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More on upcoming ‘new age’ retreats January 25, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals, sickness.

I sent an e-mail to a local pastor concerning a retreat to be held at his parish (St. Mark Plano).  He declined to comment on my communication, but here are some excerpts below, including some additional details I have learned about Sr. Marie Schwan’s philosophy and her retreat program:

Sr. Schwan has written one book.  It will form the basis for her retreat, as she uses this book for all her retreats.  The book is a manual for centering prayer, which starts out seemingly innocuous, with meditation intended to “find God within,” but reading more in the book, it describes not only ways to engage in centering prayer but a more advanced form or prayer, called “kything.”  Kything prayer: “is a way of calling up another person’s spirit to enter you, so that you can use their energy and gifts for yourself. You can also let others “centre” into your spirit to call your spirit to them. You can do this with saints as well as others who are dead and it’s all done in the name of Christian Prayer.”  This form of ‘prayer’ is not only outside the bounds of Catholic practice, it seems very close to necromancy, a very sinful practice rejected specifically in the Catechism.  Suffice it to say, opening oneself up to unknown spirits and allowing them to enter one’s soul/consciousness seems highly problematic, at best.  If one were not in a state of grace when doing so, I shudder to think of the potential consequences.  The entire notion of centering prayer, is, itself, very dangerous to the faith of Catholics.  It is recognized widely as a new age practice and has been specifically condemned by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in the document Jesus Christ: Bearer of Water and Life.  Centering prayer has been described thusly:
in fact the techniques of centering prayer are neither Christian nor prayer. They are at the level of human faculties and as such are an operation of man, not of God. The deception and dangers can be grave.

Centering prayer differs from Christian prayer in that the intent of the technique is to bring the practitioner to the center of his own being. There he is, supposedly, to experience the presence of the God who indwells him. Christian prayer, on the contrary, centers upon God in a relational way, as someone apart from oneself. The Christian knows a God who is personal, yet who, as Creator, infinitely transcends his creature.

Centering prayer is essentially a form of self-hypnosis. It makes use of a “mantra,” a word repeated over and over to focus the mind while striving by one’s will to go deep within oneself.

I could add much more if it would help, but the simple fact of the matter is that centering prayer is a new age practice that has, sadly, become very widespread among certain religious communities and among some laity.  You may retort that Sr. Schwan has no ecclesial/canonical prohibition preventing her from speaking in this diocese.  That is less a reflection of her adherence to Catholic dogma than it is a sad reflection on the lack of enforcement of discipline in much of the Church today.  As pastor of St. Mark, you have all the authority you need to prevent Sister Schwan from hosting a retreat at the parish. 

It has been my experience that very little can be done to stop these retreats from happening once planned and set in motion.  Even worse, there appears very little in the way for concerned lay people to get involved in choosing speakers for these events, and so it appears they will just continue happening indefinitely.  Michael Voris has suggested some ways to try effect change at the parish level to prevent these kinds of heterodox speakers from being brought in, but I maintain that the ultimate power to effect change in this regard is the power of the purse.  Rapidly declining donations will result in budget cuts at the “family and adult ministries,” those happy playgrounds of new age-friendly staff, at various parishes that will, hopefully, deny them the funds to bring in speakers like this. 

I don’t like it.  I don’t like saying what I just said.  But my sensus fidei tells me this  kind of activity is wrong, it is dangerous for the faith of those who attend, and that it is not what we need in our parishes.  I’ve tried to be  nice.  I’ve tried to use logic, and Church documents, and Church Doctrine.  All that has failed to cause even a tiny change.  So, all I can suggest is further steps to prevent this kind of activity from occurring.


1. thewhitelilyblog - January 25, 2011

“So, all I can suggest is further steps to prevent this kind of activity from occurring.”

Continue to fight the ruptured interpretation of collegiality? (‘Cause that’s why no one’s acting.)

2. thewhitelilyblog - January 25, 2011

Or, want me to come down there and whoop some a**?

(I feel your pain.)

3. melinda - January 29, 2011

A prayer in which we ask our Heavenly Father to reveal the fraud, all things hidden to be exposed, is a start.
Also prayers for those who belong to our Savior Jesus be protected from the lies and seducing spirits is another prayer.
The evil will come but woe to those by which the evil comes!

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