See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Got doctrinal questions?





There's a resource for that:  Complete list of Documents from the Congregation For the Doctrine of Faith
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I decided to post this resource because when Catholics get confused, many of them turn to anyone they perceive as religious to get answers, which very often are incomplete, incorrect, or more confusing than the original question.  Confused about Masons?  The CDF has a document for that.  Confused about homosexuality?  The CDF has a document for that.  Confused about meditation, contemplation, centering prayer, yoga, etc.?  The CDF has a document for that as well.
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Lately I've I noted the subject of Christian meditation, Centering Prayer as well as yoga, have come up on various blogs and Catholic news sites.  Frequently the authors write about the topics subjectively, not without some authority and experience to be sure, but not always as clearly and concisely as official teaching presents it.  I'm sometimes troubled when we do such things, considering that if it is not in the Catechism, there is most likely an actual directive from the the Teaching Magisterium clearly stating what is wrong with particular types of pseudo mysticism/gnosticism.
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Seeking "oneself" in experiences of "well being".
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Recently online Catholic news sites have brought to light a Catholic-yoga program hosted by Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.  As most people know, yoga is not only trendy, it is big business in the health and beauty industries, not to mention 'for profit' spirituality centers or spas.   The Cathedral website refers to their offering as Catholic Yoga albeit seems to be more ecumenical - whatever that means...
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Drawing from multiple faith traditions, yoga has evolved across the ages as a means of tuning the body for better communion with God through prayer and meditation. Join us as we explore the multiple spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice while explicitly integrating prayers and spiritual themes of our Catholic faith. Typical sessions will include an opening prayer, inspired movement & strengthening, and contemplative prayer to close. The program will be focused around various themes to coincide with the liturgical calendar and progression of our faith life across the seasons. - Catholic Yoga
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Whatever.  When I returned to the Church and the sacraments, I came out of the occult; namely TM and other pseudo-mystical dabbling.  Leaving the darkness behind, I returned to the light of solid Catholic teaching.  At the same time trendy monks and nuns were launching their new age contemplative ashrams and communes around the country, I discovered John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila and authentic mysticism.  Believe me, the other crap is darkness.  Many of the new age mystics "forage in a land they know not", and since "priest and prophet"  are often included in their midst, one must be vigilant and careful to whom one goes to for sound Catholic doctrine.  That said, I've selected a few paragraphs from the CDF Letter to the Bishops on the subject:
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LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON SOME ASPECTS OF CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
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12. With the present diffusion of eastern methods of meditation in the Christian world and in ecclesial communities, we find ourselves faced with a pointed renewal of an attempt, which is not free from dangers and errors, to fuse Christian meditation with that which is non-Christian. Proposals in this direction are numerous and radical to a greater or lesser extent. Some use eastern methods solely as a psycho-physical preparation for a truly Christian contemplation; others go further and, using different techniques, try to generate spiritual experiences similar to those described in the writings of certain Catholic mystics.13 Still others do not hesitate to place that absolute without image or concepts, which is proper to Buddhist theory,14 on the same level as the majesty of God revealed in Christ, which towers above finite reality. To this end, they make use of a "negative theology," which transcends every affirmation seeking to express what God is and denies that the things of this world can offer traces of the infinity of God. Thus they propose abandoning not only meditation on the salvific works accomplished in history by the God of the Old and New Covenant, but also the very idea of the One and Triune God, who is Love, in favor of an immersion "in the indeterminate abyss of the divinity."15 These and similar proposals to harmonize Christian meditation with eastern techniques need to have their contents and methods ever subjected to a thorough-going examination so as to avoid the danger of falling into syncretism.

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23. Without doubt, a Christian needs certain periods of retreat into solitude to be recollected and, in God's presence, rediscover his path. Nevertheless, given his character as a creature, and as a creature who knows that only in grace is he secure, his method of getting closer to God is not based on any technique in the strict sense of the word. That would contradict the spirit of childhood called for by the Gospel. Genuine Christian mysticism has nothing to do with technique: it is always a gift of God, and the one who benefits from it knows himself to be unworthy.27
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To live out in one's prayer the full awareness of one's body as a symbol is even more difficult: it can degenerate into a cult of the body and can lead surreptitiously to considering all bodily sensations as spiritual experiences.

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28. Some physical exercises automatically produce a feeling of quiet and relaxation, pleasing sensations, perhaps even phenomena of light and of warmth, which resemble spiritual well-being. To take such feelings for the authentic consolations of the Holy Spirit would be a totally erroneous way of conceiving the spiritual life. Giving them a symbolic significance typical of the mystical experience, when the moral condition of the person concerned does not correspond to such an experience, would represent a kind of mental schizophrenia which could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations. - CDF
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Catholic Spiritual Direction also has some good posts on these lines.
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H/T to Paula for something to blog about.

6 comments:

  1. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing "ways," comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.

    -Nostra Aetate, 2

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  2. I have been a practioner of yoga for many years...as well as martial arts...they have been wonderful for lower back problems, and mental and physical discipline.

    That said--I have been indebted to yoga for helping me learn how to QUIET my racing mind..As St Teresa so lovingly described as the mind running like wild horses..and to be able to quiet the mind, to let go of the day, to be able to relax, greatly help me with my contemplation and mental prayer. You cannot quiet the mind if no one shows you how...or coaches youback when you become distracted. Also wonderful for Adoration prayer...

    I also don't need sleeping pills to fall asleep at night..usually just a warm cup of herbal tea will do :)

    I also take a slight bit of pride in my martial arts classes when the PARENTS come to pick up their kids and they say "You're in THIS class?? I could NEVER do this.." :) Especially when I broke 3 boards in my belt test a few years back.. :) I still smile about that..

    So if that makes me a bad Catholic...sue me..

    Sara

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  3. On the other hand--I have three cats that daily remind me that the Egyptians worshipped them as gods, and that I am nothing more to them than a slave who provides for their every deserved comfort.. :)

    Scrath the belly--no, a bit more to the right...yeah that's it..

    And I WILL have my meal warm WHEN I want it (and no other time) and ice cubes in my filtered water..
    :) Sara

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  4. Sara - you are just very special.

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  5. Sue - no, it does not make you a bad Catholic. From what you express, you have no confusion about your faith and where Eastern religious ideologies begin and end. You are blessed, others are not so gifted.

    Are you able to see the dangers that some individuals might encounter that are not as fortunate as you? I think that the Church in her wisdom, and as Terry highlights, is trying to bring the differences to light for the safety of her children.

    I went to a small private Catholic female college where TM was all the rage and those individual Catholics I knew back then that got "into it", all have left their Catholic faith.

    While working, the Catholics I came to know who became involved in yoga practices eventually left the faith, too. One is now "into gnosticism" as preached at a major Theosophy cntr and is studying reiki.

    I know people (incl. a family member) who started following new age teachers, such as: Carolyn Myss or Barbara Brennan, and after twenty years these folks have yet to return the Catholic faith.

    What I know now and looking back, I will say that these young women never really knew their faith and these practices made it easier for them to exit the Catholic door.

    Thom, I agree with your added sentiments, but I will add to them that there are those in "other" religions who are equally upset by some changes within their faith that have been re-scripted by new agers causing a "westernization" of their beliefs.

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  6. Test your quiet mind??

    Check this out..

    http://www.donothingfor2minutes.com/

    Sara

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