New Age in the Church



In order to warn Catholics of this false spirituality, the Vatican issued a document in 2003 called Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the New Age. This document describes New Age spirituality as pantheistic (the belief that everything and everyone is "God"). The Vatican document contradicts this by stating, "As Christians, we believe on the contrary that 'man is essentially a creature and remains so for all eternity, so that an absorption of the human I in the divine I will never be possible" (#2.3). New Agers and Hindus believe that they eventually become "God."

A parishioner may encounter the New Age in several ways. His parish might be teaching centering-prayer techniques that would help him to reach the center of his being, to find the True Self, or "God within" by using the sacred word (or mantra) to empty the mind of all thoughts. These techniques may resemble transcendental meditation, where the person tries to reach the hidden depths of self.

The major beliefs of the Centering Prayer Movement have been identified by the Vatican document as linked to New Age. The parishioner might be directed toward a Labyrinth to pray at the center of his being to reach the "goddess within." He might be taught at a retreat center about the Cosmic Christ, the "God"-power in each of us. The document states that many New Agers believe that "Jesus of Nazareth is not God, but one of the historical manifestations of the cosmic and universal Christ" (#3.1).

It also explains that they believe that "The cosmic Christ might be living next door or even inside one's deepest and truest self' (#3.3). A parishioner might be invited to an enneagram workshop. The enneagram is very popular in Catholic circles. The Vatican document identifies it as stemming from Gnosticism, which is in conflict with Christian beliefs. The document states (speaking of Gnosticism) that "An example of this can be seen in the enneagram, the nine-type tool for character analysis which when used as a means of spiritual growth introduces an ambiguity in the doctrine and the life of the Christian faith" (#1.4).




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