EXTRACT FROM ‘NEW AGE IN THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS‘ [Page nos. as in the original report]: OCTOBER 2005
THE CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL, THE ASHRAMS AND THE NEW AGE
A priest who is now leader of the Delhi Catholic Charismatic Renewal had followed a similar pilgrim circuit, as was published in the September 1991 THE VOICE OF DELHI, [the official newsletter of the Archdiocese of Delhi*] under the caption Om Saccidananda, Om Shanti, Shanti : “Fr. [name withheld], our man in search of truth in various ashrams in India writes from Saccidananda Ashram… that he is ‘enjoying the quiet and silence spending lots of time in prayer and reflection and reading.’ He has just completed two months in Kalady, the birthplace of Aadi Shankaracharya and in Kurishumala
[see page 45-46, 65] ‘going deeper into the deep things’. Fr… is expected to come back with lots of insight and inner light as that of Ramana Maharishi.” *Ignatius Loyola Mascarenhas now Bishop of Simla-Chandigarh
Obviously the priest had also visited Fr. Painadath‘s Sameeksha Ashram in Kalady and the Ramana Ashram.
The priest’s itinerary must have been approved by his superiors and his Bishop.
Fr. Thomas Matus‘ reflections on the Renewal need to be included. “The Charismatic Renewal is very widespread among active Catholics in India… Attitudes toward authentic Hindu and other Indian religious traditions — sacred texts like the Upanishads and meditative practices like yoga and vipassana (Buddhist insight meditation) — range from indifference to hostility with perhaps some timid interest and lukewarm indifference in between.
The charismatics are almost all convinced that the study of Hindu writings and the practice of yoga are either useless or dangerous,” he says,  [For more on Charismatic Renewal see pages 89, 92, 93, 94]
I think that here Fr. Matus has touched on a very crucial issue. I have always written that the major bulwark against New Age [and the ashrams’] expansionism in the Church is a prophetic Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
Fr. Joe Pereira of Mumbai promotes yoga and occult meditation techniques to treat people who suffer from alcohol and drug abuse through Kripa. You will read about his hostility to the Renewal [see pages 41, 44, 87-96].
Holistic Health Centres promoting New Age alternative therapies, and run by nuns, operate with impunity in our major dioceses, even under Bishops who are leaders in Charismatic Renewal [report published in 2000].
A greatly esteemed and accomplished Orthodox Bishop, Paulose Mar Gregorios [see page 58] who died several years ago was for years the leading high-profile New Ager in the Indian Church, his New Age books being printed and published by his seminary. No one seems to have objected. I first wrote about him as early as 1999.
The Bishops, many of who are well aware of what has been going on in the ashrams for years now, have not yet [re]acted officially, just as there has been no official directive from them to the Indian Church on the Vatican’s Provisional Report on the New Age released over thirty months ago. Several leaders in the Renewal who support this ministry believe that the reasons are political. Read ‘no one will take the initiative to face up to the truth’.
Certainly a few Bishops, and a tiny minority of leaders in the Renewal do not want to see the truth revealed, what with their colleagues [Church and Renewal leaders, including well known priests] already compromised.
Around this time last year, a priest involved in charismatic ministry introduced himself to me through an email in which he protested at my including DREAM THERAPY in a list of New Age practices. In a series of strong letters he said that he was doing DREAMWORK and insisted that he found nothing wrong with it, advising me not to distribute my literature and “confuse the minds of young people,” ending with a suggestion that I “read NEW AGE: A THEOLOGICAL RESPONSE TO THE VATICAN DOCUMENT edited by Fr. Sebastian Painadath SJ. This issue has articles by eminent and serious theologians of India on the matter of New Age.” The priest was telling me that I had wrong notions of what New Age is, and that my reading the above would serve to educate me.
My article on Dream Therapy will be published soon. Meanwhile, readers can have a ‘preview’ of it [see pages 39-41] by reading about who and what Jung is. The influence of Jungian psychology on dream analysis cannot be avoided in the New Age by anyone who studies or practices it. I am confident that this good priest is practicing a New Age form of Dreamwork because, for his defence, he brought in the liberal theological arguments of twelve persons, including one Hindu swami, edited for publication by Fr. Painadath as their combined and outright rejection of the findings and recommendations of the 3rd February 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age. My detailed report on this to follow. Concerning Fr. Painadath himself, you may refer to pages 14, 15, 27, 28, 29, 30, 37, 40, 46-47, 67.
Sr. Claude FMM, a Bible teacher and leading figure in the Renewal in Chennai has written for the Ashram souvenir, was close to Bede, and was a regular visitor to Shantivanam and other ashrams. Her familiarity with the ashram circuit is evident from the information provided. [see pages 28, 33].
Jesuit Fr. A.J. Thamburaj, twice National Chairman of the Charismatic Renewal, practised reiki and pranic healing, and by his own public admission, has even been trained in Zen meditation, a couple of years ago, at the Bodhi Zendo Ashram [see pages 9, 29] of his good friend, Fr. Ama Samy SJ. [See separate report. This ashram is a Life Member of Ashram Aikiya]. At a 2005 national charisms seminar, he spoke about his proficiency in dowsing [using a pendulum for divination.
There were senior leaders and priests present at that time. It must be recorded that no one objected to the disclosure.
Is it to be believed that they and others like them came away uninfluenced by the erroneous teachings and exposure to occult practices that they encountered at these centres? If one, who has been to any of these centres and realized what is occurring there, is truly Catholic and Christian, he would, from his own unfortunate experience, alert fellow believers about these centres and their activities. After all, anyone can make a mistake. Silence is in itself compromise. As early as 1999, I had discovered a core-group leader doing Zen at the Jesuit-run Dhyana Ashram in Chennai before an icon of the Buddha. Sr. Claude herself is well aware of this. Is it to be believed that these Renewal leaders, who are thorough with the Word of God and preach a charismatic spirituality, did not and do not find anything wrong with the teachings of the ashram leaders and the goings-on in their ashrams?
What never ceases to amaze me is that many good leaders in the Church, and in the Renewal itself, make no apparent effort to admonish the erring leaders, or to ensure that, if they do not abjure these practices, they do not continue to occupy positions of leadership and ministry that give them official access to charismatics in the Church.
And that a ministry that seeks to warn innocent Catholics about them is steadfastly ignored, marginalized and stifled.
The continued references by this ministry to these old issues is precisely because they have not been officially addressed and because this ministry has received no assurance that they will. On the other hand the writer has been either ‘advised’ to pray for the erring leaders or to modify his style of writing if he wants his work to be ‘accepted’.
For the truth to be revealed, even if it were written or spoken objectively, would be to expose certain unpleasant facts.
It is no wonder that certain sections of the Renewal distance themselves from the work of this ministry which avoids any sort of compromise while exposing these evils. The purpose of including this section is to demonstrate that the ashram movement has compromised several leading personalities in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal too.
A detailed disclosure with information compiled over the last 25 years will be provided in an article that I expect to bring out next year if the issues continue to be ignored.
There is also the more sensitive issue of our being a
in a Hindu nation, the possibility of repercussions against the Catholic community if Catholics were, let us say, officially instructed to avoid practising yoga.
Today, September 2, 2005, the New Indian Express reports that an Indian Muslim woman and her entire family were excommunicated for her doing yoga despite warnings from the mullah that it was against the tenets of Islam., American televangelist and presidential candidate Pat Robertson in 1989 had said, “Satan, beasts, demons. Destruction of soul in hell. That is what Hinduism is all about.” Catholics in India cannot, of course, go about saying such things [even if they are true].
So it is better to be politically correct, while increasing numbers of ignorant Catholics are baptised into the New Age.
However, as more Catholics decide that enough is enough, things are improving. Courageous and righteous Bishops have expressed their serious concern to me about the dangers posed to the Church by the New Age, and now the ashrams. And charismatic publications have begun to feature articles on New Age themes, though not all of them are prepared to come out openly in solidarity with ministries like this one. It is alright to write against the New Age from a safe and distant standpoint, but it requires a truly ‘charismatic’ spirit to expose as well as TACKLE the errors, and those behind them, especially when they hit uncomfortably close to home.
I have with me a letter dated 31st October 1983, written by a lay Catholic to Fr. I. Hirudayam [see pages 15, 27] at Aikiya Alayam. The person laments that something negative was written about Fr. Hirudayam in the 1983 AILC Souvenir, and, after affirming his support for Fr. Hirudayam, Acharya Francis Mahieu and Fr. Bede Griffiths, he refers to a letter of his severely criticizing the charismatic renewal, that was published the previous week in the New Leader. It does not need wisdom to see that the two spiritualities, ashram [as in this report] and charismatic, oppose each other. The Charismatic Renewal has a major role to play in this spiritual warfare. Intercessory prayer should serve to complement words and pro-action, for the spirit of the Renewal is a prophetic Spirit.
INFORMATION ADDED IN AUGUST 2009
For more information on charismatic leaders’ involvement in the propagation of New Age, see
IS CENTERING PRAYER GENUINE CATHOLIC CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER OR IS IT ‘NEW AGE’?
THE SANGAM INTEGRAL FORMATION AND SPIRITUALITY CENTRE, GOA_NEW AGE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELING SERIES