Once long ago, I lived at the New Age community of Findhorn in northern Scotland.
What to say of this Findhorn community?
Well, according to a Vatican document on the New Age, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life:
The two centres which were the initial power-houses of the New Age, and to a certain extent still are, were the Garden community at Findhorn in North-East Scotland, and the Centre for the development of human potential at Esalen in Big Sur, California, in the United States of America.
And from twenty five years ago, a memory comes back to me.
It is an autumn evening of 1986 or maybe ’87. I am there in the so-called Universal Hall at Findhorn, in a packed-out lecture by Peter Russell, author of The Global Brain.
The talk finishes and I leap to my feet in standing ovation at what Russell has said.
What he has said, speaks to me then. It excites me as someone who knows nothing, nothing at all about the Church.
Yes, how I resonate with Peter Russell’s words, regarding the dawning of new consciousness, which, for him, is signified by the Beatles singing All you Need is Love in 1967, the so-called Summer of Love …
It is a fairly typical New Age meme: All You Need is Love. I am not alone in that standing ovation at Findhorn. Everyone else in the ‘Universal Hall’ is also leaping to their feet …
And what would I say today, twenty five years later, having left Findhorn behind and entered the Church?
What would I say, when we read in the first epistle of John:
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.I John 4.7
Would I simply agree with The Beatles and Peter Russell and all those New Agers from Findhorn, who like I did, resonated with the message of John Lennon’s All You Need is Love?
And what of the same John Lennon, who in later years encouraged all the world to ‘imagine no religion’?
What would I say? I would begin by saying that unfortunately, to love – to really love another human soul – is tough work.
The more I stare into my heart, the more darkness there is to see.
My own heart is filled with irritation, greed, lust, pride, laziness, apathetic complacency, whirling in orbit around a centre: me. me, me.
And this is just the obvious, easy stuff to see.
Beyond the obvious, there are further layers of darkness, largely hidden from my consciousness. For I suspect that my Guardian Angel stands at the threshold and protects me in his loving embrace.
Because in this world, I could not bear to witness the full darkness of my heart. The full vision of the darkness of our hearts is reserved for purgatory.
And if I were to see the full extent of darkness now, I could not cope with all I have to do from day to day to day …
Yes Angels protect us. Though at Findhorn, we never thought of Angels protecting us from the vision of our own sin and complacency.
At Findhorn, we focussed largely on ‘the Light’. Although we might have ‘owned’ psychological ‘issues’ that we were in process of ‘resolving and integrating’.
Still at Findhorn, we never spoke of the sin and apathy in the darkness of our hearts.
Indeed optimism, supreme optimism reigned at Findhorn. There was talk like: ‘I’ve worked through that one now’ or ‘I think my negative pattern is 80 per cent on the way to being transformed’.
As a young 23 year old, I did not stop to think: how can anyone ever judge that they have ‘worked something through’ – or that some ‘pattern they have’ is 80 per cent transformed?!
But now, by His Grace, I begin to see a little more clearly.
I see how tough it is to truly love another human being. I see how much tougher it is than anything that young Findhorn member thought back in 1986.
I see I cannot do it by myself. I need more than myself.
And so in my need, I turn to the Catholic Church.
I turn to the Catholic Sacraments of Communion and Confession.
And the Catholic Sacramental Journey takes me deeper into my heart of darkness.
These daily Sacraments foster intensity of insight.
And in that intensity, I say Deo Gratias!
Because through an ORDAINED hierarchy, the Catholic Sacraments are given to me.
And there I find what lectures by Peter Russell or songs by John Lennon, what Findhorn and the New Age could never give me:
Qui pridie quam pateretur, accepit panem in sanctas, ac venerabiles manus suas: et elevatis oculis in caelum ad te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem, tibi gratias agens, benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accepite, et manducate ex hoc omnes.
HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM.
(Who the day before He suffered, took the bread into His holy and venerable hands: and having raised His eyes to heaven, unto Thee, O God, His Father almighty, giving thanks to Thee, blessed, broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying: Take ye all and eat of this: FOR THIS IS MY BODY.)
A 2017 Update
Since the above was posted, I have started a YouTube channel with videos where, among other things, I address these themes. Here is one, talking about my life at Findhorn and my conversion to the Catholic Faith. I have also published books which address the New Age.
Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck
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