Spiritual Warfare Forum: SPIRITISM/NEW AGE/OCCULTISM/PARANORMAL
SPIRITISM/NEW AGE/OCCULTISM/PARANORMAL QUESTION from Bob on November 5, 2002 Dear Bro., I have recently been reading up on the Church's opinion of Spiritism, etc. What does the Church say about clairaudience and clairsentience? Do they fall under the general clairvoyance prohibition in the Catechism? Also, different theologans seem to be saying that abilities such as telekinesis may have nothing to do with evil spirits and they need to be studied more. I found an article written by the Monsignor of a Diocese in Australia that mentioned the topic. Also, Fr. Herbert Thurston, renowned Jesuit Theologan, studied this topic much. Please let me know what you have to say. Thanks!
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on November 12, 2002 Dear Bob:
This is a good and rather complicated question. First let us examine and define condemned practices of these sorts that are specifically mentioned by the Church and the Bible.
The Catechism states:
Divination and magic 2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.
2116 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.
2117 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.
Divination, defined in Father Hardon's Pocket Catholic Dictionary, is:
DIVINATION. The art of knowing and declaring future events or hidden things by means of communication with occult forces. It is always an act of a religious nature. There is no divination if the religious element is missing, as in any scientific investigation. The occult forces in divination are always created rational powers that the Church identifies as diabolical. Implicit in this judgment is the belief that neither God nor the spiritual powers friendly to God would lend themselves to frivolous practices or subject them selves to any evoking human force. Hence, evoking these powers, whether explicitly or even implicitly, is considered an appeal to Satan's aid. It is therefore a grave offense against God to attribute to the devil a sure knowledge of the contingent future, which, as depending on free will, is known to God alone. This explains the strong prohibition in the Bible of any divining practices. Do not have recourse, the people were told, to the spirits of the dead or to magicians; they will defile you. I am Yahweh your God (Leviticus 19:31). And again: Any man or woman who is necromancer or magician must be put to death by stoning; their blood shall be on their own heads (Leviticus 20:27).
In the history of Christianity every form of divination has been condemned by the Church. Among the more common are augury (Latin augurare, to predict) by the interpretation of omens such as watching the flight of birds or inspecting the entrails of sacrificed animals; axinomancy (Greek axine, axhead + manteia, divination) by means of the movements of an ax placed on a post, belomancy (Greek belos, dart) by drawing arrows at random from a container; bibliomancy (Greek biblion, book) by superstitiously consulting books, notably the Bible; capnomancy (Greek kapnos, smoke) by studying the ascent and descent of smoke and concluding that it was a good omen if the smoke rose vertically, especially from a sacrifice; chiromancy (Greek cheir, hand) by inspecting the lines of the hand, also called palmistry; necromancy (Greek necros, dead person) by consulting the dead or conjuring up the of the dead to inquire of them some secrets from the past or the future, more commonly known as spiritualism. (Etym. devinare, to foresee, predict, prophesy.)
I. The operative phrase is: The art of knowing and declaring future events or hidden things by means of communication with occult forces.
That which seeks knowledge of the future is condemned. That which seeks hidden knowledge not knowable by ordinary means but only through occult means is condemned.
II. The second operative phrase to examine is: Implicit in this judgment is the belief that neither God nor the spiritual powers friendly to God would lend themselves to frivolous practices or subject themselves to any evoking human force. Hence, evoking these powers, whether explicitly or even implicitly, is considered an appeal to Satan's aid.
Persons seeking to obtain these powers or to use these powers for frivolous purposes or that are subject to human will and evocation are condemned.
The spiritual gifts that God gives us that are similar to these occult phenomena are NOT evoked by human will and power and not used for frivolous purposes. They are given by God as a gift to the Church to build up the Church and are powered by God, evoked by God, and used at God's discretion.
All of the clairs (clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience) are merely different methods to achieve the same end. The end is to ascertain knowledge or communication not possible by ordinary ways. Clairvoyance accomplishes this with visual communcation, seeing things from afar; clairaudience hears things from afar, and clairsentience, senses things from afar. In each case the purpose is to divine information.
So yes, all forms of divination are condemned which includes the clairs.
III. The third operative phrase to examine is: 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.
To tame means to manipulate and control. Any magical or supernatural powers that we seek to tame is wrong for us to do. We are not to seek to tame these powers to our service or to have power over ourselves or others. Thus magical or supernatural powers of healing, moving objects, bi-location, astral projection, contolling the weather or the forces of nature are all attempts to tame powers that are not for us to tame.
IV. The fourth operative phrase to examine is: These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone...
When these powers, regardless of source, are used to harm someone it is gravely evil, of course.
V. The fifth operative phrase to examine is: These practices are even more to be condemned when ... they have recourse to the intervention of demons.
Obviously to conjure demons and seek their help is gravely sinful and to always be avoided. We must be careful, however, for having recourse to the intervention of demons does not always comes from a deliberate desire to do so. We take recourse to demons whether we know it or not, for example, in seeking the spirit of a Ouija Board or Tarot Cards, or in seeking the spirit of a tree.
We are to seek only the Holy Spirit.
In summary, as the Catechism states, all these things seek 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.
That is the final analysis: They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone. ------------
But, what about people who do not seek this power or ability, who may not even want it, and do not actively try to use it, yet seem to have the gift?
There can be several explanations.
One explanation is that the powers (clair powers mentioned above or the tele powers such as telekinesis, teleportation, etc.) is that the ability is coming from Satan -- whether or not the person realizes it.
One of the primary ways people can become demonized is through no fault of thier own, but through what is called ancestral demonization. A grandparent or great-grandparent may have dabbled with the devil and as a result the demons are allowed into the family line to plague generation after generation. Sometimes, within this context a person may have inherited a demonic manifestation of these powers.
Or, the person dabbled into occult matters at one time, maybe even innocently like at a Carnival, and as a result unknowingly gave permission for demons to enter their lives through which the demons facilitate these powers within the person.
no matter how long ago.
Or, the person deliberately sought out the powers, even though not trying consciously conjure them from demons perhaps, but nevertheless deliberately wants to gain these powers. Even after they have renounced their involvement in occult issues the phenomena may linger.
The bottomline, regardless of the how and when and whatfor the abilities are sourced in the diabolical. The person experiencing this needs to renounce the powers, renounce any current or past involvements in occult things, renounce ancestral sins, pray to God that these powers be removed from them, and, if necceary, seek out deliverance counseling to assist them in dealing with this and hopefully becoming free from it.
Another explantion can be natural. There has been some scientific studies that suggest that it is possible for preternatural abilities to be manifested in certain people. One report that comes to mind was a study in Europe which found that many people with clairvoyant abilities also had a calcium deficiency in their body. Once these persons were given calcium supplements their abilities went away.
We know that we only use a small portion of our brains. Who knows what natural powers may be possible. Certainly all these powers tap into Spiritual Laws. For some reason some people may tap into those spiritual laws without even trying or wanting to. Brain defects or traumas have been suggested in some phenomena,
Some suggest that these natural latent preternatural abilities may be remnants of the pre-Fall of man -- before Adam and Eve sinned. This may account for why some people express these abilities only after traumas to the brain, trauma to the psychological nature, or other factors. These traumas or other special condition effecting brain function or psyhological function may trigger these latent abilities.
We really do not know. But we do know that all things must be brought to God and submitted to Him. Even if we have some latent ability for whatever reason, we are STILL prohibited from divination, we should STILL not seek to develop those abilities, and we certainly should not put out a shingle putting ourselves out as a practitioner.
Those who may experience these latent abilities should be sure they are a natural phenomena. They need to seek advice and assistant to evaluate what is happening to ensure the experiences are not psychiatric hallucination or demonic manifestation. Then, if they are natural to submit those abilities to God, ask Him to remove those abilities, or otherwise ask Him how to live with these abilities in a way that submits to His will and that glorifies Him. Most often, if God does not take the abilities away the person is lead to just quietly accept the phenomena, sometimes as a mortification, and perhaps to act upon them only in a limited and personal way. God will not, however, lead a person to go into business with these abilities -- that is, practice mind-reading, fortune-telling, etc.
The ONLY context that God allows one to practice abilities of this sort is ONLY as part of the Charism gifts of the Spirit. But in that case, the ability is God's, we are just conduits.
Acute Experiences form yet another experiential phenomena. Many people have these acute experiences. It is very common. This includes things like a person who wakes up and KNOWS that their father has just died, or the KNOW somehow that a loved one will be in a car accident the next day, and then it happens, common experiences such as knowing the phone is going to ring with a call from a friend.
These experiences are not sought out but just happen. I believe God allows these sorts of experiences out of love. It is love, I think, that ties us together and that love sometimes gives us an ability to know things about our loved-ones that we could not otherwise possibly know.
There has been a lot of scientific investigation with twins that has revealed an uncanny preternatural connection between the twins sometimes so acute that one twin can feel when the other twin is in pain.
But, one should NEVER try to cultivate this or seek it. If is happens, it happens. Otherwise leave it alone.
So what is the bottomline to all this?
1) We are NEVER to seek out such abilities and experiences.
2) We are NEVER to develop or cultivate any natural abilities or supernatural abilities.
3) Do not sweat the one-time or accute experiences unless they become on-going.
4) Seek help to evaluate on-going experiences to ascertain if there might be demonic element and if so to renounce the experiences.
5) In the case of natural abilities, ask God to take them away or to teach you how to live with the experiences in mortification and humility, but certainly to accomplish in you only that which glorifies God.
6) In all cases we are always to submit any experiences to the Lordship of God.
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