Archive for February 8th, 2009

‘Healing the family tree’: New Age under the guise of religion (Part One)

Posted on February 8, 2009. Filed under: Divine grace, Evangelism, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality |

‘Healing the family tree’: New Age under the guise of religion (Part One)
Fr Peter Joseph

In the state of confusion in the Church today, some people have taken up new age or Protestant fundamentalist ideas without being aware of their real origin or falsity.
A major example of this is the current fad for “Healing the family tree”. There is a book with that title by an Anglican psychiatrist Kenneth McAll. Much of the book is quite acceptable to Catholics but the summary on the back cover also states that Dr McAll “tells how through his medical and religious experiences he has discovered a remarkable new method of healing. He believes that many supposedly ‘incurable’ patients are the victims of ancestral control. He therefore seeks to liberate them from this control. By drawing up a Family Tree, he can identify the ancestor who is causing his patient harm. He then cuts the bond between the ancestor and patient”.
There is myriad literature on the subject, much of it contradictory. Picking the reliable book is a bit like picking a book on astrology or some other nonsensical esoteric topic: which one will you believe? There are so many, and they are irreconcilable with each other!
There are variations galore on the ancestral spirit theme. I have heard some say that if you have a cot death in the family, it means that there was a witch in your ancestry. If you have bowel cancer, it means there was a Freemason, and so on. Some claim to have linked every possible malady to every possible class of ancestral sinner who is the cause of its passing down the line!
Others teach that you or your family are victims of the demon of anger, or the demon of lust, or of gambling, or of drug abuse, or of mental breakdown; in other words, there are special demons who pursue families down the generations to cause particular vices.
The Apostles too at one time had the common Jewish notion that every affliction could be traced to a specific sin. So it was they asked Our Lord, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus’ answer is very enlightening and very important: “It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him” (Jn 9:3).
Our Lord at another time discounted the idea that certain misfortunes come upon certain people because of their sins, while others are spared because they are less guilty. Referring to a group butchered under Pilate, and to eighteen others killed by a falling tower in Siloam, Jesus said, “Do you think they were worse offenders than all the others in Galilee and in Jerusalem? I tell you, No” (Lk 13:2,4).
Where did the Jews get this notion? Partly from the provisional Revelation given them by God. In the book of Exodus, God says, “I am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me” (20:5; 34:7). But is this meant to apply for all time unto the end of the world, like the Ten Commandments? No; many things in the Jewish Revelation were for the Jews only, such as circumcision, animal sacrifices, and other ritual and judicial laws. St John Chrysostom says explicitly that the declaration of punishment unto later generations “is not to be universally applied, but was made with regard to those going out of Egypt” (Homily 56 on St John).
Even within the Old Testament itself, God changed this arrangement. See all of chapter 18 in Ezekiel. God says, “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel.” Further on, God says, “Yet you [Jews] say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is lawful and right, he shall surely live. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (18:19-20). Jeremiah 31:29-30 says the same.
If someone in your family has an illness, there is no need to search your family tree for sinners, as the Apostles were trying to do!
Holy Spirit
Instructive in this regard is the reply of Our Lord to St Teresa of Avila. In her Life, chapter 19, she describes how she was meditating on Psalm 119, “Righteous are You, O Lord, and upright are Your judgements.” Then she began to wonder, “how You could with justice allow so many faithful servants to remain without those gifts and mercies that You conferred on me. You answered me, O Lord: Do not pry into this but serve Me.”
We cannot understand or justify the ways of God. To seek a personal explanation for each major thing will lead to obsession and distrust of God. Such things are not among the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Some of this pseudo-charismatic business is really an attempt to unravel and explain the inexplicable. Why was this man born blind? Why was this girl born handicapped? Why did that good woman die so young of cancer? Why does this family have mental illness? Normally, the answer has to be, “I don’t know” or, in a good sense, “God knows.” All these and other mystifying things are the result of the inscrutable designs of Divine Providence.
Padre Pio was asked once why he did not heal a close relative, a young man, of an ongoing illness. He replied, “If he were cured, he would come to love this life too much and his soul would be lost.” It is not given to ordinary mortals to know the secret designs of Providence, but a simple story like this one gives us a glimpse into God’s ways and into how He draws good from evil, even if we do not see it in this life. The illness of St Pio’s relative was his opportunity to share in the Cross and so save his soul.
In the Catholic schema of things, we need to remember that sin is the greatest of all evils. God has not promised to heal us or release us from all ills in this life, but He has promised absolutely to forgive our sins if we repent.
The belief in ancestral or generational curses, etc, is a perversion of the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin, which suffices to explain the evils and imperfections in this world. The remedy is baptismal regeneration and the life of Grace, not special exorcisms and healing rites, etc.
If people make a good confession of the past, make reparation for their sins, keep the Commandments, receive the Sacraments regularly, and avoid the occult and superstitions, and so on, then they can be certain that any afflictions are not by reason of some occult cause.
Some Catholics claiming to expel the influence of troublesome ancestors are really just misled by New Age influences, which play upon desperate people’s sensitivities and susceptibilities. It is typical of the new agers to teach others to look elsewhere than themselves for the source of their problems. This is a big problem in today’s world, namely refusing to take responsibility for our own choices and decisions. So some seek to blame their parents, or ancestors, or evil spirits, or a curse that was placed upon them.
It is also extremely imprudent to tell people afflicted with fears that their problems are caused by demons or ancestors binding them. Such explanations are only calculated to make them worse. What they do need is formation in the virtues of fortitude and trust in God.
We all know that in certain families there is a bigger tendency to alcoholism or gambling or reckless daring or other vices or whatever. But we also know that within a single family there are some siblings who are like chalk and cheese. Our basic temperament may be a given, but our character, which is what we do with it, is up to us. If we co-operate with the grace of God, we can overcome temptation, unhealthy proclivities and bad example. We can acquire new virtues. From sinful parents, God can and does produce saints! Only mindless determinism tries to lock people into a box for the rest of their lives.
Beliefs without foundation
A few years ago, a nun wrote to Bishop Brennan of Wagga Wagga to ask if she could come and do a seminar on “healing your family tree”. He replied, as he told me himself, that he did not believe in any such doctrine, and that it was contrary to Scripture and the Fathers.
There is a book by an Italian theologian, Father Renzo Lavatori, on the demonology of the Fathers of the Church. In that thorough book, and in other learned tomes on the teachings of the Fathers, you will not find a single Father of the Church who taught anything about evil spirits following your ancestral line, or healing your family tree by identifying the ancestor who is holding you bound.
I would go further and say that no Father, no Doctor of the Church, no Saint, no Pope, no Council ever taught or even implied any such thing. It is a pure fiction without foundation in Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition. There is not a word on the subject in the 688 pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is a mythical notion imported from sects outside the Church.
Next month I will look at right and wrong approaches to curses, exorcisms, and baptism of the dead.
Fr Peter Joseph, the vice-rector and a lecturer in dogma at Vianney College, the diocesan seminary of Wagga Wagga, is serving as Chancellor for the Maronite Diocese of Australia from February 2003 for the next three years.

see also: Fr. Mitch Pacwa,SJ: Catholics and New Age

Directory on popular piety and the liturgy. Principles and guidelines Holy See

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Lectio Divina as School of Prayer among the Fathers of the Desert

Posted on February 8, 2009. Filed under: Christianity, John Cassian, lectio divina, Prayer, Religion and Spirituality |

:en:St Anthony the GreatImage via Wikipedia

Lectio Divina as School of Prayer among the Fathers of the Desert By Abbot Armand Veilleux, O.C.S.O.

A scholarly piece, with lots of quotations, like this from St. John Cassian: “Brought to life by this food (that of the Scriptures) on which he does not cease to nourish himself, [the monk] penetrates to the point of all the sentiments expressed in the psalms, which he recites henceforth not at all as having been composed by the prophet, but as if he himself were the author, and as a personal prayer…This is, in fact, what the divine Scriptures reveal to us most clearly, and it is their heart and in some way their marrow that are shown to us, when our experience not only allows us to know, but makes us anticipate this very knowledge, and the sense of the words is made known to us, not by some explanation, but by the proof that we ourselves have made of them.”



First : Job 7:1-4.6-7; Second: 1 Cor 9:16-19.22-23; Gospel: Lk 24:13-
Suffering, sickness and weakness are words that appear in the readings of today’s liturgy. Others accompany them as a response: care, preaching, service. The Gospel presents a typical day in Jesus’ apostolic ministry: he preaches, he heals, he retires to pray, he leaves for other places to preach and cast out devils. In the first reading, Job complains: “I have assigned to me nothing for my own but nights of grief… My life is but a breath, and … my eyes will never again see joy.” Finally, Paul makes himself weak with the weak to save the weak, he makes himself a slave of everyone to win as many as he can (second reading).


Human suffering. When Job likens man’s life to military service, he is not focusing on the heroic or glorious aspects of the militia as much as on the meaning of struggling, pain, suffering and punishment. Whether one wants it that way or not, pain is present at the origin, middle and end of human life. There is the pain of the daily toil of work, and the nightmares that molest people from dusk to dawn. There is the reality of illness in all its various forms and the anguish of dying, of having to die and of feeling apprehensive about eternity. There is physical suffering with its cruel, disturbing face, and the suffering of the soul which upsets one’s inner self and tumbles one into a bottomless pit. There is obligatory renunciation because of superior and beautiful decisions, but which as a renunciation continues nevertheless to be painful; and there is voluntary renunciation for the good of others which also brings its own load of suffering. Above all, there is the pain of sin, that pain whose traces linger in the soul even when the sin has been forgiven. How immense is humanity’s pain! The infinite meaninglessness of life and the horrible absurdity! The awareness that pain and suffering will last as long as time, however many breakthroughs are made in medicine and biomedical technology.
The mystery of pain. Pain is a reality outside our door and in our inner selves. Pain is also a mystery. That is, it is something outside the human being’s grasp, however great his extraordinary capacity for understanding; it is something incomprehensible to all. It is also something which in escaping from your grasp you cannot dominate or manage as you will, but which imposes itself upon you and subjugates you. Neither Job nor Peter’s mother-in-law, nor those “possessed by devils” of which the Gospel speaks, sought suffering or sickness; rather, they were the passive subjects of a superior power that was imposed upon them against their will. Pain is also a mystery because it refers us to something or someone superior, above us and far beyond us, who enters into our lives and on whom we must depend. It is a mystery, lastly, because it requires “treatment” by a specialist, not to understand it, but rather to integrate it in our life and to succeed in giving it meaning. For us Christians, the specialist in pain is Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is only he who can introduce us to the science of pain; only he can preach the Gospel or the good news of suffering to us with authority.
The Christian Way. In the liturgical texts there are indications of a Christian reaction to the reality of pain and the mystery of suffering. First of all, as Job teaches us, we must adopt a stance, not of resignation but of a quest for meaning. Far more important than seeking tranquilizers for suffering is the search for its meaning. A search which endures throughout life, because pain accompanies us to the grave. Secondly, we Christians must try to alleviate human pain. The discovery of pain is not an excuse in order to do nothing to soften and alleviate people’s pain. Since suffering is an evil closely linked to sin, we must fight it with determination and efficacy. Jesus did not fold his arms when faced with so many sick people, possessed by devils or terrified by some pain or other. The attitude of service in the face of suffering, as exemplified by Paul who made himself the servant of all, is a quintessentially Christian imperative. Teaching the meaning of pain and bearing authentic witness when facing one’s own suffering in the light of Christ’s mystery, is a high point of the Christian way.

The “beautiful” face of Christian suffering. Can pain be “beautiful”? Is it really the absolute evil in which there is no spark of beauty? Is it possible that a beautiful act can be reflected in the mirror of pain? For some people today, pain is more horrible than death, which is why euthanasia or suicide seem to solve the possible dilemma. For doctors, whose profession is to combat pain and for whom it is an enemy, it must be difficult to think of the beautiful side of suffering. I think telling the relatives of a dying person – of a patient with a terminal illness or of someone who has suffered a gruesome accident – that there can also be a beautiful side to pain, runs the risk being insolent or, at the least, inappropriate. Altogether, suffering has a certain human and Christian “beauty”. Physical or moral pain humanizes and dignifies man in his humanity and makes him more fully man when he accepts it and lives it with nobility of spirit, although his whole body may be contorted with the most unspeakable convulsions. It dignifies those who suffer it and their loved ones, when they bear with it and live it with noble elegance. Above all pain “Christianizes”, that is, it likens us to the great master and artist of pain who is Jesus Christ. His pain is beautiful because it embellishes all humanity, purifying it from the leprosy of sin and instilling in the old body of a fallen humanity the splendor of purity and innocence. A pastoral approach to suffering cannot do without this beautiful aspect of pain. What are the most appropriate ways and times to preach the good news, the beautiful face of suffering?
At the service of the suffering. Jesus Christ was a doctor of bodies and souls. The priest must follow in Christ’s footsteps. By his vocation he must always be available to alleviate human suffering as best he can. Accompanying those who suffer, comforting them with words or simply by being present, sharing an anxiety or a very deep sorrow, praying for those who suffer and getting them to pray with him about their suffering condition… Listening to the sinner in his inner anguish, speaking to him simple but true and authentic words which come from the heart, encouraging the despairing and the depressed, imbuing serenity in those who are overwhelmed and, as it were, devoured by pain… The priest should be, like Christ, a loving and compassionate doctor of bodies and souls. A full-time doctor, tireless, committed to all without reserve, like Jesus Christ, as this Sunday’s Gospel portrays him. Do I visit the sick and the elderly? Do I bring them the comfort of my words and especially the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist? Do I believe that service to the sick in body and mind is a fundamental element of my ministry? What can be done in my parish, in my religious community, to give a “beautiful” face to suffering?

– Library – Homilies

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Posted on February 8, 2009. Filed under: Catholicism, Christianity, Consecration, Devotions, Golden Prayer, Immaculate Heart, Marian, mp3, Prayer and Spirituality, Religion and Spirituality, Rosary, Sacred Heart, Triumph |

Real Life Rosary – My Favorite to pray with -mp3

The Golden Prayer- Consecration to the Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart – video explains consecration

Golden Prayer audio & pdf entire 20 mysteries

Downloads from Book ‘Real Life Rosary’


Rosary Army Downloadable mp3 rosaries – Scriptural & regular – all 20 mysteries
Rosary Army – Audio Entire Preparation for Consecration St. Louis de Montfort
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