New Age:The Labyrinth or Dromenon, Mandalas, and Veriditas, the Labyrinth Project

MAY 1/3, 2013

The Labyrinth or Dromenon, Mandalas, and

Veriditas, the Labyrinth Project


The New Age labyrinth has overrun parish churches, religious houses and retreat centres in the West. Now it has reared its head in India, not surprisingly in the Archdiocese of Bombay* which has become — with the official approval of the Cardinal Archbishop Oswald Gracias through the medium of the archdiocesan weekly, The Examiner — the launching pad for various alternative therapies, New Age organizations, New Age meditations and psycho-spiritual techniques, for example, acupuncture, Centering prayer, Earth-Centred Retreats, the enneagram, homoeopathy, Kripa Foundation, magnet therapy,

Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator [MBTI], Neuro Linguistic Programming, vipassana, the World Community for Christian Meditation [WCCM], yoga, Interplay, etc.

My research, as documented in dozens of articles and reports at my web site, conclusively proves that the archdiocese of Bombay is the leading promoter of New Age in the Catholic Church in India.

The archdiocese of Bombay is also the operational base of the two leading lay feminist ‘theologians’, Virginia Saldanha and Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, both of who are longtime senior executives in archdiocesan bodies, and who promote the ordination of women as priests.

*See pages 55 to 59

1.

The labyrinth — like the Enneagram — is largely a “Catholic” New Age phenomenon but it has already been adopted and adapted by Protestant churches in the West, mostly those that are already tainted by New Age.

Labyrinth
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinth
EXTRACT

There are plenty of illustrations and photographs at this page. -Michael

In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth (Greek λαβύρινθος labyrinthos, possibly the building complex at Knossos) was an elaborate structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur, a mythical creature that was half man and half bull and was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus. Daedalus had so cunningly made the Labyrinth that he could barely escape it after he built it. Theseus was aided by Ariadne, who provided him with a skein of thread, literally the “clew”, or “clue”, so he could find his way out again.

In colloquial English, labyrinth is generally synonymous with maze, but many contemporary scholars observe a distinction between the two: maze refers to a complex branching (multicursal) puzzle with choices of path and direction; while a single-path (unicursal) labyrinth has only a single, non-branching path, which leads to the center. A labyrinth in this sense has an unambiguous route to the center and back and is not designed to be difficult to navigate.

Although early Cretan coins occasionally exhibit multicursal patterns, the unicursal seven-course “Classical” design became associated with the Labyrinth on coins as early as 430 BC, and became widely used to represent the Labyrinth – even though both logic and literary descriptions make it clear that the Minotaur was trapped in a complex branching maze. Even as the designs became more elaborate, visual depictions of the Labyrinth from Roman times until the Renaissance are almost invariably unicursal. Branching mazes were reintroduced only when garden mazes became popular during the Renaissance.

Labyrinths appeared as designs on pottery or basketry, as body art, and in etchings on walls of caves or churches. The Romans created many primarily decorative labyrinth designs on walls and floors in tile or mosaic. Many labyrinths set in floors or on the ground are large enough that the path can be walked. They have been used historically both in group ritual and for private meditation.

Pliny’s Natural History mentions four ancient labyrinths: the Cretan labyrinth, an Egyptian labyrinth, a Lemnian labyrinth, and an Italian labyrinth.

Labyrinth is a word of pre-Greek (Minoan) origin absorbed by Classical Greek and is perhaps related to the Lydian labrys (“double-edged axe”, a symbol of royal power, which fits with the theory that the labyrinth was originally the royal Minoan palace on Crete and meant “palace of the double-axe”), with -inthos meaning “place” (as in Corinth). A lot of these symbols were found in the Minoan palace and they usually accompanied goddesses. It was probably the symbol of the arche (Mater-arche: matriarchy). This theory is confirmed by the worship of Zeus Labraundos (Ζεύς Λαβρυάνδις) in Caria of Anatolia, where also existed a sacred site named Labraunda. Zeus is depicted holding a double-edged axe. In classical Greece, the priests at Delphi were called Labryades (Λαβρυάδες) – the men of the double axe. The complex palace of Knossos in Crete is usually implicated, though the actual dancing ground, depicted in frescoes at Knossos, has not been found. Something was being shown to visitors as a labyrinth at Knossos in the 1st century AD (Philostratos, De vita Apollonii Tyanei iv.34). A palace of similar complicated structure was discovered at Beycesultan in Anatolia, on the headwaters of Meander river.
[…]

The labyrinth is the referent in the familiar Greek patterns of the endlessly running meander, to give the “Greek key” its common modern name. In the 3rd century BC, coins from Knossos were still struck with the labyrinth symbol. The predominant labyrinth form during this period is the simple seven-circuit style known as the classical labyrinth.

The term labyrinth came to be applied to any unicursal maze, whether of a particular circular shape (illustration) or rendered as square. At the center, a decisive turn brought one out again. In Plato’s dialogue Euthydemus, Socrates describes the labyrinthine line of a logical argument: “Then it seemed like falling into a labyrinth: we thought we were at the finish, but our way bent round and we found ourselves as it were back at the beginning, and just as far from that which we were seeking at first.” … Thus the present-day notion of a labyrinth as a place where one can lose [his] way must be set aside. It is a confusing path, hard to follow without a thread, but, provided [the traverser] is not devoured at the midpoint, it leads surely, despite twists and turns, back to the beginning.

Cretan labyrinth

Knossos has been supposed since Classical times to be the site of the labyrinth. When the Bronze Age site at Knossos was excavated by explorer Arthur Evans, he found various bull motifs, including an image of a man leaping over the horns of a bull, as well as depictions of a labrys carved into the walls. On the strength of a passage in the Iliad, it has been suggested that the palace was the site of a dancing-ground made for Ariadne by the craftsman Daedalus, where young men and women, of the age of those sent to Crete as prey for the Minotaur, would dance together. By extension, in popular legend the palace is associated with the myth of the Minotaur.

In the 2000s, archaeologists explored other potential sites of the labyrinth. Oxford University geographer Nicholas Howarth believes that ‘Evans’s hypothesis that the palace of Knossos is also the Labyrinth must be treated skeptically.’ Howarth and his team conducted a search of an underground complex known as the Skotino cave but concluded that it was formed naturally. Another contender is a series of underground tunnels at Gortyn, accessed by a narrow crack but expanding into interlinking caverns. Unlike the Skotino cave, these caverns have smooth walls and columns, and appear to have been at least partially man-made. This site corresponds to an unusual labyrinth symbol on a 16th century map of Crete contained in a book of maps in the library of Christ Church, Oxford. A map of the caves themselves was produced by the French in 1821. The site was also used by German soldiers to store ammunition during the Second World War. Howarth’s investigation was shown on a documentary produced for the National Geographic Channel. […]

Ancient labyrinths outside Europe

At about the same time as the appearance of the Greek labyrinth, a topologically identical pattern appeared in Native American culture, the Tohono O’odham labyrinth which features I’itoi, the “Man in the Maze”. The Tonoho O’odham pattern has two distinct differences from the Greek: it is radial in design, and the entrance is at the top, where traditional Greek labyrinths have the entrance at the bottom (see below).

A prehistoric petroglyph on a riverbank in Goa shows the same pattern and has been dated to circa 2500 BC. Other examples have been found among cave art in northern India and on a dolmen shrine in the Nilgiri Mountains, but are difficult to date accurately. Early labyrinths in India all follow the Classical pattern; some have been described as plans of forts or cities.

Labyrinths appear in Indian manuscripts and Tantric texts from the 17th century onward. They are often called “Chakravyuha” in reference to an impregnable battle formation described in the ancient Mahabharata epic. Lanka, the capital city of mythic Rāvana, is described as a labyrinth in the 1910 translation of Al-Beruni’s India (c.1030CE) p. 306 (with a diagram on the following page).
[…]

Medieval labyrinths and turf mazes

When the early humanist Benzo d’Alessandria visited Verona before 1310, he noted the “Laberinthum which is now called the Arena”; perhaps he was seeing the cubiculi beneath the arena’s missing floor.

The full flowering of the medieval labyrinth came about from the twelfth through fourteenth centuries with the grand pavement labyrinths of the gothic cathedrals, notably Chartres, Reims and Amiens in northern France. These labyrinths may have originated as symbolic allusion to the Holy City; and some modern thinkers have theorized that prayers and devotions may have accompanied the perambulation of their intricate paths1. Although some books (in particular guidebooks) suggest that the mazes on cathedral floors served as substitutes for pilgrimage paths, the earliest attested use of the phrase “chemin de Jerusalem” (path to Jerusalem) dates to the late 18th century when it was used to describe mazes at Reims and Saint-Omer. The accompanying ritual, supposedly involving pilgrims following the maze on their knees while praying, may have been practiced at Chartres during the 17th century. However, no contemporary evidence supports the idea that labyrinths had such a purpose for early Christians. The cathedral labyrinths are thought to be the inspiration for the many turf mazes in the UK, such as survive at Wing, Hilton, Alkborough, and Saffron Walden.

Over the same general period, some 500 or more non-ecclesiastical labyrinths were constructed in Scandinavia. These labyrinths, generally in coastal areas, are marked out with stones, most often in the simple 7- or 11-course classical forms. They often have names which translate as “Troy Town”. They are thought to have been constructed by fishing communities: trapping malevolent trolls or winds in the labyrinth’s coils might ensure a safe fishing expedition. There are also stone labyrinths on the Isles of Scilly, although none is known to date from before the nineteenth century.

There are examples of labyrinths in many disparate cultures. The symbol has appeared in various forms and media (petroglyphs, classic-form, medieval-form, pavement, turf, and basketry) at some time throughout most parts of the world, from Native North and South America to Australia, Java, India, and Nepal.

Modern labyrinths

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the labyrinth symbol, which has inspired a revival in labyrinth building.

Countless video games depict mazes and labyrinths.

On bobsled, luge, and skeleton tracks, a labyrinth is where there are three to four curves in succession without a straight line in between any of the turns.

In modern imagery, the labyrinth of Daedalus is often represented by a multicursal maze, in which one may become lost.

The Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges was entranced with the idea of the labyrinth, and used it extensively in his short stories (such as “The House of Asterion” in The Aleph). His use of it has inspired other authors’ works […]

Cultural meanings

Prehistoric labyrinths are believed to have served as traps for malevolent spirits or as defined paths for ritual dances. In medieval times, the labyrinth symbolized a hard path to God with a clearly defined center (God) and one entrance (birth). In their cross-cultural study of signs and symbols, Patterns that Connect, Carl Schuster and Edmund Carpenter present various forms of the labyrinth and suggest various possible meanings, including not only a sacred path to the home of a sacred ancestor, but also, perhaps, a representation of the ancestor him/herself: “…many [New World] Indians who make the labyrinth regard it as a sacred symbol, a beneficial ancestor, a deity. In this they may be preserving its original meaning: the ultimate ancestor here evoked by two continuous lines joining its twelve primary joints.”

Labyrinths can be thought of as symbolic forms of pilgrimage; people can walk the path, ascending toward salvation or enlightenment. Many people could not afford to travel to holy sites and lands, so labyrinths and prayer substituted for such travel. Later, the religious significance of labyrinths faded, and they served primarily for entertainment, though recently their spiritual aspect has seen a resurgence.

Many newly made labyrinths exist today, in churches and parks. Labyrinths are used by modern mystics to help achieve a contemplative state. Walking among the turnings, one loses track of direction and of the outside world, and thus quiets the mind. The Labyrinth Society provides a locator for modern labyrinths all over the world.

Christian use

Labyrinths, often of the Chartres design, began to appear on church walls and floors around 1000 C.E., and there are even examples from churches in the Roman Empire.

The purpose of the labyrinths is not clear, though there are surviving descriptions of French clerics performing a ritual Easter dance along the path on Easter Sunday. Some books (guidebooks in particular) suggest that mazes on cathedral floors originated in the medieval period as alternatives to pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but the earliest attested use of the phrase “chemin de Jerusalem” (path to Jerusalem) dates to the late 18th century when it was used to describe mazes at Reims and Saint-Omer. The accompanying ritual, depicted in Romantic illustrations as involving pilgrims following the maze on their knees while praying, may have been practiced at Chartres during the 17th century. […]

Notes

1. Labyrinth“. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.

The information in the following pages [till page xx] is as far as possible in chronological order.

3.

Ancient Satanism/Paganism being mainstreamed in today’s “churches”

http://www.cuttingedge.org/News/n1189.cfm
EXTRACT
[From a Protestant source; included for academic reasons]

The ancient labyrinth or spiral is now being touted as a means of “healing” and meditation in churches throughout the United States. This event is another indication America has turned Pagan, which it must do if her people are to be ready for Antichrist. The New World Order is coming! Are you ready? Once you understand what this New World Order really is, and how it is being gradually implemented, you will be able to see it progressing in your daily news!!

Learn how to protect yourself, your loved ones!

Stand by for insights so startling you will never look at the news the same way again.

NEWS BRIEF: “Rediscovering The Labyrinth: Unlike mazes, these ancient circular pathways guide walkers to their spiritual, healing or creative center”, by David Crumm, Knight Ridder Newspapers, in The Providence Journal, Saturday, July 11, 1998, page D5. “The mysterious labyrinth is merely 11 interlocking circles laid out on the ground with the outline of a six-petaled flower at its heart. But a growing number of men and women who have stepped inside the ancient pattern say that they have found relaxation, reassurance, and even healing within its winding paths.” “‘All of these things are a part of our spiritual health’, says the Rev. Murray Blackadar, Pastor of the Church of Our Savior in West Bloomfield, Mich., where members have just built a 60-foot-wide labyrinth of stone and grass. ‘In exploring the labyrinth, we are rediscovering what people in other centuries understood about mental, physical, and spiritual wholeness’, Blackadar says.”

“Blackadar, standing nearby, adds, ‘One thing I like about using the labyrinth is that it’s not just another spiritual flavor of the month that someone has thought up. There’s a real history behind this in Christianity and we’re tapping into that history in a serious way … The widespread rediscovery of labyrinths is too recent to be reflected in most reference books.’ ‘This is a Christian tradition, but it is found in many other religions as well’, says the Rev. Lauren Artress of Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco and the world’s leading promoter of labyrinths.”

At this point, I paused in reading this article because I had certainly never, ever seen a circular labyrinth in any Christian literature, nor any in Jewish literature, nor in the Bible. But, before we get into the kind of Christianity to which the “Reverend” Blackadar is referring, let us look at the labyrinth in question here. Within this article, Rev. Artress gives her URL for anyone who wants to see what a labyrinth looks like and to get more information about starting a labyrinth in his or her community. This URL address is www.gracecom.org/veriditas/ Let us now look at her picture of her labyrinth.

http://www.gracecom.org/veriditas/geninfo/grace.shtml


As you can see, this labyrinth is a stylized series of coiled circles. Let us return to this newspaper article for more information that will further enlighten us about this labyrinth.

“While the intricate circular pathways may seem puzzling at first, labyrinth devotees are quick to point out that this pattern is not a maze. Mazes are puzzles designed to confuse people with wrong turns and dead ends. In contrast, labyrinths twist and turn in surprising ways, but there is only one pathway and it always leads walkers into the center and back out again.” (Ibid) In other words, this pattern is one of circles within circles.

When I read this description of the labyrinth in this article, I was reminded of another circle similarly composed of circles within circles. Where was it that I had seen another series of circles within circles? Within minutes, I remembered. I took my satanic book of symbols, “Magic Symbols”, and turned to their circles within circles. Look at what I found on page 123.

This design was discovered on the Norman front in the parish church at Lewannick, Cornwall. Notice the design is essentially the same as the design of the labyrinth shown on the web site of Veriditas, above. The only major difference between the two circles within circles is that this one is not interrupted at all with the stylistic designs, as is the Veriditas. This design is very occultic, of course, which is why it was displayed in the “Magic Symbols” book in the first place. But, the degree to which it is occultic will shock you. Now, let us look at the original labyrinth design, after which all others have been adopted.

4.


Now, we can clearly see that the labyrinth design was adopted from the coiled serpent! Notice the head of the serpent in the very middle of the coil, with its tongue protruding. We should not be surprised at this proof of Paganism in this modern labyrinth, because the New Age Movement is simply a revival of the old Satanic Babylonian and Egyptian Mysteries religions, which common elements of Buddhism and Hinduism thrown in for good measure.

To dispel any ideas that the similarities of the labyrinth to the coiled serpent is accidental, let us examine the supposed effects of these two symbols upon the adherent who places great faith in it. First, let us examine the newspaper article to see the effect upon the people who “religiously” walked the labyrinth.

“‘I couldn’t tell you much about the theology behind this or the meaning of all the circles, Atwell says, but I know that, for me, walking the labyrinth is like taking a journey through my life.” In the 15 or 20 minutes it takes Atwell to reach the flower-shaped center and prepare for his journey back out of the labyrinth into the ordinary world, he has passed through a virtual photo album of the most beloved scenes in his life.”

“‘The beauty of the labyrinth is that it can address so many needs’, says Rev. Artress. ‘It can be a prayer tool in a church; it can reduce stress in a hotel setting; it can heal; it can inspire an artist’.”

“The potential for reducing stress and soothing anxiety makes the labyrinth ideal for a medical center, says Dr. Katherine Roth, a family practitioner who has studied ways to integrate nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and meditation into healing.”

“For two years, Roth has led the effort to build a large garden and labyrinth outside Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Mich. ‘There’s a difference between curing and healing,’ Roth says. ‘Curing is something that we do to deal with a disease process or a symptom you may have. But healing is an innate process within each of us that allows us to bring back a balance in our lives’.”

“Researchers at several major medical schools, including Harvard and Duke, have demonstrated in clinical tests that some forms of meditation can reduce blood pressure, slow metabolism, and even ease chronic pain. No one has clinically tested the labyrinth, Roth says, but it is possible that the quiet sense of relaxation many people report while walking the winding paths may produce similar results.”

Now, let us examine the many benefits said to incur to people who place faith in the coiled serpent symbol, here called a “spiral”, in this satanic book, “Magic Symbols”.

“The spiral is a magical symbol intended to depict the mystical journey to the centre, where ‘illumination’, ‘wisdom’, or ‘insight’ will be found. The drawing of the spiral has the caption, ‘All things lead to the One’.”

At this point, I cannot help but stop to quote another segment of this current newspaper article, because it so clearly parallels the occult insight quoted above, that all religions lead to the One. “Labyrinths of different shapes and sizes have been used for thousands of years in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, long before Christianity. Interlocking circles are ancient symbols of unity and harmony in many faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and American Indian traditions.” (Ibid. p. D5)

How convenient! We are currently in the time of world history where the many religions in the world are uniting into one religion, which will be the prophesied religion of Antichrist. In sparking the popularity of the labyrinths, Satan is moving Americans of many different religions into the worship of the “One”.

How many different religions were mentioned in this article?

-Unitarian Universalist Church — We should not really be too surprised about this revelation, since the Unitarian Universalist Churches have been actively promoting worship of Buddha and of The Christ [Antichrist], even to the point of supporting Benjamin Creme in his efforts to be the “John the Baptist” forerunner to Antichrist.

-Church of Our Savior in Oakland County, Illinois

-Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco

-Chartres Roman Catholic Cathedral in France

5.

We encourage you to go to the Veriditas web site, www.gracecom.org/veriditas/ so you can study all the places in this country which are currently using labyrinths in their “worship” and “healing”.

Now, we come back full circle to the mysterious statement at the beginning of this article that the labyrinth dated back to Christian roots. The “Christian” roots turn out to be none other than Roman Catholic “Christianity”! Of course, we have spent considerable time and effort to demonstrate that Roman Catholicism is simply Counterfeit Christianity. In reality, Catholicism is nothing more than ancient Paganism dressed up in Christian clothes. This example is nothing more than another sorry example of Paganism that has been brought into the Catholic Church.

In this instance, this serpent labyrinth was rediscovered by Artress embedded in the floor of the Roman Catholic Chartres Cathedral in France. This 11-foot circle labyrinth was laid in approximately 1200 A.D. Even though the people of Chartres had no idea what the worship of the labyrinth meant, even though they had no idea they had a coiled serpent symbol lying in the floor of their church, this incident clearly shows the inherent, original Paganism in the Roman Catholic Tradition.

The worship of the coiled serpent in this practice of using the labyrinth in which to meditate and commune with the centre of your being clearly shows that Paganism has become Mainstream in America today. The picture that accompanied this article shows four women dressed in typical American clothing walking the path of the coiled serpent.

From: “Ed Hird+” <ed_hird@telus.net> To: “prabhu” <michaelprabhu@vsnl.net>

Sent: Sunday, July 02, 2006 8:58 PM Subject: RE: FROM INDIA

I am an Anglican priest in the Anglican Coalition in Canada http://www.acicanada.ca.

You may also enjoy the following articles that I have written on New Age influences in the church:
Taekwondo & the Martial Arts: Mere Exercise or Trojan Horse??;
Dr Jean Houston & the Labyrinth Fad* *See below

Blessings, Ed Hird+

Ed Hird is Past National Chairman of Anglican [Charismatic] Renewal Ministries of Canada, Rector, St. Simon’s Anglican Church, Vancouver, and is internationally known for his articles exposing the error of
enneagrams, the labyrinth, etc. After his report on
the Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator [MBTI],
Anglican Renewal Ministries decided, in November 1997 “after much prayer and reflection to no longer use the MBTI in the Clergy and Lay Leadership Training Institutes.” For his articles, see our respective articles.



Dr Jean Houston & the Labyrinth Fad – an article for the May 2000 AFR Canada magazine

http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/arm08.htm

An ex-new-ager who attends our congregation participated a year ago in the Labyrinth. Upon walking to the centre of the circle (1), she immediately sensed a dark spiritual vortex sucking her down.
Fortunately, being a Spirit-filled Christian, she later renounced her involvement in the Labyrinth and through prayer was cut free from the bondage that she was sensing.

Being westerners, we often fail to realize that seemingly harmless ‘physical’ techniques can have significant questionable spiritual impact on our lives. (2)

One of the patterns with the dozens of new-age fads sweeping North America and the West Coast in particular is that they all pop up out of the blue but claim to have rediscovered an ancient secret technique that we all need. Many of them, including the fast-growing Labyrinth fad (3), even reconstruct a plausible but misleading Christian history used to persuade well-meaning Christians.  The Labyrinth, as currently practiced, has very little to do with the Chartres Cathedral (4), and very much to do with Dr. Jean Houston’s impact on the new-age-friendly Grace Cathedral in San FranciscoDr. Jean Houston is listed on the Internet as one of the 10 top New Age speakers in North America (5). The inside cover of Jean Houston’s 1997 book A Passion for the Possible describes herself as ‘considered by many to be one of the world’s greatest teachers…’ Of concern to renewal-oriented Christians is that Houston teaches her students on the ‘Mystery School’ how to speak in occult glossolalia.  She encourages her participants to ‘begin describing your impressions in glossolalia’ and even to ‘…write a poem in glossolalia.’ (6) This counterfeit phenomenon, of course, does not discredit the genuine Christian gift of tongues/glossolalia that is available after renouncing the occult, receiving Jesus as Lord, and
asking for the filling of the Holy Spirit.

As past president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, Jean makes use of her doctorate in ‘Philosophy of Religion'(7) to gain access to areas where most new-agers and occultists can’t go. For example, as noted widely in media a few years ago (8), she became a consultant to Hillary Clinton, helping her to ‘channel’ the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt.

6.

The Labyrinth, also called the Dromenon (9), is the official symbol of Dr. Jean Houston’s new-age ‘Mystery School’ which one pays $3,775 to be initiated into over a series of 9 weekends.(10) Over 5,000 people so far have attended the Mystery School over the past 15 years.  Houston describes her Mystery School students as ‘…the dancers of the Dromenon…’.(11) In Houston’s 1996 book The Mythic Life, she credits H.F. Heard’s novel Dromenon with its ‘psychophysical state of ecstasy and spiritual awakening’ as the inspiration to adopting the image of the Dromenon/Labyrinth as the symbol of her work. (12Canon Lauren Artress from Grace Cathedral (13) brought the Labyrinth back to her Cathedral after experiencing the Labyrinth at Jean Houston’s Mystery School.(14)
Jean Houston wrote in her 1982 book The Possible Human about ‘…the growth of Dromenon (Labyrinth) communities. (15)

As acknowledged in Labyrinth websites, the Labyrinth is a mandala* (16), which is actually a Hindu occult (17) meditation process (18) brought to the Western world by the grandfather of the New Age, Dr. Carl Jung. (19) The Labyrinth has since spread to over 200 cities, and is making a measurable impact in Canada. Artress claims that “over a million people have walked the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral alone…” (20)  Even the infamous Starhawk, the self-declared practicing witch and colleague of Matthew Fox**, is walking the labyrinth nowadays (21).

*See page 50 **Excommunicated New Age Dominican priest

One of the stated purposes of the Labyrinth is to connect us to the mother goddess, of which the labyrinth is a symbol.  In her 1995 book ‘Walking A Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool’, Canon Artress states that “The labyrinth is a large, complex spiral circle which is an ancient symbol for the divine mother, the God within, the goddess, the holy in all creation.” (22) Artress says that “You walk to the center of the labyrinth and there at the center, you meet the Divine.” (23) Jean Houston claims that “As we encounter the archetypal world within us, a partnership is formed whereby we grow as do the gods and goddesses within us.” (24) To Jean Houston, it seems that all of life is made up of polytheistic labyrinths. In her 1992 book The Hero & the Goddess, she recommended: ‘Now, taking a favorite god or goddess by the hand, a Greek one this time, explore the labyrinthian winding of your left hemisphere…Take the deity by the hand and begin to explore the labyrinth winding of your right hemisphere, the place of intuition.’ (25) My prayer, as Jean Houston’s new-age Labyrinth fad impacts the Church, is that we may be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

The Rev. Ed Hird+

Rector, St. Simon’s Anglican Church, North Vancouver, BC, Missioner, Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada
http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/

NOTES

(1) One Grace Cathedral Labyrinth advocate said that “Labyrinths predate Christianity by over a millennium. The most famous labyrinth from ancient times was the Cretan one, the supposed lair of the mythological Minotaur, which Theseus slew with the aid of Ariadne and her spool of thread rituals…” Peter Corbett, “Pathfinders: Walking medieval labyrinths in a modern world,” www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment/features/fea_19981120_txt.shtml, p. 2
It was at the centre of the Labyrinth that the Minotaur did his devouring of unsuspecting humans.

(2) An example of this might be how many people innocently get hooked into hatha yoga through the guise of a community centre yoga course. Because hatha yoga appears to westerners to be merely physical in nature, we fail to see the religious syncretism that we are involving ourselves in. Nothing from a Hindu perspective is merely physical, because for Hinduism, the physical is merely an illusion.  So-called physical yoga exercises are designed to open the psychic door to the Hindu deities. Community-Centre Yoga is in reality the ‘marijuana’ entry-level drug of the occult/new age world.

(3) Lee Penn, Fall 1999 issue of the Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project http://www.scp-inc.org

http://fatima.freehosting.net/Articles/Art7.htm

(4) The Chartres labyrinth dates from sometime between 1194 and 1220. These dates are determined by the great fire of 1194, which destroyed most of the cathedral and the city of Chartres. By 1220 the section of the nave housing the labyrinth had been rebuilt by Bishop Fulbert. Lee Penn leepenn@aol.com has done careful research showing that the Labyrinth-based relationship between Chartres Cathedral to Grace Cathedral, San Francisco is a clear example of ‘the tail wagging the dog’, of ‘life imitating art’. Grace Cathedral have been giving strong leadership in Chartres’ ‘reintroduction’ of the Labyrinth, even to the point of making Chartres’ Dean Legaux an honorary Grace Cathedral Canon.

(5) Voices of a New Age Video (1999), Penny Price Productions, E! Online Fact Sheet, “Ten different New Age luminaries voice their view about the possibilities of the human spirit for healing the body, the mind, and the earth.” http://www.eonline.com/Facts/Movies/0,60,53125,00.html

(6) Jean Houston, GodSeed: the Journey of Christ, Quest Books, The Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, USA, 1992, p. 50, p. 51. http://www.jeanhouston.org/store/books/godseed.html

(7) www.skepdic.com/houston.html, 1998 Robert Todd Carroll
(8) Bob Woodward in ‘The Choice’; The Providence Journal Bulletin, Tuesday, 6/25/96, P. A3
(9) www.jeanhouston.org “drom-e-non. – n. Ancient Gk: a ritual pattern of dynamic expression, a therapeutic dance rhythm in which participants experience second birth into a higher order of consciousness and community…”
(10) www.jeanhouston.org/programs/ms.physical2000/6mstime.html

(11) Jean Houston, The Possible Human, Torcher: Houghton, Mifflin Company, 1982, p. ix
(12) Jean Houston, The Mythic Life, Harper San Francisco, 1996, p. 186.
(13) www.cathedral.org/cathedral/nca/spiritualperspectives/sacred.html (National Episcopal Cathedral Website) “Keynote speaker, the Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress, Canon for Special Ministries at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, first encountered a labyrinth in a workshop at psychologist Jean Houston’s Mystery School.”

7.


(14) Kristen Fairchild, “A Passion for the Possible: An Interview with Jean Houston,” The Spire, Textures 11/04/97
http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment, p. 4, “Jean Houston, Ph.D. is the best-selling author of many books…She has been mentor and teacher of Dr. Lauren Artress, Founder of Veriditas, at Grace Cathedral.”

(15) Jean Houston, The Possible Human, 1982, p. 51
(16) “True meditation occurs when the physical  brain has been pacified, kept busy with a mantra or a mandala, so the  spiritual mind is then free to wander on its own, and discover new truths. “The walking back and forth seems very pendulous,” states Squires. “It’s a very slow frequency, a very long wavelength from one turn to the next. You slowly walk along and slowly walk back, then slowly walk on again. It’s hard to have your mind in a fretful kind of pace when you’re doing such a slow, pendulous, rhythmic walking like that.”  Peter Corbett, “Pathfinders: Walking medieval labyrinths in a modern world,” http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment/features/fea_19981120_txt.shtml

(17) Occult, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, means ‘kept secret, esoteric…from the Latin culere: hide’ It is not a synonym for Satanism.
(18) “…the labyrinth, a sacred tool that has been used as a mandala in many spiritual traditions for thousands of years…” Spiritual Perspectives Program 1996 Sacred Circles Conference – http://www.cathedral.org/cathedral/nca/spiritual-perspectives/sacred.html

(19) www.3.telus.net/st_simons/arm03.htm. “Jung was also a strong promoter of the occultic mandala, a circular picture with a sun or star usually at the centre. Sun worship, as personified in the mandala, is perhaps the key to fully understanding Jung.(ft.103)  Jung taught that the mandala [Sanskrit for ‘circle’] was ‘the simplest model of a concept of wholeness, and one which spontaneously arises in the mind as a representation of the struggle and reconciliation of
opposites.'(ft. 104)”

(20)  www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment

(21) www.sfgate.com Starhawk, as a Wiccan/Witch leader of two covens, celebrated New Year 2,000 by walking the Labyrinth on her San Francisco area Ranch.
(22) Lauren Artress, Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Sacred Tool, Riverhead Books/G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995; sentence quoted by Pamela Sullivan, “Book Review,” Pacific Church News, June/July 1995, p. 8

(23) Lauren Artress, “Q and A with Lauren,” Veriditas, Vol. 1, no. 2, Summer 1996, p. 18
(24) www.skepdic.com/houston.html

(25) Jean Houston, The Hero & the Goddess, Aquarian/Thorsons (Harper Collins Publisher), 1992, p. 134

Labyrinth: Upon Walking to the Centre of the circle (1), she immediately sensed a dark spiritual vortex sucking her down

http://www.cephas-library.com/na/new_age_labyrinth.html
[Protestant source]

Copyright 2001 by the author of Christianity Today, Inc. /Leadership journal

The Occult has truly gone mainstream

A-maze-ing Prayer – The labyrinth offers ancient meditation for today’s hurried souls. Coming in from the brilliant San Diego sunshine, my wife and I entered a darkened hall lit only by candles and a dimmed chandelier. The room was silent. As our eyes adjusted, we saw several people kneeled in prayer. The setting, spirit, and solemn stillness of the hall told us that we had found something meditative there, something spiritual.

Today’s evangelicals are accustomed to well-choreographed worship services with every minute carefully filled with music, video, and preaching. Postmodern generations are hungering for something more-an unhurried, mystery-filled, meditative experience that doesn’t have to fit into a preplanned time schedule.

The prayer labyrinth offers a feast to fill that hunger.

Meeting God in the middle

The labyrinth is a maze-like path similar to those designed into the floors of European cathedrals during the Middle Ages. Christians of that time would walk the labyrinth to aid their contemplative prayer and reflection. The labyrinths fell into disuse, and most were eventually forgotten or destroyed.

At the National Pastors Conference in San Diego, however, we found the labyrinth was back and given an update. The path was formed by black lines on a 35-foot square piece of canvas laid on the floor. We each were given a CD player with headphones to guide our journey through the 11 stations on the path. As we began the inward journey-toward the center of the canvas-a gentle female voice with a British accent read a portion of John 1. She told us not to rush through the labyrinth, but to slow down, breathe deeply, and fully focus on God.

At the first stop, we looked at a television screen covered with complex, moving electronic wave forms. We were instructed to pray about and eliminate the noise within that interferes with God’s voice. At another station we dropped small stones into water, each stone representing a worry we were giving over to God. Later we drew on paper symbols of our hurts, prayed about each of them, and put them in a trash can.

After thirty minutes we found ourselves at the labyrinth’s center, where, seated on cushions, we were offered the elements of Communion. The narrator read more Scripture and reminded us how near Jesus Christ is to us. There was a Bible if we desired to linger, reading and praying.

The journey outward focused on how we can be used by God in other people’s lives. At one station we made impressions of our hands and feet in a box of sand, reminding us that we leave impressions on the people we touch.

My wife and I spent an hour in the labyrinth and found ourselves calmed and refreshed, our perspective uniquely restored.

8.

We made our own prayer path

After the convention we knew we couldn’t keep this experience to ourselves.

A few months later we featured a labyrinth as part of Graceland’s annual art event at Santa Cruz Bible Church. Graceland artists recreated the labyrinth with a kit we purchased (The Prayer Path, Group Publishing), transforming one of the church’s multipurpose rooms into a medieval prayer sanctuary. The team hung art on the walls, draped fabric, and lit candles all around the room to create a visual sense of sacred space. Over two nights we saw more than 100 people go through the labyrinth. It was a joy to see so many people on their knees communing with God through the experiential prayer elements.

Meditative prayer like that we experienced in the labyrinth resonates with hearts of emerging generations. If we had the room, we would set up a permanent labyrinth to promote deeper prayer. Until then, however, Graceland will continue to incorporate experiential prayer and encourage our people to stop, quiet themselves, and pray.

Dan Kimball pastors Graceland, the ministry and worship services for the emerging culture at Santa Cruz Bible Church in Santa Cruz, California.

Labyrinths

http://www.cephas-library.com/na/new_age_labyrinth.html

Fall 2001, Vol. 23, No. 4, Page 38, Christianity Today, Inc. /Leadership journal

Labyrinth meditation is a fairly recent phenomena [sic]. The foremost proponents of it are Jean Houston and Grace Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles. In Chartres Cathedral in France there is an elaborate 40 foot diameter labyrinth of tile imbedded in the floor of the nave. The theory is that by walking the labyrinth one partakes of a spiritual journey of self examination and enlightenment. As with all rituals, this only has the meaning to which the participant ascribes to it.

Send a New Age Postcard with a Labyrinth on it!

Dr Jean Houston & the Labyrinth Fad -an article for the May 2000 AFR Canada magazine http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/arm08.htm [ditto as in the article on pages 6-8]

The Labyrinth Building made up of intricate, mazelike chambers or passages so designed that a person entering one would find it difficult to find a way out. Among the many labyrinths in the ancient world, perhaps the most celebrated was a funeral temple built by Amenemhet III in Egypt, near Lake Moeris, which contained 3000 chambers. Equally famous was the labyrinth on Crete, which may have existed only in myth. Its conception was possibly derived from the elaborate floor plan of the palace at Knossos. In Greek mythology, the Cretan labyrinth was constructed by the Athenian craftsman Daedalus as a prison for the Minotaur, a part-bull, part-man monster. Other ancient labyrinths were on the island of Lemnos (Lemnian) and at Clusium (now Chiusi), Italy. The term labyrinth is also applied to mazelike patterns on the floors of some medieval churches, intended perhaps to symbolize the tortuous journey of Christian pilgrims toward salvation. Garden mazes walled by clipped hedges are also called labyrinths, as, for example, that at Hampton Court, London, planted in the 17th century and still existent. Another British turf maze deserving note is the one at Alkborough in Lincolnshire.

Beware! The New Age Movement Is More than Self-Indulgent Silliness

http://www.newoxfordreview.org/article.jsp?did=0700-penn
EXTRACT

By Lee Penn, New Oxford Review, July-August 2000

See
NEW AGE-LEE PENN
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/NEW_AGE-LEE_PENN.doc

In recent years the New Age movement has come out of the closet in the Church and in the world. The New Age movement is made up of those who follow a potpourri of beliefs and practices that fall outside the boundaries of traditional Christianity. Its manifestations are protean. Some Catholic nuns walk on labyrinths to contact the “Divine Feminine.” Increasing numbers of health insurance companies have heeded consumers’ demands to cover offbeat treatments, ranging from Ayurvedic herbal medicine to “therapeutic touch” — in which a “healer’s” hands manipulate “energy fields” but never touch the patient’s body. Hillary Clinton has contacted the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt under the guidance of Jean Houston — a New York-based avatar who runs a “Mystery School,” and who inspired the current fad of walking on labyrinths. Millions of Americans with more money than common sense are buying into this trendy, feel-good style of spirituality; they have helped to keep Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God on the best-seller lists since 1997. These are the people who proudly say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.”

[…] Other New Age avatars view the possibility of human extinction with Earth-centered, reptilian calm. Jean Houston, spiritual mentor of Lauren Artress (the Episcopal priestess who runs the Labyrinth
Project at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco) announces the choice facing humanity: “It could be that the human race will end as a vast, failed experiment…. And the planet will shake its shoulders, let ’em slide off and the dolphins will inherit the earth.”

Lee Penn, a health-care information systems consultant in San Francisco, is a member of Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Church, a parish of the Russian Catholic Church (one of 21 Byzantine Catholic Churches in communion with the Holy See).

THE FULL TITLE OF THE ABOVE INCLUDES THE PHRASE “TYRANNY IN THE NAME OF TOLERANCE

The article is also accessible at: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3223

The New Age Movement in the Episcopal Church

http://fatima.freehosting.net/Articles/Art7.htm [Part of this is also to be found at http://wquercus.com/faith/labyrinth.htm]

By Lee Penn

9.

Summary:

This story describes New Age activity within the Episcopal Church, emphasizing activity within Bishop Swing‘s diocese, the Diocese of California. It covers the Rev. James Parks Morton and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Rev. Matthew Fox*
and his “Rave Masses”, and the Rev. Lauren Artress and her Labyrinth Project. *Excommunicated Dominican priest, now an Episcopalian “priest”

Update:

Since I wrote the following story, there has been additional news from the Labyrinth Project (also known as Veriditas), based on the Fall 1999 issue of “Source,” their newsletter.

Canon Alan Jones, the Dean of Grace Cathedral (the San Francisco cathedral under Episcopal Bishop Swing), will be installed as an “honorary canon” of Chartres Cathedral in France, on May 14, 2000. This is a reciprocal gesture since Francois Legaux, the Rector of Chartres Cathedral, was installed on June 17, 1999 as an honorary Canon of Grace Cathedral. (pp. 1, 4, 14)

Some rich people and foundations are supporting the Labyrinth. For example, in Lansing, Michigan, National City Bank donated $100,000 to set up a Labyrinth in a garden at a local hospital, and a gift of $125,000 “was received from a community member to name it.” (p. 6)

For the first time in Labyrinth
Project literature, they mention the United Religions Initiative (URI). Of course, the Labyrinth
Project is for the URI. The Labyrinth
Project is having a 24-hour retreat at Grace Cathedral from noon on December 31, 1999 through noon on January 1, 2000, as Grace Cathedral’s contribution to the URI 72-hour “Interfaith Peace Building Project.” (p. 7)

The article “Thinking of Creating a Labyrinth” contains the following: “Objective: To keep the sacred geometry design intact when building the labyrinth. To employ all the equations of proportion and utilize all of the components that make up the labyrinth. To create sacred space with the labyrinth being used as the centerpiece and container for peoples [sic] spiritual exploration and renewal.” (p. 8)

“Types of labyrinths: The two most powerful and established labyrinths are the Seven Circuit labyrinth, also called the Classical Labyrinth, and the Eleven Circuit Labyrinth from Chartres Cathedral. Each has a long historical lineage and tradition.” (p. 8) “Sacred geometry: Proportion, and using the geometry that has been handed down, is the key to keeping the integrity of the design. Use all the components of the labyrinth. Do not make it a “hybrid.” (p. 9)

The Labyrinth Project again confirms its New Age origin. On pp. 16-17 of the newsletter, there is a time-line with the significant events in the history of the project. The very first item is: “January, 1991: Lauren [Artress, the head of the Project] walks a labyrinth at a Jean Houston seminar.” (p. 16) [The story below describes the activities and affiliations of Jean Houston.]

An article about a team of architects and consultants that designs new labyrinths says, “Because of some of the bio-energetic fields of some of the proposed products [to be used in new labyrinths], it is even more important to discuss the placement, and remedies required, in order to offset the bio-energetic fields of the materials. The principles of geomancy, Feng Shui, and architectural design will be used to locate the initial labyrinth site.” (p. 19)

The Labyrinth Project staff is doing a good job of proving that the labyrinth walk, as they practice and teach it, is a New Age devotion, and not an authentic revival of a medieval Christian practice.

Conditions of use:

This story is an extract from a book-length manuscript by me titled “False Dawn, Real Darkness: the Millennial Delusions of the United Religions and the New Age Movement.”

You may re-distribute this story by hard copy or electronically, and you may abridge or quote from this story – IF you give credit to Lee Penn as the author, and IF you include – in the body or as a footnote – the following statement:

“Excerpted from “The United Religions Initiative: Foundations for a World Religion” (Part 2), to be published in the fall of 1999 by the Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project. You may order the complete story from the Journal, or subscribe to the Journal, by calling (510) 540-0300, or by writing to the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Post Office Box 4308, Berkeley, CA 94704, or by visiting the SCP web site, http://www.scp-inc.org/.”

James Parks Morton and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Other New Age supporters of the URI include the Very Rev. James Parks Morton, formerly the Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and now President of the Temple of Understanding. (570) While at St. John the Divine, Morton said, “The language of the ‘Sacred Earth’ has got to become mainline.” (571) Morton acted on this belief by holding a St. Francis Day communion service in 1993 that invoked the gods Yemanja, Ra, Ausar, and Obatala; the celebrant was Episcopal Bishop of New York Richard Grein. (572) (Yemanja is an Afro-Brazilian goddess of the sea (573); Ra is the Egyptian sun god; (574) Ausar – also known as Osiris and the Green Man – is the Egyptian god of life and death; (575) Obatala is the Voodoo “Father of Wisdom”. (576)

Other Sunday masses at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine have included Sufi and Lakota ceremonies.(577) It was from the pulpit of the Rev. Morton’s cathedral in 1979 that James Lovelock first publicly explained the Gaia theory – that the earth as a whole is a living, conscious organism.(578) Morton has worked to spread the Green gospel nationwide; he “co-founded the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, a group that has reached over 53,000 congregations of every faith across America with the ideas of sacred ecology and environmental responsibility.” (579) He is also a board member of the Earth Charter Project and of Global Green, USA (580) – an affiliate of Gorbachev’s Green Cross International.

10.

The Episcopal Diocese of California

The attraction of New Age leaders to the URI should not be a surprise, given the influence of the New Age movement in Bishop Swing’s own diocese. This influence has arisen without any public hindrance from the Bishop of California. On the contrary – Bishop Swing has fostered these non-Christian tendencies in the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Swing has made Matthew Fox a priest in the Episcopal Church, and has given consistent moral and financial support to Fox’s efforts. The Veriditas Project, a New Age style revival of the ancient devotional practice of walking in labyrinths, has arisen in the Bishop’s own parish, Grace Cathedral. Bishop Swing chose to extend an invitation to “new spiritual movements” to join the United Religions Initiative. All of this indicates that Bishop Swing either does not understand the problems posed by the New Age movement for the souls of the faithful (and for those outside the Church who are being led astray by this movement), or that he considers the New Age movement to be a good thing.

This is not to say that the Episcopal Diocese of California and its parishes are entirely under New Age influence. However, there ought to be no such presence in a Church professing the Christian Faith. By analogy – a lake needs to be contaminated by only a small amount of PCBs or dioxin in order to be considered polluted and in need of a clean-up.

Matthew Fox

Bishop Swing accepted Matthew Fox, formerly a Catholic priest, into the Episcopal priesthood in 1994. Since then, Bishop Swing has offered unswerving public support to Matthew Fox, allowing “Rave Masses” to occur at Grace Cathedral (581) and lending $85,000 of Diocesan funds to help Fox establish the University of Creation Spirituality. (582) This university now has 260 Doctor of Ministry students. (583)

Each month, more than 1,200 people attend Fox’s “Techno Cosmic Mass,” held in a former ballroom in Oakland, California. (584) In an article for a monthly New Age newspaper, Conscious Life, Elaine Cohen describes the services:

“A team of about 35 people – researchers, electricians, techies, carpenters, designers, scholars, rappers, rabbis, disc jockeys and theologians of Christian, Buddhist and Muslim faith – put forth a joint effort to stage one Techno Cosmic Mass. Each Mass has a thematic focus such as Angels, or the Celtic tradition or Reviving the Sacred Masculine. For the Return of the Divine Feminine theme, over 700 goddess images from all cultures were projected on the walls.”(585)

Matthew Fox described the Rave Mass that occurred at Grace Cathedral on Reformation Sunday, October 29, 1994. There was a sun altar and a moon altar, used in a “Mass” where sin was “renamed:”

“It was like being in a forest, where every direction one turned there was beauty and something interesting to behold. This included not only the singers, dancers, and rappers I have referred to already, but also the projections on large video screens, on television sets, on a huge globe suspended over the beautiful altars (one a sun altar, the second a crescent moon altar). On the screens were hummingbirds hovering, galaxies spinning, flowers opening, humans marching, protesting, embracing and polluting (sin was present and indeed renamed for us at the Mass). Life was there in all its panoply of forces, good and not so good, human and more than human.”(586)

Perhaps it’s just as well that Fox did not name or describe the “forces … more than human” that attended this service.

Fox incorporates dance into his “masses,” the better to stimulate the chakras of those who attend:

“‘Dancing is [one of] the oldest forms of prayer,’ says Fox, ‘which you see in the African, and Native American traditions, the Jewish and Christian traditions as well. Dance gets people into their lower chakras, the direct link with the life force’.” (587)

Fox is not the first to envision worship services that would get people “into their lower chakras.” In his 1932 novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley** had prophesied sensual, high-tech liturgies that go even further than the Rave Mass.

**Aldous Huxley is listed at rank no. 5 among leading New Age figures in the 2003 Vatican document

As Huxley’s “Solidarity Service” moved to its peak, “a sensation of warmth radiated thrillingly out from the solar plexus to every extremity of the bodies of those who listened; tears came into their eyes; their hearts, their bowels seemed to move within them, as though with an independent life.”(588) (Huxley’s service in Brave New World, however, climaxed in a manner that does not occur in Fox’s services.)

Fox has said that his theological agenda is to overturn Christian doctrine, as it has been understood since the first ecumenical Council at Nicaea:

“What is the rediscovery of the Cosmic Christ if not a deconstruction of the ‘power Christology’ that launched the Christian empire in the Nicean [sic] Council in the fourth century and an effort to reconnect to the older, biblical tradition, of Christ as cosmic wisdom present in all beings?”(589)

Bishop Swing was present at Fox’s 1994 rave liturgy, and loved it. He said that:

“The Mass reminds him ‘of an experience I had as a 9-year old boy in West Virginia, coming to a sense of God through Nature. That gets so layered over by generations of study and theology, but this Mass leads one back toward that great awe.’ Swing, who has been bobbing to the techno-music, says it’s ‘so nice to see the church with a new song and a new language,”(590) and added “The whole business of having the Eucharist in the context of Nature, and the planets, and the unfolding of life is a context that has to happen. This is probably around the time of the genesis of liturgies like this, and I’m sure that there will be more and more. It’s coming … So we brought a lot of people in their twenties and thirties who don’t go to church, and they were struck by this. I love it. I think we’re on our way.”(591)

Fox has influence within the Episcopal Church nationally, as well. One of his lecture circuit stops was to give a keynote speech at the June 1997 National Conference of the Episcopal Recovery Ministries at All Saints Parish in Pasadena, California. The speech “moved from individual recovery to recovery in and of the Church to recovery of the planet.”(592) Fox is also a familiar figure at New Age “holistic” conferences.

11.

Veriditas and the Labyrinth
Project

Grace Cathedral is also home to Veriditas, (593) led by Lauren Artress, an Episcopal priest and an honorary Canon of the Cathedral. (594) Veriditas
is also known as the Labyrinth Project.

The two labyrinths at Grace Cathedral are copies of the labyrinth that has been at Chartres Cathedral in France since the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages, pilgrims to Chartres could walk this labyrinth as the culminating point of their journey. Similar labyrinths also exist at a few other medieval cathedrals in France and Germany. A story from the Grace Cathedral web site reports:

“Early Christians took a vow to visit the Holy City of Jerusalem at some point in their lives. During the Middle Ages, as the Crusades made travel to Palestine unsafe, other means were needed to honor that sacred commitment. Labyrinths were adopted by the Roman Church to offer the congregation a way of fulfilling their sacred vows. Christians made their pilgrimages to the cathedral cities of Chartres, Rheims or Amiens, completing their physical and spiritual journeys in the cathedral labyrinths.” (595)

The Chartres labyrinth is normally covered with chairs; it is cleared of obstructions for special events – such as the Labyrinth
Project pilgrimages. (596)

Despite this link to a Christian tradition, the labyrinth walk – as practiced and promoted by Veriditas – is New Age in origin and spirit. The same story from the Grace Cathedral web site, written by a supporter of the Labyrinth
Project, shows the extensive non-Christian lineage of religious use of the labyrinth:

Labyrinths predate Christianity by over a millennium. The most famous labyrinth from ancient times was the Cretan one, the supposed lair of the mythological Minotaur, which Theseus slew with the aid of Ariadne and her spool of thread. Turf labyrinths still exist in England, Germany and Scandinavia, and are thought to be linked with local feminine deities and fertility rituals.” (597)

Veriditas‘ own literature about the meaning of the labyrinth is virtually free of specific connections to Christian tradition or practice. For example:

“What is a Labyrinth? The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint found in religious traditions in various forms around the world. … The labyrinth is a mandala* that meets our longing – for a change of heart; for a change of ways in how [sic] we live together on this fragile island home; and for the energy, vision, and the courage to become agents of transformation in an age when no less will suffice to meet the challenges of survival.”(598) *See page 50

Veriditas promotes walking through labyrinths as a transformative spiritual experience, a way for “all to find healing, self-knowledge and our soul assignments and to continue weaving the Web of Creation.”(599) According to Artress, the Labyrinth is also “a perfect spiritual tool for helping our global community to order chaos in ways that take us to the vibrant center of our being. You walk to the center of the labyrinth and there at the center you meet the Divine.” (600)

Veriditas newsletters and advertisements consistently invoke an amorphous form of spirituality, as if the Incarnation had never happened. For example, a November 1998 article at the Grace Cathedral web site said, “In 1992 the Reverend Lauren Artress brought the labyrinth to Grace Cathedral in an effort to bring people back to their center and allow them to experience Spirit for themselves.”(601) The name, the Lordship, and the saving acts of Christ are rarely mentioned by the Labyrinth
Project – a radical difference from widely used Christian walking devotions such as the Stations of the Cross. This is no accident; the mission of Veriditas is not to promote a specifically Christian use of the labyrinth as a devotional tool. Instead, as Artress said in the first Veriditas news letter:

Veriditas is an interfaith non-profit religious corporation. Its mission is to propagate the use of labyrinths – from all traditions – around the world and to teach people its use as a spiritual tool.”(602)

Labyrinth Project literature demonstrates that the Project does not provide a Christian context for this “spiritual tool.”(603) The Project calls upon God as “God,” “Living God,” Living Light,” “the Divine,” “Divine Mother,” Divine Life Force,” “Source,” and “sacred feminine.” Some of these names are firmly within the Christian tradition, and others – such as the “Divine Mother” and the “sacred feminine” – are not. The Project‘s literature assiduously avoids providing the specific Christian content that anyone could get from the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, the Rosary, or the Jesus Prayer. (604) In the three Labyrinth Project newsletters published in 1998, there is no mention of the Trinity, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Empty Tomb, God the Father, or God as Lord and King. The Holy Spirit is not named as the Third Person of the Trinity. The words – and the concepts – of sin, divine judgment, heaven, hell, repentance, redemption, and salvation are likewise absent. Stories in the Project‘s newsletters mentioned Jesus only three times over the course of a year.

Since 1995, Artress has promoted the labyrinth as a way to make a connection with “the Divine feminine,” “the God within, the goddess.” A friendly reviewer of Artress’ Walking A Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool, a book published in 1995, quotes one of Artress’ descriptions of the Labyrinth: “The labyrinth is a large, complex spiral circle which is an ancient symbol for the divine mother, the God within, the goddess, the holy in all creation.”(605) Artress led a labyrinth workshop, “Sacred Circles: A Celebration of Women’s Spirituality,” at the Episcopal National Cathedral in July of 1996; one of the speakers was Jane Holmes Dixon, the Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Washington. (606) (In recent years, Ms. Dixon has made several forced visits to conservative Episcopal parishes in her diocese that do not recognize the legitimacy of ordaining women as priests or bishops.) Regarding this workshop, Artress said, “We are doing a wonderful women’s conference called Sacred Circles. It is based on the labyrinth and the sacred walk being connected to the Divine feminine.”(607)

12.

In July of 1999, the Labyrinth
Project advertised a “Women’s Dream Quest” workshop called “Dreaming the Abundance of the Divine Mother.” (Lauren Artress and Judith Tripp were the co-founders of the “Women’s Dream Quest).”(608) The announcement states, “In the fullness of summer’s bloom, we experience the generosity of the mother who nourishes her family, her projects, her planet, and herself. We celebrate the abundance of the Divine Mother and open to receive her blessings.”(609) Other “Women’s Dream Quest” workshops held at Grace Cathedral and advertised by the Labyrinth
Project have included “Inviting the Tender Spring to Come,” “Dreaming the Midsummer’s Night Dream,” and “Dreaming the Rich Darkness of Autumn,” all held in 1998.(610)

Jean Houston: mother of the Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral

An on-line news story provided by Grace Cathedral states that Artress’ “mentor and teacher” is Jean Houston, “a leading figure in the Human Potential Movement” and “co-director of the Foundation for Mind Research in Pomona, New York.”(611) Artress first walked the labyrinth “in a workshop at psychologist Jean Houston’s Mystery School” (612) in 1991; from that time onward, “the idea to place the labyrinth in Grace Cathedral suddenly dominated her life … This initial experience nurtured her spirituality and sent her imagination sparking with the idea of creating a universal walking ritual open to people from all traditions.”(613)

Houston can thus add the Veriditas
Project to her long list of accomplishments on behalf of the New Age movement. Houston claims wide influence, having “worked to implement cultural growth and social transition in more than 40 countries with international development agencies, and in Bangladesh and Burma with UNICEF. She consults to CEOs and leads workshops at companies such as Kraft, Xerox, General Electric, Beatrice Foods, and others.”(614) Over the years, Houston’s collaborators and advisers have included a host of advocates for the post-1965 spiritual upheaval in the US and Western Europe, including Stanislav Grof, Elaine Pagels, Joseph Campbell, Margaret Mead, Alan Watts, Moshe Feldenkrais, and Edgar Mitchell.(615)

Houston, like Artress, promotes “spirituality” per se as a good thing. However, not all spirits are good ones. Opening the door to the “divine mother” can open the door to worship of pagan goddesses. Dr. Robert Masters, Houston’s husband (616) and a co-founder of her Foundation for Mind Research, (617) provides an example of this. He describes himself as one who has “devotedly followed the Way of the Goddess Sekhmet for more than thirty years.”(618) The on-line bookstore at Jean Houston’s web site sells two article reprints and one book that offers honor to “Goddess Sekhmet.”(619) Part of Masters’ “Invocation of Sekhmet” calls upon this Egyptian goddess: “Thou art the Terror Before Which fiends tremble! Thou are Lust! Thou art Life! Ever-Burning ONE!”(620)

Veriditas is also offering “labyrinth seed kits” for $125, plus shipping costs. It appears to be a Western way to invoke New Age energy, using “equations of sacred geometry” to build a labyrinth with “the intended balanced, energetic climate”:

“The Veriditas Seed Kit enables groups to make this powerful transformational tool available for ritual and spiritual discovery. The Seed Kit is designed to assist groups in creating a portable eleven circuit canvas labyrinth. It contains a series of booklets that give basic information on the materials you will need to assemble, the steps to take in making the labyrinth and the necessary equations of sacred geometry you will need to layout [sic] and make a labyrinth. … The kit is unique in that it follows the lost tradition of sacred geometry allowing you to make the labyrinth with the intended balanced, energetic climate that is created regardless of size.”(621)

A labyrinth devotee describes the results of this spiritual practice for him:

“It has opened my creativity and has aroused my personal senses for feelings and promoted relationships with others. I have been drawn to the symmetry, brain re-mapping and energy production possibilities. I have every hope that the labyrinth will do the same for others who walk this ancient sacred path.”(622)

This poor fellow does indeed write as if his brain has been re-mapped. As for “energy production” – can he give us any evidence of net gain in kilocalories or joules due to use of the labyrinth?

Meanwhile, word of the labyrinth spreads worldwide; as Artress says, “We have been on the Peter Jennings ABC Evening News, on the front page of the New York Times and even been taped for the ‘Remembering the Spirit’ segment for Oprah!”(623) Artress claims that “over a million people have walked the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral alone, with hundreds of other sites springing up across the country.”(624)

Some Catholics have been drawn into the Labyrinth, as well. Foremost among these is Fr. François Legaux, Rector of Chartres Cathedral. He first visited the Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral in May of 1997.(625) After this visit, Fr. Legaux wrote to Lauren Artress that “I returned to Chartres convinced that I need to open myself more to this labyrinth way and to offer its use even more.”(626) Since then, Fr. Legaux has hosted several Labyrinth Project pilgrimages to his cathedral. (627) Fr. Legaux was installed as an Honorary Canon of Grace Cathedral at a “Festive Evensong Service” held on June 17, 1999; he also was one of the three presenters at the “Moments in Time” labyrinth pilgrimage at Grace Cathedral on the weekend of June 18-20.(628)

In addition, Labyrinth workshops have occurred at these Catholic sites: the Franciscan Renewal Center in Portland, Oregon (October, 1997(629) and November 1998)(630), the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, California (October 1998 (631) and February 1999)(632), the Bon Secours Retreat Center in Marriotsville, Maryland (March/April 1998(633) and August, 1999)(634), and the Holy Spirit Retreat Center in Encino, California (March 1996)(635). If the labyrinth walk at these sites is led as a Christian meditation by Christian facilitators, this is not a problem. If, however, the labyrinth walks at these Catholic facilities are led in the fashion suggested by the Labyrinth Project, then these facilities are – knowingly or not – helping their guests connect to “the Divine feminine.”(636)

13.

The predecessor to Veriditas was the Quest Program, founded in 1986 by Lauren Artress. (637) In addition to introducing the labyrinth to Grace Cathedral, Quest sponsored other openly New Age events. For example, Quest and the California Institute of Integral Studies co-sponsored two “celebrations of divine union” in the spring of 1995: seminars on “The Renaissance of Christian Spirituality: Eros, Ecstasy, & Creation,” and “The Sacred Marriage: Alchemy at the Edge of History.”(638)

The teachers of these classes included Barbara Marx Hubbard and Rosemary Ruether, among others. The ad appeared on the back cover of Creation Spirituality magazine, whose editor-in-chief was Matthew Fox.

A common funding source for Episcopalian, New Age antics

There’s at least one common source of funding for these Episcopalian, New Age antics. Laurance S. Rockefeller and his Fund for the Enhancement of the Human Spirit have funded Matthew Fox, (639) the Quest Program, (640) Grace Cathedral, (641) and Barbara Marx Hubbard. In one book, Marx Hubbard describes Rockefeller as her “beloved patron,” (642) and in another, she says that Rockefeller’s “intuition about ‘the Christ of the 21st Century’ deeply inspired me.”(643) Rockefeller also assisted the Lindisfarne Association, thus supporting the efforts of James Parks Morton, David Spangler, and other New Age luminaries.(644)

Footnotes

NOTE: Internet document citations are based on research done between September 1997 and August 1999. Web citations are accurate as of the time the Web page was printed, but some documents may have been moved to a different Web site since then, or they may have been removed entirely from the Web.

570 Late 1997 letter from the Interfaith Center of New York and the Temple of Understanding, signed by the Very Rev. James Parks Morton as President of the two groups

571 Alan AtKisson, “The Green Cathedral: An Interview with the Rev. James Parks Morton,” IN CONTEXT # 24, Internet document, http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC24/Morton.htm, p. 3

572 Terry Mattingly, “Liturgical Dances With Wolves (1993): Ten Years As An Episcopalian: A Progress Report;” p. 2; he quotes the printed worship booklet for ‘Liturgy and Sermon, Earth Mass – Missa Gaia,’ distributed on October 3, 1993, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

573 “Yemanja,” Internet document, http://www.wigmag.com/culture/stories-yemanja.html; its name is also spelled “Yemenja”

574 “Ra,” Internet document, http://www.radiant.org/bubastis/deity/ra.html

575 “Asar (Osiris),” Internet document, http://www.radiant.org/bubastis/deity/asar.html, its name is also spelled Ausar

576 “Obatala,” Internet document, http://cultural-expressions.com/ifa/orisha/obatala.htm

577 Trebbe Johnson, “Genesis of a movement: Paul Gorman’s quest for a whole-earth religion,” e-Amicus, Spring 1997, Internet document, http://www.nrdc.org/eamicus/97spr/ge1.html, p. 3

578 Alan AtKisson, “The Green Cathedral: An Interview with the Rev. James Parks Morton,” IN CONTEXT # 24, Internet document, http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC24/Morton.htm, p. 3

579 Temple of Understanding bulletin, “The First Annual Juliet Hollister Awards,” December 16, 1996, United Nations, New York City

580 Interfaith Center of New York, “Bio: The Very Reverend James Parks Morton,” Internet document, http://www.interfaithcenter.org/JPMBio.html, pp. 2, 3

581 Richard Scheinin and Matthew Fox, “Reinventing Ritual: The Planetary Mass,” Creation Spirituality, Spring 1995, Vol. XI, no. 1, p. 29 (“Press Release: Multimedia Mass A New Form of Church for Postmodern Era”)

582 “ECUSA Diocese Helps Fund ‘Creation Spirituality’ School,” The Christian Challenge, May 1996, p. 18

583 Elaine Cohen, “Matthew Fox: Techno Cosmic Mass Heralds New Spirituality,” Conscious Life, July 1999, p. 11

584 Elaine Cohen, “Matthew Fox: Techno Cosmic Mass Heralds New Spirituality,” Conscious Life, July 1999, p. 11

585 Elaine Cohen, “Matthew Fox: Techno Cosmic Mass Heralds New Spirituality,” Conscious Life, July 1999, p. 11

586 Richard Scheinin and Matthew Fox, “Reinventing Ritual: The Planetary Mass,” Creation Spirituality, Spring 1995, Vol. XI, no. 1, p. 32 (Matthew Fox, “Experiencing the First Planetary Mass in America”)

587 Elaine Cohen, “Matthew Fox: Techno Cosmic Mass Heralds New Spirituality,” Conscious Life, July 1999, p. 11

588 Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, 1932, Harper Perennial (1989 ed.), ISBN 0-06-080983-3, p. 83; see the description of the remainder of this liturgy on pp. 78-86 (chapter V, part 2)

589 Matthew Fox, “Creation Spirituality: Here Come the Postmoderns,” Creation Spirituality, Autumn 1995, Vol. XI, no. 3, p. 5

590 Richard Scheinin and Matthew Fox, “Reinventing Ritual: The Planetary Mass,” Creation Spirituality, Spring 1995, Vol. XI, no. 1, p. 28 (Richard Scheinin, “Multimedia imagery Techno-ambiant [sic] music It’s the Planetary Mass”)

591 Richard Scheinin and Matthew Fox, “Reinventing Ritual: The Planetary Mass,” Creation Spirituality, Spring 1995, Vol. XI, no. 1, p. 30 (“Reactions”)

592 William Sibley, “From the Superior,” Holy Cross (Newsletter of the Order of the Holy Cross), Vol. XIX, No. 2, p. 2

593 Lauren Artress, “The Birth of Veriditas,” Veriditas, Winter 1996, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 1; according to Artress, this word – spelled viriditas in classical Latin – means “springtime”

594 Lauren Artress, “The Birth of Veriditas,” Veriditas, Winter 1996, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 1

595 Peter Corbett, “Pathfinders: Walking medieval labyrinths in a modern world,” Internet document, http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment/features/fea_19981120_txt.shtml, p. 2

14.

596 July 9, 1999 e-mail from Bryan Dunne, reporting on a recent BBC program about the labyrinth; July 4, 1999 e-mail from Cathy Conwill, who visited Chartres in the fall of 1998

597 Peter Corbett, “Pathfinders: Walking medieval labyrinths in a modern world,” Internet document, http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment/features/fea_19981120_txt.shtml, p. 2

598 Labyrinth
Project, “What is a Labyrinth,” Internet document, http://www.gracecom.org/veriditas/press/whatlab.shtml, 1996

599 Lauren Artress, “The Launching of the Labyrinth
Network: Restoring the Web of Creation,” Veriditas, Vol. 1, no. 2, Summer 1996, p. 1

600 Lauren Artress, “Q and A with Lauren,” Veriditas, Vol. 1, no. 2, Summer 1996, p. 18

601 Peter Corbett, “Pathfinders: Walking medieval labyrinths in a modern world,” Internet document, http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment/features/fea_19981120_txt.shtml, p. 1

602 Lauren Artress, “The Birth of Veriditas,” Veriditas, Winter 1996, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 1

603 The analysis in this paragraph is based on a detailed review of these Labyrinth
Project publications: Source, no. 6, Spring 1998; Source, no. 7, Summer 1998; Source, no. 8, Fall 1998, and “Moments in Time,” a Veriditas brochure issued in the spring of 1999

604 “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

605 Lauren Artress, Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Sacred Tool, Riverhead Books/G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995; sentence quoted by Pamela Sullivan, “Book Review,” Pacific Church News, June/July 1995, p. 8

606 Advertisement, Veriditas, Vol. 1, no. 2, Summer 1996, p. 6; “Spiritual Perspectives Program: A Look at the 1996 Sacred Circles Conference,” Internet document, http://www.cathedral.org/cathedral/nca/spiritual-perspectives/sacred.html, p. 1

607 Lauren Artress, “Q and A with Lauren,” Veriditas, Vol. 1, no. 2, Summer 1996, p. 15

608 Veriditas, “Dreaming the Abundance of the Divine Mother,” advertisement in brochure issued in the spring of 1999, p. 3

609 Veriditas, “Dreaming the Abundance of the Divine Mother,” advertisement in brochure issued in the spring of 1999, p. 3

610 Advertisement for “Women’s Dream Quest,” Source (newsletter of the Labyrinth
Project), no. 6, spring 1998, p. 4

611 Kristen Fairchild, “A Passion for the Possible: An Interview with Jean Houston,” The Spire, Textures 11/04/97, Internet document, http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment, p. 4

612 “Spiritual Perspectives Program: A Look at the 1996 Sacred Circles Conference,” Internet document, http://www.cathedral.org/cathedral/nca/spiritual-perspectives/sacred.html, p. 1

613 Lauren Artress, “The Labyrinths of Grace,” Grace Online, 07/01/97, the archives; Internet document, http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment, p. 1

614 “Jean Houston On-Line: CountryLiving’s Article,” Internet document, http://www.jeanhouston.org/articles/genius.jean.html, p. 3

615 “Foundation for Mind Research,” Internet document, http://www.jeanhouston.org/foundation.html, pp. 1-2

616 Paula Span, “Spirits Lifted, Not Summoned,” Washington Post, June 25, 1996, p. C01; Internet version obtained from http://washingtonpost.com

617 “Foundation for Mind Research,” Internet document, http://www.jeanhouston.org/foundation.html, p. 1

618 Robert Masters, “The Sekhmet Project,” Internet document, http://www.robertmasters.org/sekhmet/sekhmet.mail.html, p. 1

619 Jean Houston and Robert Masters Bookstore, Internet document, http://www.jeanhouston.org/books/bookstore.html, p. 1

620 Robert Masters, “The Sekhmet Project,” Internet document, http://www.robertmasters.org/sekhmet/sekhmet.mail.html, p. 3

621 “Seed kit,” Source (newsletter of the Labyrinth
Project), no. 6, spring 1998, p. 4

622 “meet Stu,” Source (newsletter of the Labyrinth
Project), no. 6, spring 1998, p. 7

623 Lauren Artress, “Imagine …”, Source (newsletter of the Labyrinth
Project), no. 8, fall 1998, p. 12; for further information about Oprah Winfrey, see Ron Rhodes, “The ‘Oprah Effect’,” SCP Journal, Vol. 22:4-23:1, 1999, ISSN 0883-13, pp. 26-37

624 Grace Cathedral, ” ‘In the labyrinth,’ Artress says, ‘the set path takes you to the center’ …”; Internet document, http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment

625 Lauren Artress, “An Honored Guest from Chartres Cathedral,” Veriditas, Vol. II, no. 1, spring 1997, p. 1

626 Chanoine Francois Legaux, Letter to Veriditas, Source (newsletter of the Labyrinth
Project), Vol. II, no. 2, summer 1997, p. 2

627 Advertisement, “Mary and the Birth of the Soul,” Source (newsletter of the Labyrinth
Project), no. 6, spring 1998, p. 2 and Source, no. 8, fall 1998, p. 13; also, advertisement, “Let Us Walk With Mary,” Source, no. 8, fall 1998, p. 2

628 Advertisement, “Moments in Time,” Veriditas, brochure issued in the spring of 1999, p. 1

629 Advertisement, “Circles of Inspiration,” Source (newsletter of the Labyrinth
Project), Vol. II, no. 2, summer 1997, p. 21

630 Advertisement, “The Theatre of Enlightenment,” Source (newsletter of the Labyrinth
Project), no. 6, spring 1998, p. 23

631 Advertisement, “The Theater of Enlightenment,” Source (newsletter of the Labyrinth
Project), no. 7, summer 1998, p. 2

632 Advertisement, “The Theater of Enlightenment,” Source (newsletter of the Labyrinth
Project), no. 8, fall 1998, p. 22

633 Advertisement, “The Theater of Enlightenment,” Source (newsletter of the Labyrinth
Project), no. 6, spring 1998, p. 23

634 Source (newsletter of the Labyrinth
Project), no. 8, fall 1998, p. 22

15.

635 “Lauren’s Travels 1996,” Veriditas, Vol. 1, no. 1, Winter 1996, p. 6

636 Lauren Artress, “Q and A with Lauren,” Veriditas, Vol. 1, no. 2, Summer 1996, p. 15

637 “Experience the Labyrinth,” advertisement in The Learning Annex, October 1995, p. 25

638 Back cover ad, Creation Spirituality, Spring 1995, Vol. XI, no. 1

639 Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, Harper San Francisco, 1988, ISBN 0-06-062915-0, p. xi

640 Veriditas promotional flyer, “Veriditas invites you to the Theater of Enlightenment,” 1998

641 Donor list, Grace Cathedral Magazine, Spring 1995, p. 9; covers donations made to the Cathedral capital campaign as of March 1, 1995; Rockefeller donated at least $10,000, according to this listing.

642 Barbara Marx Hubbard, Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential, New World Library, Novato, California, 1998, ISBN 1-57731-016-0, p. viii

643 Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millennium, Nataraj Publishing, Novato, CA, 1995, ISBN 1-882591-21-6, p. 350

644 The Lindisfarne Association, “History of the Association,” Internet document, http://redwood.pacweb.com/lindisfarne/history.html, p. 1

For more on the labyrinth by Lee Penn, see

1. New Age, Neo-Pagan, and Secular-Liberal Teaching in the Episcopal Church, USA

http://www.leepenn.org/TCC_Anglican_new_age_neopagan_feminist.doc

By Lee Penn, Commentary Report in The Christian Challenge, March 8, 2001

2. Strange “diversities” (Or, The Episcopal Church welcomes you)

http://www.leepenn.org/TCC_Anglican_new_age_neopagan_feminist.doc

By Lee Penn, Report in The Christian Challenge, August 1, 2003

Humbug!

By Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR

Source: Emmanuel magazine, Mumbai, July-August, 2003, courtesy: The Priest

Recently I visited a seminary building of a religious order that had been turned into a retreat centre because of a lack of vocations. Often in the name of spirituality odd and even silly elements of the popular movements centred on feeling “more in touch” are to be found. Brochures often invite the spiritual seeker to something harmless like an “autumn-leaf retreat” or to something way out like a “massage retreat”. My imagination fails me here. I was not surprised, then, to find a Zen garden featured. This is an artistic arrangement of stones and rocks, which apparently helps people to be- come more recollected. I had seen an ancient impressive Zen garden in Kyoto, Japan, which without a doubt could create a soothing feeling but not really a meditation. This American variation was seen more like a gimmick.

Just past the less-than-impressive Zen garden at the former seminary/ now retreat centre, I ran into the labyrinth. A sign explained that this was a medieval device through which people slowly walked in or- der to meditate. In fact, they really sought to become recollected or calm. Meditation, at least Christian meditation, has always been de- fined as a consideration of life from the perspective of the Gospels or the Christian tradition. Walking around while meditating is a time-honoured Catholic tradition, ranging from pilgrimages to the Stations of the Cross.

There were no brochures in sight on the subject of pilgrimages, and I could not find the stations. I hear also that some retreat centres — perhaps regression centres might be a better term — are inviting people to use worry beads, a string of beads that one may use to count some- what non-decrepit invocations of the primal energy of the universe, or what have you. Hey, what happened to the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary? It doesn’t just recollect you but it also gets you to meditate on the mysteries of our redemption.

But these were not all the surprises at the retreat center. The latest addition is the art of reiki. This word, pro- posed by a Buddhist, Dr. Mikao Usui, means universal life force. In a book I don’t recommend, “An Introduction to the Art of Reiki”, the author, Ronni Johnson, tells us that Dr Usui discovered “a way to re-create the healing miracles performed by Christ and Buddha.” He received “an epiphany” that led him to understand the deeper meaning of ancient texts, including the Bible and the books of other world religions.

Like anyone operating without the Christian faith, Usui denied that salvation comes from the grace of Christ, the divine Son of God. Despite the evidence, he seems to have missed the reality of original sin and the need for salvation. In his defence it must be said that most modern theories of psychotherapy from Freud to Rogers do pretty much the same thing.

It is not my business if people want to get involved with reiki or examine the entrails of a dead chicken by the light of a full moon, but these things should not be done under the auspices of the Catholic Church. Zen gardens, which are harmless, and labyrinths, which are silly, can lead to Gnosticism, an ancient heresy during the early Christian centuries, which held that we are saved by some secret knowledge we have gained one way or another. This heresy seems to go back to New Testament times. It has become a kind of anti-tradition to the Catholic faith.

Perhaps the opening wedge of esoteric ersatz spirituality was a harmless thing called the Enneagrams. This was a variation on standard psychological instruments for self- evaluation. The difference was that the Enneagrams lacked any credible psychological validation.

16.

It followed on the Meyers-Briggs evaluation, which had a serious psychological background, although it never quite became an accepted scientific instrument. People had fun and games with the Enneagrams, which apparently was motivated by a not very well disguised narcissism. Unfortunately, because the Enneagrams had some vague relationship with Muslim Sufi texts, it became a kind of Gnostic cult in the English speaking world. Not only were there “Enneagrams retreats” and “Enneagrams spiritual direction” but in one novitiate the Enneagrams chart was in the chapel, with each section having its own vigil light. If it wasn’t so absurd, it might be seen as touching on a violation of the First Commandment.

The word we’re looking for is humbug. According to the Morris Dictionary of Words and Phrase Origins (Harper

& Row, 1971), the word humbug, which probably goes back to the British underworld, became popular with P.T. Barnum, the nineteenth century circus man, who once said, “The American people like to be humbugged.”

Catholics should be less vulnerable to being humbugged. We have a splendid spiritual tradition, which has grown up over the centuries, as innumerable devout souls — some of them recognized as world-class geniuses — prayed and meditated on Scripture and the tradition of the Catholic faith. For example, we have the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, adoration of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, meditation on the Bible, and the incomprehensible mystery that puts us in touch with the real life force of reality, the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Some clergy ought to realise that if you can’t find a tabernacle in the chapel but instead you get directed to the reiki room, somebody has been humbugged. With an appropriate nod to P.T. Barnum, are we running a church or a circus?

The Labyrinth: A Walk to Life or A Walk to Death

http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/04/labyrinth-muse.htm

By Steve Muse smuse@erwm.com, August, 2004, Eastern Regional Watch, http://www.erwm.com/


Many participants at Gorbachev’s
State of The World Forum*
in 1997 also walked the
Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. *
http://www.crossroad.to/text/articles/tstotw1196.html

Is it a coincidence that within the last 20 years an ancient practice that had been abandoned by the “Church” has once again been introduced within its very walls that is impacting thousands? Why now is it being welcomed with open arms with such great enthusiasm by an unsuspecting church populace? This is another of many deceptions that have risen up within the body of Christ to bring delusion upon those who do not love the truth of God’s word. What affect will this ancient practice have upon we the believers in Christ?
I am reminded of a sci-fi movie I had seen recently where the main characters discovered a device that has been buried in a field for centuries and once it had been unearthed, the quest to find its purpose began in earnest. Many experiments were done to determine what this device was all about and once they thought that its purpose was known it was decided that one or more of the group would take the risk and use the device hoping to unveil its secrets.
At first everything goes well, many new and wonderful things are revealed, opening up an unending source of knowledge for its users. After coming to fully trust this device with many using it to gain knowledge and enlightenment, strange things are beginning to occur around those who were brave enough to have taken this journey themselves… but then the obvious.
As with most movie plots such as this one, it is very predictable as to the eventual outcome. What they had originally thought about this device, hoping that it was a good thing for all and would enlighten the people who used it, the device was created for evil purposes, thus capturing the users in a world of darkness and confusion, eventually leading to their destruction.
Across the country and throughout the nations a practice is being revived within the church, which has been dormant for centuries. In effect, an ancient tool has been “unearthed” or re-discovered and people have begun to experiment in the practice of walking the labyrinth. This is a practice that seems to bring a sense of spiritual well being for those participating in it but in reality it has trapped and is snaring many in darkness because of the labyrinth’s Occult origins.
According to Peter Corbett, in his article ‘Pathfinders, Walking Medieval Labyrinths in a Modern World,’ “labyrinths predate Christianity by over a millennium. The most famous labyrinth from ancient times was the Cretan one, the supposed lair of the mythological Minotaur, which Theseus slew with the aid of Ariadne and her spool of thread. Turf labyrinths still exist in England, Germany and Scandinavia, and are thought to be linked with local feminine deities and fertility rituals. The adoption of labyrinths into the Christian Church is not very well documented, but they were used traditionally as a site of pilgrimage. Early Christians took a vow to visit the Holy City of Jerusalem at some point in their lives.

17.

During the Middle Ages, as the Crusades made travel to Palestine unsafe, other means were needed to honor that sacred commitment. Labyrinths were adopted by the Roman Church to offer the congregation a way of fulfilling their sacred vows. Christians made their pilgrimages to the cathedral cities of Chartres, Rheims or Amiens, completing their physical and spiritual journeys in the cathedral labyrinths.
Even though the labyrinth is a Western concept, it shares some similarities with Asian monastic and spiritual practices. The patterns of the labyrinth are similar in design and conception to the mandalas of South Asian Buddhism, which are physical representations of the spiritual realm designed to aid in meditation. Labyrinths blend their visual symbolism with the process of walking, which is similar to the Japanese Zen practice of kinhin, literally “walking meditation,” where all of the attention is focused on the process of each step, one foot in front of the other, and the breath is controlled and regulated. Both of these techniques are used in Buddhist meditation, which combines the elements of calming and insight into the single goal of samadhi, or ‘awareness’.”
It was recently, in the early 90’s, when Jean Houston, one of the leading New Age teachers (http://www.jeanhouston.org), introduced the Christian world again to the use of this practice for seeking spiritual enlightenment through walking the labyrinth. Jean Houston has been able to gain access within the “church” because of her doctorate in the Philosophy of Religion even with her apparent New Age Occultic teachings.
In one of her seminars in January, 1991, Jean Houston introduced the experience to the Reverend Lauren Artress. In 1992, the Reverend Lauren Artress brought the labyrinth to Grace Cathedral in an effort to bring people back to their center and allow them to experience “Spirit” for themselves. (http://www.gracecathedral.org/labyrinth/ and http://www.Veriditas.net)
Most of the practicing New Age occult world has known and still does, that the introduction of the labyrinth prayer walk is a victory for their cause, bringing the unsuspecting Christians into agreement with the overall plan of the Aquarian Age, where those participating in this practice could be captured or ensnared into the ways of Satan. (‘The Labyrinth: The Occult Has Truly Gone Mainstream’ can be found at http://www.cephas-library.com/na/new_age_labyrinth.html)
[See pages 8, 9]
After researching the many websites on today’s use of the labyrinth, most agree that the labyrinth is a tool or device created to bring one into a higher spiritual realm through the use of meditation whether your are a practicing Zen Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim, a New Age Occultist, a Satanist, an atheist or even a “Christian.” My question now as it was at the beginning of this article is what is this labyrinth all about and how will it affect the believer in Christ?
If someone were to hand you an Ouija Board telling you that it had been thoroughly redeemed and that other Christians were successfully using this board to bring them to a greater experience of God, would you also begin to entertain the thought of using this well known Occult method to seek God? Would you then use this Occult device, knowing full well that this is a tool or rather a gateway and portal to bring you into communication with “higher” spiritual entities (demons and familiar spirits). The labyrinth is much the same as the Ouija Board in its intent and purpose, to open one up to the influences of the demons of darkness, to supposedly gain wisdom and knowledge of the mysteries of life. Then why even begin to experiment or experience the sacred walk of the labyrinth?
In Deuteronomy 12:1-14 and again in Exodus 34:10-17, God commands us clearly not to participate in anything that has ever been used in pagan ritual for worship or for any other use, for that matter. The labyrinth has been from the very beginning a demonic temple, a kundalini energy source, a tool of divination, a gateway and a portal to communicating with other spirits and was incorporated into the Roman Catholic experience at a time when there was little understanding of the Bible and little or no discernment.

Throughout the ancient history of the labyrinth divination was used to find the proper location based on many Occultic spiritual factors. Dowsers (those who use divining rods) and geomancers (diviners) were used then (and are still used today) to locate the earth energy center point for many of these labyrinths and then the cathedrals were constructed around the labyrinth. If one will study the use of these spiritual gateways (the same function as the Ouija Board) throughout history, very little emphasis was given to its use within the church. As the church gained a better understanding of the word of God, the practice was discontinued. (Research in Geomancy, White Paper, 1990-1994, Jeremy Harte)
People are drawn to the labyrinth by the subtle seductions of the spirit world trying to convince us that anyone can get to know “God” through some kind of spiritual experience. If this were the case then we have all been duped as Christians. If I knew that I could have a “God” experience just by walking the labyrinth then all that God did through the sacrifice that Jesus gave on the cross is really unnecessary to bring us into relationship with the Father, I just have to have an “experience” and all will be well.
Many believe that the labyrinth is the beginning of a “spiritual journey” opening up relationships with the ancient masters who will in turn offer the knowledge and wisdom of the ages to all who will take the first step or “the initiation” to enlightenment. Most Christians know or should know that the ancient masters are really “familiar spirits” or seducing demons and the initiation is a bonding with the powers of hell itself. Is this really a walk to life or a deception that will lure us onto a path to death?

Carl Teichrib describes “the initiation” in his article ‘Lucifer Rising: Occult Initiation,’ “Within the world of the New Age and the occult, initiation is the principle key used in advancing the student of mysticism along the path of occult learning. Practically all esoteric societies employ initiation. Freemasonry, Rosicrucian orders, hermetic societies, spin-off Masonic bodies such as the Shriners, Eastern Star, and the Order of DeMolay, all use initiation as a means of bringing candidates into their organization. Once inside the group, the society uses initiation as a way of advancing members into higher degrees of “illumination.” Within each of these rites, mystical concepts are passed down by means of symbol, myth, and legend woven throughout the initiation experience. The candidate, for the most part, does not understand its significance or meaning. Only as one climbs the ladder of ritual and esoteric work does the member comprehend what the initiations really entail.”


Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason Ministries gives us additional insight from his article ‘The Initiation’: “For one to be part of the world servers in the New Age, they must first have an initiation. This does not come necessarily from joining a specific group, but by ones own spiritual experience. The common denominator for those who are enlightened is the experience of light. It does not matter how one receives it. Whether it comes by meditation or a spirit guide or from their astral traveling, as long as they have experienced it.”
As we walk the labyrinth we are in some cases knowingly or as with most people we are unknowingly entering into a covenant agreement with the demonic being initiated just by using the labyrinth as one innocently uses an Ouija Board thinking they are just playing a game. We become joined with the powers of darkness and we put ourselves at the mercy of the spirits who will lead us to destruction.
In 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 and 7:1 we read: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership has righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?

“For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.’ Therefore, ‘COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,’ says the Lord. AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

We as Christians have become like moths attracted to the flame, continually seduced to ever so slowly draw nearer and nearer until we finally are burned up in a flash. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to “prove all things” or “examine everything carefully” and to hold onto those things which are good. We are also told in 1 John 4 “believe not every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”

Why would you even take the chance that you might be taking a walk leading to death?

**The Labyrinth Project at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco

http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/spirituality/labyrinth.htm

These two messages were posted on a column inside the grand cathedral:

The Labyrinth Project at Grace Cathedral:

“The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, that served as the central symbol for pilgrimage throughout the middle Ages. … Christians made a commitment to travel to the Holy land once during their lifetimes. When the Crusade swept across Europe and travel became expensive and dangerous, several pilgrimage cathedrals were designated to be the pilgrim’s destination. Chartres Cathedral was a central place of pilgrimage and housed one of the largest and most magnificent labyrinths in the Christian world.

“For the pilgrim, walking the labyrinth was a ritual enactment of life’s journey and served as an entryway into the spiritual life. The goal of pilgrimage was single: to reach the New Jerusalem, the place of clarity and union at the center of the labyrinth, where the inward path re-directs itself outward into the world.

“When we walk the labyrinth, the mysterious winding path becomes a metaphor for our spiritual journey. It becomes a mirror reflecting the place where we stand in our lives. We invite you to walk it with an open mind, and an open heart. By walking the labyrinth, you are rediscovering a long-forgotten Christian mystical tradition.

“The labyrinth is a mandala that meets our longing for a change of heart, for a change of ways in how we live together on this fragile island home, and for the energy, the vision, and the courage to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

“The goal of the labyrinth project is to recover the act of Pilgrimage You are invited to join workshops focused on Co-Creation work and Self-Knowledge.”

See also the last part of Chapter 1 in a Twist of Faith: Our Father in Heaven or Our Mother the Earth?”


Natalie Angelier, “A Twisting Walk to Inner Peace on a Painted Purple Canvas,” New York Times, August 29, 1992.

“Stretched across the nave floor [of Grace Cathedral]  like a tarpaulin hauled in from a football field, the 35-foot-wide labyrinth is nothing more than a bright purple pattern painted on an expanse of bleached canvas, a replica of a labyrinth built into the stone floor of the Chartres.

“It’s ‘a ceremony that is at once ancient and New Age mysticism called ‘walking the Labyrinth,’ explained Rev. Lauren Artress.

“At Grace, Rev. Lauren Artress, canon pastor of the Episcopal Cathedral, is trying to revive the ancient tradition as a tool for encouraging introspection and spiritual transformation, whatever one’s religion…

“The Labyrinth, says Ms Artress, is a profound archetype seen in most cultures throughout history.  The ancient Greeks had the labyrinth at Minos, whose serpentine corridors on the island of Crete led to the Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull, the body of a man, and a bottomless appetite for sacrificial young men and maidens.

“Hindus and Buddhist have the Mandala, a circular design symbolizing the universe and totality. For medieval Christians, the Labyrinth became a manageable substitute for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

“Going into the center, a walk is supposed to shed the solipsistic obsession of everyday life.  At the center of the labyrinth, a six-petal design [lotus?], the pilgrim looks for illumination. “I call it clarity,” Ms Artress says, “You get insight into yourself.”

“On the way out from the center, the walker should feel a sense of communion with the cosmos, God, or some sort of higher, healing power. [One woman called her experience, “a dance I do with my soul.”]

“A permanent stone labyrinth will be built into the cathedral garden…. ‘You have to get the mystical figure in the center right,’ says [Rev. Artress]. ‘Underneath the center is a 13-pointed star. When  you lay that star right, then all the paths are perfectly balanced.'”

19.

New Age Traps

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=6667, http://www.newoxfordreview.org/article.jsp?did=0205-feaster
EXTRACT

By Margaret Anne Feaster, 2005

In the past thirty years, a false and alien spirituality has swept through this country, infecting millions of souls. It has contaminated television shows, high-grossing movies, best-selling books, popular personnel-training programs, and some non-traditional medical practices. It has destroyed the faith of many people. It has infiltrated Protestant Churches, and in Catholic circles it is making its way into retreat centers, seminars, and parish programs.
It is based on the old heresy of pantheism, and borrows many of its ideas from Hinduism. It is called New Age spirituality and it would have us look inside ourselves to find a Higher Self or True Self, to discover our divinity or “God”-power. It is the belief that “God” is deep within each one of us.

To connect with this “God within,” New Agers use mantras (repetitious words or phrases) or yoga to empty the mind in order to reach altered states of consciousness or pure consciousness, whereby to discover their own divinity. […]

Where would a Catholic run into New Age ideas? […]

Any member of the family might be introduced to New Age spirituality by watching the Oprah Winfrey Show. She often hosts New Age speakers, such as Shirley MacLaine. For many weeks, she had a three- to five-minute segment called “Remembering Your Spirit.” One segment featured the popular New Ager Dr. Wayne Dyer. A prolific writer and author of 27 books, including Your Erroneous Zones, Dr. Dyer teaches people how to tap into the universal energy force, or their Higher Self. Another segment highlighted the Labyrinth Movement (walking a maze to find the “goddess within”). […]

A parishioner may encounter the New Age in several ways. His parish might be teaching centering-prayer techniques that would help him to reach the center of his being, to find the True Self, or “God within” by using the sacred word (or mantra) to empty the mind of all thoughts. These techniques may resemble transcendental meditation, where the person tries to reach the hidden depths of self. The major beliefs of the Centering Prayer Movement have been identified by the Vatican document as linked to New Age.

The parishioner might be directed toward a Labyrinth to pray at the center of his being to reach the “goddess within.” […]

New Age Invasion – Is This Spirituality Replacing Catholic Faith?

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1399187/posts
EXTRACT

By
Robert Kumpel, San Diego News Notes ^
May 09, 2005

The First Commandment is
“I am the Lord Thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.” But, according to one local convert from the New Age, San Diego Catholics who aspire to know their God better are sometimes presented with information on strange gods instead.

Moira Noonan, a resident of Encinitas, authored Ransomed From Darkness which tells the story of her conversion from New Age spirituality to the Catholic faith. Noonan believes most Catholics are being insidiously exposed to New Age ideas in the Church.

How long have you been a Catholic?

I finished RCIA about 10 years ago. Actually, I was baptized Catholic and attended Catholic school as a little kid. New Agers are constantly searching, always looking for something new. The first true — I hate to say it — ‘enlightenment’ which dawned on me was that I didn’t want to be reincarnated. And I thought, “How do I get off this wheel of reincarnation?” I remembered something from when I was a [Catholic] kid about ‘eternal life.’ Yet I was constantly being bombarded with reincarnation in the New Age. I just said, ‘I don’t want to come back. If there is eternal life, or if any of those Sacred Heart nuns who taught me as a kid are in eternal life now, won’t you pray for me right now?’ It triggered something.

Reincarnation is one of the biggest demonic heresies in the world. When you consider how much of the world’s population believes in reincarnation, it’s scary. All New Agers believe it. And most of the people I knew in the New Age were fallen-away Catholics.

What do people mean when they say, “I’m not religious, but I’m very spiritual?”?

“Spiritual” seems to be one of the trendy catch words coming out of the New Age movement, because New Agers never say, “I’m of this faith” or “that faith”. What they say is, “I’m spiritual” because the New Age movement came from the spiritualist movement. The spiritualist movement was a big movement in America around the turn of the century, with people like Madam Blavatsky. This all came from the time when people started believing in Darwinism. We didn’t need God anymore. Now people are saying that they are “spiritual.” We don’t need any religious truth or religious facts, because we can make up our own gods again.

Is their any link between homosexuality’s ascendancy and the New Age movement?

I don’t recall seeing homosexuals in the New Age movement, or at least I never met any. They seem to prefer to stay in their own community. But apparently now the lesbian movement is huge in the New Age. This is what’s happened to some women’s religious orders. Many of them were feminists who turned to Wicca or white witchcraft. It’s much more pervasive on the East Coast and, thankfully, I was never a part of any of that. I agree with our Church [‘s position] that it [homosexuality] is gravely disordered.

I used to go to confession at the Cathedral downtown. One time, when I walked in, I saw a book on the Enneagram (a New Age personality type test) sitting on the priest’s chair. What’s wrong with the Enneagram?

20.

First off, the Enneagram is being used in almost every Catholic spiritual direction and retreat house in America. It’s now the main tool for teaching people how to do spiritual direction. Its origins are occult, not Christian. Now why is this different than using traditional Catholic spiritual direction and counseling, such as St. Ignatius of Loyola’s exercises to discern God’s will? The Enneagram isn’t about working with God’s will or understanding it, it’s all about personality. It’s a personality exercise, not spiritual, and it’s not based on God’s will. It relies on the human spirit, rather than something divine.”

So where is this New Age infiltration happening in the Church in San Diego?

I really don’t want to mention these sisters by name, because some of them were very helpful in my conversion a long time ago. I can tell you that they are in a beach community where they operate a retreat house. They also use the Celestine Prophecy for spiritual direction. The Celestine Prophecy was a popular New Age novel which, like the Da Vinci Code, was taken as fact but in reality slanders the Catholic Church. It enjoyed a brief vogue in the 1990s. It’s all about developing psychic powers. I was a former New Ager and I sure didn’t need these nuns teaching me New Age stuff after leaving the New Age movement. After that experience, thank goodness, a priest from out of state got me to go to Prince of Peace Abbey for spiritual direction. And that is the only place I would recommend anyone in San Diego to go.”

For some time now, the La Providencia retreat center in Alpine has been offering Reiki. It’s been said that Reiki is just a type of massage therapy. Is that correct?

I don’t know anything about La Providencia, but I can tell you about Reiki. Reiki is psychic healing. It is not reconcilable in any way, shape, or form with the Catholic Church, because it uses spirit guides. Spirit guides are fallen angels — not guardian angels but deceivers. It’s not Swedish massage. It’s occult massage. In order to do Reiki, you have to follow a master. It’s like being consecrated to a guru or master. I can say that, because I was an advanced Reiki master healer.

Some photos posted on the internet from Cardinal Mahony’s latest religious education congress, show people walking around through labyrinths.

They’re using labyrinths in Christian churches and New Age churches. The big difference is that in the New Age churches, they are doing it to a mantra.

Does the San Diego diocese contribute to this New Age contamination?

I can tell you that here in North County, there is a coastal parish where I just finished a basic catechist course — I really don’t want to mention it by name — that is so bad you cannot believe it. This is where they are training people to be religious education teachers in parishes. I was told by this instructor not to mention Mary, the rosary, statues, novenas or “any of that superstitious stuff.” This is the director of religious education for that parish who teaches the class. It was so unbelievably awful. And, just as in the New Age, he told us that no stories in the Bible were literal events.” He said that the Bible is, “nothing but stories, not an accurate account.”

The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment?

http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/teichrib/labyrinth.htm

By Carl Teichrib, www.forcingchange.org, September 2005 [All emphases are the author’s]

“Symbols are keyholes to doors in the walls of space, and through them man peers into Eternity…Symbolism, then, is the divine language, and its figures are a celestial alphabet…” -Manly P. Hall [1]
“…symbolical rites are the external expressions of man’s inward desire to unite with Divinity.” -Roberta H. Lamerson, F.R.C. [2]
“Whilst we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for, they were clearly a symbol of the Christian way, representing the path of the soul through life.” -About Labyrinths and Mazes [3]

I was struck by the simplicity of the above statement: that labyrinths are “clearly a symbol of the Christian way.” An interesting position, especially given the fact that the authors of this particular quote admit, “we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for…”
We live in a day and age where many “new things” are sweeping through the Christian church. Some of these alternative directions are simply a reflection of changes in style and format. However, in our exploration towards alternative forms of spiritual expression – particularly as we try to build relevancy in a post-modern culture – it is imperative that doctrinal discernment and discretionary principles come into play. This is especially true as society rapidly embraces a plethora of alternative spiritual practices, beliefs, and paths. Sadly, we as Christians often flounder in doing our homework, and in that vein we may inadvertently open our congregations to highly questionable choices and spiritual experiences. Paradoxically, while the evangelical Christian community talks about “spiritual warfare” and “putting on the full amour of God,” many of these same churches can be found embracing that which they claim to counter. In seeking relevancy, we have become dangerously “experiential” in nature, and old forms of mysticism are becoming center-pieces in “experiences of faith.”

The labyrinth prayer-walk, which follows a single winding path to a central location, is a case in point. Primarily jump-started by a UK-based Christian movement in alternative spiritual expressions and by an influential San Francisco cathedral, denominations around the world are embracing labyrinths as a viable part of the “spiritual journey.” But are labyrinths part of the Christian encounter, as suggested by the third introductory quote above?
My first experience with a labyrinth happened years before the idea become faddish in Christian circles. I was doing research work on occult philosophy at the Theosophical headquarters in Wheaton, IL, and after spending a better part of the day reviewing esoteric literature (Theosophy is a blend of mystical traditions, ancient mystery religions, and eastern philosophies), I went for a walk across the grounds to clear my head. There, towards the back of the property, was a labyrinth that had been set up as a place for spiritual release and expression. 21.

As a Christian researcher and author on globalization, including the religious trends accompanying our changing international situation, I wasn’t surprised by the fact that a labyrinth was set up at this intensely “occult” location. It made perfect sense.
Understand, Christians looking for ways to bring in new relevancy within church worship did not “rediscover” the labyrinth as a spiritual tool. As we shall see, it’s been part of the esoteric world for a very long time. Which is why, today, labyrinth walks and “prayer journeys” are being promoted by Rosicrucian groups [4], at New Age festivals and celebrations [5], and throughout the neo-pagan world. Not surprisingly, one of America’s largest witch, shaman, and neo-pagan assemblies, the 2005 Pagan Spirit Gathering at Wisteria, OH, held a night-time Summer Solstice Labyrinth ritual, which was described as a “transformative, walking meditation through an all night labyrinth formed by 1000 lighted candles” [6].
Embarking on the Journey
Counter to the statement “we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for” is a wealth of literature, some easy to obtain, others that should be kept hidden on dusty shelves. This material paints a fascinating picture on the uses and purposes of the labyrinth as a conduit for the mystical. But before we venture down this path, it’s important that we journey into the recesses of ancient mythological history.
The primary historical focal point for the lore of the labyrinth goes back to Cretan and Greek tales of Queen Pasiphaë, her perverse sexual desire for a specific sacrificial bull, an abominable act of bestiality, and the birth of a strange hybrid offspring – the dreaded Minotaur, which lived in a labyrinth built to cage him [7].
Each year, King Minos, the husband of Pasiphaë, demanded that seven boys and seven girls be given as a sacrificial tribute to be devoured by the Minotaur. One year, a hero named Theseus accompanied the children. Taking a ball of twine, he unravelled the string as he went through the labyrinth, giving him a trail leading back out. Once inside the labyrinth, Theseus followed the maze to its center, where he battled with the Minotaur and eventually beat the creature to death.
The labyrinth containing this Minotaur was not the typical single-path labyrinth of today, but rather a complex maze containing halls and chambers. However, esoteric philosophers have long understood that the Minotaur maze directly corresponds to the ancient (and now modern) spiritually-connected labyrinth walk; the long soul journey with its many twists and turns, the ultimate arrival at the central convergence point, the struggle with the inner monster – and the final victory over the forces of darkness and ignorance (which can only happen when one is illumined at the center), and the repeated journey back to wholeness and the light of day. This esoteric significance of the Cretan story has never been lost on the initiates of the Mystery Schools.
Don’t forget, this Grecian/Cretan story was immersed in the pagan religious context of the day, that’s the metaphysical origin of the labyrinth as we can trace it. Hence the story of Pasiphaë, with its labyrinth journey and inner battle, is of interest first and foremost to the world of occult lore: for the simple reason that this is the intended context.
Following the Path
In following the path of knowledge concerning the spiritual uses of the labyrinth, one doesn’t have to go to the Pagan Spirit Gathering or delve deeply into occult literature (however, we will examine esoteric writings in order to build upon this article). Plenty of information abounds in various reference works. Take, for instance, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols.
In discussing the labyrinth as a religious tool, The Penguin Dictionary associates the maze (read labyrinth) with the Buddhist Mandala – an aid in the spiritual initiatory journey. Consider the various other metaphysical interpretations of the labyrinth [note: square bracketed comments indicate an explanation provided by this author],

“In the Kabbalistic tradition [Author’s note: the Kabbala is a series of texts which make up the school of Jewish mysticism] taken up by the alchemists, mazes filled a magical function which was one of the secrets attributed to Solomon. This is why the mazes in cathedrals, ‘those series of concentric circles broken at given points on the circumference to provide a strange and tangled pathway’, came to be called ‘Solomon’s Maze’. Alchemists saw them as images ‘of the whole task involved in the Work, with its major difficulties; an image of the path they needed to follow to reach the centre, arena for the two warring natures…’ This explanation would run parallel with that provided by one of the teachings of ascetic mysticism – focusing upon oneself, along the thousands of paths of feeling, emotion and ideas; overcoming all that stands in the way of unalloyed intuition, and then returning to the light without becoming lost in the byways. To enter and to emerge from the maze might be the symbol of death and resurrection.
“The maze also takes one to the centre of one’s self, ‘to some hidden, inner shrine, occupied by the most mysterious portion’ of the human personality. This conjures up the mens, the temple of the Holy Spirit in the soul at a state of grace; or again, the depths of the unconscious. Both can only be reached by consciousness after making many detours or by intense concentration, when that ultimate intuition is attained and everything becomes plain through some kind of enlightenment. Here in this crypt the lost oneness of being, scattered in a multiplicity of desires, is rediscovered.
“To reach the centre of the maze, like a stage in the process of initiation, is to be made a member of the invisible lodge [Author’s note: the high-calling of the Mystery Religions] which the maze- makers always shroud in mystery or, better still, have always been left to be filled by the finder’s own intuition…” [8]

Jack Tresidder’s Dictionary of Symbols explains, “…many labyrinths are unicursal, having no traps but leading sinuously along a single path. These were often used in early temples as initiation routes or more widely for religious dances that imitated the weaving paths of the sun or planets. They reappeared in patterns on the floors of medieval Christian churches as ‘roads to Jerusalem’ – paths symbolizing pilgrimage.” [9]

Other reference works on symbols – and a labyrinth is both a spiritual tool and a religious symbol – give similar definitions [as an example, see The Herder Dictionary of Symbols]. While the meanings are varied, they do pulse with a similar theme, even when associated with the early Roman Catholic cathedrals. And this theme is repeated and more deeply probed by esoteric philosophers and New Agers; it’s the path of mysticism, esotericism, and occultism.


Reaching the Center
If the labyrinth is a path leading to one specific point, what does the wayfarer expect to find when he or she arrives?
On the mystical journey to spiritual fulfillment, the middle-eye of the labyrinth becomes a place of divine illumination. Even Kimberly Lowelle, the President of The Labyrinth Society – a network of labyrinth scholars and enthusiasts – recognizes this basic function.

“The labyrinth is an archetype of transformation. Its transcendent nature knows no boundaries, crossing time and cultures with ease. The labyrinth serves as a bridge from the mundane to the divine…” [10]

The promotional website for the Breemie Labyrinth in the UK gives an almost identical explanation, “The labyrinth is an archetypal spiritual tool, found across many times and cultures. While a maze is a left-brain, rational puzzle, the labyrinth involves the right side of the brain, and helps us access our intuition, providing a portal to the Divine” [11].
Kathy Doore, an author on sacred spaces, freely describes the spiritual implications of the labyrinth,

“Labyrinths are temples that enhance and balance and bring a sense of the sacred – a place where we can confirm our unity with the cosmos, awaken our vital force and elevate our consciousness. These structures are space/time temples where we can behold realities that oddly enough transcend space and time. The orientation, form and geometry of a labyrinth have symbolic as well as spacial [sic] importance. It is a mirror for the divine…

“…Moving through a Labyrinth changes ordinary ways of perception connecting the inner and the outer, the right brain and the left brain, the involutional and the evolutional through a series of paths that represent the realms of the Gods and Goddesses. These realms are associated with planetary movement as a process that induces Union with the One.” [12]

Divine illumination is the end-goal of esoteric philosophy; it’s the central arena of occultism.
Manly P. Hall, one of the 20th century’s greatest esoteric philosophers and an eminent Masonic historian, tells us that the labyrinth was symbolic of man’s search for truth [13]. Other occult scholars tell us that the labyrinth symbolized to the people “the difficulty of finding the Path to God” [14]. All of this points to the same thing – the mystical realization of our own divinity.
As Hall states in one of his earlier books, “Man is a god in the making, and as in the mystic myths of Egypt, on the potter’s wheel he is being molded. When his light shines out to lift and preserve all things, he receives the triple crown of godhood…” [15]. Rosicrucian authority Christian Bernard explains this mystical goal as the building and unfolding of the inner Temple,

“The Temple of the Universe, the Temple of the Earth and the Temple of Life are only one in the Temple of Man. This is why the time has come to work towards rebuilding it, for the Messianic Light must emanate from the Heavenly Jerusalem which vibrates within us.” [16]

Laying it out very plainly, Annie Besant – an early Theosophical leader – simply said, “Man is not to be compelled; he is to be free. He is not a slave, but a God in the making” [17].
Different Paths, Same Meanings
Part and parcel of labyrinth symbology is initiation, the mystical process of inner transformation. Robert Macoy’s Dictionary of Freemasonry, like so much of the esoteric literature, connects the meaning of the labyrinth with this concept. Defining the labyrinth, Macoy wrote, “In the ancient mysteries the passages through which the initiate made his mystical pilgrimage” [18].
As stated above, initiation is the process of inner transformation. To that end, esoteric societies and occult orders employ initiation as a vital component to spiritual advancement. Indeed, initiation is the pathway, the journey, to mystical completeness. This is the occult metaphor of the labyrinth, a metaphor that is played out in a host of mystical similes. Consider the following archetypes. Keep in mind, each example is replete with historical and religious connections to the Mystery Religions, of which the labyrinth is but a part [19].
Freemasonry: when the Masonic candidate undergoes his initiation, he is led on an invisible path from station to station throughout the Lodge room. Each point and part of this journey is given an exoteric explanation – that is, the real meanings are cloaked in allegory and symbolism. After completing the journey around the Lodge, he is led to the center of the room where he kneels before an altar. The Worshipful Master asks what the candidate most desires, and the initiate responds with “Light” [20]. Know this, the light requested is not incandescent light or some other physical light energy, but spiritual illumination [21].
Order of the Golden Dawn: Initiations rites such as the Ceremony of the Grade of Philosophus have the candidate embark on a spiritual journey, following an invisible yet tangible path throughout the Lodge room. This journey, like that of Freemasonry, is intended to elevate the candidate’s level of transformative enlightenment [22].
Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis: In AMORC’s Temple ritual, Second Portal, the student partakes in an allegorical journey searching for light and knowledge. While engaged in the ritual, the student follows a path to each point on the compass, and returns to a central triangle. Again, like the two other illustrations above, this act is part of the mystical journey towards “light” and cosmic unity [23].
Order of the Eastern Star: As a co-Masonic body, the OES engages in a series of ritualistic initiations. Unlike Freemasonry, the OES ritual work is performed on a giant floor-rug pentagram. This pentagram, with an altar placed in its center, is called a Labyrinth. Each of the various initiation rites – journeys on the path to greater understanding – takes place in and around this Labyrinth [24]. Beulah Malone, Past Grand Matron and Secretary of the OES explains,

“The winding in and out of the labyrinth symbolizes the human soul stumbling and struggling through life; learning by mistakes and experiences that the way leading to the supreme life and to God is not easy but is a way of testing one’s power and strength.


“By following the examples symbolized in the lives of the heroines of our Order [Author’s note: this is part of the OES Labyrinth journey], we may come into a full light of His Star and into wisdom and understanding. The great magnet of our Star as it shines forth in the world is missioned to bring Unity, the Truth of Fatherhood of God, and Brotherhood of Man.” [25]

And herein lies the deeper spiritual meaning of the labyrinth-walk that has become so fashionable today. It’s the symbolic journey of illumination, completely spiritual in nature, and dependent on our works – the “journey,” or the “testing [of] one’s power and strength.”
The path to the center of the labyrinth is as the invisible but tangible path leading to the esoteric altar – it’s an initiation into the mystical.
The Path of Completion: Returning from the Center
Hundreds of Christians have taken part in labyrinth prayer walks, and many churches across North America and Europe are embracing this tool as a means to expand their spiritual experience. The Rev. Jill Geoffrion, a “certified labyrinth facilitator” and author of such books as Christian Prayer and Labyrinths and Praying the Labyrinth, writes,

“We are currently in a period of historic labyrinth revival. Churches, retreat centers and Christian camps are placing these prayer tools inside and outside. Christians all over the world are installing labyrinths in their yards and gardens. Many are using the labyrinths as a ministry tool, bringing portable versions to prisons, national denominational conferences and church group meetings. It is conservatively estimated that there are over 5,000 labyrinths in the United States alone. God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path.” [26]

I must admit her pronouncement sounds appealing. But this particular statement by Geoffrion doesn’t paint the whole picture.
On her labyrinth prayer website, Geoffrion offers suggested prayers for different labyrinth events. In dedicating a new labyrinth, she suggests that those in attendance form a circle on the pattern and extend “the energy that is in our hearts and minds through their hands towards the labyrinth.” Following this exercise is a meditative time where each person physically lays hands on the labyrinth and calls forth “the image of a loved one walking this labyrinth and receiving what is needed.” After more “imaging,” she recommends this responsive prayer,

Community: We dedicate this labyrinth to spiritual awakening and reawakening.
One: With hearts extending in many directions, Let us pray…Sacred Sustainer, Way to wholeness, Creator of possibilities, Supporter of change, Forgiving Releaser, Freedom, Honesty, Wisdom, Hope, Joy…we thank You for the beautiful spiritual tool on which we are standing…” [27]

Geoffrion suggests other reflective meditations for the labyrinth, including short prayers from the “Christian Tradition,” “Egyptian Tradition,” “Hindu Tradition,” and “Sufi Tradition” [28].
For Christians holding to the exclusive message of Jesus Christ in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” a serious rift is now encountered. It’s the dilemma that exists between what Geoffrion’s first quote described verses the religious pluralism that the labyrinth appears to propagate. And because of the nature and metaphysical history of the labyrinth, this spiritual pluralism is inescapable. However, this ever-widening religious inclusiveness – which is the expression of the esoteric idea of the Fatherhood of God – shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, in the labyrinth experience every path is relevant, every road is right, every religion is valid.
Granted, Geoffrion is but one spokesperson representing the Christian labyrinth prayer encounter. Grace Cathedral, however, carries a little more clout. In fact, Grace, San Francisco’s prominent Episcopal Church, has been North America’s “pathfinder” congregation in the labyrinth movement, hosting prayer walks on their two labyrinths for years. Moreover, Grace’s outdoor labyrinth is open 24 hours, and the church now has an involved global networking organization dedicated to advancing the labyrinth experience. Hence, Grace has been viewed by many Christian labyrinth advocates as the driving influence for this new spiritual expression in North America.
There’s no doubt that one reason for Grace Cathedral’s success is their connection to Chartres Cathedral in France. As an ancient medieval church, Chartres hosts an original pattern that is today’s recognized prototype for the Christian prayer walk. Grace meticulously copied Chartres, has marketed it very well, and is now a major spokes-church for the Chartres experience. Consider Grace’s website titled “Walking the Labyrinth: Reflections from Chartres,”

“A profound meditation tool, a metaphor for the spiritual path, a feminist Christian icon, a symbol of Mary or even all Christianity, even perhaps an almost cult-like centerpiece of a movement – the labyrinth is, most everyone can agree, a powerful inspiration.” [29]

Grace is open about the deeper meanings of the labyrinth. On the front piece to their labyrinth website, Grace states,

The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking a replica of the Chartres labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that is insisting to be reborn.” [30]

And Grace also points out that the labyrinth is a shared esoteric tradition,

“In Native American culture it is called the Medicine Wheel and Man in the Maze. The Celts described it as the Never Ending Circle. It is also called the Kabala in mystical Judaism. One feature they all share is that they have one path which winds in a circuitous way to the center.” [31]

The labyrinth exercise, Grace further explains, should be viewed in three parts,

Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind. 24.


 • Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
 • Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.” [32]

As an institution, Grace is no ordinary church. Not only has it been extremely influential in propagating the labyrinth prayer walk, it has been a hotbed for global interfaith work.
In the 1990’s William Swing was Bishop of Grace. During the 1995 United Nations 50th Anniversary, Swing proclaimed that Grace would work towards the building of a global interfaith network. After an intense amount of travel and lobbying, Swing succeeded in forming the United Religions Initiative – one of the world’s leading UN affiliated inter-religious partnerships. Today, the URI is an active player in advancing global religious unity.
Why does this matter? Remember all the connections between various esoteric philosophies with the labyrinth concept? A parallel runs between both themes; Unity. As a spiritual interface, and as Grace Cathedral reminded us, the mystical labyrinth belongs to “all religions traditions.
Remember the Eastern Star’s labyrinth? Unity, the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of Man was the proclaimed magnetism of their Star. Likewise, this triplicate ideology is Freemasonry‘s boast, a major claim that the Masonic candidate is to understand via the paths of initiation.
Manly P. Hall, speaking of the Masonic interfaith ideal of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, penned these words,

“The true Mason is not creed-bound. He realizes with the divine illumination of his lodge that as a Mason his religion must be universal: Christ, Buddha or Mohammed, the name means little, for he recognizes only the light and not the bearer. He worships at every shrine, bows before every altar, whether in temple, mosque or cathedral, realizing with his truer understanding the oneness of all spiritual truth.” [33]

This is the starting point of the occult concept of “the divine.” It tells us that every path on the journey is unique, yet each is true. In order for the mystic to move onward and upward, to return from the center of the labyrinth, he must accept his inner divinity. As Hall says, “…the way of salvation has been hidden within us” [34].

Reiki Master Kate McManus, in her article “Walking the Fire Labyrinth,” tells of her friend’s spiritual journey.

“This year a friend mentioned an event that was to be held further out west a week after our winter magic festival. She described it as a fire labyrinth ritual in which a stone labyrinth would be lit at night to be walked with conscious intent and so mark the end of the year and begin a new one, a shedding of the old and birthing of the divine child.” [35]

Years ago Paul Clasper drew this religious inclusiveness into a completed package,

“The new mingling of faiths will cause a fresh interpenetration of ideas and customs. Out of the encounter some paring of outmoded encrustations will perhaps take place. The new intercourse will fructify in more inclusive, universal faiths, perhaps even a new world faith as a basis for the coming world civilization.” [36]

What Have We Learned?
In an earlier quote by the Rev. Jill Geoffrion, she proclaimed that “God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path.”
On the surface this sounds great. But is God really blessing this “new thing”? Moreover, can God bless something that has its origins in esoteric doctrine and ancient pagan mythologies? Adding to its historical pagan significance is the fact that the labyrinth has never lost its occult meaning. As mentioned earlier in the article, labyrinths are still being used, and will continue to be used, as an instrument of pagan spirituality.
If God is going to bless labyrinth prayer journeys, how is He going to deal with Deuteronomy 12:1-14, 18:9-13 and Exodus 34:10-17? In each of these Scripture passages God explicitly tells His people to refrain from anything used in pagan practices. Moreover, the entire book of Jeremiah is a warning against involvement in alternative religious practices.
Furthermore, if God is going to bless labyrinth prayer journeys, how is He going to excuse the interfaith aspect that is common throughout the movement? John 14:6 clearly states that the only path to the Father is through Jesus Christ, and by no other way.
Yes, the majority of Christians would affirm that their prayer walk is completely focused on Jesus Christ. That may be true, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that the labyrinth is, by its theological nature, an inter-religious and deeply mystical device. If God is going to bless the labyrinth experience, how is He going to deal with 2 Corinthians 6:14-16?

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?…”

Endnotes:

1. Manly P. Hall, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy (Philosophical Research Society, 1984), p.357. Hall was one of the 20th century’s greatest and most celebrated esoteric philosophers, founder of the Philosophical Research Society, eminent Freemason, and a respected lecturer on occult doctrines and the Mystery Religions.
2. Roberta H. Lamerson, F.R.C. “Initiation,” Rosicrucian Digest, November, 1984, p.21.
3. Kevin and Ana Draper, Steve Collins, and Jonny Baker, “About Labyrinths and Mazes,” Prayer Path Online Labyrinth, http://web.ukonline.co.uk/paradigm/discoverframe.html. Website promoting labyrinths as an alternative Christian experience. 25.


4. The Toronto lodge of the AMORC Rosicrucian order is now hosting a labyrinth journey the first Sunday of every other month (September, November, 2005; January, March, 2006). Location: Rosicrucian Regional Cultural Centre, 835 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON.
5. See the Pagan Spirit Gathering 2005 labyrinth ritual at http://www.circlesanctuary.org/psg/rituals. Another example is the Breemie Labyrinth Mid-Summer Festival at http://www.sacredway.co.uk/Breemie%20main/mhaydenlabs.htm.
6. See the first link in footnote 5.
7. Joseph Campbell, Occidental Mythology: The Masks of God (Arkana, 1964/1991), p.20. See also The Dictionary of World Myth (Facts on File, 1995), p.135. Other ancient labyrinth myths and stories exist that are rooted in Egyptian and various other Mesopotamian locations.
8. Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols (Penguin Books, 1969/1996), pp.643-644.
9. Jack Tresidder, Dictionary of Symbols (Chronicle Books, 1997), pp.117-118.
10. The Labyrinth Society, http://www.labyrinthsociety.org.
11. See footnote 5.
12. Kathy Doore, Myth and History of Labyrinths, http://www.labyrinthina.com/path.htm.
13. Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages (Philosophic Research Society, 1989.
14. C.W. Leadbeater, Ancient Mystic Rites (Quest Books, 1986), p.51.
15. Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy, 1923/1951), p.92.
16. Christian Bernard, So Mote It Be! (AMORC, 1995), pp.87-88.
17. Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity (Quest Books, 1901/1966), p.220.
18. Robert Macoy, A Dictionary of Freemasonry (Gramercy), p.215.
19. Historians and occult philosophers who assert this link between the Mystery Religions and today’s esoteric societies include Manly P. Hall, Foster Bailey, Albert Pike, C.W. Leadbeater, Israel Regardie, Papus, A.E. Waite, Eliphas Levi, J.D. Buck, Albert Mackey, H.P. Blavatsky, Henry C. Clausen, George H. Steinmetz, Joseph Fort Newton, and many others.
20. See Look to the East: A Ritual of the First Three Degrees of Masonry. See also Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor and Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma.
21. See Pike’s Morals and Dogma, p.252 and Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Masonry, p.108.
22. See Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn and What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn.
23. Rosicrucian Initiation, Temple Section, Second Portal, AMORC.
24. See Beulah H. Malone, Let There Be Light; See also Robert Macoy, Adoptive Rite Ritual; Ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star, published by the authority of the General Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star.
25. Beulah H. Malone, Let There Be Light, p.97.
26. The Rev. Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion, Christian Uses of Labyrinths, http://jillkhg.com/christuses.html.
27. Geoffrion, Dedication of Deep Haven Labyrinth, http://jillkhg.com/labreded.html.
28. Geoffrion, Prayers from Varying Tradition to use at a Labyrinth, http://jillkhg.com/prayers4labusedifreltrad.html. I give Geoffrion sarcasm credit; she includes a short prayer from the American Secular Tradition – “whatever!”
29. Grace Cathedral, Walking the Labyrinth http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment/forum/for_19981122.shtml
30. Grace Cathedral labyrinth homepage http://www.gracecathedral.org/labyrinth
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid.
33. Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy Publishing, 1923/1951), p.65.
34. Manly P. Hall, The Mystical Christ (Philosophical Research Society, 1951), p.248.
35. Kate McManus, “Walking the Fire Labyrinth,” About, http://healing.about.com/od/labyrinthspiritual/a/firelabyrinth.htm.
36. Paul Clasper, Eastern Paths and the Christian Way (Orbis Books, 1980), p.108.

More weird liturgy? “Our Lady” rite author inspired by Labyrinth walk

http://www.leepenn.org/TCC_Anglican_new_age_neopagan_feminist.doc

By Lee Penn, Commentary Report in The Christian Challenge, June 2006

For those wondering what inspired the Episcopal Church’s newly-elected, female presiding bishop to refer to “Mother Jesus” during the General Convention, the answer might be found on the “Office of Women’s Ministries” (OWM) page on the official national church website.

Indeed, this is not the first time that the OWM has gotten into liturgical mischief.

The phrase used by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori appears in a “Eucharist Using Female Nouns and Pronouns” on the OWM’s section of the Episcopal Church (TEC)-sponsored website. The rite is accompanied by “Morning Prayers to the Lady” – and this does not mean our Lord’s mother. Both services offer worship to “Our Lady” and to the “Holy Mother,” and end with the salutation “Blessed be” – a common statement of farewell among Wiccans.

The author of the services, Sandra Thomas Fox, wrote them in 2001, five years after she had a feminist epiphany during her first walk in a labyrintha spiritual exercise that actually has New Age roots – at the National Cathedral. There, she became sensitized to “the misogyny in the liturgy.”

The webpage that leads to the two feminist liturgies has an all-capitalized disclaimer for each: “NOT AN OFFICIAL LITURGY -FOR USE IN DISCUSSION.” Nevertheless, the pages from which each of the services can be downloaded invite readers to use them as well in “gathering communities of worship.” Therefore, these services can be used anywhere.

26.

The feminist “Eucharist” invokes God thus: “Blessed be the Lady who births, redeems and sanctifies us.”

The threefold Kyrie Eleison becomes this:

(Celebrant): Loving Lady, have mercy;

(People): Mother Jesus, have mercy;

(Celebrant) Loving Lady, have mercy”

– thereby giving Jesus both a sex change and children.

The prayers of the people – addressed to “Mother” – include the request that “every member of the Church may be your handmaiden” – thereby praying that all men in the church get a sex change.

The prayer of confession is addressed to “Most Merciful Lady.”

The Great Thanksgiving begins, “May the Holy Mother be with you,” and continues: “It is truly right, Mother, to give you thanks; for you alone are the I AM, living and true, dwelling in light inaccessible from before time and forever,” and adds: “Blessed is she who comes in the name of Love.”

With the prayer “Mother, you loved the world so much that you sent your only Son to be our Savior. Incarnate by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,” the consecration prayer claims that Jesus has two mommies – and no Father.

Immediately after the consecration of the bread and the wine, the celebrant says, “Mother, we now celebrate this memorial of your redemption.” (A Freudian slip, perhaps?)

Oddly enough, the Lord’s Prayer is unchanged – so this is the only spot in the service which addresses God as “Father.”

The “Mass” ends when the celebrant tells the congregation, “Let us go forth empowered by the Love of our Lady,” and the congregation replies, “Blessed be.”

THE FEMINIST “MORNING PRAYER” service is similar in spirit. After the confession of sin (again addressed to the “Most Merciful Lady”), the celebrant says, “Nurturing Mother, have mercy on us; forgive us all our sins. Through your beautiful Son, Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit sustain our eternal life.”

Before the psalms, the celebrant says, “The mercy of our Lady is everlasting: come let us adore her.” After the Psalm readings, the celebrant sings a new age Gloria Non Patri: “Glory to the Mother, and to her Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.”

In this service, too, the Lord’s Prayer was unmolested – but the celebrant precedes it with “May our Holy Lady be with you…Let us pray the words of her beautiful Son, Jesus Christ.”

The prayers of the people include “Keep your example of Motherhood ever before us; Let us see in all our children a sacred trust from you” – an invocation that seems out of place here, since the Women’s Ministries site lists the pro-abortion Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice among “social justice” groups.

The General Thanksgiving at the end of the service starts, “Most merciful Mother, we your handmaidens give you thanks for your great love for us and for all you have made.” The service ends when the celebrant says, “Let us give thanks to our Lady;” the congregation replies, “Blessed be.”

As earlier noted, this all began with Ms. Fox’s first experience with walking the labyrinth at the 1996 Sacred Circles conference at Washington National Cathedral. That day, “during a guided meditation led by Dr. Sarah Fahy, I had met the wise woman who had told me, ‘Women are beautiful. You are beautiful,'” Fox wrote. “Immediately after I…walked one of the labyrinths set up in the nave. To my surprise, as I entered the path I dissolved into tears. Questions welled up inside of me. Why had no one ever told me I was beautiful? Why did I need to be told that women were beautiful? I sobbed my way into the center, where I sat until I was once again composed. As I began my walk out, the Eucharist was being celebrated at the high altar. I decided I would silently say these comforting, familiar words as I walked … But on this day, to my horror, these words I loved turned to dust and ashes in my mouth. All I could hear was ‘He, Him, Lord, Son, Father’ … I had heard the misogyny in the liturgy, and there was no going back.”

Fox continued, “I realized that I did not see my mother, my two daughters, or myself as made in the image of God. When I looked at the liturgy I discovered there are 195 male nouns and pronouns in Rite I and 145 in Rite II. In both cases, there is one reference to a woman – the Virgin Mary in the Creed. If our liturgy is our story, the telling of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, where are the voices of the women that Jesus loved, respected, and held dear? Where is an understanding of the holiness of being a daughter, wife, or mother? Wondering what it would be like to have a service to the Divine Feminine, I used Rite II, Prayer D [from the 1979 Prayer Book] as a starting point and wrote such a Eucharist in 2001.

“If one feels that reading this service is blasphemous, I can only say that writing it felt even more so. Yet I felt called to continue, for what else would allow us to see the narrowness of our current liturgy?…My hope is that this Eucharist will begin a dialogue about the ways in which language affects the quality of our worship, our feelings towards God, and our sense of being created in God’s image.”

As earlier indicated, this was not the first foray into the bizarre for TEC’s Office of Women’s Ministries. In 2004, there was an outcry over two other offerings on OWM’s section of the official church website: “A Women’s Eucharist: A Celebration of
the Divine Feminine” and a “Liturgy for Divorce.” The Women’s Eucharist made no mention of Christ, or of his Body and Blood, but gave thanks to “Mother God” for things like menstrual blood and breasts.

It emerged that the Women’s Eucharist had been on a Druid website since 1998. What’s more, it had been penned by “Glispa,” who turned out to be part of a husband/wife Episcopal clergy couple who up until a short time earlier had also been involved with and promoting modern-day Druidism, including nude mating rituals and invocation of the “Horned God.” Once exposed, Pennsylvania clergy Glyn Ruppe-Melnyck and her husband, W. William Melnyck, repented of their Druidry; Mr. Melnyk lost his parochial job over the issue but Mrs. Melnyk kept hers.

The two offending services, which were removed from the OWM website in the 2004 controversy, were part of OWM’s “Women’s Liturgy Project” to collect worship resources written by women for women – an initiative that, given the latest from the OWM, is evidently ongoing.

Sources included:

Sandra Thomas Fox, “Reflection on the Holy Eucharist,” Women’s Ministries, http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/41685_60499_ENG_HTM.htm;

Women’s Ministries, “Liturgies Using Feminine Images,” http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/41685_60497_ENG_HTM.htm, a page that links to texts for the two liturgies;

Women’s Ministries, http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/41685_31001_ENG_HTM.htm, a blurb for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

This article is also on the Net at: http://www.challengeonline.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=130 and

http://www.challengeonline.org/pdf/45-3.pdf

The Labyrinth: A walk by faith – Concerns about the Christian use of labyrinths

http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_Labyrinth.html

By Marcia Montenegro*, August 2006 *A Protestant crusader against New Age; see NEW AGE-MARCIA MONTENEGRO
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/NEW_AGE-MARCIA_MONTENEGRO.doc.

First published in Midwest Christian Outreach Journal, Fall, 2006. This online version has been slightly altered for this site.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

A labyrinth is a flat circle or square consisting of a path that winds round to the center. In Greek mythology the Labyrinth was the name for the maze-like enclosure for the half-man, half-bull Minotaur (Jean Chevalier, Alain Gheerbrant, A Dictionary of Symbols; trans. John Buchanan-Brown [Paris: Robert Laffont S. A., Jupiter, 1982; NY: Penguin Putnam, 1996], 642). The history of the labyrinth is murky; there are Christian uses of it as early as 324 AD found in a basilica in North Africa (Jeff Saward, “Labyrinths in Ireland,” http://www.labyrinthos.net/ireland.htm). However, the purpose of these early labyrinths is unclear, and it appears they were chiefly decorative or symbolic. Smaller labyrinth designs have been found carved on rocks or stones, and these are thought to have been symbolic, possibly for luck or protection (Saward, “The First Labyrinths,” http://www.labyrinthos.net/firstlabs.htm; Abegael Saward, “The Rocky Valley Labyrinths,” http://www.labyrinthos.net/rockyvalley.htm). This is why the labyrinths in cathedrals came to be called Solomon’s Maze. To the alchemists, entering and emerging from the maze possibly signified death and resurrection through their secretive magical practices (Chevalier, 643).

The better-known larger labyrinth is the 13th century labyrinth in the Cathedral at Chartres, which originated in the Middle Ages, and served as a substitute for going on pilgrimage to Jerusalem when the Crusades prevented this journey (Chevalier, 642). After the Crusades, the labyrinth remained largely unused until the 1990’s. So where does this recent trend of labyrinths come from, and why are people walking them?

Coming full Circle: The Return of the Labyrinth

Lauren Artress, Canon for Special Ministries at Grace Cathedral*
in San Francisco, is widely credited with initiating the labyrinth movement in the United States in the 1990s. After visiting the 13th-century labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France, she brought the idea back to her church, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and in 1996 founded Veriditas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to introducing people to labyrinths (See www.veriditas.net). *An Episcopal church

In an interview, Artress openly admits influence on her thinking from Neopagan journalist Margot Adler (author of Drawing Down the Moon) and New Ager Jean Houston (she worked with Houston in the latter’s “Mystery School” in 1985). She worked with the Chartres Cathedral in formulating a program, “Let Us Walk With Mary,” designed to aid participants to “open to the Sacred Feminine” (“Interview with Reverend Laura Artress,” http://www.collectivewisdominitiative.org/files_people/Artress_Lauren.htm).

Artress states: “My work is focused on evolving human consciousness through large group spiritual activity . . . The backbone is the integration of psyche and spirit through walking “the path” in one’s own natural rhythm. The winding labyrinth path then becomes a metaphor for the individual journey and the collective’s process” (From “Interview”).

The description on the Grace Cathedral website illustrates the concept of the labyrinth that is promoted today: “The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking a replica of the Chartres labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that is insisting to be reborn” (www.veriditas.net).

Artress also reveals her incorporation of Jungian theories when she says, “The work of symbolic fields has a Jungian base, since I am working with archetypes, symbol, shadow and encounters with collective unconscious. Transpersonal theory and methods of change is also woven into my lectures and the designing of each event” (From “Interview”). She is also the author of Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool.

In the 1990’s, the labyrinth has come to be used as a spiritual and psychological tool, and has been promoted as a way to approach God, to feel close to God, and even to journey into the self. It is used by both Christians and non-Christians alike, especially those into New Age beliefs.

What Are Some of the Concerns Regarding the Labyrinth?

The concerns fall into three categories:

28.

The labyrinth has no biblical prototype or pattern as a way to approach God.

The labyrinth as used today is often advocated as a way to have a spiritual experience with God. However, we are to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5.7), – and not by seeking experiences.

God is not obligated to provide spiritual experiences simply because we initiate or expect them. We are reconciled with God through faith in Christ, and through our daily walk in Bible reading, prayer, and worship, our relationship with Him grows.

Concern One

The labyrinth has no biblical prototype or pattern as a way to approach God.

· The labyrinth is based on man’s design. Since it is marketed principally as a spiritual tool, we should ask, “What is a spiritual tool and is such a thing biblical?” The labyrinth is usually promoted as a way to feel spiritual or become close to God, but the Bible does not teach the use of man-originated tools for such purposes. In the Hebrew scriptures, any physical structure that was used in a spiritual manner, such as the design of the Tabernacle in the wilderness (Exodus 35-40) or the Temple and its fixtures built by Solomon (2 Chronicles 3-7), was based on instructions given directly by God, who gave specific directives on how to build and furnish it. These edifices originated with God, were built to signify His presence among the Israelites, and used to worship and glorify God (Exodus 40: 34-38; 2 Chronicles 7.1-3, 12), not to evoke experiences for man’s satisfaction. Water baptism and communion, both participatory physical events for the Christian, were initiated and commanded by the Lord, not as vehicles to satisfy the participant, but to represent the sacrifice and redemption of Christ.

· The biblical pattern for approaching God in the New Testament is through belief in Christ as the Savior who atoned for sins, and bodily rose the third day. We have access to God through Christ (Ephesians 2: 6-7, 17-18; Hebrews 10:19-22).

· The labyrinth is publicized as a spiritual tool, not just for Christians, but also for anyone who is seeking a spiritual experience, or even just as a tool for self-reflection.

· The labyrinth gives many the misleading impression that one can be close to God without Christ.

Concern Two

The Labyrinth is advocated as a way to be close to God; however, we are to “walk by faith, not by sight,” – and not by seeking experiences.

· We are told, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11.6) and faith is defined as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11.1). “Hoped for” here does not mean wishing for or hoping for something in the sense of only perhaps getting it. Biblical hope is knowing God’s words and promises will be fulfilled. We do not need to “feel close” to God to know He is with us; we are not instructed to walk by sight or feelings, but by faith.

· Seeking to evoke an experience can often bring one on. This may create an appetite for more experiences because people can feel good doing it. Then it induces not only a desire for more experiences, but also a sense that one must experience or feel something in order to believe that one is genuinely in relationship with God.

· Seeking an experience is self-oriented, not God-oriented. Since we can pray and think about God anywhere, walking a labyrinth automatically sets up an expectation that something special should happen. And disappointment results if there is no feeling or experience.

· Experiences and feelings can be deceptive. Even if walking a labyrinth gives a powerful experience, it does not mean it is from God, or that the person actually is closer to God. Experiences and feelings are not the measure of truth. It can lead a non-Christian into believing they have encountered God when they haven’t. In fact, there is nothing about walking a labyrinth that prevents one from having a counterfeit spiritual experience, even for a Christian. Feeling “close” to God is not the way to gauge our relationship with Him. Rather, our relationship with God is reflected in the fruits of that relationship (Galatians 3.22-23) and other behaviors. Not all spiritual experiences are from God. Labyrinths have been used at youth group rallies and retreats, thus possibly leading teens to believe that feelings and experiences indicate contact with God.

· Seeking experiences feeds the sensual self, not the spiritual self. We should take note of the fact that one of the charges against false teachers is their appeal to sensuality (2 Peter 2:18). Since Satan can present things in the guise of spirituality and goodness (2 Corinthians 11:13-15), we need to watch appeals that claim spirituality but cater to bodily or emotional feelings. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel God’s presence, but that should flow from a Christian’s daily walk with the Lord, reading His word, prayer, and worship. It should be initiated by God, not us.

Concern Three

God is not obligated to provide an experience or feeling at our command or demand.

· The labyrinth raises an expectation and assumes that we should have a spiritual experience as a result of walking the labyrinth. Pagan religions use rituals, incantations, and techniques to evoke their gods. Christianity is the opposite: God has reached down to us and given us the means for reaching Him – faith in Jesus Christ. It is God who laid out the pattern for communication and relationship with Him; we do not generate the pattern.

· Our desire for intimacy with God is sufficiently met through faith in Christ and our relationship with Christ is the biblical blueprint for our interaction with God. Intimacy with God grows over time, and is not an instant drive-in take-out experience we obtain through a technique.

The Black Hole

Because of practices invading both the culture and the church that promote experience over doctrine and feeling over faith, Christians might get the idea that they are missing out on something and need “deeper” experiences with God. Although we have a Savior who died for us and we have the scriptures, which are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3.16, 17), it is being suggested or implied that that this is not enough. 29.

Could it be that Christians are not immersing themselves in the study and learning of God’s word, and therefore are trying to fill that void with ways to have spiritual experiences? We should remember the power of God’s word, and that it is our spiritual nourishment. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Successful marketing techniques induce in consumers the yearning for something they may not really need, and then offer a product to fulfill that desire. Similarly, promoting the thought that we must have experiences to feel close to God creates an impatience and dissatisfaction with the challenge of walking by faith, and implies that we are not getting truly deep or intimate experiences with God. But experiences are fleeting; they come and go. They are a black hole that is never filled, leading to repeated attempts trying to fill the hole. Offering the labyrinth as a spiritual tool can create such a black hole, because each experience is never enough – there must always be more.

The labyrinth itself is merely a design. Merely walking a labyrinth is not the issue; the problem lies in attempting to evoke a spiritual experience or believing that walking a labyrinth — or some other method — might bring one closer to God.

Seeking to conjure up experiences can become a substitute for the authentic deep relationship with God that flows from studying His word, and from the day-to-day dependence on Christ through faith, not feeling. Faith does not rely on feelings for the true peace or satisfaction we have in Christ, because true peace is not based on feeling, but rather on knowing the historical Christ who died and bodily resurrected – this is how we know the true peace and the constancy that is Christ Himself.

“…When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18.8

Pervasiveness of New Age among Nuns May Loom As Scandal on Scale Rivaling Abuse Crisis among Male Counterparts

http://www.spiritdaily.com/newagefolo1.htm, http://www.spiritdaily.org/Prophecy-seers/Prophecy-seers/Spiritual-War-Angels/Wise_dont_go/newagefolo.htm
EXTRACT

By Michael H. Brown, November 15, 2006 *A Catholic crusader against New Age; see NEW AGE-MICHAEL H BROWN
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/NEW_AGE-MICHAEL_H_BROWN.doc

The infiltration of New Age practices into convents and retreat houses operated by Catholic nuns appears to have reached the level of an epidemic,
with so many reports that
at times it appears difficult to find one that doesn’t allow such spirituality, at least to some degree. Such may be hyperbole but what is not hyperbole is that esoteric spirituality has spread — in alarming measure — through what is left of female American religious in a way that recalls the startling prevalence of sexual abuse among male religious counterparts. That’s not to say that most religious have gone occult. And it is certainly not to cast aspersions. The majority of nuns are in their seventies or eighties — beyond active involvement in activities such as operating a retreat center. Moreover, those who are linked to these practices often appear to be good, well-meaning women who have simply followed the spirit of our time.

But the question is what that spirit is and the trend — contravening Vatican teaching — is as widespread as it is troublesome. One thing is clear: the call of Vatican Two for women to distinguish themselves spiritually has been answered in virtually every part of North America in a totally unexpected way: establishment of mysterious, Eastern-style meditation.

When we ran an article on this several weeks ago, we were deluged by instances — many dozens — in which Eastern contemplation, labyrinths, reiki, or other exotic non-Catholic methods of spiritual development were present at Catholic retreat centers — almost surely unknown to the Vatican.

The examples seem daunting, and because of their serious nature, we are going to let this report proceed at length.

One example: the Portiuncula Center for Prayer, modeled after St. Francis and run by Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Located less than an hour southwest of downtown Chicago, this Catholic center offers therapeutic massage, reiki, reflexology, holistic facials, and Zen Shiatsu (which taps into the “energy” points around the body).

It
also has a “labyrinth” which it describes as “an ancient circular diagram” consisting of a “single concentric circular path with no possibility of going astray. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives; it touches our sorrows and releases our joys…”
Labyrinths are a meditation, relaxation, and spiritual tool that invite a person to walk towards the center with a problem, prayer, or idea…

Two other remarkably widespread practices
are reiki, which taps into the “energy” around us, and the “enneagram” — a controversial way of categorizing personalities. The energy of reiki
is the “ki” of Eastern religions, which tends too rapidly toward psychic energies and earth spirits. The symbol of the enneagram was promoted by a famed occultist name Gurdjieff and bears certain resemblances to the way personality types are discerned through a zodiac (though in this case the discernment comes by way of “self evaluation”).

At another Franciscan center in Scottsdale, Arizona, is not only the enneagram but “aqua yoga.” Many Catholic convents, retreat houses, and parishes are embracing this technique of meditation and relaxation — often as a mere physical tool but nonetheless in contradiction to a Vatican document on the New Age, “Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life”, that prohibits it…

Dominican sisters in Houston offer tai chi (also involving “ki” energy) along with the labyrinth — using the occult
yin-yang symbol in their literature. Benedictine Sisters of Mount Scholastica in Atchinson, Kansas, meanwhile, have named their retreat area the Sophia Center — after the feminine form of God.

“Sophia is the name often given to the feminine image of God as portrayed in the wisdom books of the Bible,” said a nun there, Sister Linda Herndon, in response to a query from us.

30.

In Cleveland, a former mother house at a Catholic high school has been converted into a retreat center called “River’s Edge,” offering yoga, qigong, reiki, and other esoteric “wellness” programs (while ironically, across the way, is the monastery of the Poor Clares — a shining light in the darkness).

“My brother’s dear wife is in the last stages of ovarian cancer and near death,” writes Ruth Stamps of Blue Ridge, Georgia. “She is not Catholic, but a devout Evangelical Christian. At one point, she considered going to River’s Edge for their cancer support group, but found this place’s agenda too weird and New Age! The Cleveland area seems to be eaten up with this stuff, but it does not apparently reflect on the Cleveland Diocese itself.” Enter the center.

“I left a job as a fifth grade teacher at a parochial school after three years because I could no longer tolerate or ignore the watering-down of the faith,” wrote another woman named Coreen Herrick. “My most recent experience with New Age happened this summer at the St. Edmund’s retreat center near Mystic, Connecticut. The ‘nun’ invited retreat members to join her after dinner in the ‘touching of hands’ massage. Of course, it was cloaked in therapeutic terms. But I knew better. This same nun also (even though this was a silent retreat) engaged us in a ‘pagan’ spirit ‘blessing’
before the meal.”

There are sisters who are reiki “masters.” You can find them in the Midwest. Or in Kentucky. There are monks. “Encountering Divine Goodness in Earth and Cosmos: New Ways of Being in the World,” says an advertisement for a retreat at Loyola House in Guelph, Ontario.

In Ringwood, New Jersey — where it is once more Franciscan nuns — the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is a lonely place (with Host exposed), but presumably not so the lessons in reiki in the same complex.  In many cases, questionable spiritual practices are part of the solemnity of Lent.

Nor is it confined to North America.
“Another sad example comes from the UK,” notes a viewer named Ken Simpson. “At the shrine of St Jude, Faversham, Kent, the Carmelite priest in his sermon asked people to put feet flat on ground, ‘to feel the earth,’ lay hands open, ‘not to hold on to anything, then to breathe out the badness from inside, and then to breathe in God’s goodness.’

Is that really bad? How far do we go with this? Can we overstate the case? Might not some of it be okay — just oddly expressed? In some cases, perhaps. But in others, the psychic is clearly predominant.

There is dream exploration. There is guided imagery. There are non-Christian healing rituals. Once again — time and again — there are the enneagram and labyrinth. Or Yoga.

The concern: yoga is from Eastern pagan religions and like reiki can tend toward a deeper involvement in mysterious energies. In some cases, “mantras” (a word used over and over) are employed and such mantras can be the name of Hindu or other “gods.” The Beatles brought a focus on yoga when they studied it with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960s. Before that, it was popularized by deep occultists known as Theosophists.

In some cases, centers that hold seminars in
reiki and enneagram are receiving funds through diocesan appeals
… [A large number of examples of Catholic New Age centers in convents, retreat houses, parishes, are given]

Ask those at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota, or the Holy Spirit Center in Encino, California.

“Out of all of the New Age stuff, the labyrinth is the most pervasive,” notes another viewer. “It seems to pop up everywhere — we were at St. Anne’s shrine in Sturbridge [Massachusetts] looking around — thought the place very beautiful and appeared holy — until we noticed the new meditation labyrinth had been created on the grounds. I think people read about these fads and are duped and they get no direction from priests and pastors.”

In Santa Fe, a practicing shaman is involved in church fund-raising.

In Brooklyn, New York, according to another correspondent, a parish called St. Ephrem has advertised reiki in its weekly newsletter and “because of this I encouraged my wife to stop attending and to go to another Catholic church. I’m not sure if they still offer this,” says a resident named Gerard Mastrapasqua. The cases go far beyond even those we reported previously*. *Not accessible

No doubt, good people get wrapped up in this. Also no doubt: we should be careful not to condemn. When we are on the other side of the veil, there will be surprises. But we are called to obedience
and especially to stay away from anything that leads to strange, universal “spirits” or that see God as a cosmic energy.

Examples? The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet have status at the U.N. Check them out.  Daring to try new symbols? There is the Sisters of St. Martha of Prince Edward Island. A labyrinth can be found at another beautiful retreat center (in Malibu, alongside grottos devoted to the Blessed Mother). If you’re in Wisconsin and want the enneagram, this is your spot. One group of Dominican nuns in Grand Rapids calls itself “Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares.”

Maya Abdominal massage or a drum-making workshops or Chinese Essence Qi Gong or “Feng Shui for the Soul”? Go to the Sisters of Mercy in New Jersey.

Beginners in yoga can find Catholic resources in Arlington, Virginia. (“The priests and nuns there seem like good folks, but the labyrinth seems like a bad idea,” notes a viewer). Integrated energy healing, reiki, angel healing? Go here.

“In every woman there is a queen, speak to the queen and she will answer!” says another Catholic group (“Called a Circle of Wisdom “). This is what we really think it is.

Holistic Health?
Go here; you can “develop your spiritual muscles” and learn yoga by visiting these nuns.Celebrate the arrival of winter and our turning toward the light during this season of peace, love and joy. Bring bells, drums, rattles to join in the songs and holiday),” they say; massages and labyrinth
here; for Danville, Pennsylvania, you can get a labyrinth retreat
here; an especially beautiful labyrinth is available at Marie de la Roche Province in Allison Park, Pennsylvania. Reflexology? Our Lady of Grace Retreat Center on Long Island has what you want; get in the “Zen Spirit/Christian Spirit” here; head to Northport for reiki. And so on. While we have to rely on field reports — and thus can’t verify each one — those we were able to check out have proven to have what was reported. 31.

These are confusing times and while the Vatican document seemed aimed at society at large [a “pastoral” document to warn the faithful, it said], the New Age, it now is clear, had already infiltrated deeply into the Church itself — to a degree much beyond that raised as a concern in the early Nineties. Such is the perplexity of our times that a Cardinal has said he was fascinated by a Hindu experience*. *http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=22099

We are certainly to be open
and ecumenical — full of love, at every turn, finding common ground — at the same time that we must guard against paganism.

“In St. Peter Hospital in Albany New York, they have a pamphlet for yoga and other connected exercises, with the picture of the Hindu elephant god Ganesh [in an] advertisement on the first page, in the lobby of the hospital,” a medical doctor informs us. It is one of many Christian hospitals with a New Age slant.

In Austin, Texas, the Seton Family of Hospitals run by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul has a center called  “Seton Cove” that like so many others offers touch massage, a labyrinth walk, and “chair massage”
— a seeming far cry from the prim conservative nature of St. Elizabeth Seton, its patron. It doesn’t even help if a hospital is named St. Mary’s.

Some of the links to the occult
are direct and startling. Noted a writer from the Winnipeg, Canada, of a meeting that was focused on writing for the parish bulletin: “Somehow the conversation turned to ecumenism, and the stewardship coordinator mentioned an article in our local newspaper about ‘the study of
Wicca and how it is “parallel” to Catholicism.’ Of course I immediately disagreed, but she proceeded to defend the study as being ‘in tune with mother earth.’ I just sat there with my mouth open! Our priest said nothing!”

Wicca is the formal name for witchcraft. “Each year I have purchased a planning calendar from the Sisters of St. Joseph of LaGrange — Ministry of the Arts. Some major feast days and saints’ days are noted,” writes Barbara Garfield of Ryegate, Montana. “However, as I paid closer attention to the entries this year, I see there are Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and other feasts listed. That did not bother me as I have tried to become familiar with other religions and their practices. What does bother me are the entries for Samhain (Wicca) for October 31 and Samhain (Celtic) for November 1 (as well as All Saints).”

In Seaford, New York, writes another worried viewer, was a visiting woman evangelist who “would come out in a costume that looked just like a priest and pretty much ran the whole retreat while he sat on the side.

“Each night they did a ritual. The first night we all lit candles. We were told to bathe ourselves in the light. No mention of Jesus being the Light. Then they had us march around until we ended up in a big circle around the perimeter of the Church. It looked like a witches’ coven.”

Circling it like Joshua circled Jericho — or something else?

Meanwhile, St. John’s University in New York offers its downtown campus for advanced reiki courses. The list seems endless.

The Daughters of Wisdom, sponsors of Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center in Litchfield, Connecticut, originated in Poitiers, France in 1703. Founded by Saint Louis de Montfort and Blessed Marie Louise Trichet, the aim of the congregation is to seek Divine Wisdom.

Now such wisdom — at a retreat center that has turned into an interfaith one — includes the labyrinth.

We are sorry to prolong this. But the extent of such practices is almost certainly unknown by the Vatican.

“I am beginning to become so disenchanted with my parish, St. Matthias in Somerset, New Jersey, that I have chosen so far to split my Sunday giving between my parish and another church 45 minutes away in Newark,” noted one more distressed website viewer. “I have always had concerns about the permanent reiki
section in the Sunday bulletin, but when I also saw that brochures were also prominently displayed at the exits right next to those for ‘spiritual direction’ (both ministries provided by the ‘reiki master’), I felt really sick. Last year I worked up the nerve to ask a deacon, who directed me to the Pastor. I went to him and he told me it was completely harmless: ‘Trust me, I’ve had reiki
therapy and I would tell you if it were harmful.’ He told me not to pay attention to those ‘conservatives.'”

And indeed, we do not want to go overboard with this. Our greatest calling is love for one another in circumstances that are often strenuous. But the occult can have long-term ramifications.

Tai chi is offered at St. Joseph Dwelling Place in Ludlow, Vermont — tapping once again into that ‘chi’ or Ki. Is that always bad, especially when associated with martial arts? It is a question. In Ontario, the same. “I also went to a Capuchin Retreat House in Mt. Washington Michigan. They have since started ‘massage therapy’ and who knows what else,” writes another viewer.

The Daughters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland, reportedly have a labyrinth on their property. “I just read the article today on the new age and Catholic retreat houses. I have discovered such practices in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Visitation Spirituality Center here in Monroe, Michigan,” reported yet one more viewer.

“I wrote to you a little over a year age on a group of these nuns in Baltimore,” reported another, part of the mail barrage we received. “I ran a retreat house, and one of the groups turned out to practice Zen Buddhism, after telling me they weren’t Buddhist. They had a statue of Buddha, incense, gong, candles, flowers. This is idolatry.”

Does this not matter to the bishops?

Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church in Alexandria, Louisiana; what is going on there?

“How glad I am to see a place to report rampant New Age practices in Catholic retreat centers,” writes yet one more viewer. “Here are a couple of places I wish to report. The first is the Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau, Louisiana.  Click on the link,
http://www.home.centurytel.net/spiritualitycenter/html/2006.html scroll down, and you will find retreats on the labyrinth, Zen, Christian yoga (whatever that is!), Meyers/Briggs personality inventory,
reiki, and special retreat for gays and lesbians
.”

32.

“My mother was New Age almost before the New Age got here, and ended up worshiping Satan,” notes a viewer, who like many preferred anonymity. “My twin sister is New Age (deeply) and seemingly can’t be talked or prayed out of it… My sister is a medium and channels spirits who sound so wise, profound, and compassionate that their writings fooled an abbot of a monastery into approval. (Her vocabulary, when she is channeling, is far above her own vocabulary.) I know that lately I’ve been hearing hints from her that she likes the idea of ‘androgyne,’ a combining of male and female in one person to make them ‘complete.’ To me that commits an error so severe that the person has crossed over into Satanism.”

“It seems to me that the devil made huge inroads into Catholicism by distorting the Vatican II teaching that Catholics should respect whatever of truth lies in other religions,” frets an e-mailer named Trudi Lawrence. “Monks, nuns, and probably priests mistakenly and unguardedly went looking for truths there that they thought Catholicism didn’t have.”

Maybe all they had to do was look deeper.

Labyrinth

http://charismatic-heresy.blogspot.in/2006/11/labyrinth_15.html
[This is from a Protestant anti-charismatic source]

November 19, 2006


As a floor design, the labyrinth is just a pattern; like dots, checks, stripes or paisley

In medieval Europe, labyrinths were used as substitutes for the real pilgrimage to the Holy Land and authentic Christian prayers and devotions were part of the imitation “journey to Jerusalem”. Labyrinths are not inherently bad, except for the fact they generally go with new age practices. Then again previous centuries had their own fads, some of which were not the best, so the existence of labyrinths in the past is not a sign they are actually useful to grow in holiness. Certainly no saint comes to mind advocating the labyrinth.

 

The current “revival” of the labyrinth is a “spiritual device” and NOT grounded in Christian piety at all. Labyrinths for spiritual “exercises” are alien to Catholic teaching and Catholic spirituality. But that is exactly what the good Mercy Sisters advocate at Our Lady of the Pines retreat center. “FIRST: Your journey from the edge of the labyrinth until you reach the center is shedding, a releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. SECOND: Illumination is when you reach the center. Stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive. [What that might be?] THIRD: As you leave, following the same path out of the center you came in upon, you enter the third stage – Union – which is joining God.” Oh, is that all it takes? What we have here is yet another feminist-inspired occult ritual.

The building and dedication of labyrinths continues. I feel the beginnings of a tanic possession, a kind of Pranic dissonance, an imbalance between Yang & Yin. I think I will have to have that spell of Tea Ch’i before I see to some ritual honoring. Then I can emanate some profound philosophical truth, the luminaries are still waiting for the God in me. I must do something about that Feng Shui; quick, I have to hold onto a crystal or something! 😉

New Age Makes Huge Inroad into Retreat Centers Operated by Catholic Nuns

www.spiritdaily.com/newageinfiltration.htm, http://www.spiritdaily.net/newageinfiltration.htm

By Michael H. Brown, November 30, 2006

[Resources: Prayer of the Warrior. See too, Vatican Document: “Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life“]

Towards the end of John Paul II’s pontificate, the Vatican issued a document about the New Age that was reviewed, one can assume, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, even though his congregation was not redactor of the actual paper, which could be described as both a report and an instruction.
It would do well for the U.S. bishops to revisit that document (“Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life“) and make certain that parishes, convents, seminaries, and retreat houses across North America understand and more importantly heed Rome’s definition of what is meant by the “new age” — a refined form of occultism that looks upon God as more an energy and impersonal, psychic force in classic pagan perspective and is expressly prohibited by Rome. For despite that prohibition, which was clearly stated in the 2003 instruction, many are those who report New Age or Eastern-style practices that have been allowed and even promoted in church halls, convents, during seminars, and occasionally from the pulpit. It’s an insidious infiltration that thus far has not received nearly the attention it warrants [see bottom] — putting, as it does, those who are exposed to it into potential touch with the dark side, which comes as an angel of light.
I invite you to send such cases here, if they are occurring in your parish. In just the past week, we have linked to articles about nuns in northeast Philadelphia who instruct in massage, energy, kinesiology, and “therapeutic touch” (which some say is akin to psychic healing). At any rate, they are described as “nuns” at the Center for Human Integration. They also use “reiki,” an ancient form of therapeutic touch that taps into occult “ki” or “ch’i” forces.

“There is a remarkable variety of approaches for promoting holistic health, some derived from ancient cultural traditions, whether religious or esoteric,” says the Vatican document. “Advertising connected with the New Age covers a wide range of practices as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, kinesiology, homeopathy, iridology, massage, and various kinds of ‘bodywork’ (such as orgonomy, Feldenkrais, reflexology, rolfing, polarity massage, therapeutic touch, etc), meditation, and visualization… The source of healing is said to be within ourselves, something we reach when we are in touch with our inner or cosmic energy.”
There it is in black and white — the Vatican definition of New Age — and yet confusion (a mark of the enemy) reigns. There are nuns into drumming circle prayer. There are sisters who are reiki masters. On church grounds, there are haunted mazes*. *labyrinths

I don’t pretend to know definitively all that is wrong or right but I know we are to follow the Vatican and that evil masquerades itself.

34.

What are Catholics doing involved in something that is expressly cited in negative fashion in Vatican documents?
“This weekend will provide for a deepening of the experiences of meditation, prayer, journaling, yoga and reiki. There will be ample time for practicing techniques, quiet reflection and sharing. Donation: $75 (includes $25 non-refundable deposit). St. Joseph Center, Mount Saint Joseph, Wheeling,” says an announcement from West Virginia.


Above are illustrations from the West Virginia Institute for Spirituality
(for further info, it says, “e-mail Sr. Carole Riley, Ph.D.”). “Prepare the Way of the Lord — Saturday, December 9 (10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.),” says another ad. “Participants will discover ways of praying with their bodies using creative movement as the sacred scriptures are explored in the season of Advent. (Wear comfortable clothing). Presenter:  Sr. Molly Maloney, OSF, M.A., LMT. Offering: $35 (lunch included)”
What’s going on in West Virginia? What’s going on in dozens of other dioceses? Should “St. Joseph” really be uttered in the same breath as Buddha, or “tai chi”?
There are Catholic centers that offer an “ancient, sacred tradition” called the “labyrinth” (seven cycles and seven turns representing the seven stages of life). Some argue that it is okay and that there is even a labyrinth at a French cathedral at Chartres. There is the enneagram, which claims to determine types of personalities.

In Pennsylvania are the “Sisters of the Humility of Mary” who offer yoga and even holistic health care for animals.
I’m not competent to judge the esoteric nature of all such practices (no one is against feeding a dog well), but again it seems to contravene the Vatican. “The important thing to note,” said the document, “is that God is reduced in certain New Age practices so as furthering the advancement of the individual.”
“New Age appeals to people imbued with the values of modern culture. Freedom, authenticity, self-reliance, and the like are all held to be sacred.” The Vatican definition has been ignored, and it appears to be nothing less than a full-blown crisis — with the question of how Catholics can so openly ignore authority.

“From this place we respond to the needs of families, youth, the elderly, homeless, prisoners, and immigrants in sites that include Ohio, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, Michigan, Nebraska, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia,” says the website in West Virginia. “Internationally, we serve in Haiti and have served in Africa, Bangladesh, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, and Vietnam.”
Reiki, drumming circles, medicine dolls: it involves nuns across the Western Hemisphere. Canada. The U.S.
Writes one concerned reader, It didn’t take me long, but I found convent after convent, parish after parish, Catholic retreat center after retreat center, engaged in reiki and more. Is the Vatican aware? Aware that so many Roman Catholics are… Pagan Catholics?” Strikes me as a good question.

From religious to laity, Problems occur when the devil ‘bedims’ our perceptions

http://www.spiritdaily.net/bedim.htm

By Michael H. Brown, undated

We see that there’s an e-mail being circulated by a nun, Sandra M. Schneiders, at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, in which the influential sister  describes an announced apostolic visitation by the Vatican (of convents and other female religious institutions in the U.S.) as “intimidating,” “aggressive,” and “dishonest” — implying that investigators sent by Rome should be handled cordially but with “non-violent resistance.” She is concerned that they are looking for trouble. And who could blame Rome? The ranks of female religious has dwindled radically and the Vatican seeks to know why.

What Sister Schneiders fears is obvious: for decades now, too many nuns have strayed far from mainstream Catholicism, shedding their habits and embracing not just liberal politics but also the New Age.

We have reported time and again how convents and retreat centers are filled to overflowing with reiki practices, Eastern mantras, hypnotism, therapeutic massage, Hindu gods, the labyrinth, and enneagram. One example: a couple of years ago a conference of nuns in Louisville, Kentucky, was called “Earth Spirit Rising” and featured a famous witch from California named “Starhawk.” It was supported by female religious centers from around the region.

This recalls a passage from a message at the Church-approved apparition of LaSalette, France in which the Blessed Mother fretted (allegedly, in a part of the message that was controversial) that “many convents are no longer houses of God but the grazing grounds of Asmodeas [an occult spirit] and his like.”

Reflect on that. It was in 1846. Perhaps more to the point was another line from the prophecy (given to a girl named Melanie) stating that “the chiefs, the leaders of the people of God, have neglected prayer and penance, and the devil has bedimmed their intelligence.

35.

When evil comes, it comes as a cloud, a fog, it comes as a darkness. Haven’t you ever had times when you simply couldn’t keep something in your memory — that you seemed tripped up every time you tried to think of something? Does it not afflict us — clergy and laity alike?

Bedimmed. It means tunnel vision. It means a narrow mind. It blinds us to evil — to the influence of things like the New Age. All of us are susceptible.

We are bedimmed by lust. We’re bedimmed by greed. We are bedimmed by prejudice. We’re bedimmed by hate. We are bedimmed by pride — which all but totally blocks out the sunlight. We are bedimmed by not forgiving.

How many realize than two-thirds of the Gospel has something to do with forgiveness?

Take all the unforgiveness out of your heart this Lent and turn it to ashes.

Analyze your blind spots in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why those blind spots exist. Pray for the blind spots in our religious and clergy. Blind spots. Myopia. We certainly have enough words for it. We can be bedimmed through music, through entertainment — anything that preoccupies the mind (removing it from the spiritual) or introducing the actual power of darkness (as so much music, especially the rap and heavy-metal variety, do).

We also are bedimmed when we are “neutral” — when we stand for nothing. We are bedimmed when we are overly intellectual.

A remedy is taming the flesh. This Lent, pray for religious and focus on your own vision, on your bad habits. Focus on the ways your body directs you (as opposed to your directing your body). Pray for our priests and nuns, who like us have blind spots and who like us often find themselves off course — bedimmed, afraid of the truth of the light.

Take those bad habits and burn them — turn them into ash, as there are also ashes at the beginning of Lent.

As for our nuns: “unbedim” yourselves,” dear sisters, and return to the other kind of “habits” — the solemn, prayerful clothing that opens us to the spirit — the right Spirit — and was improperly disposed after Vatican II, which never intended for that.

Catholics and the New Age -A Closer Look at the Vatican Document: Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life – A Christian Reflection on the “New Age”

http://www.speroforum.com/a/7236/Catholics-and-the-New-Age

http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?id=7236

http://www.thedefender.org/A%20Christian%20Reflection%20on%20the%20New%20Age.html

http://www.catholicmediacoalition.org/catholics_new_age.htm

By Susan Beckworth
December 29, 2006 EXTRACT

Susan Beckworth is a Catholic New Age expert. She writes about the involvement of Catholic hierarchs in the New Age movement at the Defender website.

See
NEW AGE-SUSAN BECKWORTH
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/NEW_AGE-SUSAN_BECKWORTH.doc

As a traditional Catholic, an important question I have often asked myself is why do some Catholics turn away from their faith and turn to New Age spirituality?

I have concluded that the answer can be found in one word — PRIDE. The pride comes from the desire to be like God; the same temptation that took place with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The temptation that says: “You are equal to God. You are the Creator.” These are some of the promises of the New Age Movement. […]

The Centering Prayer Movement has become popular through Retreat centers, RCIA programs and even some Seminaries. The Vatican document has linked centering prayer as New Age. It states Christian prayer is not an exercise in self contemplation, stillness and self emptying, but a dialogue of love, one which implies a flight from self to God. A Christian’s method of getting closer to God is not based on any technique (JCBWL 2.2.3, 3.4).

Also found in retreat centers is the worship of Mother Earth and nature called “Wicca”. The document warns against this popular technique found among many feminist enclaves (JCBWL 7.2).

Some retreat centers offer Thomas Merton workshops. The Bearer names Thomas Merton and Carl Jung
as writers who had the most influence on New Agers. (JCBWL 9.2 notes)

Some New Age practices are also introduced through some parish programs which might direct one to a Labyrinth to pray to the “goddess within”, or to an Enneagram workshop which Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life identifies as stemming from Gnosticism (JCBWL1.4).

Some may argue that the use of a labyrinth is a good thing because it has been around for centuries. While it’s true that the labyrinth dates back to earlier years, I have never found any indication it was ever used for anything other than a decorative object. Today, the labyrinth is always used as a New Age tool. People who use it are not interested in salvation through Jesus Christ, but rather to continue living on earth through reincarnation. Reincarnation, as stated in the document, is New Age. (JCBWL 7.2) […]

Click the link below to read the full text: Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life – A Christian Reflection on the New Age.
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20030203_new-age_en.html

Christian yoga: Innocent activity or dancing with the devil?

http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/22748.html#
EXTRACT

By Tracy Gano, February 12, 2007

Churches are flirting with mysticism through contemplative prayer, walking the labyrinth, and various other techniques that are being promoted to reach God. All of these activities have their origin in a false religion.
We see churches today resorting to the world’s ways to draw people into their churches. When confronted about much of the unbiblical teaching, they resort to “the numbers speak for themselves” excuse. If numbers are an indicator of truth then Hitler would have fit right into the modern day seeker sensitive churches. We would have to say that Islam is a religion to be emulated because their numbers of converts are to numerous to count. We know though that the above examples are as far from Biblical truth as one can get, yet so many today are throwing out sound doctrine to have their itching ears tickled, and their worldly appetites fed. At what cost though?

Who cares what God says, I gotta be me! http://www.opinioneditorials.com/freedomwriters/mwest_20070505.html, http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/mwest/070504
EXTRACT

By Marsha West, May 4/5, 2007

See
NEW AGE-MARSHA WEST
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/NEW_AGE-MARSHA_WEST.doc

First published in 2006, Going Against God “Just for Fun”; this version has been modified with additional information

Many professed Christians are ignoring God’s directive to “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). Hating evil means you’ve got to deal with it! When the Apostle Paul came face to face with a Jewish sorcerer by the name of Elymas, he called him a “child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right.” Paul accused him of perverting the right ways of the Lord. (Acts 13: 10) Through the Holy Spirit, Paul caused Elymas to go blind! He not only put out the sorcerers eyes, he put him out of a job as well. When it came to confronting evil, Paul never backed down, never hesitated, wavered or vacillated. When going after evildoers, Paul had all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

Essentially mysticism is all about the quest for “hidden wisdom” or “deeper truth.” And of course deeper truths can only be uncovered by the “knowers.”
Far too many Christians are unaware that the Lord quite literally detests all forms of occultism. There are no exceptions. Even astrology is banned for believers. Doesn’t matter if it’s “just for fun.” One cannot be a Baptist on Sunday and a Spiritist the rest of the week.
Which brings me to two blogs I recently stumbled on. Both bloggers say they’re Christians. They also share their Zodiac signs with visitors to their site. One studies Christian apologetics; the other is a youth pastor. Gullible young people visit this pastor’s site and learn that he’s a Gemini. Fortunately he doesn’t include discernment as one of his “spiritual gifts.” If these men have read Leviticus 19:26, Deuteronomy 18:9-12, Exodus 22:18 and other such passages, they don’t take what God says seriously. Apparently they do take the time to read their astrological forecast.
When confronted with an evil practice, believers, especially Church leaders, have got to lace up their trusty running shoes and high tail it out of there, pronto! Flee from horoscopes (astrology), numerology, séances, tarot cards, tealeaves, palm reading, crystal balls, talking boards, omens or signs; do not get involved in wizardry, witchcraft, the study of Kabbalah, nature religion (Wicca), the practice of yoga (its purpose is purely spiritual), Transcendental Meditation, labyrinths — basically, stay away from pagan customs and practices. If you are currently involved in any of these things, you must bring it to an end today! Dabbling in sorcery is sin, so repenting of it is of paramount importance. And never return to it, even if it’s “just for fun.”
Bear in mind that the demonic powers operating in the realm of the occult are very real. These spirits are stronger and more dangerous than people seem to realize.

The following article, written by a religious sister, shows the labyrinth employed at a Catholic retreat centre in association with other New Age techniques. It is a pro-New Age write-up.

Spiritual Perspectives: Healing of Mind, Body and Spirit

http://www.gallupindependent.com/2007/august/081107sp_hlngmbs.html

By Sister Mary Matthias Ward, August 2007

Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, Special to The Independent,
lizreligion01@yahoo.com
.

For this time I choose to write on Healing of Mind, Body, and Spirit. I choose to do it because in our society, among both Protestants and Catholics, there are such misunderstandings. I choose to write this article because as I write this, we, the people of the Diocese of Gallup, need healing.  With the accident of Bishop Donald Pelotte, SSS, we are in crisis and we need an inner healing. Bishop Pelotte needs both a physical and an inner healing.

When there are areas of the unknown, we readily jump to labeling things as “New Age” as “being of Satan” and criticizing without asking for an explanation. Here at Sacred Heart Retreat Center in Gallup, we have a Reiki Retreat. We have a labyrinth, yoga, and Centering Prayer.

All of these from time to time have been labeled as “New Age,” and we have received our share of criticism.

Our center’s mission statement declares that we strive for wholeness and holiness. Is there anyone among us that doesn’t need an inner healing? How many of us pray daily for the healing of others as well as ourselves?

It does seem that attitude toward health, spirituality, our way of life and our place in society has changed dramatically.  People search for answers to daily problems. During these times of chaos, we humans suffer from physical and psychological stress. The environment struggles for survival as well. We have no power to control these developments, but we can face them. We need to own our healing gifts (God’s power within us) and look at what blocks God’s power and what diverts God’s power. As we walk our journey carrying our crosses, we can experience God and find inner healing.

For myself, I’m able to find an inner peace by walking among nature, by walking the grounds of Sacred Heart Retreat Center, and from seeing and appreciating God’s artwork from every direction. I am able to balance my life by taking the time to communicate with my God, in prayer, in meditation, in spiritual reading, and in contemplative living.

As unique as each of us is, so is our finding inner healing. On Wednesday evenings we offer Centering Prayer. For some this contemplative prayer is what they need to sustain them. For others there is a Thursday night prayer group that finds praying together, reflecting together, sharing faith together is what is needed to sustain them.

St. Paul says that healing is one of the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12: 28). Jesus says: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father” (John 14:12). So, why do we fear healing? Why do we fear the laying on of hands?

Here at the retreat center on the last weekend of August, we will offer a retreat entitled “Journeying with our Angels through Reiki.” This retreat will highlight how our angel guides us on our journey to healing, balance, and harmony. What an experience of inner healing!

Reiki provides a marvelous way to make use of God’s power. The Reiki Master will call upon God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and the angels… especially Michael, Raphael and Gabriel – to work through the person and to heal the person.

Yes, I know I’ve been accused of bringing Satan into the Diocese of Gallup.  Satan tempts people to do evil. Satan does not heal. Reiki is not a religion. Reiki is not a cult. Reiki can be a religious experience which brings one closer to God. Reiki is in alignment with the teachings of the Bible. I dare to say, not all of us will be attracted to Reiki. That is all right. But, let us not “down” persons who are attracted to the process of healing. We don’t all communicate the same way with our God.  But, hopefully, we all do communicate with God.

During this chaotic time in our diocese, within our world, let’s try to be open to how each person chooses to communicate with their God, how each person seeks to sustain inner healing, an inner peace. St. Paul says “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Romans 12:2). I pray this for myself and for each of you as you may read this.

Sister Mary Matthias Ward, Ursuline Sister of Maple Mount, KY, is the director of Sacred Retreat Center in Gallup. She can be contacted by mailing her at P.O. Box 1338, Gallup, N.M. 87305 or calling her at (505) 722-6755 or (505) 870-5679.

This column is written by area residents, representing different faith communities, who share their ideas about bringing a spiritual perspective into our daily lives and community issues.

DISCUSSION ON THE LABYRINTH IN THE MOTHEROFGOD2 LIST

From:
padrepio2002@charter.net
To:
MotherofGod2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:MotherofGod2%40yahoogroups.com>

Cc:
dbirch41@msn.com
Sent: Saturday, September 22, 2007 3:26 PM Subject: [YahooMOG2] a question….

Dear Desmond and Deacon Wally,

Hi, I am at Olive’s home and we have been attending the noon Mass at the Oratory, “Center for Spirituality”, which is the home of about ten priests who are in the Order that was started by St. Philip Neri. It is in Rock Hill, South Carolina. On the grounds of the Oratory is a huge labyrinth. Olive wants to show it to me, and I keep declining because I really do not feel comfortable with it.

She just asked me what I have against it, and I told her that I would need to write the MOG2 list for an objective answer. I told her that I avoid the labyrinth, not because of subjective feelings, but because I believe there is an objective reason to avoid it. Sigh, of course I cannot tell her what the objective reason is. My conscience sends out warning bells, but I don’t have the knowledge to explain it. I am sure that Kathleen Obara would know.

I sure would appreciate knowing why we ought to be avoiding the circular labyrinth walk so I can give the objective answer that I know people have a right to ask. Thanks so much. Joan H.

From: Kathleen Obara kobara1@telus.net
To: MotherofGod2@yahoogroups.com

Sent: Monday, September 24, 2007 9:51 AM Subject: Re: [YahooMOG2] a question….

As with so many things that are being done/taught in prayer houses in North America, walking the labyrinth is nothing new ~ just another resurrection of an occult practice that more often than not, ‘innocent’ people are told is a means to receiving spiritual enlightenment.

Their original use for Catholics ~ as the labyrinth in Chartres ~ was meant as a form of pilgrimage for those who could not go to the Holy Land, and so were used as a substitute. That is not the case today with those who walk the ‘sacred walk of the labyrinth’ as a means of spiritual meditation. The two have very little to do with each other in their practice.

Walking the labyrinth is not a Christian practice, but rather just another means of opening oneself up to darkness, all the while believing that one is going to receive ‘secret knowledge and wisdom’. People today are very much seduced by the thought that they will have a ‘spiritual experience’ ~ which is extremely dangerous considering all the methods being offered and the desire of a person to go looking for a spiritual experience. It is precisely this desire that has led many astray, as the devil will gladly give someone a ‘spiritual experience’ when they go looking for one ~ only it will not be the Holy Spirit that they will be encountering. Unlike those who walked the labyrinth of Chartres, people today are looking for a ‘spiritual experience’ through the means of the labyrinth.

Check out Dr. Jean Houston and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. She is a new-ager extraordinaire ~ and the labyrinth is the symbol for Ms. Houston’s ‘Mystery School’.

I know how hard it is when a situation arises such as yours with your friend….but please do not let your fear of hurting her feelings keep you from speaking the truth in love to her. She needs to know ‘why’ you will not walk the labyrinth. The Holy Spirit was indeed stopping you ~ and even if your friend should feel offended in any way, that is the price we all must pay to avoid the pitfalls of the New Age movement. I know you will do the right thing ~ and you will do it with love.

From: Dez Birch dbirch41@msn.com
To:
MotherofGod2@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Mon, 24 Sep 2007

Dear Kathleen,

That has been my experience also. I haven’t been everywhere they have labyrinths. But everywhere so far that I’ve seen that they have them in allegedly Catholic venues – they are associated with Reiki and other popular New Age practices.

THE LABYRINTH, PAGAN SPIRITUALITY

http://br.dir.groups.yahoo.com/group/fundamentalismo_biblico/message/2119

Updated December 27, 2007 (first published September 27, 2004) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143. [A Protestant source –Michael]
On October 13, 2007, Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisburg, Virginia, dedicated its new labyrinth. It was the fulfillment of a 15-year dream by Wendy Miller, professor of spiritual formation (“Following the Path of Prayer,” Mennonite Weekly Review, Oct. 24, 2007).
This is only the latest example of how the Pagan-Catholic labyrinth is gaining in popularity among evangelicals.
The June 1, 2004, issue of The Mennonite featured an article on labyrinths. Marlene Kropf, who teaches at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, promotes labyrinths. Bethany Mennonite Church, Bridgewater Corners, Vermont, has a labyrinth in its lawn. The church’s female pastor uses it as a “personal prayer discipline.” Michele Hershberger, chair of the Bible department at Hesston College uses labyrinths.
Simpson University in Redding, California, has a labyrinth. This school is associated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Even some Southern Baptist churches are building labyrinths. The Weatherly Heights Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama, built a permanent labyrinth of stones on its grounds in 2004.
The labyrinth is a circular pattern with a path that winds its way to the center and which is used as a tool for prayer and meditation. Used by pagan religions for thousands of years, the labyrinth was borrowed from paganism and “Christianized” by the Roman Catholic Church as part of its desperate search for spirituality apart from the Bible.
Native Americans called it the Medicine Wheel; Celts called it the Never Ending Circle; it is called the Kabala in mystical Judaism (http://www.gracecathedral.org/labyrinth).
The most famous labyrinth was built into the floor of the Roman Catholic Chartres Cathedral in France in the 13th century. It has been duplicated at the Riverside Church in New York City and Grace Cathedral (Episcopal) in San Francisco, both hotbeds of theological liberalism and New Age philosophy.
The three stages of the labyrinth walk testify to its paganism. The following description of the stages is from the Grace Cathedral web site: Purgation (“a time to open the heart and quiet the mind”), Illumination (“a place of meditation and prayer”), Union (“joining god, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world”).
Lauren Artress, a canon at Grace Cathedral, founded Veriditas, The World-Wide Labyrinth Project, “with the goal “to facilitate the transformation of the Human Spirit.” Observe that Human Spirit is capitalized, testifying to the New Age view that man finds divinity within himself. Artress says that she discovered the labyrinth in 1991 through Jean Houston’s Mystery School Network, a psychic New Age organization. This quote by Houston leaves no doubt as to her philosophy: “As we encounter the archetypal world within us, a partnership is formed whereby we grow as do the gods and goddesses
within us” (http://skepdic.com/houston.html). Exercises at her Mystery School Network “include psychophysical work, psychospiritual exploration, creative arts, energy resonance, movement and dance, altered states of consciousness, ritual and ceremony, high drama, high play and mutual empowerment” (http://www.jeanhouston.org ).
Artress says: “My passion for the labyrinth has never let up! I think this is because I get so much from it. I also can teach everything I want to teach through the labyrinth: meditation, finding our soul assignments, unleashing our creativity, spiritual practice, psycho-spiritual healing; you name it! …. It [the labyrinth] has the exact cosmic rhythms embedded within it. I sense that this design was created by great masters of Spirit, who knew the pathway to integrating mind, body and spirit” (Interview with Arts and Healing Network, September 2003).
There is nothing like a labyrinth in the New Testament Scriptures.
When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray in Matthew 6, He did not even hint at a labyrinth-type prayer. Rather His instructions were very straightforward and simple: […]
God forbids His people to adopt things from the devil’s program and to associate with pagan things such as labyrinths.
“And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:15-17).
Prof. Josias Macedo Baraúna Jr., http://faebter.spaces.msn.com/

The following article contains only a single reference to the labyrinth. However, it is included here to bring out the close association between labyrinths and what the February 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age defines as “Deep Ecology“. A report on New Age Deep Ecology has been long overdue from this ministry and I am now constrained to work on bringing it out seeing that the movement is active in the local Church with blessings from powerful organisations and bishops.

We are but a step away from radical environmentalism and ecofeminism of the magnitude that we have seen [in this present compilation, for example pages 26-28] presently exists in the women’s religious orders in the United States. Earth Centred Healing
Retreats and labyrinth retreats are now being propagated in the Indian Church. The whole eco-spirituality business being promoted in the Indian Church is unavoidably and undeniably New Age.

On Aril 22, 2013, I wrote to the Cardinal-Archbishop of Bombay and the Archbishop of Goa regarding Fr. Paul Vaz and his Enneagram– and Earth Centred HealingRetreats, and I await their responses. See

FR PAUL VAZ-ENNEAGRAM WORKSHOPS AND EARTH CENTRED HEALING RETREATS

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/FR_PAUL_VAZ-ENNEAGRAM_WORKSHOPS_AND_EARTH_CENTRED_HEALING_RETREATS.doc

Our Pantheistic Sisters

By Anne Barbeau Gardiner, February 2008
Anne Barbeau Gardiner, a Contributing Editor of the NOR, is Professor Emerita of English at John Jay College of the City University of New York. She has published on Dryden, Milton, and Swift, as well as on Catholics of the 17th century.

Green Sisters: A Spiritual Ecology, by Sarah McFarland Taylor, Harvard University Press, 363 pages, $29.95,

Sarah McFarland Taylor, an Episcopalian and historian of women’s religious history, started her research on the Catholic green sisters in 1994. She spent two summers at Genesis Farm in New Jersey, then visited more than a dozen similar centers, attended four conferences of the Sisters of Earth, conducted over a hundred interviews, and examined their newsletters, poetry, artwork, cookbooks, correspondence, prayers, and rituals. She sent a draft of her book to some leading green sisters for their approval and documented her findings in 60 pages of endnotes.
Throughout the book, Taylor is in total sympathy with the green sisters, whom she regards as “some of the best-educated women in America.” She says their network includes sisters from these religious orders: Sisters of St. Joseph, of Loreto, of Charity, of Notre Dame, and of the Humility of Mary, as well as some Franciscan and Dominican Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and Medical Mission Sisters. In 1995 there were a dozen earth ministries; in 2006 there were at least 50, which Taylor lists in an appendix.
Green sisters complain that “right-wing Catholic critics” — among them Michael S. Rose of the NEW OXFORD REVIEW– have unjustly charged them with pantheism, but on the basis of this book, the charge seems justified. Pope Pius IX defined the “error” of “pantheism” thus: “No supreme, all wise, and all provident divine Godhead exists, distinct from this world of things,” and “all things are God and they have the same substance of God” (Syllabus of Errors, Denzinger, #1701). As Taylor reveals, this is the green sisters’ core principle, that God and the cosmos are fused.
At the Sisters of Earth conference in 2002, the 150 participants chanted, with regard to the earth, “All is holy, so holy. All is sacred, so sacred. All is one.” Then, at the 2003 assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), with 76,000 members in the U.S., 900 sisters chanted, with regard to the earth, “Sacred is the call, awesome indeed the entrustment. Tending the Holy, Tending the Holy.” The LCWR invitation featured an image of the planet with the caption: “Tending the Holy.” In her presidential address, Sr. Mary Ann Zollmann declared, “we women religious are living out of and growing more deeply into an ecofeminism that is a communion of companionship, responsibility, and accountability to the whole web of life.”
Thomas Berry, Spiritual Guide

Thomas Berry, a 90-year-old Passionist priest and disciple of Teilhard de Chardin*, is “indispensable” for understanding the green sisters, writes Taylor. He is the “prophet” who played a “pivotal role” in creating this movement. Taylor notes that Fr. Berry, unlike Matthew Fox**, has not been disciplined by the Church and can administer the Sacraments. He proposes as the “Great Work” for our age to “midwife humanity into an Ecozoic era,” where our species and the earth will be “mutually beneficial.” Green sisters have taken up this “sacred mission,” which they see as larger than the Church or Christianity itself. The natural world, Fr. Berry teaches, is God’s “primary revelation,” from which every other revelation derives. This was also the teaching of the pantheist philosopher Spinoza. Fr. Berry wants the Bible put “on the shelf for at least twenty years” so people can read “the primary scripture of the world about us.” Following this guide, green sisters work to create a shift of consciousness from human-centeredness to a “biocentric norm.” That is to say, they have exchanged a “primary preoccupation with humans” for “a primary concern” with the “total Earth.” For green sisters, as for Fr. Berry, the world is a community of “subjects” all divinely related to one another.

*Jesuit paleontologist and world’s leading New Ager

**excommunicated
Dominican priest, New Ager
and
promoter of Creation-Centred Spirituality
Fr. Berry considers the biblical “creation story” meaningless because it fails to give humanity a sense of “communion” with “a universe that is alive, sacred, intelligent, and still being created.” (To regard matter as alive and thinking, of course, is the foundation of pantheism.) Since Western science cannot convey the “sacredness of the cosmic evolutionary process” either, Fr. Berry proposes a “New Story” to give us a sense of the “cosmic communion” of “all things.”
Greening Their Vows

Green sisters have reinterpreted their vows in light of Fr. Berry’s “new evolutionary cosmological consciousness.” Sr. Gail Worcelo, who studied under Fr. Berry and took her final vows in his presence in 1991, declares that when he gave her the ring of final profession, she felt wedded “to a passionate love affair with the Divine as revealed in the universe story.” This is not quite the same as becoming the bride of Christ.


As for the vow of chastity, Sr. Elaine Prevallet says it means a “moral commitment to ease ecosystem stresses caused by a burgeoning human population.” Other green sisters likewise speak of this vow as a “lifetime commitment” not to give birth and as a “gift that sisters have given the earth community throughout the history of religious orders.” Tellingly, at the 1998 Sisters of Earth conference, Stephanie Mills was the keynote speaker: she is notorious for harping on the connection between “unchecked human population growth and ecological crisis” and, though not a sister, for having vowed herself to a “nonprocreative life.”
Green sisters do not accept a dichotomy between temporal creation and eternal Creator. They see their vows in relation to a divine creation. Sr. Cathy Mueller sees them as “natural choices that enhance Earth,” and Sr. Mary Southard, as choices made in the context of “an evolutionary universe.” Sr. Janet Fraser remarks that “since the earth and the cosmos are the Body of God,” her vows make the natural world “primary”; and Sr. Barbara O’Donnell believes they make “Earth’s story our story.” Thus, their vows do not refer to the Kingdom, which is “not of this world.”
When Taylor asks about the “spiritual dimension” of these vows, Sr. Maureen Wild replies that for them there is no dichotomy between “matter” and “spirit.” (In Pius IX’s definition of “pantheism,” we find this very phrase: that “God is one and the same as the world, and therefore, also, spirit is one and the same with matter.”) With this principle, is it any wonder that some green sisters are “certified in massage therapy and various forms of bodywork” to help “nurture” the bodies and spirits of the sisters? In one of their centers, there is a hot tub with a view of Texas hill country, in which “we all soaked our muscles and restored our bodies” after a day’s work. Taylor comments, “This hot tub, which clearly soothes the flesh instead of mortifying it, is a far cry from sisters’ wearing hair shirts and doing daily penance.”
Praying to the ‘Cosmic Mother’

Green sisters protest that they have not departed from Catholic Tradition, but are “caretakers” of its deepest “essence as it has evolved over time.” Not so. At the Green Mountain Monastery in Vermont, Sr. Gail Worcelo prays to Mary as “Holy Matrix” who reveals the “sacredness in all matter” and holds the universe in her womb, instead of the child Jesus. This is depicted in the image “Mary of the Cosmos,” inspired by Fr. Berry. The sisters pray to Mary as “Matter impregnated with Spirit” — a far cry from Catholic Tradition!
Just how dangerous it is to invoke a false goddess became clear at the 2002 Sisters of Earth conference, where Charlene Spretnak, a radical feminist, gave the keynote talk on “Mary as Premodern and Postmodern Cosmology.” Spretnak was in the middle of her paper when a woman in the audience began to moan and shriek and fight off something invisible. Then she grew quiet and started talking in a voice much “larger” than her size, declaring, “I am Mary. I am pleased. I am very pleased. You all are my daughters. You understand. You are in the presence of Grace.” Taylor was “frightened and unsettled,” sadness filled the room, yet no one suspected that this might be a sign that they were opening a door to the abyss and attracting the demonic.
For where is Jesus Christ in their worship? In the “Liturgy of the Cosmos,” Sr. Worcelo explains, there is a fusion of “the story of Jesus, the story of the earth, and the story of the cosmos” into “one vast intertwined evolutionary epic.” Here Jesus is “embodied in cosmos and thus never separate from it,” and He suffers another “Passion” in the “wasting of the planet.” What an absurdity! Jesus Christ cannot be fused with His creation: He has ascended into Heaven and cannot be “embodied” in the material cosmos so as to be inseparable from it. Such a gross error in a Christian puts one’s salvation at risk.
Greening the Eucharist

Green sisters not only grow food as “priestly practice,” but cook it as a “daily Eucharistic ritual” to affirm the human body as an “extension” of earth’s body. Ordinary food, they claim, is a “blessed sacrament” uniting them to “the more-than-human world” and nourishing them “by the Divine directly.” One sister declares, “We are the earth nourishing itself.”
With few exceptions the sisters are vegetarians. Why? Let Sr. Jeannine Gramick explain: “I no longer believe in the old cosmology I had been taught — the hierarchical pyramid of creation in which human animals, near the top of the pyramid, are assigned more worth than non-human animals and other beings toward the bottom.” After studying with the Trappist monk Colman McCarthy, she became a vegetarian because she stopped seeing “non-humans” as “inferior to humans.” Taylor notes that such “biocentrism,” common among the green sisters, is “identified” with deep ecology. What Taylor does not point out is that deep ecology is a neo-pagan movement. No one can reasonably deny that we should be good stewards of the natural world, but biocentrism and deep ecology are wrong to put human beings on a par with other animals and as inferior to the ecosystem. This view is a pillar of population control and so part of the Culture of Death.
Green sisters eat organic food because they think it still has the divine life-force in it. Sr. Wild explains that the important thing is the “spirit of the food” we eat: “I go for quality of Spirit in my food.” Eating dinner for her is a daily “eucharist” with the “body of the earth and sun.” Similarly, Sr. Miriam MacGillis remarks, “If we truly saw the Divine in a potato,” we would not commit the “sacrilege” of “turning it into Pringles.” Since they consider it already blessed and a “manifestation of the Divine,” green sisters do not bless their food. Hard to believe, but some actually “ask the food to bless them.”
They regard cooking as a source of “resistance and even power.” Since the Church will not let them celebrate Mass, Taylor says, they bring “the essence of that ritual into a daily mindful practice available to all.” Sr. MacGillis explains that Transubstantiation “is a very sacred word referring to Jesus Christ speaking over the bread in which the outer form didn’t change but the bread itself transformed on the inner plane where God was present. This has been going on all along. This is not an act confined to specially designated human beings….” In short, Sr. MacGillis sees the Catholic mystery of the Eucharist as nothing special: the same thing has been happening all along with ordinary food. She once had a mystical experience in which she recognized “eucharist” in a bowl of organic vegetarian chili: “It was gospel and eucharist in a sacrament so simple, so holy, my heart brimmed with gratitude.” Despite all their protests to the contrary, the green sisters are surely departing from Catholic Tradition in their view of the Real Presence.


Taylor observes that the green sisters retain many traditional words of Catholicism — vows, Mary, Transubstantiation, Gospel — but they mean radically different things to these sisters.
Greening the Stations of the Cross

Doubtless the most egregious departure from Catholic Tradition is the Earth Meditation Trail at Genesis Farm, which has been imitated across the land. The Trail is made of “stations” to evoke, in Taylor’s words, “the Catholic paraliturgical activity of walking the ‘stations of the cross.'” It is a “series of prayer stations” that depicts not Christ’s Passion, but “the earth’s Passion.”
The “pilgrim” who walks the Trail first comes upon a “womb opening” called the “Station of Life/Death/Transformation.” The guidebook instructs “her” (apparently only women go there) to pass through it, touch some stones, beat a drum, and repeat three times: “Behold I come. My name is _____. Accept me here. Accept me now.” Further on, she is told to pick up a “prayer stone” that will hold the “spirit” of her “life journey” and to listen to that stone “just as the stone will listen to and absorb the prayers, thoughts, and questions” she will have on the Trail. Then she arrives at the “Council of All Beings,” a circle of stones and trees where she assumes the role of a non-human creature to discuss “what is wrong on earth.” She then walks along the “Path of the Great Elders,” a line of old maple trees, and comes to the “Place of At-One-Ment,” where a stone seat faces a scarred cherry tree that survived being surrounded with barbed wire. Here she is told to reflect on “human sins” against the natural world and ask forgiveness from “this community.”
Taylor remarks that the “At-One-Ment station” evokes the Catholic Sacrament of Confession. Perhaps, but forgiveness here is purely imaginary. There are many more stations until the Trail loops back to the “womb opening,” now approached from the other side, and the guidebook instructs the “pilgrim” to reflect on her “last moments of life in this body.” This body? Is this a reference to reincarnation?
Taylor notes that the Trail is labyrinthine (perhaps a better word would be serpentine) and that both “indoor and outdoor labyrinths” are now “wildly popular among green sisters, Catholic religious sisters and brothers in general, and the Catholic and Protestant laity.” Have they forgotten that the original labyrinth was a deathtrap with the bestial Minotaur at its center? At Genesis Farm, the labyrinth is designed to bring the “pilgrim” into deeper union with the earth as “Divine,” for, as the guidebook says, “When the interconnectedness of all things is felt, then it is clear that the Earth is the source of our survival.” To believe that the earth is the source of “our survival” is indeed a deathtrap.
Taylor thinks the Trail is effective precisely because it uses the Catholic “stations format” and works “from within the system.” When components of a tradition are “deployed,” she says, new rituals quickly become “traditional.” Indeed, in the last decade, Earth Meditation Trails have become popular. Sr. Theresa Jackson, who installed one at the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Idaho, explains that “The ‘Passion of the Earth’ is designed to be a spiritual exercise that enables people to see the earth and the cosmos not only as God’s creation, but as the most basic expression of God’s very self.” Note well, the earth and the cosmos, not Jesus Christ, are the most basic expression of God’s very self. If this isn’t pantheism, what is? Yes, God is omnipresent, but He is also transcendent and is never to be identified with matter. Again, this is an error that comes from not distinguishing the temporal from the eternal, and matter from spirit.
Another abuse of the Stations of the Cross is the “Cosmic Walk,” a meditation sequence on what Fr. Berry calls “the universe story.” In Winslow, Maine, green sisters have 25 stations in a pine grove where people can “walk the story of the universe” and come to know that story “in their own bodies.” The Cosmic Walk is also popular in a portable version created by Sr. MacGillis. This involves a long rope placed in a spiral, with 30 index cards representing the stages of evolution. Standing at the place of the first “Flaring Forth,” the “pilgrim” is to reflect that she too is 15 billion years old, and at the end of the Walk, she is to declare, “Today I know the story of myself.” Thus, the “pilgrims” of the Cosmic Walk become “the story participating in its own telling,” and experience their being as “the cosmos ‘made flesh.'” More, they learn that “there is no finite created world, only an ever-expanding universe constantly changing, and of which humanity is inseparably a part.”
Well, for a person to become the “cosmos made flesh” is to sink far below the level of common humanity, far below the great gift of being made in the “image of God.” Besides, for a Christian to become the “cosmos made flesh” is to lose the even loftier status accorded by our Baptism of being made a son or a daughter of God through Jesus Christ. In fact, to become an “inseparable” part of the temporal universe is to give up hope of eternal life. It is to embrace the temporal as if it were the eternal, the penultimate as if it were the ultimate reality.
In 1993, Taylor notes, Pope John Paul II issued a “condemnation of ‘nature worship’ by feminist Catholic groups in America, highlighting tensions in the relationship of faith to nature.” The Pope warned the U.S. bishops during their July 1993 ad limina visit: “Sometimes forms of nature worship and the celebration of myths and symbols take the place of the worship of the God revealed in Jesus Christ.” But he took no disciplinary action. Taylor believes that a “major punitive action” at this point from the bishops would only “unify” the green sisters. It is doubtful they would ask to be released from their vows, she says; they would more likely ignore the bishops or team up with other nuns to appeal the decision. While they do not openly show “disrespect” toward the “institutional Church,” she adds, they are not “pushovers,” for they are “intensely networked” and thus have a great “resistance to outside interference.” They compare themselves to the rhizome, vegetation that cannot be easily eradicated because it is “diffuse and horizontal rather than central and vertical.”
Green sisters are propagating their errors as fast and as far as they can by books, lectures, retreats, icons, and workshops. One can only wonder: Where are our shepherds?

New Age teachings lead away from Christ – Priest cautions against
yoga, homeopathy

http://www.wcr.ab.ca/news/2008/0218/newage021808.shtml

By Deborah Gyapong, Week of February 18, 2008
Canadian Catholic News, Ottawa; Western Catholic Reporter, Canada’s Largest Religious Weekly

[The Mission of the Western Catholic Reporter is “To serve our readers by helping them deepen their faith through accurate information and reflective commentary on events and issues of concern to the church.”]

Father Dan Dubroy expects a negative reaction when he speaks about New Age teachings, even when he
addresses Catholic audiences. That’s because New Age teachings and practices have infiltrated many parishes and Catholic retreat centres, he told an Ottawa Theology on Tap Feb. 5. He did not realize the extent himself until he read a document on the Vatican website entitled “Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life: a Christian reflection on the New Age” [http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20030203_new-age_en.html]

New Age teachings are “not about Jesus,” he said. They involve techniques that lead to inner knowledge that “God is inside me.” “If God is inside me, then I must be God,” he said.

Some of the practices he described as New Age are: Enneagrams, Yoga, mantras, Zen Buddhism, reflexology, homeopathy, astrology, and Jungian psychology.

“It’s hard to find people in the Church who are totally faithful,” he said, blaming what Pope John Paul II called “cafeteria Catholicism,” where people take what they want, building their own faith, with a little of this and that.

Though New Age teachings and practices can produce “wonderful warm feelings”, they involve “no accountability” and “no having to die to self.” He called them a “narcissistic endeavour.”

Though many cathedrals in Europe have labyrinths, he attributed that to the powerful presence of Gnosticism that has competed with Christian doctrine. New Age teachings are the new Gnosticism, he said.

“If people don’t worship Christ they are “going to find something else to worship,” he said. Instead of going within, we need to “go beyond ourselves and live fully in Him,” he said. “It has to be Jesus. We can only have a personal relationship with someone who is a person. Jesus is a human being and He is also God. He is also a place where we have access to God.” “We’re raising a generation of New Age kids,” he said.

Father Dan Dubroy advised against any techniques that give one control, even when it comes to centering [prayer].

He said mantras, even if they are Christian words, are about controlling the process and differ from prayers that beg the Lord to “come into my centre.”

Enter the labyrinth

http://www.letusreason.org/Nam30.htm
[This is Protestant -Michael]

Mike Oppenheimer, Let Us Reason Ministries, Undated, probably 2009

Walking the labyrinth has become a popular spiritual exercise across the country and around the world. I first read of it in Leadership Magazine, a Christian publication and became a bit concerned, since looking into it further I’m definitely concerned.

Labyrinths are said to been used for over 3000-3500 years (depending who you ask), accurate dating has been difficult. We are told by those who promote their use that Labyrinths are ancient and have been a part of the sacred landscape through human history. Those who use the labyrinth describe them as a pattern with power and a purpose. They are called “divine imprints,” that symbolize an archetype of wholeness. The Labyrinth is said to encourage healing, clarity, and peacefulness. There are claims of profound experiences as they affect the people who use them by connecting them with the deepest part of themselves. Labyrinths can often have a particular “specialty” in healing, improving ones health or alleviating symptoms of certain diseases.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia — Labyrinth is a complicated arrangement of paths and passages; or a place, usually subterraneous, full of windings, corridors, rooms, etc., so intricately arranged as to render the getting out of it a very difficult matter.

The Romans adopted the symbols as a floor pattern. In modern times the labyrinth can be traced to Catholic cathedrals of the Middle Ages. In the European cathedrals they were used traditionally as a site of pilgrimage. A promoter and authority on the modern Labyrinth, Rev. Artress, states in her research there were actually 22 Labyrinths in the 80 Gothic cathedrals that went up during the Middle Ages throughout Europe. Some of them were pilgrimage cathedrals. Chartres was one of the major pilgrimage cathedrals. Early Christians took a vow to visit the Holy City of Jerusalem at some point in their lives. During the middle ages the Crusades made travel to Palestine unsafe, so they used other means to honor their commitment. Labyrinths were used as a substitute pilgrimage experience for the holy land. Adopted by the Roman Catholic Church Labyrinths were offered to the congregation as a way of fulfilling their vow to visit the holy land and nicknamed the it, “New Jerusalem.” Christians using it as a symbol instead made their pilgrimages to the cathedral cities of Chartres, Rheims or Amiens. Geometrical designs were composed from various pieces of coloured marbles set in the floors of the European Cathedrals. In Chartres Cathedral in France there is an intricate 40 foot diameter labyrinth of tile imbedded in the floor of the central area of the church. “With an emphasis on rationalism in the 16th and 17th centuries, however, labyrinths fell out of favor and were looked upon as child’s play or distractions. As a result, many were torn out of the cathedrals. Chartres’ survived, but for a time was covered with chairs so that it could not be walked on. Indeed, until recently, the cathedral was better known for its stained-glass windows than for the labyrinth on its floor.”
(Scripps Howard News Service)
http://www.reporternews.com/1999/religion/lab0918.html

However its use is not just found in middle age cathedrals, we find that the origin of labyrinths is from pre-Christian days. This is what we need to pay attention to, what they were used for before the Roman Catholic Church adopted it for their contemplation and pilgrimage substitute to the Holy land.

Labyrinths predate Christianity by over 1,000 years according to an article posted on the Web site of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco “Pathfinders: Walking Medieval Labyrinths in a Modern World.” And the purpose of this article is to make Christians aware that Labyrinths are not in any shape or form a Christian practice.

Because they are ancient, various interpretations of the labyrinths of today may not agree with the same concept of the labyrinths in ancient times. We can assume they did not mean the same to all the cultures and religions that built them, since there are various different concepts of life and religion within these cultures.

Yet many feel there is a common origin of the Labyrinth because they are found in many countries and the major religious traditions in the world: India, France, Egypt, Scandinavia, Crete, Sumeria, America, the British Isles, and Italy.

There is evidence of the existence of labyrinths that can be traced back as far as 3500 years. The labyrinth as a symbol has been found in Europe and around the Mediterranean. Many labyrinth carvings are found on boulders, tombs, religious buildings (in cathedral pavements). Many clay tablets, mosaics, manuscripts, stone patterns, hedges, patterns woven into baskets and fabrics and pottery fragments throughout Europe seem to bear the same motif. They are also found carved in rock from the mountains in Arizona to caves in Spain. A labyrinth-inscribed clay tablet from Pylos, Greece, could possibly be one of the earliest examples (approx. 3200 years old). Some equate the Mayan pyramids and Celtic, and Stonehenge as magical geometric forms that define sacred space. Prehistoric labyrinths have also been found carved on rock faces at Pontevedra, Spain and at Val Camonica in northern Italy, these latter ones are attributed to the late Bronze Age. The Rocky Valley labyrinths in Cornwall, England, are supposed to be from the Bronze Age. The labyrinth is found etched into the sands of the Nazca Plain in Peru, in use among the Caduveo people of Brazil and scratched on boulders and rock faces in Northern Mexico, New Mexico and Arizona.

Because the labyrinths have been built by various cultures around the earth some claim they represent a universal pattern in human consciousness. Native Americans had them, and continue to be used in the sacred ceremonies of the Hopi. The Hopi Indians called the labyrinth the symbol for “mother earth” and equated it with the Kiva (called it Tapu’at, or Mother-child.)

The labyrinth as an architectural term derives its name from the famous ancient or mythical labyrinths of Crete and Egypt. The most famous Labyrinth from ancient times was the Cretan one, associated with the legend of the Minotaur, the monster half-man half-bull which dwelt in the heart of a labyrinth on the island of Crete. It was at the centre of the Labyrinth that the Minotaur devoured unsuspecting humans. Theseus was able to get to the centre of the Labyrinth, slay the Minotaur with the aid of Ariadne and her spool of thread, and found his way out again by following the thread he had trailed behind him on the way in. Some say this story has caused confusion because clearly the Minotaur’s lair was a maze that you could get lost in, whereas a Labyrinth has only one twisting path that weaves its way to the centre and back out again. There is only one entrance and exit, no dead ends, and no crossing of paths with a choice of which way to turn.

Turf labyrinths still exist in England, Germany and Scandinavia; these are thought to be linked with local feminine deities and fertility rituals.

“The labyrinth has its origins in ancient pagan rituals, most famously at Knossos in ancient Crete, where one was located in the basement of a palace where the mythic man-eating Minotaur was said to roam. According to ancient lore, the hero Theseus journeyed through the labyrinth to slay the evil Minotaur. Theseus’ doubled-headed ax was called a ‘labrys,’ from which the word labyrinth was derived. Ceremonies re-enacting this myth as a ritual labyrinth walk are still performed today. Other labyrinths have been tied to fertility rites and goddess worship (M. Tooley, September 2000). Modern disciples of the labyrinth propose that ancient Christians used the labyrinth as a means of spiritual meditation. Scholars insist there is absolutely no evidence of labyrinth walking by Christians (M. Tooley, September 2000, Maze Craze. www.touchstonemag.com).

So if these were practiced by other religions and cultures that are of a non Christian origin, what kind of value would they have to offer a Christian who is supposed to have all that he needs in Jesus Christ according to the Scripture?

We find the use of this design is put to smaller patterns that are a non-walk though spiritual practice. The patterns of the labyrinth are similar in design and conception to the mandalas of South Asian Buddhism, that are supposed to be physical representations of the spiritual realm designed to aid in meditation. Mandala means – circle: it is a circular design, which is used to focus in on and bring one into a meditative state. We are told that true meditation occurs when the physical brain has been calmed or neutralized, a mantra or a mandala is used to bring calmness so the mind is then freed and can then discover new truths it normally was not open to find.

Labyrinths have become so popular that there is a Labyrinth Society, based in Connecticut which is a national network of labyrinth users. We are told there are an estimated 1,000 labyrinths created across America, Grace Cathedral Labyrinth Project, the St. Louis Labyrinth Project, St. Charles Episcopal Church Labyrinth, the Labyrinth Project of Alabama.

The foremost promoters of it are Jean Houston http://www.JeanHouston.org/ and http://www.gracecom.org/veriditas/index.shtml  Grace Episcopal Cathedral. Dr. Jean Houston is the past president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology and is one of the premiere New Age promoters and speakers in North America. Jean Houston called The Starseed Transmissions, channeled by “Raphael” through Ken Carey “perhaps the finest example of ‘channeled knowledge’ I ever encountered.” She states “The very best way and perhaps for the present the only way [of contact with these entitles] is within the context of an altered state of consciousness” (Robert Masters and Jean Houston).

One cannot underestimate the connection between her influence on Artress and her bringing the Labyrinth to Grace Cathedral who is open to New Age concepts.

One of the major initiators in reviving the labyrinth in our time is Rev. Lauren Artress. After meeting Jean Houston Rev. Artress brought the form back to the Grace Cathedral of San Francisco, CA in 1992. Over one million people have walked this labyrinth to date. People from all different backgrounds and religions are using it. Jews, Buddhists and even Christians use the institute’s labyrinth. If one visits Grace Cathedral’s web site you find it being inclusive, they offer every conceivable item, from New Age holistic to interfaith to the Koran. They are church that is not holding the Christian distinctive at all.

A labyrinth is unicursal – this means there is one open, unobstructed path the walker follows into the center and back out again. A labyrinth has only one path leading to the center and back out again with no dead-ends. There are three basic designs being used–the seven circuit, eleven circuit, and twelve circuit; the seven circuit is the most common design found today. It is described as you roam back and forth, turning 180 degrees each time you enter a different circuit. As you change your direction your awareness changes from right brain to left brain. They are right brain activity enhancers. So the claim is that the labyrinth can induce different states of consciousness. Others say it also helps balance the chakras, spiritual energy centers described in Hinduism. One would think from statements like these it’s about as close to God as one can get. Lauren Artress writes “The path that guides us deeply into the psychological and spiritual center is the same path that takes us back out again into the manifest physical world in this way it is interpreted as a tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. Archetypes that help us group the experience of unity and wholeness. The labyrinth is an archetype of wholeness that helps us rediscover the depths of our souls.”

They are found in many sizes and shapes, and made from just about any natural material. They are built in a permanent fashion from stones, cut into turf, formed by mounds of earth, or imbedded designs in the floor of buildings.

Pictures of Labyrinths- http://www.gracecathedral.org/labyrinth/interactions/labyrinth.shtml 


Pictures of people walking the labyrinth- http://www.sacredsteps.com/walks.html

We are told that the labyrinth is a tool useful to people of all religions or no religion. Each person’s walk can be interpreted differently each time to the same individual. From some of the quotes I have read one can assume life is one big labyrinth. This experiential walk is spiritualized to have meaning. “We are not human beings on a spiritual path, but spiritual beings on a human path” (Labyrinth, Walking a Sacred Path Reverend Lauren Artress). Labyrinths are being used for reflection, meditation, prayer with various interpretations of what these mean. Some see it as a metaphor of the path of life, a journeying to God. Some ask forgiveness on the way in and empowerment on the way out. The participant can ascribe their own spiritual meaning to this ritual walk; the theory is that by walking the labyrinth one partakes of a spiritual journey of self -examination and enlightenment. What happens to everyone may not all be the same, but many claim to receive a spiritual transformation.

R. White writes, “Walking the labyrinth supposedly promotes spiritual awakening and deeper inner knowledge. Followers testify to arousal of feelings (good and bad), renewed creativity, brain re-mapping and energy production. Labyrinths have taken their place next to sacred circle dances and sweet-grass ceremonies taught as rediscovered ancient practices to enhance spiritual growth” (White, R. Aug. 15, 2000. Walking the Labyrinth: New Age Fad or Traditional Technique?
http://www.christianweek.org).

What are Labyrinths used for; the explanations come from those using it. The Rev. Sarah Bentley of New Life Institute, a center for counseling, education and spiritual growth related to the Austin-area United Methodist churches, said she introduces labyrinths to people as a form of meditation. They are training the participant in a walking meditation.

Meditation is the process of quieting the mind, various methods can be used to bring a consciousness change so that you still your mind, you become uncontrolled conscious. Meditation is a spiritual practice of many eastern religions. We are told that by clearing a space within the mind, and allowing yourself to experience whatever emotions or thoughts surface during your walk you come out with a labyrinth experience. Your questions can be answered. People while they walk ask questions such as when, what or where about their life and find it is answered. Many others testify when you get to the center you find – Self, answers, illumination, God, Goddess, just about anything. As they walk, meditate and pray healing can occur. Here is an example: “When word got round the close-knit labyrinth community, two body-workers, proficient in reiki, the art of healing touch-immediately came to help.” “I was in a lot of pain, because I really landed hard.” she says “But I actually experienced the pain moving right out my body. It was a phenomenal experience” (Quote from Theater of Enlightenment By Colleen O’Connor)

Stories of angels or spirits are common as well. Renee Gibbons, a long time labyrinth walker, relates the story of her first experience on the labyrinth: “When I got to the center of the labyrinth, I got a really strong message that said ‘send an angel to your sister Fiona.’ My sister Fiona had not spoken to me for four or five years at that time.” After sending a gift to her sister, she waited. Although a miraculous new relationship did not develop, she says, “I saw that a lot of my resentments dropped when I did that.”

New Agers and those mystically inclined are especially attracted to this kind of subjective experience. One said to ask your deity of choice, or your higher self to walk with you. Some go as far as to say that self realization can occur, where you discover the divine that is within us all, bridging the separation of us from our own truth, from the Creator. “In every culture there are ideas that promise spirituality to the seeker sometimes couched as finding the god or goddess within. Artress describes the labyrinth as a large, complex spiral circle that is an ancient symbol for the divine mother, the God within, the goddess, the holy in all creation.” (Artress, L., 1995, Walking A Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool)

Many have various ways to explain the Labyrinth. Artress may not be pouring her own interpretation into this as we find the Labyrinth was used in ancient pagan cultures. In Dr. Lauren Artress’ book about the labyrinth, “Walking a Sacred Path,” she states, “The web of creation has been thrown out of balance.” So they see it as a pathway to gain connection with the Earth Mother, uniting with all her creatures and absorbing the energies that help bring balance. Despite these New Age concepts being used, it may not be so far from the truth of how it was originally used.

“The labyrinth awaits our discovery, for it will guide us through the troubles of our lives to the grand, mysterious patterns that shape the web of Creation. It will lead us toward the Source and eventually guide us home” (Lauren Artress, Author of Walking a Sacred Path).

“The space and the experience of walking it become powerful and help one feel a greater sense of Oneness. It is a tool for people of all beliefs to come together for a common spiritual experience.” From the new age outlook: We are told these are sacred places. There is power incorporated in the design. The Labyrinth “is truly a tool for transformation, a crucible for change, a blueprint for the sacred meeting of the psyche and the soul, a field of light, a cosmic dance, it is a center for empowering ritual.” (Lauren Artress)

It becomes apparent that although this is taking place inside some churches, it really is a non-Christian practice. Many new Agers claim they are not into religion, but practice spirituality. With these types of descriptions, one may wonder what does this have to do with Christianity? The answer is, Nothing.

They attribute huge responsibility to the creation of man. “Perhaps the labyrinth will continue to be the great bridge between people – crossing the abyss that we create with our own prejudices and fears. And perhaps one day the labyrinth will bring us all back to the place of our original innocence.” (http://www.gracecathedral.org/labyrinth/articles/visions/index.shtml)

In Biblical terms original innocence would mean prior to Adam and Eve’s sin. With all these wonderful statements one would think they found some secret way to solve almost all of mankind’s problems.

“For many, the labyrinth has become a Grail, meaning that it meets people where they are and gives them what they need for spiritual transformation. My passion for this work has always been to birth the creativity in all people” (Lauren Artress http://www.veriditas.net/circle/index.htm)

Prior to the year 2000, Artress’ goal was to have 1,500 labyrinths established in time for the new millennium and is hoping to have people walking simultaneously on them at the millennial turn with the intention of bringing peace and healing to the planet. http://www.reporternews.com/1999/religion/lab0918.html

If we are to believe all these claims of healing and transformation maybe we could get terrorists to walk through it, this may bring them an attitude adjustment. If everyone could walk a Labyrinth New Agers would no longer have to visualize world peace. Unfortunately we cannot just walk for peace to take place.

Artress states in the Zion’s Herald interview “And then it gets called ‘New Age’. I look at the definition of ‘New Age’ with great interest because they couldn’t be further wrong. It’s just their ignorance. If you’re going to say anything, better say ‘Middle Age’. The labyrinth was put in Chartres Cathedral in 1201!”

Unfortunately she seems to equate new age with something modern and not ancient, as we have already seen, the labyrinth is ancient and used by other religions besides being adopted into some  churches in the middle ages.

Most trace the modern resurgence of labyrinths to Lauren Artress. If she is the authority on it, and brought it to the church, then we should listen carefully to what she is saying to see if it is a true spiritual practice.

Lauren was aware of labyrinths as a child. In her visit to Chartres in1991 she talked to Jean Huston and worked with her and went through a labyrinth. Then she went home and said, “Wow, something important happened there.” I remember walking around the room yelling, ‘What is it?’ And then the idea came through – put the labyrinth in the cathedral.” (Zion’s Herald interview with Lauren Artress). In 1996 Artress created Veriditas, a non-profit dedicated to introducing people to the healing, meditative powers of the labyrinth.

Artress says that “You walk to the center of the labyrinth and there at the center, you meet the Divine.” (Lauren Artress, “Q and A with Lauren,” Veriditas, Vol. 1, no. 2, Summer 1996, p. 18) She explains that: “The labyrinth is a large, complex spiral circle which is an ancient symbol for the Divine Mother, the God within, the Goddess, the Holy in all of creation,” she wrote. “For many of us the feminine aspect of the Divine has been painfully absent from our lives, our spirituality, and our Western culture.” (Rev. Lauren Artress)

The Bible has nothing to say about a feminine aspect to the divine mother, a Goddess, so this shows this cannot be related to Christianity but paganism.

She describes her discovery of the labyrinth as one of the “most astonishing events of my life.” For her, the labyrinth is a “spiritual tool meant to awaken us to the deep rhythm that unites us to ourselves and to the Light that calls from within.” Veriditas promotes “walking through the labyrinth as a way of discovery, to find healing, self-knowledge and continuing to weave the Universal Web of Creation.” An important fact to know is that geomancy and other occult arts are often incorporated in the building of labyrinths. Charles Gilchrist a labyrinth promoter states it has a direct connection to “Sacred Geometry,” a powerful potential as an oracle. And there are other “oracle systems” that are related to Sacred Geometry, Astrology, Numerology, I Ching, Rune Stones, and the Tarot.
“Veriditas is the non-profit organization that has grown up around the labyrinths at Grace Cathedral. They are dedicated to teaching people the history, use and potential of this spiritual tool. Veriditas Project founder Lauren Artress promotes the labyrinth as a way to connect with the divine feminine, the god within.” (Penn, September 1999 The New Age movement in the Episcopal Church)

In Leadership Magazine a Christian publication it was written “Graceland artists recreated the Labyrinth with a kit we purchased” [the Prayer Path Group Publishing, $79.99] (reference in Leadership Magazine p.38, 2002). Dan Kimball who wrote the article further writes “It was joy to see so many people on their knees communing with God through the experiential prayer elements.” In this article the author mentions how they found themselves at the center of the Labyrinth where they sat on cushions and were given communion elements as the narrator read scripture telling them how near Jesus is. How unfortunate that they thought that by doing this it made the experience a Christian one.(Dan Kimball pastors Graceland, a postmodern worship service at Santa Cruz Bible church in Santa Cruz California)

The Reverend Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral states, “The Grace Cathedral Labyrinth Project is committed to addressing the spiritual hunger of our times.” Lauren Artress still travels with the original canvas labyrinth she designed in 1991 to workshops and conferences around the globe to share the message of this ancient tool of healing and transformation. Lauren Artress and the others at Veriditas are hoping it will become a more common aspect of society in the 21st century, through the use of spiritual tools like the Labyrinth. “Body, nature, and a sense of place-the Theater of Enlightenment is rich with these three elements, which experts say are essential to global transformation in the 21st century.” (Quote from Theater of Enlightenment, by Colleen O’Connor)

Clearly this is a New Age observance with practices for global transformation which has a long history of being the goal for the New Age movement.

http://www.religionnews.com/press02/0321_1.html March 11, 2002, The World-Wide Labyrinth Project featured three people.

Chartres, France – In 1999 The Reverend Canon Lauren Artress established “Let Us Walk With Mary,” a unique and enlightening program for pilgrims seeking spiritual growth.

China Galland – Long-time student of Buddhism and Christianity, teacher, and author of “The Bond Between Women: A Journey to Fierce Compassion,” “Tara and the Black Madonna,” and “Women in the Wilderness”

The Very Rev. Alan Jones – Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco and author of “The Soul’s Journey: Exploring the Three Passages of Spiritual Life with Dante as a Guide,” “Exploring Spiritual Direction,” and “Passion for Pilgrimage.”

Chartres Cathedral is the only cathedral built fully for Mary. When The Rev. Lauren Artress reopened the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, she emphasized that it would be in the name of Mary. Promoting the Divine feminine, as found in “Walking a Sacred Path.”

Dr. Artress states, “The labyrinth provides a sacred space where the inner and outer world can commune, where the thinking mind and the imaginative heart flow together… a space to listen to our inner voice of wisdom“. She goes on to speak of the experience of walking the labyrinth in the following manner: “Walking the labyrinth is a spiritual discipline that invites us to trust the path, to surrender to the many turns our lives take, and to walk through the confusion, the fear, the anger, the grief that we cannot avoid experiencing as we live our earthly lives. The labyrinth is a place where we can open ourselves to the Holy Spirit. We can ask for guidance and pray for ourselves and our loved ones.”

Certainly one is able to do this without a Labyrinth, the early church did not depend on this vehicle to help them with their spirituality. Jesus already instructed us how to be open to his leading and his answers so why do we need to use this other religious device? Religious syncretism is probably the most dangerous we can involve ourselves in because we can put a label on something and call it something it essentially is not. These are two different religious, spiritual systems. Starhawk, a practicing witch and head of a coven, celebrated New Year 2000 by walking the Labyrinth on her San Francisco area Ranch.

Psychotherapist Dr Lauren Artress says, “To walk a sacred path is to discover our inner sacred space: that core of feeling that is waiting to have life breathed back into it through symbols, archetypal forms like the labyrinth, rituals, stories, and myths.” This has nothing to do with practicing Christianity and everything to do with other spiritual practices that Bible tells us not to participate in.

In the article Mystical paths for contemplation 5/18/2002 Artress recently talked about the popularity of this practice as she prepared to conduct workshops and tours of labyrinths in Europe.
FaithLinks: What kind of Christian is typically attracted to labyrinth spirituality?
Artress: The labyrinth attracts people from all walks of life. Many Christians come to it when they are in a dry period spiritually and feel like their daily prayer life is not working for them. They may also come on the eve of surgery, bad news about a sick friend, or the loss of a job. The labyrinth is a path of prayer for everyone. To those who feel they don’t know how to pray, I simply say “write a letter to God.” It is especially attractive to the seekers who long for a personal relationship with the Divine. These folks have done their homework by studying other traditions as well. http://www.faithlinks.org/viewarticle.asp?ID=346

I have got a better idea, read God’s letters to you, all 66* of them found in the Bible for your spiritual renewal. *73!

What does the God of the Bible have to say?

Can one seek or come to know God by a Labyrinth walk? It may be the latest fashion in spirituality touted as a spiritual tool of meditation and prayer but is it for a Christian? We are told in Colossians 2: 8: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Some are trying to justify this as a Christian tradition. In fact it couldn’t be, not just because it is not found in the Bible, but because it goes against everything the Bible and Christianity teaches for one to practice true spirituality. Walking through the Labyrinth is not a rediscovery of a lost form of Christian spirituality but pagan spirituality. Though it may be reformed and repackaged to our modern times, we can be assured it has nothing to do with Jesus who gave man the true spiritual way of life.

I don’t think one can Christianize this practice, nor justify its use. Especially with what we have already discovered how it is being used. Is it pleasing to God that we walk labyrinths when He has told us not to take up pagan practices? Divine feminine, earth energies have nothing to do with Jesus Christ and the truth He has delivered.

There are already a number of Christians who are practicing the various types of contemplative prayer promoted by Richard Foster, Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, and others. A good portion is being promoted through the Catholic contemplative prayer movement. Many of these same people are open to or already doing labyrinth walks as a meditative practice.

Walking mediation and stopping to quiet one self is not promoting prayer. Not all that is claimed to be spiritual, is good or from God. We are told as Christians to test the Spirits. Do we now need experiential prayer elements? Did Jesus look for a Labyrinth to teach people to pray? What happened to going into our rooms to pray quietly (Matthew 6:6)?

Inclusiveness is the goal of the New Age movement, and they have their light bearers influencing churches that are not discerning by the Word of God. With an open-minded approach, certain Christian church’s can certainly embrace foreign religious practices to their own ruin.

Artress does not withhold her rejection of the straight and narrow way found within Christianity. She explains the labyrinth is more forgiving and leads its followers forward in a flawless path. God’s word states you cannot walk the wide road and claim to follow Christ who says HIS way is the narrow road and has nothing to do with a Labyrinth. In Matthew 7:13 Jesus tells us the only way to practice a spiritual life is to enter into life through the narrow gate because the wide and easy road leads to destruction. This does not mean entering a labyrinth to walk its path.
In 2 Timothy 3: 16 we are told: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” It is God’s Word that we are trained to know and follow for a true spiritual transformation. It is objective, we are not to seek subjective experiences using other religious methods. The New age teaches experience for self- transformation and discovering the god within is not from the same source. The very reason people end up using labyrinths and other such methods to find their spirituality is because they are not holding and promoting the word of God which is all one needs to be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. Though it is currently fashionable for “Christians” to participate in walking Labyrinths along with other religions, it is a clear sign the Word of God is not being upheld but is being replaced with subjective feelings, through New Age spirituality. Despite testimonials from those who do not know the word of God, it is essentially using a pagan religious practice.

This cannot have any spiritual benefit for a Christian, but one can possibly have a relaxing time as they enjoy the walk, but then, getting away into the outdoors into a new environment with the least amount of concentration will relieve you of your stress as well.

There is no basis for those who practice Biblical Christianity to embrace the labyrinth as an acceptable tool for meditation and prayer? It is inherently New Age, let them have it.

Should you walk the labyrinth?

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=34#more-34

By Susan Brinkmann, January 28, 2010

See NEW AGE-SUSAN BRINKMANN
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/NEW_AGE-SUSAN_BRINKMANN.doc

SA writes: “I was told that the Catholic Church does not approve of the use of labyrinths for prayer. Yet I see so many priests and nuns engaged in and teaching this type of practice. When I tell other Catholics this is not a Catholic practice, but New Age, they say it is nobody’s business how they choose to pray. I have found confusing data regarding this matter. Would you please enlighten me?”

The modern labyrinth movement is a troubling New Age trend that is introducing people to a non-Christian belief system that has no place in a Catholic setting.

For those who don’t know, a labyrinth is a circular maze with eleven concentric circles and a single path which makes 28 loops – seven in each of the four quadrants of the circle. People walk the path as a spiritual device to meditate, relax, or “find their soul assignments” as New Agers like to say.
The origin of the labyrinth comes from King Minos of Greek mythology who created the first maze as a prison for a wayward minotaur. It has been used ever since as a religious symbol and spiritual tool by a variety of pagan cultures such as the Mayans, Celts, and Native Americans.

The first “Christian” labyrinth appeared in a fourth-century Basilica in Orleansville, Algeria, which contained the words “Sancta Eclesia,” indicating its use for religious purposes. The most famous example can be found at the Cathedral of Chartres in France, which was constructed in the thirteenth century and allegedly used by Christians as a substitute for going on pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the Crusades.

However, the labyrinths in use today are not even remotely associated with these Christian labyrinths. Today’s version was popularized by an Episcopalian canon and New Age devotee named Lauren Artress who describes walking a labyrinth as a “way to find healing, self-knowledge and our soul assignments and to continue weaving the Web of Creation.”

In her writings about the labyrinth, Artress reveals her feminist disdain for the God of the Bible. Instead, she refers to “the Source,” “the Sacred,” and “the God within,” which she claims has been “destroyed through centuries of patriarchal domination, through fears of creativity and of the traits associated with the feminine.” Artress says she prefers this “Source” to the transcendent God “out there” who “keeps track of whether we follow the rules.” She also says that Jesus as the Christ is too often not helpful because he is closely tied to the patriarchy. Instead, she calls people to the more inclusive “Father and Mother God” and “The Greening Power of God, the Holy Spirit in all Her mystery,” who is found in the “power of The Divine within.”

Artress openly admits that neopagan journalist and Wiccan priestess, Margot Adler (author of Drawing Down the Moon) and New Ager Jean Houston, one of the founders of the Human Potential Movement, influenced her modern labyrinth movement. Such a firm New Age foundation certainly explains why the emphasis for labyrinth walkers is always upon the self rather than on God.

Knowing the belief system of the creator of the modern labyrinth movement hardly makes this so-called “meditation tool” very appealing to Christians. But this doesn’t stop retreat centers in need of the Christian market from presenting the labyrinth in ways that will appeal to them.

For instance, some try to “Christianize” it by using terms associated with the Christian mystical tradition although the meanings are radically different (something that is never explained to the walker!).

For instance, the three stages of a typical labyrinth walk are referred to as the purgation, illumination and unitive stages, all of which have meaning in the Catholic mystical tradition. But purgation doesn’t mean turning away from sin and embracing the gospel as it does in Christianity; it means “letting go of the details of your life.” Illumination means to “receive what is there for you to receive” rather than the Catholic concept of illumination which is a new closeness to God after a deeper conversion. The unitive stage in labyrinth language is when one “is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world” not achieving transforming union with God as is taught in the Catholic tradition.

Other retreat centers simply present their labyrinths to the faithful in terms so nebulous no one can figure out what it is, such as this snippet from a retreat center’s website: “When you stand at the threshold of the labyrinth, you stand at the threshold of your own consciousness, ready to step from the exterior to your own interior space, that interior space being represented by the labyrinth.”

Labyrinths are also used in a variety of pagan rituals, many of which can do serious harm to the soul. For example, after publishing an article about the labyrinth in our diocesan newspaper, I got a phone call from a woman whose son had begun to run with a crowd of young men who were all wearing a strange symbol on a chain around their necks. Ever since he began running with this crowd, he stopped going to church and no longer believed in God. It was not until she opened the paper and saw the picture that we ran along with the article that she recognized the symbol her son was wearing – a labyrinth!

The labyrinth might be the hip thing to do at retreat centers these days, but one hardly needs to rely on such a devious device to find God, meditate, or make sense out of life.

There is much more to be said about the labyrinth which is why we have published a booklet about it in our Learn to Discern: Is it Christian or New Age series.

Ragas and labyrinths at a Bible study

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?cat=46&paged=3

By Susan Brinkmann, March 16, 2010

ST asks: “I have been attending a wonderful bible study at a University, led by a priest. There was piano music with instrumental Hindu ragas played prior to the bible study. I was shocked and prayed silently for protection and didn’t fully realize what was going on at the time. Also, the students will be walking a labyrinth for one week during Lent in the same building as Mass and bible study. 
“A priest told me that I could continue to attend these bible studies and Mass at the University, as long as I did not engage in these activities, and if the music is played, to walk out of the room. I learn a great deal from the bible study; however I do not want to do anything that would put my soul in danger. So, I am asking you for your opinion. What do you think?”

I am in complete agreement with the priest who advised you. Attending the bible study is fine, but participating in a labyrinth and Hindu ragas is definitely out-of-line.

For those who may not be aware, the modern version of the labyrinth is a New Age tool often used for wacky purposes such as “finding our soul assignments” and “to continue weaving the Web of Creation.” Even when used as a prayer device, it is often presented as a way to “experience God” or achieve spiritual states that render an encounter with God into something that must be “felt” in order to be authentic. If there’s one thing the mature Christian knows it is to never rely on their feelings when it comes to judging their closeness to God! (See http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=34)

As for Hindu ragas, a raga is a melodic scale of five or more musical notes upon which most classical Hindu melodies are made. This sounds innocent enough until you understand that Hindu music is considered a means of moral or spiritual connection rather than just entertainment.

49.

Ragas are commonly affiliated with certain ethical and emotional properties and some are also associated with magical powers. For instance, one Hindu writer suggests that a raga associated with darkness, if sung during mid-day, has the power to bring darkness upon the earth. For the Christian, this belief is the equivalent of belief in magic or sorcery, which is the deliberate use of occult powers.

The bottom line is that none of these activities belong in a Christian bible study and you should consider writing a letter of complaint to the University’s administration about their incorporation of non-Christian and New Age practices into a Christian study. You have every right, as a Christian, to cry foul, especially if the University neglected to mention in the advertisement for this study that it includes ragas and labyrinths. Commonly held rules of fair disclosure say they should be informing potential students what is in the class, especially if it contains material that is non-Christian and/or controversial (such as the labyrinth). Even if your letter gets no response or ends up in a wastebasket, you have still made the organization aware that their actions have offended someone. Maybe more people would think twice about disrespecting Christians if we spoke our mind more often!
Our Learn to Discern: Is it Christian or New Age series contains a booklet on the labyrinth which is perfect for evangelizing our neighbors, co-workers – and University professors!

On Mandalas, Labyrinths, and other prayer “gimmicks”

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=984#more-984

By Susan Brinkmann, May 24, 2011

MG asks: “I was wondering if someone could give me information on Mandala meditation and Labyrinth walking. My church is planning a retreat for high-schoolers and these two things are included in the retreat.”



The Mandala and Labyrinth are both favorites of New Agers and because of this, the school really should provide parents with some idea about how these will be used in the retreat.

Mandalas, which come from a Sanskrit word meaning circle, are used in Hindu, Buddhist and Tibetan prayer. It is considered in these cultures to be a symbol of the universe and is usually a circle enclosing a square with a deity on each of the four compass points. The mandala is mainly for focusing attention and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.

Aside from its uses in Eastern religions, New Agers have their own unique uses for the mandala. New Age author Lauren D’Silva at http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art26726.asp refers to them as “cosmic maps that connect us to our place in the universe.” She cites an alternative definition of the mandala which says the word is derived from the root word Manda, “which means essence, energy or spirit, and by adding the suffix -la to any Sanskrit word, it becomes the container or vessel for it; thus revealing the Mandala as a container for essence, energy or spirit.”

New Agers believe mandala making is a form of active meditation that allows a person to still the left side of the brain and “allow more intuitive energy to be felt.”

Like the labyrinth, mandalas are popping up all over Catholic retreat houses. Instead of teaching authentic Catholic prayer, they are relying on this and other prayer gimmicks (such as the labyrinth, yoga, centering prayer, etc.) to attract customers.

Because the word means circle, Christine Valters Paintner claimed it was a “universal symbol” of which the communion Host and rosary are supposedly “elemental expressions,” (I’m not kidding) see http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Mandalas.html.

It’s a shame your high school is teaching an eastern form of meditation when our own tradition is so rich! This is especially true because eastern meditation (and its New Age spawns) is not about prayer – it’s a mental exercise designed to raise one’s “level of consciousness.” Trying to combine this style of meditation with the Christian concept of prayer rarely works because the goal of our meditation is, ultimately, personal communion with God.

You can read more about the labyrinth at http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=34.

There is much more to be said about the labyrinth which is why we have published a booklet about it in our Learn to Discern: Is it Christian or New Age series.

For use of the labyrinth in Catholic religious houses, also see

1. Anam Cara

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=70#more-70

By Susan Brinkmann, March 17, 2010

2. Adrian Dominican Sisters

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?cat=6&paged=5

By Susan Brinkmann, June 16, 2010

50.

Click on the image to enter the Women of Grace online store [below: “LABYRINTH“].


Learn to Discern: Is It Christian or New Age?

Labyrinth by Susan Brinkmann – Far from the medieval labyrinths used by Christians as a meditation device, the modern labyrinth movement is a thoroughly New Age gimmick designed to help one discover self-knowledge and their “soul assignments.” Because these labyrinths are found in many Catholic retreat houses today, it’s important to learn the difference between a New Age and a Christian labyrinth. This little booklet gives you all the facts in clear and concise language. (40 pages)

Exorcists disagree on major topics of discernment, from mystics to occult novels

http://www.spiritdaily.org/exorcists.htm

By Michael H. Brown, January 2012

The realm of evil is so difficult to discern. Even exorcists disagree (sometimes profoundly). We have seen the case just recently where one major exorcist, indeed a famous one, from Rome, issued warnings about occult characters like Harry Potter (as, in a way, did the Pope, before he was Pope), while another not famous but highly-educated younger exorcist has stated that there’s no problem with  the novels.

Ditto for other forms of mysticism. There was a loud case in Italy last year when two exorcists publicly disagreed on a major apparition (one intensely criticizing those who did not believe in it — even saying they were sinning in their disbelief, allowing a great manifestation from Heaven to be wasted — while the other called it the work of evil spirits).

Similar disagreement has long hovered over the writings of a mystic, Maria Valtorta, whose works were once on the Vatican’s Index of Forbidden Books (Liborum Prohibitorum); some say they are still a problem, while others state that they are okay to read. (After Vatican II, the “index” was abolished; but does that mean books once so listed are now acceptable, spiritually? For your own judgment!).

There are arguments over many issues and times when we all have to make sure we are not focusing on the devil too much and other times when we have to make sure we are not noticing evil far too infrequently. As a spirit of extremes, the devil prefers we don’t believe in him at all (he is the “prince of darkness”), but, failing that, hopes to draw us to the opposite end of the spectrum (obsession with him). Meanwhile, are “demons” and “unclean spirits” the same thing? Or can unclean spirits also be spirits of the deceased?

This is another conundrum in the realm of deliverance. Notice evil, yes, but never fear life so much that you forget to live.

In the arena of the public (see: the media and Hollywood), where many think the devil is a myth, and where musicians, artists, and assorted other “celebrities” thus use evil motifs (such as skull tattoos or occult symbols on albums), another set of queries is brought up: when is this because they are only goofing around (being cool) and when are they under the influence of dark spirits?

Take the new, rising web browser, Firefox, which is now second only to Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Explorer and is owned by a company called Mozilla. It has been pointed out to us that when you open the Firefox browser and type “about: Mozilla” (without the quotation marks) in the address bar, a very strange screen displays and in a splash of red are the words: “Mammon slept. And the beast reborn spread over the earth and its numbers grew legion. And they proclaimed the times and sacrificed crops unto the fire, with the cunning of foxes. And they built a new world in their own image as promised by the sacred words, and spoke of the beast with their children. Mammon awoke, and lo! It was naught but as followers (the Book of Mozilla, 11:9, tenth edition).”

Amateurish? Yes. Sophomoric (as so many things in our new technological landscape are)? Yes. A bit creepy. But evil? Or a harmless prank? (From what we can garner, it’s basically a play on the rise and fall of Mozilla’s predecessor, the browser Netscape, which first started up on 12/10 in 1994; another of the pop-ups is from “The Book of Mozilla, 12:10.”)

And so, do we want to take a little gag seriously?

The wrong atmospherics, nonetheless. At Denver airport are a bunch of symbols that seem like some a New Age conspiracy while others wander the huge airport and see them as simply part of a larger and awkward attempt at modern art; indeed, it can seem innocuous.

51.

Now, here is another thin line: between presenting material we need to know and granting “glory” to the devil (to use a cliché). We often are at a loss at how much to use as illustrations of evil (not wanting an evil “touch” to be transmitted, which is why, in many cases, besides concern over racy ads, or caustic viewpoints, we often summarize articles and offer a link to the full story only as an option). It is a constant challenge: exposing darkness without energizing it.

Unfortunately, it grows only too well when we ignore it (it is, after all, a metaphysical fungus).

In our church?

One e-mailer informs us of a motherhouse in Nova Scotia, Canada, that has an ad saying, “Life is a Journey so it’s important to set some time aside” and “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher. Oprah Winfrey. Relax…Let Go…Release…and En-Lighten UP!  with Debbie Berry of Indigo Healing Connections & Sound Therapist, Nancy Hilton This weekend workshops will offer a variety of experiential processes awakening the Mind, Body and Spirit Connection; such as Shamanic Journey work, meet your Animal Totems/Guides, Sound Healing/Toning, Meditation,  Connecting to the Angels, the Ancient Art of Crystal Singing and you won’t want to miss En-lighten UP! Social on Saturday Night. Join us for a weekend of En-Lightenment, Fun & Laughter! When: March 2nd – 4th, 2012. Where: Bethany Centre, Antigonish, NS Cost: Single Room & Meals $275.00 Shared Room (2 Twin beds) & Meals $245.00 each 2 people Time: Friday 7PM – Sunday 3PM Pre-Registration is required and must be paid in advance by February 18th, 2012.”

Okay, lighten up: but the New Age? (Debbie is a “Reiki master.”)

We have reported before on the many convents and retreat houses run by nuns who are into therapeutic massage, the labyrinth, color therapy, hypnosis, Reiki, and sundry other dubious endeavors. A Vatican commission investigating religious sisters in the United States recently concluded its inquiry. “Although there are concerns in religious life that warrant support and attention, the enduring reality is one of fidelity, joy, and hope,” Apostolic Visitator Mother Mary Clare Millea said in a January release announcing the submission of her findings to the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Maybe those concerns are about the New Age. If not, we’d be confused (as to why not).  Thus far, no such mention
[http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/wrapping-up-the-visitation-of-women-religious/].

Discernment is in the eyes of the beholder. (We do submit to Rome this article [http://www.spiritdaily.net/newageinfiltration.htm] or this
[http://www.spiritdaily.com/newagefolo1.htm]
from the archives of Spirit Daily.) Even the most well-intentioned (and the sisters in Canada are no doubt well-intentioned) can be deceived.

Would the Virgin Mary manifest an image — as claimed this week — in a gay bar-restaurant? Some might say the Blessed Mother would go anywhere. Some would say that the very nature of the place — a bar — would negate it as an imagining (or work of deception). (The place is called — yes — Hamburger Mary’s.)

Meanwhile, while we anticipate major future events (underscore major), doesn’t the whole “2012” thing have a New Age ring to it?

A princess in Japan recently said that at the end of this year the earth will pierce into a “fifth dimension” that will cause three days of darkness. That perked up the ears of Catholics who (since the end of the 18th century, when it germinated, among French nuns) believe we will one day face three days of such dark. There was also darkness as a plague in the time of Moses. The problem: this princess gets her information by speaking with “UFOs.”

Caution. Discernment.

First and foremost: let us cleanse our innermost souls.

That’s where discernment must begin.

From witches to vampires, former occultists plead for Church to address spiritual dangers

http://www.spiritdaily.net/dancingwithdevil.htm

By Michael H. Brown, November, 2012

There is a deep, deep crevice of the occult, and we might as well admit it.

In our society and particularly among our young is a rising tide that goes beyond previous decades, stretching now to the extreme of even vampirism.

Why is this not addressed?

It’s an unpleasant topic.

Yet, address it we must.

If nothing else, it is a major “prayer need”: For many, many are those who were raised Catholic, received the sacraments, went to catechism classes, and perhaps even Catholic school, yet never heard a word of warning about psychics, necromancers, spiritualists, fortunetellers, mediums, clairvoyants, New Agers, or the like.

“It may come as a surprise to some to learn that many occultists have a Christian background,” writes a former one, Vince McCann, in Dancing with the Devil, a collection of such accounts. “We need to be mindful that past hurts and doctrinal misunderstandings may be preventing occult followers from knowing what Christianity really is.”

Let’s be straight:
there’s no excuse for entering something such as witchcraft — but it happens in a society where witches and vampires and ghost-hunters and mediums are so prominently featured on television, at the same time that there are so few warnings from the pulpit. The young look to feel a spiritual reality, and if they don’t feel it in a church, they search elsewhere.

More than “catechesis,” what our Church needs is plain talk.

52.

There are even times when the clergy promote such things as the labyrinth or yoga. Just this week, an archbishop in India
endorsed a book*
by a priest who extols the virtues of yogic meditation**.

*http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Indian-priest:-Yoga-is-good,-even-for-Christianity-26318.html

**CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA FOR CATHOLICS

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/CARDINAL_OSWALD_GRACIAS_ENDORSES_YOGA_FOR_CATHOLICS.doc

PAPAL CANDIDATE OSWALD CARDINAL GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/PAPAL_CANDIDATE_OSWALD_CARDINAL_GRACIAS_ENDORSES_YOGA.doc

We don’t like to go too far with such matters, but yoga truly is in need of further discernment. Notes a former medium, Laura Maxwell, in the book: “Within yoga even the trained yogis admit the basics of the first stage in yoga are designed to attain mystical union with the Universal Spirit. Yogis admit that the main aim for practicing yoga is not merely to relax or enjoy gentle exercise but to gain occult powers.” (Print this and send it to your church if there is yoga or the enneagram going on.)

The greatest problem, however, is in society itself — which is now awash with the preternatural. Astrology. Wizards.

Brian Reed was a “vampire.” How’d that happen? “The more vampire stuff I read, the more vampire-like I became, but probably not in the way you’re thinking,” he contributes. “Hollywood loves to glamorize the covert seduction associated with the traditional vampire. The idea of an innocent victim becoming eternally damned along with him seems to appeal to a lot of people. However, what comes across the silver screen is cartoon-like compared to the real thing. There are no Transylvanian accents or black capes, no covens of us living in New Orleans, and thank goodness no one sparkles in the sunlight. The only similarity with Hollywood’s depiction is that a vampire wants to blend into society and not be noticed. I actually looked more like a condescending preppie. The first day I drank blood is etched in my memory as the day things in my wretched existence began to go horribly wrong.”

This makes us look especially close and hard at Catholic commentators who defend occult novels like “Harry Potter.” Harmless?

Since the series, there has been a surge in witchcraft.

These poor kids even end up seeing demonic apparitions.

Or falling into insanity.

“I later found out that psychiatric wards are filled with people who sought power through the occult and ended up weak, hopeless, and broken,” says Griffin. “Even though occultists put up a front and claim to be fearless, most are frightened, broken, and lonely inside.

“Occultists, vampire fanatics, witches, etcetera are all searching for power to keep from being destroyed by this cruel world.”

It’s our duty to show that Power to them.

Experience the Labyrinth (Insert New Age Music Here)

http://www.challies.com/articles/experience-the-labyrinth-insert-new-age-music-here [This is Protestant -Michael]

By Tim Challies

When I hear the word “labyrinth” I immediately think of that awful movie from the 80’s starring David Bowie. If you grew up in the 80’s I’m sure you remember it – the one that launched that career of Jennifer Connelly and brought so much pleasure to so many young girls (it seems the girls liked the movie more than the boys).

Of course, and unfortunately, labyrinth also has a religious connotation, as it describes an ancient but recurring technique of supposedly experiencing God. Many ancient cathedrals had labyrinths built into their floors and going through this labyrinth while meditating on the proper things at the proper time was supposed to bring great spiritual enlightenment. And since these bad habits of the past seem to continue to haunt the church of the present, the labyrinth is finding new life. I wish I could say it was held to only the lunatic fringe, but it is gaining popularity even in evangelical circles.

A version of the labyrinth is currently being sold by Group Publishing. Other versions are available. To catch a glimpse of what the labyrinth offers, you can check out Youth for Christ’s site and take a few minutes to go through their exceptionally-poorly designed Flash labyrinth. They recommend you take off your shoes (I suppose the labyrinth must be holy ground) and allow yourself 40 minutes. While you go through you will be serenaded with new age music and slow, deliberate narrative. Don’t be fooled by the Bible quotes in the first station – you won’t hear much more Scripture on your journey. Instead you will hear things like:

You are out in space
Floating, weightless, calm and secure
Seeing things clearer than ever before
Watching the earth
Listening to its uninterrupted stream of noise
From the silence of infinite space
From here there are no visible countries
It’s not like a map or a globe
There are no lines for territories
No colours to mark out countries, historical separations, human definitions…


Just rock, sea, forest and desert
Evolving, eroding, reforming, colliding
Life, death, birth, turning –
Movements and currents
Massive and caught up in the energy of creation
You are looking for signs of ownership but none are visible
You are looking for clues of permanence
But all is slowly changing
To who does this all belong?
Who has the right to claim its power, plunder its resources?
You are out in space
Breathless and patient
Awe-struck and motionless in front of this big, blue, bright ball
This great glittering, god-filled gift
This unbounded blessing you can only call
Home
In the palm of your hand you hold a small seed
This seed contains all the information needed to reproduce its own kind
You plant the seed in some soil
As you do so, feel the moist earthiness of the soil
Think of the darkness the seed experiences before it can spring to life –
on the brink of creation there is darkness
As you plant the seed you are participating in one of the greatest mysteries of the cosmos –
you are co-creating with God. Together you give birth to life.
As the seed grows and flowers it is a symbol of your love and care of nature, creation, of the planet, of home.

Profound, isn’t it? Through that experience I was able to plant a seed and participate in one of the greatest mysteries of the cosmos – creating heresies with God. Together we gave birth to utter, complete, unadulterated nonsense. And I guess I am supposed to feel better for it.

If you are uncomfortable listening to the ongoing music and narrative, you can go to this site and read the narrative free from any new age droning in the background. It is shocking. It bears a much closer resemblance to the religions of the East than the teachings of the Bible. Listen to this: “Mary was also given a challenge. She was asked to carry The Word, the pulse of the cosmos within her. She literally carried God into the world. Mary said yes and changed the course of history – took a gamble on the divine, flouted the odds.” Strangely, I don’t remember Mary being given a choice. Did God offer her a deal and ask that she ponder it for a while? No, He told her that she would be found with child and that was that. Sure she submitted to God’s will and showed a great display of faith, but her “yes” did nothing to change the course of history! Is Jesus the pulse of the cosmos? What is this nonsense?

The labyrinth is described as a place of “meditative prayer” and “contemplative prayer” – two concepts that have been largely absent from Protestantism until recent days when the teaching of Catholic mystics like Nouwen and Manning have found wide acceptance by evangelicals. Today such concepts, which might involve chanting a single word for 20 minutes or deliberately turning off one’s mind, are considering effective ways of deepening one’s walk with Christ – or at least appealing to those who have no use for the church.

It is tragic, isn’t it? When did the Bible stop being enough? Why are believers turning away from the Word, and turning instead towards mysticism and attempts to know and experience God apart from His complete revelation of Himself. And when did we lose sight of the preaching of the gospel as they way to reach the lost? Throughout history people have rejected God and rejected our best efforts to convince them to accept Him. Changing our methods to more closely mimic the world’s will do nothing to change the fact that the number of those who hate God will always outnumber those who love Him.

Avoid the labyrinth and any other method that might seek to convince you that you can know and experience God apart from His Word. Immerse yourself in the Word and God will speak to you with clarity, conviction and power!

COMMENT:

I have a friend whose favorite movie is “The Labyrinth”. She goes witnessing every Friday, and has zeal to get people saved. She grew up in the New Age movement, but rejected it and became a Christian about 8 years ago. Yet, she stills holds on to many aspects of it, such as the Labyrinth movie, and faeries/fairies. But, she doesn’t listen to “Enya” music because it’s “too New Age.” She would like to think of herself as an expert on the heresy of the New Age movement and its contrasts to Christianity, but she can’t even see how wrong some of the things she herself holds on to are. She thinks the movie is “beautiful,” but when I saw it I thought it was completely disgusting. She even has a “Labyrinth” movie poster, and the soundtrack cassette tape. Basically, she contradicts herself with every other sentence she says. Ugh. -Kristy

54.

The labyrinth promoted in a liberal Catholic site* that endorses New Age and dissent against Rome:

Book Review – The Labyrinth Experience

http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=13872

May 20, 2009

What’s the difference between a maze and a labyrinth?

Sister of St Joseph Lorraine N. Villemaire has a pithy response: A maze is a puzzle to be solved; a labyrinth is a path to be walked. She has published The Labyrinth Experience, a resource to help educators introduce students to labyrinths. It provides information about the history of labyrinths, themes and designs and instructions on how to walk a labyrinth.

Villemaire said her 132-page soft-cover book explains how a labyrinth can be used to increase interest in all academic subjects. “Connecting labyrinths with academic subjects fosters growth in students’ self esteem, respect, positive thinking and relaxation,” she said: Music, art, language, history, problem solving and other subjects can be tied into labyrinths.

– Cori Urban Full review at The Republican
LINK
www.labyrinthexperience.com

*See CHURCH RESOURCES CATHNEWS-AN ANTICATHOLIC NEWS SITE

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/CHURCH_RESOURCES_CATHNEWS-AN_ANTICATHOLIC_NEWS_SITE.doc.

THE LABYRINTH IN THE INDIAN CHURCH

The labyrinth‘s association with Interplay* in this article in India’s leading New Age magazine, Life Positive:

*See the detailed Interplay report FR PRASHANT OLALEKAR-INTERPLAY AND LIFE POSITIVE

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/FR_PRASHANT_OLALEKAR-INTERPLAY_AND_LIFE_POSITIVE.doc]

Write Therapy – Unheard voices, untold stories

http://www.lifepositive.com/Mind/Write_Therapy/Unheard_voices_untold_stories82009.asp

By Nandini Murali, August 2009 EXTRACT

A writer’s workshop that knitted together yoga, meditation, and interplay had a transformative impact on the participants.
A report

“I invite you all to tell your tale that you’ve been longing to tell… a longing deeper than words… to discover your personal story is part of Her story… an integral part of the Cosmic story… We’re part of the new story…” intoned Sr Margaret Gonsalves, feminist theologian, and founder of ANNNI (Alliance of Nari Nar Nisarg Ishwar) Woman Man-Nature God, a spiritual movement to foster the feminine, and transform systems that have traditionally suppressed it.



Invocation of the Divine before the start of a day

The unusual welcome was followed by an invocation to Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom*. A fitting beginning to the Women Writers’ workshop organised by ANNNI from May 4 7, 2009, at Pasayadan Holistic Spirituality Centre, Vasai, 70 km from Mumbai. I was among the workshop participants. Interestingly, the workshop was inclusive in its approach to gender and was also open to men who were in touch with the feminine in themselves. Fr Prashanth Olalekar, PhD; Director, Pasayadan Holistic Spirituality Centre, and Sharukh Vazifdar**, mechanical engineer by training and presently a correspondent at Life
Positive participated. The thematic workshop on “Telling and writing our stories” was facilitated by Katherine Keefer, US based artist, sculptor, and writer. The workshop, with a focus on autobiographical writing, provided a safe space for women writers to recall, process, and record their personal life
experiences as a tool for personal and spiritual growth.[…]
We began each day with morning yoga, and movement
meditation
***led by Maggie Gonsalves and Prashant Olalekar. The yoga, which included ‘yoga facial’, was a great way to start the day. The stimulation of the pressure points on the face and neck rejuvenated us
and set the ideas flowing (as we were to discover later!) The Movement
Meditation

that consisted of the sublime ‘Touching the Earth’ meditation
and the Labyrinth Walk
****, a sacred inward journey, enabled me to get inside myself, and access my inner recesses. As I walked step by step across the labyrinth****, purposefully and mindfully, the concerns I chose to focus on seemed to evaporate and dissipate during the return journey.

55.


Spiritual essence
The writing sessions were interspersed with Interplay, a body based improvisational arts practice that weaves together movement, song, and storytelling. These activities infused the process of writing with a spiritual essence. Indeed it was no mere coincidence that all the writers were also deeply engaged as seekers in a spiritual quest. It also enabled me to experience the reality that writing is not just a mental process but rooted in bodily experience and wisdom; an integration of the human trinity of body, mind, and spirit.

Participants also explored “seed” ideas to generate potential themes for stories. These encapsulated core issues. Some of the “seeds” that germinated during the workshop centred on themes as varied as forgiveness, spirituality, nature, food, death, fear, patriarchy, feminism, illness, infertility, and voices. We then chose one ‘seed’ to sow, water, and nurture with our creativity
and imagination.

The detailed Interplay [which is indisputably New Age] report was first published in DECEMBER 2010 and updated in NOVEMBER 2011 and again in MAY 2012.

Two years prior to the release of the Interplay report, I had written this letter:

TO
MOST REV. THOMAS DABRE, BISHOP OF VASAI, WHO WAS ALSO
CHAIRMAN OF THE DOCTRINAL COMMISSION OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF INDIA:

From:
prabhu
To:
vasaidiocese@gmail.com
Sent: Saturday, November 22, 2008 2:03 PM

Subject: NEW AGE PROGRAMMES BY FATHER PRASHANT OLALEKAR SJ. IN VASAI

Dear Bishop Thomas,

I received two letters which I reproduce below. This priest is conducting spirituality and meditation courses at the Pasayadaan Holistic Spirituality Centre* in your diocese of Vasai**.

It seems like Fr. Olalekar’s mentor initiated him into this program through contact with the dead, the “spirit” of a dead woman. This is necromancy and spiritualism if I understand correctly, and so what good can the course offer anyone, especially Catholics? *See pages 6, 10 and 18 of my Interplay report **Dabre is now Bishop of Poona

Also, I do not know if it is an advertising or Google issue, but whatever link I clicked on in the many of this article prepared by this Marita, I was connected to hard occult and New Age stuff like Quantum Touch, Silva Mind Control, Chakra Energy Healing, etc.

May I request you to please immediately investigate this priest and his centre and stop him before he causes grave and irreparable spiritual damage to your flock? Kindly acknowledge receipt.

In Jesus’ Name, Michael Prabhu

Bishop Thomas Dabre did not respond to my letter, but here is a letter written by the Bishop to Fr. Prashant Olalekar SJ just a month later. The InterPlay priest is on the Bishop’s mailing list!!!!!

From:
Bishop Thomas Dabre
To:
polalekar@yahoo.co.in; Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 1:53 PM

Subject: Christmas Greetings

This is to wish you a happy Christmas and a fruitful New Year. Jesus is God’s greatest gift to all mankind. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life for all of us. In him God became a human being like us and for us. He teaches us to love human life and protect it. But the persecution of Christians in Orissa and other places in India and recent Mumbai terrorist attacks show that human beings are destroying human life. Therefore we need to be all the more promoters of life.
I wish you all the joy and peace and light and truth of Christ. May you enjoy every day of the New Year 2009.
In union with Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, Mary.
Bishop Thomas Dabre
Bishop of Vasai

MY SEPTEMBER 2011 LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF BOMBAY, VASAI AND POONA, COPIED TO INTERPLAY PROMOTERS AND THEIR ASSOCIATES

From:
prabhu
To:
Archbishop’s House ; abpossie@gmail.com ; abpossie@sancharnet.in ; diocesebombay@gmail.com ; Ferdinand Fonseca ; Percival Fernandez ; agnelorg@gmail.com ; bp_bosco@vsnl.net ; vasaidiocese@gmail.com ; bishopdabre@gmail.com ; punedioc@vsnl.com

Cc:
prash7654@gmail.com ; polalekar@yahoo.co.in ; prash7654@yahoo.co.in ; jaime.ligia@yahoo.co.in ; jaime.ligia@gmail.com ; jai_lig@yahoo.co.in ; interplayindia@gmail.com ; mgonsal@gmail.com ; jvsadan@gmail.com ; janetpinto@vsnl.com ; marita4@rediffmail.com ; zealheal@gmail.com ; Fr Cedric ; cedricprakash@gmail.com ; bcsabha.kalina@gmail.com ; president@bcsabha.org ; contactgordon@gmail.com ; contact@bcsabha.org ; atma@mtnl.net.in

Sent: Friday, September 23, 2011 10:10 AM

Subject: “INTERPLAY” – FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR, JAIME AND LIGIA DA FONSECA

Dear Most Reverend Archbishop and Bishops of the Bombay archdiocese,

I understand that “Interplay” — introduced in your archdiocese by Jesuit Fr. Prashant Olalekar — is to be conducted at the parish of the Sacred Heart Church in Santa Cruz by the Marriage Encounter* couple Deacon Jaime and his wife Ligia da Fonseca as per the church “notices” of last Sunday:

25th Sunday of the Year

18th September 2011

56.

5. The Parish Council members, Steering Committee and the Heads of the Associations are reminded of the “Interplay” session (a holistic spiritual practice to unlock your Body Wisdom on 25th September from 5:30 to 8:30 pm in the School Hall. Deacon Jaime and Ligia will be conducting this session.

“Interplay” sessions are conducted already on a regular basis at the Retreat House [Jivan Vikas Sadan], Bandra.

Please click on the link given below to access the December 2010 document written by me on the New Age affiliations of Interplay.

FR PRASHANT OLALEKAR – INTERPLAY AND LIFE POSITIVE

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/FR_PRASHANT_OLALEKAR_INTERPLAY_AND_LIFE_POSITIVE.doc. [42 pages]

That report is to be updated to include information showing “Interplay”s association with the Enneagram [which is both New Age and occult] and with Dharma Bharathi [Mulanthuruthy], a New Age ashram headed by an ex-nun in Kerala.

I also understand that some lay Catholics have already approached particular priests and bishops with appeals to stop “Interplay”, but to no avail.

Now, after you read my report, I trust that you will do the needful to intervene and stop “Interplay” from being promoted by Catholics in Catholic institutions.

Obediently,

Michael Prabhu

Catholic apologist

www.ephesians-511.net

Under copy to the Retreat House, Fr Prashant Olalekar, the Fonsecas, and others associated with Interplay.

*From:
prabhu
To:
abpossie@gmail.com ; abpossie@sancharnet.in ; diocesebombay@gmail.com ; agnelorg@gmail.com ; bp_bosco@vsnl.net ; vasaidiocese@gmail.com ; bishopdabre@gmail.com ; punedioc@vsnl.com ; Percival Fernandez ; Archbishop’s House
Cc:
prash7654@gmail.com ; polalekar@yahoo.co.in ; prash7654@yahoo.co.in ; jaime.ligia@yahoo.co.in ; jaime.ligia@gmail.com ; jai_lig@yahoo.co.in ; interplayindia@gmail.com ; mgonsal@gmail.com ; jvsadan@gmail.com ; janetpinto@vsnl.com ; marita4@rediffmail.com ; zealheal@gmail.com ; cedricprakash@gmail.com ; bcsabha.kalina@gmail.com ; president@bcsabha.org ; contactgordon@gmail.com ; contact@bcsabha.org ; atma@mtnl.net.in ; Fr Cedric
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 12:39 PM

Subject:
Fw: “INTERPLAY” – FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR, JAIME AND LIGIA DA FONSECA//APOLOGY AND CORRECTION OF ERROR

I apologize to all addressees of my email of September 23 for stating that Jaime and Ligia da Fonseca are a Marriage Encounter [ME] team couple. That was an error on my part.

While they did do their ME weekend in Goa, I am informed that they were [or still are], however, active in Couples for Christ.

Michael Prabhu

NO RESPONSE WAS RECEIVED FROM THE CHURCH HIERARCHY TO BOTH ABOVE LETTERS. HOWEVER, THERE WERE AUTOMATED RESPONSES FROM THE EMAIL ID OF FR. OLALEKAR

From: “Prashant Olalekar” <prash7654@gmail.com> To: <michaelprabhu@vsnl.net>

Sent: Friday, September 23, 2011 10:20 AM

Subject: Re: “INTERPLAY” – FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR, JAIME AND LIGIA DA FONSECA

Please note my new email ID is <olalekar@gmail.com> Please delete this old ID. Thanks.
Blessings of Peace, Prashant

From: “Prashant Olalekar” <prash7654@gmail.com> To: <michaelprabhu@vsnl.net>

Sent: Wednesday September 28, 2011 1:08 PM

Subject: Re: Fw: Re: “INTERPLAY” – FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR, JAIME AND LIGIA DA FONSECA

[As above]

MY MAY 2012 LETTER REGARDING INTERPLAY TO THE CARDINAL AND A BISHOP OF BOMBAY

From:
prabhu
To:
diocesebombay@gmail.com ; Archbishop’s House ; abpossie@gmail.com

Cc:
St.Pius College ; agnelorg@gmail.com
Sent: Monday, May 07, 2012 7:07 AM

Subject: FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR USES “INTERPLAY” DURING HIS HOMILY

KIND ATTENTION

HIS EMINENCE OSWALD CARDINAL GRACIAS, ARCHBISHOP OF BOMBAY

MOST REV. AGNELO RUFINO GRACIAS, AUXILIARY BISHOP OF BOMBAY

Dear Cardinal Oswald and Bishop Agnelo,

I received the following email which is self-explanatory.

From:
Name withheld
To:
prabhu
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2012 9:27 PM Subject: Re: Mail

Dear Michael,
Fr Prashant Olalekar was invited to our parish, St Anthony’s Church Malwani, Malad (W), Mumbai on Vocation Sunday [January 22nd?] to say the 9:15 am mass.

In his sermon he spoke about how he joined the priesthood. Mainly about how his father did not approve of him to join but he eventually did. He then followed it up with how he went for a home rehabilitating prostitutes. There was this one girl and he asked her what she was holding in her hand (a doll) and she said this is Bhagwan. And he said that the doll is you. He then spoke about how at Interplay he made people break the ice in their life.

The vocation prayer was a song for which he made the congregation stretch out their hands and sing, “I am the hands, I am the feet.” I can’t remember the rest, but it had nowhere close to any form of prayer. It did not even mention God. He just followed his song by the final blessing, and that is how we ask the Lord to get vocations in our church.

I am obliged to bring it to your attention because Interplay, which is fostered by your archdiocese, is New Age.

The evidence is available at

FR PRASHANT OLALEKAR-INTERPLAY AND LIFE POSITIVE

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/FR_PRASHANT_OLALEKAR_INTERPLAY_AND_LIFE_POSITIVE.doc

for your necessary action please.

Yours obediently,

Michael Prabhu

CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS‘ RESPONSE:

From:
Archbishop Bombay
To:
prabhu
Sent: Friday, May 25, 2012 2:43 PM

Subject: Re: FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR USES “INTERPLAY” DURING HIS HOMILY

Email to Mr Michael Prabhu (michaelprabhu@vsnl.net)

May 23, 2012

Dear Mr Prabhu,

I have your email of May 7, 201 re: Fr Olalekar.  I have sent it to the Parish Priest for a clarification.

With kind regards and best wishes,

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Oswald Cardinal Gracias

Archbishop of Bombay

Archdiocese of Bombay, 21 Nathalal Parekh Marg, Mumbai 400 001, +91-022-22021093/1193/1293, Fax +91-022-22853872, Archdiocese website: http://archbom.org

MY COMMENTS

The Cardinal did not respond to the information that Interplay — the propagation of which is supported by his archdiocese — is New Age. Now, we must wait and see if he will communicate to us the response of his parish priest. [Update, May 01, 2013: He did not!]

MY SECOND LETTER OF MAY 2012 TO THE CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP OF BOMBAY

From:
prabhu
To:
abpossie@gmail.com ; diocesebombay@gmail.com
Sent: Sunday, May 27, 2012 10:21 PM

Subject: Re: FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR…

Your Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias,

While I thank you for your response, may I point out to you that there were three parts to my communication to you. They are:

1. That Interplay is New Age;

2. That the Archdiocese of Bombay is helping promote it;

3. That Fr. Prashant Olalekar, the main proponent of Interplay misused the Vocation Sunday homily to advertise it.

Your response concerns only the third point of my letter to you. I hope that I will be informed about the parish priest’s reply to you.

My letter of May 7 is not the only one that I wrote you concerning Interplay/Fr. Prashant Olalekar.

I had written to you on September 23, 2011 [excerpt from page 44 of my Interplay report] about Interplay being conducted at Sacred Heart Parish, Mumbai:

MY LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF BOMBAY, VASAI AND POONA, COPIED TO INTERPLAY PROMOTERS

From:
prabhu
To:
Archbishop’s House; abpossie@gmail.com; abpossie@sancharnet.in; diocesebombay@gmail.com; […]

Sent: Friday, September 23, 2011 10:10 AM

Subject: “INTERPLAY” – FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR, JAIME AND LIGIA DA FONSECA […]

Yours obediently,

Michael Prabhu

NO RESPONSE WAS RECEIVED FROM THE CARDINAL

INTERPLAY made its foray into the Bombay-Vasai belt in 2007 as per the records in my INTERPLAY report and as indicated in the Life Positive story, the ‘Touching the Earth’ meditation
and the
Labyrinth Walk
were already alive and well as early as then, the location being the Pasayadaan Holistic Spirituality Centre at Vasai where Fr Prashant Olalekar, SJ was the
Director

and the then Bishop,
Thomas Dabre, was the Chairman, Doctrinal Commission, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

While Fr. Paul Vaz SJ‘s Earth-Centered Retreat ads first appeared in the Bombay archdiocesan weekly The Examiner in January 2007, see FR PAUL VAZ-ENNEAGRAM WORKSHOPS AND EARTH CENTRED HEALING RETREATS http://ephesians-511.net/docs/FR_PAUL_VAZ-ENNEAGRAM_WORKSHOPS_AND_EARTH_CENTRED_HEALING_RETREATS.doc, they were a logical succession to the ‘Touching the Earth’ meditation
and the
Labyrinth Walk
which were already sanctioned by the bishops.

In connection with the New Age retreats of Fr. Paul Vaz, I had written to the Cardinal Archbishop of Bombay and the Archbishop of Goa on April 22, but there has been no response till the time of filing this report.

58.

The first independent labyrinth notification — at least the one that I came across — in The Examiner in recent years was in the issue of May 7, 2011 captioned “Retreat for Christian Meditators” in the Local News column.

35 meditators from various Christian Meditation groups in Mumbai met for a Lenten Meditation Weekend Retreat conducted by Br. Kevin Ward CFC and Christopher Mendonca at Salvation school, Dadar on April 16-17. […]

The programme started with an introduction to Silence and stilling the senses. The stage was set with insights into the very nature of God, dispelling the myth of a judgemental God doling out reward and punishment. […]

The ancient religious symbol of the labyrinth was used to depict the pilgrimage of life and growth. The Labyrinth (not to be confused with the Maze) leads us unerringly, but in a round-about manner (three steps forward, two steps backward) to the centre. The programme included a virtual Way of the Cross in Triads…

Christopher Mendonca is a leader, along with yoga proponent Fr. Joe Pereira of Kripa Foundation, Mumbai, of the out-and-out New Age World Community for Christian Meditation [WCCM], see FR JOE PEREIRA-KRIPA FOUNDATION-WORLD COMMUNITY FOR CHRISTIAN MEDITATION

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/FR_JOE_PEREIRA-KRIPA_FOUNDATION-WORLD_COMMUNITY_FOR_CHRISTIAN_MEDITATION.doc

It seems that anything goes but a sacramental, Christocentric spirituality, and the bishops condone the propagation of this New Age ridiculousness! The Christian Meditators’ “Retreat” appears, from the write-up, to be a syncretistic blend of Catholic rituals and New Age, which basically is what much of New Age is about.

Christopher Mendonca is a regular contributor of Scripture reflections as well as WCCM propaganda in The Examiner.

In The Examiner issue of June 2, 2012, we read that the Salesians religious order, already heavily into New Age psycho-spiritual techniques and pseudo-counseling, see THE SALESIANS, OSWALD CARDINAL GRACIAS AND NEW AGE PSYCHOLOGIST CARL ROGERS
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/THE_SALESIANS_OSWALD_CARDINAL_GRACIAS_AND_NEW_AGE_PSYCHOLOGIST_CARL_ROGERS.doc and

SANGAM INTEGRAL FORMATION AND SPIRITUALITY CENTRE, GOA-NEW AGE PSYCHOLOGY, ETC.

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/SANGAM_INTEGRAL_FORMATION_AND_SPIRITUALITY_CENTRE_GOA-NEW_AGE_PSYCHOLOGY_ETC.doc, inaugurate a “Labyrinth Prayer Garden“:

A new Labyrinth Prayer Garden at Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga, was blessed on May 29, 2012, by Fr. Michael Fernandes, Provincial of the Mumbai Province in the presence of the entire Salesian community. Fr. Ian Doulton, Rector of the community, officially inaugurated the Prayer Garden and welcomed one and all to use this eco-friendly setting to get closer to one’s self, others, and God. […]

The Labyrinth Prayer Garden will be open to people of all faiths and age groups. […] At any given moment, the garden can accommodate about thirty pilgrims.

Fr. Fernandes, Provincial, thanked all those responsible for setting up this Prayer Garden and hoped that many more communities in the Province would create such Prayer Gardens to enable our young people to become more prayerful, serene and reflective.

What a devious way of diverting people away from the Most Blessed Sacrament where the Lord of all creation, adored and worshiped by countless saints, awaits, to focusing on His creation. What an ingenious way of negating or diluting the powerful aids to prayer that the Church has developed and made easily available to the faithful over two millennia. This is one more of those inter-faith adventures; hence missing are Jesus Christ, the Real Presence, His Mother, the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary and other Catholic realities which would offend the sensibilities of people of other faiths.

The Examiner issues of December 15, 2012, January 5, 2013, and January 12, 2013 under News Local Forthcoming Events announce the availability of the Don Bosco Youth Services, Matunga, Labyrinth Prayer Garden giving the name of Fr. Glenford Lowe as the priest to be contacted for those who would like “to get in touch with Self, Others, World and God”. Since The Examiner is an archdiocesan weekly for Catholics, it means that the invitations are addressed to Catholics, offering them an alternative spirituality to the traditional Catholic devotions that they have been groomed in, a spirituality that is loaded with New Age.

I WROTE TWO LETTERS TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF BOMBAY CONCERNING THE LABYRINTH

1. From:
Michael Prabhu
To:
abpossie@gmail.com
Cc:
Archbishop’s House ; Archbishop Bombay

Sent: Friday, May 03, 2013 7:26 AM

Subject: NEW AGE: LABYRINTH PRAYER GARDEN AT DON BOSCO PROVINCIAL HOUSE, MATUNGA, MUMBAI

HIS EMINENCE OSWALD CARDINAL GRACIAS

ARCHBISHOP OF BOMBAY

Dear Cardinal Oswald Gracias,

A Labyrinth Prayer Garden has been inaugurated in your archdiocese at the Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga, Mumbai.

It is being used by Catholics.

59.

The labyrinth is New Age.

Your archdiocesan weekly, The Examiner issues of June 2, 2012, December 15, 2012, January 5, 2013 and January 12, 2013 carried information about the labyrinth.

I trust that you will ensure that the Salesians close this Labyrinth Prayer Garden so that Catholics are safeguarded from error and spiritual harm.

Yours obediently,

Michael Prabhu

Catholic apologist, Chennai

michaelprabhu@vsnl.net; http://www.ephesians-511.net

2. From:
Michael Prabhu
To:
abpossie@redifmail.com
Cc:
Archbishop Bombay
Sent: Friday, May 03, 2013 5:44 PM

Subject: NEW AGE: ASSOCIATION BETWEEN THE LABYRINTH AND FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR’S INTERPLAY

HIS EMINENCE OSWALD CARDINAL GRACIAS

ARCHBISHOP OF BOMBAY

Dear Cardinal Oswald Gracias,

This morning, I sent you an email regarding the opening of a Labyrinth Prayer Garden in your archdiocese by the Salesians at the Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga, and the regular advertising of it in the Local News column of your archdiocesan weekly, The Examiner. I trust that you have read the email and arranged to ensure that the Labyrinth Prayer Garden is closed.

Concerning Interplay, I had written to you on September 23, 2011, alerting you about the propagation of Interplay
in parishes of your archdiocese, and in that email I had given the link to

FR PRASHANT OLALEKAR-INTERPLAY AND LIFE POSITIVE

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/FR_PRASHANT_OLALEKAR_INTERPLAY_AND_LIFE_POSITIVE.doc, the report on Interplay at my website, but I did not hear from you.

Once again, on May 07, 2012, I had written to you about developments regarding Interplay in a parish, to which letter you had replied to me that you were seeking clarification from the parish priest. I did not hear from you after that. I immediately wrote back to you that you had only responded to one point in my letter, glossing over two others, and reminding you of my earlier email of September 23, 2011. However, I did not hear from you in return.

Now I would like to elaborate on my email letter of this morning. India’s leading New Age magazine LIFE POSITIVE wrote a story on Interplay. In that story, they associated Fr. Prashant Olalekar, SJ and Interplay with a Labyrinth Walk conducted at his Centre in Vasai. The details are available on pages 21 through 23 of my referred Interplay report. Interplay, like the labyrinth, is New Age.

Like the labyrinth, Interplay continues to be propagated through The Examiner.

I trust that you will do the needful to stem the spread of New Age in your archdiocese, and its ever-increasing promotion in The Examiner. About this last statement of mine, I will send you a separate report as soon as it is ready.

Yours obediently,

Michael Prabhu

Catholic apologist, Chennai

michaelprabhu@vsnl.net; http://www.ephesians-511.net

MY MOST RECENT LETTERS – TO THE FORMER AND PRESENT BISHOPS OF VASAI

SINCE THE
PASAYADAAN HOLISTIC SPIRITUALITY CENTRE WHOSE DIRECTOR IS FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR SJ IS LOCATED IN THE DIOCESE OF VASAI,
I HAD WRITTEN TO
BISHOP THOMAS DABRE OF VASAI, THE THEN
CHAIRMAN OF THE DOCTRINAL COMMISSION OF THE C.B.C.I., IN 2008, BUT HE DID NOT REPLY, SEE PAGE 56.

ACCORDING TO TIMES OF INDIA JOURNALIST JOEANNA REBELLO, SEE “Let your inner child have a free run November 24, 2008” ON PAGE 11 OF MY INTERPLAY REPORT, FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR SJ HAS APPARENTLY CONDUCTED INTERPLAY AT “the clergy house of Vasai” [THE BISHOP’S HOUSE IN VASAI?]

ON PAGE 13 OF THE SAME REPORT, AN INTERPLAY PROTAGONIST, GARY FIELD, REPORTS THAT BISHOP DABRE CONDUCTED INTERPLAY ALONG WITH HIM, AFTER WHICH HE CONDUCTED FOUR MORE WORKSHOPS IN VASAI DIOCESE WITH THE BLESSING OF THE BISHOP.

BISHOP DABRE OF VASAI WAS ALSO INCLUDED IN MY SEPTEMBER 2011 LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF BOMBAY, VASAI AND POONA, COPIED TO INTERPLAY PROMOTERS AND THEIR ASSOCIATES, AGAIN SEE PAGE 56. I DID NOT RECEIVE A RESPONSE FROM HIM TO EITHER OF MY LETTERS. I NOW WROTE AGAIN:

From:
Michael Prabhu
To:
punedioc@vsnl.com ; bishopdabre@gmail.com
Sent: Friday, May 03, 2013 9:24 PM

Subject: NEW AGE: ASSOCIATION BETWEEN THE LABYRINTH AND FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR’S INTERPLAY

MOST REV. THOMAS DABRE

BISHOP OF POONA {FORMER BISHOP OF VASAI}

Dear Bishop Thomas,

60.

Concerning Fr. Prashant Olalekar’s Interplay, I had written to you in 2008, letter reproduced below.

In 2011, I had emailed you another related letter, once again reproduced below.

I have not been favoured with a reply to both when you were the Bishop of Vasai.

Now, a Labyrinth Prayer Garden has been opened by the Salesians at the Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga, Mumbai.

India’s leading New Age magazine LIFE POSITIVE wrote a story on Interplay. In that story, they associated Fr. Prashant Olalekar, SJ and Interplay with a Labyrinth Walk conducted at his Pasayadaan Holistic Spirituality Centre in Vasai. Interplay and the labyrinth are decidedly New Age.

My December 2010 report on Interplay [the title and link are provided to you in my September 2011 letter reproduced below] records that you participated in the first Interplay workshop conducted by one Gary Field and provided him with the opportunity to conduct a total of five such workshops for Catholic participants in Vasai.

I trust that you will acknowledge this letter and also arrange to ensure that Interplay and the labyrinth are not allowed to affect the traditional spirituality of Catholics by blending it with New Age practices.

Thanking you, Yours obediently,

Michael Prabhu

Catholic apologist, Chennai

michaelprabhu@vsnl.net; http://www.ephesians-511.net

From:
Michael Prabhu
To:
archbp.48@gmail.com ; vasaidiocese@gmail.com
Sent: Friday, May 03, 2013 9:54 PM

Subject: NEW AGE: ASSOCIATION BETWEEN THE NEW AGE LABYRINTH AND FR. PRASHANT OLALEKAR’S INTERPLAY

MOST REV. FELIX ANTHONY MACHADO

ARCHBISHOP OF VASAI

Dear Archbishop Felix,

This email concerns Vasai diocese-based Pasayadaan Holistic Spirituality Centre and Fr. Prashant Olalekar’s Interplay.

I am reproducing below my 2008 letter to Bishop Thomas Dabre, then of Vasai, in this connection.

Also, India’s leading New Age magazine LIFE POSITIVE wrote a story on Interplay. In that story, they associated Fr. Prashant Olalekar, SJ and Interplay with a Labyrinth Walk conducted at his Pasayadaan Holistic Spirituality Centre in Vasai.

Now, a Labyrinth Prayer Garden has been opened by the Salesians at the Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga, Mumbai.

Interplay and the labyrinth are decidedly New Age.

My December 2010 report on Interplay [the title and link are available in my September 2011 letter to the then Bishops of Vasai and Poona, and the Bishops of Bombay, reproduced below] records that Interplay workshops were conducted by one Gary Field for Catholic participants in Vasai under the auspices of Bishop Thomas Dabre.

I trust that you will acknowledge this letter and also arrange to ensure that Interplay and the labyrinth are not allowed to affect the traditional spirituality of Catholics by blending it with New Age practices.

Thanking you, Yours obediently,

Michael Prabhu

Catholic apologist, Chennai

michaelprabhu@vsnl.net; http://www.ephesians-511.net


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EPHESIANS-511.NET- A Roman Catholic Ministry Exposing Errors in the Indian Church Michael Prabhu, METAMORPHOSE, #12,Dawn Apartments, 22,Leith Castle South Street, Chennai – 600 028, Tamilnadu, India. Phone: +91 (44) 24611606 E-mail: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net, http://www.ephesians-511.net

EPHESIANS-511.NET- A Roman Catholic Ministry Exposing Errors in the Indian Church

Michael Prabhu, METAMORPHOSE, #12,Dawn Apartments, 22,Leith Castle South Street, Chennai - 600 028, Tamilnadu, India. Phone: +91 (44) 24611606 E-mail: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net, http://www.ephesians-511.net

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