The New Age and the Trivialisation of the Catholic Mystery


Today, we rip a brief extract from my new book Cor Jesu Sacratissimum and feature it as a post. Alas, this is easier than it sounds for the extract below occurs, naturally, in the context of the book’s longer discourse and deprived of that context it loses meaning.

All I can say, briefly, is that my book is very concerned with both the inherent materialism of secularism and the New Age Movement which, however flawed it may be, remains a search for something beyond the confines of Secular Materialism. And in the book, I argue that many modern manifestations of Catholicism – including cited examples of priests dressed as clowns or even wearing blocks of cheese on their head (!) – have so trivialised the Catholic Mystery as to render it utterly uninteresting.

Now, hopefully that supplies just enough context for the following section from my book …

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In the New Age movement, we see growing numbers of folk, repelled by materialism, who starve for Supernatural Mystery. But where can New Agers go when the Church no longer clearly proclaims the central Mystery of the world? What can they do when the Holy Mass is celebrated by clowns and “cheeseheads”? Where can they turn, whilst the Church disguises Her true nature?

The answer is terribly obvious: ten thousand New Age teachers, gurus, channelers, and psychics who would speak to them of Angels, forces, powers, star signs, spiritual healing, ancient pagan mysteries, galactic reptiles—but never of the Holy Mystery that beats within the bosom of the Church.

Ironic it may be, but New Agers and Catholic traditionalists do, in fact, share some common features.

For example, Catholic traditionalists take the Supernatural very seriously. They cannot easily tolerate facile worldly scepticism. The same is true of New Age seekers.

Neither group has much tolerance for zany populism either. For example, New Agers are, more often than not, put off by evangelical, charismatic forms of Christianity, just as I was in my own youth. And the same is true for traditionalists.

Where would this New Age movement be—were the Church to speak, once again, unambiguously about Her Central Mystery?

In Ireland, I was stirred when a Priest reported his experience, discussing baptism with two young parents. Initially, the couple showed little interest. All was rote and ennui. But then the Priest invoked the matter of exorcism and protection from supernatural evil. A spark of life was generated!

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Here is evidence of young folk who are awake to dimensions beyond the reigning sclerotic worldview—just as young New Agers are likewise awake. Whatever the truth of the matter, there are many sensitive youth today who will only reject a kooky clone of Protestantism.

But these same sensitive souls might be genuinely stirred, if only they heard the Church speak seriously and unambiguously of the Supernatural Mystery She is meant to guard.

World materialism grows. Proportionally, the hunger for spiritual mystery grows. Perhaps proportionally as well, interest in the New Age movement grows. Whilst in the West, the Church declines. One may well ask, then, whether the decline of the Catholic Church is proportionate to the extent her members collude with Secular Materialism.

Because in all my New Age years, it would never have occurred to me to look to the Church for Supernatural Mystery. For I never heard the Church speaking—truthfully—about Herself in words like this:

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated in this consecrated, hallowed place. Not only does the Lord of the Universe become present whilst bread and wine are transformed, but surely Angels fall down in adoration by His Altar.

Fittingly, this Mass is not celebrated in the ordinary, mundane language of everyday life, but in a tongue, which has been reserved for centuries for august Sacred Mysteries. Here in this church you will find still further supernatural Graces. Confession will cleanse your very soul. Holy water is effective for warding off the advance of evil. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can lead you into ever-deeper contemplation of the Mystery of His Love. By the transcendental virtue of Ordination, the soul of the Priest has been altered so that he may intercede with the Resurrected Christ for all these Sacraments and sacramentals.

If you are not a Catholic, you are welcome to avail yourself of much that is here. To fully participate in the Catholic Mystery, however, a rite of initiation is required. Sincere applicants for initiation are never turned away.

Are the words that I suggest here pompous? They would certainly be pompous, if they did not happen to be true! Yet to Catholics of Faith, their truth is self-evident. But how seldom we proclaim their truth boldly and unambiguously!

So it is that New Agers have never heard such things. Who can blame them if they seek elsewhere? But what would have happened for myself and a million more young seekers, if Catholic churches everywhere spoke openly and unequivocally regarding the Catholic Mystery?

End of book extract.

Much, much more about these things can be found in my book which both explores the New Age scene in depth, as well as the Catholic Mystery and the crisis of the post-Vatican II Church.

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