors in 2010, and canonical admonishments in 2007 and 2009. Father Piotr's actions were causing damage to the Catholic community around him. In a letter dated July 20, 2011 Cardinal Dziwisz's reveals the seriousness of this matter from the following segment:
...The basis of this decision is produced by the disobedience of p. Peter Natanek and his teachings that are contrary to the teachings of the Church regarding the views of the kingship of Jesus Christ. He is based on the teachings of private revelations and teaching abroad inspired the doctrines of the Church of seven eschatological. Father Peter Natanek distorted in this way not only the established doctrine of the efficacy of salvation in the Church, but also the devotion to the Mother of God, the angels and the saints mixed with magical notions of faith, leading to ridicule the religion of the Church. In his message, distributed by electronic media, undermines the authority of the bishops and priests, accusing them of disbelief and interact with the enemies of the Church. In response to criticism of his fellow pastors and priests try to create its own structures, discouraging his followers to be part of the communion of the universal Church and so exposes them to great spiritual and moral damages...(Annalisacolzi.it)

More of the Knights Of Christ The King from that June 24th climb up Cross Mountain (Križevac)

The photos published with today's post are my own that I took during my first climb up Cross Mountain (Križevac). These photos were taken at the base of Križevac, during the few minutes I had to spare after descending down the mountain.

Being in Medjugorje and just completing my first climb up Križevac, I was on a "spiritual high" as you can imagine. I did not expect to encounter a renegade group from Poland. Based on first impressions and what appeared to be a wonderful devotional procession up the the mountain, I was inspired to shoot some photographs. It is only because of today's post have I come to understand the purpose of that inspiration.

My pilgrimage and first climb up Križevac was not negatively affected in any way by this group's presence. In retrospect, I do not speculate as to the sincerity of their devotion to Jesus and the desire to express it in Medjugorje, but what I will state about this group is this; that as a matter of prudence they should severe all ties with Father Piotr, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and begin anew in their "sincere" desire to follow Christ. To maintain the course that they are on is spiritually dangerous for themselves and divisive for the Catholic Church.

If you do intend to make a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, I would like to respectfully recommend you remain cognizant of who this renegade group is, should they be present during your pilgrimage. Do not interact or make any contact with them. Carry on with the purpose of your pilgrimage.

May Our Lady Queen of Peace, guide and protect you on your pilgrimage. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Professional Obligations and Human Rights - An Anti-Life Policy From Ontario's College Of Physicians And Surgeons

The CPSO Draft Policy, Saint Pope John Paul II and The Catechism of The Catholic Church

If the title of this blog post intrigues you I hope you will consider reading further on because there is an urgent need to respond to the increasing moral disorder in Canada and help restore Canadian society to a "culture of life." The "increasing moral disorder" comes from the policy development efforts at the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSO). Currently under review is a draft policy, Professional Obligations and Human Rights, which fails to identify and protect the most fundamental aspect of human rights, the right to life. In addition, the college sets out certain guidelines and expectations that direct its members to act against their conscience should a "health care service" conflict with moral or religious beliefs. This is an attack on the freedom of conscience which is not only completely unacceptable, but spotlights the college's additional failure to recognize another basic human right, the right to refuse to take part in committing an injustice. With abortion and contraception legally available, many aspects of this draft policy are cause for great concern for Catholics and all people of good will. Today's post seeks to identify what is morally wrong with this draft policy from a Catholic perspective and encourage action to support and stand by our doctors.

What is at stake here is not only the lives of defenceless, innocent unborn children in the womb and the freedom of conscience for doctors, but the loss of future opportunities for young conscientious Catholics students and others of good will, to become doctors in Ontario. Any approval of this draft policy will certainly deter such students from pursuing a career as a physician or surgeon. After reading this draft, one gets the impression that the aim is to not only restrict those doctors who currently act upon their freedom of conscience, but to possibly even drive them out of the medical profession. Should all this come into effect, what choices would Catholic patients have, who want a doctor of good conscience that will make medical decisions in accord with the Catholic faith? This current draft policy discriminates against all those who are Catholic and pro-life. If approved, it becomes a foundation with which to implement disciplinary penalties and persecute doctors on a professional level who refuse comply with the policy.

I originally took an interest in the subject matter of today's post while on pilgrimage in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina this past summer. Back in July'2014 as I was having my usual morning cappuccino and danish, I decided to visit Lifesitenews.com to see what was going on in Canada. There was an article whose title intrigued me, Is the Ontario College of Physicians trying to clamp down on doctors' freedom of conscience. Upon reading it, I was astonished to discover that the CPSO had drafted and published a policy in 2008, that strongly discouraged freedom of conscience. That policy was given the title, Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code. The college's strong discouragements can be found under the subheadings of: Moral or Religious Beliefs, Ontario Human Rights Code: Current Law and College Expectations. The policy cover page states that it was to be reviewed in September 2013. As part of the review process, an "external consultation" was held in 2014, between June 4th and August 5th that welcomed the general public to provide feedback. This is in part why Lifesitenews had published the aforementioned article in June of this year, encouraging the public to get involved and provide input as to how the policy could be corrected and improved upon. Being on pilgrimage, my mind was focussed elsewhere and I was not going to delve into this issue, but I certainly took note of it for future reference. Today I have decided to take action and I hope you will be encouraged to do likewise.

What further drew my attention to this issue and has prompted me to take action is another article published earlier this month from LifeSiteNews, an update to the CPSO's policy development entitled, BREAKING: Ontario College approves draft policy forcing doctors to provide abortions, contraceptives. Since the summer, the CPSO developed a revised draft policy to the existing one from 2008, and has given it a new title Professional Obligations and Human Rights. Currently the CPSO is holding another external consultation on this new draft policy, welcoming public input at their web site up until a deadline of February 20th, 2015.

If you have not been aware of the CPSO's policy development or have yet to respond to it, the current external consultation will now afford you an opportunity to do something about it. Any conscientious Catholic who values human life, who wants to help protect and save the unborn children from abortion, and the elderly and anyone else from euthanasia and who considers it essential that freedom of conscience be available for doctors, needs to get involved and provide their input to the CPSO's web site. This draft policy is a clarion call to Catholic communities and all people of good will, to speak out and stand by our doctors. What this requires is: prayer and fasting, a sincere desire to help, some reading and the collection your thoughts to be communicated by email, an online forum and/or survey. Providing your feedback is simply a matter of putting faith into action. To quote scripture, "What good is a faith that does nothing in practice. It is thoroughly lifeless." (James 2:17) The policy development efforts at the CPSO is part of the battle against the "culture of death" and it can conveniently be fought from within the comfort of your own home.

Reading the Professional Obligation and Human Rights draft policy document sets off alarm bells right from the beginning. For example, there is language adopted from the gay agenda and its propaganda such as on lines 4-6 which states, "The fiduciary nature of the physician-patient relationship requires that physicians act in their patients' best interests. In doing so, physicians must strive to create and foster an environment in which rights, autonomy, dignity and diversity of all patients, or those seeking to become patients, are respected. The inclusion of "diversity," is totally unnecessary given the preceding words on this list. 

Moving down to lines 24-26, where it states, "Properly managing conflicts, especially where the physician's values differ from those of their patients, or those seeking to become patients. The patient's best interests must remain paramount." The patient's "best interests" is ambiguous and can be interpreted to mean the inclusion of anti-life acts and practices such as abortion and contraception.

Further on at lines 37-41 is another example of the adoption of gay propaganda language. The policy states that, "The Code articulates the right of every Ontario resident to receive equitable treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination on the grounds of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability." This might be the language of the Code, but "gender identity and expression" should have never been included in the draft policy. Such wording does not reflect the truth and reality of the human person. An individual's sex is not determined by desires, perceptions or feelings. A person is either male or female and for anyone to deny this reality and consider themselves contrary to what is biological true, is to give way to delusion and deception.

The current draft policy's inclusion of "diversity, gender identity and gender expression," are new inclusions that the 2008 policy, Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code, did not list. These new inclusions are elements of gender ideology, which have no place in the draft policy. For those who are new to "gender ideology," I would like to quote a pastoral letter from the Polish Bishop's Conference, issued in 2013, on the feast of the Holy Family:
This ideology promotes principles that are totally contrary to reality and an integral understanding of human nature. It maintains that biological sex is not socially significant and that cultural sex which humans can freely develop and determine irrespective of biological conditions is most important. According to this ideology, humans can freely determine whether they want to be men or women and freely choose their sexual orientation.
Poland has experienced the introduction of gender ideology in many spheres of society. As the pastoral letter from the Polish Bishop's notes, gender ideology has been "introduced into different structures of social life: education, health service, cultural and education centres and non-governmental organisations." Canada has experienced much of the same, which the current draft policy's inclusion of gender ideology elements is but one of many examples to draw from.

The college seems to set the ground work for removing freedom of conscience with its references to the Ontario Human Rights Code's definition of discrimination at lines 42-47. Immediately following this section are the college's "expectations" lines 48-55, regarding any decision relating to the provision of "health care services." A somewhat ambiguous expectation is on line 52, "Providing existing patients with healthcare or services." This is open to interpretation as to what "health care services" actually include. This of course can be problematic for Catholics, who in good conscience, can not directly or indirectly provide "health care services," that are in conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church, such as abortion, euthanasia and contraception. Such anti-life acts or practices can never be equated with "health care services." To do so not only ignores the dignity of the human person, but also diminishes the truth and distorts the reality of these acts which are direct attacks against the fundamental right to life. 

Freedom of conscience is directly attacked with explicit language under three sections of this draft policy: Moral and Religious Beliefs (lines 112-136), Respecting Patient Dignity (lines 137-149) and Ensuring Access To Care (lines 150-165). Under the Moral and Religious Beliefs one gets the impression that for doctors to have recourse to moral and religious beliefs is not a certainty with which they can escape from any negative ramifications. 

The Respecting Patient Dignity section is somewhat contradictory. It states at lines 138-141 that where physicians are unwilling to provide certain "elements of care" due to their moral or religious beliefs, that such objections must be communicated to patients. Then at lines 145-148 it states that physicians must not try to convert patients or promote their own religious beliefs. Any explanation by a doctor regarding his or her objections to any "elements of care," based on moral or religious beliefs, would not only have to take into consideration communicating such objections in a sensitive manner, but also in a clear and complete manner. By doing so, according to the ambiguity of this section, such an explanation may be misconstrued as engaging in an attempt to convert patients.

What is more obvious of an attack on the freedom of conscience is at the third section, Ensuring Access To CareThe college expects doctors to "ensure access to care," in two main ways: informational and referral. The college requires doctors to provide information about all "clinical" options that are "available or appropriate to meet patients' clinical needs or concerns." Physicians are forbidden to withhold information pertaining to this when it conflicts with their moral or religious beliefs. In the case when physicians are unwilling to provide certain "elements of care," based on their moral and religious beliefs, they must refer patients to another "health care provider." For Catholic doctors to comply with such expectations is to become an accessory to a patient's sin when such "clinical needs or concerns" constitute anti-life acts or practices, such as abortion, euthanasia and contraception.

The root problem with the policy development at the CPSO is that it reflects an anti-life approach. What this draft policy specifically illustrates is the college's failure to explicitly state that no physician or surgeon should consider abortion, euthanasia, contraception and any other threat to the value and inviolability of human life, acceptable and apart of any definition of, reference to or inclusion in "elements of care" or "health care services." Such is a necessary and clear statement in the draft policy that not only recognizes the sacredness of human life, but also identifies and denounces all anti-life acts and practices. At the same time the draft policy should reinforce to the college's members that their education, training and experience should be placed at the service of life. What this translates into is the moral obligation of physicians and surgeons to respect and protect life from the moment of conception to natural death. (Catechism of The Catholic Church, 2261, 2270, 2271) Sadly the policy development at the college fails to seek, recognize and respect the truth about human life and the dignity of persons, first and foremost by failing to acknowledge the sacredness of human life. In the Catechism of The Catholic Church, under the 5th Commandment "Thou Shall Not Kill," it clearly states why life is sacred: 
Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being. (2258)
The sacredness of human life is also something that Saint Pope John Paul II wrote about in his pro-life document, the encyclical Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life). In reference to biblical story of Cain's killing of Abel he states: 
The sacredness of life gives rise to its inviolability, written from the beginning in man's heart, in his conscience. The question: "What have you done?" (Gen 4:10), which God addresses to Cain after he has killed his brother Abel, interprets the experience of every person: in the depths of his conscience, man is always reminded of the inviolability of life-his own life and that of others-as something which does not belong to him, because it is the property and gift of God the Creator and Father. (40)
It is rather paradoxical that the title given to this draft policy includes "Human Rights" when the policy itself does not defend the most fundamental aspect of human rights, the right to life. In addition this policy also fails to recognize another basic human right, the right of an individual to refuse to take part in an injustice. For Catholics this is a moral duty, which Saint Pope John Paul II noted in the aforementioned encyclical. (74)

Saint Pope John Paul II also made it clear that physicians, health care personnel and directors of hospitals, clinics and convalescent facilities be afforded the opportunity to refuse to take part in any aspect of anti-life acts be it consultation, preparation and execution of these acts. In support of freedom on conscience, he states that, "Those who have recourse to conscientious objection must be protected not only from legal penalties but also from any negative effects on the legal, disciplinary, financial and professional plane." (74)

One of the most important things to remember in the fight to restore Canada to a "culture of life" is the fact that the battle is primarily a spiritual one, and must be fought with effective spiritual weapons. IEvangelium Vitae, Saint Pope John Paul II included this important aspect of the battle by pointing out that no matter how well organized and funded the forces promoting the "culture of death" are, we can always rely on God's help, for nothing is impossible for God. He specifically mentioned the spiritual weapons of fasting and prayer as the most effective weapons against the forces of evil and made reference to Jesus addressing his apostles on the necessity of fasting that, "...[S]ome demons cannot be driven out except in this way." (100) 

The best way to fast is on bread and water. It does not matter how much bread one eats or how much water one drinks, so long as it strictly remains only bread and water, for the entire day, 24 hours. This has been the recommendation of Our Lady in Medjugorje. For those new to fasting, I would like to share with you my post on fasting, Our Lady's Little Stone - Fasting on Bread and Water

As for prayer, the two most powerful prayers are the Holy Mass and the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary respectively. Going to Mass often, daily if possible, coupled with a daily recitation of the the entire Rosary, that is, all four sets of mysteries, together with fasting, forms the foundation upon which each individual can take up the fight against the "culture of death" and help restore Ontario and Canada, to a "culture of life." Our Lady in Medjugorje has also recommend both prayers, which you can read about from two of my other posts: Our Lady's Little Stone - Eucharist and Our Lady's Little Stone - Pray With The Heart, The Rosary Everyday. I would like to encourage all who are willing to fight the good fight to take to heart the following plea Saint Pope John Paul II included in Evangelium Vitae:
Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. May this same power turn their hearts to resolutions and goals inspired by the civilization of life and love. (100)
Given the opportunity granted by the CPSO's current external consultation, it is up to all conscientious Catholics and all people of good will to respond courageously in the face of this increasing moral disorder and help restore Ontario and Canada to a "culture of life." 

May God guide your response.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Our Lady's Square (Gospin Trg): A Time Of Divine Intimacy

A photo of me in prayer at Gospin Trg
Our Lady's Square (Gospin Trg) and Me at the far left in prayer to Our Lady during my pilgrimage this past summer

Today's post continues with my series of posts on Medjugorje and the wonderful prayer locations throughout. With today being the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, it seemed only fitting to publish today's post in honour of Our Lady. I have done so in particular for those individuals who are new to Medjugorje. Whether you are on route, scheduled to go or in the process of planning a pilgrimage, I hope today's post will add to your pilgrimage experience.

The specific prayer location that I refer to today is Our Lady's Square (Gospin Trg) in the front area of Saint James Church. Saint James Church is the only church in Medjugorje and is considered to be the central area of Medjugorje.

At Our Lady's Square, you find a beautiful white statue of Our Lady, several planters and water fountains. It is one of four well known and frequently visited statues of Our Lady in Medjugorje. Of the other three statues, one is located on Apparition Hill (Brdo Ukazanja) and the other two are at the Blue Crosses. 

Orientation programs typically include a visit to the front area of Saint James Church, where the beauty and peace of Our Lady's statue is sure to catch anyone's attention. Some pilgrims visit Our Lady's statue as a matter of personal discovery. No matter how pilgrims are introduced to Our Lady's statue, one thing is for certain, all who spend time at this location will come to understand and experience that praying to Our Lady will be a time of divine intimacy.

In addition to the draw of divine intimacy, the central location of Our Lady's Square  grants pilgrims an opportunity to pray to Our Lady in a very convenient manner. Unlike the major prayer sites of Cross Mountain (Križevac), Apparition Hill and the Blue Crosses, Our Lady's Square is located near many restaurants, shops, hotels and pensions. The close proximity affords pilgrims the opportunity to consider a visit to Our Lady's statue at any time of the day or night. For some it is simply a matter of walking across the street, others a brief walk from their pension.

The convenience of this location really becomes apparent when pilgrims are inspired to pray to Our Lady unexpectedly. Some in response to inspiration, may climb up Apparition Hill or the Blue Crosses, while others may not be so inclined to do so. For those that are not, yet still seek divine intimacy with Our Lady, a quick and comfortable walk to Our Lady's Square will satisfy that desire. Upon arrival, pilgrims can quickly collect themselves, enter into Our Lady's presence and segue into prayer.

A photo of the white statue of Our Lady at Gospin Trg, St. James Church
Our Lady's Square in July 2014

Availability to pray to Our Lady at this location is twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. At night the light posts automatically come on and illuminate the entire square where many typically gather for personal prayer. Some pilgrims make it a part of their personal prayer program to attend this location every night, when it typically is less occupied.

If you plan to make a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in the summer months, do keep in mind that even during the late evening, there are many pilgrims at this location. It would not be unusual to visit Our Lady's Square in the late hours of the night and find pilgrims in prayer. It truly is a special location that can only be completely understood by experiencing it.

As to what your prayer program may include at Our Lady's Square, this is a matter of personal preference. If I may suggest, you may want to consider reciting part of your Rosary and include mediations such as Father Slavko Barbarić's book, In The School Of Love, which is available at the Franciscan Book Store next to the Information Center and Pošta (Post Office). Perhaps you prefer to simply speak to Our Blessed Mother informally in your own words as a continued expression of your love. Perhaps you will do all or any combination of the above. What ever you decide to do, it will be time well spent.

May Our Lady clear the way for your pilgrimage to Medjugorje, guide and inspire you while you are there and grant you an abundance of graces. 

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

New Age Alternative Therapies and Medicine: A Need For Discernment

A photo of New Age alternative medicines and therapies.
New Age Therapy and Medicine: Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Today's post introduces a new book on the dangers of the New Age entitled, Spiritual Deceptions in the Church and the Culture: A Comprehensive Guide to Discernment written by Moira Noonan and Anne Feaster, and published by the Ave Maria Centre of Peace.

The book title does justice to its content as it truly is a comprehensive guide to discernment. It also serves as a key resource for anyone seeking clarity and understanding about the dangers of the New Age, and its deceptive belief systems and practices.

Detailing many aspects of the New Age, this book cites heavily from the Vatican document, Jesus Christ The Bearer Of The Water Of Life, a Christian reflection on the New Age, released in 2003, as a response to the New Age phenomenon. Whether you are new to the dangers of the New Age or if you are somewhat well read on the subject matter, this book is a perfect addition for those seeking to further their understanding, and bring awareness to others.

If today's post is the first time you have been alerted to concerns raised about the New Age, may I suggest you read my initial post on the New Age, The New Age: A Basic Introduction.

With fourteen chapters totalling almost three hundred pages, this book covers a variety of topics on the New Age including: the heresies that form the historical basis of New Age thinking; the false philosophies that underlie its belief systems; a comparison between Christian contemplation and Eastern meditation; the truth behind alternative healing therapies and medicines; how popular culture, media and the youth have become the doorways to the occult; dedicated chapters for discernment of spirits; an explanation on demonology and deliverance; spiritual warfare; and a "Q and A" chapter of questions posed by readers.

The Endnotes are an impressive twenty pages that are sure to satisfy any reader's intrigue and desire for further reading. Included are several well known sources: Exorcists Father Jeremy Davies and Father Gabriele Amorth, Pope Leo XIII, Saint Pope John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Monsignor Milivoj Bolobanić, Archbishop Norberto Rivera, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Father Mitch Pacwa, Michael D. O'Brien, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, LifesiteNews and Catholic News Agency just to name a few.

In addition there is an extensive Glossary providing a much needed, quick reference for what is sure to be for many, an unfamiliar listing of New Age terms, beliefs, and practices. Add to this Appendix A, the complete document from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for evaluating Reiki entitled, Guidelines For Evaluating Reiki As An Alternative Therapy.  Appendix B contains three pages of scriptural passages.

In my view, the publication of this book has been long overdue and will certainly make for a welcome addition to your reading on the New Age phenomenon.

Due to the volume and density of information contained in this book, and for the sake of brevity, I have decided to focus today's post on chapter seven Alternative Holistic Healing Therapies Affecting Mind, Body and Soul, which specifically deals with the many New Age alternative therapies and medicine. It is an especially important chapter given the fact that it is through the medical field and the health/fitness industry that the New Age has established a domain for alternative healing practices. The result for many has been the following of false prophets, an acceptance of alternative belief systems and practices, and the reception of counterfeit healing and treatments

Today's focus also coincides with concerns stemming from my observations during many of my daily walks in which I have discovered several New Age practices within my local community such asacupuncture, chiropractic, holistic and preventive medicine, homeopathy, reiki, qigong, iridology, Traditional Chinese Medicine or "TCM" and yoga. This list is by no means an exhaustive one as Noonan and Feaster point out in chapter seven, there are many different types of therapies and medicine that fall into the alternative medicine category: 
The domain of alternative medicine is extensive because of the numerous types of therapies offered: homeopathy, acupuncture, acupressure, herbalism, applied kinesiology, reflexology and aromatherapy, bio-energy therapy, reiki, touch for health and therapeutic touch all fall under the heading of alternative therapies, with the list continually growing. Although the origin of each therapy may differ, they are all categorized under holistic health... (101)
Should you endeavour to do likewise and discover if the New Age has infiltrated your community, be on guard against the euphemistic titles and deceptive descriptions such as: oasis, sanctuary, wellness, mind body and spirit, holistic therapies, remedies, weight loss, massage therapy, natural and herbal, preventative and alternative medicine.

If there is a treatment that you are unfamiliar with, do not assume it to be acceptable. This has been the mistake of many, failing to question the validity of these treatments and their origin. Also be cognizant of where such "services" are provided, which is typically within trusted medical centers, and health and fitness locations. Be prudent, hold off and do the research. Do not be anaesthetized by the pleasant setting, and encouraged by others who seem to readily accept New Age practices.

So what does the concerned Catholic do in trying to discern what therapies and medicine are acceptable, and which are not. In addition to rooting your effort in prayer and fasting, seeking the truth is essential. This last inclusion of "seeking the truth" may seem rather obvious, but with so much information out there, it really is a necessary reminder for all of us.

What this entails is accessing the right sources such as the aforementioned Vatican document, books such as the one that I am blogging about today, scripture, and Church teaching which can be found in the Catechism of The Catholic Church.

In Noonan and Feaster's book, chapter seven under the subheading, Alternative Medicine, they provide information to help the discerning Catholic recognize which therapies and medicine fall under the New Age. For your immediate reference, I have included the four "common characteristics" to help you identify what are New Age holistic health practices:
  1. Altered States of Consciousness: Used by a vast number of practices, including: therapeutic touch, psychic diagnosis, dream work, crystal healing and higher mind healing. 
  2. Maya: A concept that claims that illness is just an illusion and proper healing can be induced through thinking, meditation, visualization or positive affirmation.
  3. A Magical Worldview/Divination: With this belief, the practitioner uses psychic powers to diagnose, predict or forecast alleged illnesses.
  4. Life Energies: The New Age model of holistic health is based primarily on its conception of energy and not matter. Illness is not seen as primarily a physical problem, but rather as an imbalance of energy in the body or as a by-product of unenlightened consciousness.
To clarify, "altered states of consciousness or "ASCs" are abnormal mental states that aim to create a void in the practitioner's mind typically characterized by a significant reduction of logical thought and passivity of will. It is through ASCs that practitioners are brought to an encounter with the demonic.

Further in chapter seven under the subheading, Alternative Medicine, the authors recommend applying the following principles to acquire the truth about any New Age treatment: 
  • Determine if the practice is inherently unbiblical. Does it involve immorality, idolatry, demonic forces, mediums or Eastern mysticism? Better to continue to be physically sick than to become spiritually diseased (Deut 18:10-13)
  • If acceptable in a Biblical worldview, does it really work? Be a pragmatist. Don't just accept stories and testimonies which do not prove anything by themselves. Controlled studies are the best means of determining the effectiveness of any therapy.
  • If acceptable in a Biblical worldview and scientifically feasible, make sure that the practitioner does not influence you with a false spirituality or a mystical worldview. 

Having identified the problems with New Age alternative therapies and medicine, what then is to be understood about authentic healing? The authors provide guidelines in chapter seven under the subheading, Guidelines for Authentic HealingThe point to remember about authentic healing is this: it is a matter of divine grace, a gift from God!

Healing by divine grace is never achieved by employing techniques or through some ritual; nor, should it be considered and associated in any way with an "energy" or "power" to be harnessed, handed down, manipulated or used at human disposal.

Healing by divine grace comes in the form of the sacraments and prayer. The authors specifically note: the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick; the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession); intercessory prayer of the faithful; and the charism of healing that is bestowed upon individuals. These healing gifts are freely available given to the Church for its benefit. Those individuals who possess the charism of healing do so as a matter of being instruments of the Holy Spirit. All this is in stark contrast to the New Age, which seeks to obtain healing apart from God; a false and counterfeit healing whose source is the demonic.

Proper Catholic discernment tells us that under no circumstances even for the purpose of achieving "better health" are we to have recourse to the demonic. The Catechism of The Catholic Church makes this very clear:
All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity (2117)
The spiritual perils of New Age therapies and medicines are also revealed by the fact that they are both scientifically unproven and questionable. That being the case, to rely on them is a matter of superstition which reveals the New Age's anti-Christian approach as Noonan and Feaster point out: 
If a medicine, or any healing system, cannot be explained and proven effective by the most reliable method of science available, then relying on it could very well be a form of superstition. Trusting in an illogical type of medicine or device for healing would be no different than believing in superstitious practices such as carrying objects for good luck. To do so is to act contrary to the virtue of religion. (111) 
To further your awareness and understanding of what therapies and medicines are considered to be New Age, below is a list that Noonan and Feaster have compiled in chapter seven, under the subheading, Alternative Therapies at a Glance. The authors have also categorized the following practices as: "scientifically questionable (SC); scientifically unproven (SU); and/or energy healing (E)" (114):

  • Acupressure (SQ, E), Acupuncture (SQ, SU, E), Allergy Elimination Techniques (SQ, SU, E), Applied Kinesiology (SQ, SU, E), Aromatherapy (sometimes SQ, SU), Astrology and Horoscope Readings (SQ, SU), Aura Healing and Aura Soma color therapies (E), Ayurvedic Medicine (SU, E)
  • Bach Flower remedies (SQ, E), Body, mind and spirit healing and workshops (SQ, E), Bio-energetic healing (mystical energy) (E), Biofeedback (can be SU, E)
  • Chakra Balancing and Healing (E), Chelation Therapy (can be used but SQ), Chiropractic (can be E, can be SQ, can be SU), Colonics (can be SQ), Colour Therapy Healing (E), Cosmic and Vortex Healing (E), CranioSacral Therapy (SQ, can be E), Crystal Healing (E)
  • Eckankar Soul Travel (E), Edgar Cayce Methods of Psychic Healing (SU, E), Energy Balancing and Energy Healing (E), Energy Medicine (SQ, E)
  • Feng Shui (art of energy displacement) (E)
  • Herbalism (SQ, E), Homeopathy (SQ, SU, E), Hot Stone Massage (SQ, SU, E)
  • I Ching (Chinese fortune telling) (SQ, SU), Iridology (SQ)
  • Live Blood Analysis (Nutritional Blood Analysis) (SU, SQ)
  • Magnet Therapy (SU, sometimes E)
  • Naturopathy (SQ, SU, E), Nine Star Ki (fortune telling) (SQ, SU), Numerology & Charts (divination) (SQ, SU)
  • Palm Reading/Angel Readings (SQ, SU)
  • Pendulums, Dowsing, Consultancy and Healing (E), pH Balancing (SU), Polarity Therapy (chakras and energies) (E)
  • Power Bands/Energy Bracelets/Q-Ray/Ion Bracelets (SU, SQ, E), Psychic Healing and Psychic Readings (Psychic surgery) (SU, E), Psychics, Mediums, Clairvoyants (SU, E)
  • Qigong (SU, E)
  • Reflexology (SQ, E), Reiki (SU, E)
  • Self-Hypnosis and Hypnotic Regression (SQ, SU), Shamanic Healing and Work (E), Sway Testing (SQ, SU, E)
  • The Healing Code (SQ, E), Therapeutic Touch (energy channeling) (SQ, E), Traditional Chinese Medicine (SQ, SU, E)
  • Visualization or Guided Imagery (can be SQ, SU; and sometimes E)
  • Yoga meditation (Yogic Hindu Spirituality) (E)

Some practices are more dangerous than others, such as reiki which I have written about in my previous post, The Dangers And Deception Of Reiki: A Counterfeit To Christian Healing.

The one common thread running throughout all these New Age alternative treatments and practices is a departure from faith in God. Whether someone does this knowingly or unknowingly, what is at the core of New Age practices is an alternative to God's authority. This is simply an extension of the New Age itself, an alternative thinking, and very different world view to Christianity. For further details on the New Age world view, in addition to my aforementioned basic introduction to the New Age, may I also recommend two of my posts: The New Age: Further Aspects and The New Age: The Human Person, God and The World.

We all want to be in good health, and have it abundantly. We can seek healing for our ailments properly, and avoid the New Age deception of its counterfeit healing as this post has detailed. Our decisions should respect God's authority, and reflect a personal trust in His will for our lives. So many want to bypass God's authority, and seek immediate healing remedies. Such decisions are contrary to God's law as the First Commandment tells us, "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve." Any therapy or medicine that is either scientifically unproven or questionable or "energy healing" should be removed from consideration, and never accepted as a treatment. Avoid anything that involves the occult, magic or superstition, and has roots in pagan religions. Noonan and Feaster also point out that seeking good health with the use of conventional medicine is also part of an authentic approach to healing, one that cooperates with divine grace.

I would like to conclude with Father Jeremy Davie's warning regarding New Age alternative therapies and medicine. Father Jeremy Davies is an exorcist for London's Westminster Archdiocese and a co-founder, together with Father Gabriele Amorth, of The International Association of Exorcists. Noonan and Feaster have included his expert advice which I consider essential to spotlight the dangers of the demonic element of New Age practices:
Beware of seeking help from anyone except Christ and the Catholic Church. On the physical side of things, accept, as a general rule, your doctor's advice. Don't answer advertisements of healers or physics or spiritualists, don't go to sects or cults, don't be tempted by universal energies or eastern religions or magic cures or alternative therapies or self-realization courses or psychological breakthroughs--most of them are demonic and will one make your worse. (113)
May God guide you in your discernment, protect you in your quest for the truth and grant you an abundance of good health.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Deception And Dangers Of Reiki: A Counterfeit To Christian Healing

Reiki body treatment

Today's post continues with my series of posts on the New Age, and is the second post based on Brother Max Sculley's book, Yoga, Tai-Chi and Reiki: A Guide For Christians, a book that I had introduced in February of this year with a blog post of the same title.

Of these three New Age practices, I decided to write about Reiki because of the ease with which people are deceived, and the widespread usage that has made Reiki a global phenomenon. If this blog post is the first time you have been alerted to the problem of the New Age, and are concerned about these practices, may I suggest you read my initial post on the New Age, The New Age: A Basic Introduction.

As to why Brother Max has included Reiki with Yoga and Tai-Chi, he explains that an enormous amount of people are flocking to these New Age practicesAt the advanced level, practitioners can acquire occult powers and even supposed divinization. At the heart of these three belief systems is the worship of an impersonal god which is so vastly different from the personal God of Christianity.

Reiki, like Yoga and Tai-Chi involves techniques aimed at producing "altered states of consciousness." These altered states of consciousness or "ASCs" are abnormal mental states created by a variety of techniques, and are at the core of New Age spirituality. Brother Max notes that "...[S]uch states are generally characterized by a significant reduction of logical thought and passivity of will." (8) This is in sharp contrast to genuine Christian mystical experiences such as visions, ecstasies or prophetic revelations, which are not generated by techniques, but occur spontaneously and unbidden by the direct action of the Holy Spirit.

If you are new to Reiki, you might be asking yourself what exactly is Reiki? Reiki is an ancient healing art, whose origins date back to a Japanese man, Mikao Usui, who discovered Reiki in 1899. Bother Max explains that most Reiki people regard Reiki as "The Source," much in the same way as Christians look to Christ. Reiki translated means universal divine source which Br. Max notes seems to stem from or at a minimum has some connection to Mikao Usui's religion of Shingon Buddhism's, whose supreme god is referred to as Universal Divine Energy.

In essence, Reiki is a counterfeit healing to the genuine Christian healing available through prayer, the Sacraments and Healing Mass. The source of Reiki's healing is not from God, but that of the demonic. Involvement in Reiki leads practitioners away from faith in God's healing, and into the realm of the demonic, deceived by a host of concepts such as: maintaining and increasing good health, growing in self love, improving one's emotional life, relaxing more deeply, experiencing harmony and joy, and nurturing one's own spiritual life by making contact with the "higher self (the divine self)."

The ultimate source is not implicitly understood by the recipient nor explicitly communicated by the giver, and as such, many enter into an encounter with the demonic unknowingly, attributing the experience to the host of deceptive concepts. Brother Max expands on this point by stating that:
The practice of Reiki generally leads to the acquiring of certain supernatural powers which are demonic in origin. Because its practitioners cover or cloud the true nature of this system, and because it does not have the usual trappings of a formalised religion, I refer to Reiki as a crypto-religion which nestles comfortably into New Age. (116)
Reiki essentially involves the laying of hands over a person either as a "head or body treatment," and is supposed to bring "wholeness" to both the recipient and the giver. The treatment is supposed to provide the recipient with a feeling of peace and deep relaxation restoring the "natural balance of the body." The treatment is supposed to last for approximately sixty-to-ninety minutes and is usually accompanied by quiet soft music, burning of incense and subdued lighting. All that is required to benefit from Reiki is for the recipient to be open, and willing to receive the "energy." 

The Reiki that we have available here in Canada, and in much of the Western world is a "non-religious" form developed by Mikao Usui for non-Buddhists. It involves the use of four symbols: Power, Mental Emotional, Long Distance and Master, all of which are considered the means to making contact with the "source" of Reiki. These symbols are connected with Reiki's three levels of initiation, which involve the process of acquiring the "power." Unlike Yoga and Tai-Chi, very little is explained about this process and therefore, very little is required of practitioners.

To illustrate the deception and dangers of Reiki, in his chapter entitled, Reiki Wreckage, Brother Max provides case examples of people who were involved in Reiki, and how it negatively impacted their lives. Under the chapter subheading of Counterfeit Healing, Br. Max details the experience of Ruth, a married woman with a family of three young children whose initiation into Reiki led her away from her Catholic faith, and into encounters with the demonic, disguised in the different levels of Reiki initiation and through contact with other "Reiki people." Ruth's whirlwind of demonic deception eventually ended by divine intervention. Through God's love and mercy, Ruth was brought to a new point of conversion in her Catholic faith journey, in which she renounced Reiki and all New Age practices, and embraced Jesus Christ as her Saviour and Redeemer.

Ruth's initial exposure to Reiki was an informal one, a workshop in the home of a Reiki Master, a beautiful 40 year old woman with a warm presence. Ruth along with seven others were to be initiated into Level One, and at a later date, Level Two. Level One involved the Reiki Master placing invisible symbols upon everyone, and each person was exposed to their so called "energy centers" or "chakras" in the human body. Ruth admits that never was Jesus mentioned at these sessions. 

Level Two involved the reception of another invisible symbol, the Long Distance Symbol, where Ruth and others received the "power" to give Reiki to others at a far distance, and receive feedback from others who were willing to receive the "power." The demonic element of Reiki is revealed in the following segment of Ruth's testimony:
As we continued we were told that there were spirits attached to Reiki and that you could call on them and receive your own personal spirit (your Reiki spirit) to help you with the person you were working on. With the help of my Reiki spirit, I could sometimes actually see into the body and see the problem, and at other times I would know what was emotionally wrong with the person. Through my spirit, I developed a real clairvoyance... (134)
The spirits Ruth refers to are demonic spirits. Proper Catholic discernment tells us that inspirations, and gifts from the spiritual realm are either from the Holy Spirit or evil spirits. The latter is the case with Ruth's above noted testimony. This is further understood by the actual gift Ruth received, clairvoyance, which is not a gift from the Holy Spirit, and contrary to God's Holy Law, You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me, as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, under the section Divination and Magic:  
All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone. (2116)
Ruth even confirms this herself when she notes that, she met so many people in Reiki who were involved in New Age practices, such as: crystal healing, Tarot Cards, astrology, Past Life Regression Therapy, clairvoyance, aura drawings and healing. 

Further on in Ruth's testimony, she continues to provide a first hand account of the deceptive and dangerous aspects of Reiki when describing her attendance at a monthly Reiki meditative meeting:
...This group had requested me to channel messages from the spirit world for them. It was like a being a medium at a séance. As these were all Masters, I felt very privileged to be asked. One day I channelled this being called Qwan Yin. As she entered me, my whole body shook. It was a strange phenomenon. It took a lot out of me. She was some divine goddess and I don't remember what she said.I really never remembered what these spirits said through me, but all of the Masters wanted more of this goddess so I channeled her quite a lot. I realised after a while that this sort of thing was not good for my body. So, since I was regularly in contact with my spirit-guide, I received instructions from it no to do this anymore. In fact, I was told not to channel any other spirits except one called Shannon... (135)
The above quote clearly shows that Ruth was in contact with the demonic. With all the New Age practices that she was involved in, such an account is not shocking by any means, nor is her admission of "doing a weekend of Astral Travelling" and a week of Past Life Regression therapy, both of which are New Age practices.

One day the Reiki deception all came to an end when one of Ruth's friends informed her that Reiki was not from God. At first, she was devastated by the statement, but she decided to think about it. Taking the matter to prayer began the process of her release from the clutches of the demonic. Ruth even admits that the release did not happen as it would normally have because although she was praying at Church, she was still involved in Reiki. Ruth stated, "...That's not a good mix." (137)

Eventually, Ruth completely gave up Reiki, and disposed of all her New Age material. Upon a visit to a Church of another Christian denomination, and talking about Reiki with one individual, that individual simply responded with one explosive word, "Counterfeit." Ruth states that she knew instantly that Reiki was a counterfeit to Christian healing, and decided to arrange a meeting with the pastor at this Church where she renounced: Reiki and all its allied psychic powers, spiritualism, astral travel, clairvoyance, and belief in past lives and reincarnation. The group from this Church prayed over her, and asked God to deliver her from all spiritual bondage. Ruth reasserted her belief that Jesus Christ was her Saviour, unique Lord and she surrendered her life to Him.

Ruth concluded that she returned to the Catholic Church, and as a proper form of healing, received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and confessed all of her involvement in Reiki. In the process, she felt as if a great burden had been lifted due in part to the compassion and understanding of the Confessor. As an end result, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Ruth had many scars removed from the hurts received throughout her life. She began to smile again in her life, and praised God for her journey. By providing her testimony, it is Ruth's hope that others would also benefit from her life experiences, and come to recognize the deception and dangers associated with Reiki, and all New Age practices.

Brother Max's book is a timely publication, a warning to fellow Catholics and Christians alike of the deception and dangers of Reiki, and other New Age practices. As he noted in the Preface, the Catholic Church has remained largely silent about the New Age phenomenon, citing the example of the Vatican's 2003 publication of, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life, a commentary on New Age that evoked little response from local Church leaders in regard to these practices. I certainly agree with his conclusion that rightly or wrongly, some may interpret such silence as assent.

My blog post today, together with all my posts labelled "New Age" hopes to help remedy some of the silence from the Church. In addition to the Vatican document on the New Age, I would also like to encourage visitors to my blog to read a letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditationissued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) on October 15, 1989. I have already blogged about this document with a post of the same title. This document is an essential inclusion for anyone seeking to understand what the Catholic faith teaches about meditation. So important is this document that it was included and referred to in the Foreword of Br. Max's book by Julian Porteous, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney.

May Jesus and Mary guide you in your quest for the truth and understanding of the New Age, and the deception and dangers associated with these practices.