St Francis Q&A

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Danger: "New Age"

Anon: "What is Reiki? Is it similar to the laying on of hands? I got an email from my aunt, who is an active and practicing Catholic, to tell me she has just become a certified Reiki practioner. She'd like to offer me a "healing". It sort of scares me!!!"

Our summer, seminarian, Jim, has admirably tackled this one:

Reiki, as some of the other bloggers noted, is a spiritual practice which, according to Wikipedia, proposes to treat ”physical, emotional, mental and spiritual diseases.” It was developed in Japan in the early twentieth century, and works on the concept of using the “healing energy of the universe” to bring peace and healing to both practitioners and their patients. From the person who developed the practice, it has splintered into a number of groups who have various standards for training and certification, and for legitimacy, based on who learned from whom. The Reiki practitioner puts his hands either on or near the recipient, and will let the energy flow through them to the patient, to accelerate the body’s natural healing powers.

Reiki is, as some bloggers also noted, a “New Age” practice. This is not to say that it is evil in itself, but that it can open dangerous channels that can have an ongoing negative effect on both the practitioner and the recipient. The main difference between this and the Christian “laying on of hands” is really in its source and the attitude of those who follow this practice. The Christian prays for the help of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit is not a faucet to be turned off and on at the will of the person praying. We acknowledge our weakness and our lack of wisdom in asking for God’s help in any kind of healing, because, in His Wisdom and Power, He knows what is truly best for us, and can be trusted to provide that. The New Age practitioner becomes god – calling on whatever powers he wants when he wants for what he wants. That level of narcissism only invites the cooperation of those forces which eventually dictate who is truly in control.

The Pontifical Council for Culture released a preliminary study titled, “Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life – A Christian Reflection on the ‘New Age’”. In it is a discussion of the present day’s culture in which people search for empowerment in a world that doesn’t make sense, and are looking to themselves to be the source of their peace. There is only one source for true peace – God – and the “New Age” only rehashes old Gnostic themes to make people believe that they can bring about their own fulfillment by themselves, with or without their supposed control of elemental forces. Many souls have been lost by these philosophies. The Christian believes in Jesus as the only way to salvation, and God as the only source of the true fulfillment that will make us truly and fully human beings, created in the image and likeness of God.


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