Answering the New Age: Where the Temples are Today …

 

Answering the New Age - the true temple

The Holy Mystery of the Mass in the temple of God. Photo by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, available from http://fssp.org.

Here is another extract ripped from my upcoming book – concerning common New Age misperceptions. (I write as someone once deeply committed to the New Age – indeed a member of Findhorn, perhaps the world’s leading New Age community.)

Much of the world stands before the Catholic Church, completely ignorant of Her central claims. Naturally, this includes countless members of Indian, Chinese, African traditions that may have never glimpsed the Church at all.

But what of that which was once known as the Christian West? There is a massive void of blank comprehension, even among those that are born and educated within her heritage. Protestantism, secularism, liberal, materialistic education have ensured the work of cultural forgetting.

Let me be clear: I am not speaking of the fact that people in the West no longer believe in the claims made by the Sacramental Church. I am speaking of the fact that Westerners – or at least the British and the Americans – no longer have any idea what Her Sacramental claims are.

My observations are formed by memories as I write. Here is one memory: an educated Englishman needs to ask me what a Sacrament even is.

Here is another recollection: Sitting before me is a New Agey Englishwoman, with apparently, a rather staid, upper middle-class upbringing. To me, she appears uncomprehending, before my wish to go daily to the Mass. Perhaps she assumes I search for community: my need for church is need for human contact.

She has I think, little idea how solitary I am, nor any idea at all, that one could go to church in search of Supernatural Mystery. I indicate that every day in the Catholic Church, a sublime Mystery is enacted. I suspect she is surprised indeed.

Catholic temples

(Just one of how many Catholic temples of God … ?) Photo: Hons084 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I wonder if her associations with the Church are of Anglican evensong, matins and Sunday sermons – but not a daily Eucharist. Perhaps, just perhaps, if her origins were high Anglican, she would understand a little about a weekly Eucharist – though she would likely know nothing at all about the Sacraments of Penance or Extreme Unction. Of course, if her British heritage involves another kind of Protestantism, she will likely have no conception at all …

Here is another memory. I encounter a woman in cyberspace, who appeared to have both Christian and New Age type sympathies. In my memory at least, this Christian was an American and she posed a question, which went like this: Where are the temples today? Apparently, she recalled the ancient pagan cultures, with their places for mysterious and sacred rites.

She was a “New Age Christian” who longed perhaps for Egypt and for Greece of old. And in her American Protestant context, she imagined there were no longer any Temples of Mystery …

Now there are Catholic Churches all across the American landscape, but I suspect that it never occurred to her that here she might find the modern Temples of Sublime Mystery, that had replaced the temples of old …

My recollections are random, imprecise and impressionistic. Still I think they represent broad tendencies today. It is hardly surprising that the Catholic Mystery is near invisible in the Protestant countries, most of all.

It is not surprising that New Agers who mainly come from Protestant heritage will ask: Where are the temples today?

Earlier in this book, I drew attention to a peculiar act of love by our Holy Father. He refuses to give the name “Church” to Protestant communities.

How marked this was in the year 2000’s Dominus Jesus, which was issued by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and approved by Bl. John Paul II. Many were scandalised.

For in Dominus Jesus, it became transparent that the Vatican would not grant the name of “Church” to bodies, which lacked the fullness of the Sacramental life and thus the ordained apostolic succession. These could be honoured as “ecclesial communities” – but not as “Churches”.

Here is a courageous act of love I say – for it directly addresses the cultural forgetfulness of the West.

In addressing the distinction which exists on one side between those who hold to the original conception of what the Church is (i.e. Catholics and Eastern Orthodox alike) and on the other side. those who have discarded this or have no idea at all, it refuses to blur the definition of the primary office of the Church.

It refuses to brook the cultural supposition that there are no temples anymore – Temples of the New Mystery of the Sacrifice upon the Altar …

From Amazon US:

As of this date, most of these titles have not yet reached our Amazon UK or US stores – though we expect most or all will in the future. This is because these are books largely new to us (as I explained in a webburst here) – whereas the titles in the stores are mainly books we know and love dearly or titles that we feel know sufficiently well to recommend.

 

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