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A good word about New Age

 |  Eco Catholic

I’ve gone to a psychic fair, used colored stones to help balance my chakras, applied flower essences to improve my mood, participated in a sweat lodge, listened to a channeled message, had my astrology chart done, read a book on past lives, and done a lot more things labeled “new age.” And no lightning bolt from heaven has struck me down for daring to stray into what some would think is dangerous territory, inconsistent with being a good Catholic.

Here is the simple premise of this blog. We don’t have to be afraid of all these varied methods and paths to finding self-realization, spirituality, and wholeness. We are not betraying our Christian heritage or consorting with the devil by exploring them. Yes, there are some things we need to be careful and discerning about but on the whole we can benefit from new age (whatever that means) experiences if these things appeal to us. And even if they don’t we can still respect them. And it might even broaden us to learn something about them.

In religious circles, I sometimes hear a lot of disdain for anything perceived as new age. It’s as if only traditional Catholic devotion and spirituality is safe and good for the soul. Adherents of the narrow path philosophy warn, “Forget all this flaky, esoteric stuff. It’s not Jesus-centered, after all.”

My impression of Jesus is that he was very open-minded, embracing life in all its fullness. The religious people of his day thought he has too liberal, too unconventional for their tastes, so if he were living today, maybe he’d be the first one to sign up for a class on using crystals in healing or contacting spirit guides.

I’m not sure where the deep suspicion of things earthy, right-brain, creative, and psychic comes from. Is it part of the repression of the feminine? Does it stem from a separation of the material and spiritual, of secular and sacred? Do some fear that the spiritual realm is controlled exclusively by evil spirits? Someone once made this remark about a mobile of the sun, planets, and starts that I had hanging in my office: “What are you doing with these pagan symbols in your home?” I was stunned. I simply couldn’t comprehend how someone could think images of God’s creation were not holy.

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I don’t have a hard time believing that crystals have beneficial energy, that shamans can perform unusual feats, or that the alignment of the sun, planets and constellations when we were born influences our lives. It all sounds like God and grace to me. I think the outer and inner worlds are way more magical and unbounded than we imagine. I find that exposing myself to them through some of these varied paths is enriching and certainly fascinating. It expands my consciousness of what is possible.

Take Sai Baba, an Indian guru revered as a godly man by countless people around the world. He could bilocate, manifest things out of thin air, and perform miracles. What do we make of this? A charlatan? I think not, especially when he inspired millions with his lofty spiritual teaching and presence, and lived his message of service to the poor. My friend Luci visited his ashram in India several times and it was a life-changing experience.

There are no arenas in which God cannot work, no hierarchy of spiritual methods. If something is beneficial for someone, great. If there are many mansions in heaven (John 14:2), then I suspect there are many mansions on earth. There is room for everyone. So, all closet new-agers, come out of hiding and hold your head up high.

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July 4-17, 2014

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