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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

I need a Catholic perspective on the New Age movement

September 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Fear of the Lord, Fr. Bartunek, New Age

Dear Father John, in my teen years I spent a few years in the Pentecostal world of faith. But when I Catholic perspectivewent to university I discovered Catholicism and made it my faith home. This past year I have been on a search to deepen and renew my Catholic journey. Today I was starting to read my The Better Part and on page 22 the author refers to a document in the Vatican called Jesus Christ: the Bearer of the Water of Life. I looked it up and read the chapter headings and my first instinct is I came to your site for sound Catholic material and am struggling because a good friend of mine is into all the new age power of now stuff and I thought am I going to jeopardize my journey if I read it since my faith is so young? Do you have any advice on this?

What a beautiful question! Thank God that he has given you such a fresh and attentive love for your Catholic faith. Your desire to avoid reading anything that may lead you astray is, without any doubt, a gift of the Holy Spirit. One of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit is “fear of the Lord.” This refers to a healthy fear, a kind of sixth sense regarding occasions of sin or situations or even people that may disturb your soul or put you in danger. What an encouragement to see this powerful gift so active and strong in your question!

“The Water of Life” document poses no threat to your faith. It explains some basic principles of our faith, and interprets some of the New Age trends and half-truths in light of those principles. I am sure you will find guidance and wisdom when you read it, though if you are new to theology, you may find parts of it complex – don’t worry about that.

Another document written about New Age may be even more helpful for you, however. It is called “A Call to Vigilance” and was published by the Cardinal Archbishop of Mexico City a few years ago. Less theological in its language and explanations, you will find it more practical, and maybe more relevant to the kinds of things that come up in conversations with your friend. Here is a link to the English translation on EWTN’s website: http://www.ewtn.com/library/bishops/acall.htm.

Reading about threats and dangers to our faith is important, but I want encourage you to continue reading positive things as well. The best way to get rid of the darkness is to turn on a light. So, the more you can learn to live deeply the sacraments of the Eucharist and confession, and the more you can learn to study and pray over the sacred Scriptures (as The Better Part is designed to help you do), the more you will advance in your relationship with God and your knowledge of Jesus Christ. And that, in the end, is what will fill your soul with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gifts of Knowledge and Counsel, which will inspire you with the right things to say and do as you try to share with others the hope, the joy, and the meaning that you have begun to find in our beautiful and inexhaustible Catholic faith.

I promise to say a prayer for you and for your friend. God bless you!

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at RCSpirituality.org, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at SpiritualDirection.com.

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    Ok, Father Bartunek did not clarify this above, but I want to bring this to the attention of anyone who is unfamiliar- the book our questioner is referring to above, The Better Part, is written by the same Father John who is also the commentator for these questions. (A double portion or blessing, in case anyone was unaware!) We have a huge privilege in the efforts of the contributors to this site, in all the writers and bloggers present here! Thanks y’all! :o)

  • LizEst

    Thank you so much for this, Father John. Having previously read the Vatican document you reference (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20030203_new-age_en.html), I particularly appreciate the link to Archbishop Norberto Rivera Carrera’s “Pastoral Instruction on New Age” as an additional very useful reference.

  • To the questioner. It is wonderful to read how the Holy Spirit is at work in your soul. May He continue to grant you all the Gifts and Graces you need to grow in our rich Catholic Faith.

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