Category Archives: 10_ Articles

12_Ad Orientem: Cardinal Sarah’s attempt to recover liturgical orthodoxy torpedoed by liberals

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JUNE 17/JULY 5/29, 2016

Ad Orientem: Cardinal Sarah’s attempt to recover liturgical orthodoxy torpedoed by liberals   

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Vatican liturgy chief urges priests to celebrate Mass facing east

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/05/26/vatican-liturgy-chief-urges-priests-to-celebrate-mass-facing-east/

May 26, 2016

Cardinal Robert Sarah made the comments in an exclusive interview with Famille Chrétienne

The Vatican’s liturgy chief has called on priests to celebrate Mass facing east.

In an interview with the French Catholic magazine Famille Chrétienne, Cardinal Robert Sarah said that the Second Vatican Council did not require priests to celebrate Mass facing the people.

This way of celebrating Mass, he said, was “a possibility, but not an obligation”.

Readers and listeners should face each other during the Liturgy of the Word, he said.

“But as soon as we reach the moment when one addresses God – from the Offertory onwards – it is essential that the priest and faithful look together towards the east. This corresponds exactly to what the Council Fathers wanted.”

Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, rejected the argument that priests celebrating Mass facing east are turning their backs on the faithful “or against them”.

Rather, he said, all are “turned in the same direction: towards the Lord who comes”.

“It is legitimate and complies with the letter and spirit of the Council,” he said. “As prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, I wish to recall that the celebration versus orientem is authorised by the rubrics, which specify the times when the celebrant must turn to the people. It is therefore not necessary to have special permission to celebrate facing the Lord.”

Cardinal Sarah’s remarks echo an article he wrote a year ago for L’Osservatore Romano, in which he said it was “altogether appropriate, during the penitential rite, the singing of the Gloria, the orations and the Eucharistic prayer, that everyone, priest and faithful, turn together toward the East, so as to express their intention to participate in the work of worship and redemption accomplished by Christ.”

The cardinal added in the article that Mass facing east could be “implemented in cathedrals, where the liturgical life must be exemplary”.

 

 

In chronological order till page 28

 

Facing East and Papal Fads

https://hughosb.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/facing-east-and-papal-fads/

By Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB, February 14, 2011

Recently I was at a meeting on liturgy when the subject of facing east was raised. One person at the meeting referred to the fact that the Holy Father (Pope Benedict XVI) has clearly stated his preference for facing east, or ad orientem, in the appropriate parts of the liturgy. I was not expecting an enthusiastic response (most present were well over 50 years of age) but I was still quite shocked was one priest started pulling mocking faces at the mention of the Holy Father’s preference and another then asserted that we need to beware of the “fads of popes, no matter who they are”.

“The fads of popes”. Apart from the clearly disrespectful tone of such a remark, what engaged my attention was the number of questions such a remark raised. Can popes have fads when it comes to teaching on liturgy and theology? Why is it that the fads of certain liturgists can be so readily accepted but the alleged fads of popes so firmly resisted? More importantly, how can the universal practice of Latin and eastern Christendom for the best part of 1900 years be reduced now to a “fad”?

So rather than rant, it seems more fruitful to look very briefly at the ad orientem issue, that is, of facing east in the liturgy. The first thing to note is that it has never actually been abolished! The change in the late 1960s was to permit Mass with the priest facing the people, versus populum, without ever restricting the right to face east. Indeed in the rubrics of the new Mass it was clearly assumed at the Offertory that the priest had been facing east, for they specify that after the washing of the hands, the priest then “stands at the centre of the altar, facing the people” before he invites them to pray for the acceptance of the sacrifice. Why specify this all of a sudden unless it was assumed that until this point the priest had not been facing the people? This same specification, “facing the people” occurs again before the priest shows the Host to the people after the Agnus Dei, and again after the prayer after communion and before he gives the final blessing. Clearly the rubrics assume that the priest has been facing east.

Facing east is a most ancient and venerable tradition in Christian liturgy. It is pregnant with meaning. At the time of the early Church Jews spread throughout the world would turn towards Jerusalem, whatever direction that might actually be for them, in order to link their prayer to the worship of the Temple. By contrast Christians prayed facing east, towards the New Jerusalem, the coming of which they awaited and towards which they were spiritually journeying. Facing west was to face the evil of this world. Thus in the early baptismal liturgies described by St Ambrose or St Cyril of Jerusalem, among others, the one about to be baptised first faced to the west to renounce Satan and all his works, and then turned around (conversus in Latin) to face east to profess faith in Christ, that is physically “converted” his or her body as a symbol of turning to Christ, of spiritual conversion. For such a congregation to face west for worship would have been scandalous!

The east is, of course, the direction of the rising sun, a symbol of the incarnation of Christ, as well as Christ’s rising from the dead and of Christ returning at the end of time – “the tender mercy of our God, the morning sun which will rise upon us” (Luke 1:78). So it was clearly appropriate that priest and people all faced east for worship of God and Christ. The celebration of the Eucharist is not only a commemoration of a past event and a renewal of the Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary, but it is also a preparation for a future event, the Second Coming of Christ – “as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (the prayer after the Our Father at Mass). Thus St John of Damascus could write:

…the Lord Himself said, “Even as the lightning comes from the east and shines to the west, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be”. So, then, in expectation of His coming we worship towards the East.

What should be clear from all this is that the Mass, and all worship, is not about us. We might do it, but our object and focus is God. I remember hearing constantly in the 80s the fashionable (faddish, perhaps?) liturgists (usually amateur, to be fair) proclaiming that “liturgy” was a “celebration of community”. In Christian terms this could not be more wrong. We celebrate the glory of God and God’s love for us in Christ, and not ourselves. Self-celebration is an insidious form of narcissism which breeds self-satisfaction. If we are satisfied with ourselves, if we are just fine to the point that we can celebrate ourselves, what need is there for repentance, ongoing conversion and God’s grace? The most potent symbol of such a tendency is found in standing around the altar in a circle – everyone faces each other, and the circle is in effect an enclosure which excludes everyone outside the circle. The dynamics of this, the message it conveys, can hardly be Christian.

When the priest and people are all facing east, and the altar from one side, then the dynamics change, and the focus can more clearly and more easily be placed on God. We are united facing the Lord, even those who come in late at the back of the Church or are too bashful to join the celebratory altar-circle. Moreover, the burden of the subtle expectation that the priest has to entertain the people is removed. It is very difficult when facing a group of people from the front, and usually from an elevated position, not to feel that the focus is on the priest. This surely explains why so many priests feel the need to be constantly talking – all these people focused constantly on them. How many times have we heard mini-sermons at the beginning of Mass as the priest explains the readings, a task which is meant to happen at the homily?

And more disturbingly, at the altar itself during the Eucharistic prayer, it is not unusual to see priests show the Host or chalice to the people as they say the words of consecration “Take this all of you…” The physical dynamic has the unconscious effect on them of making them feel they are talking to the people when in fact the Eucharistic prayer is addressed to the Father! If ever there was a disruption of the meaning and essence of the liturgy it is when this happens.

 

 

 

 

Occasionally one still hears the argument that it is good for the people to see what is going on at the altar. But really, what is there to see? Physically not much is happening, the actions are few and discreet. And if the people do not know by now what is happening at the altar they never will.

 

In 2009 the Bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma in the USA, restored Mass facing east in his cathedral. In explaining his move he wrote:

Unfortunately this change [i.e. the priest facing the people at the Eucharistic prayer] had a number of unforeseen and largely negative effects. First of all, it was a serious rupture with the Church’s ancient tradition. Secondly, it can give the appearance that the priest and the people were engaged in a conversation about God, rather than the worship of God. Thirdly, it places an inordinate importance on the personality of the celebrant by placing him on a kind of liturgical stage…. [Facing east] ought not to be misconstrued as the Bishop “turning his back on the faithful,” as if I am being inconsiderate or hostile. Such an interpretation misses the point that, by facing in the same direction, the posture of the celebrant and the congregation make explicit the fact that we journey together to God. Priest and people are on this pilgrimage together.

Bishop Slattery has recognised that our actions and posture can either help or hinder the meaning of our words. Indeed it can hinder the proper celebration of the liturgy. When we talk to a person, we face that person. So too in the liturgy it would make things clearer and more logical if the priest faced the people when he talking to them, and faced God when addressing God on behalf of the people.

One small and easy step to restoring the proper dynamic in worship is the use of the upright altar crucifix, which Pope Benedict constantly does whether he faces east or faces the people. This then becomes a visible focus and reminder of the purpose and focus of liturgy: that we are offering worship to the Father in Christ.

More powerful and effective still, I guess, would be a return to facing east. This, however, would meet fierce opposition from those passionately and unquestioningly committed to the post-conciliar reforms (I will not stoop to say fads, if only because many reforms were very sound). Such a change would require explanation. But surely that would be a wonderful opportunity for catechesis and deeper teaching of our faith and its rites of worship.

Whether our worship be at Mass, or at the divine office, Pope Benedict (when Cardinal Ratzinger) made a profound observation relevant to it:

Doing really must stop when we come to the heart of the matter: prayer (the oratio). It must be plainly evident that prayer (the oratio) is the heart of the matter, but that it is important precisely because it provides a space for the action (actio) of God. Anyone who grasps this will easily see that it is not now a matter of looking at or toward the priest, but of looking together toward the Lord and going out to meet him.

Readers have left 24 comments

 

 

The Flame Re-Ignites: Ad Orientem

https://hughosb.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/the-flame-re-ignites-ad-orientem/

By Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB, May 27, 2016 Emphases theirs, excepting the red bold colour

In the abruptly-curtailed pontificate of Benedict XVI, the issue of the priest celebrating Mass ad orientem became a live topic in mainstream circles. Priests began to summon up the courage to return to the ancient practice which was so needlessly effaced from the life of the Church in the wake of the Council. Then came Pope Francis, who (not least because he is a Jesuit perhaps!) is not much interested in liturgy. This means that in practice he is content not to change any legislation on it (save for the extension to women of the optional mandatum on Maundy Thursday). This hands-off approach is actually a very traditional papal attitude. His sacred indifference has allowed those who had begun to re-align the liturgy with tradition to continue their quiet and increasingly popular work.

So Cardinal Sarah, quite appropriately given his position as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, has re-ignited the debate, encouraging priests to celebrate Mass facing East. He makes the common sense observation that during the Liturgy of the Word the priest faces the people, given that he is addressing them, but when addressing God, as when at the altar, he should face East, an ancient symbolic gesture of a turn to God and to the direction whence Christ would return: the Risen Son returning as the rising sun.

A Benedictine confrère in America (Fr. Ruff) has taken issue with the Cardinal. The title of his piece reveals his stance right from the start. What really upsets Fr Ruff is Cardinal Sarah’s statement that facing East complies with the letter and spirit of the Council:

Of all the arguments for ad orientem – and there are valid arguments out there – this isn’t one of them. Anytime anyone makes a claim about what the Council Fathers wanted, alarm bells should go off for all of us. The discussions of the fathers in the aula, and the things said in the documents they approved, witness a range of views. One has to be cautious about suggesting that all the fathers wanted anything unless the evidence supports the claim.

Now Fr Ruff is writing in a liberal blog so it is actually a piece of fair-mindedness for him to concede the fact that there are valid arguments in favour of maintaining this ancient tradition of the Church, though it may seem, when not viewed within this context, as a statement of the blindingly obvious.

Fr Ruff contends that the Council Fathers tacitly approved Mass facing the people and did not need to legislate in any detail for it. He says experimental Masses facing the people—versus populum—were occurring in the decades before the Council and that the Council Fathers would have been aware of then.

 

 

 

I agree: most of them probably would have, though this is by no means proven. But this makes it even more startling that they made absolutely no mention of it at all. They decided explicitly to allow for the possibility of a limited introduction of the vernacular language into the Mass, in the readings for example. Yet they somehow decided it was not worth mentioning a vastly more untraditional practice as Mass versus populum. Likewise they made no mention at all of Communion in the hand, yet this has become universal and even mandatory in some places, at least for a time.

There is little doubt that the reason why versus populum and Communion in the hand were not included in the conciliar texts is that they would not have been approved by the Council Fathers. Not in a pink fit.

Fr Ruff makes the ideological contention that,

The fathers approved a major paradigm shift – from liturgy as Carolingian clerical drama to liturgy as act of all the people – and then left open what the implications of that shift would be.

Leaving aside the caricaturing employed, this is a veiled way of invoking the now-discredited, and never valid, principle of the “spirit of Vatican II”. To echo Fr Ruff in the first quotation above, anytime anyone makes a claim about paradigm shifts or the spirit of the Council or the Council as an “event” living above and beyond its mere documents, you can be sure that the text of the Council (as approved democratically by the Fathers) is being evaded.

The mind of the Council, of any council in history, is to be found in only one place: its decrees and documents. The Second Vatican Council did not countenance Mass versus populum or Communion in the hand and it if did, it would have said so, as it did with the possibility of limited use of vernacular languages in the Mass. We have seen that the old truism, give them an inch and they will take a mile, has operated with regard to the vernacular at Mass. Yet even without an inch being given by the Council Fathers, versus populum and Communion in the hand have become well-nigh universal. The Consilium which was appointed to enact the decree on the Liturgy pretty much ignored both Council and Pope in their formulations, aided by the deceptions of Annibale Bugnini.

The history of this hijacking, and the mis-application of the Council in general, is now being written, and it is causing those who have hitched their wagons to the “spirit of the Council” grave alarm. They are being stood up to not least by the creature they so vigorously sought to bring to life, an educated and informed laity. A truly impartial reader of the Council decree on the liturgy will struggle to find in it much that legitimises the liturgy that was imposed on the Church in the wake of the Council; imposed not by the Council but by the Consilium of experts who bullied and deceived a pope to get their way, and took advantage of the traditional docility of the Catholic laity. You do not need to look far to find the books that are the vanguard of this searching re-evaluation of the implementation of the Council.

Fr Ruff raises the example of the church of his monastery of Collegeville, a modernist structure built on the eve of the Council according to the principles of the avant-garde in the Liturgical Movement. In this church—with monastic community on one side and the congregation on the other in the nave—an ad orientem Mass, he says, is out of the question:

This wouldn’t work – it would feel to everyone in the nave like the priest was celebrating Mass with only the monastic community and ignoring the congregation.

There are several reasons why we do not have to accept this assertion. The church was built before the liturgical changes, and while this progressive community no doubt had a brave new liturgy in mind when they developed its design, there must have been Masses ad orientem in it. Did people explode from confusion, or indignation at being “ignored”? Of course not. They had grown up with Masses celebrated the traditional way; they knew very well what was going on. Moreover, it is a monastic church, and visitors would have expected Mass to be celebrated in the monastic tradition.

The implication is, though, that people today would not know. And to an extent this would be correct. But why? Because Mass ad orientem has not been celebrated there for decades. No doubt the ancient practice has been labelled there as elsewhere, and with gross misrepresentation, as Mass with the priest having his “back to the people”. The solution is simple and clear: catechesis. As we have seen in the Church so often in the last few decades, so much has not been taught and even many cradle Catholics are in dire need of re-catechesis, not through any fault of their own, but because their pastors have refused to teach the whole and presented only a part, and highly skewed at that.

A few years back, on a Sunday which was also All Saints, I celebrated Mass ad orientem for the rites at the altar. Our choir sang glorious polyphony, including interactive chant settings for the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei which allowed the people to take an active part in the singing; incense smoke filled the air; the tone of the Mass was solemn yet festal. It was the ideal occasion to revisit Mass ad orientem. I preached about it in the homily, linking it to the saints and Christ. After the Mass about 15 laity came up to say how lovely it was, and how powerful they found the symbol of ad orientem once explained to them. None in the monastic community made any comment to me; a couple complained at what they called a major and un-consultative change from the way we celebrate liturgy here. So, needless to say, I have not been able to do it again.

What really irks me is the contention that ad orientem is foreign to the new Mass and its Missal. Those who contend so have clearly never read the rubrics. For the rubrics assume without thinking twice that the priest is, at the relevant times, facing East! Just note the following rubrics:

At the beginning of Mass— 1. “…while the Priest, facing the people, says…”

After the offertory— 29. “Standing at the middle of the altar, facing the people…”

At the Kiss of Peace— 127. “The Priest, turned towards the people…”

At the “Behold the Lamb of God…”— 132. “The Priest genuflects, takes the host and, holding it slightly above the paten or above the chalice, while facing the people, says aloud…”

At the priest’s Communion— 133. “The Priest, facing the altar, says quietly…”

 

 

 

For the Post-Communion prayer— 139. “Then, standing at the altar or at the chair and facing the people, with hands joined, the Priest says: Let us pray.”

Before the dismissal— 141. “Then the dismissal takes place. The Priest, facing the people and extending his hands, says: The Lord be with you…”

At the dismissal— 144. “Then the Deacon, or the Priest himself, with hands joined and facing the people, says: Go forth…”

These constant reminders to the celebrant to face the people at the appropriate time only make sense if the priest’s default position for ritual action is not facing the people. The only time the rubrics feel the need to remind the celebrant to face the altar is at his own Communion, which follows immediately after his showing the sacred species to the people.

Versus populum is clearly not the default position for the ritual action the Mass of Vatican II. Clearly, the Missal assumes the ancient and consistent logical position of facing God when talking to God, and reminding the priest (and this is new and sensible) to face the people when talking to them.

The vernacular is not the worst change to the Mass since the Council. The abandonment of ad orientem and the entrenching of the abuse of Communion in the hand are far worse. To change only these two things would return profundity and a worshipful ambience to the Mass. It would also give joy to those young people who are committed to their faith and to the Church. This is from experience.

Cardinal Sarah is to be applauded for doing his job, and doing it so well. We would all do well to reflect in depth on why the post-conciliar Mass, so radically redesigned by experts to “include” the people, has been so abandoned by them. Moreover, we should ask why people, especially the young, are flocking back to Masses in which tradition is honoured and the worship of God is the clear and consistent focus.

 

25 comments

Fr. Hugh OSB: Perhaps the most essential thing to keep in mind about the Mass, what is truly and most essentially is, above all else: the sacrifice of Calvary made present and effective in the midst of, and for, God’s people the Church. By eating and drinking of the Lamb that has been sacrificed we share in the benefits of that sacrifice. Since the Lamb is also God, its benefits are infinite, limited only by our ability or worthiness to receive them. During the canon we step outside time into eternity, and stand again (mystically but no less really) at the Cross.

As a priest, when I have to face the people, that becomes so much harder to keep in mind. And when the people have to look at my face, or that of another priest, they no doubt feel the same.

We tinker with it at our peril. The last 50 years rather prove that!

Fr. Gregory Pilcher OSB:

Dear Dom Hugh, I was able to do the Novus Ordo Mass ad orientem for several years, before I was ordered not to. I, and most of the people whom I’d catechized extensively before I started ad orientem worship, felt that it was, as discerned by Goldilocks, “just right.” As a priest I resisted doing it for years, but when I finally started doing it regularly so many awkward things fell away.

Firstly, the Mass was no longer about the priest. There was no need to try to perform as I did the sacred rite.

Secondly, the people were more attentive and more devout.

Thirdly, I was less distracted. The words of the Canon were addressed to God the Father, and not to the people, so I was turned toward the one we were worshipping.

Fourthly, since Christ ascended into heaven toward the East, and it was revealed that he would return to us from the East, we were ready for it.

There are other lesser things, like not having the watch the priest wash the dishes and then drink the dishwater, but I will pass over them.

Also, as a graduate of St. John’s, Collegeville, and from subsequent contacts there, I know that it would be almost impossible for anyone to overwhelm the pressure to celebrate versus populum. Fr. Ruff would not be pleased.

Fr. Hugh OSB: All your experiences in celebrating ad orientem I share. Most especially for me is the relief that comes from being able to focus on the Lord at the altar. For the congregation that is following devoutly there must be relief as well – the celebrant recedes into the background and the drama of the sacred action can takes its rightful prominence. The majority of Catholics, if exposed to this regularly, would find the same. But there does need to be catechesis, active and vigorous.

 

Vatican Liturgy Chief asks all priests and bishops to face east for Mass, faithful to kneel for Communion

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/vatican-liturgy-chief-asks-all-priests-and-bishops-to-face-east-for-mass-fa

By John-Henry Westen, London, July 5, 2016

Speaking at a conference on the liturgy in London yesterday, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the highest authority on the topic in the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, asked all bishops and priests to adopt the ancient posture in the Mass where the priest faces the tabernacle along with the congregation, rather than facing the people. He asked that the posture be adopted by Advent of this year, which begins November 27. During the same talk, Cardinal Sarah encouraged all Catholics to receive Communion kneeling.

During the talk, the Vatican’s liturgy chief revealed that Pope Francis had asked him to “continue the liturgical work Pope Benedict began.”

 

 

 

The announcement was immediately recognized by Catholic Herald deputy editor Dan Hitchens as “the biggest liturgical announcement since Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum gave greater freedom for priests to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.”

Vatican watchers are particularly stunned that Pope Francis, who is regarded by many as a liberal, has encouraged a more traditional approach to liturgy. Yet Cardinal Sarah said, “Our Holy Father Pope Francis has the greatest respect for the liturgical vision and measures of Pope Benedict.”

French Bishop Dominique Rey, who was present at the conference, took up Cardinal Sarah’s request without hesitation, vowing to at least begin to implement the change in his diocese by Advent. Rey, the Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, addressed Cardinal Sarah at the conference, saying: “In response to your appeal I wish to announce now, that certainly on the last Sunday of Advent of this year in my celebration of the Holy Eucharist at my cathedral, and on other occasions as appropriate, I shall celebrate ad orientem—towards the Lord who comes.” Bishop Rey added, “Before Advent I shall address a letter to my priests and people on this question to explain my action. I shall encourage them to follow my example.”

Cardinal Sarah gave thanks for the many celebrations of the liturgy that are devout and give glory to God, but he also lamented the many abuses of the liturgy in the Church. “In recent decades,” he observed, “we have seen many liturgical celebrations where people, personalities and human achievements have been too prominent, almost to the exclusion of God.”

Cardinal Sarah used his African heritage to drive home the point. “I am an African,” he said. “Let me say clearly: the liturgy is not the place to promote my culture. Rather, it is the place where my culture is baptised, where my culture is taken up into the divine.”

Sarah suggested that the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council intended liturgical reform to bring more of the faithful to the Mass, yet for the most part the effort has failed. “My brothers and sisters, where are the faithful of whom the Council Fathers spoke?” he asked.

The cardinal continued:

Many of the faithful are now unfaithful: they do not come to the liturgy at all. To use the words of St John Paul II: many Christians are living in a state of “silent apostasy;” they “live as if God does not exist” (Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Europa, 28 June 2003, 9). Where is the unity the Council hoped to achieve? We have not yet reached it. Have we made real progress in calling the whole of mankind into the household of the Church? I do not think so. And yet we have done very much to the liturgy!
He expressed “profound grief” at the “many distortions of the liturgy throughout the Church today,” and proposed that the “Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation.”

One such abuse he mentioned was when priests “step aside to allow extraordinary ministers distribute Holy Communion” which for many priests was thought to be a way of allowing lay people to participate in the Mass in a substantial way. Rather, said Cardinal Sarah, “This is wrong, it is a denial of the priestly ministry as well as a clericalisation of the laity.”

“When this happens it is a sign that formation has gone very wrong, and that it needs to be corrected,” he added.

He encouraged a generous reception of the traditional Latin Mass and also encouraged traditional practices Pope Benedict proposed previously, including the use of Latin in the new Mass, kneeling for Holy Communion, as well as Gregorian chant. “We must sing sacred liturgical music not merely religious music, or worse, profane songs,” he said. “The Council never intended that the Roman rite be exclusively celebrated in the vernacular. But it did intend to allow its increased use, particularly for the readings.”

Speaking of kneeling for Holy Communion, the Vatican liturgy chief reminded priests that they are forbidden from denying Communion to the faithful for kneeling for reception of the Sacrament. Moreover, he encouraged all to receive while kneeling where possible. “Kneeling at the consecration (unless I am sick) is essential. In the West this is an act of bodily adoration that humbles us before our Lord and God. It is itself an act of prayer. Where kneeling and genuflection have disappeared from the liturgy, they need to be restored, in particular for our reception of our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion.”

A lengthy section of his talk was devoted to calling priests and bishops to celebrate Mass facing “ad orientem” or with the people facing Our Lord.

Here are the key excerpts:

Even though I serve as the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, I do so in all humility as a priest and a bishop in the hope that they will promote mature reflection and scholarship and good liturgical practice throughout the Church.

I want to make an appeal to all priests… I believe that it is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction—Eastwards or at least towards the apse—to the Lord who comes, in those parts of the liturgical rites when we are addressing God… I think it is a very important step in ensuring that in our celebrations the Lord is truly at the centre.

And so, dear Fathers, I ask you to implement this practice wherever possible, with prudence and with the necessary catechesis, certainly, but also with a pastor’s confidence that this is something good for the Church, something good for our people.

Your own pastoral judgement will determine how and when this is possible, but perhaps beginning this on the first Sunday of Advent this year… may be a very good time to do this. Dear Fathers, we should listen again to the lament of God proclaimed by the prophet Jeremiah: “they have turned their back to me” (2:27). Let us turn again towards the Lord!

 

 

I would like to appeal also to my brother bishops: please lead your priests and people towards the Lord in this way, particularly at large celebrations in your dioceses and in your cathedral. Please form your seminarians in the reality that we are not called to the priesthood to be at the centre of liturgical worship ourselves, but to lead Christ’s faithful to him as fellow worshippers. Please facilitate this simple but profound reform in your dioceses, your cathedrals, your parishes and your seminaries.
Throughout the talk, Cardinal Sarah stressed the grave responsibility of priests regarding the Eucharist. “We priests, we bishops bear a great responsibility,” he said. “How our good example builds up good liturgical practice; how our carelessness or wrongdoing harms the Church and her Sacred Liturgy!”

He warned his fellow priests, “Let us beware of the temptation of liturgical sloth, because it is a temptation of the devil.”

 

7 of 77 comments

  1. The tabernacle needs to be moved back to the center in ALL churches.
  2. When Mother Teresa, after traveling around the world, was asked what the most disturbing thing she witnessed was, she reportedly replied “seeing Holy Communion received in the hand“.

Communion in the hand was an example of a one-time dispensation (originally asked by the Filipino bishops, if memory serves me) that Paul VI allowed that, like so many other illicit allowances, subsequently became the norm (even though, ironically, the Filipinos did not follow through with themselves).

  1. He has encouraged priests to return to ad orientem during the liturgy of the Eucharist, and he also encouraged communicants to kneel when receiving Holy Communion. It seems to me that if a person is kneeling to receive Holy Communion, then that person would most likely, most naturally, be receiving on the tongue. Hard to imagine kneeling and then receiving in the hand, but then who knows? We have seen so much nonsense over the years! But let’s hope that kneeling for communion would indeed be followed with reception on the tongue and not in the hand!
  2. We need to bring back altar rails as a basic part of any church. And then kneel to receive of the tongue. This would help bring back more reverence and a better understanding of the true presence.
  3. The Mass should be God-centered, not man-centered. Cardinal Sarah meant it when he said, “God or nothing.” Thank God for this man.
  4. The priest and people in Orthodox Judaism face the same direction; and, the same goes for Islam (which is an Abrahamic religion, thus has much in common, ritual-wise).
  5. “Liturgical east” is wherever the people are facing. With the priest facing the same way, i.e. « ad orientem » he is physically as well as spiritually leading the people in prayer. In older church buildings (like ours) the people face the tabernacle, but the actual position of the tabernacle is not relevant to the discussion of “liturgical east.”
  6. LifeSiteNews:

I am not a traditional Mass Catholic, although I have great respect for it. What I prefer is something of a mix between the old and the new rather than the comparatively shallow, frequently badly celebrated Novus Ordo liturgies.

All that Cardinal Sarah has asked priests to do to is to increase the sense of worship of God in the Mass and to facilitate far more attention on God Himself, rather than the distraction of the priest – at various key moments of the Mass. He recognizes that the laity need help to better worship God during the Mass and to understand the awesomeness of what happens during the Mass when Christ become actually present, God becomes actually present, at the time of the consecration. You can’t tell me that these days most feel or believe that that is what is really happening in every single Mass they go to. If they did believe that, which the current liturgy discourages by its very light, public participatory nature, there would be far more people at every Sunday Mass and at every weekday Mass.

This is not a matter of going back to the 50s. It is about going back to God, whom we have abandoned by the millions. That was not caused by the old Mass. That was caused by an especially clergy-led rebellion against the demands of Christ’s Church. Many did not want the cross anymore. They wanted the experiences and excitement and emotions and satisfactions of the modern world. And so, the Church has been dying. God is no longer central in the lives of the vast majority of Catholics in at least the developed nations. –Steve Jalsevac

 

 

A leading liberal Cardinal almost immediately shots down Cardinal Robert Sarah’s directives:

Cardinal Nichols tells priests to ignore Vatican liturgist’s directive on celebrating Mass facing East

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/english-prelate-tells-priests-to-ignore-vatican-liturgists-directive-on-cel

By Claire Chretien, United Kingdom, July 11, 2016

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has told priests in his diocese not to “exercise personal preference or taste” by offering Mass facing east, after the Vatican’s liturgy chief called for the return to the practice of celebrating masses “ad orientem” earlier this month.

Nichols wrote to priests, quoting from The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which states, “The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible.”

While the GIRM indicates certain times during Mass when the priest is to face the people, it does not dictate the direction in which Mass must be celebrated.

The Vatican had responded to controversy on the question in 2000, when Cardinal Jorge A. Medina Estévez, then the Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, had written:

 

 

“No preference is expressed in the liturgical legislation for either position. As both positions enjoy the favour of the Law, legislation may not be invoked to say that one position or the other accords more closely with the mind of the Church.”

Nichols wrote that Mass is not the time for priests to “exercise personal preference or taste,” and “as the last paragraph of the GIRM states so clearly, ‘The Roman Missal, though in a diversity of languages and with some variety of customs, must in the future be safeguarded as an instrument and an outstanding sign of the integrity and unity of the Roman Rite’ (399).”

On July 4, Cardinal Sarah, who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship, asked all priests and bishops to celebrate Mass ad orientem, the ancient liturgical practice in which the priest faces the tabernacle along with the congregation instead of facing the people. He also asked all Catholics to receive Holy Communion kneeling, which is the Church’s norm despite the allowances many western dioceses have to administer the sacrament in the hand. The cardinal also reminded priests that they are forbidden from denying the faithful Holy Communion because they choose to receive it kneeling.

“Kneeling at the consecration (unless I am sick) is essential,” he said. “In the West, this is an act of bodily adoration that humbles us before our Lord and God. It is itself an act of prayer. Where kneeling and genuflection have disappeared from the liturgy, they need to be restored, in particular for our reception of our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion.”

During the same talk, Sarah urged for the continuation of the traditional liturgical practices that Pope Benedict XVI revived, like Gregorian Chant, and reminded the faithful that the Second Vatican Council did not call exclusively for the use of the vernacular in the new Mass. The Second Vatican Council pronounces that Gregorian Chant should be given “pride of place” in the liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium 116). “We must sing sacred liturgical music not merely religious music, or worse, profane songs,” Sarah said. “The Council never intended that the Roman rite be exclusively celebrated in the vernacular. But it did intend to allow its increased use, particularly for the readings.”

Sarah has said on multiple occasions that Pope Francis asked him to continue the liturgical work of Pope Benedict XVI.

Nichols has a history of making statements and acting in ways seemingly contradictory to the Catholic Church’s teaching on human life and human sexuality.

In 2008, he suggested to a BBC radio interviewer that embryonic human beings are not morally equal to adult human beings. “What we’ve been trying to say all along is ‘What is the value that we give to human life in its first beginnings?’ Now clearly it’s not the same as we would give to another adult sitting next to me,” Nichols said.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life” (CCC 2270).

In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope St. John Paul II wrote, “Human life is sacred and inviolable at every moment of existence, including the initial phase which precedes birth.”

In 2010, Nichols told the BBC that the British Catholic bishops had not opposed same-sex civil unions but approached the issue in a “nuanced” way without supporting same-sex “marriage.”

In 2011, Nichols praised civil partnerships for those in same-sex relationships. The UK-based publication The Tablet reported that Nichols said of civil unions:

“We would want to emphasise that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship [and] a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision.

As a Church, we are very committed to the notion of equality so that people are treated the same across all the activities of life. … The Church holds great store by the value of commitment in relationships and undertakings that people give. Stability in society depends upon the reliability of commitments that people give. That might be in offering to do a job but especially in their relationships with one another. Equality and commitment are both very important and we fully support them.”

Nichols’s insistence that the Mass not be subject to priests’ personal preferences is surprising given his and his archdiocese’s history with LGBT liturgies, which are not sanctioned by the Church.

Just last year, Nichols celebrated Mass for an organization of active homosexuals called LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council, which enjoys the cardinal’s support despite its open rejection of Church teaching.  

LGBT Catholics Westminster is known for its pro-homosexual “SoHo Masses,” which are celebrated at a London Jesuit parish and regularly feature clergy who openly dissent from Church teaching on human sexuality, such as Father Timothy Radcliffe. A video of one of the group’s liturgies shows a man wearing a dress and a wig reading from a lectern draped in a rainbow flag. The group also marches in London’s massive gay pride parade.

Nichols has also suggested that the Church could one day accept same-sex unions. After the 2014 Synod on the Family, Nichols implied that he was open to the notion of admitting to the Sacraments those living in situations the Church considers to be objectively sinful.

 

5 of 46 comments

  1. Cardinal Vincent Nichols is from England where the faith is almost extinct…..Cardinal Sarah is from Africa where the faith is thriving and alive…..pretty easy call to know who to listen to…….you shall know them by their fruits.
  2. I love that when it comes to following tradition, it’s wrong to follow “personal taste”, but when it comes to innovation, liturgical dance, guitars, overuse of EMHC, reception of communion on the hand, personal taste is OK. Is anyone surprised?
  3. About 18 months ago, the pastor at our little middle-of-nowhere parish started offering the Mass “ad orientem” more often than not (he also does do “versus populum” on occasion, when the mood strikes him, I suppose). As far as I can tell, reaction has ranged from indifferent at worst (a minority) to positive at best.

 

 

Note that for an Ordinary Form Mass, done according to the rubrics of the Roman Missal, the Introductory Rites through to the Collect are said with the priest off to the side and the Readings (and homily) are done from the Ambo. The part that is to be done “ad orientem” is from the Offertory up to the distribution of Communion. The Post-communion Prayer and the dismissal are again done with the priest off to one side. Our pastor read to us from the rubrics when he started doing this, in order to explain what he was doing and why.

Indeed, the Missal rubrics are written assuming the “ad orientem” bits as it will say things like “…and then the priest turns towards the people and says…” etc.

I find that the Mass done with the “ad orientem” bits makes the consecration stand out better, as it is set off from the rest of the Mass by the different posture of the priest. After all, this is the point where Jesus Christ becomes physically present in His body, blood, soul, and divinity. It’s worth making that point in the Mass stand out a bit from the rest of it! And I hope more priests try it out; it’s really quite nice.

But that being said, it’s still the Ordinary Form and so it’s not really all *that* different. Frankly, I really don’t understand why this would cause such a freak-out reaction amongst some people, such as Cardinal Nichols. It’s hardly a “personal preference” or “quirk” to ACTUALLY FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS AS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK.

  1. Some churches don’t even have the tabernacle near the altar, like the one in my village. It’s in a side chapel! I started going to the Traditional Latin Mass 30 miles away.
  2. The problem lies in having disobedient Bishops and Priests, men who will not follow any teaching other than their own false ideas. They promote a false idea of mercy and then when men such as Cardinal Sarah attempt to reintroduce a form of celebrating the Mass that calls for an outwardly more respectful and reverent form of the Mass, he is ignored at best and at worst contradicted by the Cardinals.

 

 

Cardinal Nichols discourages priests from celebrating Mass ad orientem

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/07/11/cardinal-nichols-discourages-priests-from-celebrating-mass-ad-orientem/

By Madeleine Teahan, July 11, 2016

The Archbishop of Westminster has told clergy Mass is ‘not the time for priests to exercise personal preference or taste’

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has written to priests in Westminster diocese discouraging them from celebrating Mass facing east.

He issued the message to clergy days after the Vatican’s liturgy chief Cardinal Robert Sarah invited priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem from Advent onwards.

Cardinal Sarah was speaking at a liturgical conference in London.

Following Cardinal Robert Sarah’s appeal at the Sacra Liturgia conference in London, Cardinal Nichols wrote to priests reminding them that, “the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, approved by the highest authority in the Church, states in paragraph 299 that ‘The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible. The altar should, moreover, be so placed as to be truly the centre toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns. The altar is usually fixed and is dedicated.’”

While he noted that the Congregation for Divine Worship had confirmed in 2009 that this instruction still allows for Mass to be celebrated facing east, the cardinal wrote: “But it also ‘reaffirms that the position towards the assembly seems more convenient inasmuch as it makes communication easier’. Thus the expectations expressed in GIRM 299 remain in force whenever the Ordinary Form of Mass is celebrated.”

Cardinal Nichols said that Mass was not the time for priests to “exercise personal preference or taste”, and “as the last paragraph of the GIRM states so clearly, ‘The Roman Missal, though in a diversity of languages and with some variety of customs, must in the future be safeguarded as an instrument and an outstanding sign of the integrity and unity of the Roman Rite’ (399).”

After the Sacra Liturgia Conference last week, Cardinal Sarah paid a personal visit to Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

Meanwhile, Fr Antonio Spadaro, a papal adviser and editor of the influential journal La Civiltà Cattolica, has shown his support for Mass facing the people on Twitter.

Following Cardinal Sarah’s widely reported comments, Fr Spadaro tweeted quotes from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, such as: “The altar should be built apart from the wall in such a way that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people” and “the priest, facing the people and extending and then joining his hands, invites the people to pray.”

 

 

Press Office Clarifies Cardinal’s Remarks about Priest Facing East during Mass

https://zenit.org/articles/press-office-clarifies-cardinals-remarks-about-priest-facing-east-during-mass/

July 12, 2016

The Vatican press office on Monday released a clarification regarding media presentations of an address given July 5 in London by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

The cardinal spoke about Masses celebrated ‘ad orientem,’ that is, with the priest facing away from the people (to the east, if the church was built with that traditional layout).

The Vatican’s statement clarifies that the cardinal’s address was not an announcement of new directives for the celebration of Mass. Here is the text of the statement, with the English translation provided by the press office.

 

 

Some clarifications on the celebration of Mass

It would appear opportune to offer clarification in the light of information circulated in the press after a conference held in London a few days ago by Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Cardinal Sarah has always been rightly concerned about the dignity of the celebration of Mass, so as to express appropriately the attitude of respect and adoration for the Eucharistic mystery. Some of his expressions have however been incorrectly interpreted, as if they were intended to announce new indications different to those given so far in the liturgical rules and in the words of the Pope regarding celebration facing the people and the ordinary rite of the Mass.

Therefore it is useful to remember that in the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (General Instruction of the Roman Missal), which contains the norms relating to the Eucharistic celebration and is still in full force, paragraph no. 299 states that: “Altare extruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit. Altare eum autem occupier locum, ut revera centrum sit ad quod totius congregationis fidelium attentio sponte convertatur” (“The altar should be built separate from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible. Moreover, the altar should occupy a place where it is truly the centre toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns”.)

Pope Francis, for his part, on the occasion of his visit to the Dicastery for Divine Worship, expressly mentioned that the “ordinary” form of the celebration of the Mass is that expressed in the Missal promulgated by Paul VI, while the “extraordinary” form, which was permitted by Pope Benedict XVI for the purposes and in the ways explained in his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, must not take the place of the “ordinary” one.

Therefore, new liturgical directives are not expected from next Advent, as some have incorrectly inferred from some of Cardinal Sarah’s words, and it is better to avoid using the expression “reform of the reform” with reference to the liturgy, given that it may at times give rise to error.

All the above was unanimously expressed during a recent audience granted by the Pope to the same Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

During the Synod on the Family, the Vatican Press Office was often seen to be the voice of the liberals at the Synod. Strangely, but not surprisingly, such an important statement “clarifying” Cardinal Robert Sarah’s liturgical directives is made anonymously, by the “Vatican press office”. Was it the last act of its liberal director Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi who retired on the 11th of July? Yes, it was. And I did not have to read the following articles to guess that.

 

 

Did Fr. Lombardi Contradict Cardinal Sarah?

http://www.ccwatershed.org/blog/2016/jul/12/did-fr-lombardi-contradict-cardinal-sarah-any-way/

By Jeff Ostrowski, July 12, 2016 Emphases theirs

The Press Office of the Vatican on 11 July 2016 released a statement which was probably the final message by Fr. Federico Lombardi before he retired. Many who are angry about Cardinal Sarah’s public statements are (predictably) acting as though Fr. Lombardi has rebuked Cardinal Sarah. I find such assertions absurd.

Let me share a few brief reflections, although I must be honest: I’ve only read the statement twice. Therefore, my reflections will be cursory. (But don’t curse when you read them!)

 

  1. Fr. Lombardi cited paragraph 299 of the GIRM, which speaks about how an altar should be constructed when new churches are built. The English translation I saw was erroneous, but the French version seems to be correct, as far as I can tell. (My French is horrible.)

Fr. Lombardi should have quoted the statement from the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, which put an end to discussion on this point. Cardinal Sarah’s congregation was responsible for creating the 2000 (2002) GIRM and they provide its definitive interpretation. On 10 April 2000, addressing this very question, the congregation stated:

“This Dicastery [i.e. the Congregation for Divine Worship] wishes to state that Holy Mass may be celebrated versus populum or versus apsidem. Both positions are in accord with liturgical law; both are to be considered correct.”

“It should be borne in mind that there is no preference expressed in the liturgical legislation for either position. As both positions enjoy the favor of law, legislation may not be invoked to say that one position or the other accords more closely with the mind of the Church.”

The English translation of Fr. Lombardi—not the French—contains grammatical issues which preclude the notion that the current books favor “versus populum” celebration.

 

  1. Fr. Lombardi’s statement “clarifies” that no new legislation on ad orientem will be released in Advent. My response would be, “That clarification is not needed because Cardinal Sarah said absolutely nothing—not one word—about new legislation coming in Advent.”

 

  1. Fr. Lombardi’s statement “clarifies” that Pope Francis “mentioned” that the Extraordinary Form must not eradicate the Ordinary Form. My response would be, “That clarification is not needed because nobody thinks that’s going to happen anytime soon.”

 

 

 

  1. Fr. Lombardi said it’s better to avoid using the phrase REFORM OF THE REFORM because (in his words) this phrase “may at times give rise to error.” Some were surprised by his words, but I was not. I don’t want to scandalize anyone, but Rome moves very slowly and can even—gasp!—be political. Moreover, the Roman Pontiff is always careful never to publicly step on the toes of any predecessor. Rome usually will only focus on the positive. For example, when Pope Paul VI promulgated the liturgical changes, he didn’t talk about how “bad” (in his view) the old liturgy had been. Similarly, for a Roman Pontiff to utter the phrase “reform of the reform” seems unlikely in the near future because it doesn’t match how way popes emphasize the positive and avoid criticizing their predecessors. Perhaps a better phrase would be the one Bishop René H. Gracida uses: “The Renewal of the Renewal.”

That being said, the words of Fr. Lombardi (“may at times give rise to error”) are not very convincing. Which times? Which errors? I’ll be interested to see whether the highest ranking liturgical officer of Pope Francis uses that phrase again. I suppose Cardinal Sarah could make a point of using that phrase so he can “Hagan lío.”

 

  1. I must admit that I put very little stock in the words of the Vatican Press Office. I have seen many instances over the past years where their “clarifications” only confuse matters.

For example, Fr. Lombardi never condemns the REFORM OF THE REFORM, he says the “phrase” can sometimes confuse. Properly understood (according to what Fr. Lombardi wrote) it would not be problematic. Yet people are coming away with the opposite impression! Throughout the papacy of Pope Francis, I’ve noticed a surprising lack of understanding of how the media works. The results from that lack of understanding have often been unfortunate.

 

  1. As far as I know—and perhaps a priest can correct me if I’m wrong—priests who celebrate the Ordinary Form are bound by the actual rubrics in those books. They are not allowed to make liturgical changes based on a press conference by Fr. Lombardi. The Congregation for Divine Worship remains in charge of interpreting the liturgical laws which they write (and then submit for approval by the pope). Cardinal Sarah is Prefect of the CDW.

 

  1. As we have repeated over and over on our blog, no significant changes have been made to the rubrics of the Ordinary Form since it was promulgated in 1970. Period. I know this sounds hard to believe and “boring” but it’s true.

 

  1. Finally, to those who have claimed that Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the CDW, “lied” about what Pope Francis told him, I encourage those people to send me an email. I have a bridge I’d like to sell them.

 

  1. I’m not trying to be snarky here, because there’s way too much snark on the internet. That being said, somebody should inform the editor of America (a Jesuit Magazine) that it’s “ad orientem” not what he wrote:

111

Regarding my thoughts on this matter, as with all my articles, feel free to “take ’em or leave ’em.”

 

 

The Fallout and Propaganda: Cardinal Sarah and Sacra Liturgia 2016

https://hughosb.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/the-fallout-and-propaganda-cardinal-sarah-and-sacra-liturgia-2016/

By Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB, July 12, 2016 Emphases theirs

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of matters ecclesiastical knew it would come. The boat had been rocked so there was bound to be some shouting, mounting insecurity and a sense of control lost. Having lost the battle of the Missal certain forces would be certain to move quickly so as not to lose the battle of the Altar.

However it is not going to work so well this time around. The young laity and the young clergy and seminarians, in whose hands lies the future of the Church on earth for the next few generations at least, are now far more up to speed on the issues, and connected to each other across the globe in ways never possible when I was a baby Jesuit, thanks to the internet. Moreover, when the forces seeking to put Cardinal Sarah’s genie back in its bottle use highly deficient arguments, the young will see it, and will spurn it, even scorn it.

 

 

 

Cardinal Sarah’s opening speech at Sacra Liturgia 2016 included a specific invitation to priests to begin offering the Eucharistic sacrifice facing east—facing God—in common (in communion we might say) with the congregation, from the 1st Sunday of Advent (the standard date for liturgical change—I almost said “traditional date” but 46 years hardly makes a tradition in light of the Church’s two millennia of existence). There was a roar of approving applause from the delegates. It was not triumphalist applause, but the effusion of relief, even liberation. To hear the cardinal in charge of the liturgy encourage the Church to return to the traditional orientation at the altar—an African cardinal no less, and raised in what we westerners still think of as a mission territory—this was a healing moment for many of us.

Yet, one man’s healing is another’s irritation, though why it should be so is not so clear. One tactic is to cloud the topic is confusion and misdirection, like a magician. Thus we find the American Jesuit Fr Bruce Morrill, of Vanderbilt University, claiming that the cardinal’s remarks were “not official” and that he was not giving a directive as this would require Vatican approval and an official statement from the Congregation of Divine Worship.

In Crux, an online journal that seeks to take the Catholic pulse, we find this report of recent reactionary manoeuvres:

Although his comments were phrased as suggestions and not an edict, Sarah’s desire for a return to the ad orientem posture nevertheless generated wide reaction and debate, in large part because the posture is widely associated with the older Latin Mass in use prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

In truth, the rules for the post-Vatican II Mass also allow for the use of the ad orientem posture, and some priests celebrate it that way. In the public imagination, however, it’s generally seen as a more traditional way of doing it.

In the aftermath of Sarah’s comments, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster in the UK sent a letter to priests in his diocese saying that the Mass was not the time for priests to “exercise personal preference or taste.”

According to the Catholic Herald, Nichols also noted the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which lays out the rules for celebrating Mass, states in paragraph 299 that “the altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible.”

In his statement, Lombardi quoted the same paragraph both in Latin and in Italian.

Lombardi said that when he visited Sarah’s dicastery, Francis expressly told the Guinea cardinal that the “ordinary” form of celebrating the Mass is the one promulgated in the missal by Pope Paul VI, meaning, after the Second Vatican Council. The pope also said that the “extraordinary” form while accepted under the means expressed by Benedict XVI in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, shouldn’t become the norm.

“There are therefore no new liturgical directives for next Advent, as some have wrongly inferred from some of Cardinal Sarah’s words,” Lombardi said.

Lombardi’s rejection of the phrase “reform of the reform” is also noteworthy in light of Sarah’s comments in early July.

In his remarks, Sarah had said that during a private audience with the pope last April, Francis had asked him to study “the question of a reform of a reform” to see how to enrich the twofold use of the Roman rite – the “ordinary form,” meaning the post-Vatican II liturgy in the vernacular languages, and the “extraordinary form,” or the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass.

The propagandist’s art is not dead, but indeed it is ever perfecting its technique. So let’s briefly unpack the propaganda of reaction.

  1. That a public, prepared speech from the cardinal in charge of overseeing the Church’s liturgy on behalf of the Pope, can be fobbed off as “not official” is extraordinary. We are meant to infer that things unofficial can be safely ignored.
  2. However, what Fr Morrill would be correct in saying is that, indeed, this is not a “directive”. It was an exhortation, formally delivered, powerfully and thoughtfully presented. When far more informal and spontaneous exhortations come from Pope Francis’ mouth, the same people fall over themselves to apply the same to all and sundry. Remember “Whom am I to judge?” Yet Cardinal Sarah’s is to be dismissed as “unofficial”, and “opinion”.
  3. No one, of course, claimed this had been a “directive”, certainly not the cardinal and certainly none of us who were there. The reactionaries have been presenting this as an underhand way of making something mandatory and so they can now valiantly expose the ploy, and reassure all those whose liturgical boats were rocked that they can relax again since the nasty conservatives have been exposed and thwarted.
  4. Cardinal Nichols politely waited till he had met and then seen off Cardinal Sarah before sending his letter to the clergy of Westminster. In that letter he makes two errors of judgment, as others more competent than I have already noted. (a) He equates ad orientem with “personal preference or taste”.
    (b) To support this misjudgment he uses the flawed English translation of #299 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal which asserts that Mass facing the people is “desirable”. However, this is not what the Latin (and thus normative and “official”) text of #299 says. Fr Zuhlsdorf does the comprehensive refutation of the incorrect English translation. Suffice it to say that the key relative pronoun quod is neuter and so cannot refer to celebratiowhich is feminine. It must therefore refer to altare which is also neuter. In fact the entire paragraph is about the altar, so a directive on facing the people in this paragraph would be incongruous to say the least. Thus, that “which is desirable” (quod expedit) is not facing the people but the placement of the altar away from the wall. As for ad orientem as personal taste or preference, you will note that such arguments are always made on a certain reading of various documents, but never of the rubrics of the Missal themselves. The rubrics are the primary source for how to celebrate the Mass, and any subsequent legislation can only allow for clarifications or exceptions, such as the priest facing the people at the altar. If facing the people was actually the norm then the rubrics would have to be changed. In the third edition of the Roman Missal of 2010 they were not.

 

 

 

In an earlier post here I explain (rather presciently it now seems!) how the rubrics clearly assume the traditional eastwards position of the priest at the altar. In fact, the logic of the ritual, even the modern ritual, demands it.

  1. So let’s be unambiguous: Ad orientem is the norm in the Missal; versus populum is the exception, and it is facing the people that is in fact the expression of personal preference and taste. If there is any ambiguity, it is in the Latin of #299, with the placement of the quod phrase at the end of the paragraph. This mimics the syntax of languages such as English in which word placement is crucial for meaning (unlike Latin, properly translated). Conspiracy theorists would rightly have a field day here!
  2. Fr Lombardi’s introduction of the matter of the Extraordinary Form into this discussion is a red herring, to put it mildly. It is impossible to infer from what Cardinal Sarah said that he was advocating making the Extraordinary Form the “norm” for the Latin rite. This is more confusion and misdirection, and appears at first glance to be an attempt to associate Cardinal Sarah’s remarks with advocacy for the old Mass, employing guilt by association. Fr Lombardi, soon to retire, has no magisterial standing and can be safely ignored. In fact his whole work in recent years has been spent in explaining away public utterances, usually papal ones, that are too embarrassing, or inconvenient, to be allowed to stand.
  3. This seems also to be an attempt to undermine the commission given to Cardinal Sarah by Pope Francis himself, to explore the possibilities offered by the Reform of the Reform movement. For the reactionaries, this will appear to be introducing the wolf of the old Mass in the sheep’s clothing of the modern Mass. Of course they are judging it by conciliar standards, when all sorts of wolves in sheep’s clothing were introduced into texts for later exploitation at the propitious time. The pure, all things are pure. To the Machiavellian all things are Machiavellian. The real wolves are not hard to find if you pay attention.
  4. The fact that Pope Francis has given Cardinal Sarah the instruction to explore the possibilities in the critiques offered by the Reform of the Reform movement (the new Liturgical Movement we might say) lends significant weight to Cardinal Sarah’s advocacy of the ad orientem direction for Mass. For one thing, surely this advocacy must be seen as the fruit of these same papally-requested explorations—that is the logical conclusion in the context. Moreover, it is hard, therefore, is this context, not to see Cardinal Sarah’s advocacy as having tacit papal approval. The only logical conclusion is that Cardinal Sarah has offered an exhortation to return to the traditional and normative position of facing East at the altar as the fruit of the study he has made at the pope’s request.

So perhaps we need to be reminded, therefore, that no special permission is needed to offer Mass ad orientem since it has always been the normative position in the rubrics of the Mass. To rely on the flawed arguments against this is to place yourself on a bus doomed eventually to crash.

  1. If you are understandably reluctant to rely on the words of a humble simple amateur monk, then do read the definitive yet accessible modern treatment of this topic by Fr Uwe Michael Lang of the London Oratory, Turning Towards the Lord.

 

5 of 45 comments

  1. I am an African from South Africa born deep into the practicality of the Vatican II, have read Cardinal Ratzinger’s documents and books one of them being Ratzinger’s report: there he highlights that so many seem to put into practice Vatican II of the media not of the fathers of the council.

The recent roars about Ad Orientem and facing the people in Eucharistic celebration, made me to relive how even the call to priesthood has taken a nasty twist- young men in Africa most but not all are going into the priesthood preferably for being a celebrity being the centre of the gathering week in and week out, they go to the seminary for an easy way out of educational battles and making it in life without much hustle unlike their secular counterparts. All these problem are rooted in the way we celebrate the Eucharist- that is why there are sentiments like these after mass: the mass of this Priest is cool, wow this Priest can dance, wow this priest’s gestures during the Eucharistic prayer are charming and many more. If ad Orientem can be a norm perhaps the church can have a lot of meaning for us who were born deep into this confusion.

  1. Fr. Hugh: You are right to remind us of Pope Benedict’s perceptive distinction between the “council of the media” as usurping in the minds and memories of the faithful the council of the Fathers, the real council. We have the opportunity today to influence and utilise the media in getting out the good news in its authentic form.

The intrusion of the priest’s personality is very hard to avoid in the new Mass, and inescapable when it is said facing the people. The priest’s personality cannot be avoided in the homily, for example. But at the altar it must decrease that Christ might increase. It is not just in Africa, my friend, that men have signed up for the priesthood for the imperfect reasons of status enhancement, career advancement, or even to cover issues of self-esteem, insecurity and identity confusion. The priest’s whose personal needs dominate his life and ministry is usually going to be harmful in the long-run.

Like you I was born into the confusion of a post-conciliar Church, and having finally discovered what was lost I found myself at times quite angry at the theft. But Christ does not want us to get angry, but to get fixing, and start with ourselves.

  1. Fr. Ray Blake: Thank you again Fr Hugh, your accounts have been invaluable for those us unable to the conference.

The real issue here, with the Missal, is the same as with the Council itself: how should it be read?

 It is either in the hermeneutic of ‘rupture’: meaning forget what the documents themselves actually say, forget what scholarship says, forget what the competent authorities say, or else it is ‘continuity’, which means a return to a strict reading of the text, listening to what scholars are saying, and listening to competent authorities.

In this skirmish the whole battle of the VII is being played out, including the rather shameful and not quite truthful bullying by the advocates the hermeneutic of rupture of those who uphold the hermeneutic of continuity.

 

 

 

My personal fear is that despite what the texts clearly say and is open to everyone to read, that some ‘experts’ really hold an arcane truth revealed only to them, it is really about de-democratising the Church, and placing control into the hands of an elite and arcane oligarchy, who despite clear evidence insist they alone have authority to make a ‘correct’ interpretation.

This is not just about the preference of the priest as Cardinal Nichols suggests, it is about how we read and implement the Church’s teaching. In the case of Cardinal Nichols email to his clergy it also seems about arrogating a power to himself that properly belongs to priests.

  1. Fr. Hugh: Thank you Father for taking the time to comment. Your own comments on things are not far from my attention.

Perhaps underlying, or is it coinciding with the clash of hermeneutics is a clash of authorities. So many bishops and priests forcibly devolved to themselves authority not properly theirs (over liturgy for example) in the wake of Vatican II. Disguising itself as democracy and “hearing the voice of the laity”, it cajoled the docile and obedient laity into accepting their authority as the real one, especially when so little was done to oppose it for so long. Now that the laity, armed with the internet among other things, have been able to source the facts for themselves they shifting their allegiance back to where it properly belongs, not least to tradition and continuity. That this is happening among the young and early middle aged is especially frightening to those who benefit from the status quo, that oligarchy you speak of. So now they snatch authority from below as well, denying faithful clergy inconvenient “options” and writing off active and educated laity as troublemakers, and the younger ones as young fogeys.

It does all rather look desperate. Perhaps we are getting somewhere.

  1. I’m certainly not a “basher” of Pope Francis, but I find it curious that a cardinal, one who has endeared himself to so many Catholics who desire more reverence, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, and at least an eye toward more traditional ways, has his comments “clarified” by the Vatican quite quickly. Yet, when other certain cardinals and bishops make convoluted “off the cuff” comments, Vatican clarification is noticeably, and perplexingly, lacking.

 

 

More deception in the war on Card. Sarah

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2016/07/more-deception-in-the-war-on-card-sarah/

Posted on 12 July 2016 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf All emphases theirs; Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s comments in red colour.

Speaking at a liturgy conference in London, Card. Sarah, clearly not acting in his role as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, made a personal appeal to priests to say Mass ad orientem and the world is coming down on his head.

Sarah’s unofficial appeal prompted a quick official response from the local Archbishop of Westminster, Card. Nichols as well as a clarification from Jesuit spokesman at the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Lombardi (which may have been the last official thing he did there [UPDATE: Greg Burke takes over on 1 August.]) via a communique replete with problems.

For example, Fr. Lombardi wrote (I include the typos in the original English version released):

Pope Francis, for his part, on the occasion of his visit to the Dicastery for Divine Worship, expressly mentioned that the “ordinary” form of the celebration of the Mass is that expressed in the Missal promulgated by Paul VI, while the “extraordinary” form, which was permitted by by Pope Benedict XVI for the purposes and in the ways explained in his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificium, must not take the place of the “ordinary” one.

That was Lombardi.

Now look at what Fr. Thomas Rosica, hyper-visible when events at the Holy See require additional English language spin, added to the Press Office communique in a daily news summary blurb which he sends out to newsies, et al.

Fr Lombardi notes that Pope Francis made this view clear to Cardinal Sarah during a recent audience, stressing that the ‘Ordinary’ form of the celebration of Mass is the one laid down in the Missal promulgated by Paul VI, while the ‘Extraordinary’ form, permitted in certain specific cases by Pope Benedict XVI, should not be seen as replacing the ‘Ordinary’ form.

There is a problem in the communique itself and a worse problem in Rosica’s spin of the communique.

Regarding the communique itself, in the Letter which Benedict XVI sent out with Summorum Pontificum, we read: “As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted. At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal.”

Note that “in principle”, or perhaps better “de iure”. “De facto”, however, because of the fury of hell that bishops would rain down on priests who dared to say Mass in the way it was said for centuries, priests needed permission.  They didn’t need it legally. They needed it practically.

On the other hand, while it is true that the communique points out that in Summorum Pontificum Pope Benedict laid out criteria for the celebration of Holy Mass in the traditional form, what Rosica did with that little interpolation “in certain specific cases” was to make Summorum Pontificum itself seem more restrictive than it is. In fact, the “certain specific cases” mentioned by Rosica are, as it turns out from a reading of Summorum Pontificum, pretty much whenever and wherever any priest whosoever wants to say the older form of Mass.

I wonder if anyone in the Holy See Press Office has ever read Summorum Pontificum and Benedict’s Letter. I wonder if anyone there read the whole of Card. Sarah’s address in London.

Think about this. Rosica’s interpolation “in certain specific cases” applies also to the Novus Ordo.

 

 

 

Can. 932. 1 says that Mass is to be in a sacred place unless necessity requires that it be said somewhere else, and in that case it must be a suitable place. That means just about anywhere where Catholic sensibilities aren’t horrified.  GIRM 288 says Mass can be in a “respectable place”. Can. 933 says that a bishop can permit that Mass be said in a non-Catholic church. The law also says when Mass can be said and who can say Mass. It also says that the language of Mass in the Roman Rite is LATIN. All of this is to say that there are certain conditions laid down for the celebration of Mass in either Form.

Also, if memory serves, this isn’t the first time that Fr. Rosica seems to have added extra material when reporting.  During the Synod on the Family, he was called out for doing just that. HERE

Finally, Fr. Lombardi’s press communique concluded

“All this was expressly agreed during a recent audience given by the pope to the said Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.”

How did Rosica frame that in his daily blurb?

Fr Lombardi notes that Pope Francis made this view clear to Cardinal Sarah during a recent audience…

See what he did there?

Friends, as this develops, keep your eyes open.  What is going on here is important for more than just a liturgical motive… as if that weren’t important enough by itself! We are our Rites! This has to do with the status quaestionis of our Holy Church’s leadership and what course is being plotted. This underscores the tremendous division which yawns ever wider.

 

9 of 53 responses

  1. Cardinal Burke is defenestrated, Cardinal Müller gets the silent treatment, Cardinal Pell is bound and gagged, and Cardinal Sarah has a bag tied over his head. Am I paranoid or is there a pattern here?
  2. Interesting, isn’t it, that Cardinal Sarah doesn’t say anything about celebrating the Extraordinary Form; on the contrary, he’s suggesting celebrating the Ordinary Form in a way that’s perfectly licit. So why are Frs. Lombardi and Rosica talking about the Extraordinary Form? Do they not understand, or are they hoping that we don’t? [The answer to that is, “Yes.”]
  3. While the extraordinary form is celebrated ad orientem, celebrating the Novus ordo ad orientem does not make it extra ordinary.
    Even if the proclamation were made to require all Novus ordo Masses be celebrated ad orientem, I am sure the leftist would rest easy that they can keep their other liturgical messes, praise and worship music, extra ordinary ministers. They fear the ad orientem worship because they know if we are forced to face the Lord that it will not be long before those other abuses they love so much also begin to unravel. It is far easier to disrespect someone when you are not facing them.
  4. They are afraid that our children might discover the real Catholic faith, our patrimony that has been denied to the last several generations. They are afraid that Catholics might start to remember who they are and what they are supposed to believe. They are afraid that the laity will remember the faith of our fathers, the faith which says that there is one God, not many pretty-much-the-same gods, the faith which says that there is a heaven and a hell and that we will all end up in one of them, the faith which says that only those in a state of grace may receive Communion, the faith which says that adultery is always and everywhere seriously wrong, the faith which says that any and all sexual activity outside of the valid marriage of one man and one woman is mortal sin, the faith which says that the coveted sacrament of “gay marriage” is an abomination before God.

These people are afraid that if the laity, who have been unjustly robbed of our birthright, discover the unvarnished Catholic faith that the dissident stranglehold on the Church will be over. They are right to be scared. Catholics who have found the real faith are reproducing enthusiastically and teaching a new generation the beauty of the real Catholic faith.

Pope Benedict threw the Church a lifeline with SP, and many of us are seizing it.

  1. Pope Francis offers a hugely confusing off the cuff remark, and we are to know that the confusion is ours, but all is well. Cardinal Burke or Cardinal Sarah make clear and well-reasoned public statements, and they are almost immediately negated. Sure, nothing to see here, move along.
    A great battle is in progress. Whether it will become THE great battle we cannot know. But to simply accept the pronouncements from Lombardi and his ilk will lead to the wide gate, not the narrow.
  2. A good and holy Cardinal suggests that priests should if circumstances allow offer the NO mass ad orientem, which is perfectly licit. He is immediately corrected by the Vatican spokesman and a fellow Cardinal (Nichols) and given an immediate audience by the Pope a few days after his most gracious speech to get a talking to. Again, he did nothing wrong, his words are within canon law.
    More than 12 months have gone by since a Belgian Bishop (Bonny) and a German Bishop (Bode?) stated publicly that the Church should bless/recognize same sex relationships, which is against church law, and not a word of public correction by a Vatican spokesperson ( can’t say man anymore) or correction by the Pope.
    It is really heartening to this lay simple Catholic to see the present hierarchy has its priorities right, immediate correction for a holy shepherd suggesting a method to return to reverence at Mass, but no correction for those bishops publicly teaching heresy. I get it, I get the agenda now.
    As for Fr Rosica…don’t get me started, charity prohibits me from writing what I think.
  3. “Fr Lombardi notes that Pope Francis made this view clear to Cardinal Sarah during a recent audience”.

 

 

 

 

Since no one involved in this discussion, including Cardinal Sarah, has publicly suggested any question regarding “this view” (of the relation between OF and EF), one inevitably doubts the veracity of the assertion that Pope Francis felt any such unaccustomed need for clarity in this one matter. Let us hope that Greg Burke can restore both clarity and veracity to the Holy See Press Office, which has suffered so grievously from the lack of both in the last two or three years.

  1. Frs. Lombardi and Rosica seems to be confused or they or deliberately mixing things up. Cardinal Sarah suggested ad orientem for the New Mass, and said nothing explicitly or implicitly to slight the Rite of Paul VI. I worry that there is somehow a hope among some Vatican officials that Summorum Pontificum could be further restricted or abbreviated. There are too many places where a diocesan Mass of All Time is impossible to find. The FSSP or ICKSP have great priests, but they cannot make up for a deliberate reluctance by too many bishops to give access to the Mass of All Time. It might be a personal conspiracy theory of sorts, but one possible reason for trying to get full Communion with the SSPX, is that their widespread chapel provision would make it even easier for bishops to ignore Summorum Pontificum. The priestly societies could be a sort of Trad reservation.

[I have maintained for years that the true effect of the gravitational pull of the Traditional Roman Rite will not truly be felt in all its potential until diocesan priests take up the call. That means that they will need LAY PEOPLE more than ever to support them.]

  1. You can do the hokey-pokey
    You can turn yourself around
    You can say, “All’s okeydokey
    I was lost but now am found.”

 

You can Tango at the Masses
With your LGBT group.
You can even bring your doggies
And your scooper for their poop.

 

You know they’re doing wrong
And they’re preaching what’s not true
But you’re their captured audience
Just sitting in their pew.

 

Yes, you are an audience
A group, not separate souls
The crowd who roars for these men
In narcissistic roles.

 

While down-a-road there are young men
Real Roman Catholic Priests
They have no ticket box office
Like smelly greasepaint beasts.

 

The Producer sent a Director
Who rehearsed them dusk to dawn…
Say Mass without strife, daily lay down their life
For they know that “The show must go on!!”

 

 

Card. Nichols’ Letter to priests, reacting to Card. Sarah’s ‘ad orientem’ appeal

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2016/07/card-nichols-letter-to-priests-reacting-to-card-sarahs-ad-orientem-appeal/

Posted on 13 July 2016 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf All emphases theirs; Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s comments in red colour.

I was sent the text of the official letter that His Eminence Vincent Card. Nichols sent to the priests of the Archdiocese of Westminster as a reaction to the unofficial, personal appeal made by Robert Card. Sarah, Prefect of the CDW, to priests to say Holy Mass ad orientem.

Here is Card. Nichols, with my emphases and comments:

In response to a number of enquiries, in the light of Cardinal Sarah’s recent personal comments, I take this opportunity of reminding all priests of the importance of ensuring that every celebration of the Liturgy is carried out with all possible dignity. Whether the celebration of the Mass is simple or elaborate, it should always be characterised by that dignity which helps to raise our minds and hearts to God and which avoids distracting confusion or inappropriate informality. [Who would disagree with this? However, I double-checked Card. Sarah’s talk.  Unless I missed it, Sarah did not speak about dignity or informality.]

I also remind our priests that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, approved by the highest authority in the Church, states in paragraph 299 that ‘The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible. [His Eminence cites a widely circulated but inaccurate translation of GIRM 299. We’ve been over and over this ground.]

 

 

The altar should, moreover, be so placed as to be truly the centre toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns. The altar is usually fixed and is dedicated.’

A clarification from the CDW in September 2000 addressed the question as to whether GIRM 299 excludes the possibility of celebrating Mass ‘versus absidem’ (i.e. ‘eastward’ facing), and confirmed that it does not. [That same CDW clarification also explained the Latin of 299.] But it also ‘reaffirms that the position towards the assembly seems more convenient inasmuch as it makes communication easier’. [“Communication” of what?] Thus the expectations expressed in GIRM 299 remain in force whenever the Ordinary Form of Mass is celebrated.  [This is a false conclusion. More, below.]

Finally, may I emphasise that the celebration of the Church’s Liturgy is not a place in which priests are to exercise personal preference or taste. [His Eminence is right, of course.  However, Card. Sarah’s appeal was based on a great deal more than taste or preference.  To reduce this to a question of “taste” is a disservice to the serious issue of our worship and our identity.] As the last paragraph of the GIRM states so clearly, ‘The Roman Missal, though in a diversity of languages and with some variety of customs, must in the future be safeguarded as an instrument and an outstanding sign of the integrity and unity of the Roman Rite’ (399).

+Cardinal Vincent Nichols

Archbishop of Westminster

 

On the conclusion the Cardinal makes about versus populum being the “expected” orientation in the Ordinary Form….

With due respect to His Eminence, no.  That’s not right.

A consultation of the Latin edition of the Missale Romanum (which is the normative text) shows that, many times in the GIRM, the priest is described as “versus ad populum… having turned to the people”.  Elsewhere, he is described as “ad medium altare deinde reversus … then having turned back again to the middle of the altar”.

This description of the priest as turning back and forth between altar and people occurs again and again in the GIRM.  Have a look (e.g., 24, 146, 154, 157, 158, and 165; and also look at 181, 185, 243, 244, 257, 268).

This same description (prescription, actually) of the priest turning to the people and then back to the altar is found, for merely one example, at the time of the “Ecce Agnus Dei” at 132 in the Ordo Missae in the Missale Romanum.  The priest is described as “versus ad populum“, which presumes that he wasn’t “turned to the people” before.  After the people respond with their “Domine, non sum dignus“, the priest is described as “versus ad altare… “.   “133. Et sacerdos, versus ad altare, secreto dicit… And the priest, having turned to the altar, says quietly…”

The priest (sometimes the deacon) is repeatedly described at turning to the people and then turning back to the altar.

So, no, the GIRM does NOT favor versus populum celebration of the Ordinary Form.

But you have to have recourse to the Latin to see that.

 

4 of 30 responses

  1. Finally, may I emphasise that the celebration of the Church’s Liturgy is not a place in which priests are to exercise personal preference or taste.

Really? The majority of priests in the places I have lived have been doing nothing but that for as long as I can remember.

  1. I find it absolutely amazing that people find the GIRM when their perceived notion of what is right and wrong at the Mass is violated. I find it even more amazing when they translate the paragraph improperly to suit their need.

I find it even worse that they ignore all the other articles such as GIRM 41 about Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony for instance.

Oh, if only people were so passionate about every article of the GIRM, how much better our liturgy would be. I am now eagerly awaiting the first Bishop to make the suggestion that all of their parish churches will start having Mass ad orientem starting on advent, or at least, giving their Priests the option with their support. Blessed will be that day.

  1. Out of curiosity, I checked official Polish translation of GIRM 299. The text is unambiguous in that what is desirable is the placement of the altar.

[That’s interesting. Could you send that to me? Use the contact form at the top of the blog.]

  1. I look at it this way. When, on Yom Kippur, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies to offer sacrifice and incense in the presence of the Lord, do you suppose he ever turned his back on the Ark? No? Neither do I.

 

 

Vatican rejects Cardinal Sarah’s ad orientem appeal

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/07/12/vatican-rejects-cardinal-sarahs-ad-orientem-appeal/

July 12, 2016

Pope Francis met Cardinal Sarah to indicate that no liturgical directives will begin in Advent, according to Vatican spokesman

Pope Francis has made it clear that no new liturgical directives will be introduced for Advent, according to the Vatican spokesman.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, urged priests and bishops at the Sacra Liturgia conference in London on July 5 to start celebrating Masses ad orientem, or facing away from the congregation, beginning on the first Sunday of Advent this year.

 

 

 

However, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, issued a statement on July 11 indicating the Pope Francis met with Cardinal Sarah on July 9 to indicate no liturgical directives will begin in Advent.

“Cardinal Sarah is always rightly concerned with the dignity of the celebration of Mass, that it might adequately express an attachment of respect and adoration for the eucharistic mystery,” Fr Lombardi’s statement said.

“Some of his phrasing has been badly interpreted, as if he had announced new, different indications from those now given in liturgical norms and the words of the popes on celebration toward the people and the ordinary rite of the Mass,” the spokesman added.

He recalled that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which “remains fully in force,” indicated that the altar should be built away from the wall so “that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible.”

The statement also reminded people that when Pope Francis visited the offices of the congregation for divine worship, “he expressly recalled that the ‘ordinary’ form of the celebration of Mass is that foreseen by the missal promulgated by Paul VI,” and that the extraordinary form permitted by Benedict XVI “should not take the place of that ‘ordinary’ form.”

Fr Lombardi also said it would be better “to avoid the use of the expression ‘reform of the reform,’ referring to the liturgy, given that it’s sometimes the sources of misunderstandings.”

At the conference in London, Cardinal Sarah had asked that “wherever possible, with prudence and with the necessary catechesis, certainly, but also with a pastor’s confidence that this is something good for the church,” priests face east when celebrating the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Several liturgical experts said Cardinal Sarah does not have the authority to impose a change but is simply encouraging a practice that liturgical law already permits.

“I think he’s just encouraging as anyone can encourage, but because of his position, his encouragement carries more weight. He’s not changing the legislation at all; he’s just giving his opinion that he thinks this would help people to pray better,” Fr. Andrew Menke, associate director of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ divine worship office, told Catholic News Service on July 6.

Fr. Menke also said that as new editions of the Roman Missal are released, liturgical law is bound to shift, but he doubts anything would happen regarding the direction the priest faces, except perhaps more encouragement of “ad orientem” Masses in future missal editions.

Others agreed, saying neither bishops nor Cardinal Sarah have the right to force priests to celebrate Mass “facing East” until there is an official change to the missal, the official liturgical law.

Meanwhile in Britain, Cardinal Vincent Nichols has written to priests in his Westminster diocese discouraging them from celebrating Mass facing east.

He issued the message to clergy days after Cardinal Sarah spoke at the at the Sacra Liturgia conference.

 

 

What do they fear in facing East?

https://hughosb.wordpress.com/2016/07/13/what-do-they-fear-in-facing-east/

By Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB, July 13, 2016

Meetings today, meetings tomorrow. The summary of the key teachings of Sacra Liturgia 2016 will have to wait another day. In the meantime it is hard not to wonder at the muted panic that seems to be spreading in some quarters at the prospect of a resurgence in ad orientem worship. Why such a need to stamp it out so quickly? What do they fear in facing God?

Are they afraid that people, having experienced ad orientem in their own churches might discover that it works far better for worship? Are they afraid people would come to love it, and prefer it? If so, why should that bother them? If it meant a more committed and satisfied congregation, that should surely be greeted with cheers. If it came to pass that the congregations increased in number, then surely we should dance for joy (non-liturgically!).

There are indications that this is not the deeper fear. The fact the Fr Lombardi quite incongruously introduced the topic of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (story immediately above) when “clarifying” Cardinal Sarah’s call to ad orientem suggests, to me at least, that this is their real fear. For them, facing east is inextricably associated with the old Mass. If people come to love their priest join them in facing God at the altar, they might also begin to look to the old Mass themselves. And maybe they might come to love it as well. Is this what they fear?

Is this also why Fr Lombardi felt the need to pour cold water (or was it acid?) on the very phrase “reform of the reform”? Would this, too, be a potential pathway to instilling anew a love of the old Mass?

If this suspicion is correct then there appear a few consequent points to consider.

  1. If people came to love the old Mass, then it is very odd that certain authorities would want to deny them that which would get them into church, bring them spiritual nourishment and increase their ecclesial participation. These things are all desirable in themselves, that is beyond question. So it must be the means to this end (this new evangelisation) they dislike. Why? Is it because the great project of post-conciliar reform as enacted (though not as mandated by the Council itself), and to which so many have committed themselves so wholeheartedly, might be found to have failed? If so, then advocacy of reform of the reform must be pursued with firm vigour but distinct and consistent charity towards those who find it too challenging. Dr. Stephen Bullivant’s paper showed that according to the measure the Council Fathers determined for the proposed liturgical reform, that reform as implemented has failed. That will be a tough pill to swallow for many, if they even try to swallow it.

 

 

  1. If this is true, and the expansion of the Extraordinary Form is the ultimate fear for these people, then surely they should count their losses, as it were, and give some ground to the reform of the reform. Perhaps the new reformers can make the new Mass work far better as worship, and bring people back to church. Ad orientem would be intrinsic to this reform. If they can effect a new Mass that people can actually love and come to, then this would surely dampen the cause of the Extraordinary Form. I have argued before that the Order of Mass(not properly a Missal as such) from 1964/65 is the closest thing to a Mass that matches the Council’s document, then surely that should be given a chance again. The fearful could then console themselves that, if it worked, their commitment to Vatican II will not have been in vain.
  2. Of course, if their deepest fear is that even the reform of the reform might not work sufficient magic on the new Mass, then the conclusion for many might be that there is no hope for the new Mass at all. The reform of the reform, and facing east in particular, will have only served to show definitively the inadequacy of the new Mass, and lead to the inescapable conclusion that the only way forward is a restoration of the pre-conciliar liturgy. Is it 1962 they really fear?
  3. In comment on a previous blog post Mark pointed out that among his friends, formed totally in the context of the post-conciliar reforms and having known nothing else, there are some who reject outright the idea of a return to the pre-conciliar liturgy and find the debate about liturgical orientation and reforming the reform to be arcane at best, even irrelevant in a world in which so many suffer poverty and violence: is this abstruse argumentation merely fiddling while the world burns? they ask. Coinciding with the crisis of liturgy has been a crisis of catechesis. It is not unfair to say that there are Catholics who know no better than the paltry fare they have been served up under the label of haute cuisine (or to apply Fr Cullinan’s image, those who have been only ever been served gruel presented as luxury). These people will need a gentle and patient re-catechesis if they are to have their eyes opened to the light. The fearful will rely on them being kept content with whatever they have been served up.

None of the above is presented as gospel or divinely-inspired revelation. They are an attempt to understand why facing east, and the reform of the reform in general, have generated such a knee-jerk reaction and made reactionaries out of liberals. It is really most intriguing.

 

 

GIRM warfare: Experts criticize Vatican’s quick dismissal of Cardinal Sarah’s call for Mass facing East

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/girm-warfare-vatican-quick-to-respond-to-chief-liturgists-comments-on-mass

By Claire Chretien, United Kingdom, July 18, 2016

Recent official statements from the Vatican and United States bishops’ conference on the Catholic Church’s chief liturgist Cardinal Robert Sarah’s call for priests to offer Mass facing the apse have been misleading, Catholic liturgists and experts say.

Earlier this month, Sarah spoke at a London conference on sacred liturgy and asked priests and bishops to offer Mass ad orientem — that is, facing the tabernacle with the congregation rather than facing the people. This is the manner in which Mass was offered historically until the post-Vatican II reforms.

In the same talk, Sarah lamented abuses of the liturgy “in recent decades” that elevate “personalities and human achievements … almost to the exclusion of God.” He also encouraged the faithful to receive Holy Communion kneeling and for the restoration of the use of sacred music like Gregorian Chant. Sarah has said on numerous occasions that Pope Francis has asked him to continue the liturgical work of Pope Benedict XVI.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi swiftly responded to Sarah’s remarks by issuing a statement warning that Sarah’s words were “incorrectly interpreted” “as if they were intended to announce new indications different to those given so far in the liturgical rules and in the words of the Pope regarding celebration facing the people and the ordinary rite of the Mass.”

 

The full official statement from the Vatican read:

It would appear opportune to offer clarification in the light of information circulated in the press after a conference held in London a few days ago by Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Cardinal Sarah has always been rightly concerned about the dignity of the celebration of Mass, so as to express appropriately the attitude of respect and adoration for the Eucharistic mystery. Some of his expressions have however been incorrectly interpreted, as if they were intended to announce new indications different to those given so far in the liturgical rules and in the words of the Pope regarding celebration facing the people and the ordinary rite of the Mass.

Therefore it is useful to remember that in the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (General Instruction of the Roman Missal), which contains the norms relating to the Eucharistic celebration and is still in full force, paragraph no. 299 states that: “Altare extruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit. Altare eum autem occupet locum , ut revera centrum sit ad quod totius congregationis fidelium attentio sponte convertatur” (“The altar should be built separate from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible. Moreover, the altar should occupy a place where it is truly the centre toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns”

Pope Francis, for his part, on the occasion of his visit to the Dicastery for Divine Worship, expressly mentioned that the “ordinary” form of the celebration of the Mass is that expressed in the Missal promulgated by Paul VI, while the “extraordinary” form, which was permitted by Pope Benedict XVI for the purposes and in the ways explained in his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, must not take the place of the “ordinary” one.

 

 

 

Therefore, new liturgical directives are not expected from next Advent, as some have incorrectly inferred from some of Cardinal Sarah’s words, and it is better to avoid using the expression “reform of the reform” with reference to the liturgy, given that it may at times give rise to error.

All the above was unanimously expressed during a recent audience granted by the Pope to the same Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

 

Lombardi’s statement and the similar statements of other clerics misrepresented the instructions in the GIRM, several liturgists said, and made irrelevant points unrelated to the matter at hand.

Father Hugh Somerville-Knapman, an Australian Benedictine monk and priest in England, wrote that the “propaganda of reaction” was evident in Lombardi’s and others’ responses to Sarah. “When far more informal and spontaneous exhortations come from Pope Francis’ mouth, the same people fall over themselves to apply the same to all and sundry,” Somerville-Knapman wrote. “Remember ‘Whom am I to judge?’ Yet [Cardinal] Sarah’s is to be dismissed as ‘unofficial’, and ‘opinion.’”

Liturgist and blogger Father John Zuhlsdorf wrote on his popular website that Father Thomas Rosica, another Vatican spokesman, further misconstrued reality by doubling down on Lombardi’s statements and implying irrelevantly and incorrectly that the Traditional Latin Mass may only be offered in “certain specific cases.” The Church’s law allows “pretty much whenever and wherever any priest whosoever wants to say the older form of Mass” to do so, Zuhlsdorf wrote.

 

‘Flawed English translation’ of GIRM contributes to confusion

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, made two “errors of judgement” in his recent letter to priests instructing them to ignore Sarah’s advice, Somerville-Knapman wrote. First, Nichols equated ad orientem with “personal preference or taste.” “To support this misjudgment he uses the flawed English translation of #299 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal which asserts that Mass facing the people is ‘desirable,’” the monk continued. “However, this is not what the Latin (and thus normative and ‘official’) text of #299 says.”

The actual Latin of #299 of the GIRM does not imply that Mass should be celebrated facing the people rather than ad orientem, Somerville-Knapman wrote.

 

Zuhlsdorf echoed Somerville-Knapman’s statements on the Latin.

“The GIRM does NOT favor versus populum celebration of the Ordinary Form,” Zuhlsdorf wrote. “But you have to have recourse to the Latin to see that.”

Zuhlsdorf has explained on his blog* that the Latin in the GIRM indicates that it is desirable for the altar to be separated from the wall, not that it is desirable for Mass to be celebrated facing the people. *See further below

GIRM #299 is frequently translated as, “The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible.”

But according to Zuhlsdorf, a more proper and precise translation of the Latin would be, “The main altar should be built separated from the wall, which is useful wherever it is possible, so that it can be easily walked around and a celebration toward the people can be carried out.”

Thus, the GIRM seems to indicate that Mass facing the people is permissible, but not necessarily the norm.

“The Latin does not say that celebrations versus populum are desirable,” Zuhlsdorf maintains.  “It says that separation of the altar from the wall is desirable (or useful or fitting) wherever possible.”

 

U.S. Bishops’ Conference: Listen to Father Lombardi rather than Cardinal Sarah

The Committee on Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sent a letter to bishops on July 12 pointing to Lombardi’s statements on the matter as definitive.

“No changes to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal are expected at this time, nor is there a new mandate for the celebrant to face away from the assembly,” wrote Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, committee chairman and head of the Paterson, New Jersey diocese.

Serratelli echoed the claim that GIRM 299 says it is desirable for priests offering Mass to face the people “whenever possible.”

However, Serratelli did acknowledge that in no way is Mass celebrated ad orientem prohibited and “there are rubrics within the Order of Mass which reflect the real possibility that the celebrant might be facing away from the assembly.” The Congregation for Divine Worship has clarified this on previous occasions, Serratelli conceded. “Although permitted, the decision whether or not to preside ad orientem should take into the consideration the physical configuration of the altar and sanctuary space, and, most especially, the pastoral welfare of the faith community being served,” Serratelli wrote. “Such an important decision should always be made with the supervision and guidance of the local bishop.”

 

Rubrics lay out clear instructions for celebrating Mass of Vatican II

Those who contend that ad orientem is “foreign to the new Mass and its Missal” have “clearly never read the rubrics,” Somerville-Knapman wrote. “The rubrics assume without thinking twice that the priest is, at the relevant times, facing East!”

 

 

 

The monk pointed to the following rubrics from the GIRM:

At the beginning of Mass— 1. “…while the Priest, facing the people, says…”

After the offertory— 29. “Standing at the middle of the altar, facing the people …”

At the Kiss of Peace— 127. “The Priest, turned towards the people …”

At the “Behold the Lamb of God…”— 132. “The Priest genuflects, takes the host and, holding it slightly above the paten or above the chalice, while facing the people, says aloud…”

At the priest’s Communion— 133. “The Priest, facing the altar, says quietly…”

For the Post-Communion prayer— 139. “Then, standing at the altar or at the chair and facing the people, with hands joined, the Priest says: Let us pray.”

Before the dismissal— 141. “Then the dismissal takes place. The Priest, facing the people and extending his hands, says: The Lord be with you…”

At the dismissal— 144. “Then the Deacon, or the Priest himself, with hands joined and facing the people, says: Go forth…”

 

“These constant reminders to the celebrant to face the people at the appropriate time only make sense if the priest’s default position for ritual action is not facing the people,” Somerville-Knapman continued. “The only time the rubrics feel the need to remind the celebrant to face the altar is at his own Communion, which follows immediately after his showing the sacred species to the people. Versus populum is clearly not the default position for the ritual action the Mass of Vatican II. Clearly, the Missal assumes the ancient and consistent logical position of facing God when talking to God, and reminding the priest (and this is new and sensible) to face the people when talking to them.”

Jeff Ostrowski, a Catholic organist and musician, dissected Lombardi’s statement piece by piece on the blog CC Watershed.

“Fr. Lombardi’s statement ‘clarifies’ that no new legislation on ad orientem will be released in Advent,” Ostrowski wrote. “My response would be, ‘That clarification is not needed because Cardinal Sarah said absolutely nothing — not one word — about new legislation coming in Advent.’”

“Fr. Lombardi’s statement ‘clarifies’ that Pope Francis ‘mentioned’ that the Extraordinary Form must not eradicate the Ordinary Form,” but no one is arguing that that could happen anytime soon, he wrote.

“Fr. Lombardi should have quoted the statement from the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, which put an end to discussion on this point,” Ostrowski continued. “Cardinal Sarah’s congregation was responsible for creating the 2000 (2002) GIRM and they provide its definitive interpretation. On 10 April 2000, addressing this very question, the congregation stated: ‘This Dicastery [i.e. the Congregation for Divine Worship] wishes to state that Holy Mass may be celebrated versus populum or versus apsidem. Both positions are in accord with liturgical law; both are to be considered correct.’”

The dicastery’s statement also clarified, “It should be borne in mind that there is no preference expressed in the liturgical legislation for either position. As both positions enjoy the favor of law, legislation may not be invoked to say that one position or the other accords more closely with the mind of the Church.”

 

Those who decry close readings of law suddenly ‘strict rubricists’

“It is amazing to me that the Holy See Press Office suddenly has this ‘quick reaction force’ capability to dispel confusion when it arises,” Creative Minority Report blogger Patrick Archbold told LifeSiteNews, when “this capability has been conspicuously absent” during the past three years.

“Equally amazing is how those who daily decry the ‘Doctors of the Law’ have suddenly morphed into strict rubricists unwilling to brook even the slightest perceived deviation from the GIRM,” he continued. “This sudden reactionary rubricism seems limited only to false interpretations of the GIRM for anyone who has spent more than five minutes looking at the question understands that the ‘wherever possible’ of GIRM 299 applies to the placement of the altar and not the orientation of the priest… [and] the Vatican shows no signs of giving a hoot about any of the other daily violations of the GIRM so commonplace at the empty masses of today.”

It appears that Lombardi’s response to Sarah was among his last acts as a Vatican spokesman. Lombardi just retired and has been replaced by American journalist Greg Burke.

 

18 of 56 comments:

  1. The traditional position of the priest during Mass has always been facing the Tabernacle and certainly NOT facing the people. The priest LEADS the people in prayer towards GOD. Cardinal Sarah is so right. When the priest is facing the people the whole aspect is inwards and not outwards towards God.
  2. The priest isn’t necessarily facing the tabernacle. While it is nice when this occurs and certainly fitting, it isn’t a requirement of Ad Orientem worship.
  3. From the Office Reading (Breviary) July 10, Saint Ambrose said: You entered to confront your enemy, for you intended to renounce him to his face. You turned toward the east, for one who renounces the devil turns toward Christ and fixes his gaze directly on him.
  4. Let’s also talk about the other issue that Cardinal Sarah mentioned – Gregorian Chant. There are those of us who have squirmed and writhed in absolute agony at the ‘sop’ that is served up as music during Mass. We have had enough!
  5. I have always enjoyed the Gregorian Chant. After all, the church is supposed to be a solemn place and not a place for dancing, clapping, loud voices. You do that at parties, not at church. We only have 1 day a week, 1 hour in 7 days to celebrate Jesus Christ. Why can’t we just do that?

 

 

  1. As a convert to the faith, I have had a terrible feeling come over me when I hear hymns I sang in the protestant church of my youth being sung in the one holy Catholic Church.
  2. Interestingly, much of what has become “the norm” in the current means of celebrating the NO began as illicit innovation [e.g. versus populum, Communion in the hand, female altar servers, etc.]. Unfortunately, Rome–apparently unwilling to wield its authority when critically needed–has been allowing this sort of abuse since Paul VI. Francis, who does not even genuflect during Consecration, appears to be actively promoting further abuse of the Sacred rite and enlarging theological distance from the Sacrificial core of the Holy Mass.
  3. The priest now has to compete for attention with the choir who is entertaining everyone FROM NEXT TO THE ALTAR as well. Would that still be called the “Sanctuary”? Since there is no altar rail, it seems there is no boundary for the Sacred anymore (except in Eastern Rite church iconostasis (sp.?) screen architecture). But, I digress.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with the choir loft in the back of our local church. In fact, it’s filled with parishioners goofing off, even as they are entertained during Mass.
    During the handshake of peace, I don’t even want to turn away from the Tabernacle to those behind me, for it is insulting our Lord. Jesus, the Lamb of God is “OUT”, and we are shaking each other’s hands . . . sad not recognize Him with reverence. I thought there was a (short-lived) suggestion or mandate about 10 years ago that encouraged people to shake hands before the Liturgy even began. Then the handshake was omitted after the Lord’s Prayer.
    What is so wrong about the priest facing the Tabernacle? Do any of them even have to wonder Who they are replacing with their attention? I hope they are hurting from prickly consciences! God bless Cardinal Sarah.
  4. The Vatican is full of Lutheran Liberals who’ve had their way for 50 years. They’ve destroyed the Church. Time to return to the fullness of the faith; both in doctrine and worship.
  5. “As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so will the Son of God return at the end of the world”. Ad Orientem means facing Jesus when He returns and not just facing EAST. I am pretty sure the writers of the GIRM had this in mind when they put in ‘ad orientem’. They were aware that not all altars could be built with an eastward facing altar.
  6. Cardinal Sarah is being attacked I.e. his words disregarded, pushed aside because he is one of the few prelates who are defending the true Teachings of the Church…yes under Francis it has tragically come to this. The overwhelming presence of the leftist agenda in many in Church roles including men like Fr Rosica is truly creating havoc for faithful Bishops priests and laity.
  7. “U.S. Bishops’ Conference: Listen to Father Lombardi rather than Cardinal Sarah:”
    Ah, a puny father has more authority than a Cardinal. I may as well listen to myself instead of the pope, alright?
  8. I wonder when this meeting between Pope Francis and Cardinal Sarah when they agreed actually took place. Was it before or after Cardinal Sarah’s speech in London?
    As to Cardinal Nichols reference to priests’ personal preferences this made me laugh. If only some priests would refrain from their bizarre innovations for the Ordinary Form but no doubt he was not thinking of them!
  9. Sometimes I wonder – our new pastor bows to the altar (or the people – not sure which) seemingly unaware that he’s offering his backside to Jesus in the tabernacle behind him when he goes to read the gospel… SAD!!!
  10. Father Lombardi quickly reacts to apparent confusion brought by Cardinal Sarah’s statement. How come there is no quick, or even slow, reaction from the Vatican to obvious confusion brought by Pope Francis’ AL? What is more damaging, confusion about a liturgical instruction or confusion about pastoral practices that undermine Catholic doctrine?
  11. Deacon Augustine: Can the CDW not write to Cardinal Nichols and remind him that Mass is not the place for him to impose his personal preferences on his priests and that both orientations are equally permissible in law?

The Church has suffered more than enough from liturgo-fascism without him adding his own foibles to the problems.

  1. “Ad Orientem” is a term selected to avoid saying the name of Jesus in mundane terms when discussing rubrics. There is no theological reason to face East. And there is no reason to face the audience either. Priests should face Jesus in the Tabernacle and the tabernacle should be on the altar front and center. For numerous centuries, basilicas, cathedrals and larger churches were built with several altars along the walls…so that priests (when there were a lot of them) could fulfill their obligation to say Mass daily. Facing East was never an issue. It is about facing Jesus; facing the tabernacle; facing the altar. Terms like “ad orientem” are often chosen as a term that everyone formerly understood. Look at ancient church architecture…facing East was never a factor. But again, there is no reason to face the audience, either.
  2. The apse toward the east was a deliberate thought in the design of churches for centuries. Was it insisted upon? No. Was the idea of the “liturgical east” also operative? Yes. The primary reason for this orientation is to articulate with our bodies the expectation of the return of the Lord. This is not inconsequential. The liturgy was and should remain the primary means of catechizing the Mystical Body of Christ — that means we are catechized most effectively through worship. The Mass, with the Divine Office, is a transformation of the day into prayer of praise, adoration, thanksgiving, anticipation. It involves encountering the Lord in a wide range of Holy Scripture each day, along with the Church Fathers, and the texts of Holy Mass — so often taken directly from those two sources, but from elsewhere too.
  3. LifeSiteNews: The decline of religious practice and belief among Catholics and other Christians since the 1960s has been catastrophic. That coincided with radical changes in the manner of worship of God that took place in parishes around the world. Those changes, for the most part, were not directed by the documents of Vatican II and in fact went against the directions of the Council fathers.

If you study Church teachings on the importance of the Mass, you will understand the importance of liturgy in the life of the Church and its impact on the world. If is far beyond the flippant view that is presented in your response.

 

 

 

All these earthly matters that you mention are, in some ways, directly connected to the worship or lack of worship to God and the living of faith or lack of faith of people in the world. You dismiss the influence and importance of the spiritual without understanding what the saints and popes of the past have written and taught about that importance. It is of far greater significance than you can imagine. –Steve Jalsevac

 

 

*GIRM 299 has been mistranslated

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2006/04/girm-299-has-been-mistranslated/

Posted on 28 April 2006 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

I had some mail and comments about my entry on the Latin of GIRM 299 and the English translation.

In one case I was asked by Paul B: “Just to play the devil’s advocate … (c)ouldn’t the ‘quod’ be taken, not as a neuter relative pronoun, ‘which’…, but as the conjunction ‘because’….  This would lend weight to the bishop’ BLS translation and give it more force for their ‘facing the people’ agenda.”

While I was pretty sure I had rendered it correctly (namely, that the quod referred to the whole thing that went before) I consulted Fr. Reginald Foster, OCD (Latin secretary to His Holiness in the Secretariat of State) about 299.  As I supposed, the quod refers to what goes before.  It is not “because”.  Look at the Latin again.

The Latin:
Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit.

The BLS translation (which is now the GIRM translation):
The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible. (Emphases added)

The problem with the GIRM translation is that it gives the impression that it is celebration versus populum which is desirable, rather than the separation of the altar from the wall.

My version:
The main altar should be built separated from the wall, which is useful wherever it is possible, so that it can be easily walked around and a celebration toward the people can be carried out.  (Emphases added)

The Latin does not say that celebrations versus populum are desirable. It says that separation of the altar from the wall is desirable (or useful or fitting) wherever possible. The ut clause explains how far the altar should be from the wall by way of explaining the reason for a separation from the wall. It should be far enough from the wall so that someone can walk around the altar so that if there should be celebration for Mass versus populum the priest will have room.

In other words, since “separated” could technically be only a single centimeter, the paragraph makes the distance a little more specific: far enough so that Mass can be celebrated versus populum. Furthermore, this separation from the wall is not obligatory. It is fitting or useful or desirable wherever it is possible. It is not obligatory. (Neither is celebration of Mass versus populum, obviously.)

There are any number of reasons why it might not be possible to separate an altar from the wall.  For example, it might be that the altar is of historic importance.  Maybe the architecture of the church is such that to change the altar would ruin the focus. It might be that there would not be adequate room in the sanctuary if the mensa (or table) of the altar was moved forward. Maybe in that place the decision was made to have celebrations of Mass ad orientem versus and not versus populum. All of these would be entirely adequate reasons. You can probably think of more reasons yourself.  Furthermore, there is no obligation to change an existing altar. This would apply more to new construction.

The official translation gives the impression that what 299 is asking for is celebration versus populum rather than separation of the altar “wherever it is possible”.  Read the GIRM translation again: The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible. (Emphases added)

Does the GIRM translation of 299 it not give you that impression as well?

 

111

Beyond Ad Orientem: First Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016

https://hughosb.wordpress.com/2016/07/21/sacra-liturgia-2016-the-legacy/

By Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB, July 21, 2016

The controversy that has been stirred up over Cardinal Sarah’s encouragement to priests to return to the traditional orientation at the altar during Mass has been fascinating, alarming, and perhaps ultimately necessary. It has provoked people on various sides to play their hands: unswerving loyalty to the status quo of liturgical reform, and a willingness to use an iron fist in a velvet glove to defend it; a commitment to reforming this reform to bring it more in line with the explicit intentions of the Council on which the status quo bases its legitimacy;  a rejection even of a reform of the reform and an overriding commitment to the pre-conciliar liturgy as liberated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007; and, incredulity among a minority at this bickering over such a peripheral thing as liturgy —”people are starving”, etc. On the positive side, it has renewed a discussion into what Christian worship is all about, what is its focus and what are its essential principles. This has led some to make more concrete and definitive judgments on related issues on which they had not previously come to any firm and final decision.

 

 

However, Sacra Liturgia 2016 had three full days of talks beyond Cardinal Sarah’s controversial address. So to help further the effects and fruits of the conference, I propose to single out what struck me as particularly noteworthy and deserving of ongoing thought and application. These strike me as seeds that deserve the water of our attention, our study and prayer, and our action.

Cardinal Sarah’s call to reorient our worship to God has already been much discussed by me and a galaxy of others. Needless to say it is now effectively the emblem, or is it avatar (?), of Sacra Liturgia 2016.

Perhaps the next most significant contribution is one that has been largely overlooked and really merits further study. It comes from Dr. Stephen Bullivant, the young lay (and married) theologian at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. His paper’s title, Especially in Mission Territories (SC38)? New Evangelization and Liturgical (Reform of the) Reform, may well have deceived people into paying it inadequate attention. For it was not about the “missions”.

The thrust of his paper, and what really deserves further thought, is challenging. He noted that neo-evangelistic principles had motivated and shaped the conciliar liturgical reforms. As early as the 1940s churchmen were defining their parts of Europe as missionary lands, such was the decline in the practice of the faith. Missionary is here used in the third of the possible situations later described by Pope St John Paul II, namely a land with ancient Christian roots but now largely alienated from the faith, and so in need of re-evangelization, or as we now call it, a new evangelisation. By the 1960s this European self-definition as missionary was more firmly and widely held, especially as the cultural and social revolution of the 1960s took hold.

Given, said Dr. Bullivant, that the conciliar aim of promoting full and active participation in the liturgy was raised above all others, it was no wonder that the newly self-defined mission lands of Europe should seek for themselves the concessions made to the developing Church in the mission lands as traditionally understood, such as increased use of the vernacular language and music.

In fact, Dr. Bullivant maintains, this missionary self-understanding in Europe, even if only pragmatic rather than conscientious, shaped the liturgical reforms after the Council and made in its name. Thus the Mass was vastly simplified. The vernacular became the de facto norm, as did secular music and instrumentation which were now conveniently classified as vernacular. Though Dr. Bullivant did not say this, in this light it is hard not to see the post-conciliar liturgical reforms as based on a sleight of hand. But the ploy was no doubt well-intentioned: to get more people to Mass by allowing them to be more actively involved in the liturgical action.

As Dr. Bullivant pointed out, the tree of reform does not come out very well when judged by its fruits. Only 55.8% of cradle Catholics now identify as Catholic, and almost 38% of them have rejected religion entirely. The decline in Mass attendance is well documented and unrelenting. Where there is growth it is generally in places where there has been a return to traditional approaches to worship, not least to the pre-conciliar traditional Latin Mass. In other words, the only real and consistent growth has been among those groups which see the post-conciliar reforms as inadequate.

Dr. Bullivant’s conclusion is fresh and challenging. Given the Council’s overriding principle of full and active participation in the liturgy in order to reinvigorate a Church in decline in Europe and to support the growth of the Church in traditional missionary lands, and the fact that since the reforms there has been a consistent and significant decline in the numbers of Catholics even turning up, let alone participating; then this very same  conciliar principle mandates, even requires, a reform of the liturgical reform in order to render the liturgy effective in restoring full and active participation by as many Catholics as possible. In this view, the conciliar liturgical reforms having not met the goals set for them by the Council, it is time to express a more fundamental loyalty to the Council by reassessing the liturgical reforms made in its name in order to make them more fit for (the conciliar) purpose.

The unspoken question lurking like an elephant in the room must be confronted: how many bishops in England and Wales (and beyond) ready to obey the conciliar mandate and promote a reform of the ordinary form, or even the traditional extraordinary form? Some have shown themselves at least partly willing. Many others are most clearly not open to proceeding along these lines, perhaps seeing in such an approach an implicit admission of the failure of the post-conciliar liturgical reforms even when judged by conciliar standards.

Whether encouraging more Catholics back to Mass is achieved better by a reform of the reform or by the pre-conciliar Extraordinary Form is another, ongoing debate.

Either way what is being proposed is a fidelity to the Council that needs further articulation. After all, as Dr. Bullivant quoted Newman, we will look rather foolish standing here without the laity.

In part 2 the main insights of the remaining papers will be briefly described to spur even further your own researches and meditations.

 

 

 

Beyond Ad Orientem: Further Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016

https://hughosb.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/beyond-ad-orientem-further-gleanings-from-sacra-liturgia-2016/

By Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB, July 29, 2016

Having, in the first gleanings, looked at Dr. Bullivant’s small time bomb for the exegesis of the conciliar declaration on liturgy, it is time finally to extract the gems from the other talks at Sacra Liturgia 2016 in London a few weeks back.

This will be a light buffet not a banquet, a tasting menu not the full dishes. You can tell I am fasting today! Fuller details will be found in my series of posts from Sacra Liturgia in this blog.

 

Dom Alcuin Reid‘s paper, which focused on the liturgical  debate on the Council floor, reminded us that the majority of bishops came to the Council expecting, indeed desiring, no more in the way of change than minimal things like readings the vernacular. Some were alarmed at the whispers of radical reform that were becoming louder. The mind of the Council regarding the liturgy will not be found in the proceedings of the Consilium which constructed the new liturgy but in the mouths of the Fathers who intervened on the Council floor. Dom Alcuin also noted that such concessions as had been conceded were later expanded into mandates for much wider and deeper reform. The permission to prune “useless repetitions”, for example, resulted in the removal of almost all repetitions, such as signs of the cross over the chalice and paten and kissings of the altar. This removed most of the small gestures that betoken love. Far from being a burden on the laity, these discreet priestly activities were perhaps being seen as a burden by a clergy become more and more imbued with the rationale spirit of the times. So gestures that could serve as tokens of love were ruthlessly culled. “The spirit of reductive minimalism was not a spirit of love but of sloth.”

 

Dom Charbel Pazat de Lys spoke on the public nature of the liturgy. The Eucharist was not given to the Twelve for their own nourishment and consolation, but for the whole Church to follow. This public aspect is invoked when the liturgy is done in the name of the Church, by designated ministers of the Church and following a ritual had on by the Church. But the modern mania for self-determination can often lead to self-designed liturgies that, being the expression of his personality, represent far more a “private Mass” than that of the priest offering the Mass solo but according to the mind of the Church. One upshot of a properly public Mass is that everyone should know his or her place and role within the ritual, a knowledge mediated by the regularity of the celebration of the Mass. When we know our place we feel a part of the action, not a lost and forlorn bystander to a Mass in which so much might have been changed as to leave the faithful unsure of what is happening and so also their proper place in relation to it.

 

Professor Peter Stephan gave us a pictorial and conceptual tour through the many renovations of St Hedwig’s cathedral in Berlin. Such a paper is not suited to this sort of summarising. However, he made some interesting general observations. The modern mania for modernist minimalism, he said, sends completely the wrong message to the world, one of conformity to the spirit of the time rather than a proclamation of the Church’s place and meaning in society. A church needs to be visible as the house of God in the midst of the people and so invite the believer and non-believer alike to come and see. A church barren of ornament, colour or image is hardly able to show forth the face of the Church and its faith to the visitor.

 

Dr. Jennifer Donelson who spoke around the low-Mass culture that did and does prevail in many places. In such a context the Catholic experiences the spoken word as privileged above the sung word, an experience alien to the origins of the Catholic liturgy. The Solemn Mass is marked by a balance between the sung word and silence. The Low Mass mentality also facilitated a culture of liturgical minimalism and of clerical manipulation of the liturgy, to the detriment of other ministers playing their proper role, of doing the minimum required and little more. An aversion to liturgical music and higher ceremonial is, she maintained, a sign of liturgical sloth. The priest’s singing the liturgy was the vocal equivalent of vesting, a diminution of the self and the putting on of Christ. In the spoken voice there is far more scope for the priest’s personality to intrude where it has no proper place.

 

Dr. Clare Hornsby gave a paper on the 15-century Council of Florence. Again a highly multimedia presentation, it is hard to summarise here. She focused on the role of the liturgy and its arts and ceremonies in the attempt to restore union between the eastern and western Churches. The liturgical arts could serve as powerful symbols and propaganda tools in Church politics.

 

Fr. Uwe Michael Lang spoke on the Tridentine liturgical reform. He noted recent challenges to the received historical judgment that medieval liturgy was corrupt and decadent, highly clericalised and with almost no lay involvement. Liturgical experience is not adequately conveyed by text alone, and the medieval liturgy would have conveyed various levels of meaning to the varying levels of society. He also noted challenges to the view that the Reformation was the inevitable result of the supposed decadence of the medieval Church. Despite high-level problems in the Church, at the grassroots its pastoral care of the faithful was effective and fruitful. Dr. Lang dwelt for a while on the desire at Trent to return to the practice of the “Fathers”, echoed as it was with Vatican II, noting that the equation of the Fathers with the patristic period is a modern phenomenon, and that at the time of Trent it was a broader period, including St Bernard. Thus the Tridentine reform was not seeking a return to an idealised liturgy of the early Church. The Tridentine reform of the Mass was not a reconstruction of the Mass, but its consolidation and standardisation as the common liturgy for the vast majority of the Western Church.

 

 

Bishop Alan Hopes spoken on the project to revise the anglophone Liturgy of the Hours.  In the proposed new Divine Office it is intended to produce the one text for all the 11 anglophone bishops’ conferences, rather than the various texts in use in different countries. Each conference could add a supplement or appendix which could encompass any necessary regional variations. It will use the revised Grail psalter and the RSV Catholic edition of the Bible. The intercessions at Lauds and Vespers are still being revise, though their litany quality will be restored. The hymns of the new Office will be retranslated in a way that is suitable to both recitation and singing, either metrically or in chant. This will involve the loss of rhyme in order to preserve the clarity of meaning. For the Office of Readings there is active consideration being given to a second cycle of readings throughout the year.

 

Dr. Joris Geldof gave a highly philosophical paper on the liturgy beyond the secular. No one individual, he said, lives 24/7 in a totally secular or totally sacred way. There is bound to be rupture, and thus the intrusion of the one into the other. The crisis of Catholicism in secular cultures requires a rethinking of the concept of the secular. Originally a time reference, denoting that which was temporal as opposed to eternal, it has come to take on a spatial dimension, and a rejection of any claim to transcendence of this world, and thus of sacredness. Liturgy can be seen as offering access to mystery in a secular world.  Christ is renewing time and space through the liturgy and the Church. He is not making new things, but rather making all things new. Thus the Church and its liturgy are not to be seen over and against the world, but in its midst to transform it.

 

 

Beyond Ad Orientem: Final Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016

https://hughosb.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/beyond-ad-orientem-final-gleanings-from-sacra-liturgia-2016/

By Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB, July 29, 2016

In the home stretch now, with the last set of nuggets from Sacra Liturgia 2016.

Rev. Professor Dr. Helmut Hoping spoke on the liturgy and the Trinity. He began by recalling the former status of liturgy as primary source of theological reflection, prima theologia, in which the priority is not so much speaking about God as to God. The mystery of God is studied in theology but is made present and worshipped in liturgy, especially in the Mass, which is the privileged place of encounter with the Blessed Trinity. Though it is addressed to the Father in the power of the Spirit, the Paschal Mystery of Christ holds sway, and Christ is addressed directly in the Kyrie, the midsection of the Gloria, the verses either side of the gospel proclamation and the Alleluia, and the Mysterium Fidei, at the Pax and at Communion. There is a need to embody this liturgical orientation to Christ as the subject of the liturgy, to express it in our physical attitude. The East is the symbolic direction of both Christ’s comings – at the Incarnation and at the parousia or Second Coming. In fact we can say that we offer the Eucharist in order to bring about the parousia. The few occasions prayer is addressed directly to Christ as Thou, it is to the eschatological Christ who is with the Father now and who will come again at the Last. Christ is not addressed as the one present on the altar or in the congregation, the Christ among us.

 

Rev. Dr. Michael Cullinan gave a moral theologian’s take on the liturgy. There is a grave moral significance to what people see and hear in church, in the liturgy. There is a social need for a recreated community/communion, yet this is only addressed in the brief space of the Sunday liturgy for most of us. But the liturgy builds communion and sanctifies time beyond the Sunday liturgy. Our Christian living in time is intimately related to this. Such things was fasting and abstinence are lived outside the time of the liturgy but are directed towards it. Also, the liturgy is art, and the Church’s art is liturgy. What Catholics see and hear at Mass is important to their moral lives. The modern depreciation of matter in art and architecture (such as in brutalist minimalism) has real moral effects. Art and architecture cannot be reduced to mere icing on the cake: delicious and sweet but hardly essential or nourishing. The laudable aim to use the materials simply at hand (as opposed to importing expensive foreign materials) is not the same as the far-from-admirable practice of using merely the cheapest materials that can possible be found. Noble simplicity is often counterfeited as ignoble simplicity. Doing the best we can never be equated with doing the least we can. In the liturgy the beauty of created things is offered back to God as worship. He noted the modern lectionary’s tendency to cut and paste scripture in such a way that the full force and effect of revelation is denied the congregation. He cited in particular the complete removal of St Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians about the proper disposition for receiving the Eucharist. It effectively ignores the moral/ethical dimension of our Eucharistic life. Moreover, for so many today the Sunday liturgy is their only access to moral teaching, and to an exposition of the Church of struggling Christians on earth and the Church in heaven of those who gloriously persevered. If in our churches we fail to teach the fullness of the faith, if we fail to give people an experience of the beauty of holiness and a foretaste of heaven, if we serve them gruel and not the true bread of heaven, then our liturgies are morally deficient.

 

Professor David Fagerberg spoke on the liturgy in relation to care for creation and the poor. He reminded us of symbolic temple topography applied to the Christian context: the sanctuary represents heaven, the nave is the Church, and the narthex is threshold into the world, a permeable membrane through which Christians are sent into the world and through which the world is invited to enter the Church and journey eastwards to the Holy of Holies in heaven. It is a powerful yet simple understanding of any proper church building. Cult, the worship conducted within the church, is the basis of culture, which is the high point of created matter. From the created world comes the stuff of sacrifice and worship, the bread and wine for Eucharist, the wax for light and the resins for incense, the pigments for sacred art and the metals for sacred plate. Liturgy is not some new world; it is the world renewed, and by it man is renewed and put in his proper cosmic location.

 

Liturgy should overflow the sanctuary, said the professor, to comfort the poor and honour creation. The Fall was the human attempt to move higher than our proper place by our own initiative and for our own ends; it is the failure to offer worship to God and the attempt to usurp his Throne. The liturgy puts us again in our proper place, under God, alongside our neighbour, and above creation, offering it back to God and ourselves with it. It comes down to order and placement, symmetry and proportion. It is, to put it another way, about hierarchy. Christ has established a hierarchy, an order of power and responsibility. We have a royal power from Christ to care for his creation, and a priestly power to offer creation back to him in all its beauty. Through this power man is to iconograph God not idolise himself. Conversion is the return to this order, putting the Other not the self at the centre. That is love, and love is liturgy. Liturgy is thus our participation in the restored order and hierarchy of creation.

 

Monsignor Andrew Burnham spoke on the Ordinariate’s liturgical books. A lot of it was historical and technical, but some elements strike me as germane. In the Ordinariate calendar there is a return to traditional nomenclature for particular times of the year: Sundays after Trinity as well as the ancient Rogation and Ember days, and the pre-Lent Gesima Sundays. The liturgical roots of the Ordinariate Use are mainly to be found in the Roman Missal rather than the BCP. There was a movement to revive the pre-Reformation Sarum Use but this failed despite Sarum’s having satisfied the doctrinal conditions; but it has not been a living liturgical tradition since 1549.

 

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone gave the closing address. He taught that in the realm of liturgy there was need for reconciliation. Many in the Church have tended to push the traditionally minded into the corners and peripheries of the life of the Church, into ghettos almost. Conversely, some of the traditionally minded can spurn all that is not according to their concept of tradition, living in a sort of quarantine, a self-manufactured ghetto. Those who seek the restoration of tradition in the liturgy and the “reform of the Reform” must recognise that such reforms cannot be rushed, nor imposed with a heavy hand, but must grow organically over time, and bringing the people with them not racing ahead of them. Those who pay attention to liturgical detail are not necessarily rubricists. The quality of our living will demonstrate that. Such attention to detail is, in fact, the mark of love, for we pay such close attention to detail only to those things we value, esteem and cherish. The little things are revelatory of love.  The little things become burdens only when they are not done with love.

 

 

Who’s afraid of ad orientem?

http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2016/07/whos-afraid-of-ad-orientem

By Christopher Ruddy, July 19, 2016

Cardinal Robert Sarah’s call on July 5th for a wider celebration of the Ordinary Form Mass ad orientem was predictably dead on arrival, given the lack of support from higher authority and most of the episcopate, as well as the widespread sense among clergy and laity that such orientation represents the priest’s turning his “back to the people” in a pre–Vatican II, clericalist manner.

The swiftness and vehemence, however, with which the Cardinal’s suggestion was rejected remains striking. The intensity of that rejection reveals much about liturgy, the reception of Vatican II, and the Church’s identity and purpose.

On Saturday, July 9th, Pope Francis received Cardinal Sarah in audience. On the following day, July 10th, Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor of Civiltà Cattolica and papal confidant-interviewer, tweeted that the General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM) dictates that the priest must face the congregation at various points during Mass. (Several commentators responded that such instructions presuppose that the priest is otherwise facing in the same direction—ad orientem—as the people.)

That same day, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, in whose diocese Cardinal Sarah had delivered his July 5th address, released a letter to his priests. After noting the importance of dignified liturgical celebration, he claimed that No. 299 of GIRM, which calls for a free-standing altar, holds that versus populum worship “is desirable wherever possible.” (Others have argued that the “desirable wherever possible” phrase pertains not to celebration versus populum, but to the existence of a free-standing altar.) He also warned his priests against a clericalism that would impose the celebrant’s “personal preference or taste” upon the liturgy.

And on the following day, July 11th, the Vatican Press Office Director, Federico Lombardi, S.J., issued a clarification regarding Cardinal Sarah’s original comments and recent papal audience. Father Lombardi reiterated the claim that GIRM No. 299 supports versus populum worship. Stating also that the expression “reform of the reform” should be avoided, he said that “new liturgical directives are not expected.” Pope Francis and Cardinal Sarah, he concluded, were “unanimous” in their agreement on these points. At that point, the Cardinal’s appeal had been totally rejected. The rebuttal was swift, decisive, and total.

These interventions—like other, more vehement responses in some quarters of the blogosphere—leave one with the impression that, as the Catechism says of the death penalty, ad orientem celebration should be “very rare, if not practically non-existent.” Why the lack of a catholic appreciation for legitimate liturgical diversity? No one can truthfully claim that the Ordinary Form prohibits ad orientem celebration. So, who’s afraid of ad orientem worship, and why?

The real issue, I believe, is not restorationism (which, ironically, was one of the mistaken reasons for the introduction of versus populum in the mid-twentieth century) or clericalism (this layman finds his Christian dignity and equality affirmed by ad orientem worship, which makes visible the solidarity of clergy and congregation, as well as the self-effacement of ordained ministers before the Lord). The real issue is much deeper: the Church’s identity in time and eternity. That identity touches on history, Vatican II and its reception, ecclesiology, and eschatology.

 

 

As the liturgical scholar John Baldovin, S.J. states in Reforming the Liturgy: A Response to its Critics, “historical honesty requires us to admit that the idea that the early liturgy was habitually celebrated versus populum was mistaken” (p. 112). There is a danger in relying too much on the work of specialists, be they theologians, historians, or exegetes. Sound scholarship is a gift to the Church’s life and mission. But the historical scholarship that seemed to justify versus populum worship has been largely debunked. (A similar pattern is at work in the creation of Eucharistic Prayer II and its purported connection to Hippolytus of Rome.)

These historical questions lead to conciliar ones: What is the relationship between Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium, and its post-conciliar implementation? Sacrosanctum concilium, after all, says nothing about liturgical orientation. Is it possible to acknowledge specifically, beyond a bland admission that “mistakes were made,” that the post-conciliar liturgical renewal—like most efforts at reform—has had its successes and failures? How does one reconcile the extremely broad consensus behind Sacrosanctum concilium and the divisiveness that has marked its implementation? Ad orientem worship thus raises the perennially contentious matter of conciliar hermeneutics.

Given these historical and conciliar questions, ecclesiology comes to the fore: How could such consistency of liturgical orientation over nearly two millennia be changed so quickly by curial-papal decision? Sacrosanctum concilium was approved on December 4, 1963; the Consilium responsible for implementing the conciliar liturgical renewal was established on January 25, 1964; and the Congregation of Rites’ Instruction Inter oecumenici, the first magisterial document to speak of versus populum celebration, was published with papal approval on September 26, 1964, to go into effect on the First Sunday of Lent, March 7, 1965. That’s light-speed for a Rome proverbially accustomed to thinking and acting in terms of centuries.

In his Vatican II diaries, the French Dominican Yves Congar criticized the preparatory conciliar drafts for their papal-centrism and magisterial positivism: Their source, he notes, is always “the Church” [i.e. the hierarchy] and especially “the popes,” rather than scripture and tradition. The controversy surrounding Cardinal Sarah’s address indicates a similar contemporary need for a more profound ressourcement. To what extent are we stewards and/or owners of tradition, and to what extent do Catholic magisterial practices help and/or hinder the Church’s life and tradition? Fidelity to the apostolic tradition does not mean stasis, but it does require a profound continuity—particularly with regard to the Church’s most precious gifts, its liturgy and sacraments. One might ask whether the Orthodox Churches would ever reform their liturgies with such rapidity and radicality.

Finally, ad orientem worship raises the issue of the Church’s relationship to its past, present, and future, to its identity across time. Despite Vatican II’s conviction that believers’ commitments as citizens of both the heavenly and earthly cities ought to be mutually reinforcing (e.g., Gaudium et spes, No. 43), we have witnessed a diminishment of the Church’s eschatological awareness. A minor, but telling, example is the title of Chapter VII of Lumen gentium. The Flannery translation, the most commonly used, renders that title as “The Pilgrim Church.” The Vatican website’s translation renders it, more faithfully, as “The Eschatological Nature of the Pilgrim Church and Its Union with the Church in Heaven.” The rejection or marginalization of ad orientem worship feeds this “presentism” and the concomitant eschatological deficit. I am convinced that a significant reason for opposition to ad orientem worship is the sense that it pulls believers away from each other and the “real world,” that it is “churchy” and self-referential. There are, however, few more visible means than ad orientem worship for connecting the Church to its past and future, bodily orienting it in solidarity to its Lord, and thereby contributing to a renewal of the Church’s mission in the world.

If, as Father Baldovin notes (following the Congregation for Divine Worship), the sine qua non in these matters is worshippers’ orientation to the Lord—whether ad orientem or versus populum—why have we seen such restrictiveness? Cardinal Sarah’s address has opened a necessary conversation. Let’s hope for an ever more catholic reply.

Christopher Ruddy is associate professor of historical and systematic theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

 

7 of 49 comments

  1. For those who are commenting that this is a non-issue, I recommend that you direct those remarks toward Fr. Lombardi and the Roman Curia. For Cardinal Sara to recommend a theologically-rich liturgical element is absolutely normal…that’s his job as liturgy prefect. For the backlash to be so quick, far-reaching, and extreme…well, it makes you wonder. If liturgy is so important to the leadership of the Catholic Church, why can’t they trust their own liturgy prefect to make recommendations?
  2. I actually wouldn’t mind an AD Orientem worship. The priest “turning his back on me” during the consecration is a very good and appropriate symbol, because this is no longer about me (or even us). Something more important than “us” is about to happen, now is the time for us to humble ourselves before God.
  3. This piece is well done. I would only add that if it’s really true that opponents of ad orientem worship think that it’s churchy and self-referential, well, that’s pretty ironic. I interpreted that to mean that, according to the objection against ad orientem worship, the community–the church–is focused in on itself. And I was suggesting that if anything here involves the community being focused in on itself, it would be the community members looking at each other–not all of them looking at something beyond. If we’re all looking at each other, what could be more self-referential than that? The beauty of ad orientem worship, in the very few times I’ve been able to experience it, consists largely in the fact that priest and people make eye contact only when they are talking to each other, during the dialogues. When they are all talking to God, the priest turns so that they are all facing in the same direction, which eliminates a huge distraction and simultaneously gives a profound embodiment to the prayer: when we are all talking to God together, we all face the same direction.

 

 

I consider it quite right for priest and people to look at one another when they are talking to one another. But I do see it as problematic for priest and people to look at one another when they are not talking to one another–it’s a distraction. I remember once, long ago, realizing that the priest was actually making eye contact with me while he was saying, “Looking up to you, his almighty Father….”

  1. Have you ever experienced a round church? The eye goes past the center stage table to the people across from you; it can’t be helped.
  2. Facing the people and using the vernacular gave us the illusion that we were evangelizing, that we were carrying out the mission of Lumen Gentium. But we weren’t. When the Jesuits showed up in S. America 450 years ago they celebrated the Tridentine Mass. They were successful because they went out and preached to the people. To me that is the good and most challenging message of Pope Francis. We need to go out to the pagans in the world and proclaim the good news. The liturgy is for those who have already been converted. I have been a priest for 18 years. I started “Ad Orientem” November 1. But I still need to go across the street and share the gospel with my unchurched neighbors.
  3. The significant thing about versus populi liturgy is not that the priest faces the people, but that the people face the priest. He is the focus of the liturgy, as many a modern cleric clearly believes.
  4. To a priest who wrote in, preferring versus populi:

In most (if not all) parishes I have attended the tabernacle is behind the priest for the entire Mass, except of course when he is opening it to remove hosts or closing it after placing hosts in it (though I have seen priests who don’t even do that, they delegate that to a server). Assuming your experiences are similar, then it would mean you have no problem with turning your back to God, but you do have a problem with turning your back to His creation. As I said, interesting. Of course all this talk of turning your back to the people was unheard of prior to the middle of the last century. Nobody thought of it in that way. Leaders do just that, they lead. That means that often times they have their backs to us as we follow them to wherever they are leading us. I doubt Moses walked backwards as he led his people to the Promised Land. Of course, in the end, ad orientem means that for all of about 5 minutes the priest faces away from the congregation and toward the sunrise. Is that really so awful? Even if it’s 10 minutes, is it really so awful?

I’m curious, Father. As a parish priest, have you ever led Rosaries in the church? If so, did you face the people, or face the tabernacle? Have you led Eucharistic adoration? If so, did you face the monstrance, or the people?

 

 

Facing East and other thoughts

http://catholicinsight.com/facing-east-and-other-thoughts/

July 22, 2016

As I have mentioned previously, Cardinal Sarah, the head of the Congregation of Divine Worship (so the highest authority in these matters besides the Pope himself) has asked for priests to return to the ad orientem mode of saying Mass, worshiping ‘with the people’, facing the ‘East’ and the return of Christ, as was done for millennia prior to the revision after the Second Vatican Council. As the article by Christopher Ruddy (above) in First Things makes clear, sadly, the Cardinal’s suggestion has been quickly shot down by the highest authorities in Rome, for reasons that are not made so clear. I think Ruddy is correct, that we have lost much of the eschatological, eternal orientation of the pilgrim Church. It is all about here and now, our feelings, the immediate payoff, charisma and personality. Hence, also , the rejection of meditative ‘other worldly’ Gregorian chant, polyphony, splendid vestments, clear and direct sermons that challenge one to perfection and so on. We are way too absorbed in clappy-hands, guitars, emotive ballads, inclusivity and feelin’ good.

I hope that the good Cardinal Sarah’s sober words, which go far beyond ad orientem , into the very nature of what it means to be and to worship as a Church, have influence beyond the ‘here and now’. May they seep into hearts that are perhaps a little too focused on fruit that does not last.

 

 

Dismissing Cardinal Sarah’s advice – imagine if the laity did it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zFMuheq81g 4:39 JOHN-HENRY WESTEN VIDEO

July 22, 2016

Laity must step into the ‘ad orientem’ liturgy battle
By LifeSiteNews’ editor-in-chief John-Henry Westen, July 21, 2016

You may have noticed that the battles within various churches over traditional worship seem to follow along the same lines as the culture wars. Essentially those Church leaders ready to worship God in traditional ways despite being regarded as out of step by the world are usually the same ones ready to stand against cultural pressure to weaken teaching on life and family matters. This is especially true in the Catholic Church.
Two weeks ago, Cardinal Robert Sarah’s encouragement of priests to face the tabernacle with the faithful during Mass and for the faithful to receive Holy Communion kneeling created quite the stir! The Vatican, which is famous for silence or ‘reacting in centuries’ in the face of some of the most severe scandals even concerning Cardinals, this time reacted with lightning speed.
The very next business day after Cardinal Sarah returned from his trip where he made his suggestion for traditional worship, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi put out a press release. The day after that the US Bishops Conference put out their own release referring to the Vatican telling priests, there is no “new mandate for the celebrant to face away from the assembly.”

 
Cardinal Sarah never said it was mandated mind you. He asked humbly for his brother priests and bishops to implement the practice suggesting Nov. 27 – which is Advent – as a possible start date. He didn’t insist on it, even though he is the Church’s chief liturgist.
Imagine if Catholics only did what we were mandated to do in the Church. How much poorer a church would we be if Catholics only attended Mass on Sundays which is the minimum mandate. What if we only went to confession once a year as we’re mandated. What if we only received Holy Communion once a year during the Easter season?
There would be no-one to flip pancakes and cook the bacon and sausages at those Church breakfasts, because there’s no mandate for that. Hey, there would be no breakfasts or church suppers at all! No fundraisers for the poor, no pot-lucks to benefit children’s charities and hospitals. There would be no Knights of Columbus or Catholic Women’s groups. The good ladies who volunteer with bake sales and taking care of vestments would vanish. Forget the prayer groups, the soup kitchens, the Catechism classes, and even Catholic schools.
No one is mandated to become a priest – so of course that would become a thing of the past.
We are all called to do things beyond what is mandated. We are called to be generous with Our Lord. So as we the faithful pledge to be generous with our gifts and talents in the service of the Church despite the stigma the world attaches to that, courageous priests and bishops have done the same and are willing to sacrifice the admiration of the world to honour Our Lord.
It’s up to the faithful to encourage their own priests and bishops to adopt Cardinal Sarah’s suggestions for liturgy. Some of their own brother priests and bishops who prefer the 70s style liturgy will likely look down on them for taking the step.
But we can encourage them with the words of the head of the Church’s congregation in charge of liturgy. Cardinal Sarah said, this practice should be implemented with “a pastor’s confidence that this is something good for the Church, something good for our people.”
“Dear Fathers,” he said, “we should listen again to the lament of God proclaimed by the prophet Jeremiah: “they have turned their back to me” (2:27). Let us turn again towards the Lord!”
One Bishop in France has already accepted Cardinal Sarah’s challenge.
French Bishop Dominique Rey, of the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon announced that he would celebrate Mass “ad orientem” at the last Sunday of Advent “and on other occasions where appropriate.” “Before Advent,” he added, “I shall address a letter to my priests and people on this question to explain my action. I shall encourage them to follow my example.”
May God bless you Bishop Rey! And may God bless all of you!

 

 

LATER INCLUSION

Cardinal Sarah’s Liturgical Earthquake

https://liturgyguy.com/2016/05/31/cardinal-sarahs-liturgical-earthquake/

May 31, 2016

As many readers of this blog are aware of by now, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments recently gave a groundbreaking interview on Catholic worship.  Speaking to the French magazine Famille Chretienne, Robert Cardinal Sarah held nothing back about the need for the Church to return to offering the Holy Mass ad orientem.  Rather than considering this simply to be a matter of preference, Cardinal Sarah sees it as nothing short of returning God to the center of the liturgy.

For decades many have been advocating for the return of this traditional orientation in the Mass.  After all, the rapid and widespread embrace of versus populum worship immediately following the Second Vatican Council had nothing to do with the documents themselves.  As even Cardinal Sarah notes in his interview:

“More than 50 years after the closure of Vatican II, it becomes urgent that we read these texts! The Council never required the celebration facing the people! This question is not even brought up by the Constitution [on the Sacred Liturgy]…”

Of course, others have made the very same observation in the past. So what’s different now? Is this really all that significant? I believe it is.

First, it’s important because of who is saying it. As the current prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Sarah’s words carry with them an authority few others have.  When he speaks on matters of the liturgy, and does so with conviction, one would hope that his brother bishops would take note.

Secondly, Cardinal Sarah’s words represent a liturgical earthquake because they are as powerful as they are unambiguous. This has the potential to be a major turning point in the ongoing effort to recover a sense of the sacred in the Roman Rite. Reminding us that conversion is by definition a turning towards God, Cardinal Sarah states:

“I am profoundly convinced that our bodies must participate in this conversion. The best way is certainly to celebrate — priests and faithful — turned together in the same direction: toward the Lord who comes. It isn’t, as one hears sometimes, to celebrate with the back turned toward the faithful or facing them. That isn’t the problem. It’s to turn together toward the apse, which symbolizes the East, where the cross of the risen Lord is enthroned.”

He continues:

“By this manner of celebrating, we experience, even in our bodies, the primacy of God and of adoration. We understand that the liturgy is first our participation at the perfect sacrifice of the cross. I have personally had this experience: In celebrating thus, with the priest at its head, the assembly is almost physically drawn up by the mystery of the cross at the moment of the elevation.”

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, it’s been too easy in the past for bishops to dismiss the writings of Gamber, Lang, and even Ratzinger.  Not so when the words come from Rome.  At least one would hope not.  It would require a special kind of intransigence for bishops and priests to pretend that the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship didn’t say what he just said.

I have written previously about the influence and importance of worship in the formation and sanctification of the faithful. Lex orandi, lex credendi. This is what Cardinal Sarah is telling us as well. This is why he is not speaking of preferences, but rather of the “best way…to celebrate” the Holy Mass.

Please note that.  Cardinal Sarah is instructing the priests and bishops of Holy Mother Church of the best way to offer the Mass, and it’s ad orientem.  To emphasize this even further, he concludes:

“For us, the light is Jesus Christ. All the Church is oriented, facing East, toward Christ: ad Dominum. A Church closed in on herself in a circle will have lost her reason for being. For to be herself, the Church must live facing God…”

There are priests and even bishops who know that the best way to celebrate the Mass is ad orientem. From what I have personally been told by numerous priests, many fear the repercussions of a laity all too comfortable with the status quo, with the priest facing them during Mass. Truth be told, many are more than ready for this common turning toward the east. There are already parishes where all masses are being offered ad orientem (here and here) and the fruits are bountiful.

This brings us back to this momentous opportunity.

Cardinal Sarah has squarely placed this back on all of his brother bishops. A decision now, at the diocesan level, to encourage, support, and promote a return to offering the Mass ad orientem is simply an obedient response to Rome. It is simply a shepherd seeking to give to his flock the very best that we can give to God.

Pray that Cardinal Sarah’s words are taken to heart, and implemented, so that once again we can see God become the central focus of the liturgy.

 

3 of 22 comments

  1. The laity were taught erroneously that celebrating the Mass ad orientem was an affront to them, because the priest was turning his back on them. They have also been convinced that other innovations that weren’t really called for by Sacrosanctum Concilium were made to right wrongs, to correct unfair practices that exclude the laity and especially women from their “rightful place” in the worship “service.” With those kinds of attitudes, oftentimes priests have been taken aback by the hatred they have incurred when they made changes and took away what the laity have been brainwashed to think of as their “rights.” And I know of at least one case where the priest was removed by his superiors because of his parishioners’ resentment, which had been fanned by how the innovators had introduced the innovations back in the day.
  2. Beautifully put. A priest named Fr. Richard Heilman in the Diocese of Madison, introduced Ad-Orientem Worship for all of their Masses in 2013. Immediately afterword’s, he stated, a few grey haired parishioners grumbled and move on to a 70’s Liturgy elsewhere. What happened afterword’s shocked even the Priest. The Parish blew up, the choir doubled, the average age went from 65 to 35 with many new families joining. Parishioners started dressing nicer including ties and Mass veils. Parish Contributions went up significantly. The full story can be found on the RomanCatholicMan website.
  3. If anyone has any worries that an Ad Orientem facing Tridentine Mass could be seen as strange, antiquated or off-putting to the faithful, they only need to go on the annual Chartres pilgrimage at Pentecost. That would be enough to make them change their minds.
    I was blessed to be there once again this year. Literally THOUSANDS of people take part (roughly 11.000 estimated this year), mostly male and nearly all under 35! Every day of the 70 mile three-day walk we stop for the celebration of Holy Mass. All of us, behind the celebrant, facing Our Lord and King together in the reenactment of His Holy Sacrifice.

This is our Faith. This is the Truth. This is the way that will lead men back to God.

 

 

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11_ACUPUNCTURE_ACUPRESSURE_SHIATSU_AND_REFLEXOLOGY

112

NEW WEBSITE: www.ephesians-511.net JUNE 2004, AUGUST 2009, APRIL/OCT. 2012/APRIL/JULY 2013

 

  ACUPUNCTURE, SU-JOK , ACUPRESSURE, JIN SHIN DO, ACU-YOGA,

         SHIATSU [MASSAGE] and REFLEXOLOGY [ZONE THERAPY]

[A summary of this article was carried in “Streams of Living Water”, Calcutta Catholic Charismatic Renewal, issues of August-September and October-November 2006]    

ACUPUNCTURE – A RESURGENCE

News about acupuncture [Latin acus, needle; punctum, prick] hit the headlines when in 1971 a group of Americans witnessed surgery on the chest of a patient at the Peking Medical College in China. Apart from a dose of morphine injected at an acupuncture site near his jaw to act as a tranquillizer, the only anaesthetic used seemed to be a needle inserted into the man’s forearm and manipulated [moved up and down, to and fro] by an acupuncturist.

The patient was able to communicate with the surgeons and even eat some fruit! This incident prompted several American medical institutions into initiating acupuncture research programmes. Between 1976 and 1977 alone, more than 100 articles were written in medical journals to explain how the system worked.

Acupuncture had come to the West to stay.

Acupuncture is not only about pain alleviation. It is also used to heal a variety of ailments using different methods.

A laser beam is used in laser acupuncture, while the needles are connected to an electrical supply which produces vibrations in electro-acupuncture*. Ear acupuncturists claim that all the needle sticking points have their equivalents in the ears, thus making whole-body acupuncture unnecessary. Animals are also treated with acupuncture nowadays.

In acupressure, the pressure of the fingers substitutes for the needles.                                *see pages 1, 5, 6, 14, 17

 

ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT

The earliest textbook on acupuncture, dating from around 400 BC was the Nei Ching Su Wen or The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.

“Acupuncture is a holistic system of healing, in that it treats the whole man, not just his present condition. It is a system in tune with Universe, and to understand it, we must understand something of Chinese philosophy,” says E.G. Bartlett, writing in favour of Alternative Therapies in his book Healing Without Harm, Pathways to Alternative Medicine.

In ancient China, since dissection of the human body was prohibited for religious reasons, the Chinese had only a vague idea of anatomy. So, early Chinese medicine was more influenced by the astrological and spiritual concepts of the time. The qualities of five known ‘elements’ [water, fire, wood, earth and metal] were correlated to five solid organs of the body [like the heart] which corresponded with five hollow organs [e.g. the stomach], and were later allocated a planet and a season of the year. According to the theory of acupuncture, there are two more organs in the body unknown to Western man: the ‘Triple Warmer’ and the ‘Gate of Life’, both of them being Yang.

They believed that diseases were sent by gods and demons. The earliest doctors were shamans who performed rituals with incantations and spells, while sticking needles into the patient in an effort to expel the demons. Later the demon model was exchanged for an astrological one. The Emperor Huang Ti observed from a study of the stars that harmony and balance reign in the universe. He concluded that man is the microcosm and must correspond to the macrocosm. In other words, man’s physical and mental processes must be maintained in tune with each other. Further developments took place with the emergence of a philosophical school called Taoism. Taoism comes from Tao [meaning ‘the way’] which was believed to be the first principle, the universal cosmic energy behind the order of nature, preceding even God. It dates back to the philosopher Lao Tse. The Tao’s two faces are the Yin and the Yang. Each has several attributes that are in opposition to the other, yet they are still one. Everything in the universe is either Yin or Yang. For example, good is Yang and evil is Yin. They do not oppose each other, but are simply two sides of the same coin. Similarly, Chinese medicine understands man as one in body and spirit, a complete unit that finds its ultimate harmony only in Tao. This is the doctrine of monism or ‘all is one’. Fundamental was the chi or life energy which permeated all things, and was all things, with its polar components of Yin and Yang, which constantly strive or interplay to achieve a harmonising balance. Disease in the human body was manifested due to imbalance in the chi or energy body of a person. Man can function properly only when his chi is in harmony with the cosmic energy of the universe. Acupuncture was performed to restore the balance of chi in the patient, arriving at a harmony between Yin and Yang, thus ensuring good health.                 1.

 

 

 

Along with the use of meditative techniques, Taoists sought for the ultimate wholeness, a surpassing of the human condition, in the prize of immortality. Some modern Western acupuncturists downplay or ignore its Taoist underpinnings, while others adopt the use of the pendulum and other practices that Christians consider occult.

 

APPLICATION – MOVING THE CHIS

The seat of the chi is said to be the stomach. The body receives its chi from the air through the respiratory system which is connected to the large intestine. The stomach filters out the chi, passes it to the spleen and through a complex system of major [traditionally there are 14] and minor meridians, to the entire body.

Some acupressurists use their fingers to manipulate the abdomen in order to release congested chi in the stomach.

The number of acupuncture points in the body, located along the extremities of the meridians near its surface, may be a few hundred [traditionally there were 365] or a few thousand depending on the acupuncturist you select, and the chart he uses. The needles are made of gold, silver or steel and vary in length between 1.5 and 7 inches.

They are used in different combinations, for different periods of time, heated or cold, to solve different health problems.

If the Yin is too strong, a gold needle is inserted in the appropriate place to strengthen the Yang.

Twisting the needle clockwise will stimulate Yang, and vice versa. If the Yang is too strong, a silver needle is used.

But there are no fixed procedures. Methods of diagnosis also vary among practitioners.

Needles are not the only form of treatment used in acupuncture. Moxabustion uses burning of moxa leaves close to the body, Cupping employs bamboo cups to remove negative chi, and Cutaneous Acupuncture uses ‘plum blossom’ or ‘seven-star’ needles that are tapped on the skin surface and do not penetrate deep.

Also, through listening to the body’s energy vibrations and smelling to detect the body’s subtle aromas, acupuncturists may locate the centre of the Yin/Yang imbalance.

One tool is the pulse diagnosis, which is not simply the rate of the heartbeat, but an indication of the vibrations of the patient’s cosmic energy, giving insight into his condition. The left and right hand pulses [each wrist is said to have six], and either superficial or stronger pressures provided details of the different individual body organs. The procedure is said to bring the subconscious of the patient and healer in touch with each other.

Since acupuncture is a holistic treatment, during diagnosis one may be questioned regarding one’s lifestyle, fears and phobias etc., to determine the exact procedure.

 

WORKING AND EFFECTS

Acupuncture treatment is on offer for every conceivable illness including depression and alcohol or narcotic addiction, as well as to augment anaesthesia during surgery. But there is no documentation to show that acupuncture was, at any time, the sole agent of anaesthesia. Surgery is always started with a short period of general anaesthesia.

After a period of time, the patient regains partial consciousness, but continues to be pain-free. Should he indicate pain, more analgesics are added to the intravenous infusion. Neurophysiologists say that what is actually taking place is an unconscious distraction from pain through acupuncture. This is why we rub our shin after we collide with something: we follow a natural instinct to exert pressure on the location to alleviate the pain-reaction in our brain.

But this did not explain all the effects of acupuncture.

Tests with needle-stimulation on mice revealed the secretion of pain–reducing substances in their brains.

These endorphins, which act like morphine, a pain-killer, are produced in the human brain as a reaction to pain.

Further research showed that when a patient swallows a placebo, a fake medication which is administered as a medicine, the brain releases endorphins into the body. It just required that the patient believed that he had taken a pain-killer.

The sensation of pain returned after the injection of a drug that blocks the effect of the endorphins.

Pain conditions are also greatly influenced by psychological factors.

There might well be some truth in the conclusion of some researchers who trace acupuncture back to hypnosis and the power of suggestion. Patients of acupuncture display a rock-like faith in the method, and are exposed to intensive psychic disciplining before the actual sessions begin.

An exhaustive research concluded that acupuncture was, at best, a powerful placebo: The Clinical Journal of Pain, June 1991, as referred by John Ankerberg and John Weldon in The Facts on Holistic Health and the New Medicine”.

They add: “Further, psychic healing may be deliberately or inadvertently or deliberately engaged through the practice of attempting to regulate or channel psychic energies. Needle stimulation has produced physical complications such as infection and nerve damage.”

 

PRICKING PROBLEMS

In 1822, after Western concepts of healing reached China, the Great Imperial Medical Board issued a ban on acupuncture, and again the practice was banned by the Kuomintang government in 1929. Largely because of lack of trained physicians, the ancient practice survived and was revived by Mao’s communist regime.

Only about 10% of all surgery in China was performed with acupuncture according to the 1976 U.S. National Academy of Sciences report, and even then it was combined with Western methods of anaesthesia.                                                                                                                                                                             

According to a 1980 German medical review, Chinese doctors admitted in the Beijing Wenhui Bao newspaper that acupuncture had been used as a propaganda tool during the Cultural Revolution, performances being staged to impress Westerners. It said that patients did not dare to scream although they experienced pain.                                           2.

 

 

 

Research on volunteers in Toronto has shown that needle-stimulation of ‘wrong’ points led to the same pain-relieving effect. Others concluded that it takes less analgesic to produce freedom from pain than was assumed before.

Not only has acupuncture failed to present scientific evidence, but science itself has failed to validate it.

No disease which is caused by organic change can be influenced by acupuncture despite the claims of its proponents, as has been repeatedly confirmed in controlled studies. In the case of functional diseases [arthritis, migraines etc.,] there is success, but because of the factors discussed earlier. But even here, the success rate is about one in three patients, and is temporary. Since pain can be an indication that something is seriously amiss and requiring medical attention, it may prove dangerous to subdue the pain through acupuncture.

 

THE ACUPUNCTURE FAMILY: NEW AGE ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

“The Indian Medical Council Act 1956 recognizes seven fields of medicine- allopathy, ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathy, unani, siddha and yoga.

There are around 106 alternative forms of medicine, like reiki, acupuncture and pranic healing which are not recognised under the law. Anyone who practices these by conducting surgery, physically examining a patient or giving prescriptions is liable to face legal action,” The Asian Age, July 20, 2003.

 

One has to differentiate between acupuncture offered in a hospital setting purely as an anaesthetic, and acupuncture with an association with occult energy philosophies for the cure of diseases by holistic health practitioners.

The popularisation of New Age ideologies has created a lush culture medium for numerous occult therapies, and increasingly, practitioners of acupuncture are not even bothering to explain it scientifically, but in other terms :

*“The acupuncture points are the points where Western medicine, Chinese medicine and Indian yoga meet each other,” according to Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama, director of the Institute for Religious Psychology, Tokyo. He is not wrong. The chi and meridians of acupuncture are the Taoist equivalent of the prana, chakras and nadis of yoga.

“It is possible to induce mind changes by stimulating the ear, and to manipulate man’s soul,” says ear-acupuncturist C. Schnorrenberger, while Marc Duke claims, “People with whatever inner conflicts, I simply make them free,” Acupuncture, 1972.

*“Mohan of the Sujok Academy of Acupuncture in Chennai, an allopath, practices Sujok, the Korean system of acupuncture,” The Hindu Folio, May 1999.

*The true nature of these therapies is revealed in a book The Healing Touch, Shiatsu and Acupressure by Dolores Rodriguez in which she recounts her ‘search for integral and holistic harmony’ through the study of ‘energy’, kinesiology, reiki, acupuncture, acupressure and shiatsu, ending at the “Lotus Feet” of Sai Baba.

The book is dedicated to ‘Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and also to the form of Shirdi Sai Baba’.

“Everything in the universe”, she says, “is vibration. It is also the first sound ‘OM’.”

*An advertisement in Chennai’s Purusai Times describes the Chinese treatment of acupuncture as ‘a simple way of energy correction’ and ‘a valuable method of holistic healing.’

*“For the last several decades, Indian scientists have looked at the close association of mantras and chakras with acupuncture sites. Meridians often correspond to nadis, and both are influenced by breath… yoga and intonations,” The Hindu. “Transmission of power as manifest in reiki, acupressure and acupuncture is known to India since time immemorial,” The Hindu, July 8, 2003.

*“Other practices that are gaining popularity are reiki, pranic healing, acupuncture and touch therapy.

These practices emphasise on the life force present within the individual that help in the healing process,”

Focus- Alternatives in Holistic Healing, The Hindu, June 14, 2000.

*Take the book titled Reiki, Universal Life Energy by Bodo J. Baginski and Shalila Sharamon. Shalila is an expert in ‘holistic astrology’. Bodo was initiated at the world’s premier New Age commune Findhorn and is trained in various alternative therapeutical practices. “Other practitioners we know of use Reiki with acupuncture, acupressure, aromatherapy, ayurveda, Bach Flower Remedies, colour therapy, homoeopathy, shiatsu, tai chi etc.,” say Shalila and Bodo. Their book is illustrated by Alois Hanslian who is described as teaching ‘New Age Art.” The artist’s conception of the earth [in a drawing on page 68] is that of the landmass as a single continent, the ‘one-world order’ of the New Age Movement. They frequently refer to prominent New Agers Marilyn Ferguson, Fritjof Capra and Rupert Sheldrake, other New Age practices like kinesiology, Touch for Health, Kirlian photography, Transcendental Meditation, Bach Flower Remedies, and quote from the works of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, C.W. Leadbeater [occultist, Theosophist and 33rd degree Freemason], and the Tao Te Ching.

*“Although considered new to modern medicine, most of the popular forms of ‘alternative therapies’ are actually ancient healing practices that have traditional cultures alive and well for centuries. They include Chinese medicine, herbalism, acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine, shamanism, energy healing, yoga, meditation and nutritional therapy… Chinese medicine includes herbalism and acupuncture in restoring balance to body, mind and spirit” [The Greening of Medicine, The Hindu Folio, June 1998].

*Total Fitness for Life Health Care Services at Chennai offers the entire range of alternate [sic] medical systems- ayurveda, herbal medicines, yoga, homeopathy, pranic healing, acupuncture etc. [Sources & Ability January- March 1999].                                                                                                                                                  3.

 

ACUPRESSURE

In this adaptation, pressure, or as the proponents claim, the transmission of energy, is applied to the acu-points with the finger tips. Needles are not used.

*“New Life Reiki Master Dr. P.S. Lalitha for all ailments through reiki, crystal pranic healing, acupressure, acupuncture and magnetotherapy.” Advertisement, Mylapore Times, October 17-23, 1998.

*The Acupuncture Foundation Research Centre in Coimbatore offers ayurveda, homoeopathy, magnet and pyramid therapies etc. with acupressure and acupuncture: My Doctor, February 1996.

*“At Delhi’s giant Apollo Hospital’s… holistic medicine centre… the ancient medical system of acupuncture and acupressure is going mainstream for the first time in India,” India Today, July 28, 1997.

*Other hospitals have followed suit. The Devaki Hospital in Chennai has opened a centre that “offers treatment through alternative medicines like yoga, ayurveda, reiki, pranic healing,  acupuncture, homeopathy and music therapy by experts from the respective fields,” Mylapore Times, August 12-18, 2000.

*The Non-Surgical Orthopaedic and Rheumatology Centre in Chennai offers acupuncture, acupressure, magnetotherapy etc., Mylapore Times, December 13-19, 1997.

*In a book review of ‘Mind Body Soul: The Bodyshop Book of Wellbeing’, “Alternative therapies- acupuncture, massage techniques (reflexology)… also find place,” Express Magazine, December 6, 1998.

*Teegarden, a yoga and acupressure expert for seven years says that ‘The Chinese meridian system was arrived at… by way of meditation, yoga and paraclinical (i.e. occult) observation’. He also notes that many forms of acupressure like yogic acupressure (acu yoga) are related to, or arrived at through occult meditative means and may depend upon a psychic ability more than scientific knowledge,” The Acupressure News, Summer 1978.

*The India Today of July 10, 2000 reports that “selling ‘spirit-tools’ is big business, from Chinese wind chimes, crystals and pyramids to magnets, do-it-yourself acupressure kits, meditation cushions, yoga mats and ‘energized candles.”

*The Le Mirage Health and Fitness Club at the Le Royal Meridien in Chennai offers ayurvedic massage with yoga lessons, aromatherapy and shiatsu [Economic Times April 24, 2004].

*The Sanjeevani Yoga Ayurveda Foundation, Chennai has now started an aromatherapy programme which includes yoga, ayurveda, pranic cleansing, homeopathy, acupressure and osteopathy. [Mylapore Times (MT) March 7-13, 1998]. At Sanjeevani “there are plans to start consultancy services in complementary therapies like reiki, self-hypnosis, Transactional Analysis, Neuro Linguistic Programming, astro diagnosis and alfa music” [MT July 1997].

 

SHIATSU. A PRESSING ISSUE

In Japanese, shi means ‘finger’ and atsu is ‘pressure’. Hence shiatsu, finger pressure, is the Japanese version of acupressure which came there from China in the 6th century, and was originally known as anma.

The Yang and Yin organs are here called Zang and Fu. The Japanese equivalent of chi, is ki. In shiatsu the acupoints, which are called tsubos, are pressed not only to stimulate ki but also to diagnose the presence of disease, in the belief that when ki is blocked in an acupoint, it becomes sensitive to pressure.

“Shiatsu is simply a way of neutralising energy patterns in the body that are out of alignment” [The Hindu May 1999].

 

REFLEXOLOGY. ZONE THERAPY.  LAYING OF HANDS ON THE FEET

Another relative of the acu family is Reflexology, also known as Zone Therapy, or ‘compression massage’.

It is a technique of diagnosis and treatment in which certain areas of the body, particularly the feet, are massaged to alleviate pain or other symptoms in the organs of the body. Of Chinese and ancient Egyptian origin, it was introduced to the West in the 1920s by Dr. William Fitzgerald, an American ENT specialist. Along with Ms. Eunice Ingham, who mapped out the sensitive areas on the feet, he applied ten zones or energy channels to the body, hence ‘Zone Therapy’.

The zones do not correspond to the meridians of the Chinese system. A person’s ‘vital energy’ is said to flow along these zones, ending in the hands and feet. Thus, when pain is experienced in one part of the body, it could be relieved by applying pressure elsewhere in the body, within the same zone.

Recent reflexologists have concentrated mainly on the feet, though reflexes exist in the hands too.

Some reflexologists dismiss suggestions of any connections to the chi and yin/yang of acupressure. They claim that they are breaking up and dispersing ‘impurities in the blood’ or ‘crystals’ which are causing congestion and interfering with the blood circulation. The crystals settle in the soles of the feet where reflexologists claim to be able to feel them. Others link their work with their belief in the existence in man of an etheric body, and they are bringing about a state of harmony between the physical and the etheric body.

The American Medical Association calls reflexology simply “a cult”: Der Spiegel, Fussmassage, 1979.

 

Acupuncture- A Brief Introduction

NOTE: THIS IS NOT A CHRISTIAN EXPLANATION. IT IS INCLUDED FOR ACADEMIC PURPOSES- Michael

by Jeffrey A. Singer singer8794@mindspring.com http://acupuncture.com/education/theory/acuintro.htm

In this paper I will be dealing with the ancient medical art of Acupuncture. Today in most western cultures it is considered a “new alternative” medicine.                                                                                                            4.

 

 

 

 

 

In reality Acupuncture (and its related Moxibustion) are practiced medical treatments that are over 5,000 years old. Very basically, Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles, (sometimes in conjunction with electrical stimulus), on the body’s surface, in order to influence physiological functioning of the body.

Acupuncture can also be used in conjunction with heat produced by burning specific herbs, this is called Moxibustion. In addition, a non-invasive method of massage therapy, called Acupressure, can also be effective.

The first record of Acupuncture is found in the 4,700 year old Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine). This is said to be the oldest medical textbook in the world. It is said to have been written down from even earlier theories by Shen Nung, the father of Chinese Medicine. Shen Nung documented theories about circulation, pulse, and the heart over 4,000 years before European medicine had any concept about them.

As the basis of Acupuncture, Shen Nung theorized that the body had an energy force running throughout it. This energy force is known as Qi (roughly pronounced Chee). The Qi consists of all essential life activities which include the spiritual, emotional, mental and the physical aspects of life. A person’s health is influenced by the flow of Qi in the body, in combination with the universal forces of Yin and Yang. (I will discuss Yin and Yang a little later). If the flow of Qi is insufficient, unbalanced or interrupted, Yin and Yang become unbalanced, and illness may occur. Qi travels throughout the body along “Meridians” or special pathways. The Meridians, (or Channels), are the same on both sides of the body (paired). There are fourteen main meridians running vertically up and down the surface of the body. Out of these, there are twelve organ Meridians in each half of the body (remember they are in pairs). There are also two unpaired midline Meridians. There will be a diagram of Acupuncture points for treating diseases of the Meridians at the end of the digestive system paper. (See Appendix 1). The acupuncture points are specific locations where the Meridians come to the surface of the skin, and are easily accessible by “needling,” Moxibustion, and Acupressure. The connections between them ensure that there is an even circulation of Qi, a balance between Yin and Yang.

Energy constantly flows up and down these pathways. When pathways become obstructed, deficient, excessive, or just unbalanced, Yin and Yang are said to be thrown out of balance. This causes illness. Acupuncture is said to restore the balance.

Yin and Yang is an important theory in the discussion of Acupuncture treatment, in relation to the Chinese theory of body systems. As stated earlier Qi is an energy force that runs throughout the body. In addition, Qi is also prevalent throughout nature as well. Qi is comprised of two parts, Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are opposite forces, that when balanced, work together. Any upset in the balance will result in natural calamities, in nature; and disease in humans. Yin is signified by female attributes, passive, dark, cold, moist, that which moves medially, and deficient of Yang. Yang is signified by male attributes, light, active, warm, dry, that which moves laterally, and deficient of Yin. Nothing is completely Yin or Yang. The most striking example of this is man himself. A man is the combination of his mother (Yin) and his father (Yang). He contains qualities of both: This is the universal symbol describing the constant flow of yin and yang forces. You’ll notice that within yin, there is Yang, and within Yang, there is the genesis of Yin. Whether or not you believe in Taoist philosophy, (which all this is based on), one thing is indisputable: Acupuncture works.

Acupuncturists can use as many as nine types of Acupuncture needles, though only six are commonly used today. These needles vary in length, width of shaft, and shape of head. Today, most needles are disposable. They are used once and discarded in accordance with medical biohazard regulations and guidelines. There are a few different precise methods by which Acupuncturists insert needles. Points can be needled anywhere in the range of 15 degrees to 90 degrees relative to the skin surface, depending on the treatment called for. In most cases, a sensation, felt by the patient, is desired. This sensation, which is not pain, is called deqi (pronounced dah-chee). The following techniques are some which may be used by an Acupuncturist immediately following insertion: Raising and Thrusting, Twirling or Rotation, Combination of Raising/Thrusting and Rotation, Plucking, Scraping (vibrations sent through the needle), and Trembling (another vibration technique). Once again, techniques are carefully chosen based on the ailment.

There are a few related procedures that fall into the range of Acupuncture treatments. The first is Electro-Acupuncture. This is the using of very small electrical impulses through the Acupuncture needles. This method is generally used for analgesia (pain relief or prevention). The amount of power used is only a few micro amperes, but the frequency of the current can vary from 5 to 2,000 Hz. The higher frequencies are generally used for surgery (usually abdominal), and the lower frequencies for general pain relief. The first reported successful use of Electro-Acupuncture was in 1958 in China for a tonsillectomy. Today, it is a common method of surgical analgesia used in China. Other methods for stimulating Acupuncture points have used Lasers and sound waves (Sonopuncture). A very commonly used treatment in the United States is Auriculotherapy or Ear Acupuncture. The theory is that since the ear has a rich nerve and blood supply, it would have connections all over the body. For this reason, the ear has many Acupuncture points which correspond to many parts and organs of the body. Auricular Acupuncture has been successful in treating problems ranging from obesity to alcoholism, to drug addiction. There are numerous studies either completed, or currently going on which affirms Auricular Acupuncture’s effectiveness. (These will be mentioned in detail later on in the paper.)

Another popular treatment method is Moxibustion, which is the treatment of diseases by applying heat to Acupuncture points. Acupuncture and Moxibustion are considered complimentary forms of treatment, and are commonly used together.

                                                                                                                                                                                   5.

 

 

 

 

Moxibustion is used for ailments such as bronchial asthma, bronchitis, certain types of paralysis, and arthritic disorders.

Cupping is another type of treatment. This is a method of stimulating Acupuncture points by applying suction through a metal, wood or glass jar, in which a partial vacuum has been created. This technique produces blood congestion at the site, and therefore stimulates it. Cupping is used for low backache, sprains, soft tissue injuries, and helping relieve fluid from the lungs in chronic bronchitis.

One of the most popular alternatives to Acupuncture is Acupressure. This is simply Acupuncture without needles. Stimulation of the Acupuncture points is performed with the fingers or an instrument with a hard ball shaped head. Another variation of Acupressure is Reflexology (also called Zone Therapy). This is where the soles of the feet and the posterio-inferior regions of the ankle joints are stimulated. Many diseases of the internal organs can be treated in this manner.

The question arises, how does Acupuncture work? Scientists have no real answer to this; as you know many of the workings of the body are still a mystery. There are a few prevailing theories.

By some unknown process, Acupuncture raises levels of triglycerides, specific hormones, prostaglandins, white blood counts, gamma globulins, opsonins, and overall anti-body levels. This is called the “Augmentation of Immunity” Theory.

The “Endorphin” Theory states that Acupuncture stimulates the secretions of endorphins in the body (specifically Enkaphalins).

The “Neurotransmitter” Theory states that certain neurotransmitter levels (such as Seratonin and Noradrenaline) are affected by Acupuncture.

“Circulatory” Theory: this states that Acupuncture has the effect of constricting or dilating blood vessels. This may be caused by the body’s release of Vasodilaters (such as Histamine), in response to Acupuncture.

One of the most popular theories is the “Gate Control” Theory. According to this theory, the perception of pain is controlled by a part of the nervous system which regulates the impulse, which will later be interpreted as pain. This part of the nervous system is called the “Gate.” If the gate is hit with too many impulses, it becomes overwhelmed, and it closes. This prevents some of the impulses from getting through. The first gates to close would be the ones that are the smallest. The nerve fibers that carry the impulses of pain are rather small nerve fibers called “C” fibers. These are the gates that close during Acupuncture.

In the related “Motor Gate” Theory, some forms of paralysis can be overcome by Acupuncture. This is done by reopening a “stuck” gate, which is connected to an Anterior Horn cell. The gate, when closed by a disease, stops motor impulses from reaching muscles. This theory was first stated by Professor Jayasuriya in 1977. In it he goes on to say:

“…one of the factors contributing to motor recovery is almost certainly the activation of spindle cells. They are stimulated by Gamma motor neurons. If Acupuncture stimulates the Gamma motor neurons, the discharge causes the contraction of Intrafusal Muscle fibers. This activates the Spindle cells, in the same way as muscle stretching. This will bring about muscle contraction.”

There are many diseases that can be treated successfully by Acupuncture or its related treatments. The most common ailments currently being treated are: lower backache, Cervical Spondylosis, Condylitis, Arthritic Conditions, Headaches of all kinds (including migraine), Allergic Reactions, general and specific use for Analgesia (including surgery) and relief of muscles spasms. There have also been clinical trials in the use of Acupuncture in treating anxiety disorders and depression. Likewise, very high success rates have been found in treating addictions to alcohol, tobacco (nicotine) and “hard’ drugs. Acupuncture can rid the body of the physical dependency, but can not rid the mind of the habit (psychological dependency). For this reason, Acupuncture treatment of addictions has not been fully successful.

Case Studies

Obviously, especially for a paper such as this, my research would not be complete without backing it up with some case studies. Here they are.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has sponsored three studies examining the effectiveness of Acupuncture for the treatment of substance abuse.

The first was at the Lincoln Medical Center in Bronx, NYC, New York. It was headed by Dr. Douglas Lipton, and completed in 1991. This study used Auricular Acupuncture on Crack Cocaine users. The study was split into groups, one getting the correct Acupuncture treatments, the other getting “placebo” Acupuncture (needles placed in the “wrong” spots). Urinalysis results showed that the subjects receiving the correct treatments had lowered their use of the drug, in as little as two weeks. This was verified by testing for cocaine metabolite levels. However, the reduction was not as significant as had been anticipated. *Note that no other type of treatment, such as counseling as given.

In two other studies currently going on, (the first by Dr. Janet Konefal of Miami School of Medicine; and the other by Dr. Milton Bullock at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis), counseling combined with acupuncture is being tested. The preliminary results have been quite promising.

Additional studies, too numerous to mention here have proven the effectiveness of Acupuncture therapy in Nicotine addiction, (look in Bibliography for some case citings).

Between 1971 and 1972 a series of doctors (Frank Z. Warren: New York University Medical Center; Pang L. Man and Calvin H. Chen: Northville State Hospital, Northville, Michigan), conducted seven surgeries at both Northville State Hospital and at Albert Einstein Medical Center. They used both standard Acupuncture and Electro-Acupuncture techniques.

                                                                                                                                                                                     6.

 

 

 

They found that in all cases of surgery, 6 invasive and 1 dental, these acupuncture treatments were successful in stopping the pain of surgery without additional anesthetics. In only one case (a repair of an inguinal hernia) did the patient complain of “discomfort;” and only in one additional case did a patient (the same one) complain of post-operative pain.

In conclusion, I feel that Acupuncture should be considered a valid form of treatment alongside, not only other “alternative” forms of treatment, but also along side mainstream medicine. More and more insurance companies are discovering the cost effectiveness of Acupuncture. Unfortunately, many insurance companies still do not cover Acupuncture therapy, with the exception of Drug Addiction treatments; and then only if other therapies have been unsuccessful, or as part of another program. Part of the reason for this is that as of the writing of this paper, the Food and drug Administration classifies Acupuncture needles as “investigational” devices.

However, since this paper was written, the FDA has reclassified acupuncture needles and so, now, one great block to insurance coverage has been removed.

Acupuncture Doctors are licensed independently in most states while some states require you to be a Medical Doctor to practice Acupuncture.

Acupuncture schools are federally accredited by the ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). This accreditation allows the school to offer federal guaranteed student loans.

Bibliography

Baxi, Dr. Nilesh and Dr.CH Asrani. Speaking of: Alternative Medicine: Acupuncture. New Delhi, India: Sterling Publishers Private Ltd, 1986.

Duke, Marc. Acupuncture. New York: Pyramid House Books, 1972.

Holden, Constance. “Acupuncture: Stuck on the Fringe.” Science, May 6, 1994, pg 770.

Lever, Dr. Ruth. Acupuncture For Everyone. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, Ltd, 1987.

Lipner, Maxine. “Different Strokes.” Women’s Sports and Fitness, May/June, 1993, pg 31, 32, 85.

Moss, Dr. Louis. Acupuncture And You: A New Approach To Treatment Based On The Ancient Method of Healing. London, England: Elek Publishers, 1972.

Nightingale, Michael. The Healing Power of Acupuncture. New York: Sterling Publishing Co. Inc, 1986.

Ponce, Pedro E. “Eastern Medicine Collides with Western Regulations at Mass. Acupuncture School.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 27, 1993, pg A32.

Saslow, Linda. “Scores of Students Take Up Acupuncture at Center in Syosset.” New York Times, November 6, 1994.

Warren, Dr. Frank Z. Handbook of Medical Acupuncture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1976.

Case Studies

Dr. Douglas Lipton: “Lincoln Clinic Study”; Dr. Janet Konefal: “Miami Study”; Dr. Milton Bullock: “Hennepin County Study.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Office of Human Services, AM, Volume 1, Number 3, January, 1994.

Brewington, Vincent, et al. “Acupuncture as a Detoxification Treatment: An Analysis of Controlled Research.” Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Volume 11, Number 4, 1994, pg 289-307.

Professor Jayasuriya: Paper for the 5th World Congress of Acupuncture; 1977: Tokyo, Japan

Special Thanks To:

Dr. Thomas Barba, Barba Chiropractic Clinic; Columbus, Ohio.

Nigel Dawes, Co-Director of the School for Oriental Medicine; Syosset, New York.

Dr. Gerard O’Grady; Lake Grove, New York…  for all your help and information.

 

NEW AGE THERAPISTS CONFESS

*How does reflexology work? No one really knows… How reflexology works is as puzzling as some of the other therapies; the fact that it does work in some cases is indisputable… The fact that neither the meridians nor Yin and Yang, nor even chi itself can be proved to exist is irrelevant when the system of healing based on these concepts has worked for over 6000 years and still works today”: Bartlett in Healing Without Harm, Pathways to Alternative Medicine

*“As yet, no evidence has been found to substantiate the existence of meridians”: Acupuncture, Brockhampton Guide to Alternative Medicine.

*Angela Hicks, joint-principal of the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine in Reading, England, author of Principles of Chinese Medicine and practitioner for over 20 years admits, in her 1999 book Principles of Acupuncture   [which is 130 pages of acupuncture promotion] confesses, “No one is able to say exactly how acupuncture works.”

*The question arises, how does Acupuncture work? Scientists have no real answer to this” says Jeffrey A. Singer in the above article.

 

CHRISTIANS CONFIRM

The New Age therapists themselves admit that they cannot explain why the practices ‘work’ and that science cannot substantiate the claims of the existence of the meridians and chi. What do Christian writers on New Age themes say?

*Says Kurt Koch in Occult ABC, “It is a fact of experience that acupuncture is much more successful with psychic doctors and psychic patients than with those who are not psychic.”                                                                

*Auriculotherapy* is a version of acupuncture, and acupressure is rooted in the same philosophy.                 7.

 

 

 

 

It involves pressure rather than needles, and so finds favour among the squeamish. Thus, it is more acceptable, but equally devastating in its spiritual side-effects… [The use of Bach Flower Remedies encourages other New Age] therapies such as acupuncture, herbalism and homoeopathy”:  Understanding Alternative Medicine, Health Care in the New Age, by Roy Livesey, New Wine Press, 1988, pages 56-57, 174.                             *see pages 5, 6, 7, 31, 32

*“Although never to be understood, acupuncture… has been pretty well exposed by Christian writers. Christians have to steer well clear of its occult influence”: Beware Alternative Medicine- the Christian View, Roy Livesey, Bury House Christian Books, 1983. Livesey divides the field into four main categories: The first are the “So-called physical therapies: acupuncture and acupressure, reflexology, t’ai chi, yoga, shiatsu, anthroposophical medicine, Bach flower remedies, chiropractic, etc… Therapies on offer alongside the ‘cosmetic camouflage’, the ‘beauty therapy’ and the ‘simple food bar’ will in these days include acupuncture, reflexology, yoga and all the rest!”

*“Therapists who treat problems with needles are in the twilight zone of medicine, and usually are working from a mystical perspective… Sonopuncture is the manipulation of ‘body energy’ by sound rather than needles. The acupuncture philosophy undergirds it, and the only difference is that tuning forks are used in the place of needles… Historically, revelation of a non-physical anatomy came through psychic means (whether acupuncture meridians, nadis, yogic chakras etc.”: Occult Shock and Psychic Forces, John Weldon and Clifford Wilson Ph.D.

*Randall N. Baer is a former New Ager who produced several New Age audio cassettes and books. He is now a Christian, and the author of Inside the New Age Nightmare, Huntingdon House, 1989. On page 32 of this book, he includes acupuncture, use of occult whistles, group channeling and UFO contact sessions, etc. in “the smorgasbord of New Age topics” that were on the agenda of presentations at his New Age Awareness Center in New Mexico.

*“‘It is absolutely necessary that acupuncturists follow the theories of ancient Chinese medicine if they want to see success. If they disregard these ancient theories, then they can only practise an unspecific stimulation therapy at best,’ says acupuncture specialist Dr. C. Schnorrenberger. Similar statements have been made by modern Taoist philosopher George Ohsawa, the father of Macrobiotics.* He expressly states that oriental meditation cannot be separated from its philosophical underpinnings. Many parapsychologists and psychics therefore regard acupuncture as a proof of their occult teachings… Christian writers on New Age medicine… insist that reflexology has the same roots as acupuncture… Under the cloak of science, and the claim to restore health, a subcutaneous dose of Eastern philosophy is surreptitiously injected into the patient,” warns Samuel Pfeiffer, MD in Healing at any Price?    *see pages 10, 15                                                                                                                                                                                  

*“[Chinese medicine is] but a part of philosophy and religion, both of which propounded oneness with nature i.e. the universe” [Historian Ilza Veith in his translation of the Nei Ching, the Yellow Emperor’s Classic…] “Chinese medicine is the child of Chinese religion and both have the same ingredients: the Tao, yin and yang, the universal energy chi, and the five elements… Zone therapy and reflexology assume connections between different parts of the body which bear no relation to known neurological pathways. An invisible flow is assumed here, as in many other holistic therapies… Not only does classical acupuncture come with its metaphysical baggage intact, but its promoters actively proclaim its religious foundations and implications as well”: New Age Medicine, A Christian Perspective on Holistic Health, Paul C. Reisser, MD., Teri Reisser and John Weldon.

*“Some scientists have claimed that acupuncture is effective, and that it works on the basis of as yet unknown principles. But the latest scientific research is not supportive; studies have yet to support acupuncture’s effectiveness… When Western scientists attempt to separate acupuncture from its underlying occultic philosophy or practice and merely engage in an unspecific needle stimulation, these methods tend to lose their efficacy…

Because diagnosis and treatment can be ineffective, the possibility of misdiagnosis of a serious illness also exists… Reflexology is a massage that breaks up so-called crystalline deposits that presumably obstruct pranic energy flow… At best, it gives a good massage. At worst, it can be a form of psychic development and energy channeling. Medically, it is useless”: The Facts on Holistic Health and the New Medicine, John Ankerberg and John Weldon.

 

CHRISTIANS CONFIRM THAT THESE THERAPIES ARE NEW AGE

  1. Of Medicine, Magic, and Original Sin by Brian J. Kopp, DPM., The Wanderer, March 8, 2001

http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3bbe876e3457.htm, http://www.marysremnant.org/Friends/DBK/BKMedMagSin.html

As man’s modern knowledge fails to fulfil its promise of solutions for all the world’s ills, the public is turning, en masse, to alternatives to mainstream medicine and science. If penicillin fails, an herb may help. If chemotherapy fails, acupuncture and meditation and vegetarian diets are embraced. Much of this “new” medicine comes from the “old” religions. American Indian and Chinese herbology, eastern religious meditation techniques, vegetarian Hindu diets, acupuncture, and a myriad other old healing techniques are “rediscovered,” and advanced as an alternative for the failure of modern science to cure all the suffering in the world.

Originally adapted from Hypnosis and the Christian, Martin & Deidre Bobgan, Bethany House Publishers, 1984, 61 pages. The book was revised and reissued in 2001 as Hypnosis: Medical, Scientific, or Occultic? :

No one knows exactly how hypnosis “works,” other than the obvious “placebo effect” — the successful use of “false feedback” in the same manner that feedback is used in the occult techniques common to acupuncture, biofeedback, and psychotherapy.

                                                                                                                                                                                     8.

 

2. Acupuncture for Everyone by Dr. Ruth Lever

[Source Unknown] What is acupuncture? Most Americans have heard of it.

Many have received acupuncture treatment for a variety of ailments, or to help stop smoking or lose weight. The people I ask generally assume it has something to do with the nervous system: A needle is inserted into a nerve path-way, which interrupts pain or alters the flow of electro-chemical energy. That, however, is not what acupuncture is.

Let’s hear it from an acupuncturist, Dr. Ruth Lever, author of Acupuncture for Everyone:

Acupuncture . . . is a single therapy, using the insertion of needles into the skin to treat a variety of ailments which might be treated by Western doctors with drugs or surgery. . . .

The reason it is able to treat all ailments in the same way is because it sees them as stemming from the same cause—a disruption to the energy flow or vital force of the body (p. 11).

Well, our first question should be: “What is the vital force that acupuncture interrupts?” Dr. Lever confirms that it is the Oriental concept of Chi (pronounced chee): The Chinese see the whole functioning of the body and mind as being dependent on the normal flow of body energy, or life force, which they call Chi (pp. 42—43).

Chi, Dr. Lever says, is a “universal energy which surrounds and pervades everything.” Furthermore, “My Chi is not distinct from your Chi.” Chi is like light energy or radio waves, but it cannot be seen or felt. And it does not disappear at death: “There is a constant interchange between the Chi of the body and the Chi of the environment” (p. 43).  Lever says the Chi force is related to the Eastern concept of Yin and Yang. Chi circulates throughout the body along “meridians.” These meridians cannot be located physically, nor identified electronically.

The description of the vital force of the body sounds very much like the soul or the spirit. In fact, the Oriental originators of acupuncture declared Chi to be the spiritual essence of not only the body, but the universe.

It is obvious that the simplest exploration of acupuncture demonstrates that it is a spiritual, not a physical phenomenon.

If it is a spiritual phenomenon, where is the Scripture sanctioning it? Where is the protection of the blood of Christ in it?

Those involved in acupuncture are involved in spiritual manipulation of the body. That is the essence of the occult.

There is not, in acupuncture, even the pretense of legitimate science.

Many people ask about acupressure (or reflexology). It is precisely the same as acupuncture without the needles, using the same spiritual “meridians.”

 

  1. Reiki: Healing with the Force by Marcia Montenegro cana2000@erols.com

HSI Issue #60 February 27, 2005 Holy Spirit Interactive: New Age NEW AGE #4. EXTRACT:

All energy healing techniques, such as Therapeutic Touch, Touch for Health, Polarity, Cleansing or Smoothing the Aura, and methods claiming to balance or unblock the chi or prana (a divine force believed to be taken in by the breath), such as Ayurveda, Acupuncture, Acupressure, Shiatsu, chi kung (also spelled qi gong), and much of Traditional Chinese Medicine, are based on similar principles of the life force and manipulation of energy as Reiki is. Some of these systems, such as acupuncture, have engendered biological theories on how they work.

Some may be combined with scientific treatments. Yet the basic principles of these methods assert that healing comes through balancing, unblocking, manipulating and/or channeling an energy or universal life force which replaces God, or is thought to be God or from God.

These healing methods are not just techniques, but are interwoven with spiritual philosophies about who God is, who Christ is, and how the world and the body work. They are not based on science or medicine, but on spiritual beliefs.

None of these beliefs point to the God of the Bible, but rather to pantheism. They may speak of Jesus, but only as a cosmic Christ who came to heal but not to save, since the existence of sin and need for salvation are usually denied.

 

  1. Acupuncture: New Age Medicine- Therapies from the Devil?*

http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/newmed.htm

Definition:  Acupuncture is the practice of ancient Chinese needle stimulation based upon the occultic religion of Taoism.

Founder:  Unknown; the traditional Chinese text is The Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine.

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Acupuncture claims to work by stimulating acupuncture points with needles, supposedly permitting the cosmic energy of the universe (chi) to flow freely through the body organs and systems, maintaining health.

Scientific Evaluation:  Disputed, but largely discredited; while its Taoism is ignored in scientific studies, these studies have yet to demonstrate acupuncture’s effectiveness scientifically. A definitive three-year study released in 1991 concluded acupuncture was nothing more than, at best, a powerful placebo.

Occultic Potential:  Taoist practice and philosophy; psychic practitioners; meditative programs and other occultic practices used in conjunction with acupuncture therapy.

Major Problem(s):  Acupuncture works on the basis of psychological, religious, or occultic principles, not scientific ones or its own stated theories.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  Classical acupuncture involves the practice of an ancient pagan medicine inseparably tied to Taoism.

Potential Dangers:  Needle stimulation has occasionally produced physical complications and injuries, some serious; misdiagnosis of a serious illness; occult influence.

*Extracted from John Ankerberg and John Weldon’s Can You Trust Your Doctor? The Complete Guide to New Age Medicine and Its Threat to Your Family, 1991, by the now defunct Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers.                              9.

 

 

5. Yin and Yang: Getting into the Flow by Marcia Montenegro cana2000@erols.com

HSI Issue #64 March 27, 2005 Holy Spirit Interactive: New Age NEW AGE #5. EXTRACT:

It’s everywhere. The classic yin-yang symbol, seen more and more these days, is a circular symbol, half-black and half-white, with a small dot of white on the black side, and a small black dot on the white side.

This symbol is called the Tai Chi Tu. The term “yin-yang” is drifting into popular speech also, usually along such lines as, “Well, everything has its yin and yang side,” and many believe this symbol represents balance, peace or harmony.

Others believe that it means there is a little bad in the good, and a little good in the bad (which would mean there is no absolute good or evil).

What does yin-yang really mean? 

Origins of Yin-yang became associated with Taoism, a religion widespread in China several hundred years before Christ’s incarnation on earth. In Taoism, the Tao, loosely translated as “the Way” or “the Path”, is the origin of all things and the ultimate reality. As is true in many Eastern religions, this concept is not to be grasped intellectually since it describes a reality beyond the intellect. Therefore, according to Taoist teachings, the truth of the Tao can only be understood indirectly or through a process of enlightened living. Happiness is gained by living in the flow of the Tao, which is the flow of the universe. This belief has no personal God. Where do the yin and yang come in? “Through the dynamics of yin and yang, the female and male cosmic principles, the Tao creates all phenomena. Whereas the Tao is perfectly harmonious, the cosmos is in a state of constant disequilibrium.” (Spirituality By The Numbers, Georg Feuerstein, p. 146).

Yin & Yang

The forces of yin-yang arise from a belief in dualism, a state in which the universe is seemingly equally divided into two opposing but equal forces. The dualistic world of yin-yang, however, is not seen as good versus bad. It is divided along other lines. Yang, represented by the white in the yin-yang symbol, stands for the creative principle, while yin, represented by black, is dissolution and return (to creation). Yang came to represent hot, dry, male, light, hardness, movement and initiative. Yin symbolizes coolness, moistness, female, darkness, softness, stillness and receptivity. The yin and yang forces are believed to be cyclical, moving and evolving into each other, represented by the white dot on the black yin side of the symbol, and by the black dot on the white yang side. In this view, the universe depends on the interaction between these two forces which arise from the Tao. Yin and yang also became a part of the I Ching, a form of divination. These values extend to a classification of foods, organs in the body, plants, etc. as either yin or yang. The macrobiotic* diet, first popular in the late sixties and the seventies, is based on the division of food into their yin and yang properties. The way to be content is to balance between these two forces and thus find harmony in the Tao. If the yin-yang forces in the body get unbalanced, then illness results.           *see pages 8, 15

No good or bad?

There is really no good or bad according to the Taoist/yin-yang view, only what appears to be good or bad. There is no life and death because “Life and death are one, right and wrong are the same,” (from the Chuang Tzu as quoted in World Religions, Geoffrey Parrinder, p. 333). In this view, opposites are not really opposite; they just appear that way to us because we perceive through a dualistic conditioning and cannot see how opposites are really part of the whole. Opposites actually contain the essence of each other, and eventually merge with each other. This is one of the origins of the holistic view of the world and of the body, and remains the basis today of the body-mind connection. The universe is seen as mystically connected and interplaying, including every person, animal, rock, tree, river, etc., through the yin-yang interaction. Referring to the Tao, Wen-Tzu states that “the Way has no front or back, no left or right: all things are myst-eriously the same, with no right and no wrong,” Wen-Tzu, Further Teachings of Lao-Tzu, Boston: Shambhala, 1992, 109.

Holism

Many people mistakenly accept the body-mind connection of holism because we know that our attitudes often affect our health or recovery from illness. However, attitudes and the contemporary mystical holistic view are two separate things. The holistic view of the body and of health is based in monism, that all is one and one is all, and that a universal force (referred to as chi or qi) connects us and flows through the body. Holism today assumes that all illness is an imbalance of or blockage of the chi and/or the yin-yang forces in the body, and thus the state of one’s health is a reflection of this energy/spiritual imbalance or blockage.

Acupuncture

Most holistic healers believe that illness is a spiritual condition, and they use methods based in occultism and Eastern religious views. Acupuncture originates in the belief that the yin-yang forces flow along invisible pathways in the body called meridians, and that illness results from an imbalance in these forces, or the blockage of these forces. Inserting the needles at certain points is supposed to allow a balanced flow of the body’s yin and yang energies. Although there are theories that acupuncture works either because the placement of the needles sends signals to the brain which release endorphins or because the needles block a pain signal to the brain, these theories have not been proven. Even if these theories prove correct, then the conclusion would be that it is not acupuncture that is working, since acupuncture is based on the idea that relief is coming from the flowing of chi and balancing of yin and yang.

What would be working is relief of pain through endorphins and the blockage of pain signals. This is not the theory of traditional acupuncture.

This relief would have nothing to do with chi, meridians, or yin and yang, but rather with biology and a proper understanding of the body. At best, acupuncture relieves limited amounts of pain temporarily. No physical or medical model exists yet to explain acupuncture.                                                                                                              10.

 

 

Evil is not a force

If opposites are always merging into and becoming each other, then there is no absolute good or evil. However, in I John 1:5, it states, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” Evil is not a force; it is a rejection of or rebellion against the good. Evil is the work of Satan, who has no truth in him (John 8:44), and those who choose to deny or reject God. Evil and good are not equal because God is sovereign and “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work,” (I John 3:8). God allows Satan to operate for now; but Satan was defeated when Jesus died for us on the cross, allowing deliverance from Satan’s power through trusting Christ (For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, Col. 1:13,14). Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).

Qi

Tai Chi*, often called a “moving meditation,” is based in Taoism. One of the purposes of Tai Chi is to facilitate “the flow of qi through the body,” (Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, p. 599). The qi (also spelled chi, ki or ji) is an Eastern name for the universal energy supposedly flowing through the body. A fact sheet on the meaning of the 108 moves in Tai Chi, put out by the Taoist Tai Chi Society in the U.S., states that the 36 major and minor yang channels in the body are the “Celestial Deities” while the yin elements in the body are the “72 Terrestrial Deities.” The combined total is 108, a “number divined by Chang San Feng himself” (Chang, an 11th century Taoist monk, is considered the founder of Tai Chi). The statement goes on to say that “the full 108 symbolizes the harmonious balance of yin and yang and therefore lead to health. The union of all yin and yang elements represent the return to the holistic and undifferentiated state of the Tao.” The term undifferentiated means there are no distinctions; all is one.

*See my article on the MARTIAL ARTS http://ephesians-511.net/docs/MARTIAL_ARTS.doc

The Christian Response

Christians should be discerning about practices such as acupuncture that have as yet no medical basis and “exercises” like Tai Chi that are designed based on spiritual beliefs hostile to Christ’s claim to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). The fact that such a treatment may work is not a good enough reason for using it.

Many things in the occult and mystical world seem to work. The standard for Christians in adopting a spiritually based idea or practice is not whether it works. We are admonished to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…” (1 John 4:1a). These words should be taken to heart in regards to many other holistic and alternative treatments as well.

The Tao claims to be the way but offers an undifferentiated whole where there are ultimately no distinctions between yin and yang, or between good and evil. Harmony is based on balancing yin and yang. However, true peace comes only through trusting Christ (John 14:27; Philippians 4:7). There is a Person, Jesus, not a principle or a philosophy, Who said He is the Way (John 14:6), the Way to God and to eternal life (John 5:24; 6:40).

Sources:  Eileen Campbell and J. H. Brennan, Body Mind & Spirit; Georg Feuerstein, Spirituality by the Numbers; Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience; J. Gordon Melton, New Age Encyclopedia; Richard Osborne and Borin Van Loon, Introducing Ancient Eastern Philosophy; Geoffrey Parrinder, World Religions, From Ancient History to the Present; Eva Wong, The Shambhala Guide to Taoism.

 

  1. Herbalism. Medicine or Mysticism? by Doug Ecklund R. Ph. douge93@cs.com.

Source: http://logosresourcepages.org/herbalism.htm    EXTRACT:

By way of background, I am a practicing pharmacist. Since graduation from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, in May 1973, I have been in the retail setting.

The increasing acceptance and promotion of herbalism in retail pharmacy has been of growing concern to me, from both a professional, and Christian viewpoint.

My biblical view shapes every sphere of life, including my professional acumen, and is the basis for evaluation of the ideologies and views being propagated within today’s holistic health framework, where herbalism has its roots.

Alternate belief systems abound within holistic medicine in general and herbalism in particular, which are not built on empirical foundations, but on the philosophical and the spiritual.

My intent is to illuminate the underlying philosophies expressed by a segment of herbalists that is driving the promotion and inculcating of herbalism, and holistic health within our culture.

HERBALISM: A COMPONENT OF THE HOLISTIC HEALTH MODEL

My purpose is not to detail the holistic health system, but a brief overview of this new medical paradigm is necessary, since within this model, herbalism is discovered.

At its core, holistic health embraces preventing and treating the underlying cause of disease and treatment of the whole person. “It is a change in attitude and approach–more than an absence of illness, it is an active state of physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, and social wellbeing-an inherent characteristic of whole and integrated human beings.

Its foundations are promotion of health and disease prevention-mobilize self-healing, with self-responsibility and self-education and self-discovery opportunities.”(1)

I have no opposition to these basic tenets. My concerns arise in arenas where spirituality is addressed, and where scientific standards are laid aside in the evaluation of treatment modules.

Holistic health integrates all forms of health practices, which in the past, were relegated to the bizarre, the fraudulent, or the questionable.                                                                                                                  11.

 

 

Upon searching the “web” under holistic health, my very first link revealed an array of “health practices” including-acupuncture, yoga, spiritual development and healing, naturopathic medicine, energy healing systems, and community and planetary healing.(2)

Holistic health is alternative medicine or natural medicine. This system minimizes, and often exhibits disdain, for the scientific method. The scientific method is based on ordered unbiased thinking that relies on proof of theory as a result of measurable, repeatable, and observable testing or experimentation.

When reason and the demand for evidence is discarded, the door is opened to embrace any invalid practice. Within this climate, only theories and suppositions abound to explain disease states, and the effectiveness and rationale of proposed treatments. When the obstacles of rationality are removed, the infusion of esoteric thought ensues.

An article appearing in The Sarasota Herald Tribune, dated 11-6-97, reported that, “An independent panel of experts concluded Wednesday that the ancient practice of acupuncture was an effective therapy for certain medical conditions. Acupuncture has been slow to gain acceptance by the Western medical establishment, largely because traditional Chinese explanations for its observed effects were based on theoretical concepts of opposing forces called Yin and Yang, which, when out of balance, disrupt the natural flow of Qi (pronounced chee) in the body.” Consider this statement: “In ancient China, religious prohibitions against dissection resulted in an inadequate knowledge of body structure and function.”(15) Apparently, the experts have ignored this disparaging condition in reaching their consensus to approve this theoretical and deficient practice.

Chinese medicine has been practiced for over 2000 years, and many will validate it solely on this basis. Using the same reasoning, we should conclude the earth is FLAT, since this was the historic view!

What is the origin of this mystical Yin and Yang?

It can be found in the philosophy of Feng Shui, which is “the culmination of China’s faith in Taoism, one of China’s oldest religions; of China’s faith in the science of astronomy; and of China’s faith in superstitions, in astrology, shamanism, and fortunetelling.

The philosophies and doctrines found in I Ching, has largely influenced the faith of Feng Shui, as the I Ching’s trigram and hexagrams, made up of the linear Yin and Yang symbols, are widely used in Feng Shui practice. The concepts comprising the I Ching is formulated in the idea that the world is ever changing. What is good today, may be bad tomorrow — nothing is stationary, everything moves from Yin to Yang and back to Yin again. In incorporating the philosophies of I Ching, Feng Shui itself becomes an ever-evolving faith. Around 600 BC, a Chinese philosopher by the name of Lao-tse founded what was to become known as Taoism, which inevitably, found it’s way into Feng Shui. Taoism originated as a philosophy of nature, it defined man’s place within the universe.” (14)

From Funk and Wagnall’s Encyclopedia, more information is obtained in regard to Taoism: “Whereas, Confucianism urged the individual to conform to the standards of an ideal social system, Taoism maintained that the individual should ignore the dictates of society, and seek only to conform with the underlying pattern of the universe: The Tao (‘way’), which can neither be described in words, nor conceived in thought. Through spontaneous compliance with the impulses of ones own essential nature, and by emptying oneself of all doctrines and knowledge; one achieves unity with The Tao, and derives from it, mystical power.”(15) “The two elemental dogmas ascribed to Taoism are the Yin and Yang, and the natural energy forces of Chi, both of which evolved from the earlier writings of I Ching.”(14)

In World Mythology, we read of the Yin or Shang dynasty: “The Yin sacrificed to many divinities including the sun, moon, clouds, earth, mountains, rivers, and the four cardinal directions. Taoism believed humanity should live in harmony with nature, and not seek to dominate it: the Yin and Yang should be in equilibrium. Yin and Yang came to be regarded as two cosmic forces, which interacted to produce phenomena of the universe. They were seen as complimentary, and mutually dependent.”(16)

It is quite evident how Chinese medical practices align with philosophical views, and herbalism evolved from this nature centered religion.

The teaching of I Ching states that what is good today, may be bad tomorrow, which coveys, that there is no absolute truth: truth is relative. If there is no truth, it follows that there is no law, and therefore, no sin! But, the scriptures say “Thy law is the truth” in Psalms 119:142. The scriptures state that “by the law is the knowledge of sin” in Romans 3:20.

I Ching says that, if there is no truth; then God is not our Saviour. But, the scriptures say “I, even I, am the Lord; and besides me there is no saviour.” (Isaiah 43:11) The concept of Yin and Yang, represents Yin as darkness, and Yang as light; since everything moves from Yin to Yang, and back to Yin, what is conveyed, is that dark becomes light and light becomes dark. By logical extension, God would be darkness and light alternately.

1 John 1:5 refutes this vain philosophy: “God is light, and in him is NO DARKNESS AT ALL.”(Capitalization mine)

Hebrews 13:8 declares: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.”

The Chinese Tao, or the way, which can not be described in words, or known, contrasts sharply with the Lord Jesus Christ who says very clearly, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) And where He speaks again: “And this is life eternal, that they might KNOW thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3). The Lord Jesus is eternal life and imparts his life to the believer.

At its core, I Ching and Taoism are earth centered religions propagating the oneness of the creature and the universe / creation. Yin and Yang is another expression of the “energy” concept or “life force”, which comprises the world around us, and us as well. We are connected to, and part of, the external creation by this “Life Force”. We have not found our place in the universe, but rather, have lost our distinction from the world and the universe. Further, Yin and Yang has destroyed the separation and autonomy of opposites.                                                                                                         13.

 

 

This system can only result in death: on the physical level, its medical concepts are flawed due to a reliance on false beliefs: as touching the spiritual, the only herb offered is HEMLOCK!

… Occult healing techniques, whether it involves utilization of herbs, or such practices as acupuncture exhibit a modicum of effectiveness, but what is the true source of this faculty? According to Scott Cunningham, in the Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, “the power behind herbal magic is formless, shapeless, eternal, it doesn’t care whether you call it in the name of a witch, goddess, or the Virgin Mary- or tap it within no religious framework at all.”(32) … Be warned; be wary, these occult foundations are proliferating in society and medicine. Homeopathy shares these basic tenants of energy and rituals. Chinese and Ayurveda medicine are grounded in energy and balance concepts.

(1) The Elements of Herbalism by David Hoffman 1990 Barnes and Noble Books 1997

(2) www.holisticmed.com

(14) Searching for “China-American” History http://www.ingo

(15) Funk & Wagnall’s New Encyclopedia

(16) World Mythology 1993 Roy Willis general editor Henry Holt and Co.

(32) Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham 1985, 1997 Llewellyn Publications St Paul, Mn.

 

  1. Applied Kinesiology – Muscle Testing: New Age Medicine-Therapies from the Devil?

http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/newmed.htm*

Definition:  Applied kinesiology is a method of diagnosis and treatment that combines chiropractic, muscle-testing, nutritional evaluations, and other methods for overall preventive medicine and health maintenance.

Founder:  George Goodheart

How Does it Claim to Work?  Applied kinesiology claims to induce proper structural and chemical-nutritional organization in the body, as well as “left-and-right-brain” hemisphere balance.

It claims to evaluate and correct problems of the nervous, circulatory, lymphatic, skeletal-musculature, and “meridian” systems, thereby maintaining health. Its practices are believed to permit the even flow of cosmic energy throughout the body, thus nurturing individual organs and systems with the proper supply of chi energy.

Scientific Evaluation:  Discredited; see summary on acupuncture (above) and chiropractic (separate article).

Occultic Potential:  Psychic healing; energy channeling.

Major Problem(s):  Unsubstantiated practice with occultic potential.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  Practices that are quack or potentially occultic should be avoided.

Potential Dangers:  Misdiagnosis; quack treatment; occultic influence.

*Excerpted from the John Ankerberg and John Weldon’s book, Can You Trust Your Doctor? The Complete Guide to New Age Medicine and Its Threat to Your Family, 1991 by the now defunct Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers.

 

  1. Hypnosis- Christian or Occult?*

EXTRACT: No one knows exactly how hypnosis “works,” other than the obvious “placebo effect” — the successful use of “false feedback” in the same manner that feedback is used in the occult techniques common to acupuncture, biofeedback, and psychotherapy.

*Adapted from Hypnosis and the Christian, Martin & Deidre Bobgan, Bethany House Publishers, 1984, 61 pages. Revised and reissued in 2001 as Hypnosis: Medical, Scientific, or Occultic?.  

                                                                                                        

CATHOLICSPEAK

In all lists of New Age holistic health therapies, secular or Christian, including the February 3, 2003 Vatican Document  and Fr. Clemens Pilar COp’s Esoteric Practices and Christian Faith, 2001 German edition, translated into English 2003] acupuncture and acupressure come out upfront, and not only for alphabetical reasons.

  1. According to Fr. Pilar, the book The Other Medicine by the German ‘Stiftung Warentest’ or ‘Foundation for Testing Products’ examines and rates a large number of these therapies. Among those therapies that did not pass the test and which, therefore, the [German] public was warned of: Acupuncture, Bach-flower therapy, Foot Reflex Massage [reflexology], Radiaesthetics [pendulum dowsing], Diagnosis of the iris [iridology], Kinesiology, Rolfing, Reiki, Precious Stone Therapy, etc.

Excepting radiesthesia and reiki, which would be part of other discussions in the Document, all others in the list above are specifically named in the Vatican Document list, n. 2.2.3.

 

“As ideological aspects are concerned as well, I am obliged to make the following statement: What is offered today as ‘alternative or complementary medicine’ does by no means guarantee that we have to do with ‘natural medicine’.” [page 112]. On page 76 of his book, Fr. Pilar elaborates: “‘Purifying’ the spirit of man (Bach-flowers), ‘healing’ it (homoeopathy), ‘refining’ it through material substances or energy (precious stone therapy) is a magical idea and activity. It is claimed that all these therapies can alleviate character weaknesses, remove spiritual wounds and even overcome a weakness in faith by the appropriate vibrations. Man’s spirit-soul thus becomes a treatable object.

These (and similar) practices deny man’s highly personal mystery, which- according to Christian faith- can be neither comprehended nor physically treated. Spirit can only be affected and formed by spirit, not by physical means.            13.

 

 

 

These magical practices bypass the freewill of the spirit, which becomes a will-less object, manipulable and formable by diverse energies. Vitalism [belief in the existence and use of vital i.e. cosmic energy as in acupuncture, aromatherapy, homoeopathy, martial arts, pranic healing, reiki etc.] thus provides an essential basis for all kinds of magical thinking and each magical practice.  The majority of ‘holistic’ therapies are thus based on the concept of magic.

 

“Where upto now a meeting between two free personalities took place- person to person- where will power and decision played their original role in deciding what was to happen, this is the very point from where from now on the spirit is likely to be coerced based on knowledge and use of hidden [esoteric] laws.

“These concepts perceive even spiritual or mental problems as energy related problems, as symptoms of a ‘life force that is pathologically out of balance’. Energies can be increased through meditation, through motion-based therapies or other practices… An imbalance of the energy flow can be removed with the help of massage, needles, motion, sounds, colours etc.” [page 41]

“As ideological aspects are concerned as well, I am obliged to make the following statement: What is offered today as ‘alternative or complementary medicine’ does by no means guarantee that we have to do with ‘natural medicine’.

Prof. Dr. Malte Buhring, professor of naturopathy at the Free University of Berlin, clearly differentiates between genuine treatment with natural remedies and the diverse forms of alternative medicine, among which he counts homoeopathy, Bach-flowers, electro-acupuncture*, etc.” [page 112]                                                           *see pages 1, 5, 6, 17

 

In New Age, the earth is considered as a living organism, Mother-Earth, ‘Gaia’. [Vatican Document n. 2.3.4.2, 7.1, 7.2]

The supposed energy-conducting meridians running in the earth are called ‘ley lines’. The places where these ley-lines allegedly converge are selected as sites for communes like Findhorn and for Body-Mind-Soul festivals. These centres are known for the occurrences of paranormal activities. But the earth is not healthy because of man’s exploitation of her; her power balances have been disrupted. Like all other ‘organisms’, such an earth needs to be ‘healed’.

One method of doing this is through mass meditations, which the New Age gurus frequently organize.

Fr. Pilar adds, “A wide spectrum of ‘healers of the earth’ exist, who work with the most different methods.

To my knowledge a relevant group of persons, who have their meetings in the Waldviertel, hum healing sounds there.

In her book “Powerful Sources of Capital”, El Awadalla mentions a sum of 600,000 schillings spent by the City of Villach on an action of ‘lithopuncture’, a kind of acupuncture of the earth’.”

 

  1. The Vatican Document on the New Age, in the section Health: Golden Living, notes, “There is a remarkable variety of approaches for promoting holistic health, some derived from ancient cultural traditions, whether religious or esoteric… Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices such as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, kinesiology, homeopathy, iridology, massage and various kinds of ‘body work’ (such as …reflexology) etc.” [n 2.2.3]. Note that Shiatsu is a type of ‘body work’.

“The response from the New Age is unity through fusion. It claims to reconcile soul and body, female and male, …Yin and Yang”. “Yin/Yang is a New Age symbol, to do with complementarity of contraries, especially masculine and feminine” [n 4.2, 7.1].

The Document lists Findhorn [see page 3] “in North-East Scotland” as one of “the two centres which were the initial power-houses of the New Age, and to a certain extent still are…” [n 2.3.2] Under Key New Age Places, it notes that certain practices like “the goal of harmony with nature” and “channeling, all of which have become hallmarks of the New Age movement, were present at Findhorn from its foundation.” [n 7.3]

AN ENERGY CALLED GOD

A powerful trend in modern Western culture which has given space to New Age ideas is the general acceptance of Darwinist evolutionary theory; this, alongside a focus on hidden spiritual powers or forces in nature, has been the backbone of much of what is now recognised as New Age theory. [n 1.3]

A central element in [Carl Jung’s] thought is the cult of the sun, where God is the vital energy (libido) within a person [n 2.3.2] [In New Age belief, the cosmos] is animated by an Energy, which is also identified as the divine Soul or Spirit [n 2.3.3]. [In New Age] there is talk of God, but it is not a personal God; the God of which New Age speaks is neither personal nor transcendent. Nor is it the Creator and sustainer of the universe, but an “impersonal energy” immanent in the world, with which it forms a “cosmic unity”: “All is one”. This unity is monistic, pantheistic or, more precisely, panentheistic. God is the “life-principle”, the “spirit or soul of the world”, the sum total of consciousness existing in the world. In a sense, everything is God. God’s presence is clearest in the spiritual aspects of reality, so every mind/spirit is, in some sense, God… The innermost and most personal (“psychic”) level on which this “divine cosmic energy” is “heard” by human beings is also called “Holy Spirit”. [n 2.3.4.2] The energy animating the single organism which is the universe is “spirit”. There is no alterity between God and the world. The world itself is divine [n 2.3.4.3]

New Age is often referred to by those who promote it as a “new spirituality”. It seems ironic to call it “new” when so many of its ideas have been taken from ancient religions and cultures. But what really is new is that New Age is a conscious search for an alternative to Western culture and its Judaeo-Christian religious roots. “Spirituality” in this way refers to the inner experience of harmony and unity with the whole of reality, which heals each human person’s feelings of imperfection and finiteness.

                                                                                                                                                                                  14.

 

 

 

People discover their profound connectedness with the sacred universal force or energy which is the nucleus of all life. When they have made this discovery, men and women can set out on a path to perfection, which will enable them to sort out their personal lives and their relationship to the world, and to take their place in the universal process of becoming and in the New Genesis of a world in constant evolution. The result is a cosmic mysticism based on people’s awareness of a universe burgeoning with dynamic energies. Thus cosmic energy, vibration, light, God, love – even the supreme Self – all refer to one and the same reality, the primal source present in every being. [n 3.1]

Is God a being with whom we have a relationship or something to be used or a force to be harnessed?

The New Age concept of God is rather diffuse, whereas the Christian concept is a very clear one. The New Age god is an impersonal energy, really a particular extension or component of the cosmos; god in this sense is the life-force or soul of the world. Divinity is to be found in every being, in a gradation “from the lowest crystal of the mineral world up to and beyond the Galactic God himself, about Whom we can say nothing at all. This is not a man but a Great Consciousness”.

In some “classic” New Age writings, it is clear that human beings are meant to think of themselves as gods: this is more fully developed in some people than in others. God is no longer to be sought beyond the world, but deep within myself. Even when “God” is something outside myself, it is there to be manipulated.

This is very different from the Christian understanding of God as the maker of heaven and earth and the source of all personal life. God is in himself personal, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who created the universe in order to share the communion of his life with creaturely persons. “God, who ‘dwells in unapproachable light’, wants to communicate his own divine life to the men he freely created, in order to adopt them as his sons in his only-begotten Son. By revealing himself God wishes to make them capable of responding to him, and of knowing him, and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity”. God is not identified with the Life-principle understood as the “Spirit” or “basic energy” of the cosmos, but is that love which is absolutely different from the world, and yet creatively present in everything, and leading human beings to salvation. [n 4]

A careful reading of the Document will enable the reader to understand better the many New Age philosophies that undergird these therapies. They have been dealt with in greater detail in several other articles by this writer.

 

“In all the therapies we have been considering in this book*, there are certain common factors:

All agree that man is more than just his physical body, and that healing cannot be on the physical plane alone.

Many believe in a benevolent power in the Universe that Christians would call ‘God’.”

This is a quotation from *Bartlett’s Healing Without Harm, Pathways to Alternative Medicine which treats on a wide range of complementary medicines like homoeopathy, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology, and shiatsu.

They all agree, he says, that man possesses an ‘energy’ body, and it is that Universal Energy which Christians ignorantly call God, that is the ‘vital force’ or ‘chi’ or ‘ki’ of the referred systems respectively.

Need we say more? Only that the Vatican Document is fully justified in cautioning Catholics against the spiritual dangers involved in the practice of New Age therapies like acupuncture, acupressure, shiatsu, and reflexology:

dangers that Christian writers have demonstrated might come from a malevolent power that is not of God.

 

  1. A NEW AGE OF THE SPIRIT? A Catholic Response to the New Age Phenomenon.

Prepared by the Irish Theological Commission in 1994

Acupuncture comes from ancient Chinese medicine. It is discussed by Samuel Pfeifer in chapter 4 of his book.

This is the use of needles to stimulate healing in a wide range of illnesses, and also to enable people to have an operation without an anaesthetic. It operates on the Chinese concept of the life energy or Chi (often referred to in Yoga circles here in Ireland as Ki). The philosophical thinking behind acupuncture comes from Taoism and the concept of Yin and Yang, and of being at one with the forces in the universe through meditation.

Pfeifer quotes the Taoist philosopher George Ohsawa, the father of macrobiotics,* as saying that ‘oriental medicine cannot be separated from its philosophical underpinnings’ (page 32). Yet he shows that western therapists think that they can turn acupuncture into a purely ‘pins and needles’ affair.                         *see pages 8, 10

The NAM has no difficulty with acupuncture because it accepts the eastern philosophy behind it. But what about Christians? Can they accept the help and not be affected by its religious content? Many believe they can.

The general principle in this matter is that these practices are not bad in themselves, and dissociated from their original context can be practiced by Catholics with due discretion.

Pfeifer also challenges the results of acupuncture. He says that the results of scientific tests are confusing, indicating that the results are coming from a variety of factors, including a patient’s belief in the therapist. If you are interested in acupuncture then read up on the subject and have an informed opinion on it. Do not allow NAM groups to use it to ‘rope you in’ to their way of life…

 

Elliot Miller says that crystals are used in a variety of therapies, such as psychic healing, acupuncture, ‘dream work’, aura and chakra cleansing and balancing. In yogic philosophy the seven centres of spiritual energy in the body are called the chakras. Besides this crystals are used to enhance meditation, visualisation, astral or ‘soul travel’, channelling and various forms of divination. Many people also wear them as lucky charms, or to attract prosperity, the opposite sex, and so on. They appear to have endless functions!                                                                          15.                                                                     

 

 

 

Reflexology is press point therapy applied to the feet in a type of foot massage. Many Christians are using it with good effect to help reduce tension and stimulate healing. When carried out by a competent person who is properly trained, such as a nurse, it can be quite beneficial. But when it is done in seminars given by NAM people, you will be also offered the philosophy of the NAM. You will be told that the relaxation achieved does not last unless you are handling your other life problems, which is true. Then you are invited to join in other NAM exercises and the reflexology becomes an entrance into the NAM for you.

Samuel Pfeifer MD has written a book called Healing at any Price? (1988). It deals with the hidden dangers of alternative medicine. In chapter 5 he deals with reflexology, calling it ‘laying hands on the feet’!

He points out that the origins of reflexology go back to Chinese and Indian traditional medicine. Therefore it was developed out of the philosophy that is the source of acupuncture.

As a medical doctor he challenges the theory of the energy zones in the feet, but believes that there are psychological reasons why the therapy has a good effect on the patient. After all, they are cared for delicately and personally by a compassionate person for an hour, and many people would lack, and feel the need for this kind of personal attention. Besides, the action in itself is soothing, and therefore helpful to the stressed person.

 

  1. ACUPUNCTURE

by Erika Gibello, 22 March 1999 [Erika is Secretary, International Association of Exorcists]

History and Philosophy

The origin of acupuncture is unknown.  There are some suggestions that the ancient shamans who used stone splinters to cut the skin to release evil spirits from the sick body also used metal sticks for the same purpose.

It may well be possible that during those rituals they noticed reactions of the body, often distant from the actual place of puncture, and consequently accumulated observations, which led to a system of healing.

The oldest description of acupuncture known is from the year 1127AD. It speaks of it as a ritual used by shamans. Much later this system was underpinned with philosophical tenets.

Whatever their origins, the techniques of acupuncture were refined over centuries, and eventually spread over to other Asian countries. During the 17th century they were introduced in Europe. In China itself traditional practices based on the Nei Ching were the only treatment available till the nineteenth century, when Western concepts of healing were introduced to the Orient.  1822 and again 1929 saw a dramatic change in the long-standing Chinese tradition.

Methods based on the Nei Ching were exchanged officially in favour for Western medicine.

Later, sweeping social changes brought about by the Communist regime included reorganisation of the medical system, with the concurrent revival of interest in traditional methods.

Most European practitioners of acupuncture started after 1972. The trigger for this was a worldwide-published operation of an American journalist who had his appendix operation under the influence of acupuncture, apparently replacing any conventional anaesthesia.

After Mao’s death it became known that this, and similar operations were a publicity stunt. Apparently the patients were put under psychological pressure, and in addition were given painkillers before the operations.

As the scientific community began to take a harder look at the acupuncture phenomenon, some questions were raised which had escaped the popular press.

Does Chinese medicine work as advertised?

Are its effects influenced by such variables as the type of disease, the prevalent beliefs in any given culture, or the emotional make-up of the patient?

As acupuncture works in a significant number of cases, one has to ask by what mechanism it functions.

These questions must be asked of any new therapy to be receiving the endorsement of the scientific community.

To understand the method applied in acupuncture one has to take Taoism into account.

The ancient Chinese produced various philosophical systems, of which two are better known outside China.

One, Confucianism, stressed social order and practical knowledge, forming the basis for formal education and etiquette.  Taoism, on the other hand, was far more mystical.

Its spiritual father, LAO-TZE (meaning “the old master”), expounded on the concept of the TAO, or “the way”, an impersonal concept of ultimate reality.

Taoism is centred on the importance of process and change, the concept that nature and the universe flow in an endless course of continuous cycles. Day become night, winter turns into summer; wet becomes dry, and so on, all in observable pattern. Taoism urges human beings, who are seen as utterly dependent on nature, to live in harmony with these cycles and thus be “one” with the TAO.

The person who opposes the system will suffer failure, sickness and early death.

Two fundamental forces generate the transformation of the universe:  YIN and YANG.  These forces are BI-POLAR, not canceling each other out, but complementing each other to form one unity.  The words Yin and Yang literally mean “the shady and sunny sides of a hill”.

Yin represents the female, soft, interior and Yang represents the male, hard and exterior part.  Each contains a small share of the other.  The T’ai-chi T’u, the “Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate”, illustrates this philosophy.                    16.

 

 

 

Lately we have seen a certain awareness of this in fashion designs around the globe.  The diagram shows a black and a white figure interacting with each other.  Black is representing the evil or the female, and white the male, noble and good aspect of the same unity.  The Tao teaches the duality of everything in the universe.  Everything has equal and opposite values.  This produces a fatalistic attitude to life.  Traditional Chinese medicine has applied the interaction of the Yin and Yang to the human body – THE NEI CHING.  The inside of the body is the yin, the surface the yang.  The whole body is divided into regions and sub-regions, which in turn are either allocated to be governed by yin and yang.

HEALTH IS DEFINED AS THE STATE IN WHICH YIN AND YANG ARE IN PERFECT, DYNAMIC BALANCE OVER A PERIOD OF TIME, WITH DISEASE OCCURRING WHEN THERE IS AN EXCESS OF YIN AND YANG ACCUMULATING ANYWHERE IN THE BODY.

The energy or CH’I, which flows through the body in a pattern, is conditioned by the presence of Yin or Yang energy.  This flow is governed through channels called meridians, each of which is associated with a particular organ.

Ch’i or the universal life energy is said to flow through all living organisms, it supposedly is inhaled with air and extracted from food and drink.

Any excess or blockage of this energy will cause an imbalance of the yin and yang and hence produce illness.  Traditional Chinese medicine applies this concept of the Nei-Ching, or energy flow through the body and considers sickness only from the point of imbalance between the yin and yang.

Diagnosis

In diagnosing the cause of an illness, the patient’s complaints, overall appearance, colour and breathing patterns are taken into account, but according to the NEI CHING the key to correct diagnosis is examination of the pulses. At each of which has a superficial and deep position.  These twelve locations correspond to the twelve meridians and are said to communicate to the examiner information about the meridians.  Each pulse position is carefully felt, men’s right and women’s left pulse examined, giving the physician an insight into the balance or imbalance of a particular organ.

I would like to point to the 12 locations; the number twelve is taken from magical ideas of numerology, which is also reflected in the 12 pairs of meridians through which the CH’I supposedly flows. 365 acupuncture points are found along these 12 meridians.  Originally only few parts of the body were punctured, but as the number of meridians was even further by two lines extended, so were the numbers of punctures on the various body parts increased.

Before I proceed to explain the treatment in acupuncture, I like to point out the following shortcoming of this medical system, overlooking for a moment the Non-Christian philosophical background:  Disease as known in modern medical science where to the greater part totally unrecognised in ancient Chinese Medicine, hence those ancient descriptions have to be aligned to modern, scientifically based knowledge, before any physician could make a correct diagnosis.  Modern acupuncturists, not being able to allocate recognised diseases to an exact description of old Chinese illnesses, are giving often and general circumscription of the pathological affected area such as “heart problem”, “digestive problems” etc.  This fact will of course make any exact, scientific diagnosis impossible.

The question comes to mind: What form of DIAGNOSIS this could possibly be, if the premises to any scientific approach are not given?  Assuming that there is a flow of energy, which there presumably is, even if not in the fashion understood by the old Chinese, how could one ascertain the exact spot of the “imbalance”, unless this diagnostic method is some form of divination? It has also to be pointed out that the flow of energy through the human body has not yet been scientifically determined.

Treatment

Once the physician has made his diagnosis, the Nei Ching offers 5 different approaches to the therapy.

The first is the treatment of the spirit, guiding the patient to a modest tranquil life.  The second and third are dietary and medicinal therapies, the fourth treatment is acupuncture or one of its variants, and fifth is massage.

The Nei Ching gives most attention to acupuncture. To restore balance to the energy flow and clear and assumed obstructions or excess of it, to normalise the balance between yin and yang, the physician inserts needles at specific points into the body. Needles of all shapes and sizes have been used.

At the present time most therapists use stainless steel needles ranging in length from one half to four inches.

To prevent infections only sterilised needles can be used. In our days mostly throwaway needles are used.

When the points of insertion are selected, one or more needles are inserted and advanced until sensations described as tingling or heaviness or numbness is observed.  The needles are then twisted manually or connected to an electric pulse generator for ten or fifteen minutes.  (The electrical approach is quite common today).

The electrical approach [electro-acupuncture] has interesting results, it works not only on the acupuncture point, but positive results to eliminate pain depend on the presence of sufficient nerves in that specific area. . This is very similar to different method of pain control, which is called TENS, which stands for Transcutane Electric Nerve-Stimulation.

This method uses the electric current on the skin near the painful body part, which results relief from pain.

The “Gate Control Theory” assumes that stimulation of nerves, releases the bodies own “pain blockers”, Endorphine [Endorphin] and Enkephaline [Encephalin], which are functioning in various parts of the central-nerve-system.  Stimulation of the acupuncture points is also achieved by injecting water, saline, vitamin B12, or other sterile substances.

For the fainthearted patient, who would prefer not to be punctured, injected or burned, simple finger pressure maybe used (acupressure has developed in Japan into its own form of therapeutic approach: Shiatsu).

In classical acupuncture therapy, the goal is to correct imbalance of yin and yang as said before, by stimulating points along the assumed twelve meridians, thereby draining excess energy or restoring it.                                               17.

 

 

 

 

Various authors recognise anything from 361 to 800 points along the twelve meridians.  The guidelines for selecting acupuncture points have evolved into a system too complex for all but the most dedicated therapist.

The underlying concepts, like the pulse diagnosis, seem to be shrouded by scientifically unproven assumptions.

Does acupuncture work?

It would seem, from the initial reports written by Western observers in China, that the answer is a clear-cut yes, especially in the area of pain reduction. Unfortunately many of those first observers lacked the experience necessary for a proper scientific evaluation.  Initial reports, for example, suggested that this form of anaesthesia was used in the majority of operations in China. From the statistic supplied by the Chinese, some researchers have found that less than 10 per cent of all cases are treated by acupuncture.  It is also a fact that not all pain is eliminated, and that nearly every patient receives in addition to needling, a narcotic or barbiturate injection or prior to surgery a slow drip.

Even with these limitations, it cannot be denied that a large variety of operations have been carried out with patients awake and alert.  There are apparently many other applications of this healing method, in matter of fact some acupuncturists claim that all disease can be cured by it!

Startling cures are supposed to be reported in Soviet and French medical journals.  But unfortunately many of those so-called scientific reports cannot be confirmed, or repeated.  One of the difficulties is that the insertion points are slightly changed in each individual case, as the organs are not exactly placed at the same spot, nor is there any human who exactly matches another.  Controlled scientific researches are depending on the repetition of experiments which have to be held under the exact same conditions.

As far as I have been able to ascertain from research into the various reviews of literature and discussions, the CLAIMS FOR THE HIGH DEGREE OF EFFICACY OF ACUPUNCTURE ARE NOT BASED ON DATA DERIVED FROM WELL CONTROLLED CLINICAL TRIALS.  In matter of fact in many clinics no records seem to be kept of either the patient medical history or his/her response to therapy.

Conclusion

First acupuncture does indeed relieve pain of various degrees for various periods of time.  But this only signifies what is already known in the science of pain, that this is a complex field with many different characteristics both in the psychological as well as physiological area.

In matter of fact many characteristics of acupuncture have been observed by orthodox medicine, and have been given different names in Western medical literature.

One example is the phenomenon of referred pain, in which pain is experienced in a location removed from the actual site of injury.  Other examples can be quoted.  One might argue that this would prove the Chinese ancient concept of Yin and Yang and the idea of meridians. Against this is to say that satisfactory explanation of these observations, based on known neurological pathways without invoking universal energy, is possible within the framework of the “Gate Control Theory” of pain by Canadian researchers Ronald Melzack and P.D. Wall. This was mentioned above when discussing the electrical stimulation used in TENS.

Similarly can the theory of the existence of Meridians or Ch’i be disproved.  But those ideas fire the imagination of the public and additionally acupuncturist claim to be able to heal everything from heartburn to piles. Since a few years there has been co-operation between German and Chinese scientists to research possible explanations of the mechanism of the workings of acupuncture.

What the Catholic has to bear in mind when considering this alternative method of treatment is:

Acupuncture is based on an ancient model of understanding the physiological functions of the human body whereby much of it is not scientifically proven.

Neither systematic research in response of patients nor their side effects are insufficient known.

The method of arriving at a specific diagnosis is at the best dubious and could be considered a form of divination.

This has to especially pointed out in view that the “needle points” are slightly different in every person!

Divination is a form of prognosis derived with the help of various psychic abilities using all sorts of materials, like bones, coffee suds, stars or currents and many other created matter. Whilst the use of needles may be questionable, it is not totally to be rejected. Empirically we have learned that there are certain positive results in such treatments, even if the traditional Chinese explanation is not the scientific explanation.

It is rather the form of diagnosis used that has to be rejected.

Divination is not permitted for Christians. Occupation with divination can mislead people away from trusting in God, and finally leads to honouring creation rather than the Creator.

TESTIMONY

There is this story of a young man who owned a successful acupuncture practice. After several years of making plenty of money for himself and his young family, he fell sick. He could not digest food. The doctors could neither cure him nor explain what the cause of his sickness was.

During a workshop on alternative medicines and healing methods his mother approached me, and ask if she should tell her son to give up his acupuncture practice. I told her to send the son for a short interview.

During our meeting he asked if I advised him to close his practice. My answer was:” Do not close your practice, but let’s pray for guidance by the Holy Spirit to find out what God ‘s will was.”                                                                    18.

 

 

 

I gave a time limit of three months, during which I would pray, and advised him to do the same. Even before the three months were over he telephoned to tell me that definitely wished to stop all acupuncture. He also informed me that he was by now so sick that he could not hold any food, had terrible pains and was as consequence of this not able to leave his bed. I said I was happy he had come to a decision and said that I would keep on praying for his recovery. A short time after this, I was just assisting at an exorcism, when an urgent telephone call reached me. It was the young man’s mother who asked if I would know an exorcist, as her son was in danger of dying, having lost so much weight, that he was only “skin and bones”.

It was Providential that I was just at that moment in presence of the only exorcists I knew. I asked him, if they could come as soon as possible. He was kind enough to see them that very same day.

The young man received exorcism, and even one week later was well on the way of recovery.

Two weeks on he received more healing prayers, and was fully freed and healed of his affliction.

God gave him not only a spiritual healing, and a physical healing, but also a new profession, which helped him to re-build his life and family. Erika

 

  1. CHURCH WARNS CLERGY, RELIGIOUS OF POPULAR ‘KI’ EXPERIENCE January 23, 2001

KOREA SEOUL UCAN Seoul archdiocese has cautioned priests and Religious regarding the increasingly popular practice of “ki” (energy) sessions that blend physical movement, breathing and concentration.

Auxiliary Bishop Peter Kang Woo-il of Seoul sent Jan. 12 a document titled “Alert on ki training culture” to all clergy and superiors of religious institutes in the archdiocese.

“Recently there has been an increasing number of clergy, Religious and laity who frequent centers of ‘ki-gong’ and ‘abdomen breathing,’ and they invite others to join them,” Bishop Kang said.

He said though people begin the practice for health, they gradually develop it to a kind of spiritual dimension. “The religious dimension to which such ki culture leads becomes easily linked to a mystical, transcendental and individualistic outlook of the world — that is not easily compatible with Christian faith,” the bishop noted.

The Church leader asked clergy and Religious who practice ki techniques for help in spiritual concentration or meditation to use “discernment because such a practice can cause confusion among ordinary Catholics.” “Unlike established religions that seek the common good of society, some new religious sects promise individual peace and physical health,” he said.

Citing the letter “Orationis Formas” (On some aspects of Christian meditation) of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued Oct. 15, 1989, Bishop Kang stressed that trying to develop prayer as a skill may be opposed to the child-like spirit stressed in the Gospel. “Pure Christian mysticism has nothing to do with a skill,” he said, citing the Vatican document which was published in Korean in 1999.

Ki and ki-gong, or “qi” and “qi-gong” in Chinese, are generally regarded as belonging to the Taoist stream.

 

  1. “NEW AGE KI CULTURE ATTRACTING KOREAN CATHOLICS”

http://www.wwrn.org/article.php?idd=11541&sec=55&con=21 EWTN News February 23, 2001

SEOUL, Feb. 23, 01 (CWNNews.com/Fides) The Ki movement, which is attracting many Christians, mostly Catholics in Korea, as a means of health promotion, is going beyond this dimension and entering the religious realm and this is a matter of concern for the local Church, according to South Korea’s bishops’ conference. In January Bishop Peter Kang, an auxiliary of Seoul, sent an official memorandum to all clergy and religious of the archdiocese warning about the ambiguity and danger of Ki culture, which is part of the New Age Movement, in fashion in Korea and other countries.

Bishop Kang expressed concern, first of all, about Catholics, even clergy and religious, who go to Ki Centers, and he underlines the need for discernment: “When Ki formation touches the religious realm going beyond its dimension which is health promotion, it becomes dangerous.” He added, “If they use Ki training as a means of improving health then I have nothing to say. But if they insist that people can reach salvation by themselves, this is a serious mistake because salvation cannot be obtained by any human efforts or techniques, it only be achieved by God.”

“Priest and religious who have contact with Ki culture believing that its helps them for meditation or health, should act with discernment recalling that their attitude can bring confusion to the Christian life,” Bishop Kang points out.

Ki culture is part of the New Age Movement, first seen in Korea in the 1980s, when after the poverty of the previous decades the economy improved and people turned their interest to individual happiness. The Ki movement insists that human beings can become absolute by a mysterious art and that salvation can be reached through personal spiritual exercises.

Prof. Rho Kil-myong, who teaches social sciences at Korea University and is an expert in the area of new religious sect, said: “Its members believe that Ki is the ultimate principle and nature of the universe.”

Explaining why Catholics may be attracted to the new sect, Prof. Rho Kil-myong said: “As a liturgy-centered religion, the Catholic Church does not satisfy the spiritual desire of the faithful to experience God: this is why many Catholics want to be compensated by Ki culture.” Side effects are that people confuse Ki experience with experience of the Holy Spirit; they begin to reject the institutionalized Church; they adopt fanaticism and emotional attitudes; and they reject the doctrine of salvation by divine grace. The professor concluded that “the Church should listen to what her members say and desire. With its 2,000 years of history and tradition, I believe that Christianity has many means to respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful. For instance the various spiritual programs of contemplation and meditation of religious institutes and contemplative communities can be shared with the lay faithful.”                                                                          19.

 

 

  1. BISHOPS AFFIRM NEW MOVEMENTS’ CONTRIBUTIONS, WARN OF DANGERS TO FAITH

29 May 2003 http://www.ucanews.com/search/show.php?q=yoga&page=archives/english/2003/05/w5/thu/KO4048Rg.txt

KOREA SEOUL UCAN Catholic bishops in Korea have warned that some popular systems of training which incorporate physical exercises with meditation can be harmful to Catholics’ faith.

The Korean bishops’ Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith issued April 21 the document “Movements and Currents That Are Harmful to Orthodox Faith Life II.” The committee published the first document on that topic in 1997. The new document observes rapid recent growth in the number of “centers that teach ‘ki-gong,’ abdomen breathing and zen that blend physical movement, breathing and concentration.”

It then warns, “We have to be cautious that many religious groups are using mental and physical exercises to preach their religion in their centers.”

According to the 23-page document, the three practices are among what sociologists and religion scholars call “New Spirituality Movements” that aim to help individuals attain self-perfection through spiritual experience based on the pursuit of mental and physical health and peace.

It acknowledges that New Spirituality Movements have contributed greatly toward enhancing respect for life and the natural environment. “To practice the ‘ki-gong’ exercise itself is not a problem for the faith,” the bishops say, but if the practice goes “beyond the exercise dimension for health, it will affect negatively the Christian faith.”

Ki- gong, or “chi-gong” in Chinese, is a system of training that incorporates physical and mental exercises with meditation. “Ki” refers to energy and “gong” to discipline. The practice, which involves lower abdominal breathing along with special postures and aims to improve the autonomic nervous system, is regarded as in the Taoist stream.

Zen is a school of Buddhism that emphasizes the practice of meditation to bring about insight and manifest inborn enlightenment.

The bishops point out that the new movements are “seriously” in conflict “with the essence of Christianity” on matters such as the understanding of God, Christology and ecclesiology. They say these movements reject the fundamental Christian understanding of God in favor of “panentheism,” which holds that God is in everything and everything in the universe is part of God. Father Basilius Cho Kyu-man, secretary of the doctrine committee, told UCA News the bishops’ committee “sees no difference” between panentheism and pantheism, which present God not as a personality but as the laws, forces and manifestations of a self-existing universe.

Father Cho explained May 21 that while the committee’s 1997 document “comprehensively” warned of various phenomena in society, the new document focuses on “the issues that the Church faces and has to address relevantly.”

Father Nobert Cha Dong-yeob, director of the Inchon Diocesan Future Pastoral Institute, practiced ki-gong and yoga for some 15 years. He told UCA News, “Principally, I do not want Catholics to contact those movements,” noting that most ki-gong experts tend to follow the country’s “indigenous” religions.

“If a Catholic reaches the high-level exercise of ki-gong, it is highly probable that he or she will leave Catholicism,” the priest said. “In the high-level exercise, religious notions are strongly put in,” he added. 

 

8. PARADIGM SHIFT PROPOSED TO COUNTER ‘NEW SPIRITUALITY’ MOVEMENTS

1 Nov 2004 http://www.ucanews.com/search/show.php?q=yoga&page=archives/english/2004/11/w1/mon/KO7047Rg.txt

KOREA SEOUL UCAN The flourishing of “new spirituality” movements has prompted Church workers to recommend a shift in pastoral approach.

Father Pius Kwak Seung-ryong, pastoral planning director of Taejon diocese, blames the Catholic Church’s present pastoral paradigm for the popularity of new spirituality movements among Catholics.

Speaking at an Oct. 21 symposium in Suwon, 45 kilometers south of Seoul, he observed that along with South Korea’s rapid economic growth and increasing materialism has come an increasing spiritual thirst. Traditional devotions, prayer and meditation do not easily satisfy this thirst, he said.

Proof of this is the increasing popularity of methods such as yoga, Zen and “ki” (“chi”) energy training among Koreans, Catholics included, who say these techniques help them achieve soundness of body and mind. The Korean Catholic bishops have warned Catholics about such new spirituality movements.

According to Father Kwak, Catholics are attracted by these movements’ focus on experiencing the “warmth of the world” amid a “harsh and inhuman society.” However, at the symposium titled “Challenge of Pseudo-spirituality Movements and Pastoral Countermeasures,” the priest insisted that the Catholic Church has its own wealth of spiritualities. He recommended promoting the spirituality and prayer practiced in the early Church, as well as various “God-centered” prayers and spiritual exercises developed within the Church throughout its history.

“It is our duty to graft those traditions attractively” to meet modern Christians’ needs, he told the 1,200 people who attended, including Suwon’s Bishop Paul Choi Duk-ki and Auxiliary Bishop Mathias Lee Yong-hoon.

Suwon diocese sponsored the symposium, held at the cathedral.

Francis Park Moon-su, researcher at the bishops’ Pastoral Institute of Korea, points to the “Sacrament-centered” paradigm of the Catholic Church as a factor in Catholics joining new spirituality movements.

This paradigm defines “good Catholics” as those who fulfill obligations such as attending Sunday Mass, making regular confession and paying their monthly dues. Park asserted that with such an “insufficient” model of spirituality, it seems impossible for the Church to effect spiritual renewal. The Church needs to take the new spirituality movements seriously.

 

 

 

Nonetheless, he says many elements in such movements are based on pantheism and other religions, and clash with Catholic dogma. While many proponents claim these movements only promote well-being, Park charged they influence people to eschew longstanding social systems and communities.

Father Joseph Lee Chan-jong, evangelization and education administrator of Suwon diocese, told UCA News Oct. 27 that new spirituality movements have spread tacitly as well-being programs catering to current lifestyles.

He said the purpose of the symposium was to give pastoral direction to Catholics in their faith life and to help them keep such movements from penetrating into the Catholic community.

Suwon diocese has sponsored annual symposiums since 1994 to educate parishioners on various issues.

Meanwhile, the Korean bishops’ Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued two documents, in 1997 and in 2003, on new spirituality movements. According to the bishops, such movements are in serious conflict with “the essence of Christianity” on matters such as the understanding of God, Christology and ecclesiology.

Recently, Bishop Boniface Choi Ki-san of Inchon asked priests of his diocese to report parishioners who have joined the Dahn World Center, termed a “pseudo-religious” movement by critics in the Church.

 

9A. IS ACUPUNCTURE ACCEPTABLE FOR CATHOLICS?

CHRISTIAN OR NEW AGE? PART V by Susan Brinkmann, Special to the Herald, September 7, 2007 http://www.coloradocatholicherald.com/display.php?xrc=601

This is the fifth part of a series that examines how Catholics are being challenged by followers of New Age philosophies.

In July 1971, while accompanying Henry Kissinger to China, The New York Times columnist James Reston had an emergency appendectomy. Afterward at the Anti-Imperialist Hospital in Peking, doctors treated his pain with a traditional form of Chinese medicine known as acupuncture.

“I was in considerable discomfort if not pain during the second night after the operation,” Reston wrote shortly after his return to the United States. “Li Chang-yuan, doctor of acupuncture at the hospital, with my approval, inserted three long, thin needles into the outer part of my right elbow and below my knees, and manipulated them in order to stimulate the intestine and relieve the pressure and distension of the stomach.

“Meanwhile, Doctor Li lit two pieces of an herb called ai, which looked like the burning stumps of a broken, cheap cigar, and held them close to my abdomen while occasionally twirling the needles into action. All this took about 20 minutes, during which I remember thinking that it was a rather complicated way to get rid of gas in the stomach. But there was noticeable relaxation of the pressure and distension within an hour and no recurrence of the problem thereafter.”

Many people in the medical field, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), believe that event is what precipitated what is now a 20-year surge of interest in acupuncture in the United States.

A report from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the NIH in 1997 stated that acupuncture is being widely practiced by thousands of physicians, dentists, acupuncturists and other practitioners in the U.S.

According to the largest and most comprehensive survey of complementary and alternative medicine in use by American adults, the 2002 National Health Institute Survey, “an estimated 8.2 million U.S. adults had . . . used acupuncture [at some time] and an estimated 2.1 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year.”

How Does Acupuncture Work?

The Chinese theory behind acupuncture as a medical treatment is very different from the kind of acupuncture used in Western medicine.

“Traditional Chinese acupuncture is based on the theory that the body is a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang,” says the NIH Web site for Complementary and Alternative Medicines. “Yin represents the cold, slow or passive principle, while yang represents the hot, excited or active principle.”

It goes on to explain that the Chinese believe health is achieved by maintaining the body in a balanced state, and that the disease is caused by an internal imbalance of yin and yang.

“This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (energy) along pathways know as meridians,” according to the NIH site. “It is believed that there are 12 main meridians and eight secondary meridians, and that there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body that connect with them.”

Chinese practitioners believe that by inserting extremely fine needles into those points in various combinations, a person’s energy flow may be re-balanced, thus allowing the body’s natural healing mechanisms to take over.

Because there is no anatomical or other physically verifiable basis for the existence of acupuncture points, qi or meridians, the Western version of acupuncture is not based on the concept of yin and yang, but on neuroscience. Today, science believes acupuncture may work in three ways: by releasing endorphins, which are part of the body’s natural pain-control system; by stimulating nerves in the spinal cord that release pain-suppressing neurotransmitters; or by the naturally occurring increase in blood flow in the needle-puncture area, which removes toxic substances.

Origin of Acupuncture

The word “acupuncture” is derived from the latin acus meaning “needle” and pungere meaning “prick.” The origins of Chinese acupuncture are uncertain. There is some archeological evidence of its practice during the Han dynasty (202 B.C. to 220 A.D.) with the first mention of it a century earlier in the Yellow Emperor’s “Classic of Internal Medicine,” a history of acupuncture that was completed around 305 B.C.                                                                                            21.

 

 

However, hieroglyphics dating back to 1000 B.C. have been found what may be an indication that acupuncture was in use much earlier. There is also some speculation surrounding the discovery of Otzi, a 5,000-year-old mummy with over 50 tattoos on his body, some indicated on established acupuncture points.

Other scientists believe there is evidence to support the practice of acupuncture in Eurasia during the early Bronze Age. In an article that appeared in the British medical journal, The Lancet, researches said, “We hypothesized that there might have been a medical system similar to acupuncture (Chinese Zhensiu: needling and burning) that was practices in Central Europe 5,200 years ago. . . . This raises the possibility of acupuncture having originated in the Eurasian continent at least 2,000 years earlier than previously recognized.”

Can Catholics Use It?

The Western form of acupuncture, which is based on science and not Taoism, is acceptable for use by Christians. However, the traditional Chinese acupuncture belief system is not compatible with Christianity.

“The philosophical thinking behind acupuncture comes from Taoism and the concept of the yin and yang, and of being at one with the forces in the universe through meditation,” the Irish Theological Commission wrote in 1994 in its document, “A Catholic Response to the New Age Phenomenon.”

Christians believe man is a union of body and soul, and that the soul is an essential form — not an energy force. The belief that one can meditate and be at one with the forces of the universe is based in pantheism, the belief that the universe, God and nature are all equivalent.

At present, there are many unlicensed practitioners who may be practicing a blended version of Western and Chinese acupuncture.

“The New Age movement has no difficulty with acupuncture because it accepts the Eastern philosophy behind it,” the theological commission said. “But what about Christians? Can they accept the help and not be affected by its religious content? Many believe they can.

“The general principle in this matter is that these practices are not bad in themselves, and dissociated from their original context, can be practiced by Catholics with due discretion.”

Father Lawrence J. Gesy, the cult consultant for the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the lead author of “Today’s Destructive Cults and Movements,” says those seeking an acupuncturist should “make sure the person who is doing the acupuncture is medically licensed.”

According to the Mayo Clinic Web site, there are about 3,000 medical doctors in the U.S. who use acupuncture as part of their clinical practice. No individual needs to resort to a New Age practitioner in order to enjoy the benefits of acupuncture.

“Those who are into the Chinese-god concept of acupuncture usually have charts up, or will talk about gods and energy levels,” Father Gesy said. “These people are ‘channeling.’ The needle becomes their channel from the source of the energy of the gods into that person.”

Acupuncture works without the religious component, and is a much better bargain for Christians because it comes all the benefits, but none of the spiritual risks.

 

9B. ENERGY MEDICINE: PART ONE – THE SCIENCE

CHRISTIAN OR NEW AGE? PART VIII by Susan Brinkmann, Special to the Herald, October 18, 2007 http://www.coloradocatholicherald.com/display.php?xrc=742

This is the eighth of a series that examines how Catholics are being challenged by followers of New Age philosophies.

It’s called “ki” in Japan, “chi” in China and “prana” in India — but it all means the same thing — a form of universal “energy” which is believed to flow through human beings that can become unbalanced. Practitioners of Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, yoga, tai chi, Qi Gong, polarity therapy, and as many as 60 other forms of “energy healing” seek to channel this energy to restore health.

Although originating in the East, energy medicine has become popular in the West, and is practiced in many U.S. medical facilities.

Because these practices are not regulated by the FDA and are not required to meet their rigorous standards of efficacy, consumers need to beware. This is especially true because alternative and complementary medicine has become a multimillion dollar business in the United States.

In order to protect consumers against potential fraud, Congress established a National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 1998.

In an overview of the field of energy medicine, the NCCAM has concluded that most techniques are not scientifically valid.

As their report indicates, consumers need to be made aware of the scientific distinction between the two forms of energy — veritable and putative — and which is involved in energy medicine.

Veritable energy consists of mechanical vibrations (such as sound) and electromagnetic forces, including visible light, magnetism, monochromatic radiation and rays from other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. “They involve the use of specific, measurable wavelengths and frequencies to treat patients,” the report states.

Putative energy is what practitioners of Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, reflexology and yoga purport to be manipulating.

It consists of alleged “energy fields” that human beings are supposedly infused with. This subtle form of energy, or “life force,” is known as “ki” in Japanese medicine and “chi” in Chinese medicine, and elsewhere as “prana,” etheric energy and homeopathic resonance.                                                                             22.

 

 

 

“These approaches are among the most controversial of complementary and alternative medical practices,” the NIH reports, “because neither the external energy fields nor their therapeutic effects have been demonstrated convincingly by any biophysical means.”

According to Victor Stenger, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii, the most powerful and accurate detectors known to science have never discovered even a hint of this energy form.

“Much of alternative medicine is based on claims that violate well established scientific principles,” writes Stenger in his article, “Energy Medicine,” which appeared in The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine.

“Those that require the existence of a bio-energetic field, whether therapeutic touch or [traditional Chinese] acupuncture, should be asked to meet the same criteria as anyone else who claims a phenomenon whose existence goes beyond established science. They have an enormous burden of proof. . . .”

The fact that major nursing organizations and publications refer to these unsubstantiated energy forms is causing major problems in the medical community. “Medical journals should follow the lead of most scientific journals and not publish extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence,” Stenger writes.

Unfortunately, there is confusion among the public and even among some healers as to what kind of energy is being manipulated. This is why the best source for this information is the practitioners’ own literature.

For instance, Reiki literature clearly refers to the energy it manipulates as a “spiritually guided life-force energy.” Polarity therapists claim they are working the “human energy field” but go on to say that this energy field “exists everywhere in nature.” Cranial Sacral Biodynamics claims it works on the “formation of a relationship between the practitioner and the inherent ordering principle, the Breath of Life” of a client.

Energy medicine also causes confusion in the professional realm — particularly in the field of legitimate medical massage, which is defined as the manual manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for therapeutic purposes. Confusing legitimate medical massage with energy healers who purport to do much more, casts a pall of charlatanism over the whole medical profession.

The problem has become so serious that the American Medical Massage Association (AMMA) issued a position statement in December 2005 denouncing six categories of what are considered metaphysical, paranormal or pseudoscientific practices that include Reiki, therapeutic touch, touch for health, crystal healing, aroma energy and many others.

The AMMA believes the widespread use of these methods “has advanced to the point of becoming a serious problem that is adversely affecting the overall professional image and reputation of massage therapy in the United States.”

According to the AMMA’s legislative and external affairs coordinator, Amanda Cihak, “While it is scientific fact that the human body is comprised of energy, i.e., protons, neutrons, electrons, there is a vast difference between those massage therapists wanting to assist the body’s natural healing processes and those who claim they can manipulate one’s ‘energy,’ chi, life-force, etc. “Many times a practitioner will perform Reiki, Energy Healing, Cranial Sacral or Polarity Therapy without the consent or desire of a client, while they believe they are receiving an actual clinical or medical massage treatment,” Cihak says.

Insurance companies are yet another industry experiencing problems from this confusion of legitimate medical massage and energy healing. According to Cihak, more and more companies throughout the country are making a distinction between ‘massage therapy’ which includes Reiki practitioners, and ‘clinical massage therapy’ which requires additional training, documentation and education specifically in clinical/medical massage.

The confusion is enhanced when energy healers are permitted to work in legitimate medical facilities. This is particularly problematic in Christian hospitals.

Aside from showing a long list of “professional organization” endorsements, energy healers often get in the door at Christian hospitals by claiming techniques such as Therapeutic Touch and Reiki have nothing to do with religion.

According to the Catholic Medical Association (CMA), these claims are untrue.

In their February 2004 position statement, titled, “Therapeutic Touch is not a Catholic Hospital Pastoral Practice,” the CMA explains why these practices come with considerable “religious baggage” in spite of the application of a secular veneer, and are therefore not compatible with Catholicism.

“Therapeutic touch is essentially a ‘New Age’ manifestation in a medical setting,” writes Doctor Patrick Guinan in the CMA document. “New Age philosophy is well defined in the recent Vatican document, ‘Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Waters of Life.’ New Age is the belief that conscious reality consists of cosmic energy and pantheistic forces that can be known and controlled by an elite knowledgeable in this mystical system. New Age is in direct contrast to traditional Western Judeo-Christian culture that posits a personal God and humans endowed with a free will.’”

 

9C. ENERGY MEDICINE: PART TWO – THE THEOLOGY

CHRISTIAN OR NEW AGE? PART IX by Susan Brinkmann*, Special to the Herald, November 2, 2007 http://www.coloradocatholicherald.com/display.php?xrc   *See also pages 41-43

This is the ninth part of a series that examines how Catholics are being challenged by followers of New Age philosophies.

A nurse who practices energy medicine claims in a journal for Christian nurses that she was told “God had blessed her with the gift of healing through the manipulation of a person’s energy field.”

One Web site claims that energy medicine is “in alignment with the Bible.”

                                                                                                                                                                                 23.

 

 

Yet another advises: “Reiki provides a very wonderful way for Christians to make use of God’s power. . . . When giving or receiving Reiki attunements or treatments, just call on God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to work directly through you and do the healing for you.”

Those are examples of the way practitioners of energy medicine are drawing Christians into a wide variety of healing methods, such as Reiki, therapeutic touch, Qi Gong, polarity therapy and crystal healing, all of which are based on the alleged existence of a universal life force that can be manipulated for healing.

Can we simply substitute the name of Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, for this energy, or choose to believe that the source of the energy is God?

Unfortunately, no. The basic concept of energy medicine — the energy, itself — is not a Christian belief. It belongs to New Age and non-Christian religions.

“The New Age god is an impersonal energy, a particular extension or component of the cosmos; god in this sense is the life-force or soul of the world,” states the Vatican’s document on New Age practices and philosophies, “Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life.”

“This is very different from the Christian understanding of God as the maker of heaven and earth and the source of all personal life,” it continued. “God is in Himself personal, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who created the universe in order to share the communion of His life with creaturely persons.”

That aspect of a loving God is missing from the “force” in energy medicine, according to Father Anthony J. Costa, the director of Spiritual Formation at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary College Division in Philadelphia.

“There’s an intimacy with God that is integral to our faith. he loves us unconditionally. We look to the different texts in the Old and New Testaments and see the intimate love that he has for us,” Father Costa said. “We see all the examples of his love for us and his desire to be with us. We see this in the petitions in the Our Father, the intimacy with Abba, our Father — this desire Jesus has for us to be in union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You don’t have that with an energy force.”

He added that healing through energy medicine also lacks one of the most important components of Jesus’ ministry — spiritual healing.

“There are many examples from the Gospel where the healing leads to conversion, with conversion being a central aspect of our faith, which is not noted in any of these methods,” Father Costa said.

Meanwhile, plenty of people involved in the propagation of energy medicine try to convince their followers otherwise, and they are not afraid to use distortions of Scripture to try to make their point.

Perhaps the most common error is to confuse the Christian laying on of hands with New Age methods of energy manipulation.

For instance, William Lee Rand, founder of the International Center for Reiki Training, in his article, “Was Jesus a Reiki Master?” goes so far as to suggest that because Jesus sometimes laid hands on people while healing them, he may have been using Reiki.

“There are many similarities between the laying on of hands healing Jesus did and the practice of Reiki,” Rand writes. He goes on to list only those episodes in the Gospels where Jesus used his hands to heal — excluding every other method, such as the casting out of demons and healing by command.

Rand’s article “seems to cite different examples from Scripture about healings, and give an interpretation that misses the real spirit of the [Gospel] text,” Father Costa said.

“Sure Jesus touched people when he healed. But there are other cases — such as when he healed the centurion’s servant — when he “said but the word,” and they were healed. The foundation is that it comes through Christ,” Father Costa added. “It’s not simply powers that are being passed from one person to the other. The source is Jesus.”

Kathleen McCarthy, president of In His Sign Network, who has been involved in a charismatic healing ministry for 33 years, notes significant differences between the Christian laying on of hands and what is done by energy healers.

“In the charismatic gift of healing and the laying on of hands, the hands are a just a symbol of service,” McCarthy said. “We’re not acting as a channel. We’re not a conduit for any energy. We are an instrument of God’s healing. There is only one healer — Jesus Christ — and we’re calling upon him to touch the person. Our hands are just an outward sign showing this person that we’re joining with them in prayer.”

That is an important difference from practitioners of energy medicine techniques such as Reiki, McCarthy said: “The Reiki master and students think this is their power — a power that stays with them, that they can’t lose. When I lay my hands on a person, I know this is a passing manifestation of God’s power.

“It’s the power of the living God. It’s not a power that I have. All I do is come in the name of the one who has atoned for the world. I come in his name.”

Thinking that we can participate in these practices simply by believing that the energy comes from God can be a dangerous delusion, particularly in the case of techniques such as Reiki, which employ “attunement” rituals involving secret symbols and the use of spirit guides.

On his Web site, Rand says that the attunement process “opens the crown, heart and palm chakras and creates a special link between the student and the Reiki source.”

He goes on: “The Reiki attunement is a powerful spiritual experience. The attunement energies are channeled into the student through the Reiki Master. . . . The attunement is also attended by Reiki guides and other spiritual beings who help implement the process.”                                                                                                                                     24.

 

 

 

The process Rand describes is riddled with dangers, from the unnamed Reiki “source” to the channeling of energy and the use of spirits to implement the process.

“Nowhere does Scripture teach us to ‘channel energy’ in the way characteristic of Reiki,” writes Father Gareth Leyshon, a Cardiff, Wales-trained astrophysicist who was ordained a priest in May, 2007, on his Web site’s “Catholic Critique of the Healing Art of Reiki.”

“In fact, presuming that God will assist in a way which He has not revealed to be His will constitutes the sin of ‘tempting God,’” Father Leyshon stated.

Particularly problematic in the case of Reiki is its process of initiation, which uses secret symbols. Even though first-level practitioners are initiated by having the symbols replicated over them, rather than being taught them — they may not even be aware of the symbols at the time — the ritual incorporates into it what Father Leyshon describes as “divination.”

“If these symbols originate in a non-Christian mystical experience (which they do, according to Reiki sources) then any attempt to use them (including the attunement to become a first-level initiate) constitutes a use of knowledge obtained by divination,” he writes.

“The mere fact of needing to be initiated rather than simply being taught to manipulate ki gives Reiki the character of a ritual rather than a therapy,” Father Leyshon adds.

Indeed, the fact that there is any initiation at all should be the first warning that Christians are entering a dangerous area, he said: “One who submits to a Reiki initiation allows spiritual authority to be exercised over oneself. Since the authority is not clearly sourced in the Triune God, this act of submission must constitute idolatry; and the indispensability of initiation is the clearest sign of why Reiki cannot be compatible with Christianity.”

Father Leyshon advises pastors and superiors who must confront Reiki in their ministries not to worry so much about whether there is such a thing as Reiki or whether it is effective. They should simply stress that “Christians are committed to turn to no spiritual source other than the Triune God, who has not revealed Reiki as a means of harnessing his power.”

According to Father Costa, we can confront the advance of “energy” medicine in our own time and place by reaffirming what we believe — and who we believe Jesus is.

“Any time we have anything that is not pointing to Jesus — that is not rooted in the healing that comes from him — is always an indicator that we are not being authentic, that we are not following the way of the cross,” he said.

(These articles originally appeared in The Catholic Standard and Times, the Philadelphia archdiocesan newspaper.)

 

10A. Yoga and horoscopes can lead to possession by Devil, claims Cardinal’s exorcist

by Jonathan Petre [hyperlink] Daily Mail, U.K., 24th May 2008

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1021712/Yoga-horoscopes-lead-posession-Devil-claims-Cardinals-exorcist.html

The book says reading horoscopes could put people at risk from evil spirits

It is a physical workout enjoyed by millions and its devotees include Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sting. But yoga enthusiasts have been warned by a leading Roman Catholic clergyman that they are in danger of being possessed by the Devil.

Father Jeremy Davies*, exorcist for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, says that activities such as yoga, massage therapy, reiki or even reading horoscopes could put people at risk from evil spirits.

In a new book, he also argues that people with promiscuous lifestyles could find themselves afflicted by demons.

And he says that the occult is closely linked to the scourges of ‘drugs, demonic music and pornography’ which are ‘destroying millions of young people in our time’.

The 73-year-old Catholic priest, who was appointed exorcist of the Archdiocese of Westminster in 1986, was a medical doctor before being ordained in 1974. He has carried out thousands of exorcisms in London and in 1993 he set up the International Association of Exorcists with Fr Gabriel Amorth, the Pope’s top exorcist.

In Exorcism: Understanding Exorcism In Scripture And Practice, which is published by the Catholic Truth Society, Fr Davies compares militant atheists to rational Satanists, and blames them for a rise in demonic activity.

Yoga enthusiasts ‘are in danger of being possessed by the devil’

He adds that ‘perversions’ such as homosexuality, pornography and promiscuity are contributing to a growing sense of moral unease.

He writes: ‘Even heterosexual promiscuity is a perversion; and intercourse, which belongs in the sanctuary of married love, can become a pathway not only for disease but also for evil spirits…young people especially are vulnerable and we must do what we can to protect them.

‘The thin end of the wedge (soft drugs, yoga for relaxation, horoscopes just for fun and so on) is more dangerous than the thick end because it is more deceptive – an evil spirit tries to make his entry as unobtrusively as possible.

‘Beware of any claim to mediate beneficial energies (e.g. reiki), any courses that promise the peace that Christ promises (e.g. enneagrams), any alternative therapy with its roots in eastern religion (e.g. acupuncture).’

Fr Davies argues that occult practices such as magic, fortune-telling and holding séances to contact the spirits of the dead are ‘direct invitations to the Devil which he readily accepts’.

But the Oxford-educated priest, who is based in Luton, Bedfordshire, says there are different degrees of demonic influence, and the most extreme forms occur rarely.                                                                                              25.

 

 

*Father Jeremy Davies is the exorcist for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Biography in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Davies_%28exorcist%29

 

10B. British exorcist warns that atheism brings Satan into the world

by Simon Caldwell, Catholic News Service, May 25, 2008

http://www.baltcatholicreview.org/subpages/storyworldnew-new.aspx?action=3688

LONDON- Atheism is becoming a key cause of demonic influence in the world, a British exorcist has warned.
Father Jeremy Davies, exorcist of the Archdiocese of Westminster, which covers most of London, said that the “spirits inspiring atheism” were those who “hate God.”
In a new 56-page book called “In Exorcism: Understanding Exorcism in Scripture and Practice, Father Davies wrote that Satan had blinded secular humanists from seeing the “dehumanizing effects of contraception and abortion and IVF (in vitro fertilization), of homosexual ‘marriages,’ of human cloning and the vivisection of human embryos in scientific research.”
The result, he said, was that Europe was drifting into a dangerous state of apostasy whereby “only (through) a genuine personal decision for Christ and the church can someone separate himself from it.”
In the book published by the London-based Catholic Truth Society, he said that sin was the primary reason why people lost their freedom to the power of the devil.
Father Davies also said atheism was largely to blame for entrapping people in states of “perversion.”
The book raised concerns about “some very unpleasant things” that endanger young people especially, and the priest said, “We must do what we can to protect and warn them.”
He called occult practices such as magic, fortunetelling and contacting the spirits of the dead “direct invitations to the devil which he readily accepts.” He said such practices involve the abandonment of self-control, making them as corrupting an influence as hard drugs, demonic music and pornography.
At the same time, Father Davies said the “thin end of the wedge,” such as soft drugs, yoga for relaxation and horoscopes for fun, were just as dangerous.
“Beware of any claim to mediate beneficial energies (e.g. reiki), any courses that promise the peace … Christ promises (e.g. enneagrams), any alternative therapy with its roots in Eastern religion (e.g. acupuncture),” he added.
“They are not harmless,” said Father Davies, a former medical doctor who was ordained in 1974 and has been an exorcist since 1986. “Sanity depends on our relationship to reality.”
Father Davies also said it was not uncommon for people who later turned away from sinful lifestyles to undergo periods of supernatural oppression as the devil fought them for their souls.
The priest, who is based in the town of Luton, north of London, said that key among the transgressions that have a “special affinity” with Satan was “rebellion against God” – which included the sins of blasphemy, atheism and attacks on Christ and the church – as well as sins against the light, when people resisted God’s grace.
He also warned Catholics to be wary of what he called the “idolatrous demonic side” of Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism and the druidism that had its origins in ancient Britain.
The exorcist denounced “new revelations” and criticized Mohammed, founder of Islam; Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, now called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. He called them “heretical prophets and false messiahs” who led their followers to a “demonic bondage of conscience.”
Father Davies’ strongest condemnation, however, was reserved for the pride of modern atheistic scientists.
“Pride is the specific trait of Satan,” he said. “There are two kinds of Satanism: ‘occultic,’ in which Satan is worshiped as a person; and what is said to be even more terrible and certainly is even more deceived, ‘rationalist,’ in which Satan is regarded as an impersonal force or symbol and the glory belongs to the Satanists.
“How close to rationalist Satanism, without realizing it, is atheistic scientism – the hubris of science going beyond its proper sphere and moral boundaries – the tree of knowledge presently spreading its branches throughout our Western culture, which is rapidly becoming that of the whole world,” he said.
He also said that “a contagious demonic factor” is among the causes of homosexuality.
“Even heterosexual promiscuity is a perversion; and intercourse, which belongs in the sanctuary of married love, can become a pathway not only for disease but also for evil spirits,” he said.
His book also spells out the degrees of demonic influence a person may experience, ranging from temptation and sin to obsession, then possession, with perfect possession being the gravest and rarest form that usually entails a deliberate commitment to evil on the part of the person involved. The book includes sections on the rites and means of exorcism and deliverance, including those of buildings and places as well as people.
Father Davies told the reader that if a person is in desperate need of help and feels stranded, he or she should go straight to the local bishop.

 

10C. Yoga leads to possession by devils?

 PTI Monday, May 26, 2008

http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1166562

                                                                                                                                                                                  26.

 

 

LONDON: It’s a spiritual practice that provides all the health benefits of physical exercise. Yet, a British exorcist has claimed that yoga could put people in danger of being possessed by evil spirits.

According to Father Jeremy Davies, exorcist for the leader of Catholics in the UK, yoga puts people at risk from devils and the occult is closely associated with the scourges of “drugs, demonic music and pornography” which’re “destroying millions of young people in our time”.

But Madhavi Padhy, one of the foremost yoga exponents based in New Delhi, laughed off the claims of the 73-year-old Catholic priest, saying “they are baseless”. “Yoga originated in India thousands of years back. It has no connection with evil spirits. On the contrary, it helps you become more aware of your body, mind and environment. It also plays a key role in relieving stress and bringing inner peace,” Padhy said.

Father Davies has argued in his new book ‘In Exorcism: Understanding Exorcism In Scripture And Practice’ published by the Catholic Truth Society, that people who practice yoga may end up afflicting themselves by demons, British newspaper the ‘Daily Mail’ has reported.

“The thin end of the wedge (soft drugs, yoga for relaxation, horoscopes just for fun) is more dangerous than the thick end because it is more deceptive — an evil spirit tries to make his entry as unobtrusively as possible. Beware of any claim to mediate beneficial energies (e.g. reiki), any courses that promise the peace that Christ promises (e.g. enneagrams), any alternative therapy with its roots in eastern religion (e.g. acupuncture),” he wrote in his newly published book.

Father Davies has also said that occult practices such as magic, fortune-telling and holding séances to contact the spirits of the dead are “direct invitations to the Devil which he readily accepts”.

“Even heterosexual promiscuity is a perversion; and intercourse, which belongs in the sanctuary of married love, can become a pathway not only for disease but also for evil spirits… young people especially are vulnerable and we must do what we can to protect them.”

 

IN THE INDIAN CHURCH, NUNS, PRIESTS, BISHOPS HELP PROMOTE THESE THERAPIES

*In the light of all the above studies and conclusions, how then can we explain these advertisements and reports in Mumbai’s Catholic Archdiocesan weekly The Examiner?

  1. 8 September 2001. “Training in Acupressure and Holistic Health:

The Health Promotion Trust will conduct a training programme for holistic healers for non-commercial purposes beginning 24th September… 12 sessions (90 minutes each)… at Archbishop’s House… by Dr. Renu Gupta.”

  1. April 10 2004. Advertisement by Jivan Jyot Acupressure Centre, for acupressure and massage.
  2. August 4, 2007. Advertisement: Massage with Acupressure. Home visit in Mumbai. Please call on 98212 07532 pka@hotmail.com

From: prabhu To: pka@hotmail.com Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 10:12 AM Subject: ACUPRESSURE and MASSAGE

Dear Dr. / Sir Could you please send me the details of your treatment. Prabhu

From: pradeep kamalakar ambike To: enquiry@newlifeayurveda.com ; michaelprabhu@vsnl.net

Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 9:38 AM Subject: Accupressure, massage

Dear sir madam,
I am giving accupressure, body massage at home and clinic to the clients if u need me please call me on 9821207532  i am therapist from mumbai malad. I attend males, females and old age people. I am qulified therapist. Thanking you, pradeep

  1. April 19, 2008. Wish for another Filipino Saint inspires workers in the Healing Ministry

http://www.ucanews.com/2008/04/11/wish-for-another-filipino-saint-inspires-workers-in-the-healing-ministry/

EXTRACT: Reflexologist Romy Villaluna poured oil on his hand and rubbed it on the feet of a woman sitting under a huge picture of a young man with his hand over his heart. During the April 4 healing session at the Jaro Social Action Center (JASAC) compound, the 72-year-old masseur said the man in the picture, Blessed Pedro Calungsod, inspired him to work at the clinic. Jaro archdiocese, based 450 kms southeast of Manila, runs the center. “I wish to personally see the miracle we are waiting for, so Blessed Calungsod can be made a saint,” Villaluna said, as he pressed wood onto the heel, arch and other parts of his client’s foot.

Reflexology is the practice of massaging parts of the feet, or sometimes the hands and the ears, with the aim of encouraging beneficial effects on other parts of the body, or to improve general health. The retired business manager said he joined the first batch of JASAC reflexologists because, like Blessed Calungsod, he “wishes to be of service” to others…

From: prabhu To: The Examiner ; editor@examinerindia.com Cc: Jose Kavi ; Leo Fernando [both of UCAN]

Sent: Saturday, April 26, 2008 9:50 AM Subject: LETTER TO THE EDITOR : REFLEXOLOGY

Sir, With reference to the UCAN news item Wish for another Filipino Saint inspires workers in the Healing Ministry in The Examiner, April 19, 2008 page 25, may I point out that REFLEXOLOGY, also known as Zone Therapy, or ‘compression massage’, is a technique of diagnosis and treatment in which certain areas of the body, particularly the feet, are massaged to alleviate pain or other symptoms in the organs of the body. Of Chinese and ancient Egyptian origin, it was introduced to the West in the 1920s by Dr. William Fitzgerald, an American ENT specialist. Along with Ms. Eunice Ingham, who mapped out the sensitive areas on the feet, he applied ten zones or energy channels to the body, hence ‘Zone Therapy’. The zones do not correspond to the meridians of the Chinese system. A person’s ‘vital energy’ is said to flow along these zones, ending in the hands and feet. Thus, when pain is experienced in one part of the body, it could be relieved by applying pressure elsewhere in the body, within the same zone.                             27.

 

 

 

The February 3, 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age, in the section Health: Golden Living, notes, “There is a remarkable variety of approaches for promoting holistic health, some derived from ancient cultural traditions, whether religious or esoteric… Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices such as… massage and various kinds of ‘body work’ (such as …reflexology) etc.” [n 2.2.3].

Hence, it is surprising that the practice is being encouraged at an archdiocesan center, and that too in expectation of a “miracle” towards a canonisation, and that a Catholic agency like UCAN has reported this news.

Michael Prabhu, Subscriber Chennai

[Copy to UCAN India representatives with attachment of my researched article on the subject]

Published in The Examiner, May 3, 2008

 

*Acupressure and Reflexology in the Archdioceses of Delhi and Madras-Mylapore

From: prabhu To: archbishop vincent Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2007 10:09 PM

Subject: Mr. Colin D’Souza, Acupressurist/Reflexologist to Most Rev. Vincent Concessao, the Archbishop of Delhi

Dear Archbishop Vincent,

Please read my letter below. I will be pleased if you will let me have your comments on Mr. Colin D’Souza’s statements concerning your good self. God Bless You. Thanking you, Michael Prabhu

To, Rev. Fr. Parish Priest, Cathedral Basilica National Shrine of St. Thomas, San Thomé, Chennai 600 004                                                                    Sunday, 23rd September, 2007

Dear Reverend Father [Kanickai Raj],

During the readings of the Church notices at Sunday Mass on several Sundays in September, the faithful were informed about and invited to attend Reflexology treatment in a room at the parish house. When I asked you for information on the same after one of the weekday evening masses, you directed me to one of your assistants. However, Father [Joe Bala] could only say that the treatment was being done on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 12 noon.

On Saturday, September 22nd, 2007, I came to the parish house and went to the room in question. Mr. Colin D’Souza, who was conducting “Foot Reflexology” on a patient, consented to give me an interview for The Catholic Times fortnightly newspaper, of which I am the sub-editor. Mr. D’Souza explained that all “organs of the body are traced on the feet” and that healing of the respective organs is possible by applying pressure at these points. However, this “pressure will cause excruciating pain in the corresponding organ,” he said. He confirmed to me that “Foot Reflexology is a form of Acupressure” which works on principles similar to Acupuncture, “discovered 5,000 years ago by the ancient Chinese”. Mr. D’Souza has been practising the art in Chennai since July 2006 and many eminent Catholics, even members of this parish, have submitted themselves to this treatment over the last few months, he said.

Mr. D’Souza informed me that he was the acupressurist/reflexologist to Most Rev. Vincent Concessao, the Archbishop of Delhi, who has given him a letter of introduction.

May I now bring to your kind attention the Vatican Document of February 3, 2003, titled JESUS CHRIST THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE, A Christian reflection on the “New Age”?  In the section # 2.2.3. Health: Golden living, both acupuncture [and therefore acupressure] and reflexology are listed as New Age therapies. One of the aspects of my ministry is to bring awareness about such New Age practices. I am enclosing my summary of the referred Vatican Document, as well as two write-ups on acupuncture / acupressure / reflexology. The summary as well as the write-up were published in reputed Catholic magazines. May I request you to please study them. May I also suggest that you arrange to discontinue the therapy sessions at the parish house and inform parishioners about the concerned Vatican Document which clearly warns Catholics that the practices are “New Age”, and therefore to be strictly avoided. I look forward to your kind acknowledgement. I will be out of India from 24th September to 2nd October, so please excuse me for not giving you this letter in person. Yours sincerely, sd/- Michael Prabhu

From: prabhu To: archbishop vincent Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2007 2:45 PM

Subject: MR. COLIN D’SOUZA, Acupressurist/Reflexologist to Most Rev. Vincent Concessao, the Archbishop of Delhi REMINDER, PLEASE

From: prabhu To: archbishop vincent Sent: Tuesday, October 09, 2007 12:21 PM

Subject: Re: MR. COLIN D’SOUZA, Acupressurist/Reflexologist to Most Rev. Vincent Concessao, the Archbishop of Delhi

SECOND REMINDER, PLEASE

From: archbishop vincent To: prabhu Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 3:58 PM

Subject: RE: MR. COLIN D’SOUZA, Acupressurist/Reflexologist

Dear Michael,

Greetings from Delhi and thank you for your emails regarding Colin D’Souza and Reflexology. I have taken note of your information. Thank you for the trouble you take. With warm regards and God bless, Yours sincerely in Christ,

+ Vincent M. Concessao Archbishop of Delhi

From: prabhu To: archbishop vincent Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 11:04 AM Subject: MR. COLIN D’SOUZA

Dear Archbishop Vincent, I thank you for your sincere response.

Mr. Colin D’Souza is practising this New Age therapy in our Cathedral premises and in Catholic circles all over the city, using your recommendation letter, thereby adversely affecting the spiritual lives of many faithful.

 

 

 

May I therefore humbly request you to please write a letter to the parish priest [whose address is given below] with a copy to me [my address is given below], so that your original recommendation is negated, and corrective and preventive measures may be taken. In the interests of the Church, such an action will be greatly beneficial and serve to check the spread of error. God Bless your Episcopate. In prayer,

Michael Prabhu [for The Catholic Times, and Metamorphose Catholic Ministries www.ephesians-511.net].

12 DAWN APARTMENTS, 22 LEITH CASTLE SOUTH STREET, CHENNAI 600 028 NO RESPONSE RECEIVED

 

*PRIEST WITH ‘HEALING HANDS’ COMBINES MASSAGE, PRAYER IN MINISTRY

27 April 2004 http://www.ucanews.com/search/show.php?q=yoga&page=archives/english/2004/04/w5/tue/IE6048Fg.txt

JALUKIE, India (UCAN) Father Godfrey Vilasal Thapo has brought relief to thousands of poor, ailing villagers in northeastern India through his healing hands. People flock to the 35-year-old Catholic priest wherever he goes in Nagaland state. The Kohima diocesan priest practices traditional Naga massage.

Father Thapo, who maintains a patient registry, has treated about 6,000 people. They come to him with ailments ranging from cancer to snake bites. “I never discourage anyone,” he added.

A member of the Angami Naga tribe, the priest told UCA News he views his healing power as “a gift from God” because he has cured many “hopeless” cases. People often come to him as a last resort, he added.

He manages the Holistic Healing Center at Jalukie in Peren district, 80 kilometers southwest of the state capital of Kohima, which is 2,300 kilometers east of New Delhi.

One of his former patients is Tiala Rutsa, 35, wife of a Baptist pastor. She claims Father Thapo cured her back pain. “The pain has not recurred,” she told UCA News. Even the educated find the priest’s treatment effective. One such person is F.P. Solo, director of the state’s postal services, whom the priest treated for a slipped disk. “I was able to get up and walk again” after the first massage session, Solo told UCA News.

Fr. Thapo says Naga tribes have used massage and herbs to cure illnesses for thousands of years. His mother belongs to a family of traditional healers. In his childhood, she introduced him to herbs and the diseases they cured.

His own healing mission began in the seminary, where he would massage seminarians injured while participating in athletics. Soon after his ordination in 2000, his mother became bedridden. Father Thapo massaged her slowly back to health. Word spread and people started coming to see him.

Initially, he depended on traditional Naga healing methods. Later, the diocese sent him to study holistic healing with the Medical Mission Sisters*.

“They did not have much to teach me, because they found that I was already practicing what they were teaching,” the priest claimed. However, he used the time to study Chinese and Japanese traditional healing, yoga, acupressure, acupuncture, stress management and other methods.

But beyond methods, Father Thapo credits prayer as playing a crucial role in his healing ministry. He said he often gets hints for treatment when he reads the Bible and confirms these through prayer. He also asks his patients to pray with him. “Whatever I do I surrender it to God,” he said.

The priest also credits prayer with helping him massage people for long hours without tiring. “When I pray, super sensory power comes,” he added. On one occasion two years ago, he recalled, he continuously saw patients for 24 hours without a break. On another occasion, he saw 102 patients in two days.

His healing massage sessions usually last at least half an hour, which time the priest also uses for counseling. He explained that people open up past emotional hurts and bad memories during massage and experience liberation as they feel themselves healed spiritually and physically.

Father Thapo says nearly 80 percent of his patients are women. Asked if he felt embarrassed massaging women, he said suffering does not discriminate on the basis of sex. Neither does he discriminate along sectarian lines.

According to the priest, his bishop views his ministry as a pastoral activity and a charism. Chancellor Father Solomon Vizo confirmed to UCA News that the diocese has recognized Father Thapo’s ministry.

Assisting Father Thapo in that ministry are two trained nurses, three midwives, four local experts and four helpers who prepare herbal medicines, tend an herbal garden and help patients. Initially, he offered his service free, but as his staff increased, he began charging 20 rupees (US$0.40) as a registration fee and 50 rupees for an hour of treatment. The “very poor” pay only the registration fee.

Asked if he faced opposition from medical doctors, the priest replied in the negative. Doctors, he said, “often send their patients to me — I also get things like cotton and bandages from them.”

*NOTE 1: The Medical Mission Sisters are the leading organized propagators of New Age Alternative Medicine in the Catholic Church in India. Their main Holistic Health Centre is at Bibwewadi in Pune. They have trained many hundreds of religious and priests in a wide range of esoteric therapies that include Acu-Yoga– a combination of Acupressure, massage and Yoga, reflexology, acupuncture, Touch for Health, homeopathy, zen shiatsu, energy transmission, dream workshops and more [advertisement in The Examiner, March 20, 2004]; reiki and pranic healing are the chief occult therapies taught by the sisters. See my separate report on these centres.

The logo of the Chennai centre [run by an ICM nun] is the occult yin-yang, while the Pune centre’s is slightly modified.

These centres have been set up with the approval of Archbishops and funding of Catholic agencies [which are again supported by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India] like The Catholic Health Association of India [CHAI, see page 31], another promoter of all these therapies, and CARITAS.                                   29.                                               

 

 

*The Examiner, Bombay, August 23, 2003. “Letter to the Prime Minister”

The letter occupies almost a full page of The Examiner, but I reproduce here only the portion relevant to us:

“The idea of your Swasthya Suraksha Yojana is limited only towards one of the systems of medicine (western medicine – allopathy). How about having tertiary level hospitals of Ayurveda, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Naturopathy which the government has recognized?” Letter to the editor, by Ronald Rebello, Mumbai.

Who is Ronald Rebello who wrote to the Prime Minister copy to The Examiner, asking for “tertiary level hospitals of Acupuncture” etc.? At the time of writing that letter, Ronald Rebello was just 21 years old.

He died on February 23, 2007, aged 25. He was the son of Dr. Leo Rebello. Who is Dr. Leo Rebello?

Dr. Leo Rebello is a lapsed Catholic, a leading New Ager and fanatic promoter of New Age Alternative Therapies.

Dr. Rebello wrote me that both their sons, Ronald and Robin were never subjected to any inoculations or vaccinations, and, excepting homoeopathy, have never used any allopathic medicines, under their dad’s “professional” care.

It is therefore very sad to hear of Ronald Rebello’s 25 days of high fever which remained undiagnosed or refused to reduce, resulting in his untimely and unnecessary demise.

It is my sincere belief that Ronald Rebello would be alive today if his father had not denied him vaccinations, inoculations and allopathic treatment in favour of homeopathy and other dubious alternative medicines about which he has written so much in the books that he has authored. And this is the grave danger in what The Examiner is doing with issues concerning the health of its subscribers and readers as I have demonstrated in my many articles.

For example, The Examiner, March 1, 2008, “Cancer Therapy” Letter to the Editor by Dr. Neville S. Bengali, the doctor recommends magnet therapy claiming that it checks cancer in its initial stages; he also suggests “a judicious co-ordination of different systems (like allopathy and/or homoeopathy with magnet therapy).”

Following such advice can prove fatal for patients who depend heavily on alternative therapies.

 

Dr. Leo Rebello of Mumbai is a classic case.                                                                                                               This writer came into contact with him when he received a series of letters from the doctor, pouring out ire and vitriol on this ministry and on the Catholic Church in response to this writer’s summary of the Vatican’s New Age document that was published in The Coastal Observer and The Examiner [both of Mumbai] in May/June 2003.

Dr. Leo Rebello is the classic example of a New Ager in his propagation of holistic healing and alternative forms of medicine. Issuing a number of challenges [which this writer had no time to take up], he sent a parcel to this ministry.  It contained Rebello’s book titled Aids & Alternative Medicine [first published 2000, third edition March 2003] and his magazine Amrit-Manthan, International Journal devoted to Holistic Healing. The book Aids…has a chapter A to Z of Alternative Medicine. It explains Acupuncture, Acupressure, Affirmations, Auto-suggestion, Bach Flower Remedies, Biofeedback, Chromo-[or colour] therapy, Distant Healing, Feng Shui, Gem Therapy, Guided Imagery, Homoeopathy, Hypnotherapy, Iridology, Kinesiology, Kirlian Photography, Magneto-therapy, use of Qi [Ki or Chi or Prana], Radionics, Radiesthesia, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Silva Mind Control, Surya Namaskar, Yoga, Zone Therapy, etc. Below is a letter that I received from him:

From: Dr. Leo Rebello leorebello@vsnl.com To: N R RAO ; Ekanath Thakur, MP Cc: Narayan Rane, MLA ; Nilufer Palia

Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2005 8:12 AM Subject: Fw: PRESS RELEASE

SUKRUTYA TRUST (Regd), in association with NATURAL HEALTH CENTRE, Estd. in 1978, announces an Intensive Nature Cure course of two months duration in April and May, 2005 at Malad.

Subjects like Nature Cure, Yoga Therapy, Acupressure, Diet and Nutrition, Hydrotherapy, Fasting, Massage will be taught through lectures, power point presentation, practicals, case histories, and study notes.

The faculty consists of

  1. Dr. Leo Rebello, N.D., Ph.D., D.Sc. FEMA
  2. Shri Navinbhai Shah 3. Dr. N.H. Kamath, D.N.Y.S. 4. Ms Geeta Radhakrishnan and 5. Shri Harish Binde.
    Period: From 4th April, 2005 to 4th June, 2005 Evening lectures from 6:30p.m. – 8:30p.m.
    Additional Features: Internship, Examination – written and viva, Certificate

Venue: Sukrutya Health Farm, Exim Estate, Rambug, Behind SBI Bank, S.V. Rd., Malad (West), Bombay.64

 

*The Chempakasseril Vaidyars of Pala in Kerala are Catholic Christians. The present Ayurvedacharya Dr. C. J. Joseph, a Bachelor in Ayurvedic Medicine with a Diploma in Natural Therapy and a Doctorate in Integrated Medicine, is the grandson of the founder who started an ayurvedic centre in 1910 that grew into a hospital under his son, himself an ayurvedic doctor. Despite his claim of “combining and correlating ayurveda and modern systems of medicine”, a study of his treatise Ayurveda in a Nut Shell [purchased, incidentally, from the St. Pauls bookshop, Ernakulam] clearly reveals that one cannot be a student of ayurveda or any other alternative medical practice, without eventually being influenced into subscribing to beliefs and practices that are antithetical to those of Christianity.

Dr. Joseph teaches ayurveda as an “indigenous system such as naturopathy and yoga… [having] originated and developed from the various Vedic hymns.”

The compatibility of ayurveda with other New Age medicines is demonstrated by the casual manner in which Dr. Joseph includes in his book, recommendations on the ‘touch therapies’ Shiatsu and Reflexology, since massage [using medicinal leaves, powders, curd, ghee and oils] is an integral part of ayurvedic treatment, which relates them closely. He takes pains to explain their working principle as “the balance of the vital energy or ki in the meridians.”           30.

 

 

*I have written several reports on the New Age activities of CHAI, The Catholic Health Association of India which is based in Secunderabad. CHAI has been in the forefront of promoting alternative medicine in the Church. Over the years, its monthly, Health Action, has carried articles on New Age alternative therapies like acupuncture, reflexology, acu-yoga, shiatsu, homoeopathy, pranic healing, thought-therapy, etc., many of them authored by nuns and priests.

CHAI was one of the main organizers and participants at the 10th World Day of the Sick in Vailankanni in February 2002, at the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health. [See separate reports.]

All of the ‘Catholic’ stalls at the exhibition on Alternative Medicine were loaded, some exclusively, with New Age propaganda for various healing systems based on occult life force and universal energies, as well as Theosophy.

 

*The Souvenir issued for the above celebrations contains an article, ‘Alternative Medicine’, by Dr. M. Devasahayam, an ordained Lutheran minister! His list of therapies ranges from Acupuncture to Yoga.

About Acupuncture, he writes, “Acupuncture is a form of healing based on the concept that all body organs are interconnected channels, known as meridians and that illness occurs when the vital energy or qi (chee), flowing through these channels is partially blocked. An acupuncturist attempts to correct this imbalance by inserting thin needles along the meridians at designated points, called ‘acupoints’ and in certain cases twirling them, either manually or with an electrical device. He or she may combine the treatment with other traditional practices, such as herbal medicine, diet therapy and massage. The most effective acupuncturists are said to contribute their own qi, during the procedure. Transmission of energy occurs, when the needles are inserted or rotated.”

 

*Another article titled ‘Healing Touch for the Community’ by Dr. Sr. M. Amalavathy, an I.C.M. nun, was much the same and even more detailed, running into 16 pages.

Starting by saying that “God Brahma, the first teacher of medicine has taught nature medicine to yogis who were well united with Nature and God,” she explains several “Holistic Therapies” which include Acupuncture [conventional and Auriculo], Jin Shin Do, Acupressure, Reflexology, Sujok, Acu Yoga, Zen Shiatsu, Zone Therapy, members of the family under discussion in this article, [plus notes on Guided Imagery, Yoga, Reiki, Pranic Healing, etc.]

This nun runs an organization called Spiritual Human Yoga- Universal Energy – Mankind Enlightenment Love under a Vietnamese guru who has a wooden doll that reportedly [according to the sister] grows.

She rented a stall to promote this occult organization as well as the martial art of T’ai Ch’i.

This Souvenir reached thousands of Catholics in India and overseas, including the Bishops and Commissions of the CBCI, the Apostolic Nuncio to India, the Papal Delegate to the celebrations, Pontifical Councils of the Holy See, etc.

It doesn’t seem that anyone has noticed anything amiss! One can only imagine the dismal level of discernment and spiritual quality of those responsible in producing this Souvenir.

Detailed reports on the above [CHAI, and the Vailankanni celebrations and Souvenir], which were sent to the concerned Bishops of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, and presently only available in hardcopy, will soon be available on this website.

 

Let us examine Sr. Amalavathy’s explanations of some of the holistic therapies associated with this article:

Acupressure is a simple, safe and effective method of applying pressure on specific acupuncture points of the body with the fingers in order to get maximum therapeutic effect.

Acupressure releases tension and improves ki (vital energy) flow and circulation.

 

Jin Shin Do: ‘Jin’ means ‘compassion’ or ‘benevolence’, ‘shin’ means ‘Spirit’, ‘Do’ means ‘Tao’ or ‘Way’.

Jin Shin Do is a traditional Japanese acupressure art, literally meaning, ‘the way of compassionate Spirit’.

Through the power of touch in Jin Shin Do, we can experience a wonderful state of energy balance in our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual states of being. As we manifest compassion through the touch in Jin Shin Do, our spirits become progressively clearer, ability to absorb universal energy increases, emotions become balanced and there is a harmony between body and mind.

 

Acupuncture: ‘Acu’ means needle ‘puncture’ means ‘penetration’. Acupuncture is the oldest Chinese therapeutic system where needles are pricked in specific acupuncture points of the body along the specific meridians for the treatment of diseases. The concept of acupuncture evolved on the explanation of universe in the form of ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’. According to traditional Chinese medicine, energy passes through the meridians of the body as vital energy or prana energy, which regulates all the virtual functions of the body in health and diseases.

Interaction of ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ produce ‘Chi’, ‘Ki’ or prana flow. Health of human being is denoted by the balance of ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ and the harmonious flow of vital energy ‘Chi’. There are 12 pairs of meridians plus two single meridians. Lately we have found there are many more extras meridians in the body.

 

Sujok: Hand and foot are special places where orderly correspondence, cure systems have been planted for the purpose of keeping us in good health. ‘Su’ stands for ‘hand’ and ‘Jok’ stands for ‘foot’.

Sujok is acupuncture of hand and foot. The Correspondence therapy of hand and foot and Byol meridian therapy are the two main therapies of Sujok. Byol… cures diseases by remote flow of energy…                                                  31.

 

 

Auriculo acupuncture*: It is a branch of acupuncture which makes use of external ear to diagnose as well as to treat diseases… Ear possesses the representation of body and organism of an auricle in the upside down position.

Any disorder in the body will be transmitted neurologically to the corresponding area of the ear where the affected part of the body is represented. Auriculo therapy i.e. pricking the needle to the ear, brings back the homeostasis. It is done singly or combined with body acupuncture or scalp puncture. There are about 200 points in the Ear.        *see pages 5, 6, 7, 31

 

Hand and Foot Reflexology (Zone Therapy): Reflexology is a scientific method of treatment where pressure is applied at specific regions on the palms and the soles to cure specific diseases by stimulating the reflex Zones systematically to get the therapeutic effects…

When pressure points are pressed methodically, reflex stimulations reach the diseased organ or the part of the body, and thus blockages or congestions in the flow of vital energy or ‘Chi’ is regulated.

 

Acu-Yoga / Acu-Massage: In Acu-Yoga meditation and exercise, three contracted positions known as ‘locks’ are used. They are Root Lock (Mula Bandha), Diaphragm Lock (Uddiyana Bandha) and Neck Lock (Jalandhara Bandha). Applying of these three simultaneously is known as Master Lock. Application of these locks increases blood circulation, help regulate endocrine glands, rebalances the reproductive system and strengthens the urinary system.

 

Zen Shiatsu: Shiatsu Therapy is a form of manipulation administered by thumbs, fingers and palms without the use of any instruments, mechanical or otherwise, to apply pressure to the human skin, corrects internal malfunctioning and promotes and maintains health. It is an oriental therapeutic form of massage based on acupressure system of points and meridians. It is the well-known form of Japanese acupressure. ‘Shi’ means finger and ‘atsu’ means pressure.

It is difficult to imagine that Amalavathy is a Catholic nun and a qualified medical doctor.

 

*A Catholic friend from Secunderabad was involved in the Holistic Medicine and Alternative Therapies [HOMAT] 2003 International Exhibition in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. I checked the Brochure. Sure enough, I found that it promoted Indian ayurvedic therapies along with homoeopathy and Chinese traditional therapies like acupuncture and reflexology.

 

*FR. THOMAS JAYARAJ CSsR, BANGALORE

Sent: Sunday, August 10, 2008 9:23 AM Subject: Fw: REMINDER, PLEASE / THIRD LETTER

Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2008 6:36 PM Subject: REMINDER, PLEASE

From: prabhu To: parishpriest@holyghostchurchbangalore.org Sent: Monday, August 04, 2008 3:12 PM

Subject: ACUPUNCTURE

Dear Reverend Father G. Thomas Jayaraj C. Ss. R.,

I am informed by friends in Bangalore that you made announcements at all Sunday Masses in Holy Ghost Church, Bangalore that, authorised by you, acupuncture classes or courses are to be conducted in your parish.

I believe that you may not be aware that Acupressure [and therefore Acupuncture] and other alternatives therapies with similar philosophical and practical applications have been named in the February 3, 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age, and several of the related beliefs of Chinese alternative medicine are therein explained as being contradictory to Catholic belief/Church teaching and Biblical revelation.

My explanation of Acupuncture has been published in a Catholic magazine. Would you permit me to mail you a copy of the same? In Jesus’ Name, Michael Prabhu, Catholic apologist, Chennai NO RESPONSE RECEIVED

 

*KONKANICATHOLICS, A CATHOLIC E-GROUP, MANGALORE-BASED

From: XXXX To: prabhu Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 4:38 PM

Subject: Accupuncture on KC

—– Original Message —– From: bernard thamm To: KonkaniCatholics Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 12:21 AM

Subject: Re: [KonkaniCatholics] Prayers for my Son – Soccer Injury

Dear Daisy, It’s now that I’m writing to you.
I have had a similar case as your son. The disc and what you said. Those are horrible pains. In the course of about three months I have had only three injections, plus tablets for the first 5 weeks or so, besides going through 15 therapy sessions with accupuncture. The accupuncture worked well relieving most of the pain. It is not like tablets but works slower for longer and depending of how one goes about that illness, one is painfree after…
Bernhard Thamm, Bremen, Germany

From: prabhu To: XXXX Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2007 10:40 AM Subject: Re: Accupuncture on KC

DEAR XXXX, PRAISE THE LORD. THANKS FOR BEING ALERT.

I HAVEN’T HAD TIME TO LOOK AT KC DIGESTS LAST FEW DAYS…

I AM SHOCKED SPEECHLESS… I MISSED KC DIGEST 1248. I HAVE ASKED AUSTINE FOR IT FIVE DAYS AGO, HE HAS IGNORED MY EMAIL. MAYBE THAT HE IS COVERING UP FOR THIS, SO HE HAS NOT SENT IT TO ME. THIS MUST BE FROM THAT DIGEST, CAN YOU CONFIRM, BECAUSE I HAVE DEFINITELY NOT SEEN THIS LETTER.

ALSO, HAVE YOU SEEN EVEN ANY ONE SINGLE RESPONSE TO THAT POSTING?

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY TO KC, AS I HAVE STOPPED WRITING IN. WRITE A FIRM, SERIOUS LETTER.            32.

 

 

…YOU CAN ASK IF IT IS OK TO DO ACUPUNCTURE AND ACUPRESSURE.

PRAY SERIOUSLY WHILE WRITING THE LETTER, STELLA. BUT LET YOUR TONE BE LOVING TO THOSE WHO ARE IN IGNORANCE… LET US SEE IF AUSTINE WILL PUBLISH IT.

ACUPRESSURE IS NAMED IN THE VATICAN’S DOCUMENT ON THE NEW AGE, (JESUS CHRIST THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE, RELEASED ON FEBRUARY 3, 2003) AS AN ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE OR NEW AGE ALTERNATIVE THERAPY IN THE SECTION “HEALTH- GOLDEN LIVING” (#2.2.3). THE DOCUMENT ALSO TALKS ABOUT THE OCCULT PRINCIPLES OF THE CHI ENERGY AND YIN-YANG WHICH ARE THE BASIS OF ACUPUNCTURE. DEVELOP YOUR LETTER AROUND THE ABOVE, PLEASE… GOD BLESS YOU, LOVE, MIKE

From: XXXX To: KonkaniCatholics Sent: Friday, October 26, 2007 9:22 PM Subject: Acupuncture!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Bro. Bernhard

First of all do not treat this mail as a complaint, but as gentle reminder from a fellow Catholic… in Christ. I was pretty shocked to see the suggestion for acupuncture on KC. Here I wish to bring it your kind attention the use of ACUPUNCTURE along with other eastern alternative medicines or new age practices are not in accordance with our Church teachings. As they have strong occult influence in its very making. For your kind perusal and all at KC,  can look into the Vatican document on the New Age; JESUS CHRIST THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE, released on FEBRUARY 3,2003 as an alternative medicine or new age alternative therapy in the section, ” Health-Golden Living” (#2.2.3).

We are indeed blessed to have brother Michael Prabhu in the forum, who is an expert on New Age. Though I’m quite surprised by his silence on this very topic. This above mentioned document can be retrieved from Bro. Michael’s website: www.ephesians-511.net with prayers XXXX

From: prabhu To: Austine J. Crasta ; Deepak Vian Ferrao ; deepakferrao@gmail.com ; Rohit D’Souza ; Rohit D’Souza ; vincent barboza ; vincent barboza Cc: XXXX Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 12:26 PM

Subject: ACUPUNCTURE

Dear Austine, and friends,

…I am sharing with you my correspondence with Archbishop Vincent {Concessao of Delhi}, because of the recent posting of bro. Bernhard Thamm in KC and the response of XXXX. The correspondence is copied further below. I seem to have received all KC Digests [1251 through 1261], but not the one that carried Bernhard’s letter. If XXXX had not written me, I would never had known. I pray that Austine or someone else of you will reply at once and tell me which particular Digest carried Bernhard’s letter. So I can check on how I happened to miss on it.

I did not see any response from any other member, either, and that too surprises me, because KC members are otherwise more alert to spiritual error than other Catholics. If no one responded, I sincerely feel that, like Archbishop Vincent, we must admit that we erred through ignorance or inadvertence, and correct the wrong posting. I also seem to have missed XXXX’s response in the KC Digest and if it has not been posted, I am sure I should see it today… Love, Michael

From: Austine J. Crasta To: prabhu ; Deepak Vian Ferrao ; deepakferrao@gmail.com ; Rohit D’Souza ; Rohit D’Souza ; vincent barboza ; vincent barboza Cc: XXXX Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 3:16 PM

Subject: Re: ACUPUNCTURE

JMJ Dear Michael,

…Regarding the other issues you have raised, I shall respond to you after I hear from you personally regarding my mail dated October 16, 2007 which was a reply to your personal mail dated October 15, 2007 with subject “PILGRIMAGE”. Love, Austine. [NO EXPLANATION WAS GIVEN OR CORRECTION ISSUED BY KONKANICATHOLICS]

 

MISCELLANEOUS                    

DALAI LAMA URGES HOLISTIC MEDICINE TO WORK FOR HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT

27 Nov 1989 http://www.ucanews.com/search/show.php?q=yoga&page=archives/english/1989/11/w5/mon/as8732.txt

BANGALORE, India (UCAN) The Dalai Lama told an international meeting of medical practitioners here Nov. 8 to exercise their spiritual responsibility for the future of the world by working to develop a healthy environment.

The Tibetan spiritual leader and 1989 Nobel Peace Prize recipient opened the first International Conference on Holistic Health and Medicine held here in south India Nov. 8-11. The Buddhist monk said that “in all fields of life, the feeling that we are human beings is vital. All activities should be humanized.”

In a declaration at the end of the conference, delegates proposed establishing an organization to encourage greater cooperation among health care systems, and advocated informed choice of health care. Locally, an Indian Association of Holistic Health and Medicine was formed.

The conference included lectures and workshops on oriental and traditional medical systems such as ayurveda, yoga, acupuncture and Tibetan medicine. 

Doctor R. M. Verma, an Indian neurosurgeon, said the conference, with 500 delegates from 25 countries, was the first of its kind. “The holistic approach facilitates the development of a multi-dimensional approach to health intervention, incorporating also the spiritual dimension,” he said.

Other seminar participants expressed similar views.

— Doctor V. Parameswara said the World Health Organization defined health as not just the absence of illness, but a state of complete (physical, mental and social) well-being. He said “holistic health is a philosophy of life, not a competitor with other forms of medicine.”

                                                                                                                                                                                 33.

 

 

— Swami Satchidananda, spiritual head of Yogaville in the United States, said all scriptures say nothing can be achieved without perfect health. He described the holistic movement as the “ecumenical approach in medicine.”

Paulose Mar Gregorios*, a president of the World Council of Churches, said the body and mind are not the only focus of holistic health. “As a Christian, I feel that the factor of faith, one’s attitude to reality, is vital. Faith is the capacity to lean on the whole, and to be free from tension because of this leaning.” He called for development of a new theoretical paradigm in medicine and the setting up of healing communities where holistic healing can be experienced. “Excessive de-personalization and technologization of the healing process is destructive of the human person,” he said.

— Doctor Carlos Warter, president of the World Health Foundation, said, “we believe that the time is ripe at this conference for a quantum leap in the field of medicine that the physicists have already achieved.”

— In one of the lectures on the theme “science, technology and philosophy of holistic health and medicine,” Doctor Andrew Weil expressed concern that science and medicine have taken over the role of religion in modern society.

The essential job of a priest or shaman is to act as an intermediary between the visible and invisible, he said, and “for doctors to be good priests they should recognize the invisible reality.”

Post-conference courses were held on holistic approaches in psychoneuro-immunology, the Alexander Technique, spiritual healing, electro-magnetic therapy, homeopathy and naturopathic medicine.

The second International Conference on Holistic Health and Medicine is scheduled for 1992 in Oxford, England.

*The late Orthodox Archbishop of Kottayam, Paulose Mar Gregorios, was a leading propagator of New Age alternative medicine. He is the author of ‘Healing- A Holistic Approach’, 1995. I have written about him in some of my other reports.

 

Health Ministry says homeopathic medicine little more than a placebo

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/english/Health/Ministry/says/homeopathic/medicine/little/more/than/placebo/elpepueng/20111228elpeng_5/Ten

“No scientific proof” that natural remedies work beyond psychological impact, although acupuncture appears to help with nausea – REYES RINCÓN – Seville – 28/12/2011

Acupuncture can be effective in addressing some of the side effects of chemotherapy, but there is no evidence that it helps with quitting smoking or losing weight.

Research into homeopathy suggests a placebo effect rather than any real impact on illness, while physiotherapy and osteopathy can help with some health issues, concludes a new report by the Health Ministry into natural and alternative medicines and therapies, commissioned by Congress.

The report, ordered in 2007 by the lower house with a view to regulating the alternative medicine sector, was carried out in conjunction with the Carlos III Health Institute and the support of some regional governments. After carrying out clinical trials on 139 different treatments, it concludes that there is no scientific evidence that such treatments work other than to make patients feel better about themselves.

Acupuncture comes out best in the report. Clinical trials carried out by the Health Ministry’s researchers show that the ancient Chinese needle treatment can help to reduce the nausea and vomiting often produced by chemotherapy. It can also be “useful” for patients with migraine and chronic lower back pain.

But the report also warns that tests showed that incorrectly applied acupuncture treatment produced similar effects to correct treatment, suggesting a strong placebo aspect.

The report suggests that further research be carried out into the use of acupuncture in treating fibromyalgia, arthritis, insomnia, and back pain, noting “positive” first indicators. It adds in acupuncture’s favor that, as with most alternative therapies, there are no negative side effects.

Regarding homeopathy, the report cites nine scientific studies in dealing with a wide range of health problems from flu to cancer, dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy, as well as osteoarthritis, birth induction, asthma, dementia, depression, and lactation colic. It says the results are “contradictory” and point to “a placebo effect.” That said, homeopathy treatments carried out by professionals are “safe,” above all because doses tend to be heavily diluted to the point that patients are often taking in little more than water.

The report also looked at the effectiveness of physiotherapy and other forms of body manipulation, typically based on massage. The Health Ministry’s researchers concluded that there were some benefits to such treatments in certain cases, for example, lower back pain, “particularly when combined with exercises.”

Again, the report says that further research is necessary to determine the impact of physiotherapy over the long term. It noted that spinal massage was of no use in treating headaches, but that massage can have beneficial psychological effects on cancer patients.

An important part of the research was to inform Congress about how best to regulate the alternative medicine sector.

At present there is no specific legislation, although a law passed in 2003 dealing with health centers and medical services generally recognizes “unconventional therapies.” The current law defines them as “assistance during which the medic is responsible for carrying out treatments for illnesses by means of natural or homeopathic remedies or through peripheral stimulation techniques with needles or other devices that demonstrate their efficacy or safety.”

The region with the most authorized alternative medicine centers is Andalusia, with 59, followed by the Basque Country with 37. So far only Catalonia has passed legislation specifically covering alternative medicine. Most of the regional governments consulted by the Health Ministry’s team said they were in favor of regulating the sector.                        34.

 

 

 

The report points out the problems in registering practitioners of alternative medicine. “It is not easy to clearly identify professionals working with natural therapies because of the myriad terms used to describe the same processes or medicines,” says the report. It estimates that there are around 9,000 doctors that regularly prescribe homeopathic medicines.

In theory, practitioners of homeopathic medicine must hold a higher education qualification in Health Sciences. At present it is not possible to gain a qualification at technical college level. But the report concludes that there are people applying alternative therapies “with no professional qualification.”

“Despite not being regulated by law, universities, private centers, sector associations, and other bodies are training health and other professionals,” warns the report.

 

Westminster Exorcist Says Promiscuity can Lead to Demonic Possession

http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/aug/08081506.html

By Hilary White WESTMINSTER, UK, August 15, 2008

A priest of Westminster, the leading diocese of the Catholic Church of England and Wales, has written that promiscuity, whether homosexual or heterosexual, can lead to dire spiritual consequences, in addition to the dangers to physical health. Promiscuity, as well as homosexuality and pornography, says 73 year-old Fr. Jeremy Davies, is a form of sexual perversion and can lead to demonic possession. Offering what may be an explanation for the explosion of homosexuality in recent years, Fr. Davies said, “Among the causes of homosexuality is a contagious demonic factor.”

Fr. Davies continues: “Even heterosexual promiscuity is a perversion; and intercourse, which belongs in the sanctuary of married love, can become a pathway not only for disease but also for evil spirits.”

“Some very unpleasant things must be mentioned because young people, especially, are vulnerable and we must do what we can to protect and warn them,” he told the Catholic Herald.

He also said that Satan is responsible for having blinded most secular humanists to the “dehumanising effects of contraception and abortion and IVF, of homosexual ‘marriages’, of human cloning and the vivisection of human embryos in scientific research.” Extreme secular humanism, “atheist scientism”, is comparable to “rational Satanism” and these are leading Europe into a dangerous state of apostasy. “Only by a genuine personal decision for Christ and the Church can someone separate himself from it.”

Fr. Davies’ (an Oxford graduate who is also a qualified physician) comments come in conjunction with the publication of his new book, entitled, “Exorcism: Understanding Exorcism in Scripture and Practice” published earlier this year by the Catholic Truth Society (CTS).

In the Catholic Church, exorcisms can only be performed by a priest who has the “express” permission of his bishop. According to the Code of Canon Law, only experienced priests can be chosen who exhibit, “piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life.” Before the official rite of exorcism is used, the subject must also be examined thoroughly by doctors and psychiatrists to rule out any non-spiritual causes of his difficulties and physicians are often asked to assist during the course of an exorcism.

Fr. Davies also warns in his book against so-called New Age and occult practices, as well as trendy exercise and “spiritual healing” regimens derived from eastern religions.

“The thin end of the wedge (soft drugs, yoga for relaxation, horoscopes just for fun and so on) is more dangerous than the thick end because it is more deceptive – an evil spirit tries to make his entry as unobtrusively as possible.”

“Beware of any claim to mediate beneficial energies (e.g. reiki), any courses that promise the peace that Christ promises (e.g. Enneagrams), any alternative therapy with its roots in eastern religion (e.g. acupuncture).” Needless to say, overtly occult activities such as séances and witchcraft are “direct invitations to the Devil which he readily accepts.”

Fr. Davies was appointed exorcist of the Westminster Archdiocese in 1986 after a four month training period in Rome. In 1993 he co-founded, with Italy’s Father Gabriele Amorth, the International Association of Exorcists which now has hundreds of members worldwide. In 2000, Fr. Davies told the Independent newspaper that incidents of demonic possession are rising dramatically along with the increase of New Age beliefs and practices, ignorance of the Bible and a growth in spiritual confusion.

“At the centre of this is man’s ever-growing pride and attempted self-reliance. Man trying to build a better world without God – another Tower of Babel,” he said. In 2005, the Vatican recently made headlines around the world by publicly announcing the launch of a course on exorcism for priests

The Church’s writings on exorcism and demonic possession say that a person can be influenced or even possessed by demonic forces when they are “hardened” in serious sin and the Church specifies that these include people who are involved in heavy drug use, violence and sexual perversions. It is also noted that the “heinous crime” of abortion exacerbates these. Italian exorcist Fr. Gabriel Amorth writes that it is particularly difficult to liberate a victim who is guilty of abortion, and that this can take a “very long time”.

To order Fr. Davies’ book: http://www.cts-online.org.uk/acatalog/info_Ex27.html

 

Reflexology

http://www.letusreason.org/NAM6.htm

 

                                                                                                                                                                                  35.

 

Reflexology was discovered around 1913 by Dr. William Fitzgerald who introduced zone therapy to the US. His method was based on Chinese acupressure. Many have adopted and modified his ideas and a new method of reflexology was birthed. Reflexologists believe that specific points are used top stimulate and heal the whole body. These are reflected in an intricate system contained in our hands and feet. These are the basic points although there are others throughout the body. Both light and hard pressure is applied to these points. There claim is that calcified deposits (crystals) around the nerve endings can be crushed and excreted out of the body which will result in better blood flow. This is true, however what is included is that the nerves will receive energy flow that was blocked by these deposits. This method uses many massage points that do not correspond to meridians of acupressure, but produces similar results. They believe there are 10 zones running from our fingers and toes corresponding to our organs, as we press on the hand corresponding to the internal organ it well be relieved. This again has occultic ties through the occult science and arts that teaches we have everything related to each other, all is united as one.

“Reflexology is a technique of applying pressure to specific points on the feet, hands or ears.  The method is most commonly used on the feet, largely because they have so many nerve endings and so are quite sensitive. Reflexologists believe that the foot functions as a microcosm of the entire body, and that reference points or reflex areas in the foot correspond to all the major organs, glands and parts of the body.

“Proponents believe that applying pressure to a specific area of the foot spurs the movement of energy along channels in the body to the corresponding area – a process which promotes better health by reducing stress, improving circulation, eliminating toxins, speeding healing, and generally balancing and energizing the body” (Family Guide to Natural Medicine, pp. 168, 169).

Here are the areas massaged and their corresponding organs affected

Toes = sinus

Arch of foot=spinal column

Tips of fingers =sinus

Thumb side of hand= spinal column

111

A foot massage will feel great, but there is no scientific proof that are our whole body is reflected in our hands and feet.  Certainly to increase the blood flow makes the body relax and function better.  If what is claimed is true every time we walk barefoot it would affect our health for either good or bad. Anytime we hurt ourselves on the hand or foot we would also be affected internally. I don’t think there is any scientific proof the body works like this. It certainly would be non beneficial if it did.  This has always been the view of the occult arts that what is within is without and man is the microcosm of the macrocosm. That all of our body is integrated to affect not only what is inside but also other people.  This is pantheism that a life-force flows through all things and that everything is one.  The bible refutes this Idea by stating that God is greater than what He creates and is not subject to his own natural laws.

No one explains how the body from the foot and fingers is connected to the inner organs by energy lines and meridians nor how they discovered these energy systems, something to think about before buying into this new age spiritual system as proven medicine.

 

Be Wary of Acupuncture, Qigong and “Chinese Medicine”

http://www.alopsis.gr/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=264

By Stephen Barrett, M.D.
“Chinese medicine,” often called “Oriental medicine” or “traditional Chinese medicine (TCM),” encompasses a vast array of folk medical practices based on mysticism. It holds that the body’s vital energy (chi or qi) circulates through channels called meridians that have branches connected to bodily organs and functions. Illness is attributed to imbalance or interruption of chi. Ancient practices such as acupuncture, Qigong, and the use of various herbs are claimed to restore balance.
Traditional acupuncture, as now practiced, involves the insertion of stainless steel needles into various body areas. A low-frequency current may be applied to the needles to produce greater stimulation. Other procedures used separately or together with acupuncture include: moxibustion (burning of floss or herbs applied to the skin); injection of sterile water, procaine, morphine, vitamins, or homeopathic solutions through the inserted needles; applications of laser beams (laserpuncture); placement of needles in the external ear (auriculotherapy); and acupressure (use of manual pressure). Treatment is applied to “acupuncture points,” which are said to be located throughout the body. Originally there were 365 such points, corresponding to the days of the year, but the number identified by proponents during the past 2,000 years has increased gradually to about 2,000 [1]. Some practitioners place needles at or near the site of disease, whereas others select points on the basis of symptoms. In traditional acupuncture, a combination of points is usually used.
Qigong is also claimed to influence the flow of “vital energy.” Internal Qigong involves deep breathing, concentration, and relaxation techniques used by individuals for themselves. External Qigong is performed by “Qigong masters” who claim to cure a wide variety of diseases with energy released from their fingertips. However, scientific investigators of Qigong masters in China have found no evidence of paranormal powers and some evidence of deception. They found, for example, that a patient lying on a table about eight feet from a Qigong master moved rhythmically or thrashed about as the master moved his hands. But when she was placed so that she could no longer see him, her movements were unrelated to his [2]. Falun gong, which China recently banned, is a Qigong variant claimed to be “a powerful mechanism for healing, stress relief and health improvements.”                                                                                                   36.

 

Most acupuncturists espouse the traditional Chinese view of health and disease and consider acupuncture, herbal medicine, and related practices to be valid approaches to the full gamut of disease. Others reject the traditional approach and merely claim that acupuncture offers a simple way to achieve pain relief. The diagnostic process used by TCM practitioners may include questioning (medical history, lifestyle), observations (skin, tongue, color), listening (breathing sounds), and pulse-taking. Six pulse aspects said to correlate with body organs or functions are checked on each wrist to determine which meridians are “deficient” in chi. (Medical science recognizes only one pulse, corresponding to the heartbeat, which can be felt in the wrist, neck, feet, and various other places.) Some acupuncturists state that the electrical properties of the body may become imbalanced weeks or even months before symptoms occur. These practitioners claim that acupuncture can be used to treat conditions when the patient just “doesn’t feel right,” even though no disease is apparent.
TCM (as well as the folk medical practices of various other Asian countries) is a threat to certain animal species. For example, black bears — valued for their gall bladders — have been hunted nearly to extinction in Asia, and poaching of black bears is a growing problem in North America.

 

Dubious Claims

The conditions claimed to respond to acupuncture include chronic pain (neck and back pain, migraine headaches), acute injury-related pain (strains, muscle and ligament tears), gastrointestinal problems (indigestion, ulcers, constipation, diarrhea), cardiovascular conditions (high and low blood pressure), genitourinary problems (menstrual irregularity, frigidity, impotence), muscle and nerve conditions (paralysis, deafness), and behavioral problems (overeating, drug dependence, smoking). However, the evidence supporting these claims consists mostly of practitioners’ observations and poorly designed studies. A controlled study found that electroacupuncture of the ear was no more effective than placebo stimulation (light touching) against chronic pain [3]. In 1990, three Dutch epidemiologists analyzed 51 controlled studies of acupuncture for chronic pain and concluded that “the quality of even the better studies proved to be mediocre. . . . The efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic pain remains doubtful.” [4] They also examined reports of acupuncture used to treat addictions to cigarettes, heroin, and alcohol, and concluded that claims that acupuncture is effective as a therapy for these conditions are not supported by sound clinical research [5].
Acupuncture anesthesia is not used for surgery in the Orient to the extent that its proponents suggest. In China physicians screen out patients who appear to be unsuitable. Acupuncture is not used for emergency surgery and often is accompanied by local anesthesia or narcotic medication [6].
How acupuncture may relieve pain is unclear. One theory suggests that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord or brain at various “gates” to these areas. Another theory suggests that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce narcotic-like substances called endorphins, which reduce pain. Other theories suggest that the placebo effect, external suggestion (hypnosis), and cultural conditioning are important factors. Melzack and Wall note that pain relief produced by acupuncture can also be produced by many other types of sensory hyperstimulation, such as electricity and heat at acupuncture points and elsewhere in the body. They conclude that “the effectiveness of all of these forms of stimulation indicates that acupuncture is not a magical procedure but only one of many ways to produce analgesia [pain relief] by an intense sensory input.” In 1981, the American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs noted that pain relief does not occur consistently or reproducibly in most people and does not operate at all in some people [7].
In 1995, George A. Ulett, M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of Missouri School of Medicine, stated that “devoid of metaphysical thinking, acupuncture becomes a rather simple technique that can be useful as a non-drug method of pain control.” He believes that the traditional Chinese variety is primarily a placebo treatment, but electrical stimulation of about 80 acupuncture points has been proven useful for pain control [8].
The quality of TCM research in China has been extremely poor. A recent analysis of 2,938 reports of clinical trials reported in Chinese medical journals concluded that that no conclusions could be drawn from the vast majority of them. The researchers stated: In most of the trials, disease was defined and diagnosed according to conventional medicine; trial outcomes were assessed with objective or subjective (or both) methods of conventional medicine, often complemented by traditional Chinese methods. Over 90% of the trials in non-specialist journals evaluated herbal treatments that were mostly proprietary Chinese medicines. . . .
Although methodological quality has been improving over the years, many problems remain. The method of randomisation was often inappropriately described. Blinding was used in only 15% of trials. Only a few studies had sample sizes of 300 subjects or more. Many trials used as a control another Chinese medicine treatment whose effectiveness had often not been evaluated by randomised controlled trials. Most trials focused on short term or intermediate rather than long term outcomes. Most trials did not report data on compliance and completeness of follow up. Effectiveness was rarely quantitatively expressed and reported. Intention to treat analysis was never mentioned. Over half did not report data on baseline characteristics or on side effects. Many trials were published as short reports. Most trials claimed that the tested treatments were effective, indicating that publication bias may be common; a funnel plot of the 49 trials of acupuncture in the treatment of stroke confirmed selective publication of positive trials in the area, suggesting that acupuncture may not be more effective than the control treatments. [9]
Two scientists at the University of Heidelberg have developed a “fake needle” that may enable acupuncture researchers to perform better-designed controlled studies. The device is a needle with a blunt tip that moves freely within a copper handle. When the tip touches the skin, the patient feels a sensation similar to that of an acupuncture needle. At the same time, the visible part of the needle moves inside the handle so it appears to shorten as though penetrating the skin. When the device was tested on volunteers, none suspected that it had not penetrated the skin [10].

 
In 2004, a University of Heidelberg team proved the worth of their “sham acupuncture” technique in a study of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) in women who underwent breast or gynecologic surgery. The study involved 220 women who received either acupuncture or the sham procedure at the acupuncture point “Pericardium 6” on the inside of the forearm. No significant difference in PONV or anti-vomiting medication use was found between the two groups or between the people who received treatment before anesthesia was induced and those who received it while anesthetized [11]. A subgroup analysis found that vomiting was “significantly reduced” among the acupuncture patients, but the authors correctly noted that this finding might be due to studying multiple outcomes. (As the number of different outcome measures increases, so do the odds that a “statistically significant” finding will be spurious.) This study is important because PONV reduction is one of the few alleged benefits of acupuncture supported by reports in scientific journals. However, the other positive studies were not as tightly controlled..

 

Risks Exist

Improperly performed acupuncture can cause fainting, local hematoma (due to bleeding from a punctured blood vessel), pneumothorax (punctured lung), convulsions, local infections, hepatitis B (from unsterile needles), bacterial endocarditis, contact dermatitis, and nerve damage. The herbs used by acupuncture practitioners are not regulated for safety, potency, or effectiveness. There is also risk that an acupuncturist whose approach to diagnosis is not based on scientific concepts will fail to diagnose a dangerous condition.
The adverse effects of acupuncture are probably related to the nature of the practitioner’s training. A survey of 1,135 Norwegian physicians revealed 66 cases of infection, 25 cases of punctured lung, 31 cases of increased pain, and 80 other cases with complications. A parallel survey of 197 acupuncturists, who are more apt to see immediate complications, yielded 132 cases of fainting, 26 cases of increased pain, 8 cases of pneumothorax, and 45 other adverse results [12]. However, a 5-year study involving 76 acupuncturists at a Japanese medical facility tabulated only 64 adverse event reports (including 16 forgotten needles and 13 cases of transient low blood pressure) associated with 55,591 acupuncture treatments. No serious complications were reported. The researchers concluded that serious adverse reactions are uncommon among acupuncturists who are medically trained [13].
Moe recently, members of the British Acupuncture Council who participated in two prospective studies have reported low complication rates and no serious complications among patients who underwent a total of more than 66,000 treatments 14, 15]. An accompany editorial suggests that in competent hands, the likelihood of complications is small [16]. Since outcome data are not available, the studies cannot compare the balance of risks vs. benefit. Nor do the studies take into account the likelihood of misdiagnosis (and failure to seek appropriate medical care) by practitioners who use traditional Chinese methods.

 

Questionable Standards

In 1971, an acupuncture boom occurred in the United States because of stories about visits to China by various American dignitaries. Entrepreneurs, both medical and nonmedical, began using flamboyant advertising techniques to promote clinics, seminars, demonstrations, books, correspondence courses, and do-it-yourself kits. Today some states restrict the practice of acupuncture to physicians or others operating under their direct supervision. In about 20 states, people who lack medical training can perform acupuncture without medical supervision. The FDA now classifies acupuncture needles as Class II medical devices and requires labeling for one-time use by practitioners who are legally authorized to use them [17]. Acupuncture is not covered under Medicare. The March 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association carried a five-part cover story encouraging chiropractors to get acupuncture training, which, according to one contributor, would enable them to broaden the scope of their practice [18].
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) has set voluntary certification standards and certified several thousand practitioners. By November 1998, 32 states had licensing laws, with 29 of them using NCCAOM examination as all or part of their educational, training, or examination requirement, and three with additional eligibility criteria. The credentials used by acupuncturists include C.A. (certified acupuncturist), Lic. Ac. (licensed acupuncturist), M.A. (master acupuncturist), Dip. Ac. (diplomate of acupuncture), and O.M.D. (doctor of Oriental medicine). Some of these have legal significance, but they do not signify that the holder is competent to make adequate diagnoses or render appropriate treatment.
In 1990, the U.S. Secretary of Education recognized what is now called the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) as an accrediting agency. However, such recognition is not based on the scientific validity of what is taught but upon other criteria [19]. Ulett has noted:
Certification of acupuncturists is a sham. While a few of those so accredited are naive physicians, most are nonmedical persons who only play at being doctor and use this certification as an umbrella for a host of unproven New Age hokum treatments. Unfortunately, a few HMOs, hospitals, and even medical schools are succumbing to the bait and exposing patients to such bogus treatments when they need real medical care.
The National Council Against Health Fraud has concluded:

—Acupuncture is an unproven modality of treatment.

—Its theory and practice are based on primitive and fanciful concepts of health and disease that bear no relationship to present scientific knowledge

—Research during the past 20 years has not demonstrated that acupuncture is effective against any disease.

38.

 

 

—Perceived effects of acupuncture are probably due to a combination of expectation, suggestion, counter-irritation, conditioning, and other psychologic mechanisms.

—The use of acupuncture should be restricted to appropriate research settings,

—Insurance companies should not be required by law to cover acupuncture treatment,

—Licensure of lay acupuncturists should be phased out.

—Consumers who wish to try acupuncture should discuss their situation with a knowledgeable physician who has no commercial interest [20].

 

The NIH Debacle

In 1997, a Consensus Development Conference sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and several other agencies concluded that “there is sufficient evidence . . . of acupuncture’s value to expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value.” [21] The panelists also suggested that the federal government and insurance companies expand coverage of acupuncture so more people can have access to it. These conclusions were not based on research done after NCAHF’s position paper was published. Rather, they reflected the bias of the panelists who were selected by a planning committee dominated by acupuncture proponents [22]. NCAHF board chairman Wallace Sampson, M.D., has described the conference “a consensus of proponents, not a consensus of valid scientific opinion.”
Although the report described some serious problems, it failed to place them into proper perspective. The panel acknowledged that “the vast majority of papers studying acupuncture consist of case reports, case series, or intervention studies with designs inadequate to assess efficacy” and that “relatively few” high-quality controlled trials have been published about acupuncture’s effects. But it reported that “the World Health Organization has listed more than 40 [conditions] for which [acupuncture] may be indicated.” This sentence should have been followed by a statement that the list was not valid.

Far more serious, although the consensus report touched on Chinese acupuncture theory, it failed to point out the danger and economic waste involved in going to practitioners who can’t make appropriate diagnoses. The report noted:

—The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health. Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. The acupuncturist can correct imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin.

—Acupuncture focuses on a holistic, energy-based approach to the patient rather than a disease-oriented diagnostic and treatment model.

—Despite considerable efforts to understand the anatomy and physiology of the “acupuncture points,” the definition and characterization of these points remains controversial. Even more elusive is the scientific basis of some of the key traditional Eastern medical concepts such as the circulation of Qi, the meridian system, and the five phases theory, which are difficult to reconcile with contemporary biomedical information but continue to play an important role in the evaluation of patients and the formulation of treatment in acupuncture.

Simply stated, this means that if you go to a practitioner who practices traditional Chinese medicine, you are unlikely to be properly diagnosed.

 

Diagnostic Studies

In 1998, following his lecture at a local college, an experienced TCM practitioner diagnosed me by taking my pulse and looking at my tongue. He stated that my pulse showed signs of “stress” and that my tongue indicated I was suffering from “congestion of the blood.” A few minutes later, he examined a woman and told her that her pulse showed premature ventricular contractions (a disturbance of the heart’s rhythm that could be harmless or significant, depending on whether the individual has underlying heart disease). He suggested that both of us undergo treatment with acupuncture and herbs—which would have cost about $90 per visit. I took the woman’s pulse and found that it was completely normal. I believe that the majority of nonmedical acupuncturists rely on improper diagnostic procedures. The NIH consensus panel should have emphasized the seriousness of this problem.
A study published in 2001 illustrates the absurdity of TCM practices. A 40-year-old woman with chronic back pain who visited seven acupuncturists during a two-week period was diagnosed with “Qi stagnation” by 6 of them, “blood stagnation” by 5 , “kidney Qi deficiency” by 2, “yin deficiency” by 1, and “liver Qi deficiency” by 1. The proposed treatments varied even more. Among the six who recorded their recommendations, the practitioners planned to use between 7 and 26 needles inserted into 4 to 16 specific “acupuncture points” in the back, leg, hand, and foot. Of 28 acupuncture points selected, only 4 (14%) were prescribed by two or more acupuncturists. [23] The study appears to have been designed to make the results as consistent as possible. All of the acupuncturists had been trained at a school of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Six other volunteers were excluded because they “used highly atypical practices,” and three were excluded because they had been in practice for less than three years. Whereas science-based methods are thoroughly studied to ensure that they are reliable, this appears to be the first published study that examines the consistency of TCM diagnosis or treatment. I would expect larger studies to show that TCM diagnoses are meaningless and have little or nothing to do with the patient’s health status. The study’s authors state that the diagnostic findings showed “considerable consistency” because nearly all of the practitioners found Qi or blood stagnation. However, the most likely explanation is that these are diagnosed in nearly everyone. It would be fascinating to see what would happen if a healthy person was examined by multiple acupuncturists.                                                                                       39.

 

                                                                           

References

  1. Skrabanek P. Acupuncture: Past, present, and future. In Stalker D, Glymour C, editors. Examining Holistic Medicine. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1985.
  2. Kurtz P, Alcock J, and others. Testing psi claims in China: Visit by a CSICOP delegation. Skeptical Inquirer 12:364-375, 1988.
  3. Melzack R, Katz J. Auriculotherapy fails to relieve chronic pain: A controlled crossover study. JAMA 251:1041­1043, 1984
  4. Ter Reit G, Kleijnen J, Knipschild P. Acupuncture and chronic pain: A criteria-based meta-analysis. Clinical Epidemiology 43:1191-1199, 1990.
  5. Ter Riet G, Kleijnen J, Knipschild P. A meta-analysis of studies into the effect of acupuncture on addiction. British Journal of General Practice 40:379-382, 1990.
  6. Beyerstein BL, Sampson W. Traditional Medicine and Pseudoscience in China: A Report of the Second CSICOP Delegation (Part 1). Skeptical Inquirer 20(4):18-26, 1996.
  7. American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs. Reports of the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association, 1981. Chicago, 1982, The Association.
  8. Ulett GA. Acupuncture update 1984. Southern Medical Journal 78:233­234, 1985.
  9. Tang J-L, Zhan S-Y, Ernst E. Review of randomised controlled trials of traditional Chinese medicine. British Medical Journal 319:160-161, 1999.
  10. Streitberger K, Kleinhenz J. Introducing a placebo needle into acupuncture research. Lancet 352:364-365, 1998.
  11. Streitberger K and others. Acupuncture compared to placebo-acupuncture for postoperative nausea and vomiting prophylaxis: A randomised placebo-controlled patient and observer blind trial. Anesthesia 59:142-149, 2004.
  12. Norheim JA, Fennebe V. Adverse effects of acupuncture. Lancet 345:1576, 1995.
  13. Yamashita H and others. Adverse events related to acupuncture. JAMA 280:1563-1564, 1998.
  14. White A and others. Adverse events following acupuncture: Prospective surgery of 32,000 consultations with doctors and physiotherapists. BMJ 323:485-486, 2001.
  15. MacPherson H and others. York acupuncture safety study: Prospective survey of 24,000 treatments by traditional acupuncturists. BMJ 323:486-487, 2001.
  16. Vincent C. The safety of acupuncture. BMJ 323:467-468, 2001.
  17. Acupuncture needle status changed. FDA Talk Paper T96-21, April 1, 1996
  18. Wells D. Think acu-practic: Acupuncture benefits for chiropractic. Journal of the American Chiropractic Association 35(3):10-13, 1998.
  19. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education. Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies and Associations. Criteria and Procedures for Listing by the U.S. Secretary For Education and Current List. Washington, D.C., 1995, U.S. Department of Education.
  20. Sampson W and others. Acupuncture: The position paper of the National Council Against Health Fraud. Clinical Journal of Pain 7:162-166, 1991.
  21. Acupuncture. NIH Consensus Statement 15: (5), November 3-5, 1997.
  22. Sampson W. On the National Institute of Drug Abuse Consensus Conference on Acupuncture. Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine 2(1):54-55, 1998.
  23. Kalauokalani D and others. Acupuncture for chronic low back pain: Diagnosis and treatment patterns among acupuncturists evaluating the same patient. Southern Medical Journal 94:486-492, 2001.

 

Swiss court jails “healer” for infecting 16 with HIV

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Swiss-court-jails-healer-for-infecting-16-with-HIV/articleshow/19144122.cms

Reuters, March 23, 2013

ZURICH: A self-styled healer was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in jail on Friday after a Swiss court found the acupuncturist guilty of infecting 16 people with HIV. A Berne court found the man guilty of causing bodily harm and spreading the virus which can cause Aids, court secretary Rene Graf told Reuters. He did not give any further details.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 15 years in jail, according to media reports.

“The accused and nobody else is responsible for infecting the 16 people,” Swiss news agency SDA quoted court president Urs Herren as saying, adding the man’s motive could have been to seek attention, exact revenge, or prove his omnipotence.

The 54-year-old from the Swiss capital Berne had consistently denied the charges, blaming the victims for contracting HIV through unprotected sex and intravenous drug use, Swiss media reported.

They did not reveal the man’s identity or nationality, in accordance with rules on Swiss criminal proceedings.

The case came to the attention of the authorities after an HIV-positive patient told a hospital he suspected his infection was linked to acupuncture treatments he received from the man.

The majority of the infected individuals were students of a music school run by the man, who also had an acupuncture practice. Some of the victims told the court he stabbed them with a needle from behind during treatment, SDA reported.

Police stormed the man’s home a week ago after he stopped coming to the trial. The man, who was free on bail, had barricaded himself inside and was armed with a knife, issuing threats to police, according to media reports.

 

 

 

From: Michael Prabhu To: Sue Brinkmann ; newage@womenofgrace.com Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 8:10 PM

Subject: ACUPUNCTURE – Michael Prabhu, India

March 27, 2013

Dear Susan,

If you link to any page of the Catholic Answers online forum today, there is the phrase “Catholic FAQ” at the left-hand top corner that asks the question, “Can I receive acupuncture for pain” under which is a box. You click on the box, and the link is given to http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?threadid=769284.

At this link, a member asks, “Can I receive acupuncture for pain relief without going against my Catholic teaching?”

On behalf of Catholic Answers, Fr. Vincent Serpa O.P.* replies “Certainly! There is not conflict between acupuncture and Catholicism.

*Recent apologetics answers by Fr. Vincent Serpa: http://forums.catholic.com/search.php?searchid=13970822

I am copying below, a couple of excerpts from letters that I received from a Catholic in the UK who was once deep in New Age:

I was heavily involved in the New Age – Reiki, yoga, occult and past life regression. I had an encounter with God in a church nearly 7 years ago. I was going to commit suicide but God helped me stopped drinking immediately and without withdrawal. I go to Mass every day now.  On a pilgrimage to a National Roman Catholic Shrine in England, I renounced all New Age practices. I have been a hypnotherapist and auricular acupuncturist until very recently and after reading your website, I feel that being I am being called by  Jesus Our Lord to become an evangelist. -November 12, 2010

I have seen something on acupuncture on Susan Brinkmann’s site that I completely disagree with – i.e. that Western acupuncture is ok. Not so. The concept of meridians is Taoist. –August 15, 2011

With regards, Michael

From: newage@womenofgrace.com To: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 8:10 PM

Subject: New Age Question

Thank you for your e-mail about The New Age. We will review your question and add it to the New Age blog of Questions and Answers at www.lhla.org/newage shortly.
God Bless You,
Sue

 

Acupressure

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=156

By Susan Brinkmann* July 16, 2010 *Continued from page 25

EB writes: “I have been seeing a certified acupressure therapist. Does this pertain to the New Age category like chiropractors?”

Yes, this is New Age.

Acupressure is known as “acupuncture without needles” and is a form of complementary medicine, meaning it is often combined with conventional medical treatments (see Understanding Complementary & Alternative Medicine)

Practitioner websites describe acupressure as “an ancient healing art that uses the fingers to press key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body’s natural self-curative abilities. When these points are pressed, they release muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood and the body’s life force to aid healing. Acupuncture and acupressure use the same points, but acupuncture employs needles, while acupressure uses the gentle but firm pressure of hands (and even feet).” (www.Acupressure.com)

An acupressure therapist may apply physical pressure to acupuncture points with the hand, elbow, or other device such as an acuball, energy roller or foot roller. One of the most commonly used acupressure device is the acupressure wristband – called “Sea Bands” – that many use to relieve symptoms of motion sickness.

As you may or may not know, acupuncture/acupressure is based in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the belief that a universal life force known as chi runs through the body through 14 channels known as meridians. Practitioners believe that sickness can be caused by blockages in the flow of chi, or imbalances in two opposing “energies” known as yin and yang. In order to cure illness and other maladies, a needle or pressure is applied to any one of hundreds of points on the body known as acupoints that are positioned along the meridians and which are thought to correspond to specific organs or body systems.

Even though acupuncture/acupressure has quite a following around the world, there is virtually no scientific evidence to support its efficacy for anything other than nausea and some types of pain (and even these conclusions are not convincing). While it’s true that the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health have come out in favor of acupuncture for some conditions, these statements have been heavily criticized for bias and reliance on poorly designed studies. However, science is studying acupuncture from a neuroscientific point-of-view rather than for its basis in traditional Chinese medicine. It is believed that acupuncture may cause the release of endorphins which are part of the body’s natural pain-control system; by stimulation of nerves in the spinal chord that release pain-suppressing neurotransmitters; or by the naturally occurring increase in blood flow in puncture areas that remove toxic substances. Scientists have arrived at no conclusions, however, and these studies are ongoing.

EB states that her therapist is “certified” but it doesn’t really matter because neither acupressure nor acupuncture work so visiting a practitioner will do little good other than give one a nice big placebo high for a few days. (See Power of Placebo)

 

Study: Relief from Acupuncture linked to Placebo Effect

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=188#more-188

By Susan Brinkmann August 24, 2010

A new study published last week in the Arthritis Care and Research journal found that among 455 patients with painful knee arthritis, acupuncture delivered no more relief than a sham treatment.

The New York Times is reporting that the study, conducted at the prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston found that among the patients tested, there was no difference in pain relief between those who received acupuncture and those who received a phony version.

Acupuncture involves inserting needles at specific points in the body that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe to be “energy centers”. However, because the type of “energy” that is allegedly manipulated in this process is scientifically unsubstantiated, scientists believe the principles of neuroscience and the release of pain-suppressing neurotransmitters may be behind its purported efficacy.

Critics say the MD Anderson study used a poorly designed sham in their research, but lead author, Dr. Maria E. Suarez-Almazor, says their sham treatment was developed with the help of trained acupuncturists.

“We really worked with acupuncturists who are trained in the Chinese traditional style and asked them to come up with a sham that could be credible,” Dr. Suarez-Almazor said. “We didn’t plan a study trying to show that acupuncture didn’t work. The results came out with no difference between the groups.”

She went on to clarify that in any drug study, an equal response in the treatment and placebo groups proves the drug does not work.

Other recent studies also seem to prove the presence of the “placebo” effect in acupuncture treatment. The Times cites a 2007 study of back-pain sufferers in Germany where half of the patients who participated in both sham and real acupuncture groups had less pain after a treatment compared to those who received physical therapy or other traditional back pain. Researchers also found that patients who received real acupuncture used only half as much pain medication as those who received a sham treatment.

This prompted researchers to speculate that the insertion of a needle in or around an area of pain produces a kind of “super placebo” effect that in turn touches off a series of reactions in the way people experience pain.

Other studies, such as one financed by the National Institutes of Health in 2004, found that acupuncture significantly reduced pain in patients suffering with arthritic knees compared to those who received either a sham treatment or routine care. However, this study was called into question because recipients of the sham treatment may have discovered that they were getting a phony version of acupuncture, which would automatically negate the findings.

 

Acupuncture Remains Scientifically Unconvincing

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=463#more-463

By Susan Brinkmann January 13, 2011

JE writes: “I am seeking advice on acupuncture to help with back pain and depression. I have researched a little on valid health websites and have found some information that acupuncture might work. From a spiritual perspective is it as dangerous as practices reiki, or is there some gray area? Also what about seeking out a herbalist who I know is into New Age. I would be seeking the medicinal route, but even the thought of him touching me, makes me nervous. I think his herbs would not have anything put on them.”

Contrary to popular opinion (and the websites you visited), there is no scientific evidence proving that acupuncture works. Although thousands of anecdotal reports can be found through the centuries on this ancient practice, when it comes to evidence based science, there is little or no proof that acupuncture heals anything.

According to the Oxford-based Cochrane Collaboration, which has a global network of 10,000 health experts and a massive data base of medical research studies and clinical trials on just about every treatment you can think of, a systematic review of all the testing done on acupuncture has found no evidence that this treatment works for anything but some types of pain and nausea – and even these are not considered to be very strong conclusions.

Supporters of acupuncture like to argue that the reason acupuncture does so poorly in tests is because there is no acceptable “sham” of the procedure that can be used in blind- and double-blind tests. The problem is that the ideal “sham” must appear to be exactly like real acupuncture only the needles cannot pierce the skin – a difficult standard to reach.

However, Professor Edzard Ernst, who leads the Complementary Medicine Research Group at the University of Exeter and who has had a long history of interest in acupuncture, did indeed develop such a sham that has now been successfully used in trials. Prior to this discovery, Ernst had conducted 10 of his own clinical trials on acupuncture, wrote a book on the subject and currently sits on the editorial board of several acupuncture journals so it’s safe to say this scholar is not biased against acupuncture.

His needling procedure, which he developed with Jongbae Park, a Korean Ph.D. student in his group, uses a telescopic needle that only appears to penetrate the skin and even causes a minor sensation during its supposed insertion.

Although it took several years to develop and test, when the “sham” was used in trials, patients believed they were receiving real acupuncture, making these tests the highest quality acupuncture trials ever conducted.

The results were disappointing for acupuncturists. The tests found no convincing evidence that real acupuncture is more effective than a placebo in the treatment of even the few somewhat positive results found by the Cochrane Collaboration such as the treatment of chronic tension headaches, nausea after chemotherapy, and migraine prevention.

 

 

During the same time frame, German researchers were also conducting large and very high quality trials with their own “sham”. The number of patients in these trials ranged from 200 to 1,000 people.

Although the results are still being analyzed, as of 2007, researchers released their initial conclusions from these mega trials which found that acupuncture was no more effective than sham acupuncture in treating the four ailments which were the subject of the tests – migraines, tension headaches, chronic low back pain and knee osteoarthritis.

Having said all this, you might want to reconsider spending your money on acupuncture treatments.

There is definitely a spiritual aspect to acupuncture that is rarely mentioned. Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine which has as its goal the restoration of harmony to each organ system in the body in order to resolve not only physical but emotional and spiritual imbalances as well. A person needs to be very informed about the acupuncturist who is working on them to be sure they are needling for physical health and not attempting to treat what they perceive to be “spiritual” imbalances.

I personally spoke with a former acupuncturist who practiced the Traditional Chinese Medicine form of acupuncture who said the procedure is routinely used to rid the body of bad spirits, much like our rite of exorcism. She even spoke about the special clothing the acupuncturist wears during these procedures to avoid contamination, and how they open a window or door in order to let the spirits out of the room.

In another style of acupuncture, known as Five Element acupuncture, practitioners are trained to use their intuition to read “energy patterns” in their patients. “(A) Five Element Acupuncturist, while working with a patient, might intuitively detect heaviness around the person’s spiritual heart. Since these practitioners are deeply invested in emotional and spiritual well-being, they might decide to needle Stomach 12, an acupuncture point also known as ‘Broken Bowl’. This point addresses a spiritual state of being in which joy drains through the cracks, so that a person is unable to contain the experience of pleasure. Addressing this emotional imbalance will allow the patient to absorb more happiness, and hence, begin to heal physical imbalances as well.” (http://www.envymyhealth.com/five-element-acupuncture.html)

Needless to say, there are numerous dangers inherent in allowing New Age and/or Eastern medicine practitioners to exercise control over your spiritual well-being, either directly or indirectly.

As for the herbalist, I would try to find one who is not associated with the New Age. Herbal medicine is one of the few alternatives that shows real promise from a scientific point of view. While the herbs this provider sells are probably not tainted in any way, why invest your money in people who promote New Age practices? Instead, give your hard earned dollars to people whose work is bringing good rather than confusion to the world.

 

Dry Needling and Acupuncture are too closely related for comfort

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=850#more-850

By Susan Brinkmann April 13, 2011

CC asks: Can you tell me if ‘dry needling’ is a New Age practice?  I have heard a couple of people mention having had it done by their physicians in recent months and had never heard of it.”

Although dry needling, also called biomedical acupuncture, is different from acupuncture, and is not based on the insertion of needles in traditional acupuncture meridian sites, it is said to have been derived from acupuncture.

According to a Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy statement on dry needling, this treatment involves the insertion of a needle at a “trigger point” in the body, such as those that occur in skeletal muscles that produce pain. These trigger points are often associated with tension headaches, tinnitus, and pain in the joints or lower back. Similar to acupuncture, a dry needle is inserted into the trigger point directly instead of into the meridians (alleged energy centers) prescribed by traditional Chinese medical practitioners of acupuncture. Dry needling also uses the same type of acupuncture needle – a solid, round point, small gauge needle.

“Despite the fact that dry needling has been known for years, there have been few published studies measuring the effect on patient outcomes published in the peer reviewed literature. Those studies that are available have design flaws or comprise small study samples so that it is not possible to draw conclusions regarding patient outcomes,” Blue Cross writes.

It is therefore considered to be “experimental/investigational” and does not appear to be covered by this insurance provider.

According to Dr. Yuan-tao Ma, the author of a textbook on dry needling for physical therapists, this modality was first developed in the 1940′s by Janet Travell, M.D., a medical advisor to the White House during JFK’s administration. He and other proponents of the practice claim it is based on modern neurological research that suggests acupuncture treatments may work based on the release of pain-relieving endorphins or through nerve stimulation. While this is an intriguing and very plausible concept, it has yet to be demonstrated to a clinically relevant degree.

I could not recommend dry needling only because most of its proponents are practicing Chinese acupuncturists (and Chinese acupuncture is one of the darlings of New Age medicine) and because it’s not supported by evidence-based science.

 

Just What Are the Teachings of the Catholic Church on Yoga, Acupuncture, and Reiki Therapy?

http://shrineofourladyoflasalette.blogspot.in/2012_07_01_archive.html This is a Traditionalist site -Michael

July 27, 2012, EXTRACT

Due to questions received from our previous two Yoga, Acupuncture and Reiki Therapy issues, we add this third article to clarify and solidify the teachings of the Catholic Church. ..

 

 

ACUPUNCTURE

There are always a few exceptions, but generally, holistic healers (acupuncture practitioners) believe that illness is a SPIRITUAL condition and they use methods based on OCCULTISM and Eastern religious views.

Acupuncture originates in the belief that the yin-yang flows along invisible pathways in the body called meridians, and that illness results from an imbalance in these forces, or the blockage of these forces. Inserting the needles at certain points is supposed to allow a balanced flow of the body’s yin and yang energies.

Although there are theories that acupuncture works either because the placement of the needles send signals to the brain which release endorphins or because the needles block a pain signal to the brain, these theories have not been proven. Even if these theories prove correct, then the conclusion would be that it is not acupuncture that is working, since acupuncture is based on the idea that relief is coming from the flowing of chi and balancing of yin and yang.

What would be working is the relief of pain through endorphins and the blockage of pain signals. This is NOT the theory of traditional acupuncture. This relief would have nothing to do with chi, meridians, or yin and yang, but rather with biology and a proper understanding of the body.

Catholics should be discerning about practices such as acupuncture that have no medical basis and “exercises” like Tai Chi that are designed based on spiritual beliefs hostile to Christ’s claim to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

The fact that such a treatment may work is not good enough reason for using it. Many things in the occult and mystical world seem to work.  The standard for Catholics in adopting a spiritually based idea or practice is not whether it works, but will it cause spiritual harm.

We are admonished to “…believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be from God: because many false prophets are gone into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

These words should be taken to heart in regards to many other holistic and alternative treatments as well—Tao, Reiki therapy, etc.

Here’s a response we received from a gentleman from a previous article on this subject:

“I assure you that I am at peace being both a traditional Catholic and one who would unhesitatingly visit my herbalist in preference to an allopath for any number of problems. As one who daily prays the rosary and wears the brown scapular, I do not expect to rely on prayer and sacramentals (sic) to cure physical ailments.”

First, we would recommend to this gentleman that he rethink his outlook on prayer and the Sacraments. Saying “I do not expect to rely on prayer and the sacramentals to cure physical ailments” is a clear sign he lacks trust in the Lord. We recommend that he read the 91 Psalm, Chapters 9 through 15 to reassure his faith and trust in the Lord and that the Lord will provide. “The Lord will give you everything you ask for, or something better”—St. Bernard

Additionally, it appears obvious that he has no confidence in the Rosary and Brown scapular. He says, “I do not expect to rely on prayer…”  We would recommend that he heed what Sister Lucia of Fatima told:  “There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot solve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary”.

 

Acupuncture

http://www.inplainsite.org/html/acupuncture.html

By Andrew Fergusson
As Christians we should be concerned about possible spiritual harm. By associating in whatever way, however remote, with a therapy perhaps permeated by non-Christian or even anti-Christian ideology, are patients not at risk of spiritual harm?

Most Nucleus readers will have come across acupuncture. Perhaps a consultant anaesthetist was using it occasionally in a pain clinic you sat in on, and there did not appear to be any obvious ‘spiritual’ activity going on. Perhaps you’ve seen the charts of meridians in a local ‘health’ shop, alongside all sorts of weird and wonderful New Age alternative therapies and there did not appear to be any helpful ‘medical’ aspect then. Perhaps you’ve already had acupuncture treatment yourself, and some of your Christian friends have said you thereby came under occult influence, while other Christian friends wanted the details of your therapist and wondered ‘Would acupuncture do anything for me?’

This article assesses acupuncture from both Christian and scientific medical perspectives. Whilst working as a GP in the 1980s I sat on CMF’s Medical Study Group as it investigated the whole phenomenon of alternative medicine, considering the key concepts in general and then certain therapies in particular. Acupuncture was one of those we studied in detail and my views were largely formed then.

What is acupuncture?
It is a traditional form of Chinese medicine which involves stimulating the skin at strategic places, called acupuncture points, to produce therapeutic benefits. Usually this stimulation is done using fine needles which ought to be sterile and used once only, but variations on a theme include:

Acupressure – the use of blunt pressure, without puncture, over the same points

Laser acupuncture – use of lasers on the same points

Electroacupuncture – using electric current

Moxibustion – various substances are burnt on the skin at the acupuncture points

Where did acupuncture originate?
The treatment has probably been used in China since around 1600 BC but the term ‘acupuncture’ is European, the idea having been brought to Europe from Nagasaki by Willem ten Rhyne in 1683. {1} During the Ching dynasty (AD 1644-1911) acupuncture fell out of favour in China but has become more widely used there since the Communist revolution and it is of course very popular now in the West.

 

 

What explanations are there for how acupuncture might work?
Because of this Chinese origin the first explanation for acupuncture came out of Chinese culture and belief. They held (and many in China and elsewhere still do) that there are two opposing life forces (Yin and Yang) which circulate in special channels (meridians) throughout the body. Disease is caused by an imbalance of these forces and can be rectified by regulating the flow of energy in these meridians. This can be achieved by stimulating acupuncture points located along these meridians.

This general philosophy lives on in today’s ‘traditional Chinese medicine’ and acupuncture is a major part of this concept. Professor Edzard Ernst, head of the department of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, and a man who has gained widespread respect in both the orthodox and alternative communities for applying to alternative medicine the same rigorous criteria demanded in orthodox medicine, comments: {2} ‘Neither the meridians nor the acupuncture points have ever been shown to exist in an anatomical sense, nor has the existence of Yin and Yang been demonstrated convincingly. For these and other reasons, critics tend to reject traditional acupuncture.’

However, given that there is some objective evidence of limited benefit (see below), conventional Western medical thinking has some suggestions of ‘scientific’ mechanisms that might be involved:

  1. Counter-irritant action

This is an obvious if over-simplistic suggestion. Mothers worldwide know that ‘rubbing it better’ helps their child’s bruised knee, and the many rubefacients on the market work by ‘taking your mind off’ the pain underneath the area being stimulated. (It may be of course that the touch alone has some therapeutic benefit.) However, this concept would not explain how needling the knee can relieve period pains, if indeed it can. Two more recent concepts are:

  1. ‘Gate theory’

In 1965 Melzack and Wall proposed a new theory for pain mechanisms, whereby only certain nerve signals could get in and out of the ‘gate’ into consciousness at any one time. On this electrophysiological model, acupuncture may exert its analgesic effect partly through the selective excitation of efferent pain inhibitory pathways. This poorly understood but probably respectable concept might allow a scientific explanation of how a needle in one area of the body could affect another part of the body.

  1. Endorphins

These central nervous system chemical transmitters might provide another explanation for the analgesic effect of acupuncture as there is experimental evidence that endorphins (in the cerebrospinal fluid) and enkephalins (in the serum) are released in response to acupuncture. Naloxone, a drug which reverses the effect of exogenous opiates (which themselves work on endorphin receptors) can in most instances reverse the analgesic effects of acupuncture. This perhaps adds further weight to the suggestion that acupuncture may work through endorphins.

Whatever the explanation, today, the two schools of ‘traditional Chinese’ acupuncture and ‘Western’ acupuncture exist in our culture side by side. The former is typically practised by non-medically trained practitioners, the latter by qualified physicians. In the private sector a typical session would cost between £20 and £50, but one session is rarely enough. Most therapists would recommend six to twelve sessions, and to repeat treatments at regular intervals.

What evidence is there that acupuncture works?
In the helpful general review quoted earlier, Professor Ernst summarised the results of the 200 or so controlled clinical trials of acupuncture which had sought to determine whether or not it was more effective than other treatments, including ‘sham’ acupuncture (which has usually meant sticking needles into non-acupuncture points). After a ‘systematic review’ evaluation of all the available data he has concluded that acupuncture is of proven benefit for:

-nausea and vomiting

-dental pain

-low back pain when not caused by a specific disease.

The same review approach suggests strongly that acupuncture is no more effective than sham acupuncture for:

-losing weight

-stopping smoking

He lists many conditions ‘for which trial data are available, and where the evidence is neither convincingly positive nor negative. This can be because results are conflicting, or the trials are of poor quality’. These conditions are:

-osteoarthrosis

-inflammatory rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis

-stroke

-drug addictions

-asthma

-neck pain

-tinnitus

Claims are made about many other conditions but Professor Ernst refuses to rule on these in the absence of evidence. He concludes ‘the bottom line is that acupuncture seems to be more than “just a placebo” for some conditions, but it is clearly not a “cure-all”‘.

Has acupuncture got harmful physical side-effects?
The answer is ‘yes’. The most frequently reported adverse effects are bruising and pain felt during the needling, and (interestingly) fainting and drowsiness directly after an acupuncture session .[2]

The use of non-sterile needles may cause infections. One overview documents 126 cases of hepatitis, [3] and three cases of HIV infection have been suggested though causality has not been established beyond reasonable doubt. [4, 5]

 

 

A British Medical Journal leading article [6] details one case of subacute bacterial endocarditis due to infection with Propionibacterium acnes apparently via ear acupuncture, similar infections with Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, three cases (one fatal) of staphylococcal septicaemia, and one of bilateral psoas abscesses due to Staphylococcus aureus.

The inevitable tissue trauma can also cause complications. At least 65 cases of pneumothorax have been reported, [3] as have several cases of cardiac tamponade, one fatal. [7] Other serious complications range from retained needles to injury of the spinal cord and peripheral nerves. [8] Probably many complications go unreported, but difficulties with quantification also mean that we do not know accurately the incidence of problems, as nobody knows how many acupuncture treatments are performed.

With sterile needles and some understanding of the underlying anatomy, acupuncture could and should be a relatively safe treatment, in terms of physical harms.

What about spiritual harm?
All the above constitutes a pretty mainstream, orthodox, textbook outline of acupuncture, but as Christians we are also concerned about possible spiritual harm. By associating in whatever way, however remote, with a therapy perhaps permeated by non-Christian or even anti-Christian ideology, are patients not at risk of spiritual harm?

To help us think through the spiritual aspects of acupuncture I refer to a checklist I have set out elsewhere.[9] It can be applied to the assessment of any alternative therapy, and seeks overall to answer, in both Christian and medical terms, the question: ‘What is the truth here?’ I venture to suggest this is the most important question we can ask about any subject! There are six specific questions in the checklist and I will apply each in turn.

 

A Christian Checklist

  1. Do the claims made for it fit the facts?
    The ‘traditional Chinese medicine’ approach has seen acupuncture as a ‘cure-all’. Within that context, claims about longevity and positive enhancement of health are made, for which there is no supportive evidence. Within the ‘Western medical’ context there is limited evidence of some objective benefit so that acupuncture may have a genuinely useful role to play, for example in the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy or with chemotherapy, or in non-specific low back pain.

Conclusion: acupuncture sometimes has objective benefit.

  1. Is there a rational scientific basis to the therapy?
    Some suggestions have been outlined above. We must acknowledge that our understanding is currently limited, but there do seem to be some possible rational scientific explanations for the occasional benefits of acupuncture.

Conclusion: acupuncture can be understood within a worldview we hold to be true. It is not necessary to seek ‘occult’ explanations.

  1. Is it the methodology or is it the principle which is the effective element?
    When CMF’s Medical Study Group investigated acupuncture in the mid-1980s, we quizzed Dr Felix Mann, then Britain’s best known practitioner and the person chiefly responsible for introducing acupuncture into clinical practice in the UK.

He denied holding a religious faith himself, and he put no weight on the claims of Yin-Yang theories. Dr Mann believes the ancients stumbled upon something that worked empirically, needed (as human beings always do) an explanation for this, and therefore expressed their understanding in the terms of their own cultural beliefs. He sees the methodology as having limited but definite benefit (and he was refreshingly sceptical about how close you have to get the needle to the ‘acupuncture points’) and sees no need to invoke any mystical or spiritual explanations. I found his healthy common sense convincing.

Conclusion: the methodology works, sometimes. We do not need to invoke spiritual principles.

  1. What are the assumptions of the world view behind the therapy?
    The response to these checklist questions gets a bit monotonous when applied to acupuncture! The questions are merely diagnostic tools seeking to explore from slightly different angles the truth claims for a particular therapy. As has been emphasised above, we can accept acupuncture within a scientific Western world view which we hold to be truthful as far as it goes.

Conclusion: acupuncture can be understood without invoking non-Christian world views.

  1. Does the therapy involve the occult?

I should by now have made clear that the therapy itself need not involve the occult, but let me now emphasise the most important warning in this article: while the therapy might not involve the occult, the therapist might! As with most if not all alternative practices the question is not so much about the nature of the therapy, but about the nature of the therapist. Who is this person I am about to place myself under?

In all therapeutic relationships, there is a power imbalance and the patient, the client, the counselee, is potentially submitting to a lot when they place themselves ‘under’ the therapist. I am therefore in general more concerned about the acupuncturist in question than about the acupuncture. Let me give you an example.

As General Secretary of CMF, I spoke once on the phone to a lay Christian, an ordinary person without any training or expertise in health matters. He told me how he had visited an acupuncturist in his village, and after half a dozen treatments he had indeed achieved relief of the chronic painful condition he’d first gone with. He put this down to the therapy (though I must say I wondered if the condition had got better anyway over the two month period in question!).

 

 

 

But what he went on to say was concerning. He told me that while the acupuncturist was twiddling the needles he was always muttering something inaudible under his breath, in what sounded like an incantation. He noticed too that progressively over that two month period his own spiritual life had begun to dry up. He found it hard to pray, he lost interest in going to church, he lost some of his love for the Lord. Eventually he came to realise that perhaps he’d come under some harmful spiritual influence from the acupuncturist. Simple repentance and prayer was immediately completely effective in restoring his spiritual life.

I have heard a few other anecdotes like that. I don’t necessarily believe every element, but I take them seriously.

Conclusion: acupuncture need not involve the occult, but the acupuncturist might!

  1. Has the therapy stood the test of time?
    This question is generally weaker in its diagnostic power, but applied to acupuncture, three and a half thousand years may suggest acupuncture has got some point!

Conclusion: probably!
Summary
There is evidence that acupuncture works for a few painful conditions and there are suggestions for a rational scientific basis such that no belief need be placed in Eastern religion. I do not believe acupuncture necessarily involves the occult at all, though as in all alternative treatments I advise great caution about the therapist. I believe that performed for a proper indication by a reliable practitioner (preferably medically qualified) acupuncture can be acceptable. I suggest traditionalists using it in other situations and for other indications should be avoided as of course should anything that might be occult.

I know from much experience of discussing acupuncture that this conclusion will be controversial for some. Finally, and as a token contribution to that bigger debate, I would add that I never advise anyone to go against their conscience. Paul’s discussion of conscience and meat offered to idols in 1 Corinthians 10: 14-33 may be relevant here. If you have any doubts or qualms at all, don’t go for acupuncture. You probably won’t miss much.

Further reading
Alternative Medicine – Helpful or Harmful? (Robina Coker, Monarch/CMF, 1995) is a useful general book giving a Christian and medical critique of alternative medicine. Available from the CMF Office, price £4.99 plus p&p.

References

  1. Lewith G. Acupuncture. The Practitioner 1986; 230: 1057-1063 (December)
  2. Ernst E. Acupuncture – what’s the point? The Independent 1998; 12 (20 October)
  3. Rampes H, James R. Complications of acupuncture. Acupunct Med 1995; 13:26-33
  4. Vittecoq D, Mettetal JF, Rouzioux C, Bach JF, Bouchon JP. Acute HIV infection after acupuncture treatments. NEJM 1989; 320:250-251
  5. Castro KG, Lifson AR, White CR. Investigation of AIDS patients with no previous identified risk factors. JAMA 1988; 259:1338-1342
  6. Ernst E, White A. Acupuncture: safety first. BMJ 1997; 314:1362 (10 May)
  7. Halvorsen TB, Anda SS, Levang OW. Fatal cardiac tamponade after acupuncture through congenital sternal foramen. Lancet 1995; 345:1175
  8. Ernst E. The risks of acupuncture. Int J Risk Safety Med 1995; 6:179-186
  9. Fergusson A. Alternative Medicine – A Review. JCMF 1988; April: 26-29

Andrew Fergusson is the General Secretary of Christian Medical Fellowship. He has spoken, written and broadcasted extensively about alternative medicine throughout the 1990s.

 

Qi [and acupuncture]

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/sw/viewanswer.asp?QID=323

May 13, 2007

Many people have experienced the existence of this energy going through their body which they call qi. Manipulation of qi is said to clear blocked arteries and meridians in the body and solve many health problems. My sister can will her qi to go to certain parts of her body to clear blockages. Although I am very suspicious of qi, I believe it exists but do not understand what it is exactly. What are your views on this? Qigong is taking on great popularity in the alternative medicine arena and nearly everyone who practises this said it has helped in their health. My sister has become very New Age after she has learned qigong and has also acquired higher sensitivity to spirituality e.g. experiencing the Holy Spirit, or sensing illness in others. –Betty

I use to be a practitioner of this sort of thing. I too believed I could “feel”, and my patients reported that they could “feel,” these blockages of energy in the meridians that run throughout the body. I too believed that clearing these blockages could facilitate health and even cure illness. I was wrong.

There is no such thing as energy flows through the body in meridians. It does not exist. There is no such thing as “qi” or “chi” and the rest.

This is all based on Oriental Cosmology that is inconsistent with not only the Christian worldview and cosmology, but is at odds with science as well.

There are at times some positive effects of some of these alternative techniques, such as acupuncture, but legitimate effects are very limited. Acupuncture, for example, as been shown to control pain. But traditional methods are just as effective.

 

But, the idea that if one clears “blocked” energy one will get well is pure poppycock.

This “clearing” of blocked energy is part of a cosmology that believes that the energy flows in our bodies must be in tune, and in balance not only within our bodies but within the universal plasma, the universal energy. This is a cosmology without a god, but rather a universal force, or plasma, or unconsciousness, or flow, or whatever various people want to call it.

The ancient Orientals invented this elaborate schema based upon what they knew about the universe at the time. They did not have the Revelation of God as we do today in the Bible and Sacred Tradition, nor did they have the insights of biology, chemistry, physics, and medicine that we have today. They did the best they could with what they had.

The Chinese folk medicine stumbled upon many sorts of remedies, that through trial and error, they discovered had real effects on health. Many of those herbs and plants form the chemical basis of our drugs today.

The ancient Chinese also stumbled across the fact that if certain structures in the body are stimulated certain effects will result. This is why pain control is effective in acupuncture. Although I do not know all the bio-chemical details, the stimulation of certain structures in the body will cause the release of natural pain killers. This has nothing whatsoever to do with imaginary meridians in the body or any other sort of mysterious “energy flow.” This effect is purely natural and can be scientifically verified.

Depending on the “alternative” technique, there can be real but very limited effects. When those effects are real they can be scientifically verified.

As for the rest of any effect that “appears” real, such things are most likely a placebo effect. This placebo effect is when the mind perceives improvement when there is actually none, or the mind over matter sort of thing where there may be some real healing based upon the person believing it to be so, a faith healing as-it-were. When this happens, if there is a real effect, that is, a real improvement in health, this can be documented in a scientific way even if we do not understand fully the mechanisms that facilitated the healing.

But none of this is because of energy flows through the body that need to be “cleared” of “blockages.” That is just plain nonsense.

A Christian ought not to get involved with these practices and philosophies. The philosophies are incompatible with Christianity and the practices are based upon those unChristian philosophies and upon unscientific and unsubstantiated postulations. -Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

 

Is acupuncture safe or is it a new age practice as well?

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/sw/viewanswer.asp?QID=447

September 11, 2007

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago. She had surgery and just finished her radiation treatments. Thank the Lord she is cancer free now. At the cancer center she was going to they offered free of charge all these different classes on relaxation, Reiki, yoga, Pilates, etc… They also offer acupuncture. My mother decided to try the acupuncture to see if it would decrease the pain she has from arthritis in her feet. It seems to have worked a little and now she plans on going back again. Is there any danger from this practice? Is she spiritually in danger from this? I am not sure if it has any “new age” philosophies associated with it. –Deborah

I am very disappointed in the lack of scientific approach hospitals are taking these days with their use of many alternative medical techniques that have little or no scientific verification. Then, even those that may have real effects have spiritual side-effects sometimes.

As far as acupuncture is concerned, this Chinese Medical technique is based on a false cosmology and a false physiology of the body. Acupuncture, like the other Chinese techniques, is focused on non-existent meridians in the body the energy flow of which needs to be balanced within the body and with the cosmic flow of the universe. All hogwash.

But, scientific studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective for pain relief. The procedure releases endorphins (the body’s natural pain killer). Most of the other claims that practitioners of acupuncture make, however, are not proven and generally false. But, acupuncture can be effective for pain.

However, those same studies show that traditional medicines will be just as effective if not more so in the relief of pain.

Even when some of these alternative approaches are effective and useful one needs to be VERY careful since most of the people who practice these alternative approaches are New Agers with philosophies and approaches that we should avoid.

Your mother will most likely find just as much relief from traditional therapies for arthritis. If, however, for some reason, she cannot take the traditional therapies, or hasn’t the money for them, acupuncture may help (but she needs to avoid any other New Age blather that the practitioner may spew).

Acupuncture, like traditional methods, does not cure the arthritis; it provides only temporary relief. Thus, she will need repeated ongoing treatments. -Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

 

Acupuncture

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/sw/viewanswer.asp?QID=693

July 24, 2008

Is it acceptable to undergo ‘5 Element Acupuncture?” This supposedly treats a person’s body, mind, heart and spirit. –Meg

Acupuncture is based on a false cosmology. It believes there are energy flows in the body through what are called meridians. Blocks in the energy flow brings physical or mental disease. The Acupuncture is supposed to unblock this energy flow. When it is unblocked the person gets well.

 

 

This is hogwash.

There is no evidence of meridians and energy flows through them. It does not exist.

What treats a person’s body, mind, heart, and spirit is Christ and that which he ordains (like provable medical techniques based on facts, not fantasy and false cosmologies). Thus, the answer to your question is, No. It is not acceptable for a Christian to undergo this sort of therapy. -Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

 

Acupuncture – is it an option for a Catholic?

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/fs/viewanswer.asp?QID=279

October 30, 2004

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia 5 years ago. I had been in remission for a little over a year, and off all my meds when a week ago my rheumatoid arthritis came back with a vengeance. The last year has been great. I was even able to hold down a part time job. Well, I had to quit due to my illness.

So, my former boss is a firm believer in acupuncture. He says it cured his son’s disease. He is urging me to give it a try, and is willing to help me pay for it.

My question is can I do this as a Catholic? My husband recommended asking you. The strange thing was when we were discussing it both of my children became very upset and said it was wrong and I should not do it, they are 10 and 7.

I know you also struggle with a chronic illness, and I am sure you can understand my temptation for a “quick fix” to end my pain. I want to do what is right not for my body, but for my soul. -Robin

I praise God that you are both thoughtful and faithful enough to want to check these out before jumping into the waters of something that may not be proper for a Christian. Most people are not so thoughtful.

I am going to answer your question much more broadly than a mere direct answer. Instead I think it may be important to discuss the whole issue of Alternative Medicine in terms of the three problems to consider before deciding to use alternative medical techniques:

  1. Consider Worldview: All of knowledge — medical, philosophical, religious, etc. — is based upon a presumption and foundation of some worldview.  The judgment and assessment of things will vary depending upon the worldview one presumes.

As Christians, we are obligated to look at the world and to assess the things of the world according to the Christian worldview. Since Christianity is unfortunately split into many sects, we as Catholics need to further define and assess Christianity through the Catholic worldview.

With this said, now let us assume that we are going to develop a home remedy. We must build that home remedy on the foundation of truth that the Bible says is the Church. Doing this will effect how our home remedy will be developed and shaped. If we were to construct our home remedy according to some other foundation (worldview) other than Catholicism then although that home remedy make look similar to one developed according to a Catholic worldview, it will have elements that are not Catholic since it was not built upon a Catholic foundation.

For example, if we were to develop a home remedy using chicken soup that can be done within the Catholic (and I might add even the scientific) worldview. If we developed our chicken soup remedy by including some herbs that have been “blessed” by the devil or have been prayed over by occultic ritual and the like, then we have a problem. While the herb itself may be harmless, the fact that the herb received a demonic blessing or was offered to Satan in a prayer and ritual is a real problem for a Christian. If the cosmology we use is not Catholic we may also come to believe that the chicken soup can remedy all sorts of things that it cannot remedy.

Acupuncture was developed under a worldview that is inconsistent with Christianity. The cosmology that acupuncture is founded upon is a false cosmology based upon the notion of energy flows in the body that must be attuned to the energy of the universe. Acupuncture, it is thought, corrects the energy imbalances in the body and thus attuning our bodies with the universal energy. When we are in “balance” we find healing.

These energy flows, in the first place, located in what is called meridians, do not exist. In the second place the relationship of our bodies with the universe as described by this cosmology also does not exist.

Thus, although there might be some scientifically verifiable benefits of acupuncture, the practice itself is based upon a false worldview and thus some aspects of it will also be false.

Satan loves to try to trip us up by using two essential methods:

  1. the Grain of Truth Method: In this method Satan will take a grain of truth (and there is a grain of truth in acupuncture) and surround that grain with a bunch of falsehood. He knows that often people will see the grain of truth and just ASSUME that all things surrounding that grain are okay too. This is a deadly assumption.
  2. the Poison Apple Method: In this method Satan will take something that looks good and useful and beneficial to us, and that may be perfectly okay for us normally, but he takes a hypodermic and inserts a little bit of poison in the middle. If we take a bit out of that apple without cutting it open to examine it to be sure it is good, we bit into the poison and die.

Depending upon one’s point-of-view concerning things like acupuncture, Satan can use either of these methods to trip us up.

  1. Consider the Practitioner: Many practitioners of alternative medicine may present themselves in a very professional and scientific manner. They may even be medical doctors giving the impression that their approach is purely medical and scientific. Beware the practitioner! Unbeknownst to the patient, the practitioner, if he is coming from an oriental worldview, may be praying for you to a false god while performing the procedure.

 

 

I know this to be possible because I use to practice and train others in a procedure known as acupressure (a form of acupuncture that uses the fingers and hands instead of needles to apply pressure to the acupuncture points). When I worked on someone I was also praying to some new age “force” at the same time. This is common practice among some, but not all, practitioners.

If one is to use alternative medical techniques, then be sure that practitioner is coming from a scientific point-of-view understanding the scientifically verifiable effects of technique and its limitations, and NOT coming from the oriental cosmology. If the practitioner believes that any particular technique or remedy, including acupuncture, can solve most any problem, RUN, do not walk, away from that person. NO technique is a cure-all.

  1. Consider the Science: This leads us to discuss the issue of whether the alternative medical techique or remedy actually works for anything or is just a bunch of hooey, or has effects that are occultic. A consideration of the science needs to be reviewed for any alternative medical technique or remedy. For our present purposes, let us consider the science concerning acupuncture:

A very good reference book to check on the science and verifiability of “alternative medicine” techniques is a book by Dr. Rosenfeld called, Dr. Rosenfeld’s Guide to Alternative Medicine : What Works, What Doesn’t And What’s Right for You.

Dr. Rosenfeld is not Christian, thus some of his advice does not take into consideration particular Christian concerns, but this book is valuable in getting information about the medical aspects of Alternative Medicine techniques.

Dr. Rosenfeld’s analysis of acupuncture is too extensive to include in this forum, but essentially he says that acupuncture can be useful in pain control. Here is an excerpt from his “bottom line”:

— (in the operating room, acupuncture) is not an ideal anesthetic. It works in only 20 percent of cases of major surgery, and is not nearly as effective or predictable as the modern, sophisticated agents and nerve blocks developed in the West. In fact, Chinese surgeons don’t use acupuncture anesthesia very often and usually give additional painkillers when they do — just to be sure. But that’s not the point. The question is not how good an anesthetic acupuncture is, but whether or not it can control pain in certain situations. In my opinion, the answer to that question is “yes.”

I suggest that you stay with conventual anesthesia if you’re having major surgery. But is you’ve got a bad back or some other chronic disorder that’s giving you round-the-clock pain; if you suffer from asthma or irritable bowel; if you’re addicted to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs; or if chemo-therapy is giving you intolerable nausea, try acupuncture from a qualified practitioner. If you’ve had a stroke, or suddenly develop weakness or paralysis of a limb, ask your doctor or neurologist about early acupuncture. The data here are impressive.

Thus the “bottom line” in your case, to answer your question directly now, is that acupuncture “might” be helpful.

The caution is to find a practitioner who is not “new age” and who understands it limitations and does not claim more than what acupuncture can offer. You will probably be okay if you go to a Western trained doctor who is also certified in acupuncture who is sponsored by a reputable hospital. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

I disagree with Bro. Ignatius Mary in the sense that I find him not accurate and “strict” enough. In my informed opinion, it is as near to impossible for potential patients to be able to “find a practitioner who is not “new age” and who understands it limitations and does not claim more than what acupuncture can offer” as it is to find the practice of acupuncture and acupressure separated from their Taoist spiritual underpinnings -Michael

 

Acupuncture

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/fs/viewanswer.asp?QID=1115 EXTRACT

July 24, 2008

I have read your explanation of the incompatibility of acupuncture with Catholicism, and also the Holy See document “Jesus Christ Bearer of the Water of Life”.

When I encounter resistance, the typical line is that the Asians have been using this method for thousands of years. My only comeback is that the occult has also been around for thousands of years.

Therefore, can you help me on how to answer this fact that these are medicinal methods used by the Asian people? If it never healed them, then it would have died out centuries ago. -Christina

Acupuncture has been studied scientifically. It has been found useful in pain control, but not in much else. Even then, traditional pain killers are just as effective as and even more so than acupuncture. It is interesting to note that Chinese surgeons, in China, do not always use acupuncture in their practice.

Acupuncture is based upon the idea of energy in the body that flows through “meridians.” What acupuncture is suppose to do is to remove blockages (that cause disease) in this “flow”. When that happens the person is suppose to get well. The idea is also to balance the energy within the body with the energy of the universe. This is the Yin/Yang dynamics.

All this is hogwash. There is no evidence of meridians and this “flow” through them that affects health.

What acupressure may do is stimulate endorphins and other chemicals in the body that have healing functions. But the claims of major healings of everything from cancer to whatever has never been substantiated.

We can also not neglect the power of the placebo effect.

Bottom line: is it the acupuncture or something else that may facilitate healing? One a properly conducted scientific study can determine that. Those studies have not shown the great healing powers of acupuncture itself.

Studies would also have to be conducted in China as to how many people are ACTUALLY healed as oppose to those who only claim to be healed.

This is the same with so-called Faith Healers. Just because they say people are healed doesn’t make it so…  yet people flock to these faith healers even when they have been proven a fraud.

Even if acupuncture had no effect at all, it would still flourish and be used. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

 

 

Meridian Regulatory Acupuncture

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/fs/viewanswer.asp?QID=1849

February 7, 2011

Have you heard of Dr. Nemeh and his healing ministry in Cleveland, Ohio? Do you think it is legit? I have seen that a Bishop (emeritus, I believe) of Cleveland seems favorable to him. –Melissa

I cannot recommend Dr. Issam Nemeh because he proposes and practices what is called Meridian Regulatory Acupuncture. It is called “Scientific Acupuncture”. Great marketing. Use the word “Scientific” and people listen, even if it is the same ‘ol hogwash.

It is standard practice amongst these Oriental or Indian cosmologies to claim scientific grounding in order to tell their wares to the Western World. Transcendental Meditation, for example, is nothing more then Hindu meditation wrapped in scientific language to make it attractive to Americans.

I used to practice acupressure, a kind of acupuncture but without needles. It was said back then, in the early eighties, that scientific evidence existed of these so-called meridians. There was no evidence then and no evidence now.  Meridians filled with invisible energy fluid do not exist.

According to Dr. Nemeh’s website:

Meridian Regulatory Acupuncture (MRA) is different from traditional Chinese acupuncture. MRA consists of two parts, a diagnostic procedures and a treatment procedure. The diagnosis involves measuring the electrical resistance of the body at different points on the skin, known as meridian points. These measurements are graphed and interpreted by the doctor to develop a treatment plan for the meridian points of the body. This treatment is performed with a small, single needle that is temporary inserted at various meridian points of the body, usually for just a few seconds. This tiny needle is used to deliver a small, painless flow of electricity through the meridian point it is inserted into, lowering the excitation threshold for nerves while increasing blood flow.

Does the term “gobbledygook” come to mind in reading this? This is nothing more than a new twist to Chinese acupuncture. It is claiming the very same thing that is claimed by Chinese acupuncture, but performing it in a slightly different way. For those who are unaware of the issues and the nature of acupuncture and other Chinese alternative medical techniques, this description might sound interesting. All I can smell here is “snake-oil.”

How is the “electrical resistance of the body at different points on the skin, known as meridian points” supposed to diagnose disease? How is causing the flow of electricity into non-existent meridians heal anything? Where are the independent scientific studies for this?

The purpose of acupuncture/acupressure as well as various kinds of martial arts, yoga, and some mediation is to free any energy blocks in the body so that the body’s energy (Ch’i) may be in one with the universe. Nonsense. At best it is quackery, at worse such things can open doors to the demonic.

Now, with that said, there is scientific evidence that acupuncture can reduce pain. The needles do release endorphins in the body. But, studies have shown that this method is no better than traditional pain control drugs. In certain cases, however, where the drugs are contraindicated, acupuncture therapy for pain reduction may be useful.

There is also some evidence that sufferers of Asthma have been helped by acupuncture. Stroke victims have shown some improvement in physical rehabilitation. None of these positive effects, however, has anything to do with non-existent meridians.

Whenever anybody claims that a single technique cures wide and broad spectrum of disease and conditions, one need to run, not walk, away from such a snake-oil salesman.

Acupuncture can have some limited results on a limited number of conditions. It is not, however, a miracle cure, and certainly not a cure-all.

For interest sake, here is an article from the Cleveland Magazine about Nemeh.

Bottom line: I would not allow this man to “heal” me, even though he claims to have healed people with some conditions that I share. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

 

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/fs/viewanswer.asp?QID=1851

February 9, 2011

Your response about his practice of acupuncture is not surprising, but Dr. Nemeh also holds prayer services at various churches (including Catholic parishes) in which he lays hands on individuals. It is my understanding that the Bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Cleveland celebrated Mass at one of the healing services.

Anyway, I have some friends who went to one of his healing services. The husband felt heat move through his body where his medical condition is located. The wife felt that God was telling her to seek the God of Healing, not the healing itself. A friend of my friends also went; she said that after she had been prayed for, she was healed of her asthma. Would these prayer services be tainted because of his practice of acupuncture? –Melissa

Personally, I would not ever seek out this person’s help. As I understand his method, despite its claims to science, it appears to still include the Chinese cosmology concerning meridians and non-existent energy flows. The question then arises whether or not his “healing gift” is from God. The devil has no problems facilitating an apparent healing if it will advance his cause. I say apparent healing, because the devil cannot perform miracles, but he can facilitate psychogenic effects.

But, regardless of that, all so-called “faith healers” need to be scrutinized very closely.

 

 

 

Many conditions can be relieved through a placebo effect (though sometimes only temporarily). The only way to verify whether a faith healer is really from God is to have scientific evidence, not anecdotal reports, of healings. The condition must be of the type not subject to placebo or any other psychological effect. This condition must be well documented in advance of the healing. The healing must be immediate and complete, scientifically proved, with no relapse later. As one medical doctor suggest:

(1) The ailment must be one that normally doesn’t recover without treatment;

(2) There must not have been any medical treatment that would be expected to influence the ailment; and

(3) Both diagnosis and recovery must be demonstrable by detailed medical evidence.

Pope Benedict XIV, in the 18th century, laid down strict criteria to assess the veracity of alleged miraculous healings. These criteria are used at the Lourdes Shrine by the Lourdes International Medical Committee.

The Committee created a 16 query scheme, which among other things, requires:

  1. Ruling out any psychopathic component
  2. Ruling out other subjective pathologic states or manifestations
  3. Including only accounts of recovery from serious and provable affections, the only ones that could be deemed as “scientifically inexplicable”.
  4. A medical report supporting a “certain and medically unexplainable” recovery, only when:

-The diagnostics and authenticity of the disease has been preliminarily and perfectly assessed;

-The prognosis provides for an impending or short-term fatal outcome;

-The recovery is sudden, without convalesce, and absolutely complete and final;

-The prescribed treatment cannot be deemed to have resulted in a recovery or in any case could have been propitiatory for the purposes of recovery itself. These criteria are still in use nowadays, in view of their highly logical, accurate and pertinent nature.

When applying these criteria used by the Church, the veracity of the vast majority of faith healers will be lacking.

The heat experience of your friend’s husband is easily photogenically created. Even the relief from asthma can be psychogenic. And remember, for a healing to be from God, the healing must be permanent. There can be no relapses even years later. For example, in Lourdes a healing from leukemia is not considered verified unless the person healed remains disease free for ten years.

With all that said, even if a faith healer’s gift is not from God, that does not mean that healings cannot happen. Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Mark 5:34). God can heal someone in honor of their faith even if the “healer” is not legit.

Secondly, it is also possible for a faith healer to have a legitimate gift from God, but still make mistakes in his thinking on other things, or even have wrong motivation.

St. Paul speaks of this principle, which can be applied to healers too, that we ought to praise God that His message is preached even when the people doing the preaching are questionable:

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of partisanship, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in that I rejoice. (Philippians 1:15-18)

The bottom line: If Dr. Nemeh is facilitating genuine healings, even if he is wrong-headed concerning the meridians and such, we need to praise God. Certainly we can rejoice that people have been freed of their afflictions, even if that freedom was psychogenic and not miraculous.

The question is whether or not he is really facilitating genuine miraculous healings. That can only be determined by careful scientific scrutiny per Church criteria, which to my knowledge has never been determined.

Without verification of these healings based on the criteria of the Church we must, in my opinion, look skeptically at this man and be very cautious about allowing him to attempt a healing on us. If this man’s “gift” is not from God, then the spiritual consequences on those who follow him and especially upon those who are “cured” by him can potentially be serious.

In our Deliverance Apostolate we have had clients who eventually become demonized after having hands laid upon them for healing. This consequence is not rare. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

 

10_Acupuncture – Martial Arts

Metamorphose

A Catholic Minstry for exposing the truth about alternate medicine, the occult in reiki & pranic healing
and oriental spiritual exercises of the New Age Movement.

For Queries and detailed information please call on, Michael Prabhu,
Michael Prabhu, #12 Dawn Apartments, 22, Leith Castle South Street, Chennai 600028. India
Phone: +91 (44) 24 611 606
Email: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net
Website: http://www.ephesians-511.net

 

  NOVEMBER 2013 

Acupuncture – Martial Arts

By Edwin A. Noyes M.D. MPH, spiritsdeception@aol.com, enoyes5678@aol.com, 2011

 

Chinese traditional medicine practices were little heard of in the West until the early 1970’s. I became involved in medical education in 1954, and not until the 1970’s did I hear of acupuncture or other traditional Chinese healing methods. The march toward scientific medicine in the first years of the 20th century had been almost complete.

The medical disciplines of eclectic medicine, homeopathy, osteopathy, and naturopathy had either converted toward scientific medicine or had slowly faded and/or ceased to exist. Medical students were told about some past medical treatments, such as the use of heavy metals, emet­ics, blistering compounds, purgatives, and bloodletting, but I heard no mention of Ayurvedic or traditional Chinese medicine, such as acu­puncture or moxibustion.

Since the late 1970’s, there has been widespread acceptance of the oriental healing methods. Most of the older physicians rejected them, but a large number of younger doctors did not, and amazingly some of the alternative therapies have gone “main street.” For some practitio­ners, it has been mainly a financial interest; but for others, it has been a belief in these alternative methods. Now, we see in many medical training institutions and at the National Institutes of Health research being done on alternative treatment methods, acupuncture being one of the more common.

Segments of the Ayurvedic system have been used more widely than has Chinese traditional medicine. However, the Chinese methods are often used along with Ayurveda. Let us examine the roots of the traditional Chinese system of healing. You are probably very familiar with the symbol of two fish swimming in a circle with eight trigrams of all possible combinations of the two, which in Chinese is called pa kua and referred to in English as circle of harmony. Emperor Fu His, in 2900 B.C., is credited with its origination. It is a symbol representing all the conditions of interior—exterior, hot—cold, deficiencies—excesses, yin—yang. This Emperor’s works are the most ancient upon which traditional Chinese medicine is based.1

Another Emperor, Shen Nung, in 2800 B.C., compiled a text “pen­tsao” which was the first medical text for the use of herbs. It contained three hundred and sixty-five drugs, which he had tested on himself.2

The most celebrated ancient medical text in China is called the “Nei Ching.” It was written in 2600 B.C. by the Yellow Emperor, Hwang Ti. From this text is garnered information that gives us insight into the early approach to Chinese medicine and its orientation.3

January 1, 1912, Sun Yat Sen, a Western-trained physician, was in­augurated President of China following the revolution and over-throw in 1911 of the Imperial dynasty. Shortly following, he initiated improve­ments in hygiene practices in China such as having garbage cleared from the streets and installing running water in major urban centers. A bureau to combat epidemics was established and Western style medical schools were developed by a few Western-trained Chinese physicians. The old practice of traditional Chinese medicine was discouraged and in 1929 outlawed. This caused a great furor from the traditional Chinese medicine doctors who banned together to fight the new restrictions. The masses of China were on the side of traditional medicine, and the attempt to eradi­cate the old style practice failed primarily because of the belief of most­ly uneducated Chinese masses in Taoism and the philosophy of “ch′i” with its “yin—yang” divisions. That attempt to modernize China failed.

The changes initiated by Sun Yat Sen were almost insignificant com­pared to the size and degenerate condition of the country. From 1916 until 1949 China suffered great political turmoil and instability, with minimal progress made in hygiene and health of the nation. Following Mao’s rise to power under Communism in 1949, public hygiene was made a priority. Eradicating the vectors of parasitic diseases, closure of open sewers, immunization programs, and clean water were measures taken to combat a deplorable health status, as documented by Paul Bai­ley in his book A History of Chinese Medicine. He tells us of epidemics continuously of cholera, plague, black fever (500,000 afflicted in 1949), and 10,000,000 were infected by a parasite called bilhariza, 1,000,000 died each year from tuberculosis, epidemics of scarlet fever, and ty­phoid; untold millions were infected with malaria. The average life span was 35 years. This health status was a result of the mind-set of Taoism and the other Eastern religious concepts.

 

The medical approach to ill­ness was based on such beliefs, which allowed these conditions to exist. Traditional Chinese medicine is based on Taoism (“The Way”). The basic beliefs of Taoism are:

  1. The Creative Principle (or universal energy) is called ch′i and is composed of two parts–yin and yang (dualism);
  2. Five basic elements are involved in transformation in creation: metal, air, earth, fire, water.
  3. Man is the microcosm of the universe—macrocosm

In contrast the Biblical account of creation tells us how God cre­ated:

For He spake and it was done and He commanded and it stood fast. (Ps. 33:9.}

Man was created by God forming the dust of the ground into man’s form; God breathed into it “the breath of life” and man became a living “soul.” Early on in the history of the world Satan’s counterfeit changed this story in such a way that left out the Creator, Jesus Christ the Son of God. This formed the myth of a great power, energy, voice, breath, that existed throughout space which was of two parts, good and evil, and when it became properly balanced creation occurred. The Greeks called this cosmic spirit that they believed pervades and enlivens all things, and produces change, “pneuma”, this equates with the Hindus’ “prana,” those of the South Seas “mana,” and the Chinese “ch′i.”

The Chinese explanation for origins is that with the proper balance of yin and yang (which are divisions of ch′i), transformation occurred which brought the cosmos, earth, and man into existence. Fundamen­tal to traditional Chinese medicine is the astrological concept of the planets being closely associated with earth and man, with the sun and moon having the strongest influence. They had a belief in a “cosmo­logical correspondence” between the houses of the Chinese zodiac and “chinglo channels” (now called meridians) that are said to be in man. Sheila McNamara, in her book, Traditional Chinese Medicine, makes the following statement:

To the Chinese, the human body is the cosmos in miniature. The universe is an organism and man is a microcosm of the uni­verse…Yang is masculine: sun… Yin is feminine: moon,4

This belief gives expression in the saying “as above, so below.” This concept was prevalent throughout the ancient world but often expressed in different terms. A statement made by Gregor Reisch (c. 1467-1525) in Margarita Philosophica, published in 1503:

The pagans believed that the zodiac formed the body of the Grand Man of the Universe. This body, which they called the Macrocosm (The Great World), was divided into twelve major parts, one of which was under the control of the celestial powers reposing in each of the zodiacal constellations. Believing that the entire universal system was epitomized in man’s body, which they called the Microcosm (the Little World), they evolved that now familiar figure of “the cut—up man in the almanac” by al­lotting a sign of the zodiac to each of twelve major parts of the human body.

These beliefs led to “astrological medicine” which was dominant in Europe up until the seventeenth century. The physicians of that time used special “tables,” called “ephemeredes or Alfonsine tables,” to make pre­dictions based on astrological conjunctions, alignments, and the angle between planets. These predictions were then used to perform various healing acts, such as drawing off blood from the body (venesection), cupping, (causing great blisters to form), cauterization, surgery, and to choose herbs for medicines with special astral powers. Disease, they believed, came from an interruption of the free flow of “pneuma” or “pra­na,” as well as an imbalance of four body fluids called “humors.” Each humor was believed to be connected to a planet by correspondence.

To correct a supposed imbalance of “humors,” bloodletting (bleed­ing) was instigated and used by European and early American practi­tioners, and is still done by some Muslims today.

…The practice of lancing, bloodletting and cupping, (hijama) to affect specific organs or to mitigate specific diseases based on a postulated relationship between the internal organs and points on the surface of the skin is still prevalent amongst the Muslims worldwide and nowadays video instructions for it are available, even on “YouTube.” It is plausible that the same principle is at the origin of acupuncture channels in China because the distri­bution of the regions of astrological influences and the related venesection points portrayed in medieval Islamic and European manuscripts significantly resembles the allocation of master, command influential, and other key points.5

The Chinese followed a similar concept and saw disease as being a result of disharmony in the balance of yin and yang. This imbalance can occur for many reasons, such as lifestyle. It is believed that some physical disorders are caused by “winds.” Foods are considered yin or yang and the balance of such will influence so as to maintain health, or imbalance to allow illness. The beliefs of what causes imbalance in the yin and yang of the body are complex. I will not go into the causes of imbalance, but rather will direct our attention to the practices that are said to be capable of restoring balance.

In Ayurveda, prana, universal energy is said to be centered in whirling vortexes of energy referred to as chakras. The flow of energy through the body is said to be facilitated by meditation, yoga exercises, diet, herbs, aromatherapy, and cleansing therapies. In traditional Chi­nese medicine (TCM) the energy is described as flowing through the body in “meridians” which are (imaginary) channels perpendicular to the body. Many smaller channels branch from the meridians and dis­tribute the energy throughout the body. Here too, meditation, exercises, food—drink, moxibustion, acupressure, acupuncture, and other sym­pathetic remedies are used to facilitate the flow and balance of ch′i.

 

 

All creation depended upon correspondence, association, and sympathy between the various phases outlined above and yin—yang balance of ch′i. All disease of animal and man is considered to be an imbalance of yin—yang. Correcting the imbalance is believed to re­store health; therefore methods to balance ch′i and treat disease were developed over millennia of time.

Diseases are classified according to four different states of dis­harmony and make up eight syndromes, which include all varieties of disease. These previously mentioned conditions are: imbalance of yin/ yang; interior/exterior; hot/cold; and deficiencies/excesses.

The customary way to diagnose an imbalance of energy in tradi­tional Chinese medicine was to observe the tongue and feel the pulse. The tongue was felt to demonstrate changes in energy (ch′i) distri­bution throughout the body. Taking the pulse was done not to check the rate and rhythm of the heart, but to find where an imbalance of ch’i existed. One ancient author of Chinese traditional medicine wrote ten large volumes on pulse diagnosis. From the pulse and observation of the tongue, those physicians determined the imbalance of ch′i (qi), where it existed, and then prescribed to balance it.

 

DISEASE TREATMENT METHODS

In this chapter is presented those methods of treatment most com­monly known and accepted by Western society. These include the use of herbs, martial arts, and acupuncture. The Chinese practice disease prevention, with special emphasis on exercise and diet. Disease pre­vention is directed toward maintaining a balance of body energies.

In traditional Chinese medicine, herbs and foods are considered to have a “signature” and “like cures like.” For instance, walnuts resem­ble the brain therefore walnuts are especially nourishing to the brain. For a child to eat the pig’s tail, is to assure a straight strong spine, as he or she grows (in China pigs have straight tails). If an herb looks like an organ of the body, then it is considered to have special healing powers for that part of the body.6

Ginseng root can resemble the body and its limbs and is therefore considered good for all bodily ailments. The horn of an animal repre­sents a phallic symbol and so is used as an aphrodisiac. Consumption of animal parts, such as a tiger’s heart, will give courage. This type of belief has resulted in a large number of herbs being used because of their appearance rather than from their biochemical properties. Many animal parts are likewise used in this way. I visited a very large Chinese pharmacy in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and was amazed to see dried parts of animals, fish, and many other products I could not identify. The store had a thousand or more different substances, some in bottles and some in open boxes.

The idea of “like cures like” is an association–sympathy concept and not at all due to the chemical action of our systems. The Chinese found many herbs and substances that really do have significant bio­chemical action which are used world-wide. Herbal books will often label herbs as either hot–cold and/or yin–yang. The herbs may then be chosen for medicinal use accordingly, so as to influence a sick person’s balance of yin-yang and or hot and cold.

 

MARTIAL ARTS—QI GONG

Qi gong is the forerunner of traditional Chinese medicine, since qi/ch′i, the subtle breath, or life energy, is at the heart of every­thing.7

Qi gong or (Chi Kung) means manipulation of vital energy (psy­chic energy), and is also the precursor of martial arts that have been practiced in China for thousands of years. Qi is comprised of yin and yang, each contributing to health when in proper balance. Gong refers to achieving the ultimate balance of the two parts. Qi gong is a variety of physical exercises and actions practiced to facilitate the harmony of yin and yang. If one is able to superbly balance these parts of qi, he will be able to accomplish extraordinary feats with his powers and will be a master of qi gong.

Qi gong is a system of body/mind discipline of traditional Chinese medicine and is the foundation of martial arts, which are practiced un­der various names, such as ninjutsu, tai chi chuan, aikido, tae kwon do, judo, kenpo, karate, etc.

Fundamentally, qi gong is a method of meditation exercise aimed at the cultivation of physical and spiritual perfection.8

Meditational forms involve stillness, standing, sitting, or lying motionless. More physically active forms will involve breathing exercises in order to inhale the “vital essence of life.” Physical activity is frequently a slow, smooth, and rounded movement. Concentrating on breath and emptying the mind are very important. These activities are “always with a spiritual element”.9

QI GONG

111

 

The exercises can be performed alone, or by a qi gong Master for another person, which involves exercising around the other person’s body, without making any physical contact. This is supposed to ac­tivate the qi within another’s body so that the person can be brought into the qi gong state. Balancing the qi is the objective, for too little qi is equivalent to illness. When people do their own exercises, or when masters do the exercises for them, qi, it is said, can be directed towards different areas within the body.

One of its main precepts concerns finding the center of the body, to attain perfect balance as a prerequisite to health. Students will be taught to visualize the soles of their feet reaching hundreds of yards deep down into the earth, or a rod passing down their spine via entering of their head and penetrating deep into the ground. Once they achieve perfect balance, no one will be able to knock them off-balance. It proves that the qi is perfectly centered, neither too weak in one part of the body nor too strong in another.10

I once presented this information to an assembly and a gentleman came to me afterward. He spoke of taking karate, one of the disciplines of qi gong, and how he and two other students tried to push their in­structor off-balance, and were unable to do so. The question to ask is, what power held him to the ground?

A delegation of Chinese physicians traveled to the United States to present to American doctors this particular aspect of traditional Chi­nese medicine. They desired to convince the American doctors of the scientific basis of this therapy for which they made great claims. They described studies showing that the power associated with this life force showed up as making changes in electrical brain wave potential; in the molecular rotation of liquid crystal molecules; and in cancer cells, bac­teria, and viruses. The following was reported in The Medical Tribune:

After the Chinese Qi Gong scientists described their research, Dr. Li Xiao Ming, a Qi Gong master at the Qi Gong Research Institute at the Beijing College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, demonstrated his art on Dr. Alfonso Di Mino. As Dr. Li did his exercise around Dr. Di Mino, Dr. Di Mino shouted for Dr. Li to lower his hands as he said that he felt as if he “were ready to fly.” Later he said that it felt as if he had an “electric magnetic power inside his body” “My mind was not aware of my body.”

Dr. Di Mino, a biophysicist, described this “life force” as “the medicine of the future.”11

Robert Leeds, the vice chairman of the Sino-U.S. Qi Gong Center, then told the audience that Dr. Li was able to:

…manipulate energies we allegedly are not sensitive to or do not understand.” He added that for four thousand years, the Chinese have been able to map out this energy field and manipulate it to such an extent that it can heal.12

All across China in the early morning, people can be seen outside practicing various exercises of qi gong. All qi gong methods are sup­posed to produce equal flow of energy through the body and thereby promote health. Remember, there is a spiritual aspect connected to qi gong exercises.13

Tai ch′i is one of the popular styles of qi gong. It is felt to be totally free of any spiritual association by most people practicing it. Sheila McNamara in her book, Traditional Chinese Medicine, says of the different qi gong exercises:

…but they all spring from the same ancient root, and all are based on the meridians which interconnect the internal organs and vis­cera with the exterior of the body, through which the qi flows.14

In U.S. News and World Report, Feb. 22, 1999, there was an article by Bay Fang, entitled An Opiate of the Masses? This article referred to an advanced type of qi gong exercise. Grand Master Li Hongzhi leads sixty million Chinese in the practice of Falun Gong “Rotating the Law Wheel.” Tape recordings of the voice of the Master were played as thousands gather to do exercises. With eyes closed the people raised their arms together, and in perfect unison their hands swept slowly in a circle and came to rest in a prayer position.

 

 

 

Adherents in China say the Falun Gong Master can cure cancer, heal the blind, and make white hair turn black. …Throughout history, Qi Gong masters have captivated the public with their miracle cures, soothsaying and other tricks ranging from levitat­ing objects to communicating with aliens and changing the odor of cigarettes.15

We have seen how energy manipulation has progressed from the use of hands and needles, to exercises, and finally to energy manipula­tion without touching, just by using the mind to bring about “miracu­lous” changes. This type of progression, in whatever art being prac­ticed, proves that the method used is not the real power, but is, instead, the mental connection with hidden powers of the occult.

 

ACUPUNCTURE AND CHINESE PHYSIOLOGY

Chinese physiology has astrology as its foundation. All qi gong ex­ercises are based on the Chinese concept of physiology which teaches that there are fourteen meridians. Qi is believed to circulate through these meridians–the invisible lines of energy channels which are said to travel through the system–six on each side, one in the middle of the front, and one in the middle of the back. They run perpendicular on the body and have multiple small channels which connect to various organs of the body. Acupuncture is performed by needling these me­ridians at specific points in order to balance the distribution of energy (qi) to organs. Those who are proficient in qi gong can bring about this same balance simply by mind power and without needles.

The Chinese describe the distribution of ch′i (life energy) in a manner different from the Ayurvedic system. It is believed that the en­ergy comes close to the skin in various places and can be influenced in those areas to alter its flow.

Stephen Basser M.D. did a very extensive review of studies eval­uating acupuncture. His report “Acupuncture: A History,” appeared in the Spring/Summer issue of The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 1999. He learned from his research that in the early 1970’s, manuscripts dating from 168 B.C., describing medicine as it existed in the third and second centuries B.C., were discovered in China at the Ma-wang-tui graves. From these manuscripts, descriptions of all procedures used in Chinese medicine during that period of time were obtained. Acupuncture was not mentioned. It first showed up in the Shi-chi text in 90 B.C.; however, there are descriptions of sharp stones being used to drain blood from veins prior this date.16

The Ma-wang-tui texts describe eleven ‘mo’, or vessels, that were believed to contain in addition to blood a life force known as ch′i or pneuma.17

It was not appreciated at that time that blood circulates in a closed system. The most important text of the end of the first century B.C was the Huang-ti nei-ching. It describes twelve vessels (mo) instead of eleven, and gives different courses for the vessels from those given in the earlier descriptions. The vessels are called “conduits” (ching) or “conduit vessels” (ching-mo); by this time it was understood that blood flows through a system where the vessels interconnect. The text also tells of a large number of holes located over the body of these vessels. At the time of this text, there was no distinction made between vessels on the basis of content, and no explanation as to how the blood and ch’i circulated in the vessels. The texts reveal that the belief later developed that ch’i flowed through a separate system of vessels (today called me­ridians) which did not contain blood.18

Early in the history of Chinese medicine disease was attributed to imbalances of ch’i, and was caused by demons (hsieh-kuei); and that demons were carried by winds, and that winds dwelt in caves or tun­nels. The demons (evil spirits) were believed to lodge within the vessels carrying ch’i and disturbing the flow. To dislodge the demon which was clogging the flow of ch′i, needles were inserted in the holes (tunnels) over the vessels allowing escape of ch′i and relieving the congestion.19

The vessels, and not the openings, were the central feature of “an­cient” acupuncture, whereas in modern practice the points appear to be of prime importance. The vessels have, over time, lost their association with the vascular system and in the West are now viewed primarily as functional pathways lining the openings. The term “meridian” rather than “vessels” merely serves to aid in clouding the issue.20

Pulse diagnosis was developed during the time that ch′i was be­lieved to flow through blood. It was believed that the location of block­age of ch′i could be determined by feeling the pulse.

Over time the connection between needling and ch′i, which formed the basis of acupuncture, was described in the context of an emerging cosmological view of the world, not evident in the earlier descriptions of medical bleeding. Organic medicine was subsumed under this emerging system of cosmological cor­respondences.21

Early in the history of acupuncture, there were twelve meridians and 365 points, one point for each day of the year. This has changed and now many more points and fourteen meridians are said to exist. The body is supposed to have twelve organs. The Chinese day is con­sidered to be twelve hours which covers the 24 hours we have in a day. One hour of Chinese physiology time equals two hours of our time. The ch′i is claimed to flow around through the twelve organs, on schedule, where one organ will have the dominance of ch′i for one Chinese hour (two hours), then another organ, so covering all organs in twelve divisions of the day. This is analogous to the zodiac and the planets, and reflects the belief that man is a small cosmos.

 

 

 

Acupuncture at specific points is believed to cause a change of the energy (ch′i) flow running through that specific point to bring a desired balance of the yin and yang. This method is used for all types of illnesses, even for overcoming habits such as smoking. Some people claim to have experienced great relief from pain. Others have stopped smoking. What are the believed causes of the presumed imbalance of energy which results in disease? Lifestyle, different foods, and many other things are believed to influence the balance of energy. Winds are also believed to be a source of over 100 different diseases.

Treatment entails balancing the energy (ch′i), or using Like Cures Like therapy. Prevention involves meditation, and/or meditation in ex­ercise (no motion, stillness of position), exercise, and balancing foods. It is also important to have balance in the home, such as the proper placement of furniture.

As mentioned previously, energy balancing techniques of Chinese traditional medicine are as follows: meditation, meditation in exercise, breathing exercises, qi gong, tai ch’i and martial arts of all types, diet, drugs, minerals, herbs, moxibustion, acupressure, and acupuncture. Acupuncture is by far the most popular healing methods of traditional Chinese methods in the West. Today the proponents of acupuncture commonly use the term “energy” in referring to ch′i, however this is misleading as:

The core concept of ch′i bears no resemblance to the western concept of energy (regardless of whether the latter is borrowed from the physical sciences or from colloquial use.)22

This is true in Ayurveda (prana) as well as traditional Chinese medicine.

The Christian believes in a God of Creation who, by the power of His spoken word created the heavens and the earth. The universe and man are sustained by His power, and in healing. And salvation of man is obtained through faith in the sinless life of Jesus Christ, in the merits of His shed blood in His death at Calvary, and His resurrection.

The pagan denies the living God (Trinity), yet he recognizes there is a power that created and sustains the universe. We learned in chapter 4 of his explanation for creation, of the vital force believed to sustain us, and of the balancing of the supposed force’s two (yin—yang) divisions to heal. This power was considered a spiritual force; therefore a system was devised whereby man believed he could manipulate and influence this power to sustain well-being, to heal, as well as to obtain eternal life.

The creative power of God is not measurable or demonstrable by mechanical measuring instruments, and is not under the control of man. The power, which paganism separated from God, had many names, such as vital force, prana, ch’i, qi, and more recently, universal energy. The term “energy medicine” is commonly used to refer to the various techniques used in holistic health therapies. Scientists who are believers in these theories desire to show that this power (ch’i) is truly in the field of modern science and attempt to measure and demonstrate such. It is most likely that the common use of the term “energy” in reference to the “vital force” power has come from this desire. To the established believer in Hinduism or Taoism, the term “energy” may be an insult to his beliefs. The words prana, ch’i or qi, mana, etc., are not true synonyms of the word “energy.”

 

DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?

Acupuncture seems to do something for some people but nothing for others. Could it be a placebo effect? Why have we not had studies that really determine if it works by the placebo effect or not? Part of the confusion and lack of solid “yes” or “no” answers rises out of the difficulty of doing quality scientific studies on this procedure. It is dif­ficult to do a “mock” acupressure or acupuncture procedure. However, hundreds of studies have been done to test the effectiveness of the pro­cedure over the past 35 years.

In 1981, the Academy of Sciences of the German Democratic Re­public produced a statement regarding the effectiveness of acupunc­ture. Their summary, written by Rudolph Baumann, and published in Zeitschrift fur Experimentelle Chirurgie 14:66-67, 1981, concluded the following:

  1. Points of acupuncture are unknown to science and are not de­monstrable, and different schools of acupuncture have charts that do not match for specific points.
  2. All procedures attempting to prove their presence have failed.
  3. Equal effects are obtainable in acupuncture when no attention is paid to specific points on the body.
  4. There is no benefit to be expected to organic disease.
  5. Infectious diseases have no response to acupuncture.
  6. Acupuncture does not give better results than hypnosis, sug­gestion, or autosuggestion.
  7. There was not enough evidence of effect to recommend re­search or to teach the subject to medical students or physi­cians.

Dr. Basser reported in 1999, that:

Carefully designed and conducted scientific studies have so far failed to demonstrate that the Chinese acupuncture is associated with more effective pain relief than either placebo or counterir­ritant stimulation such as TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation).23

 

 

 

TENS has been used for many years for mild to moderate chronic musculoskeletal pain. Basser has concluded that from a scientific view­point it can now be said with confidence:

  1. The concept of ch′i has no basis in human physiology.
  2. The vessels, or meridians, along which the needling points are supposedly located, have not been shown to exist and do not relate to our current knowledge of human anatomy.
  3. Specific acupuncture points have not been shown to exist—as noted earlier, different acupuncture charts give different num­bers and locations of points.24

For the past forty years science has not been able to explain the physiologic actions from acupuncture or to detect any true lasting val­ue from the use of acupuncture. Many proponents of this technique will rise up in alarm by this statement, but this is what I have found.

In November 1997, The National Institute of Drug Abuse held a Consensus Conference on acupuncture. The meeting was arranged by a Dr. Trachetenber, who is reported to be a strong advocate of acupuncture. Wallace Sampson M.D. FACP, presents a critique of the conference, in Acupuncture Watch.25 He mentions that the first question that arose was, why investigators who had previously made studies on acupuncture, which showed no measurable effect from acupuncture, were not a part of the presenting scientists? There seemed to be present only proponents of acupuncture. Prior analyses of research of acupuncture (1986, 1988, 1990) had revealed that the best quality of research showed negative ef­fects, and the low quality studies were mostly positive.

Dr. Sampson makes the following comment:

The lack of critical, scientific thinking was apparent in the panel’s report, which was sixteen pages long. It obviously was composed before the conference and changed somewhat after the presenta­tions. Despite the uneven literature and the lack of firm evidence to support the conclusions, the consensus statement panel recom­mended acupuncture for musculoskeletal pain, some headaches, and nausea. It recommended use for nausea due to chemother­apy, based on only three papers.25

Dr. Sampson continues:

That the consensus Conference was engaged in pseudoscientific reasoning is further illustrated by the rejection of the most obvi­ous and probable reason for perceived effects. Those are natural history of the disease, regression to the mean, suggestion, coun­ter-irritation, distraction, expectation, consensus, the Stockholm effect (identifying with and aiding the desires of a dominant fig­ure), fatigue, habituation, ritual, reinforcement, and other well-known psychological mechanisms. With such an array of obvi­ous alternative explanations and such fertile areas for productive research, strong bias would be needed to agree to the conference conclusions.26

Why would physicians make a consensus statement labeling acu­puncture as being scientific if there is really no hard data confirming it? There could be several reasons, among which is the desire to place it in an acceptable light with patients and the scientific community. Those physicians who believe in Eastern mysticism and practice its techniques, do not enjoy being considered as on the fringe of scientific medicine; so when an organization such as the National Institute of Health puts out a consensus opinion that acupuncture is science-based, this elevates its status. Also, if there is a consensus from an influential medical body that a particular procedure is science-based, it is easier to persuade insurance companies to pay for its use. Acupuncture is cheap to perform, the risks are low, it is popular, and the financial returns are very good. Never underestimate the financial interest.

Reports of studies testing acupuncture, some with positive results as to benefit over and above more conventional methods, continue to appear. Most of these studies are dealing with discomforts and disor­ders that have strong subjective type complaints. These include head­aches, a variety of aches and pains, etc. To do true double blind studies with acupuncture is almost impossible. There have been some sham acupuncture studies where the patients can not detect if the needle is inserted or not, and other studies that place needles anywhere but on the acupuncture points. The results of the sham and wrongly placed needles compared to the correct acupuncture procedures are almost the same. Do they work? Yes, many times, as do the fake procedures. I have never seen a study done using acupuncture for pneumonia, dia­betes, coronary heart disease, meningitis, or other serious disease. We have had studies going on for forty years and still the results are ques­tionable. If it is so good should it not be easy to show a difference, a large difference, using acupuncture versus not using it?

A positive report appeared about fifteen studies made by Duke Uni­versity Medical Center in North Carolina, of the use of acupuncture for post surgical pain, and which was reported on the Internet by Reuters Health Service on October 17, 2007. Acupuncture was done before and after surgery. There was less pain on those receiving the acupuncture than the controls, but not freedom from pain. There was less nausea, dizziness, and also of urinary retention. Urinary retention often occurs with abdominal surgery due to reflex from pain.

Remember, surgery has been done on people using acupuncture as the anesthetic, so too was surgery done without pain in years past in India by use of hypnotism.

In the report by Reuters Health a comment is made that doctors at the National Institutes of Health do not understand how acupunc­ture works. Many proponents of acupuncture will claim that the case is settled, and may give you answers as to how they believe it works. In the following paragraphs I will share with you information as to that which is known about possible physiologic actions of acupuncture. This information comes from the New England Journal of Medicine, July 17, 2010/363:454-61.

 

 

I obtained a report of a study done in 2008 and reported in Science Daily, January 21, 2009. I will share with you the report:

Headache sufferers can benefit from acupuncture, even though how and where acupuncture needles are inserted may not be im­portant. Two separate systematic reviews by Cochrane Research­ers show that acupuncture is an effective treatment for preven­tion of headaches and migraines. But the results also suggest that faked procedures, in which needles are incorrectly inserted, can be just as effective.

In each study, the researchers tried to establish whether acu­puncture could reduce the occurrence of headaches. One study focused on mild to moderate but frequent ‘tension-type’ head­aches, whilst the other focused on more severe but less frequent headaches usually termed migraines. Together the two studies included 33 trials, involving a total of 6,736 patients.

Overall, following a course of at least eight weeks, patients treat­ed with acupuncture suffered fewer headaches compared to those who were given only pain killers. In the migraine study, acu­puncture was superior to proven prophylactic drug treatments, but faked treatments were no less effective. In the tension head­ache study, true acupuncture was actually slightly more effective than faked treatments.27

Why are we so hung up on using something that is so difficult to prove as to whether it has true benefit? If this procedure is what I un­derstand it to be, then if I choose to use it, I have subjected myself to the influence of Satan’s counterfeit healing system, with little chance of true lasting benefit above that of a fake procedure. We know that it has been used as an anesthetic wherein people undergo surgery and are wide awake and even can eat during a surgical procedure. Is there power in acupuncture? Yes, but whose power? The results of apply­ing acupuncture may well be as dependent upon the connection of the therapists to the powers of the occult as the Theosophy Society states that radiesthesia is in radionics. (See Divination, chapter 16). Studies on acupuncture never consider this factor.

In 1893 and 1958, the British Medical Society and the American Medical Society, respectively, made a consensus statement on hypno­sis as being based in science even though there were no explanations as to how it worked. That it worked no one disputed, yet the Christian may recognize the source of its power as of the occult. (see chapter on hypnosis). I have observed reports on acupuncture for more than thirty years, waiting for the definitive evidence that this technique works in the hands of anyone (not just sensitives); that it works consistently on all people; and that it convincingly produces lasting benefits. I am still waiting. I recognize that there has been an occasional person who had severe pain of the back or in some other location and experienced dra­matic relief, or someone stopped smoking easily, etc. Such testimonies can be persuasive, but in no way add up to conclusive evidence.

When we choose to receive medical treatment from an acupunc­turist, a serious concern is that of placing oneself in the hands of a person who has poor or no understanding as to proper diagnosis and treatment, thus allowing serious disease to continue without identifica­tion and proper care. Many diseases are difficult to recognize even by highly trained and experienced physicians.

Steven Barrett M.D. illustrates the above comment with this story:

A study published in 2001 illustrates the absurdity of TCM (tra­ditional Chinese medicine) practices. A 40-year old woman with chronic back pain who visited 7 acupuncturists during a 2 week period was diagnosed with “Qi stagnation” by 6 of them, “blood stagnation” by 5, “kidney Qi deficiency” by 2, “yin deficiency” by 1, and “liver Qi deficiency” by 1. The proposed treatments varied even more. Among the 6 who recorded their recommendations, the practitioners planned to use between 7 and 26 needles inserted into 4 to 16 specific “acupuncture points” in the back, leg, hand, and foot. Of 28 acupuncture points elected, only 4 (14%) were prescribed by 2 or more acupuncturists.28

One would think, that with the lack of studies reporting positive effects of acupuncture, interest in its use would subside; but just the op­posite has happened. More young physicians who have embraced the Eastern philosophy have matured into experienced physicians and by their numbers alone have considerable influence. Many of them have been promoted to positions of leadership in medical institutions and schools. Public pressure to try these “wonderful methods” has caused many hospitals to offer some type of alternative therapies. Scientific investigational studies on acupuncture and its potential for being phys­iologically therapeutic to certain disorders continues.

A physician is faced daily with common ailments that are difficult to treat, such as fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, and osteoarthritis of back, hips, knees, and fingers. The medications used in an attempt to control the ever present pain are of themselves fraught with problems and danger. So physician and patient alike are always looking for an effective and safe way to bring relief. The physical risks of using acu­puncture are low and many feel that if it is not helpful, what have they lost? When pain is unrelenting, a person is driven to try anything sug­gested, and this is why “testimonials” as to the great benefit received by some type of therapy have ready followers. I will present three short summaries of studies, using acupuncture as therapy, done recently on fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, and osteoarthritis.

In the Annals of Internal medicine, July 2005, Dr. Dedra Buchwald of the University of Washington in Seattle, reported a study on fibromyalgia using acupuncture. Acupuncture was administered twice a week for twelve weeks.

 

 

The final report was that people with fibromyalgia were no more likely to report decrease of pain than people who received acupuncture designed for a different condition, wherein needles were inserted into random locations rather than specific acupuncture points, or they re­ceived simulated acupuncture but without needles.29

Reuters Health Information 2006-03-02, reported on a German study using acupuncture for migraine headaches. Nine hundred pa­tients were randomly selected to receive Chinese traditional acupunc­ture, sham acupuncture, or drugs, all showed equal effectiveness. Drug therapy for migraine is far from satisfactory so this comparison does not reflect as much benefit for acupuncture as it may seem.30

The British medical journal, Lancet, July 9, 2005, carried an article by Dr. Claudia Witt, from Charite University Medical Centre in Berlin, in reference to a study she and her colleagues conducted on osteoar­thritis. This study involved 294 patients, ages fifty to seventy-five years of age with osteoarthritis of the knee. The average pain intensity of the group was 40 (the higher the score the greater the pain). The final anal­ysis reported 149 patients were assigned to acupuncture, 75 to minimal acupuncture (inserting needles in distant non-acupuncture points), and 70 to a waiting “control” group. The treatment groups received twelve treatments over eight weeks. At that point, average scores on a standard osteoarthritis scale were 26.9 point nine for the acupuncture group, 35.8 for the minimal acupuncture group and 49.6 for the controls. At 26 weeks and 52 weeks there were no differences between any group.

The editorialists, both from The Churchill in Oxford, UK con­clude: ‘We are still some way short of having conclusive evi­dence that acupuncture is beneficial in arthritis or in any other condition, other than in a statistical or artificial way.31

Some might say, “But there was benefit for the migraine sufferer and drugs were not needed.” Allow me to speak of another factor not considered in any of these studies, that of the power of Satan. If a prac­titioner of acupuncture is a believer in the Eastern thought or Western occultism and the patient has allowed him or herself to participate in this technique that comes from Eastern mysticism, is it not possible that the power of Satan can cause apparent benefits?

I wish to share another more recent study on acupuncture done in Hong Kong and reported on the Internet from Reuters Health on November 13, 2008. The study was to test the power of acupuncture in promoting in-vitro fertilization among 370 women, half receiving true acupuncture and the other half sham acupuncture. The sham pro­cedure was done in a way that the women could not detect which type acupuncture they were getting and they would not know that they were in a testing group. Acupuncture points were the same for both groups.

The acupuncture was given 25 minutes before the ovum implants were placed and 25 minutes after. The acupuncture group had 43% take (pregnancy) from the implant and the sham acupuncture group had 55%. A weakness in the study was that there was no group that received neither sham nor real acupuncture.

Have there been studies showing a benefit from acupuncture? Yes, there have been. It seems that almost all of the studies I read have been on conditions that involve pain, nausea, or various types of discom­fort. For these symptoms the studies will often show a positive benefit, however, those benefits are usually only mildly better than sham or no acupuncture. After a few weeks to three months the difference between those tested and the controls usually have returned to being equal.

Let us consider a study where acupuncture was used for control of nausea and vomiting caused by receiving chemotherapy, also a study of patients receiving radiation for cancer treatment of the throat and neck area, and receiving acupressure therapy for the resulting xerostomia (dry mouth) reported in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians volume 59/#9/ September/October 2009. The studies used acupressure bands which caused pressure to be applied to a specific acupressure point on the wrist. Previous studies have shown acupressure bands to be beneficial for control of nausea. Peter Johnstone M.D. and William A. Mitchell Professor and chair of Radiation Oncology at the Indiana University School of Medicine report the study for chemotherapy nausea.

The study was divided so that there were controls not receiving ther­apy with acupressure bands as well as those wearing the bands. Rigid record taking was instituted of the time of nausea symptoms, the amount of medications taken to control nausea, and the number of times vomit­ing occurred for those receiving therapy as well as the control group.

At the conclusion of the study those receiving acupressure therapy had a reduction of nausea and associated symptoms of 28% and the controls a reduction of 5%. However when the records of how much anti-nausea medication was taken and the number of times vomiting occurred there was no difference between those taking the acupressure treatment and the controls.

Investigators at University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston tested acupressure on patients having received radiation to the neck area that resulted in xerostomia (dry mouth). They had pa­tients record the degree of dry mouth and the amount of time it caused distress. They also tested the amount of increase of saliva in the mouth that occurred from the acupressure treatment.

The conclusion of the study was that there was very significant difference in relief of symptoms of those taking the acupressure treat­ment versus those not taking. However there was no difference in the amount of saliva produced between the two groups.

 

 

In the final evaluation of the two groups it was clear that those re­ceiving acupressure therapy reported beneficial (subjective) results, yet the measurements in each of the two studies did not reveal a difference in physiological changes between therapy and no therapy (objective re­sults). Dr. Johnstone states the following: “we have evidence now prov­ing that a disconnect often exists between a patient’s reported symp­toms and objective evidence of those symptoms.” (Emphasis added)

In June 2010 The Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy locat­ed in Washington D.C. presented a paper entitled ACUPUNCTURE: A SCIENCE-BASED ASSESSMENT, a position paper from this center and authored by Robert Slack, Jr. This report brings an up to date assessment of the scientific status of acupuncture as revealed by improved testing techniques in the past several years. The optimistic conclusions about the effects reported by use of acupuncture in past research during the 1970-1990’s was due to the placebo effect, but was not recognized due to not having a placebo in testing. This new and changed understanding is a result of the development of “sham” acupuncture technique which has caused a “complete unraveling of nearly all acupuncture claims.” The 1997 National Institutes of Health report on acupuncture as being effective for nausea, headache, and dental pain now carries the following disclaimer.

This statement is more than five years old and is provided solely for historical purposes. Due to the cumulative nature of medical research, new knowledge has inevitably accumulated in this sub­ject area(…) thus some of the material is likely to be out of date, and at worst simply wrong.32 (emphasis added)

The Cochrane Collaboration, one of the world’s most trusted evaluator of medical literature, undertook a recent systematic review of the research concerning acupuncture. The results of this analysis were included in an article presenting recent acupuncture research by Edzard Ernst in The American Journal of Medicine. He states:

During the past ten years, however, researchers have begun to take a more rigorous look at acupuncture, designing studies that are properly randomized and adequately controlled for placebo effect. Though research is ongoing, an increasingly robust body of literature has accumulated showing that acupuncture has no intrinsic clinical value.

After discarding reviews that are based on only three or fewer primary studies, only 2 evidence-based indications emerge: nau­sea/vomiting and headache. Even this evidence has to be inter­preted with caution; recent trials using […] placebos suggest that acupuncture has no specific effects in either of these conditions. (Ernst, 2008, 10-27)33

In Acupuncture: A Science Based Assessment, Robert Slack, Jr. pointed out that there are many articles to be found that do conclude that there has been “encouraging effectiveness” from the use of acu­puncture. For individuals that are not acquainted with scientific testing it seems that these types of articles present solid evidence of benefits of acupuncture. Truth in science is better demonstrated by studies that test by use of a double blind, randomly selected, and having 1) test group; 2) placebo group; 3) control group; and with a large number (hundreds) in each group. The evaluation of results will also be double blind, that is, the individual doing the acupuncture treatments will not be the per­son to do the evaluation. The person evaluating will not know which test group of individuals he is evaluating. This helps reduce bias and comes closer to revealing truth.

Slack further states that with this development of an effective sham—placebo technique of acupuncture, there has been much bet­ter evaluation, with the results indicating: 1) that real acupuncture is not more effective that when a placebo procedure is done; 2) for many conditions there is no benefit for either acupuncture or sham procedure.

In this same review by Robert Slack Jr. he mentions that there have been leading proponents of acupuncture and other alternative thera­pies, such as Andrew Weil M.D., that emphasize that these therapies have far less potential to cause harm than many conventional treat­ments. Therefore they should be judged by a “sliding scale” as to their value of effectiveness. The less the risk of side effects of therapy the less strict should be the criteria for effectiveness. This is not science; it is bias of the highest order. One cannot use two standards to evalu­ate therapeutic effectiveness decided upon the degree of potential side effects. It does, however, often enter into the decision as to whether to use a therapy or not.34

A study (638 patients) of the use of acupuncture and its effective­ness for chronic low back pain was reported in May 2009. This research study was conducted by Daniel Cherkin Ph.D. senior researcher with the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle Washington. Patients were divided into four groups: 1) standard acupuncture; 2) individual­ized acupuncture; 3) placebo acupuncture using tooth picks to touch the skin; 4) standard medical treatment without acupuncture.

The patients treated with any of the three styles of acupuncture were reported to fare better than no acupuncture. Dr. Cherkin con­cluded that acupuncture was beneficial in treatment of low back pain and that the study had stimulated the question as to how acupuncture works. Other scientists reviewing the study conclude that this study does not prove that acupuncture works, but that it shows the results are equal to use of a placebo; hence the obvious is that acupuncture of it­self does not work. However, the lay press and proponents of acupunc­ture accept and voice the opinion that the study proved acupuncture is effective and does work.35

 

 

 

 

The New England Journal of Medicine, July 29, 2010; 363:454- 61 contained an article that reviewed recent research on acupuncture. In this scientific article the studies mentioned in the above paragraphs were included in its evaluation of acupuncture. This article in the NEJM originates from the Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the University of Maryland Den­tal School; also from Department of Neurology, and the Program in In­tegrative Health, University of Vermont College of

Medicine, Burlington; and the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health Economics, Charite′ University Medical Center, Berlin.

Integrative health programs seek to bring together therapies of Western scientific medicine and alternative (non science based ther­apies such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine) therapy. Thousands of offices and clinics across America and several medical schools have combined these methods. As seen by the names of the organizations behind this particular article one recognizes the potential bias to be expected, however, I found the article to be quite scientific with an obvious attempt to avoid bias.

In this article a short explanation is presented of the Chinese theory of chi and yin—yang, meridians, and Chinese traditional medicine’s concept of physiology that was presented earlier in this chapter. Then this statement is made on page 3:

…Efforts have been made to characterize the effects of acupunc­ture in terms of the established principles of medical physiology on which Western medicine is based. These efforts remain incon­clusive, for several reasons….36

These reasons are given in the following summary of findings from studies testing for physiologic changes from acupuncture performed mostly in animals;

1Acupuncture will activate peripheral-nerve fibers of all size.

2Acupuncture experience is dominated by a strong psychoso­cial context, including expectation, beliefs, and therapeutic milieu.

3Injecting the skin at the spot of presumed acupuncture point with a local anesthesia will block the analgesic effects of acu­puncture.

4Endorphins are released by the brain-stem, sub-cortical and limbic parts of the brain.

5In rats electrical acupuncture has shown release of hydrocor­tisone from pituitary gland which, in turn, results in anti-inflammatory responses.

6MRI studies have revealed changes in the limbic and basal forebrain areas when prolonged acupunctures stimulation is done.

7Positron-emission tomography has shown that acupuncture increases u-opioid-binding for several days in the same brain areas as stated above.

8Acupuncture has mechanical stimulation effects on connec­tive tissue.

9Adenosine is released at the site of needle stimulation.

10There is increase blood flow at the local site of acupuncture

In spite of what may look like to some as powerful positive proof of the physiological action of acupuncture; the article in the New Eng­land Journal of Medicine, July, 29, 2010 states the following:

However, the various observations that have been made are not sufficient to permit a unified theory regarding the effect of acu­puncture on mechanism of chronic pain.37

The article tells us of a meta-analysis study (information of many studies placed into one study and analyzed) in 2008 which included 6359 patients with low back pain. The real acupuncture treatment was no more effective than sham treatment. However, with real or sham treatment there was subjective improvement over conventional treatment without acupuncture. This same finding was reported in the previously described Cochrane Collaboration Study. This information is to be found in the Supplementary Appendix available with the origi­nal article in the New England Journal of Medicine, July 29, 2010.

Two additional studies are referred to in this article in NEJM July 29, 2010, they come from German investigators. One study with 1162 patients over eight years compared real acupuncture versus sham pro­cedure for chronic low back pain. There was little difference between the groups and at six months they were identical yet somewhat bet­ter than the control group that did not receive acupuncture. The other German study involved 3093 patients over seven years and this study on low back pain was measured by use of a questionnaire concern­ing reduced back function. Two groups were tested, one with conven­tional therapy and one with acupuncture. The acupuncture group had significant improvement above the non-acupuncture group as revealed by questionnaire. The results are taken from subjective responses of the patient.

Your attention is now directed to the setting in which acupuncture is delivered. In the traditional practice the insertion of the needle may be accompanied by a variety of other procedures, such as palpation of the radial artery in the wrist, as well as pulses in other locations. The tongue may be inspected in detail, recommendations as to use of herbs etc. All of these actions are based on the application of the principles of traditional Chinese medicine in contrast to Western scientific physi­ological medical concepts.

 

 

 

 

To the credit of the authors of this article we are not left at this point with the conclusion that acupuncture functions on a physiologic basis, actually they suggest its function may well be explained from a psychological standpoint and more research is needed in that direction. See quote below:

There is continuing debate in the medical community regarding the role of the placebo effect in acupuncture. As noted above, the most recent well powered clinical trials of acupuncture for chronic low back pain showed that sham acupuncture was as effective as real acupuncture. The simplest explanation of such findings is that the specific therapeutic effects of acupuncture, if present, are small, whereas it’s clinically relevant benefits are mostly attributable to contextual and psychosocial factors, such as patients’ beliefs and expectation, attention from the acupunc­turist, and highly focused, spatially directed attention on the part of the patient. These studies also seem to indicate that needles do not need to stimulate the traditionally identified acupuncture points or actually penetrate the skin to produce the anticipated effect…

In the closing part of this extensive article recommendation is giv­en for additional studies to further evaluate the efficacy of sham (pla­cebo) acupuncture without skin penetration, since it may be possible to achieve the same benefit s by not doing invasive needle punctures. The master of Qi Gong tells us he can accomplish feats and healing equal to using needles in acupuncture simply by performing Qi Gong about a person. Light beams shined on the skin are said to work as well as needles, on and on it goes.

Wow, this reminds me of the experience of Mesmer, first he used magnets to effect healing, and then he learned he did not need magnets as he could accomplish the same simply by his hands. From there he moved on to the use of only the mind in bringing apparent healing; Mesmerism—hypnotism. In this chapter on traditional Chinese medi­cine I have not had the motive or desire to prove that the therapies are simply—fake. I believe at times quite remarkable changes may occur and apparent healing takes place, yet I ask the question BY WHAT OR WHOSE POWER DOES IT WORK? That is the concern.

For the past three thousand plus years the power of Eastern healing has been accepted and referred to as spiritual power. It is only in the last seventy-five to one hundred years has there been an attempt to describe its action in terms of modern physics. There are only two sources of spiritual power, that from Satan and that from God, there is no other.

Why do I warn against using therapies of traditional Chinese medi­cine if one does not believe in the astrological concepts upon which acu­puncture is based, but only want to take of the “good” of the method? I believe that as a person understands traditional Chinese medicine’s origin and theory of man being the microcosm of the macrocosm (universe) and that a balance of a two sided universal energy referred to as ch′i when rightly balanced created the universe and man, and when out of balance creates illness and malfunction; it would be impossible to participate in these so called healing methods without acceptance of that power. Is it a treatment method that will cure infectious or chronic diseases or increased life span? Thus far no evidence has been presented to support such.

In China, for at least 3000 years, traditional Chinese medicine was part of medical care (acupuncture for 2000). What was the health sta­tus under this system? It was dismal. Neither public nor personal hy­giene was practiced. Chairman Mao attacked these conditions head-on in the 1950’s and a national movement to improve hygiene personally and publicly was instituted. By the end of the 1950’s, great progress had been made in reducing infectious diseases. This was done by mak­ing changes that were scientific, not by practices based on astrological concepts. Clean water, closed sewer systems, cleanliness of body and homes, controlling vectors of infectious disease and parasites, and im­munization brought improvement.38 Life span doubled in fifty years, it was one of the most remarkable medical feats of the twentieth century.

As the infectious diseases came under control and living habits along with diet changed to include use of more animal products, the degenerative diseases of the West began to replace infectious disease. Today, the #1 cause of death in China is vascular disease, followed by cancer.

Chinese cuisine is planned according to five phases or food divi­sions: metal, water, wood, fire, earth. Proper planning and use of foods from the five divisions is said to assure the flow of ch′i energy from food to the body.

Traditional Chinese medicine uses many herbs, which are often classified as hot/cold, yin/yang. The Chinese pharmacy contains a great variety of medicinals, which are not necessarily there because of their biochemical properties. The early chemists, (Alchemists) believed they could find a potion that would prolong life and bring immortality. In this search they experimented with numerous plants, minerals, and dif­ferent animal parts.

This has been a very brief glimpse of the most commonly used healing methods of traditional Chinese medicine, which have been practiced in China for at least 2000 or more years. The end result has been abysmal, and it took the introduction of scientific medicine to improve health and increase life span in China, doubling in fifty years. None of this can be attributed to traditional Chinese medicine.

What is so attractive about a system that has no proven track re­cord of improving health? What causes us to flock to it as if it was something new and wonderful? Could it be we have accepted its spiri­tual philosophy and have chosen to partake of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil?”

The following quotations from E.G. White should help give a proper perspective of traditional medicine practices.

 

 

 

The apostles of nearly all forms of spiritism claim to have power to heal. They attribute this power to electricity, magnetism, the so-called sympathetic remedies, or to latent forces within the mind of man. And there are not a few, even in this Christian age, who go to these healers instead of trusting in the power of the living God and the skill of well qualified physicians.

The mother, watching by the sickbed of her child, exclaims, ‘I can do no more. Is there no physician who has power to restore my child?’ She is told of the wonderful cures performed by some clairvoyant or magnetic healer, and she trusts her dear one to his charge, placing it as verily in the hand of Satan as if he were standing by her side. In many instances the future life of the child is controlled by a satanic power which it seems impossible to break.39

Those who give themselves up to the sorcery of Satan, may boast of great benefit received; but does this prove their course to be wise or safe? What if life should be prolonged? What if temporal gain should be secured? Will it pay in the end to have disregarded the will of God? All such apparent gain will prove at last an ir­recoverable loss. We cannot with impunity break down a single barrier which God has erected to guard His people from Satan’s power.40

In the next chapter, we will look at the emergence from the West of other energy balancing therapies.

 

NOTES

1  Lyons, Albert S., Petrucelli, R. Joseph II; Medicine An Illustrated History,

Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers, NY, (1978), p. 125.

Ibid., p. 124.

Ibid., p. 124.

4   McNamara, Sheila, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Basic Books, (Perseus Books) New York, NY, (1996), p. 26

5  Kavoussi, Ben MS, MSOM, Lac, Science-Based Medicine, Astrology with Needles, Posted (9-4-09), pp.5, 6; http://www.sciencebasedmedicine. org/?p=583.

6  McNamara, op. cit., p.117

Ibid., p. 130.

Ibid., pp. 127–128.

9   Ibid., p. 128

10  Ibid., p. 128.

11   Medical Tribune, Feb. 5, (1986) by Elizabeth Mechcatie (medical newspa­per)

12  Ibid.

13   McNamara, op. cit., p. 128.

14   Ibid., p. 128.

15   U.S. News and World Report, Opiate of the Masses, by Bay Fang, Feb. 22, (1999), p. 45

16    Basser, Stephen M.D., Acupuncture: A History, Acupuncture Watch; http:// www.acuwatch.org/hx/basser.shtm Feb. 22, (2005).

17    Epler, Jr DC., Bloodletting in early Chinese medicine and its relation to the origin of acupuncture. (1980), Basser, op.cit. p. 1

18   Bassar, op. cit., p. 2.

19  Epler, Jr DC. Bloodletting in early Chinese medicine and its relation to the origin of acupuncture. Bull Hist Med. 1980l54L357-367; Reported in Basser, Ibid., p. 2

20  Unschuld PU. Medicine in China: a History of Ideas, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press; (1985), Reported in Acupuncture Watch; Basser, Ibid., p. 2.

21    Unschuld PU. Nan-ching: The Classic of Difficult Issues. Berkeley, CA: Uni­versity of California Press, (1986), p. 5; Reported in Basser, op. cit., p. 2.

22    Umschuld PU. Nan-ching op. cit., p. 5; Reported in Basser, op. cit., p. 2.

23   Ibid., p. 6.

24   Basser, op. cit., p. 8

25   Sampson, Wallace I. M.D., Acupuncture Watch, Critique of the NIH Con­sensus Conference on Acupuncture, March (2005), p. 2; http://www.acu­watch.org/general/nihcritique.shtml

26  Ibid., p. 2.

27   Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Manheimer E, Vickers A, White AR. Acupuncture for tension-type headache. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2010), Issue 1. Art. No.: C D007587 DOI: 10.1002/14651858. CDOO7587 Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Manheimer E, Vickers A, White AR. Acupuncture for tension-type headache. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 1. Ar. No.:CD001218 DOI.

28   Barrett, Stephen, M.D., Quackwatch Home Page, Be Wary of Acupunc­ture, Qi Gong, and “Chinese Medicine,” p. 7 Jan. (2004).

29  Reuters Health Information, (2005-07-05) Acupuncture may do little for fibromyalgia, http://www.reutershealth.com/archive/2005/07/05/elinelinks/2005070elin003.html (available to Reuter’s subscribers only)

 

 

30 Reuters Health Information, 2006-03-02: Acupuncture shown to relieve migraines: study, http://www.reutershealth.com/archive/2006/03/02/eline/links/20060302eline006.html (available to Reuter’s subscribers only)

31 Reuters Health Information, (2005-07-08): acupuncture may ease knee arthritis, for a while, http://reutershealth.com/archive/2005/07/08 /eline/links/20050708eline019.html

32 http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/acupuncturre_a_science-based_

assessmentp.11 (www.csicop.org/uploads/files/Acupuncture_Paper.pdf) p. 11

33 http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/acupuncturre_a_science-based_

assessmentp.2 (www.csicop.org/uploads/files/Acupuncture_Paper.pdf) p. 2

34   Slack, Robert Jr., Acupuncture: A Science-Based Assessment, A Position Pa­per From the Center For Inquiry Office of Public Policy, June, (2010). P. 15

35  Acupuncture for Chronic Low Back Pain, The New England Journal of Medicine, Boston, MA July 29, (2010); 363:454-61

36  Ibid.

37  Ibid.

38  Dominique and Marie-Joseph Hoizey, A History of Chinese Medicine, UBC Press University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C, Canada (1993), pp.173–174.

39    White, E.G., Mind, Character, and Personality Vol. 2, Southern Pub. Assn., Nashville, TN, (1977), p. 701.1.

40   White, E.G., Conflict and Courage, Pacific Press Pub. Assn., Mountain View, CA, (1970), p. 219.6.

 

The author is a Seventh Day Adventist. The above is chapter 10 reproduced from his book Exposing Spiritualistic Practices in Healing with his permission.

 

 

 

 

9_Acupuncture, Acupressure, Shiatsu, Reflexology

Metamorphose

A Catholic Minstry for exposing the truth about alternate medicine, the occult in reiki & pranic healing
and oriental spiritual exercises of the New Age Movement.

For Queries and detailed information please call on, Michael Prabhu,
Michael Prabhu, #12 Dawn Apartments, 22, Leith Castle South Street, Chennai 600028. India
Phone: +91 (44) 24 611 606
Email: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net
Website: http://www.ephesians-511.net

 

  NOVEMBER 28, 2015     IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

Acupuncture, Acupressure, Shiatsu, Reflexology

By Susan Brinkmann, from the Women of Grace blog, 2007-2015

 

Ms. Brinkmann differentiates between “Western” and “Traditional Chinese” acupuncture.

See the information on page 13.

Is Acupuncture acceptable for Catholics?

By Susan Brinkmann, Special to the Herald, September 7, 2007

http://www.coloradocatholicherald.com/display.php?xrc=601, http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8758

In July 1971, while accompanying Henry Kissinger to China, The New York Times columnist James Reston had an emergency appendectomy. Afterward at the Anti-Imperialist Hospital in Peking, doctors treated his pain with a traditional form of Chinese medicine known as acupuncture.

“I was in considerable discomfort if not pain during the second night after the operation,” Reston wrote shortly after his return to the United States. “Li Chang-yuan, doctor of acupuncture at the hospital, with my approval, inserted three long, thin needles into the outer part of my right elbow and below my knees, and manipulated them in order to stimulate the intestine and relieve the pressure and distension of the stomach.

“Meanwhile, Doctor Li lit two pieces of an herb called ai, which looked like the burning stumps of a broken, cheap cigar, and held them close to my abdomen while occasionally twirling the needles into action. All this took about 20 minutes, during which I remember thinking that it was a rather complicated way to get rid of gas in the stomach. But there was noticeable relaxation of the pressure and distension within an hour and no recurrence of the problem thereafter.”

Many people in the medical field, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), believe that event is what precipitated what is now a 20-year surge of interest in acupuncture in the United States.

A report from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the NIH in 1997 stated that acupuncture is being widely practiced by thousands of physicians, dentists, acupuncturists and other practitioners in the U.S.

According to the largest and most comprehensive survey of complementary and alternative medicine in use by American adults, the 2002 National Health Institute Survey, “an estimated 8.2 million U.S. adults had . . . used acupuncture [at some time] and an estimated 2.1 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year.”

 

How Does Acupuncture Work?

The Chinese theory behind acupuncture as a medical treatment is very different from the kind of acupuncture used in Western medicine.

“Traditional Chinese acupuncture is based on the theory that the body is a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang,” says the NIH Web site for Complementary and Alternative Medicines. “Yin represents the cold, slow or passive principle, while yang represents the hot, excited or active principle.”

It goes on to explain that the Chinese believe health is achieved by maintaining the body in a balanced state, and that the disease is caused by an internal imbalance of yin and yang.

“This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (energy) along pathways know as meridians,” according to the NIH site. “It is believed that there are 12 main meridians and eight secondary meridians, and that there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body that connect with them.”

Chinese practitioners believe that by inserting extremely fine needles into those points in various combinations, a person’s energy flow may be re-balanced, thus allowing the body’s natural healing mechanisms to take over.

Because there is no anatomical or other physically verifiable basis for the existence of acupuncture points, qi or meridians, the Western version of acupuncture is not based on the concept of yin and yang, but on neuroscience. Today, science believes acupuncture may work in three ways: by releasing endorphins, which are part of the body’s natural pain-control system; by stimulating nerves in the spinal cord that release pain-suppressing neurotransmitters; or by the naturally occurring increase in blood flow in the needle-puncture area, which removes toxic substances.

 

 

 

Origin of Acupuncture

The word “acupuncture” is derived from the Latin acus meaning “needle” and pungere meaning “prick.” The origins of Chinese acupuncture are uncertain. There is some archeological evidence of its practice during the Han dynasty (202 B.C. to 220 A.D.) with the first mention of it a century earlier in the Yellow Emperor’s “Classic of Internal Medicine,” a history of acupuncture that was completed around 305 B.C.

However, hieroglyphics dating back to 1000 B.C. have been found what may be an indication that acupuncture was in use much earlier. There is also some speculation surrounding the discovery of Otzi, a 5,000-year-old mummy with over 50 tattoos on his body, some indicated on established acupuncture points.

Other scientists believe there is evidence to support the practice of acupuncture in Eurasia during the early Bronze Age. In an article that appeared in the British medical journal, The Lancet, researches said, “We hypothesized that there might have been a medical system similar to acupuncture (Chinese Zhensiu: needling and burning) that was practices in Central Europe 5,200 years ago. . . . This raises the possibility of acupuncture having originated in the Eurasian continent at least 2,000 years earlier than previously recognized.”

 

Can Catholics Use It?

The Western form of acupuncture, which is based on science and not Taoism, is acceptable for use by Christians. However, the traditional Chinese acupuncture belief system is not compatible with Christianity.

“The philosophical thinking behind acupuncture comes from Taoism and the concept of the yin and yang, and of being at one with the forces in the universe through meditation,” the Irish Theological Commission wrote in 1994 in its document, “A Catholic Response to the New Age Phenomenon.”

Christians believe man is a union of body and soul, and that the soul is an essential form — not an energy force. The belief that one can meditate and be at one with the forces of the universe is based in pantheism, the belief that the universe, God and nature are all equivalent.

At present, there are many unlicensed practitioners who may be practicing a blended version of Western and Chinese acupuncture.

“The New Age movement has no difficulty with acupuncture because it accepts the Eastern philosophy behind it,” the theological commission said. “But what about Christians? Can they accept the help and not be affected by its religious content? Many believe they can. The general principle in this matter is that these practices are not bad in themselves, and dissociated from their original context, can be practiced by Catholics with due discretion.”

Father Lawrence J. Gesy, the cult consultant for the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the lead author of “Today’s Destructive Cults and Movements,” says those seeking an acupuncturist should “make sure the person who is doing the acupuncture is medically licensed.”

According to the Mayo Clinic Web site, there are about 3,000 medical doctors in the U.S. who use acupuncture as part of their clinical practice. No individual needs to resort to a New Age practitioner in order to enjoy the benefits of acupuncture.

“Those who are into the Chinese-god concept of acupuncture usually have charts up, or will talk about gods and energy levels,” Father Gesy said. “These people are ‘channeling’. The needle becomes their channel from the source of the energy of the gods into that person.”

Acupuncture works without the religious component, and is a much better bargain for Christians because it comes with all the benefits, but none of the spiritual risks.

This article originally appeared in The Catholic Standard and Times, the Philadelphia archdiocesan newspaper.

 

 

Bowen Therapy

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=117#more-117

By Susan Brinkmann, May 20, 2010

This is the first of a two-part question from AR: “I have been helping out an elderly woman that mentioned that she has used, and would like to use again, something called Bowen Therapy. I looked it up and on one of the sites, I did see some link to meridian/acupuncture and it had a yin/yang symbol, but it really seems like simple stimulations and trying to move toxins out of the body… like what would happen if one simply had a massage. Anyway, do you have any info on this therapy and any concerns?  Some of this new age stuff is obviously problematic, but I can’t help but think that some “alternative” medicine is much better than the ‘treat the symptom’ form of western medicine.”

 

Bowen Therapy (BT) is an alternative medicine technique that falls into the category of “vibrational healing“. It was developed by an Australian engineer with no medical training named Tom Bowen (1916-1982) and was introduced into the U.S. in 1990.

BT is based on the belief that the underlying cause or source of many musculoskeletal, neurological, neuromuscular and other health or pain problems can be found in the soft tissue or fascia of the body. Fascia is a specific type of connective tissue that forms a kind of web around every tissue in the body. Practitioners describe fascia as the “body organizer” that embraces all nerves, bones, arteries, veins and muscles, which is why treating fascial dysfunction can be so effective.

During a typical treatment, which lasts about 30-45 minutes, the practitioner uses his/her fingers to make a gentle rolling type of motion on different muscles in the body. The practitioner then pauses, sometimes even leaving the room for a few minutes, to allow the body to “make its own adjustments” or, in a sense, to heal itself.

 

 

The Bowen Therapists Federation of Australia says that the actual origins of this type of treatment are unknown but admits “there do appear to be links with traditional Chinese medicine.” Traditional Chinese medicine is based on the alleged existence of a universal life force energy (a pantheistic belief not compatible with Christianity), which could be why so many of the practitioners display the yin-yang symbol on their sites.

However, many of them are typically vague about the type of energy involved, which can lead unsuspecting consumers to believe practitioners will be working with the legitimate natural energy systems of the body rather than a universal life force energy that science says does not exist (see http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=4).

For instance, here’s how one practitioner explains it: “The Bowen Technique stimulates circulation of energy and clears energetic blocks. Coincidentally, several of the moves are located along acupuncture meridians or on specific acupuncture points which are known to stimulate and balance the body’s energy.” (http://www.boweninfo.com/how_it_works.htm)

Notice how the practitioner makes it appear to be only a coincidence that several of the spots on the body targeted during a Bowen treatment correspond to acupuncture meridians.

Another rather serious problem is that independent scientific testing of BT has been largely inconclusive and there is no regulation in this field, which means it is open to just about anyone who wants to hang out a shingle.

AR is correct in saying that some “alternative” medicine techniques are much better than the “‘treat the symptom’ form of western medicine” but those that have any association with the false god known as a “universal life force” should be strictly avoided by Christians.

 

 

Acupressure

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=156

By Susan Brinkmann, July 16, 2010

EB writes: “I have been seeing a certified acupressure therapist. Does this pertain to the New Age category like chiropractors?”

 

Yes, this is New Age.

Acupressure is known as “acupuncture without needles” and is a form of complementary medicine, meaning it is often combined with conventional medical treatments (see Understanding Complementary & Alternative Medicine)

Practitioner websites describe acupressure as “an ancient healing art that uses the fingers to press key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body’s natural self-curative abilities. When these points are pressed, they release muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood and the body’s life force to aid healing. Acupuncture and acupressure use the same points, but acupuncture employs needles, while acupressure uses the gentle but firm pressure of hands (and even feet).” (www.Acupressure.com)

An acupressure therapist may apply physical pressure to acupuncture points with the hand, elbow, or other device such as an acuball, energy roller or foot roller. One of the most commonly used acupressure device is the acupressure wristband – called “Sea Bands” – that many use to relieve symptoms of motion sickness.

As you may or may not know, acupuncture/acupressure is based in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the belief that a universal life force known as chi runs through the body through 14 channels known as meridians. Practitioners believe that sickness can be caused by blockages in the flow of chi, or imbalances in two opposing “energies” known as yin and yang. In order to cure illness and other maladies, a needle or pressure is applied to any one of hundreds of points on the body known as acupoints that are positioned along the meridians and which are thought to correspond to specific organs or body systems.

Even though acupuncture/acupressure has quite a following around the world, there is virtually no scientific evidence to support its efficacy for anything other than nausea and some types of pain (and even these conclusions are not convincing). While it’s true that the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health have come out in favor of acupuncture for some conditions, these statements have been heavily criticized for bias and reliance on poorly designed studies. However, science is studying acupuncture from a neuroscientific point-of-view rather than for its basis in traditional Chinese medicine. It is believed that acupuncture may cause the release of endorphins which are part of the body’s natural pain-control system; by stimulation of nerves in the spinal cord that release pain-suppressing neurotransmitters; or by the naturally occurring increase in blood flow in puncture areas that remove toxic substances. Scientists have arrived at no conclusions, however, and these studies are ongoing.

EB states that her therapist is “certified” but it doesn’t really matter because neither acupressure nor acupuncture work so visiting a practitioner will do little good other than give one a nice big placebo high for a few days. (See Power of Placebo http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=222 page 17)

 

 

Study: Relief from Acupuncture linked to Placebo Effect

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=188#more-188

By Susan Brinkmann, August 24, 2010

A new study published last week in the Arthritis Care and Research journal found that among 455 patients with painful knee arthritis, acupuncture delivered no more relief than a sham treatment.

 

 

The New York Times is reporting that the study, conducted at the prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston found that among the patients tested, there was no difference in pain relief between those who received acupuncture and those who received a phony version.

Acupuncture involves inserting needles at specific points in the body that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe to be “energy centers”. However, because the type of “energy” that is allegedly manipulated in this process is scientifically unsubstantiated, scientists believe the principles of neuroscience and the release of pain-suppressing neurotransmitters may be behind its purported efficacy.

Critics say the MD Anderson study used a poorly designed sham in their research, but lead author, Dr. Maria E. Suarez-Almazor, says their sham treatment was developed with the help of trained acupuncturists.

“We really worked with acupuncturists who are trained in the Chinese traditional style and asked them to come up with a sham that could be credible,” Dr. Suarez-Almazor said. “We didn’t plan a study trying to show that acupuncture didn’t work. The results came out with no difference between the groups.” She went on to clarify that in any drug study, an equal response in the treatment and placebo groups proves the drug does not work.

Other recent studies also seem to prove the presence of the “placebo” effect in acupuncture treatment. The Times cites a 2007 study of back-pain sufferers in Germany where half of the patients who participated in both sham and real acupuncture groups had less pain after a treatment compared to those who received physical therapy or other traditional back pain. Researchers also found that patients who received real acupuncture used only half as much pain medication as those who received a sham treatment.

This prompted researchers to speculate that the insertion of a needle in or around an area of pain produces a kind of “super placebo” effect that in turn touches off a series of reactions in the way people experience pain.

Other studies, such as one financed by the National Institutes of Health in 2004, found that acupuncture significantly reduced pain in patients suffering with arthritic knees compared to those who received either a sham treatment or routine care. However, this study was called into question because recipients of the sham treatment may have discovered that they were getting a phony version of acupuncture, which would automatically negate the findings.

 

 

Acupuncture Remains Scientifically Unconvincing

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=463#more-463

By Susan Brinkmann, January 13, 2011

JE writes: “I am seeking advice on acupuncture to help with back pain and depression. I have researched a little on valid health websites and have found some information that acupuncture might work. From a spiritual perspective is it as dangerous as practices reiki, or is there some gray area?” 

 

Contrary to popular opinion (and the websites you visited), there is no scientific evidence proving that acupuncture works. Although thousands of anecdotal reports can be found through the centuries on this ancient practice, when it comes to evidence based science, there is little or no proof that acupuncture heals anything.

According to the Oxford-based Cochrane Collaboration, which has a global network of 10,000 health experts and a massive data base of medical research studies and clinical trials on just about every treatment you can think of, a systematic review of all the testing done on acupuncture has found no evidence that this treatment works for anything but some types of pain and nausea – and even these are not considered to be very strong conclusions.

Supporters of acupuncture like to argue that the reason acupuncture does so poorly in tests is because there is no acceptable “sham” of the procedure that can be used in blind- and double-blind tests. The problem is that the ideal “sham” must appear to be exactly like real acupuncture only the needles cannot pierce the skin – a difficult standard to reach.

However, Professor Edzard Ernst, who leads the Complementary Medicine Research Group at the University of Exeter and who has had a long history of interest in acupuncture, did indeed develop such a sham that has now been successfully used in trials. Prior to this discovery, Ernst had conducted 10 of his own clinical trials on acupuncture, wrote a book on the subject and currently sits on the editorial board of several acupuncture journals so it’s safe to say this scholar is not biased against acupuncture.

His needling procedure, which he developed with Jongbae Park, a Korean Ph.D. student in his group, uses a telescopic needle that only appears to penetrate the skin and even causes a minor sensation during its supposed insertion.

Although it took several years to develop and test, when the “sham” was used in trials, patients believed they were receiving real acupuncture, making these tests the highest quality acupuncture trials ever conducted.

The results were disappointing for acupuncturists. The tests found no convincing evidence that real acupuncture is more effective than a placebo in the treatment of even the few somewhat positive results found by the Cochrane Collaboration such as the treatment of chronic tension headaches, nausea after chemotherapy, and migraine prevention.

During the same time frame, German researchers were also conducting large and very high quality trials with their own “sham”. The number of patients in these trials ranged from 200 to 1,000 people.

Although the results are still being analyzed, as of 2007, researchers released their initial conclusions from these mega trials which found that acupuncture was no more effective than sham acupuncture in treating the four ailments which were the subject of the tests – migraines, tension headaches, chronic low back pain and knee osteoarthritis.

Having said all this, you might want to reconsider spending your money on acupuncture treatments.

 

 

 

There is definitely a spiritual aspect to acupuncture that is rarely mentioned. Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine which has as its goal the restoration of harmony to each organ system in the body in order to resolve not only physical but emotional and spiritual imbalances as well. A person needs to be very informed about the acupuncturist who is working on them to be sure they are needling for physical health and not attempting to treat what they perceive to be “spiritual” imbalances.

I personally spoke with a former acupuncturist who practiced the Traditional Chinese Medicine form of acupuncture who said the procedure is routinely used to rid the body of bad spirits, much like our rite of exorcism. She even spoke about the special clothing the acupuncturist wears during these procedures to avoid contamination, and how they open a window or door in order to let the spirits out of the room.

In another style of acupuncture, known as Five Element acupuncture, practitioners are trained to use their intuition to read “energy patterns” in their patients. “(A) Five Element Acupuncturist, while working with a patient, might intuitively detect heaviness around the person’s spiritual heart. Since these practitioners are deeply invested in emotional and spiritual well-being, they might decide to needle Stomach 12, an acupuncture point also known as ‘Broken Bowl’. This point addresses a spiritual state of being in which joy drains through the cracks, so that a person is unable to contain the experience of pleasure. Addressing this emotional imbalance will allow the patient to absorb more happiness, and hence, begin to heal physical imbalances as well.” (http://www.envymyhealth.com/five-element-acupuncture.html)

Needless to say, there are numerous dangers inherent in allowing New Age and/or Eastern medicine practitioners to exercise control over your spiritual well-being, either directly or indirectly.

 

 

Dry Needling and Acupuncture are too closely related for comfort

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=850#more-850

By Susan Brinkmann, April 13, 2011

CC asks: Can you tell me if ‘dry needling’ is a New Age practice? I have heard a couple of people mention having had it done by their physicians in recent months and had never heard of it.”

 

Although dry needling, also called biomedical acupuncture, is different from acupuncture, and is not based on the insertion of needles in traditional acupuncture meridian sites, it is said to have been derived from acupuncture.

According to a Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy statement on dry needling, this treatment involves the insertion of a needle at a “trigger point” in the body, such as those that occur in skeletal muscles that produce pain. These trigger points are often associated with tension headaches, tinnitus, and pain in the joints or lower back. Similar to acupuncture, a dry needle is inserted into the trigger point directly instead of into the meridians (alleged energy centers) prescribed by traditional Chinese medical practitioners of acupuncture. Dry needling also uses the same type of acupuncture needle – a solid, round point, small gauge needle.

“Despite the fact that dry needling has been known for years, there have been few published studies measuring the effect on patient outcomes published in the peer reviewed literature. Those studies that are available have design flaws or comprise small study samples so that it is not possible to draw conclusions regarding patient outcomes,” Blue Cross writes.

It is therefore considered to be “experimental/investigational” and does not appear to be covered by this insurance provider.

According to Dr. Yuan-tao Ma, the author of a textbook on dry needling for physical therapists, this modality was first developed in the 1940′s by Janet Travell, M.D., a medical advisor to the White House during JFK’s administration. He and other proponents of the practice claim it is based on modern neurological research that suggests acupuncture treatments may work based on the release of pain-relieving endorphins or through nerve stimulation. While this is an intriguing and very plausible concept, it has yet to be demonstrated to a clinically relevant degree.

I could not recommend dry needling only because most of its proponents are practicing Chinese acupuncturists (and Chinese acupuncture is one of the darlings of New Age medicine) and because it’s not supported by evidence-based science.

 

 

Beware of Acupuncturists Who Channel “Energy”

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=10547

By Susan Brinkmann, November 21, 2011

KB writes: “My son and I received acupuncture therapy.  At one point, the doctor said that energy was being channeled into my son and she needed to respect that energy until it slowed down to continue. I feel uneasy about this, and am concerned that we may have exposed ourselves to something we should not have. Should we go to confession and forget about it? We spoke to our pastor and he felt it was okay. That we did not reject the trinity or the Eucharist, and if we feel it will help, we could pursue it. So, we did not get confession at that time, but I would go to another parish for reconciliation. Do we need to renew our baptism promises?”

 

You are correct to be concerned about this situation because whenever you hear the word “channel” it means contact with the occult. The concept of acupuncture is based on the belief that bodily functions are regulated by an energy called qi, but the idea of channeling this energy introduces another dimension to the equation.

 

 

Acupuncturists normally apply fine needles to the skin’s surface at key points on the body to allow the “chi” to flow through blocked channels or to redirect it into other routes. They don’t typically “channel” it.

Channeling energy is more like what a Reiki master does when he or she actually allows the “energy” to flow through them into the patient under the direction of a “spirit guide” which is a spiritual entity of some kind (aka demons). This acupuncturist may be employing a combination of practices which is not surprising because there is absolutely no regulation or standards in the alternative medicine field. Practitioners can pretty much do whatever they want.

What concerns me is that whenever you get into the area of channeling or mediumship, you are opening yourself up to the occult and to the influence of occult powers. A medium typically serves as a channel for the spirits of the dead, and seeks to facilitate communication between these entities and the material world. This is also known as necromancy and is expressly forbidden by the Church because of the rather obvious dangers involved in consorting with hidden powers.

All practices that attempt to tame occult powers, “so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion.” (Catechism No. 2117)

In my opinion, you do not need to renew your baptismal promises because you had no intention of consorting with spirits when you visited this doctor. It is also obvious from your e-mail that you are concerned about having done wrong, and even went so far as to speak with your pastor about it. God sees the good will in our hearts and if it’s obvious to me in just your brief e-mail, He certainly sees it too!

Personally speaking, if I were in your shoes, I would definitely go to confession and seek sacramental healing just in case. Better safe than sorry!

 

 

Acupuncturists Want Coverage under ObamaCare

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=13668#more-13668

By Susan Brinkmann, April 18, 2012

Should the president’s ill-fated health care reform survive scrutiny at the U.S. Supreme Court, acupuncturists and practitioners of “oriental medicine” are attempting to convince the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to classify acupuncture as an “essential health benefit” (EHB) under ObamaCare.

The Heritage Foundation’s blog, known as The Foundry, is reporting that the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM), a trade group that represents acupuncturists and practitioners of other forms of oriental medicine, have established a task force to pressure the HHS into listing them as an EHB. “Acupuncture fits all of the criteria for an eligible EHB service,” claims a position paper drafted by the AAAOM, “and has demonstrated meaningful improvement in outcomes over current effective services and treatments for conditions in at least five [of] the [10] often general categories of health care outlined by HHS and IOM.” Meanwhile, opponents are lining up to prevent the move.

The Center for Inquiry, which describes itself as “a national nonprofit organization that advocates for public policy based on science through research, publishing, lobbying, and community outreach,” sent a letter to Sebelius urging her to reject AAAOM’s request. “According to the Institute of Medicine, for a service to be eligible as an EHB, it must: (1) be safe, (2) be medically effective, (3) demonstrate meaningful improvement, (4) be a medical service, and (5) be cost effective. “Acupuncture meets none of these five criteria. Proponents of acupuncture repeatedly claim that acupuncture is a safe, efficacious, and cost effective complement to conventional medicine. However, such claims are unjustified, and rely on dubious and discredited research. In fact, an increasingly robust body of empirical evidence has shown that acupuncture is unproven, unscientific, and has no clinical value beyond a placebo effect. Medical interventions that perform no better than placebos should not be funded by the government. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve drugs as ‘safe and effective’ when they perform no better than placebos. Similarly, HHS should not classify a procedure as an EHB when it provides no benefits beyond what could be expected from a placebo.” Thus far, the HHS has not responded to the AAAOM’s request.

 

 

No Evidence Acupuncture Helps With Infertility

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=14463#more-14463

By Susan Brinkmann, May 30, 2012

L writes: It was suggested to us that we try acupuncture to get pregnant. The theory is that it relieves stress. What are your thoughts on this and is it okay to do?”

 

There was a time about a decade ago when researchers believed women undergoing IVF treatments had a better chance of conceiving if they underwent acupuncture treatments at the same time.

According to WebMed, a German study of 160 women, published April 2002 in the reproductive journal Fertility and Sterility, found that adding acupuncture to the traditional IVF treatment protocols substantially increased pregnancy success. In that study, 80 patients received two 25-minute acupuncture treatments – one just before and one directly after fertilized embryos were transferred to their uterus. The second group of 80 patients received no acupuncture during their IVF treatments. The result was that while women in both groups got pregnant, the rate was significantly higher in the acupuncture group — 34 pregnancies, compared with 21 in the women who received IVF alone.

 

 

However, this was just one of many trials involving more than 2,670 people that were reviewed in 2010 by the British Fertility Society (BFS). When studying all of the trial results, it was determined that acupuncture had no effect on the pregnancy rates of the women involved. According to Professor Adam Balen, head of the BFS policy and practice committee, there was “a great deal of discrepancy” in the way in which the trials were designed and the type of acupuncture used.

“Any future randomized controlled trials in this area need to ensure that they use a standardized acupuncture method, have a large sample size and include adequate controls to account for any placebo effects,” Professor Balen said.

He went on to recommend that couples should be made aware of a serious lack of evidence of the effect of acupuncture on women’s fertility before putting out their hard earned dollars for these treatments.

One of the world’s leading experts on the efficacy of complementary medicine, Professor Edzard Ernst of Pensinsula Medical School, agreed.

“Infertile women have been misled for some time now to think that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can help them getting pregnant. This analysis shows two things very clearly: the totality of the acupuncture trials does not support this notion, and for Chinese herbs, we have no evidence at all.

“This will help infertile women not to waste their money or get disappointed by TCM practitioners who behave less than responsibly when recommending these treatments.”

An article appearing on the ScienceBased Medicine website goes into detail about acupuncture and infertility and the studies that have been done in this area. As you’ll read, there were caveats with every study that purported to show a positive effect in women who used acupuncture for infertility problems.

For example, a Cochrane review of multiple studies that looked into the use of acupuncture during embryo transfer (IVF) and found a “beneficial effect on the live birth rate; however, with the present evidence this could be attributed to placebo effect and the small number of women included in the trials.”

As for acupuncture’s effect on stress, this too is a dubious claim that has no scientific support. It might be a better idea to go on a nice relaxing vacation to relieve stress.

Even though every time I say this I am barraged by practitioners who insist on loading up my e-mail box with a slew of biased studies they believe prove otherwise, there is simply no unbiased, evidence-based scientific proof that acupuncture does anything but make people “think” they feel better.

2 readers disagree with the above report.

 

 

A Tale of Acupressure, Toe Rings and Weight Loss

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=15382#more-15382

By Susan Brinkmann, July 16, 2012

MB asks: “My friend bought an acupressure ring and swears that it helped her lose weight. Is this possible?”

 

If people could lose weight simply by sliding a ring on their finger, do you really think we’d have an obesity epidemic in the U.S.?

As you might have guessed by that initial snarky comment, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the use of acupressure rings for weight loss. For that matter, there’s no proof that acupressure works for anything.

For those of you who are not familiar with acupressure, it is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that operates along the same principles as acupuncture, only instead of using needles, it uses the hands to exert pressure on certain points on the body.

In addition to so-called weight loss rings, there is also the Body Slimming Toe Ring (I’m not making this up). It is a silicon band with magnets that fits around the big toes and supposedly exerts pressure on points in the body associated with weight loss. As usual, no clinical trials can be found in support of its claims. The only good thing about it is the price – 3 pair for just $7.39 at Amazon! Your money would be better spent on healthy and more successful weight loss strategies, or simply by eating less and exercising more.

 

 

Are Acupressure Mats a Waste of Money?

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=23362#more-23362

By Susan Brinkmann, August 14, 2013

JZ writes: “I purchased a Halsa Swedish acupressure mat in a local health store. The box said The Natural Alternative to pain relief medication. The insert said the mat has roots in India, where spike mats were first used about 5000 years ago by fakirs and yogis. The mat has spikes in it to stimulate the body’s acupressure points. I assume this is a New Age product. I lost $40 on the dumb mat. Have you heard of this? What a rip off, I’ll stick to a regular pillow.”

 

This product is not New-Age based, but is actually based on traditional Chinese medicine. Acupressure mats such as the model you describe is made of a mat which contain small disks containing anywhere from 6-8,000 spikes.

The spikes are meant to apply pressure to key points on the surface of the skin that are said to stimulate the circulation of blood and the body’s “life force” to aid healing. The concept is similar to that of acupuncture except spikes are used in place of needles.

 

 

Users are told to lay on the mats, which cost anywhere from $30 to $70, for 15 minutes a day.

111

 

In a review of the Halsa mats written by Laura Johannes for the Wall Street Journal, scientific support for the efficacy of these mats is lacking. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2011 found some benefits to the mats, but it was funded by a manufacturer of the product. It also relied on healthy participants so there was no way to determine any health benefits.

Another study of 36 sufferers of chronic neck and back pain, published in Alternative Medicine Studies, found that nail mats used for 15 minutes a day for three weeks reduced patients’ peak levels of pain but failed to reduce their normal pain levels. It also was found to have no effect on depression, anxiety and sleep. This study was not funded by any company involved in selling mats.

“I tested a Shakti mat several times, with light clothes and on bare skin,” Johannes reports. “At first, I felt a prickly sensation that was annoying, and my stress level went up. Stuffing a pillow under the mat to bring the spikes in contact with my neck felt good. By the third time, I was able to sink into the sensation and experience the spikes as a massage. While some sites suggest using the mats for foot reflexology, I found standing on it to be very uncomfortable.”

Science is studying acupuncture/acupressure from a neuroscientific point-of-view rather than for its basis in traditional Chinese medicine. It is believed that acupuncture may cause the release of endorphins which are part of the body’s natural pain-control system; by stimulation of nerves in the spinal cord that release pain-suppressing neurotransmitters; or by the naturally occurring increase in blood flow in puncture areas that remove toxic substances. Scientists have arrived at no conclusions, however, and these studies are ongoing.

I’m sorry that you were ripped off, JZ, but thanks to you, we’re able to publish this blog and spare others the same fate!

 

 

Auricular Medicine: Quackery on Steroids

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=23776#more-23776

By Susan Brinkmann, August 30, 2013

VR writes: “I have been getting homeopathy treatment from a chiropractor using Auricular Medicine. It is a bio-energetic medicine testing protocol that enables them to objectively determine which homeopathics are appropriate (and not appropriate) for each patient. Is this New Age medicine?”

 

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                                                   The “little man” in your ear

 

It sounds like you’re getting a double-dose of quackery from a chiropractor who ought to know better. Not only is homeopathy without a shred of scientific merit (see our blog index for numerous articles on homeopathy) but auricular medicine is even wackier.

For those of you who have never heard of it, auricular medicine is also known as “ear acupuncture” and involves inserting acupuncture needles into certain spots in a person’s ear which supposedly correspond to certain parts of the body. But here’s where it gets really weird.

This therapy is widely believed to be an ancient Chinese remedy but that’s not even close to the truth. It was actually invented by a French homeopath, Dr. Paul Nogier, in 1951 when a patient came to him and claimed he was relieved of sciatica pain by a cauterization of the ear performed by a quack in Marseille, France.

Nogier suddenly had a remarkable “insight” that the ear was actually a homonculus (a little man) in the form of a fetus. Therefore, if one stuck a pin in a certain area on the “little man” in the ear, it would heal the corresponding part of the body. (I’m not making this up – click here for an article containing plenty of citations, including the diagram shown, which document the bizarre history of this treatment.)

 

 

Personally, I would not trust my health to anyone who uses such untested and downright ludicrous methods of “medicine” to diagnose an illness, then treat it with homeopathic drugs that have long been proven to be nothing more than plain water (which homeopaths believe have a “memory” of anything that ever touched it). If I were you, I’d find a real doctor and get on with some real healing.

 

 

Just because it Sounds Holy Doesn’t Mean it is

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=24487#more-24487

By Susan Brinkmann, October 2, 2013

CS writes: “I listen to Catholic Radio and have heard that partaking in acupuncture and other alternative therapies.  I have been to a natural healing center and the practitioner uses muscle testing which she says uses acupuncture ideas about energy flow in my body. That our bodies can let us know what part of our body is being challenged and what it needs to get back into balance. She uses her technique as an assessment tool not as treatment. If what she says is true then it would have to be of our God because it is amazing and miraculous. What is ‘bad’ about this?”

 

The first sentence in this question is incomplete so I’m going to assume that you meant to write “I listen to Catholic Radio and have heard that partaking in acupuncture and other alternative therapies is okay.”

Many people feel this way; however, there are a few important qualifiers which should always be given along with this kind of blanket statement. First of all, it is never okay with the Catholic Church to use an untested alternative therapy for a life threatening or communicable disease.

This teaching can be found in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services (Part V, No. 56) which is based on the Catechism and Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letter On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life (Evangelium Vitae).

These Directives state that “A person has a moral obligation to use ordinary or proportionate means of preserving his or her life.”

You can read more about this here.

If you want to use a homeopathic concoction to treat an earache, that’s okay, but it’s not okay to use it to treat diabetes or the mumps; however, the user may want to be fully informed about the origin of some of these practices, such as the muscle testing you describe above, because many are rooted in the occult and a pantheistic belief system that is not compatible with Christianity. In most cases, once a Christian becomes fully informed about an alternative, they’re no longer interested.

Now that I’ve explained this, you can see why making a blanket statement such as “it’s okay to use acupuncture” is really not telling a person what they need to know.

Second of all, what the healer is telling you is not true. There is no such “energy flow” in the body. The energy she is referring to is completely unsubstantiated by science and does not exist; but that doesn’t mean people won’t believe in it. Thanks to the New Age movement and its plethora of “energy workers”, this bogus medicine has become the snake-oil of the 21st century. It’s also why the Pontifical Councils refer to it as “the New Age god” in the document Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life.

Muscle testing is even more problematic. It is based on the notion that every organ dysfunction is accompanied by a specific muscle weakness that can be detected through muscle-testing procedures. Proponents claim diseases can be evaluated through specific patterns of muscle weakness which they can heal by manipulating or unblocking alleged body energies along meridian pathways, or by infusing energy to produce healing in certain organs. For instance, a weak muscle in the chest might indicate a liver problem, and a weak muscle near the groin might indicate “adrenal insufficiency.”

Patients can also be tested while chewing certain substances and if a muscle tests “weaker” after a substance is placed in the patient’s mouth, it supposedly signifies disease in the organ associated with that muscle.

The same test is applied for determining nutrient deficiencies. If a weak muscle becomes stronger after a nutrient (or a food high in the nutrient) is chewed, that supposedly indicates “a deficiency normally associated with that muscle.” Some practitioners contend that muscle-testing can also help diagnose allergies and other adverse reactions to foods.

Muscle testing is regarded by the medical and scientific community to be as goofy as it sounds to the rest of us, but researchers have nevertheless subjected the method to several well-designed and impartial tests to determine if it has any credibility.

Apparently, it does not.

In one test, three practitioners testing eleven subjects all made significantly different assessments on the same patients. Another set of researchers who conducted an elaborate double-blind trial concluded that “muscle response appeared to be a random phenomenon.” Without belaboring the point, no testing to date has turned up any evidence that muscle testing works.

You might also be interested in knowing that muscle testing (aka applied kinesiology) was “discovered” by a Michigan chiropractor named George Goodheart in 1964. By his own admission, the practice combines elements of psychic philosophy, Chinese Taoism, and a belief in what early chiropractors called “Innate Intelligence” a kind of universal energy or “life force.”

The fact that he relied on psychic powers in the development of his new idea was confirmed by Dr. William Jarvis, president of the National Council Against Health Fraud and professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Loma Linda University Medical School in California.

 

 

But none of this is any secret. Goodheart’s own published materials, along with those of other early proponents of applied kinesiology, openly describe the occult-based theories that have been incorporated into this practice.

“He combined the concept of ‘innate intelligence’ with the Eastern religious concept of energy (chi) and the idea that muscles reflex (reflect back) the condition of each of the various body organs via the chi’s meridians.

‘Innate intelligence’ is described as spiritual intelligence which runs the body and is connected to the universal intelligence though the nervous system. . . .” (Kinesiology, Muscle Response Testing, p. 1])

Even though your practitioner talks a good game, and makes what she does sound so good as to be almost holy, don’t be fooled. These practices are not based on science and should never – under any condition – be used to diagnose illness. If so, the practitioner should be reported to the state medical board.

 

 

Not All Acupuncture is Acupuncture

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=26277#more-26277

By Susan Brinkmann, December 13, 2013

I came across a very good explanation by a Yale neurologist about why some versions of acupuncture aren’t really acupuncture at all.

In this blog by Steven Novella, he says that many studies of acupuncture employ a kind of bait-and-switch tactic – which means they are studying something that is not really acupuncture but calling it acupuncture and thereby legitimizing “pure pseudoscience”, he writes.

For instance, acupuncture is based in Traditional Chinese Medicine which posits the existence of a life energy that can be controlled by inserting needles into certain locations on the body known as meridians.

“No study has demonstrated that chi exists, or that acupuncture of the meridians has any specific effect,” Novella writes.

In fact, acupuncture literature itself proves that it doesn’t really matter where the needles are placed, or how deeply they are inserted, in order to manipulate this life force energy.

“This means that any effects of sticking acupuncture needles into a patient are non-specific – they are not related to the flow of chi. There may be some small non-specific physiological effects – such as counter-irritation reducing pain or inhibiting nausea – but even these claims remain elusive and controversial.”

This means that “medical acupuncture”, which believes that the results of needling certain points on the body are due to the release of chemicals in the body rather than to the manipulation of chi, is not really acupuncture at all, because it does not rely on (or even believe in) the manipulation of this unsubstantiated life force energy named chi.

Novella then refers to studies of what some refer to as “electrical acupuncture” which is the application of a pulsating electrical current to acupuncture needles as a means of stimulating acupoints (meridians).

“Electrical acupuncture, however, is not acupuncture – it’s transdermal electrical stimulation [TES], which is a scientific practice that has proven efficacy in the treatment of pain. Giving transdermal electrical stimulation through acupuncture needles, calling that ‘electrical acupuncture’ and then using positive results to conclude that acupuncture works – is an elaborate bait and switch.”

In other words, not all acupuncture is really acupuncture. Traditional Chinese acupuncture has not fared well in laboratory tests but TES and techniques that manipulate the release of chemicals in the body do work. Calling them both by the same name, aside from being inaccurate, is very misleading to the average consumer.

This blog provides a much deeper explanation of so-called “medical acupuncture” and what is wrong with the many studies proponents are using to validate their practices.

 

 

Aculief & Massaging Trigger Points

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=31840#more-31840

By Susan Brinkmann, July 23, 2014

OB writes: Please tell me if the Aculief is okay to use? It’s essentially a clamp placed on the hand that helps alleviate headaches. I ordered it from a catalog. The description however, didn’t say anything about acupressure or energy, etc., unlike the instructions that arrived in the package! The other question: What’s the difference between acupressure and massaging trigger points?  

111

 

Aculief is indeed based on beliefs inherent in Traditional Chinese Medicine which assert that there is a universal life force present in the body that can be manipulated via pressure or needles at certain points on the body which are known as meridians.

As the Aculief package insert states: “Aculief uses all natural Traditional Chinese Medicine acupressure to apply pressure to the LI-4 meridian spot located between the thumb and forefinger. The LI-4 (Hegu) meridian spot has been known for centuries to provide tension relief and restore well-being.”

 

 

 

This sounds wonderful but there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim either for acupressure, which relies on applying pressure on meridian points, or for acupuncture which uses needles instead of pressure. Whatever temporary relief people may experience in acupuncture/acupressure is believed to result from the release of endorphins which are part of the body’s natural pain-control system, or by the naturally occurring increase in blood flow that occurs at the sight of the puncture or pressure. These results come about regardless of where the skin is treated, which contradicts the belief in meridians and the underlying energy that supposedly runs through these areas.

The main difference between acupressure therapy and trigger point therapy is that acupressure deals with pressure on meridian points and trigger point applies pressure mainly to muscle tissue. The latter is used primarily for pain management whereas acupressure, which is based on the belief that there are 14 energy centers in the body that correspond to particular organs, is often erroneously used as a diagnostic tool.

 

 

When Chair Massage Goes Off the Rails

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=39009#more-39009

By Susan Brinkmann, April 18, 2015

CW asks: “Is chair massage okay?”

 

Chair massage is problematic because it blends both deep tissue manipulation (which is not New Age) with reliance on acupressure points to stimulate the flow of energy in a client (very New Age).

For those who never heard of it, chair massage is a style of seated massage which focuses on the back, shoulders, neck and arms. It is typically done over clothes and without any kind of massage oil. The client sits in a special chair with the face resting in a cradle and facing downward, with supports for the arms. Swedish or deep-tissue massage techniques can be used, in which case this kind of massage would be acceptable. The founder of chair massage is a man named David Palmer https://touchpro.com/about-touchpro/touchpro-founder-david-palmer/ who began his career in 1980. He was taught the traditional Japanese massage technique known as Amma (means push-pull in Chinese) which is aimed at balancing the flow of energy in a client’s body. It relies on acupressure points which are related to alleged energy centers known as meridians, a type of energy that is not founded in science. When Palmer’s teacher, Takashi Nakamura, returned to Japan in 1982, Palmer took over The Amma Institute and it was here that he began to develop a technique of working on seated clients with an adaptation of Amma and acupressure-based massage routines. While there is certainly nothing wrong with a chair massage which utilizes acceptable deep tissue massage techniques, any practice that relies upon the manipulation of a scientifically unfounded life force energy would not be acceptable for obvious reasons.

 

 

The Spiritual Dangers of Acupuncture

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=42049#more-42049

By Susan Brinkmann, August 7, 2015

PO writes: “I have been having acupuncture for 2.5 years on a regular basis for anxiety. The doctor that is treating me is a Catholic and a MD. I have benefited greatly from this therapy. He does mention that I have had blocks that need to be opened and I do feel very relaxed after the treatments . . . I do not feel that he is doing anything that is against the Catholic Church but when I went to a healing service at our local Catholic church they had acupuncture on the list that was something that one should not do. My main question is that during this healing service I held up my hand and renounced all of these practices that were listed and acupuncture was one of them. If I go back to have acupuncture am I allowing a bad spirit back into my life, i.e. the devil?”

 

Yes, you may be allowing a bad spirit back into your life and you’re also going back on your word to Jesus. Neither is a very good idea.

The reason the acupuncture is making you feel better is because pricking the skin with a needle releases pain-relieving endorphins and other chemicals that naturally make you feel better. It has nothing to do with the “blockage” your doctor referenced. This “blockage” is based on a belief based in Traditional Chinese Medicine that a universal life force permeates the universe, including the human body. This alleged energy enters the body through “energy centers” known as meridians. Practitioners believe that Imbalances in this energy (yin yang) are what cause illness.

The problem with this belief is that there is no such thing as a universal life force, which explains why scientists have been able to prick the skin anywhere on the body – not just in the alleged meridians – and bring relief to people.

That said, there is a very real spiritual component to acupuncture that must be dealt with.

As the website Acupuncture Today explains, in oriental medicine, there is no separation between mind, body and spirit. All are seen as components of the life force. This is why acupuncturists believe that “the spirit is the motive force of organism and must be reached first in order to initiate the healing process.”

It goes on to explain: “In Oriental medicine, the acupuncture needle is often seen as the instrument of containing the spirit because the needles are inserted into discrete acupuncture points, each of which is said to control specific physiological functions of the body down to the cellular level – indeed, what we might think of as the innate wisdom or spirit of the body.

 

 

“However, Oriental medicine also recognizes that before a practitioner can insert a needle in someone, another form of spirit connecting is also optimal. Whether it be guided imagery, eye contact, a handshake, or the ability to listen and be present, satisfying medicine for both practitioner and patient requires the possibility of meaningful interaction that allows a deeper, soulful, spiritual encounter. It is the medicine of the past and the new millennium. Needling acupuncture points is a powerful avenue for achieving this connection.”

The article goes on to list different locations in the body to needle in order to affect the spirit of a person.

As this licensed California acupuncturist explains, “There are many Taoist spiritual acupuncture points that deal with a bevy of spiritual issues. Anything from getting you back on your life path to what is buried in your subconscious mind.”

In other words, whether your Catholic acupuncturist intends it or not, the spiritual aspect of acupuncture is intrinsic to the practice. Acupuncture is based on the belief that there is no separation between mind, body and spirit so whatever the acupuncturist is doing is intended to affect all three aspects of the patient.

In addition to this, when you are laying on a table being treated by an acupuncturist, you are opening yourself to a practitioner who believes in a universal life force which is akin to a god in many religions. As we read in the Pontifical document, Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life, this life force energy is called “the New Age god.”

Although Taoism does not have a god, per se, Tao is considered to be the universal life force or the underlying nature of all things that exist in the world and the path one must follow.

Christians believe the path we must follow is the Will of our Creator, not the Tao!

Because we know that the universal life force does not exist, and the Fathers of our Church teach that Satan and his minions hide behind the false gods of other religions, we are exposing ourselves to demonic forces whenever we participate in practices that are based in these beliefs.

This is where the spiritual harm can come to a person who is receiving acupuncture – or any other treatment based in the existence of a universal life force. It is akin to putting our faith and hope for healing in a false god who does not exist, and who may be serving as a front behind which Satan can operate with impunity.

My advice is to keep your word to Jesus and stay away from acupuncture.

 

 

Is Acupuncture Harmless?

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=43385#more-43385

By Susan Brinkmann, October 2, 2015

GM asks: “My doctor says acupuncture is harmless. Is this true?”

 

Not exactly. There are numerous risks with acupuncture ranging from soreness and bruising to infections and punctured lungs and even death. According to Dr. Edzard Ernst and scientist Simon Singh in their book, Trick or Treatment http://www.amazon.com/Trick-Treatment-Undeniable-Alternative-Medicine/dp/0393337782 , there are certainly risks involved in acupuncture. Some of the more minor issues involve slight pain, bleeding or bruising at the sight of the insertion. People who get woozy at the sight of a needle are also known to . . . well . . . get woozy and feel dizzy, faint or vomit. Among the more serious side effects https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22247-acupuncture-treatment-is-not-as-safe-as-advertised/ is that of infection.

There have been documented cases http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10402750  of patients contracting diseases such as hepatitis. The journal Hepatology documented 35 out of 366 patients who contracted hepatitis B from an American acupuncture clinic. The problem was caused by re-using needles that were not properly sterilized. Another more serious side-effect can occur if a needle happens to puncture a major nerve or organ.

For instance, in this article https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22247-acupuncture-treatment-is-not-as-safe-as-advertised/, Ernst said that there have been 86 deaths associated with acupuncture between 1965 and 2009 with most of them being due to lung collapse. This happens when the needle punctures membranes around the lung. In another case, an Austrian patient died after an acupuncturist inserted a needle into her chest which managed to pierce her heart and kill her. Even though acupuncturists like to say their craft is risk-free, this is not true. Although the number of injuries compared to those treated could hardly be called a “huge” risk, it is there nonetheless.

And when we consider that acupuncture has not been found to be effective for much of anything in laboratory testing http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=463, we can only wonder why anyone would take any risk at all in order to have one of these treatments.

Doctors recommend http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/acupuncture/basics/risks/prc-20020778 that people with bleeding disorders or are taking blood thinners such as warfarin or Coumadin could suffer a higher rate of complications. In addition, any kind of electrical acupuncture could interfere with the operation of a pacemaker. Pregnant women are also advised to be wary of the procedure because some types of acupuncture are believed to stimulate labor which could result in a premature delivery.

 

 

From: Michael Prabhu To: Sue Brinkmann; newage@womenofgrace.com Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 8:10 PM

Subject: ACUPUNCTURE – Michael Prabhu, India

March 27, 2013

Dear Susan,

 

 

If you link to any page of the Catholic Answers online forum today, there is the phrase “Catholic FAQ” at the left-hand top corner that asks the question, “Can I receive acupuncture for pain” under which is a box. You click on the box, and the link is given to http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?threadid=769284.

At this link, a member asks, “Can I receive acupuncture for pain relief without going against my Catholic teaching?”

On behalf of Catholic Answers, Fr. Vincent Serpa O.P.* replies “Certainly! There is not conflict between acupuncture and Catholicism.

*Recent apologetics answers by Fr. Vincent Serpa: http://forums.catholic.com/search.php?searchid=13970822

 

I am copying below, a couple of excerpts from letters that I received from a Catholic in the UK (name withheld by me) who was once deep in New Age:

I was heavily involved in the New Age – Reiki, yoga, occult and past life regression. I had an encounter with God in a church nearly 7 years ago. I was going to commit suicide but God helped me stopped drinking immediately and without withdrawal. I go to Mass every day now.  On a pilgrimage to a National Roman Catholic Shrine in England, I renounced all New Age practices. I have been a hypnotherapist and auricular acupuncturist until very recently and after reading your website, I feel that being I am being called by  Jesus Our Lord to become an evangelist. -November 12, 2010

I have seen something on acupuncture on Susan Brinkmann’s site that I completely disagree with – i.e. that Western acupuncture is ok. Not so. The concept of meridians is Taoist. –August 15, 2011

With regards, Michael

 

*

 

What is Shiatsu?

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=36023#more-36023

By Susan Brinkmann, December 23, 2014

CJC asks: “Is Shiatsu New Age?”

 

Great question! Shiatsu massage is not New Age*; it is a Japanese healing treatment that applies manual pressure to specific points on the body believed to be energy pathways or meridians in order to reduce muscle tension, fatigue, and improve blood flow and the function of the lymphatic system. The word “shiatsu” actually means “finger pressure” because the fingers, thumbs, elbows and even knees are used to apply pressure during this type of massage.

It is said to have derived from an ancient form of Japanese massage known as Anma, and from acupuncture. Anma involves tapping, rubbing and applying pressure to different points on the body in order to stimulate the muscular and circulatory system. It’s also used to return the body’s “energy flow” to a normal state.

Tokujiro Namikoshi started the Japan Shiatsu college in 1940 where he integrated shiatsu with western anatomy and physiology. Marilyn Monroe was said to have been treated by him for an unknown illness which led to wider acceptance of the technique around the world.

In 1964, the Japanese government officially recognized it as a form of medical therapy.

A little more than a decade later, Shizuto Masunaga, a Japanese psychologist, created Zen Shiatsu which incorporates psychology, pressure points and neurology into the therapy and developed specific exercises for patients to perform to help reduce “energy” imbalances in their bodies. Zen Shiatsu is one of the more common forms of shiatsu massage in the U.S.

Although some practitioners of Shiatsu claim it can benefit a variety of physical, spiritual and mental ills, there is no evidence that it does anything more than what can be expected from a typical massage.

*Absolutely incorrect. Shiatsu is the Japanese version of acupressure which, like acupuncture, is New Age.

 

 

*

 

Reflexology 

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=5#more-5

By Susan Brinkmann, December 4, 2009

We frequently receive questions about reflexology from people who are surprised to learn that it is another form of New Age “energy medicine” – which, as we all know, is pure snake oil. (See “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Energy Medicine” available here: http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=4)

Reflexology is one of the techniques that rely on the manipulation of an alleged universal life force energy. According to the Reflexology Association of Rhode Island, “Reflexology is based on the premise that there are zones and reflex points in the feet, hands and ears, corresponding to all glands, organs, parts and systems of the body. Through the application of thumb, finger or hand pressure to these reflex points, energy pathways are cleared, balancing all body systems.”

However, it must be pointed out that there is no universal definition of reflexology. Practitioners are “all over the map” as far as what it is and how it works.

 

 

 

Even more important, it has no stamp of approval from the FDA or any other reputable public health agency – which is even more reason to avoid it.
Basically, practitioners believe energy pathways (also called meridians) on the extremities of the body (feet and hands) are particularly powerful because the energy in these places is barely skin deep. Working at various other points along the energy pathways achieves a slower response, which is why Reflexologists incorporate points in the hands and feet for their treatment.

Reflexology supposedly dates back to ancient Egypt and China, but the modern version was introduced in 1913 by William H. Fitzgerald, an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist practicing in New England. Fitzgerald divided the body into ten vertical zones which corresponded to the fingers and toes and taught that “bioelectrical energy” flowed through these zones to reflex points in the hands and feet. When treating an injury, he found that he could apply pressure to zones corresponding to the site of the injury and relieve pain. He also used pressure points on the tongue, palate and the back of the pharynx wall.

Dr. Shelby Riley expanded on the zone theory by adding horizontal zones across the hands and feet, together with longitudinal zones. A physical therapist working with Dr. Riley, Eunice D. Ingham, further developed reflexology but concentrated more on the feet. It was Ingham who authored the first book on the subject, “Stories the Feet Can Tell,” in 1938. The work was eventually translated into seven foreign languages.
After Ingham’s death in 1974, a relative, Dwight Byers, continued her practice and instituted what is now known as the International Institute of Reflexology.

Proponents claim that it can do everything from cleanse the body of toxins to assist in weight loss. They say it can be used to treat earaches, anemia, bedwetting, bronchitis, hemorrhoids, hiccups, deafness, hair loss, emphysema, prostate trouble, thyroid problems, kidney stones, cataracts and a variety of other ills. However, there is no scientific support for any of these assertions. The main criticism of reflexology from a medical standpoint is the danger that it could be used as a substitute for necessary medical treatment.

Also, since it is not recognized by law, no formal training is required. There is a lack of central regulation, accreditation and licensing in the field, as well as a lack of medical training. Training programs are relatively short in duration. Diplomas in reflexology can be attained in as little as six months.

An additional problem with practitioners of any kind of New Age “energy medicine”, including reflexology, is that many of them often “dabble” in other New Age practices. I would advise Christians to avoid these practices.

 

 

“But I’m not worshiping other gods!”

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=29#more-29 EXTRACT

By Susan Brinkmann January 21, 2010

Sheila asks one of the most common questions I receive about the New Age. If a person is not deliberately worshiping other gods by practicing things such as yoga and reflexology, is it still wrong to participate in them?

Sheila’s question(s) is so good, I’m going to reprint the entire e-mail here, then respond to the specific issues she raises:

“Two questions. I had no idea that reflexology had anything to do with another religion. I can’t see why it would be bad if I am not worshipping another god by doing this. God made us a miraculous body and why is this contrary to what he may have done for us. So, the parts relate to one another… that is not evil or weird ’energy’, just the way the body is made. I can’t understand this being contrary to the Christian Faith as I can with Yoga.

Also I am not sure why Pilates would be against Faith or contrary to God’s plan for us. Again, the body works as a whole, created by God. I could guess that if you attributed the healing to yourself and not God or the way he made the body that would be a danger. I see that as a problem within the person themselves not with the exercises. A person could think the same when going to the gym and “worshipping” all the machines and not seeing the glory in the way God made the body and how it works and attributing their health and fitness to themselves and the machines.”

 

  1. I had no idea that reflexology had anything to do with another religion.

Reflexology and all other alternative healing methods that are based on the existence of a universal life force are based in pantheism, a non-Christian belief system that God is an energy force that permeates all of creation. Major religions based on this concept include Taoism and Hinduism. (See our post on reflexology, available here http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=5)

  1. God made us a miraculous body and why is this contrary to what he may have done for us. So the parts relate to one another  . . .  that is not evil or weird “energy”, just the way the body is made.

Sheila is correct that God made us a miraculous body, but a body infused with a non-existent life force energy that can be manipulated through pressure points is not the body He created for us. Science has never been able to substantiate the existence of this so-called life force energy and considers any alternative healing method based upon this principle to be junk science. (See our post on energy medicine available here http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=4 )

It is also important to note that the Church considers any therapeutic practice that is not based on sound scientific research to be a superstitious practice (CCC 2110-2111).

 

 

 

Okabashi sandals and Reflexology

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=178#more-178

By Susan Brinkmann, August 16, 2010

CF Writes: “My favorite summer sandals for the past 7-10 years have been Okabashi. When I was recently on your blog topics, I was surprised to see reflexology. I remembered that the term was used in reference to the making of these sandals. I went to the updated Okabashi web site, which now plays down the role of reflexology . . . . I was about to purchase new sandals, but now I hesitate . . .”

 

CF sent me a statement from the website which confirms that the family-run business bases its products on “the ancient art of reflexology.”

For those of you who are not familiar with reflexology, it is a New Age practice based on the existence of an alleged universal life force energy that supposedly permeates the body and can be manipulated to effect health by pressing on certain zones or reflex points in the feet, hands and ears that correspond to bodily organs. Practitioners believe that by applying pressure on these points, they can clear “energy pathways” and “balance” body systems. (For more, see Reflexology, http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=5)

The Okabashi sandal was brought to America by an Iranian shoemaker named Bahman Irvani who fled his native country during the Islamic Revolution. The Irvani family settled in Buford, Georgia where their manufacturing plant is located. They have sold millions of these sandals which come equipped with a contoured reflexology insole that has 500 “massage beads” that supposedly stimulate pressure points on the soles of the feet for the purpose of invigorating the body.

If these soles feel great (as CF says they do), it’s not because of whatever those “massage beads” are doing to your universal life force energy. The truth is, there’s no such thing as a universal life force energy (see What You Should Know about Energy Medicine, http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=4) which begs the question of why anyone would even bother with shoes that are built upon a false notion. The manufacturer claims they prevent foot fatigue by applying the principles of reflexology, but any well-crafted shoe is expected to prevent foot and leg fatigue so I’m not sure what makes Okabashi any different from other responsibly-made shoes other than their trademark reflexology.

The bottom line is that one doesn’t need reflexology for comfortable shoes and sandals. Remember Dr. Scholl’s and those big clunky wooden-soled sandals from the 1970′s? Well, they’ve come a long way since then and now have fashionable shoes that are based on proven orthopedics. Come to think of it, I’ve had a pair of Dr. Scholl’s black flats for at least 15 years and they’re still my favorite shoes!

 

*

 

Exorcist says Promiscuity, New Age Practices Lead to Demonic Possession

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=2476

By Susan Brinkmann, August 18, 2008

A British priest and practicing exorcist says that promiscuity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, and New Age practices such as Reiki, can lead to demonic possession. According to a report by LifeSiteNews, Father Jeremy Davies, 73, a priest of the Westminster diocese of the Catholic Church of England and Wales, said sexual perversions as well as trendy New Age practices can open the door to evil spirits. Offering what may be an explanation for the explosion of homosexuality in recent years, Fr. Davies said, “Among the causes of homosexuality is a contagious demonic factor.” He went on to say: “Even heterosexual promiscuity is a perversion; and intercourse, which belongs in the sanctuary of married love, can become a pathway not only for disease but also for evil spirits. Some very unpleasant things must be mentioned because young people, especially, are vulnerable and we must do what we can to protect and warn them,” he told the Catholic Herald. He also said that Satan is responsible for having blinded most secular humanists to the “dehumanising effects of contraception and abortion and IVF, of homosexual ‘marriages’, of human cloning and the vivisection of human embryos in scientific research.” He also said that extreme secular humanism, or “atheistic scientism,” which he compares to “rational Satanism” is leading Europe into a dangerous state of apostasy. “Only by a genuine personal decision for Christ and the Church can someone separate himself from it.” Fr. Davies, an Oxford graduate and medical doctor, made these comments in conjunction with the publication of his new book, entitled, Exorcism: Understanding Exorcism in Scripture and Practice published earlier this year by the Catholic Truth Society (CTS).

Fr. Davies also warns in his book against so-called New Age and occult practices, as well as trendy exercise and “spiritual healing” regimens derived from eastern religions. “The thin end of the wedge (soft drugs, yoga for relaxation, horoscopes just for fun and so on) is more dangerous than the thick end because it is more deceptive – an evil spirit tries to make his entry as unobtrusively as possible.” “Beware of any claim to mediate beneficial energies (e.g. reiki), any courses that promise the peace that Christ promises (e.g. enneagrams), and any alternative therapy with its roots in eastern religion (e.g. acupuncture).” Needless to say, overtly occult activities such as séances and witchcraft are direct invitations to the Devil which he readily accepts.” Fr. Davies was appointed exorcist of the Westminster Archdiocese in 1986 after a four month training period in Rome. In 1993 he co-founded, with Italy’s Father Gabriele Amorth, the International Association of Exorcists which now has hundreds of members worldwide. In 2000, Fr. Davies told the Independent newspaper that incidents of demonic possession are rising dramatically along with the increase of New Age beliefs and practices, ignorance of the Bible and a growth in spiritual confusion. “At the centre of this is man’s ever-growing pride and attempted self-reliance,” he said, “man trying to build a better world without God – another Tower of Babel.”

 

 

Why people believe Alternative Practices work

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=207#more-207

By Susan Brinkmann, September 22, 2010

Have you ever wondered why people are so convinced that therapies work, even when they’ve been proven by science to be quackery? Almost every New Age therapy has a website full of testimonials from people who really believe the technique worked. How could this be?

Barry L. Beyerstein, Ph.D.*, compiled an interesting list of seven reasons why people can think they’ve been healed by either alternative or conventional medicine when they really haven’t.

*Why Bogus Therapies Often Seem to Work http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/altbelief.html July 24, 2003**.

Dr. Beyerstein, a member of the executive council of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), is a biopsychologist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. A more detailed discussion of this topic is one of six superb articles on “alternative medicine” in the September/October 1997 issue of CSICOP’s Skeptical Inquirer magazine

  1. The disease may have run its natural course.

“Many diseases are self-limiting,” Dr. Beyerstein writes. “If the condition is not chronic or fatal, the body’s own recuperative processes usually restore the sufferer to health.”

In order to prove that a therapy is effective, the practitioner has to be able to prove that the number of patients whose condition improved is greater than the number who might be expected to recover without any treatment at all.

“Without detailed records of successes and failures for a large enough number of patients with the same complaint, someone cannot legitimately claim to have exceeded the published norms for unaided recovery.”

  1. Many diseases are cyclical.

Conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, allergies, and gastrointestinal problems normally have “ups and downs,” Dr. Beyerstein writes. “Naturally, sufferers tend to seek therapy during the downturn of any given cycle. In this way, a bogus treatment will have repeated opportunities to coincide with upturns that would have happened anyway.”

  1. The placebo effect may be responsible.

Through suggestion, belief, expectancy, cognitive reinterpretation, and diversion of attention, patients given biologically useless treatments often experience measurable relief, Dr. Beyerstein writes.

It is also possible that in some cases, even a placebo response will produce an actual change in the physical condition. In other cases, subjective changes take place in which the patient feels better even though their condition has not improved.

  1. People who hedge their bets credit the wrong thing.

Dr. Beyerstein has found that if improvement occurs after someone has had both “alternative” and science-based treatment, the fringe practice often gets a disproportionate share of the credit.

  1. The original diagnosis or prognosis may have been incorrect.

It is always possible that an original diagnosis is incorrect, in which case a trip to an alternative “healer” could lead one to think they’ve been healed from a certain condition when they never really had it in the first place.

  1. Temporary mood improvement can be confused with cure.

“Alternative healers often have forceful, charismatic personalities,” Dr. Beyerstein writes. “To the extent that patients are swept up by the messianic aspects of ‘alternative medicine,’ psychological uplift may ensue.”

  1. Psychological needs can distort what people perceive and do.

Even when no objective improvement occurs, people with a strong psychological investment in “alternative medicine” can convince themselves they have been helped, Dr. Beyerstein has found.

“According to cognitive dissonance theory, when experiences contradict existing attitudes, feelings, or knowledge, mental distress is produced. People tend to alleviate this discord by reinterpreting (distorting) the offending information. If no relief occurs after committing time, money, and ‘face’ to an alternate course of treatment (and perhaps to the worldview of which it is a part), internal disharmony can result.”

Rather than admit to themselves or to others that their efforts have been a waste, many people will find some redeeming value in the treatment.

“Core beliefs tend to be vigorously defended by warping perception and memory. Fringe practitioners and their clients are prone to misinterpret cues and remember things as they wish they had happened. They may be selective in what they recall, overestimating their apparent successes while ignoring, downplaying, or explaining away their failures.”

In fact, the reason why we developed the scientific method is to counter this very human capacity for jumping to unfounded conclusions based on what we want to believe. “In addition, people normally feel obligated to reciprocate when someone does them a good turn. Since most ‘alternative’ therapists sincerely believe they are helping, it is only natural that patients would want to please them in return. Without patients necessarily realizing it, such obligations are sufficient to inflate their perception of how much benefit they have received.”

**Related topics:

Spontaneous Remission and the Placebo Effect

Common Questions about Science and “Alternative” Health Methods

Why Extraordinary Claims Demand Extraordinary Proof

How Quackery Sells

Response to an Alt-Muddled Friend

 

 

Science and the Church

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=210#more-210

By Susan Brinkmann, September 27, 2010

MS writes: “If western science shows that practices such as chiropractic, etc. work, will the practices become ok to use?”

 

The Church does not approve or disapprove of a practice based solely on its scientific efficacy, but also on its compatibility with revealed Truth. Irregardless of whether something “works”, if it does so based on a reliance upon occult powers, for instance (i.e. “life force energy” or psychic powers) it would not be approved of for use by the Church.

Science may, however, discover that a practice works for reasons other than the various mystical philosophies with which it is associated, which might then change the way the Church rules on the use of a particular practice.

For instance, science is currently studying acupuncture with a belief that it may work because of the release of endorphins which are part of the body’s natural pain-control system; by stimulation of nerves in the spinal cord that release pain suppressing neurotransmitters; or by the naturally occurring increase in blood flow in puncture areas that remove toxic substances. It does not believe that it works for the reasons put forth in Chinese Traditional Medicine which asserts that the insertion of needles at certain locations on the body, known as meridians or energy pathways, helps to balance the flow of “qi”. There is simply no evidence that “qi” even exists, let alone that it infuses the body in such a way that it can be balanced by the insertion of needles.

The Church currently associates acupuncture with the New Age, but it may rule differently if science determines that its course of action is due to the normal function of the body rather than to the occult forces with which it is presently associated.

 

 

The Power of Placebo

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=222

By Susan Brinkmann, October 11, 2010

What is the one thing all alternative medicine techniques have in common? Testimonials.

No matter what site you visit, iRenew Bands, The International Center for Reiki Training, Peaceful Soles Reflexology, etc., they’re all loaded with impressive testimonials from people who swear by the treatments. But because so few of these methods have any scientific backing, does this mean all of these people are lying?

Absolutely not.

I found this out recently while reading a book entitled, Trick or Treatment, by Edzard Ernst, M.D., the world’s first professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, and Simon Singh, science journalist and best-selling author. The book is about the establishment of evidence-based medicine and what happens when it is applied to some of the most popular alternative healing practices in use today – such as acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic and herbal medicine.

Although I knew a little something about the placebo effect before reading this book, I was astonished at the scope of this phenomenon, and the central role it played in forcing the development of rigorous scientific testing in order to determine if a treatment really does work.

Let me explain.

The placebo effect was discovered back in the late 1800′s* when a physician named Elisha Perkins began marketing a pair of metal rods which he claimed could extract pain from people just by being brushed over the painful area. He claimed the rods were made of an expensive exotic metal alloy which was crucial to their healing capabilities (and to charging their high fees). Literally thousands of people, including George Washington, were recipients of these treatments and Perkins had a long list of satisfied customers who swore their pain disappeared upon contact with the rods.

However, another doctor named John Haygarth became suspicious and decided to try an experiment to prove whether the rods really worked. For the experiment, he secured one pair of Perkins’ rods, then had another bogus pair made. Two groups of people were assembled and given treatment with the rods. No one was told who was receiving treatment with the authentic rods and who was receiving treatment with the fake rods. The results of the trial were exactly as Haygarth expected – patients reported precisely the same benefits from the treatment irregardless of whether they were treated with real or fake rods. He determined that the only explanation for this outcome is that “powerful influences upon diseases are produced by mere imagination.” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Haygarth *I believe this should read as 1700s

When he says powerful, he means it!

Other examples of the power of the placebo effect are almost beyond belief. During World II, an American anesthesiologist named Henry Beecher was very interested in researching the placebo effect and did an experiment on his soldiers when he ran out of morphine. Rather than just treat them without a painkiller, Beecher told his patients they were being injected with the powerful painkiller even though they were receiving nothing more than a saline solution. To his astonishment, the patients relaxed and showed no signs of pain or distress when being subjected to very painful procedures.

Needless to say, after the end of the war, Beecher returned to Harvard Medical School and started a program to explore the miraculous power of placebo.

 

 

 

It was found to be at play in all kinds of procedures, from tooth extractions to cardiac care. One of the most astonishing was a study of angina patients where one group received surgery to correct their narrowed arteries and the others didn’t. Both groups improved so much that some were able to reduce their intake of medication!

Does this mean that mind-over-matter may one day lead to no more reliance on medicine?

Unfortunately, no.

The problem with placebo is that the underlying problem is not cured – we just think it is. In the case of the angina patients, they may have been able to reduce their medicine intake, but their arteries were still dangerously narrowed.

Scientists believe the placebo effect works either through conditioning or expectancy, which means we are either conditioned to respond in a certain way, such as feeling better after seeing a doctor, or expecting to get rid of a headache after taking an aspirin. In the latter case, the more one believes they will benefit from a treatment, the more likely they are to do so.

But we can’t have a bunch of people running around who think they’re cured when they’re not. This is why science has had to develop very rigorous testing standards – such as blind and double-blind trials – to eliminate the possibility of the placebo effect and determine whether certain drugs or treatments actually work.

In blind trials, the patients do not know whether they are receiving the real treatment or a fake. In double-blind studies, neither the patients nor the doctors know which treatment the control groups are getting. This discounts any possibility of suggestion, either by the patients themselves or by a doctor whose body language or other unwitting signals might give away which treatment is being administered.

Having said all this, it’s easy to see how someone can walk away from a Reiki or reflexology or acupuncture session and be totally convinced that they were healed or at least helped in some way – even though the treatments were as useless as that saline solution used by Dr. Beecher.

So the next time you hear someone tout a new alternative method where “hundreds of people” have been healed, unless it’s been subjected to rigorous scientific trials like those just described, please don’t waste your hard-earned money!

 

Can Catholics Use Alternatives to Treat Serious Illnesses?

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=17080#more-17080

By Susan Brinkmann, October 26, 2012

JD asks: “I don’t see any mention in the Catechism about Catholics being forbidden to use alternatives such as homeopathy or acupuncture to treat illnesses like cancer or diabetes. Is this true, and if so, can you tell me what documents contain this teaching?”

 

Yes, this is true. This teaching can be found in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services (Part V, No. 56) which is based on the Catechism.

These Directives state that “A person has a moral obligation to use ordinary or proportionate means of preserving his or her life. Proportionate means are those that in the judgment of the patient offer a reasonable hope of benefit and do not entail an excessive burden or impose excessive expense on the family or the community.”

This teaching derives from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letter On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life (Evangelium Vitae).

Keep in mind that “proportionate means . . . in the judgement of the patient offer a reasonable hope of benefit . . .” does not mean that we can use alternatives such as homeopathy and acupuncture in spite of their lack of scientific credibility just because we want to believe they’ll work. If the science is not behind them, we cannot use them to the exclusion of ordinary means to treat serious or contagious diseases.

As I’ve quoted elsewhere in this blog, and in my Learn to Discern booklets, Kevin G. Rickert, Ph.D. explains in Homiletics and Pastoral Review that “Catholic moral teaching requires that we use ordinary means to save a life or to treat a malady. When a person is confronted with a life threatening condition, or some less serious illness (especially a communicable disease), which can be easily treated by ordinary means, there is a moral obligation to do so.”

Unscientific medical cures such as alternatives that are either untested or failed to pass the test of rigorous scientific scrutiny (as is the case with most alternatives in use today) are not considered to be ordinary “because they are not real means at all,” Dr. Rickert writes. “As such, they are neither required nor permitted. The main problem with these kinds of “cures” is that they don’t really work; they are irrational, and as such they are contrary to the natural law.”

When we put our full faith in one of these untested methods to treat a serious illness like diabetes or heart disease, while refusing the best science of the day, we fall into the trap of deception and error, aka “superstitious medicine.”

“In this case, I subject my mind to deception, and at the same time, I neglect my obligation to employ ordinary means; in so doing, I subject my body to illness and my loved ones to potential hardships.”

 

ACUPUNCTURE, ACUPRESSURE, SHIATSU AND REFLEXOLOGY

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

ACUPUNCTURE AND MARTIAL ARTS-DR EDWIN A NOYES

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/ACUPUNCTURE_AND_MARTIAL_ARTS-DR_EDWIN_A_NOYES.doc

 

7_A_SEDEVACANTIST_PERSPECTIVE_01-MICHAEL_OSWALT

                   

Metamorphose

A Catholic Minstry for exposing the truth about alternate medicine, the occult in reiki & pranic healing
and oriental spiritual exercises of the New Age Movement.

For Queries and detailed information please call on, Michael Prabhu,
Michael Prabhu, #12 Dawn Apartments, 22, Leith Castle South Street, Chennai 600028. India
Phone: +91 (44) 24 611 606
Email: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net
Website: http://www.ephesians-511.net

AUGUST 13, 2016

WARNING: THIS IS A SEDEVACANTIST ARTICLE BY AN EX-CATHOLIC PRIEST, MICHAEL OSWALT

 

Rejecting the Impostor Church (Letter to the Clergy of the Diocese of Rockford)

http://www.cmri.org/02-oswalt-letter-to-rockford-diocese.shtml

By Rev. Michael Oswalt, The Religious Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen (Congregatio Mariae Reginae Immaculate or CMRI), Mount St. Michael, 8500 N. St. Michael’s Rd. Spokane, WA 99217, 2009

Editor’s note: After a 6-year seminary course at Mundelein, a Conciliar seminary in Chicago, Michael Oswalt was ordained with the new rite of ordination. Although he adhered to traditional Catholic thinking in the seminary, his eyes were really opened to the effects of Modernism on the parish level, when he received his first assignment. By the grace of God, obtained especially through his daily Rosary and total consecration to Jesus through Mary, Michael became convinced that the new Conciliar Church is not truly the Catholic Church. The final ray of light came when his superior one day asked him: “Do you want to be a member of the pre-Vatican II Church or the post-Vatican II Church?” Michael knew he could no longer remain in the Conciliar Church.

The following is the letter he sent to all priests in the diocese, in March, 2009, regarding the reasons he abandoned the Novus Ordo. He is now studying to be properly ordained to the priesthood with the traditional rites of the Church.

 

Dear fellow clergy of the Diocese of Rockford:

I have decided to leave the Diocese of Rockford for the reason that I have come to the conclusion that the changes enacted by Vatican II are not compatible with Roman Catholicism.

 

No one denies that Vatican II imposed deep and vast changes upon the Catholic Church. But all change is either accidental or substantial. If the changes wrought by Vatican II are merely accidental, then there could be no justification in mounting opposition to them, even if one found them to be distasteful. On the other hand, if these changes are substantial, then the changes of Vatican II represent nothing less than the establishment of a new religion which differs essentially from Roman Catholicism. In such a case it would be the duty of every Catholic, and especially priests, to resist these changes and strive to dispel them from Catholic buildings and institutions, as Catholics have striven in the past to drive out Arianism, Nestorianism, Protestantism and the many other heresies which have attempted to overtake the Roman Catholic Church.

 

For many years I have studied the differences between pre-Vatican II Catholicism and the post-Vatican II religion. These differences appeared to me to be profound. But in all cases I strove as best I could to give the benefit of the doubt to those who were promulgating these changes. In many cases I was driven to denial, that is, to a blinding of myself to facts which I knew in my heart were true, but which I could not face as true.

 

No one denies, furthermore, that the Faith which was believed and practiced up to the Second Vatican Council was Roman Catholicism, that is, the religion and Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, which we believe to be the one, true Church outside of which there is no salvation. All must concede, therefore, that in order that the post-Vatican II religion qualify as truly Roman Catholic, it must conform substantially in all things with the pre-Vatican II Faith and practice. In other words, in order to legitimately and truthfully claim that we are Roman Catholic priests, it is necessary that there be a substantial continuity between the pre-Vatican II Faith and the post-Vatican II changes. If this substantial continuity is broken, then we as priests lose our link to Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Roman Catholic Church, to every true Roman Pontiff who ever sat on the throne of Peter, to all of the saints of heaven, indeed to every Catholic who has preceded us in the Faith. We lose our claim to apostolicity, to unity of faith, to catholicity, and to sanctity. Indeed it would be difficult to think of anything more false, more absurd, more useless, nay more dangerous, than a priest who claims to be Catholic, but who has lost continuity with the sacred tradition of Roman Catholicism.

 

It remains for me, therefore, to prove this claim of discontinuity between present and past, a claim which for some may seem outlandish, but for other some a truth which lies deeply buried in their minds, and weighs heavily on their hearts. The evidence for the position which I am taking is indeed vast. It would require a book of many volumes to do justice to the evidence which must be presented. But I will present these convincing facts and arguments in a condensed manner, and invite at the same time all who may be interested to further reading in various books, web sites, and periodicals.

 

 

 

I will present the evidence in the following manner:

  1. the heresies contained in Vatican II;
  2. the heresy taught in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, and the sinful practices sanctioned by it;
  3. how the 1969 New Mass is false and non-Catholic worship, as it is a liturgical expression of the heresies of Vatican II;
  4. the heteropraxis of the Vatican II religion, that is, the confirmation of the heretical nature of Vatican II by the common observances and practices of the Vatican II religion, whether officially sanctioned and practiced by its hierarchy, or merely approved by silence on a universal level;
  5. how the sacraments have been altered substantially, leading in many cases to either invalidity or doubt of validity;
  6. the heresies which are publicly professed by Benedict XVI;
  7. how the four marks of the Catholic Church cannot be found in the new religion of Vatican II.

I will then summarize by pointing out that in the three essential elements of any religion, namely in doctrine, worship, and discipline, Vatican II and its subsequent changes have effected a substantial change of the Catholic Faith. From thence I will draw all of the logical conclusions, both speculative and practical.

 

  1. The heresies contained in Vatican II.

There are four principal heresies contained in this Council.

The first is that of ecumenism, found in the document Redintegratio Unitatis, which teaches that non-Catholic religions are means of salvation. This heretical doctrine was later emphasized in John Paul II’s Catechesi Tradendæ. This assertion is directly contrary to the doctrine that outside the Church there is no salvation, which Pope Pius IX called “a most well-known Catholic dogma.” Both the notion and the practices of ecumenism were condemned by Pope Pius XI in the encyclical Mortalium Animos of 1928.

 

The second heresy is that concerning the unity of the Church, namely that the Church of Christ is not exclusively identified with the Catholic Church, but merely subsists in it. This heretical doctrine is contained principally in Lumen Gentium, and its heretical meaning is confirmed in statements of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, particularly in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, in the 1992 Statement concerning Church and Communion, and in the Ecumenical Directory. It is contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church, contained principally in Satis Cognitum of Pope Leo XIII, Mortalium Animos of Pope Pius XI, Mystici Corporis of Pope Pius XII, and in the condemnations of the “Branch Theory” made by the Holy Office under Pope Pius IX.

 

The third heresy is that of religious liberty, in Dignitatis Humanæ, which nearly word for word asserts the very doctrine which was condemned by Pope Pius VII in Post Tam Diuturnas, by Pope Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos, by Pope Pius IX in Quanta Cura, and by Pope Leo XIII in Libertas Præstantissimum. The teaching of Vatican II on religious liberty also contradicts the royalty of Jesus Christ in society as expressed in Quas Primas of Pope Pius XI, and the constant attitude and practice of the Church with regard to civil society.

 

The fourth heresy is that of collegiality which alters the monarchical constitution of the Catholic Church, with which she was endowed by the Divine Savior. The doctrine of Vatican II, confirmed by the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which states that the subject (the possessor) of the supreme authority of the Church is the college of bishops together with the pope, is contrary to the defined doctrine of the Council of Florence and of Vatican I.

 

  1. The heresy taught in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, and the sinful practices sanctioned by it.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law contains the heresy of Vatican II concerning the unity of the Church, contained in Lumen Gentium.1 It also permits sacrilege to the Blessed Sacrament, by approving of its reception by non-Catholics, which is a mortal sin, and permits communicatio in sacris with non-Catholics, which is also a mortal sin. In addition, the Ecumenical Directory of 1993 permits ecumenical practices which have always been taught by the Church to be mortally sinful.

 

  1. How the 1969 New Mass is false and non-Catholic worship, as it is a liturgical expression of the heresies of Vatican II.
  2. it contains a heretical definition of the Mass in the original General Instruction; 2
  3. it was composed with the express purpose of making an ecumenical liturgy, pleasing to Protestants, stripped of Catholic truths concerning the priesthood, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist;
  4. it was composed with the help and input of six Protestant ministers, which shows the heretical spirit in which it was conceived and formulated;
  5. its authors systematically deleted from its prayers and lessons doctrines which would be offensive to heretics;
  6. it teaches, both by its omissions and its symbolism and gestures, heresies and errors concerning the priesthood, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist;
  7. it is most probably invalid owing to a defect of intention which it causes in him who celebrates it, and owing, at least in the vernacular, to a blasphemous alteration of the words of Christ in the consecration formula;
  8. the original edition contained the Arian heresy in the fourth eucharistic prayer, by saying to God the Father: “You alone are God,” without any reference to the other Persons.3

 

 

 

  1. The heteropraxis of the Vatican II religion — that is, the confirmation of the heretical nature of Vatican II by the common observances and practices of the Vatican II religion, whether officially sanctioned and practiced by its hierarchy, or merely approved by silence on a universal level.

That Vatican II did indeed inject a new and false religion into the institutions of the Catholic Church can been seen from the years of abominable practices.

 

These include:

  1. sins against the First Commandment of God in the form of ecumenical services of all kinds;
  2. pastoral and liturgical practices which implicitly condone homosexual sins;
  3. weird and profane liturgical aberrations, at times using indecently dressed girls and/or rites which are derived from paganism;
  4. the destruction of the Sacrament of Matrimony by indiscriminate granting of annulments, and for false reasons
  5. the implicit, or sometimes explicit, condoning of artificial birth control;
  6. the reign of heresy in Catholic seminaries, universities, and parochial schools;
  7. the substantial alteration of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction by conferring it upon those who are not in proximate danger of death;
  8. the practice of communion in the hand, with the result that what purports to be the Body and Blood of Christ is many times treated in a gravely sacrilegious manner.

 

  1. How the sacraments have been altered substantially, leading in many cases to either invalidity or doubt of validity. Episcopal consecration was rendered invalid in the Latin rite by the introduction of the 1968 rite of the ordination of bishops. Although it purports to be using a form which is derived from the Eastern rites, in fact what was taken from these rites was not the essential form of episcopal consecration, but instead the ceremony for the installation of patriarchs, who were already consecrated. The 1968 rite of consecration fails to mention the grace of the episcopal dignity as the fullness of the priesthood.

There is no need to mention the enormity of this problem, that since 1968 the validity of bishops in the Latin rite has been gradually snuffed out, and with it the validity of the priests whom they attempt to ordain. Apart from every other consideration of Vatican II and its effects, this is by far the worst. In turn, it has invalidated or promises to invalidate every other sacrament except Baptism and Matrimony.

The validity, furthermore, of the Mass has been compromised by the intention of the rite, which is expressed in the General Instruction. In this document, the words of consecration, formerly set apart from the rest of the text and in bold type, are now referred to as the “institution narrative.” But if a priest, even validly ordained, says these words as merely an institution narrative, he does not consecrate, owing to lack of proper intention, the Body and Blood of Christ. Indeed, these very words, “institution narrative,” in referring to the sacred declaration of the priest, “This is My Body,” effecting Transubstantiation, are proof positive of the Protestant character of the New Mass.

The validity of the consecration of the wine is rendered doubtful by the false translation of pro multis as for all. Anyone with a fundamental knowledge of the original Greek knows that this is a mistranslation of these most sacred words, indeed a blasphemous distortion of the actual words of Christ. Because it is possible that these words are required for validity, the consecration of the wine at the New Mass is made doubtful, since this mistranslation could constitute a substantial alteration of the essential form.

But the Vatican II religion has abandoned the very idea of the necessity of matter and form, in any case, since John Paul II approved as valid “Masses” of the Assyrian church, a schismatic sect which descends from the Nestorians, in whose “Masses” there are no words of consecration. Such an approval abandons the Church’s universal teaching and practice concerning the validity of the sacraments, and is therefore heretical.

Other alterations have cast doubt upon the Sacraments of Extreme Unction, Confirmation, and Holy Orders.

 

  1. The heresies which are publicly professed by Benedict XVI and other members of the Vatican II hierarchy. Benedict XVI teaches the following heresies, among others:
  2. That ecumenism does not seek that someone in another religion convert to the Catholic religion.
  3. That Jewish messianic expectation is not in vain.
  4. That there are perfectly good reasons to say that the Old Testament does not refer to Christ.
  5. Calling into doubt the dogma of the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff.
  6. The fact that he recognizes schismatic bishops as “pastors of the Church.”
  7. The fact that he hopes that Protestant sects not dissolve, but “that they will be strengthened in their confessions and in their ecclesial reality.”
  8. That the Catholic Church has no right to absorb other Churches, but instead that a “basic unity — of Churches that remain Churches, yet become one Church — must replace the idea of conversion.”
  9. That there is “the saving presence of the Lord in the [Protestant] Evangelical Lord’s Supper.”
  10. That Protestantism is not a heresy.
  11. That the “validity of the liturgy depends primarily, not on specific words, but on the community of the Church…”
  12. That the baptism of infants is a questionable practice.
  13. That the biblical creation story is in part based on pagan accounts.

 

  1. That the Koran, which explicitly denies the divinity of Christ and refers to women as cattle, is a holy book of a great religion for which he has respect.
  2. That there are such things as pagan saints.
  3. That non-Catholic religions are means of salvation.
  4. That the term “original sin” is misleading and imprecise.
  5. That the Church of Christ exists outside the boundaries of the Catholic Church.
  6. That the Church of Christ is divided.
  7. That the unity of the Church is still in the process of formation.
  8. That it is important that everyone can belong to the religion of his choice
  9. That there will be no resurrection of bodies from the dead.
  10. That in the Holy Eucharist, “Christ is in the bread,” thereby espousing Luther’s doctrine of impanation or consubstantiation.

This list could be much longer, but space does not permit us to elaborate further. (If anyone wishes to see references and quotations which substantiate these accusations of heresy, he may obtain them by requesting them from me).

 

How the four marks of the Catholic Church cannot be found in the new religion of Vatican II.

The four marks of the Church, found in the Nicene Creed, are the essential characteristics of the true Church of Christ, by which it is distinguishable from false sects. But these four marks — one, holy, catholic, and apostolic — are missing from the Vatican II religion.

The new religion is not holy because of (1) its public profession and promulgation of heresy with regard to both faith and morals; (2) its false and evil disciplines; (3) the grave sins against the First Commandment which it condones and promotes in the name of ecumenism.

The new religion is not one, because the unity of faith has been completely destroyed in it. It has lost its unity of faith with the previous ages of the Church, since it has broken away from the ancient doctrines. It has, furthermore no unity of faith within itself. Indeed every doctrinal aberration is permitted. The only doctrinal sin after Vatican II is to adhere to the Catholic Faith as the one, true Faith.

The new religion is not catholic, or universal, since without unity of doctrine, without consistency with the past, catholicity is impossible. For catholicity is nothing else than to be one thing, i.e., one faith, one discipline, and one worship, applied to all places and times in the world. But I have already pointed out the break with the past in so many ways, as well as the interior doctrinal, disciplinary, and liturgical chaos which currently exists in the new religion. There is, therefore, no mark of catholicity.

Finally, there is no apostolicity. The Vatican II religion has dissolved the bonds of unity with the apostles in doctrine, worship and discipline. It has broken the line of apostolic succession by the invalid consecration of bishops. It has altered the Apostolic constitution of the Catholic Church by altering the notion and role of the Roman Pontiff.

In short, the new religion is nothing but a non-Catholic sect, just one of so many which have risen up in the past two thousand years in an attempt to alter the Church of Christ.

 

For this reason, after much prayer and reflection, I have decided to leave this religion which is alien to the Catholic Faith as it has been always known and practiced, and cherished by my Catholic ancestors. I want to die in the same faith as they did, and not in Modernism. I want to be a true Catholic priest, and say a valid and Catholic Mass, which sanctified souls so efficaciously for centuries, and built up the Church to the magnificent structure which it was in 1958, when Pope Pius XII passed away.

Since that fateful day of his passing, the Catholic Church has gone into a tailspin of decline, immorality, and misfortune. It has been reduced, miserably, to a small number of faithful who have undertaken to resist the onslaught of Modernism, so forcefully condemned by Saint Pius X. May God grant me the grace to live in the true and holy Catholic priesthood, and to die in the sacred Faith of our ancestors.

 

Footnotes

  1. The heretical notion of the Church is seen in Canons 825 and 844, where there is a distinction made of catholic [sic] members of Christ’s faithful versus Christ’s faithful (christifideles catholici vs. christifideles, the latter being used most often). Careful reading of this Code reveals very astute wording of the canons in such a fashion that no one could strictly identify Christ’s faithful with the members of the body of the Catholic Church. Rather it becomes very clear that Eastern schismatics and Protestants are considered to be members of “Christ’s faithful” and members of the Church, since they are baptized, and “constituted the people of God.” No mention is made of impeding the effect of baptism through adhering to heretical or schismatic sects, the public profession of heresy, or by exclusion by competent ecclesiastical authority. Instead, mere baptism makes you a part of the People of God, Christ’s faithful, the Church.
  2. This definition was quickly changed in the second edition, owing to its heretical nature.
  3. This too was later corrected because of its obvious heretical content.

 

CMRI Home

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See SEDEVACANTISM-RON SMITH http://ephesians-511.net/docs/SEDEVACANTISM-RON_SMITH.doc

6_A Muslim-Christian Dialogue on Original Sin

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OCTOBER 26, 2016

 

A Muslim-Christian Dialogue on Original Sin

A Summary of The Fall of the Human Race

http://www.answering-islam.org/Hahn/fall.html

By Khwaja Kamal ud-Din, Mawlawi Muhammad Ali and Sultan Muhammad Khan Paul

Summarized, Translated and Annotated by Ernest Hahn

 

Introduction

While Christians have traditionally taught the fall of Adam and the depravity of mankind as a result of his fall, generally Muslims, whatever their attitude towards the fall of Adam may be, have rejected any idea of inherited sin and asserted the natural innocence of his descendants.

In his article, La notion de “péché originel” éxiste-t-elle dans l’Islam?, G.C. Anawati notes how Adam repented of his sin and how God accepted his repentance, chose him, pardoned him and guided him (20:122). He then quotes from the well-known Muslim publication, Al-Manar, to demonstrate the importance of this verse for Muslims:

The pardon granted by God to Adam … expresses the fact that God has led him on the straight path by removing him from the anguish in which he found himself … The reference to the pardon granted by God refutes the belief of those Christians who believe that God has recorded the error of Adam both in his account and in that of his descendants until Jesus came to deliver them from it. Such a belief is rejected by sound reason as well as by trustworthy revelation that comes to us from many sources.1

Bauman, referring to Adam’s repentance and God’s forgiveness (Qur’an 2:38), 2 echoes Muslim opinion:

We note first that this idea has cut off, once and for all, the possibility of any development of a teaching of inherited sin, for Adam’s fall has no immediate consequences for later generations.

Human nature after the fall also is determined by fitra – the natural human condition.3

Anawati concludes his essay as follows:

Islam admits an original fall for Adam and Eve, our first parents, created at first in a state of innocence. But this fall has had only personal consequences. Moreover, their fault has been forgiven. The idea of an original sin transmitted by Adam to his descendants is absolutely opposed to the teaching of Islam.

Man has been created to be the vice-regent of God on earth. He is both soul and body. From this duality naturally results a fight between the two elements, though it cannot be said that this fight is a consequence of the original error. The devil takes advantage of the opposition to “tempt” man and to lead him to transgress the law of God. But this action of the devil is not a consequence of the original sin of Adam; prior to the fall, even before Adam had disobeyed, Satan had decided to pass his time on earth in tempting man.4

In the American publication, What Everyone Should Know About Islam and Muslims, Suzanne Haneef, a convert to Islam, writes:

… The notion of Original Sin is one which Islam emphatically denies, affirming that every human being comes into the world innocent and sinless. Accordingly, he will be held accountable only for what he himself inscribes upon the unblemished tabula rasa of his nature, not for what his ancestor Adam (or anyone else whosoever) did or did not do … Hence, to attribute to God, the Forgiving and Merciful, His laying upon each new-born infant the intolerable burden of a sin committed by his remotest ancestor would appear to be a denial of His unquestionable attributes of justice, mercy, kindness and compassion toward His creatures. And to further claim that the taint of this sin is certain to put every human being into Hell for all eternity unless the Deity sacrifices Himself for His creatures whom He is able to, and should if He is indeed Just and Merciful, forgive, is a denial not only of His unfailing justice and good-will toward His creation but also, it would seem, of His wisdom, logic and reasonableness.5

No doubt, most informed Muslims uphold the position of Adam’s descendants as represented in the above quotations. But is it the sole, tenable position of Muslims? Is it possible that Islamic sources reveal a position which may be less optimistic about the condition of Adam and of Adam’s descendants after his fall or because of his fall, or a position which may even contradict the view generally accepted by Muslims?

With these and other questions in mind the verbal and written discussions of the Christian, Sultan Muhammad Khan Paul, and two Muslim leaders of the Lahore Jama’at-i Ahmadiyya, Khwaja Kamal ud-Din and Mawlawi Muhammad Ali, which have been incorporated into the Urdu publication, The Fall of the Human Race (Hubut-i Nasl-i Insani), are worthy of consideration by anyone concerned with the subject.6 Hence also the title of this essay.

 

 

Khwaja Kamal ud-Din and Mawlawi Muhammad Ali naturally espouse Ahmadi opinions on the subject. Though their views on the subject may differ at points from classical Islamic views, it was felt that there is little need to distinguish between them here. More space is devoted to the arguments of Sultan Muhammad Khan Paul, since they are longer in the original work and make generous use of Islamic sources relevant to the topic. In any case it is hoped that the summaries of the arguments by the three participants fairly represent their respective positions, and that this essay as a whole may assist both Muslim and Christian readers toward a profounder grasp of the nature of sin, its individual and corporate presence and consequences, and its significance in heavenly and earthly realms.8

The principal Quranic passages under discussion are the following:

  1. And verily We made a covenant of old with Adam, but he forgot, and We found no constancy in him.
  2. And when We said unto the angels: Fall prostrate before Adam, they fell prostrate (all) save Iblis; he refused.
  3. Therefore We said: O Adam! This is an enemy unto thee and unto thy wife, so let him not drive you both out of the Garden so that thou come to toil.
  4. It is (vouchsafed) unto thee that thou hungerest not therein nor art naked,
  5. And thou thirstest not therein nor art exposed to the sun’s heat.
  6. But the Devil whispered to him, saying: O Adam! Shall I show thee the tree of immortality and power that wasteth not away?
  7. Then they twain ate thereof, so that their shame became apparent unto them, and they began to hide by heaping on themselves some of the leaves of the Garden. And Adam disobeyed his Lord, so went astray.
  8. Then his Lord chose him, and relented toward him, and guided him.
  9. He said: Go down hence, both of you, one of you a foe unto the other. But if there come unto you from Me a guidance, then whoso followeth My guidance, he will not go astray nor come to grief. (20:115-123)
  10. He said (to Iblis): Go forth from hence, degraded, banished. As for such of them as follow thee, surely I will fill hell with all of you.
  11. And (unto man): O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden and eat from whence ye will, but come not nigh this tree lest ye become wrong-doers.
  12. Then Satan whispered to them that he might manifest unto them that which was hidden from them of their shame, and he said: Your Lord forbade you from this tree only lest ye should become angels or become of the immortals.
  13. And he swore unto them (saying): Lo! I am a sincere adviser unto you.
  14. Thus did he lead them on with guile. And when they tasted of the tree their shame was manifest to them and they began to hide (by heaping) on themselves some of the leaves of the Garden. And their Lord called them, (saying): Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you: Lo! Satan is an open enemy to you?
  15. They said: Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If Thou forgive us not and have not mercy on us, surely we are of the lost!
  16. He said: Go down (from hence), one of you a foe unto the other. There will be for you on earth a habitation and provision for a while.
  17. He said: There shall ye live, and there shall ye die, and thence shall ye be brought forth. (7:18-25)
  18. And We said: O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and eat ye freely (of the fruits) thereof where ye will; but come not nigh this tree lest ye become wrong-doers.
  19. But Satan caused them to deflect therefrom and expelled them from the (happy) state in which they were; and We said: Fall down, one of you a foe unto the other! There shall be for you on earth a habitation and provision for a time.
  20. Then Adam received from his Lord words (of revelation), and He relented toward him. Lo! He is the Relenting, the Merciful.
  21. We said: Go down, all of you, from hence; but verily there cometh unto you from Me a guidance; and whoso followeth My guidance, there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. (2:35-38)

 

THE FALL OF THE HUMAN RACE (A Summary)

PART I

Khwaja Kamal ud-Din’s Argument

Sin is punishable; an error inadvertently committed is not punishable. Adam committed only an error, not a sin. His error was forgetfulness, which he committed inadvertently. Hence he was forgiven; he recovered and suffered no evil effects from his act. Even though his perfect virtue (jannat, garden or heaven, is a state of virtue, not a garden or any place) 9 was impaired for a moment, it was quickly restored.

 

Sultan Muhammad Khan Paul’s Argument

Adam’s action, whether committed intentionally or unintentionally, was against the law (khilaf-i qanun, khilaf-i shar’); hence it was a sin and required forgiveness. According to the Qur’an, God had warned Adam that Satan was his enemy and that he would become a wrongdoer if he came near the tree. Satan deceived Adam and Eve, pretended he was their friend, contradicted God’s words in their presence and finally expelled them from the garden. “Adam disobeyed his Lord, so went astray” (20:121). Adam became rebellious. He became covetous. There was no constancy in Adam (20:115). No longer did he remain in the state in which he was born. If the error was unintentional, then why was punishment given? From all this it is evident that Adam’s action can only be described as sin, not forgetfulness. So “it is also our (Christian) belief that Adam sinned and was punished.”

 

 

Be the garden a state of virtue or a place, Adam and Eve were cast out of it. Their punishment was threefold: They were cast out of the garden; their nakedness was exposed; each was an enemy to the other in the world.

Normally Adam and Eve were addressed with a dual form of the verb. Why then, all of a sudden, does the plural form appear: “Go down, all of you from hence” (ihbitu: “fall down”; 2:38, cf. 2:36)? This passage indicates that their descendants also were affected by the punishment.

 

PART II

Mawlana Muhammad Ali’s Argument

1) Is Man Born Sinful or Sinless? What do Islam and the other religions say?

  1. According to Islam

… – the nature (fitra), (framed) of Allah, in which He hath created man. There is no altering (the laws of) Allah’s creation. That is the right religion, but most men know not – … (30:30)

Muhammad Ali’s Urdu translation of this verse reads in English:

Remain firm in the nature framed by Allah in which He created people in the original state. There is no altering the state framed by Allah. This is the right religion, but most men know not.

Muhammad Ali continues his discussion on this verse by noting that Muhammad commented:

Fitra is Islam. Then he added: The child of every person is born in the state of nature (fitrat ki halat men), that is Islam. His mother and father make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian.

Islam teaches that all children are born free from sin. Just as forcefully it asserts that most people do not know this.

  1. Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, whose followers accept reincarnation or atonement and whose followers account for two-thirds of the world’s population, reckon people to be born as sinners. According to Buddhism and Hinduism, even being born is caused by sinfulness. The Christian religion declares Adam to be a sinner and the whole human race to have inherited his sin. It has become a fundamental principle of Christian faith, like the Sonship of Jesus and his death on the cross to atone for sin. Christians confess that “we are children of wrath, slaves to Satan and worthy of temporal and eternal punishment …” Where is the pure teaching of the Qur’an that (God) created all mankind for mercy…!

He then states:

  1. i) True, people may be changed to believe that a newly born child is under the wrath of God, is a slave to Satan and, unbaptized, goes straight to hell. But the final victory will rest with Islam, which affirms that a child is sinless at birth.
  2. ii) Apart from the sole exception of a reference in Paul’s writings the Bible says nothing about the Christian doctrine of original sin. If it were a fact, surely the Gospel accounts would have reported some saying of Jesus about the sinfulness of mankind through Adam’s sin.

iii) The Christian doctrine is preposterous. Was Adam born sinless or a sinner? If a man is a sinner, what is the point of the law and temptation? It would be as foolish for one, who accepts the Christian belief about original sin, to hope that man would not sin as to hope that a child born blind would see. Then after Christians despair of Biblical support for their belief, they attempt to establish their claim by referring to the Qur’an.

 

2) The State of Hubut and Being Born Sinless

O Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you as he caused your (first) parents to go forth from the Garden … (7:27)

Muhammad Ali’s Urdu translation reads in English as follows:

O Children of Adam! Let not Satan put you in grief (dukh men na dale) as he caused …10

He comments further:

Satan deceived them and they disobeyed God’s order, though they did not sin. For the prerequisite for sin is the will (irada). But the Qur’an clearly testifies about Adam: “He forgot and we found no will in him” (20:115).11 Moreover, in one place his disobedience is described as zallat, zallat being that which occurs apart from intention (qasd) and will (irada). “But Satan caused them to deflect.” (2:36)

Thus the Qur’an does not say that Adam sinned. The Qur’an calls what he did “a slip” (laghzish, zallat), a result of forgetfulness, that in no way involved his descendants.

The sole result of Adam’s disobedience was his departure from the garden. But his descendants were not at all involved in this departure. True, the Qur’an speaks about the state of hubut of all mankind. But Adam’s departure (ikhraj) from the garden and this state of hubut are not to be equated. Otherwise why does the Qur’an (2:36) mention them together? The meaning of hubut becomes clear from what follows: v. 37 speaks of God’s mercy towards Adam and then in v. 38 the order of hubut is again given. This sequence clearly demonstrates that “hubut absolutely cannot be categorized as punishment, nor is it a result of Adam’s disobedience, but is another condition (kayfiyyat).” The relevant passages in Qur’an 7 and 20 confirm this sequence. Adam’s state of disobedience and his punishment were temporary.

Thus the children of Adam remain unaffected by Adam’s action and the result of the action. If they had shared in Adam’s expulsion from the garden, then the Quranic statement: “O Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you as he caused your (first) parents to go forth from the garden ….” becomes meaningless. The state of hubut has no connection with sinfulness or with the result of Adam’s disobedience.

What then is the state of hubut? The story of Satan’s confrontation (muqabila) with Adam is the story of Satan’s confrontation with every man and the necessary ingredient for any human progress. Satan is the manifestation of these carnal desires associated with the human body, which one must subdue or by which one must be subdued, as the case may be. But it cannot be that Satan always conquers.12

 

 

By nature man indeed was created sinless. But by nature he must possess this weakness whereby he might even be subdued sometimes in the confrontation with Satan. This is the whole secret of his progress. If by nature he were made in such a manner that he could never even break God’s law, then his state would be like that of the sun, moon, stars, etc., which can never deviate in the slightest from their appointed course. But then in no way would man excel over other things…. It was therefore necessary that he be placed in a state of confrontation. Since danger is inevitable in confrontation, therefore it (this confrontation) is called the state of hubut.

This danger serves as a warning for man, not in the sense that he has slipped or must slip. After the confrontation “Whoso followeth My guidance, there shall no fear come upon them, neither shall they grieve” (2:38). This passage follows the story of Adam. Or, in other words:

It is as if God explained to all mankind: You all must confront Satan, and while confronting (him) you must make him obedient to you. After the confrontation the garden (jannat) to be entered is the real garden, which is the object and end of the life of man. His first garden is to be born in the state of innocence. But confrontation is necessary to remain in this state of innocence. Then man can progress in this garden of innocence. If from birth man is a sinner, then it is impossible for him to remain in innocence, because how is he who is naturally a sinner to proceed against his nature? And if a man is born sinless but confronts no opposition or dangers, he remains obedient just as all things naturally are obedient to the law, that is, he remains constant in his natural innocence. But then he acquires no excellence beyond these things, nor is there any way for him to progress. Hence man needs the condition of hubut so that he might progress in the face of confrontation by continuing steadfastly in the state of natural innocence….

It is wrong to think that initially Adam was somewhere in heaven and that because of his disobedience he and his descendants “fell from there and came to earth”. The Qur’an clearly states about the creation of Adam: “I am about to place a viceroy in the earth.” (2:30)

Inevitably that garden also is on this same earth. Though this topic requires a separate explanation, here this much must be said that to be born in a state of innocence is in itself that garden. Inherent within the nature of this garden is the real danger of departing from it; yet when man has progressed from this garden and reaches the next garden, he can never depart from it.

 

Sultan Muhammad Paul’s Argument

In the light of Mawlana Muhammad Ali’s translation of Surah 30:30 and his comments on this verse, three questions arise:

  1. Is there anything in the verse to substantiate the claim of Mawlana Muhammad Ali’s claim that this verse demonstrates freedom from sin at birth (payda`ishi ma’sumiyya)?
  2. What is the meaning of fitra?
  3. Has God created people, from an Islamic perspective, in (mankind’s) original (perfect) condition?

Nothing in Qur’an 30:30 proves that man is free from sin from birth. Nor does the hadith quoted by Muhammad Ali state that “fitra is Islam” – an addition which is only Bukhari’s personal commentary.

The hadith, to which Qur’an 30:30 is added, is:

Abu Huraira reported God’s messenger as saying, “Every child is born in fitra, but his parents make him a Jew, a Christian, or a Magian; just as a beast is born whole. Do you find some among them (born) maimed?” Then he was saying, “God’s pattern on which He formed (fitra) mankind. There is no alteration of God’s creation. That is true religion.”13

Even Muhammad Ali in the English translation of the Quranic commentary does not translate fitra by “Islam” but by “the true religion”. A member of any one religion considers that religion to be the true religion. Still no one need be surprised when Muslims equate fitra with Islam.

Nevertheless not all Hadith commentators agree with this equation. One of these commentators writes that `ala`l-fitra means that “a child is born with a type of condition or disposition that facilitates reception of any religion. Barring a catastrophe, he will always remain in it.” Jurjani writes that “fitra is that natural disposition (jibillah) which may be ready for the reception of any religion”. Ibn Mubarak, a renowned specialist of Hadith, writes about this hadith:

Every child is born into his own natural (fitrati) happiness or misery according to the knowledge of God. Then each one of them will be present at the end with the same nature (fitra) with which he was created and likewise acted in this world. One of the signs of misery is to be born among Jews or Magians, because they will make him miserable on account of their religious belief.

The following hadith indicates the unfortunate destiny of children born to infidels:

`A`isha said: I asked, “Messenger of God, what happens to offspring of believers?” He replied, “They are joined to their parents.” I asked, “Although they have done nothing, messenger of God?” He replied, “God knows best what they were doing.” I asked, “What happens to the offspring of polytheists?” He replied, “They are joined to their parents.” I asked, “Although they have done nothing?” He replied, “God knows best what they were doing.”14

Two other traditions in Bukhari reveal Muhammad’s reluctance to predict the destiny of children born to infidels: children who, being born innocent like all children, would go to heaven, according to Mawlana Muhammad Ali’s argument.

Did God, then, create all in a perfect state, as Mawlana Muhammad Ali claims? In fact both the Hadith and the Qur’an demonstrate the creation of people in two states:

Ibn Mas’ud said that God’s messenger who spoke the truth and whose word was believed told them the following: The constituents of one of you are collected for forty days in his mother’s womb in the form of a drop, then they become a piece of congealed blood for a similar period, then they become a lump of flesh for a similar period.

 

 

 

Then God sends to him an angel with four words who records his deeds, the period of his life, his provision, and whether he will be miserable or blessed; thereafter He breathes the spirit into him. By Him other than whom there is no god, one of you will do the deeds of those who go to paradise so that there will only be a cubit between him and it, then what is decreed will overcome him so that he will do the deeds of those who go to hell and will enter it; and one of you will do the deeds of those who go to hell so that there will be only a cubit between him and it, then what is decreed will overcome him so that he will do the deeds of those who go to paradise and will enter it.15

Anas bin Malik reported that he heard God’s messenger say: “God appoints an angel over the womb of a mother who says: ‘O Lord, now there is a drop; O Lord, now there is congealed blood; O Lord, now there is a lump of flesh.’ When God wished to complete His creation, then (the angel) said: ‘O Lord, is it male or female? Miserable or happy? What is its provision and when does it die?’ All of this is written when it is in the womb of its mother.”16

‘Abdallah b. ‘Amr reported that he heard God’s messenger say, “God created His creatures in darkness17 and cast some of His light upon them. Those on whom some of that light falls will have guidance, but those who are missed by it will go astray. On that account I say that the pen has no more to write about God’s knowledge.”18

The latter hadith especially, which states that all mankind (and jinn) are born in darkness, conflicts with the claim of Muhammad Ali that God created all mankind in a perfect state.

The following passage is only one among many Quranic passages that reveal mankind’s degraded condition:

Allah would make the burden light for you, for man was created weak. (4:28)

Sultan Muhammad Paul then comments:

May I respectfully ask you (Mawlana Muhammad Ali) to tell us if (the state of) weakness can be a perfect state. Can you call something which is naturally weak, perfect? In your English commentary on the Qur’an you have commented that “the meaning of the weakness of man can only be that he could not make for himself a way which was free from error”. If the capacity of man is such that he cannot even make for himself a way which is free from error, what greater misfortune can he have than this? What further doubt can there be about his defective condition? We also think that man (not God) has made himself so bad that he now can do no work which is free from error.

In response to Muhammad Ali’s claim that the Quranic passage, “Most men know not” (30:30), refers to those who deny man is born innocent, one may refer to Genesis 1:26, 27 and Ecclesiastes 7:29, noting that man was created sinless but altered his condition by abusing his freedom.19 The Bible speaks very clearly on the matter. And thus the Qur’an says: “Adam disobeyed his Lord, so went astray.” (20:121)

Sultan Muhammad Paul then responds to the other objections raised by Mawlana Muhammad Ali:

  1. The Christian religion reckons Adam to be a sinner and the whole human race to be inheritors of his sin.
  2. Christianity holds, as one of its fundamental principles, that every child of man is born a sinner and an heir of hell.
  3. The unbaptized child who dies goes straight to hell.

In fact, he notes, Muslims as well as Christians have reckoned Adam to be a sinner and the whole human race to be inheritors of his sin. Thus a tradition reads:

Abu Huraira reported God’s messenger as saying, “When God created Adam He wiped his back and every soul of his offspring He was to create up to the day of resurrection fell from his back. He put on the forehead of every one of them a flash of light, then presented them to Adam who asked, ‘My Lord, who are these?’ He replied, ‘Your offspring.’ On seeing one of them and being charmed by the flash on his forehead he asked, ‘My Lord, who is this?’ He replied, ‘David.’ He asked, ‘My Lord, how long a term of life hast Thou appointed him?’ He replied, ‘Sixty years.’ He said, ‘My Lord, give him an extra forty years out of my term of life.'” God’s messenger said, “When Adam’s period of life all but forty years had come to an end the angel of death came to him. Adam said, ‘Are there not forty years of my life remaining?’ He replied, ‘Did you not give them to your son David?’ Adam denied it and his offspring denied; Adam forgot and ate of the tree and his offspring forgot; and Adam sinned and his offspring sinned.”20

The philosophers point to a power in man which they call nafs-i ammarah or quwwat-i bahimi (carnal desire). From the effects of all events occurring in the course of human history from the fall of Adam until the present that have directly impinged upon man’s spiritual growth, man’s carnal desire subdues his angelic (malaki) power and thus, through its evil influence, enfeebles his desire for good. This influence and effect is called, in Christian technical language, “inherited sin”, for in the course of human history it begins with Adam.

Inherited sin is a fact. But from this Muhammad Ali’s conclusion that every child (or anyone) is an inheritor of hell and every unbaptized child goes straight to hell does not follow. (See Ezekiel 18:20; Jeremiah 31:29, 30; Matthew 19:13, 14.) Everyone is responsible for his own actions. God’s atonement relates not only to the effects of inherited sin but actual sin also. Baptism is not a prerequisite for salvation; witness the members of the Salvation Army who are truly Christian. Yet what wonderful examples many of them have been for those who would enter the Kingdom of God!

To reinforce his arguments that Adam was created sinless, Sultan Muhammad Paul quotes James Orr (The Christian View of God and the World), who rejects the idea that sin belonged to man’s original constitution. “The Bible teaches that evil in the world is created by evil itself and that the nature (fitra) of mankind at the beginning of creation was free from it and unstained.”

Other traditions further illustrate the condition of children:

`A`isha said: God’s messenger was invited to the funeral of a boy who belonged to the Ansar and I said, “Messenger of God, this one is blessed; he is one of the young ones in paradise, for he has done no evil, being too young for that. “He replied, “It may be otherwise, `A`isha, for God has created some to go to paradise, doing so when they were still in their fathers’ loins; and He has created others for hell, doing so when they were still in their fathers’ loins.21

 

 

Why the hesitation to call a child born of Muslim, even Ansar, parents “heavenly” (jannati) if children are born without sin?

The prophet said: “God created the children of Adam in different ranks. Some are born as believers, live as believers, and die as believers. Some are born as infidels, live as infidels, and die as infidels. Some are born as believers, live as believers and die as infidels. Some are born as infidels, live as infidels and die as believers.”22

In the light of this tradition does Islam really teach that the child of everyone is born sinless? Is the infidel sinless? Moreover this hadith too warns us against declaring the destiny of anyone, be he a child, a youth or an old man.

When Mawlana Muhammad Ali states that Satan deceived Adam and Eve and disobeyed God’s order, he really contradicts this by adding “though they did not sin. For the prerequisite of sin is the will to sin. If a person does not commit sin when he is seduced by Satan and disobeys the will of God, how does he become a sinner? They acted against the very words of the Qur’an that they “follow not the footsteps of the devil” (2:168) and demonstrated what Muhammad Ali himself wrote: “By nature he must possess this weakness whereby he might even be subdued sometime in the confrontation with Satan.”

If to be overcome by Satan or to follow Satan’s footsteps and thereby disobey God is not sin, then I (Sultan) think that in this world there remains neither the existence of sin nor the sinner.

If the blame for their sin is shifted to Satan, why not shift the blame to Satan for the sin of anyone? As the poet writes: “If you yourself commit a sin, curse Satan.” More so, if you did not want to do it.

Did Adam and Eve really forget the command of God? In fact the Quranic texts (7:19-22; 20:121) strongly suggest that Satan, while deceiving them, even reminded them of God’s commands, that they were aware of God’s commands and that they finally heeded Satan’s words because of their covetousness. Hence the normal translation of nasiya as “he forgot” is in this context against the intention of the Qur’an, even contradicts it, and is correctly translated by us ne tark kiya (“he forsook”), just as Muhammad Ali has translated in his English commentary (9:67): “They (the hypocrites) have forsaken (nasu) Allah, so He has forsaken them (nasiyyahum).” Likewise here, azam is better translated not as will” (irada) but as “constancy” or “firmness”: “We found no constancy in him.” (20:115)

“And Adam disobeyed his Lord, so went astray” (20:121): This passage alone suffices to prove that Adam forsook God’s command and that he did not merely forget it. Other passages: “Man is made of haste” (21:37) and “Man was created anxious” (70:19) further describe the inconstancy of Adam and how he succumbed to Satan’s machinations and forsook God’s command.

“But Satan caused them to deflect (azalla) therefrom” (2:36): Grammatically it is more correct to translate azalla (infinitive: izlal): Shaytan ne Adam awr Hawa ko gunah par bar-angekhta kiya (“Satan incited Adam and Eve to sin”). Adam’s sin cannot be called merely lagzish or zallat (“slip”).

Moreover, to repeat, the consequences of his sin were many (not one, as Mawlana Muhammad Ali says): They were cast out of the garden; their shame became apparent to them; their provision for life on earth became temporary; the one became a foe to the other. It has already been demonstrated that their descendants shared in the fall.

Are the fall (hubut) and the expulsion (ikhraj) different? We read that God ordered Iblis as follows: “He said: Then go down hence (ihbit)! It is not for thee to show pride here, so go forth! Lo! thou art of those degraded” (7:13). Previously Muhammad Ali had said:

The state of confrontation with Satan is the state of hubut. All humanity must pass through this state. All his progress depends on it…. You all must confront Satan, and while confronting (him) now must make him obedient to you. After the confrontation the garden to be entered is the true garden.

Comparing Qur’an 7:13 with Muhammad Ali’s definition of hubut, are we then to conclude that Satan must oppose Satan, make him obedient to himself, and thereafter enter the true garden? Or that Satan is to oppose all mankind, make them obedient to him and after the confrontation, the garden he enters will be the true garden? In fact “ihbitu” simply means “all of you go out of the garden” or “descend” or “go outside”; or even “go out, all of you degraded, from it”. They are cast out because of their degradation which they inherited from Adam. There is no evidence to support the claim that hubut means “confrontation with Satan” – whether in the Qur’an, in well authenticated Hadith or in any reputable dictionary. Moreover from Qur’an 2:36-38 it is clear that God’s order to leave the garden came before and after Adam’s repentance and not, as Muhammad Ali emphasizes, only after he repented. Hubut and ikhraj are essentially the same.

Another hadith testifies that hubut is a result of Adam’s disobedience and a form of punishment:

Abu Huraira reported that God’s messenger told of Adam and Moses holding a disputation in their Lord’s presence and of Adam getting the better of Moses in argument. Moses said, “You are Adam whom God created with His hand, into whom He breathed of His spirit, to whom He made the angels do obeisance, and whom He caused to dwell in His garden; then because of your sin you caused mankind to come down to the earth.” Adam replied, “And you are Moses whom God chose to deliver His messages and to address, to whom He gave the tablets on which everything was explained and whom He brought near as a confidant. How long before I was created did you find that God has written the Torah?” Moses said, “Forty years.” Adam asked, “Did you find in it, ‘And Adam disobeyed his Lord and erred’?” On being told that he did, he said, “Do you then blame me for doing a deed which God had decreed that I should do forty years before He created me?” God’s messenger said, “So Adam got the better of Moses in argument.23

Bukhari cites this hadith in a slightly different form: “Because of your sin you cast the people out (akhrajat) of the garden (al-jannat) and put them in trouble.”24 This contradicts the claim of Muhammad Ali that hubut here does not involve punishment and is not the result of Adam’s disobedience, and that mankind did not leave the garden.

Finally, the Qur’an clearly states that Satan is cursed until the day of judgement. How then can one make Satan obedient, or how has Muhammad Ali made Satan obedient to himself?

 

 

 

APPENDIX

Toward a Christian Understanding of Original Sin1

Though the term “original sin” is not found in the Holy Bible, the idea of original sin, Adam’s sin, has always been a vital element within the doctrine of sin as Christians have understood it. There is no doubt that Muslims who claim that the doctrine of original sin is fundamental to Christian faith are correct. Some Christian theologians have claimed that it is part of Christian revelation. There are those who claim that the doctrine, profoundly rooted in the Holy Bible, conforms also with reality and reason.

They would endorse Browning’s well known poem:

I still, to suppose it (the Christian faith) true,
for my part,
See reasons and reasons; this, to begin;
‘Tis the faith that launched point-blank her dart
At the head of a lie – taught Original Sin,
The Corruption of Man’s Heart.

On the other hand, most Muslims familiar with the concept have considered the doctrine of original sin to be neither revelational nor rational. They have used the Qur’an, the Bible and reason to support their rejection of this doctrine. Have they been justified in rejecting it? Initial Christian response to Muslim rejection of this doctrine may well turn on questions to both Christians and Muslims:

  1. Do the varying Christian treatments of the topic of original sin provide Muslims and others with a truly Biblically rooted and adequate representation of the meaning and consequences of mankind’s original sin? Are Muslims correct in detecting exaggerations or even errors in some Christian representations? No doubt, Christians themselves have contributed to the confusion – their own and the Muslims
  2. On the other hand, have Muslims seriously studied the Biblical meaning of Adam’s sin and its consequences as well as interpretations of Christians on the subject? Is it possible that Muslims on occasions misrepresent and even mock Christian understanding? In fact, have they systematically studied and meditated upon the doctrine of sin as it is portrayed Quranically, Islamically and in profounder Muslim piety? How do they take the true measure of sin and its guilt? 2 Do they reckon with God’s response to it, His wrath against it, His judgement upon themselves?

The issue continues to be of great theological and practical importance today. (One wonders how often Muslims and Christians well versed in both positions dialogue on this issue.) With this concern in mind it seems appropriate here to attempt some clarification of the Christian position on behalf of both Muslims and Christians interested in a fuller understanding of this vital issue.

  1. To begin, it is wise to recall the French philosopher Blaise Pascal’s contention that if it is impossible to explain fully the doctrine of original sin, it is impossible to explain persons and events in world history without it. The origin, the legacy and the universality of sin are as real as sin itself.
  2. According to the Bible, the world, as God created it, was perfectly ordered. God did not create sin. Yet however ordered this world may still appear, the present world is also a disordered world into which the new child enters, by which he is already conditioned and to which he (eventually) contributes. It is a world whose inhabitants, beginning with Adam, have bequeathed a frightful legacy of sin to their children. Who can explain how this legacy is appropriated by the child and internalized biologically, psychologically and spiritually! Indeed the actual and potential abuse of modern technology demonstrates how this legacy spills over upon the whole creation, illuminating the Scriptural assertion that the whole creation, now groaning in travail because of human aberration, awaits God’s final liberation of it through re-creation (Romans 8). Does not Islamic eschatology also teach final destruction of the world before its renewal?
  3. Many Christians speak of man’s total depravity. What is this supposed to mean – and not mean? Total depravity (Romans 3:13-18) does not mean that whatever man is and does is totally rotten, that evil has always found its saturation point in him. Christians have always recognized the capacity of all people to distinguish between, and to do, good and evil within society, whatever their intention. Nor does it mean that every newborn child is odious and abominable in God’s sight, guilty before God and worthy of hell. Such exaggerations are not Biblical and are hardly compatible with the teaching of Jesus about children. What is at stake in this doctrine is the covenant relation between God and mankind, God’s command that man obey Him, and man’s capacity to wholeheartedly love God and his neighbour as God commands him. This means not only to understand and confess, but to submit in deed, to God’s Lordship as God Himself has defined His Lordship over man and man’s submission to Him through obedience.

The total depravity of man, then, in Luther’s words, is man incurvatus in se, (“turned in on himself”), self-centred rather than God-centred and neighbour-centred. It suggests that the evil of this world has conditioned him to submit more readily to his own will than to the will of God. It is as if sin’s roots are present in a newborn child, though in this state he is guilty of no sin.3 Thus Christians also speak of the sinful state of man. Sin courses through his total being as blood courses through his veins, to use an Islamically familiar idiom. This “heart disease” infects not only his so-called passions or animal instincts4 but his total being and the totality of his actions: his conscience, feelings, reason and will and, consequently, his works and their motivation. It imprisons mankind, individually and corporately, including family, tribe, ethnic group, nation – all human society.

Stated otherwise, total depravity renders man incapable of restoring himself back into right relation with God, winning God’s forgiveness and attaining his own salvation. Human depravity leaves him with nothing in his hands to bargain with God for his salvation. Our salvation is God’s pure and undiluted grace.

 

 

  1. The doctrine of “original sin” speaks not only of Adam’s apostasy from God (however temporal) but of every man’s apostasy from God ever since. To many Muslims this doctrine is cynical, morbid, pessimistic and contrasts sharply with Islam’s optimism about the fundamental goodness of man and his capacity to initiate and create, his mastery over his destiny and his flight to the stars, at least as the famous Pakistani poet and philosopher Iqbal and others have expounded it. Yes, they agree, man needs direction, even repentance. But give him guidance, and he is off on his own power.

But does guidance alone suffice? Solid empirical evidence points to the universality of sin and to the universally human propensity of mankind to service of self rather than to service of God. Past and present history, “the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind” (Gibbon), records it in large letters. So do the records of the psychoanalysts. It is hardly coincidence that while morality must be taught, no one need to learn “immoral instruction” to understand and practice it; or, as has been said, that to seriously do good is always an uphill struggle while to do evil is to go downhill.

Does the history of any Islamic empire or nation provide reason for a more optimistic portrayal of the individual person and a happier record of human society? One might venture the suggestion that many Islamic representations of human history in areas where Muslims have or have not dominated, lend greater support to a pessimistic than optimistic view of natural man, not to speak of the Qur’an’s own brief, but morbid, portrayal of history. In Christian understanding even the idea of human grandeur, despite mankind’s past and present scientific and technological accomplishments, is an illusion which easily feeds on man’s self-deception. After more than 2,500 years the words of the prophet Jeremiah still ring true: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”5

Then does Christian pessimism finally manifest itself in despair? Yes, in the sense that Christians despair of any human capacity to cure themselves. But no, in the sense that despite their sin they trust God to forgive, to cure and to renew them. Herein lies Christian realism!

  1. As we have seen, in Biblical understanding, sin, both original and actual, can finally be measured only in terms of a. the creation of man by God, in the image of God and inbreathed by God’s Spirit and b. God’s character, His holiness and love as demonstrated for mankind in His Law (You shall love the Lord your God with your total person and you shall love your neighbour as yourself) and in Jesus, His Word made flesh, who lived what He taught: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Here is the theological light, in Christian understanding, which illuminates sin first and foremost as alienation from God, the Creator, as the destruction of a personal relation between God and man based on covenant, and consequently the alienation of mankind, one from another. Only secondarily is sin an infraction of an impersonal rule. It is this light which demonstrates the sinfulness of sin, its culpability, its universality and its legacy, the difference between what God intended Adam to be and what he actually became in himself and in all of us.

Some Muslims have correctly noted that Christians understand the doctrines of “original sin and God’s salvation of mankind through the Cross of Jesus to undergird each other and to lend profounder meaning to one another, and in this sense each becomes indispensable for the other. On the other hand they are not correct if by this they mean that Christians have fabricated each doctrine for the sake of the other. As the telescope augments and refines our understanding of the universe, a Christian might explain, so the cross of Jesus the Messiah provides profounder meaning to the Christian doctrine of sin, including original sin. But the cross of the Messiah, though a logical sequence to the sin of mankind, as Christians understand it, is not the cause of sin or the source of the doctrine, any more than the telescope is the cause of the universe. The cross of the Messiah personalizes, tragically and gloriously, God’s response to mankind’s sin: God’s love for mankind and God’s wrath, inherent in His holiness, against mankind’s sin.

 

To you, omniscient Lord of all,
With grief and shame I humbly call;
I see my sins against you, Lord,
The sins of thought, of deed, and word.
They press me sore; to you I flee:
O God, be merciful to me!

My Lord and God, to you I pray,
Oh, cast me not in wrath away;
Let your good Spirit ne’er depart,
But let him draw to you my heart
That truly penitent I be:
O God, be merciful to me!

O Jesus, let your precious blood
Be to my soul a cleansing flood.
Turn not, O Lord, your guest away.
But grant that justified I may
Go to my house, at peace to be:
O God, be merciful to me!

 

Notes

  1. George Anawati, “La notion de ‘péché originel’ éxiste-t-elle dans l’Islam?” from Studia Islamica, Vol.31, G-P. Maisoneuve-Larose, Paris, 1970, p. 32.

 

 

 

  1. Quranic references, unless otherwise noted, come from M.M. Pickthall, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, The New American Library, New York.
  2. Johan Bauman, Gott und Mensch im Koran, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, 1977, p. 15.
  3. Anawati, op. cit., pp. 39, 40.
  4. Suzanne Haneef, What Everyone Should Know about Islam and Muslims, Kazi Publications, Chicago, 1979, pp. 182, 183.
  5. Hubut-i Nasl-i Insani, published by M.K. Khan, Lahore, 1925, pp. 50. Part I reproduces a conversation between Khwaja Kamal ud-Din and Sultan Muhammad Paul which took place in the Ahmadiyya Buildings, Lahore, in 1924 and was published that same year in Nur Afshan. Part II includes Muhammad Ali’s response to the above articles, which he published in Paigham-i Sulh in 1924 and, in turn, Sultan Muhammad Paul’s response to Muhammad Ali’s response which appeared in Nur Afshan in the same year.

This English essay was originally prepared in abbreviated form for a seminar held several years ago. Recently it was reviewed and augmented into its present form.

  1. A form of modernism, prevalent a half century earlier, tinges Ahmadi commentaries on the Quranic presentation of Adam. Many Muslims incline toward a more literal interpretation of the Quranic account and a more serious estimate of Adam’s sin. At issue, of course, is also the doctrine of ‘ismat, the sinlessness of the prophets. Nevertheless, it seems that almost all Muslims reject the notion of inherited sin.
  2. It is hoped that the brief introduction to Christian understanding of original sin, offered as an Appendix, may be of some use to both Muslim and Christian readers.
  3. However according to an Ahmadi commentary ihbitu suggests that Adam emigrated from the land of his birth because of community hostility (The Holy Qur’an with English Translation and Commentary, Vol. I, Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, Qadian, 1947, p. 779). Some Sunni commentators also consider the fall to be a transfer from one place on earth to another. Others consider it to be a fall from heaven to earth. Is the garden uniquely The Garden?
  4. Ibid., p. 780 where this verse is translated: “…let not Satan seduce you….”
  5. Ibid., p. 777 where this passage is translated: “We found in him no determination to do evil.”
  6. Ibid., for an Ahmadi understanding of Shaytan (p. 44) and of the difference between Shaytan and Iblis (pp. 87, 88). In the Satan versus Adam episode Satan refers “to someone from among the fellow-beings of Adam who was hostile to him.” (p. 87)
  7. I have utilized the English translation of this tradition as it appears in Mishkat al-Masabih, translated by Dr. James Robson, Vol. I, Ashraf, Lahore, p.26. But the text in Mishkat reads: “Everyone is born a Muslim, but his parents make him…” instead of “Every child is born in fitra as Bukhari’s text reads. The translator of Mishkat adds the following footnote: “Qur’an XXX, 30. It is not quite clear whether these words were recited by the prophet or by Abu Huraira”. Here Sultan Muhammad Paul says: “If I quote the original hadith here, you will be surprised to learn that An Hazrat (Muhammad) never, never said that ‘fitra is Islam’. Rather it is Bukhari’s personal commentary and totally unrelated to the hadith.”

The same tradition in Bukhari is translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan: “Narrated Abu Haraira: Allah’s messenger said, ‘No child is born except on Al-Fitra (Islam) and then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian, as an animal produces a perfect young animal: do you see any part of its body amputated?’ Then he recited: ‘The religion of pure Islamic Faith (Hanif), (i.e. to worship none but Allah), the pure Allah’s Islamic nature with which He (Allah) has created mankind. Let there be no change in Allah’s religion (i.e. to join none in Allah’s worship). That is the straight religion; but most of men know not.” (The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Bhavan, 1984, Vol. VI, p. 284)

  1. Mishkat al-Masabih, op. cit., pp. 29, 30.
  2. Mishkat al-Masabih, op. cit., pp. 23, 24. This tradition also appears in An-Nawawi, Forty Hadith, trans. by Ezzedin Ibrahim and Denys Johnson-Davies, the Holy Koran Publishing House, Beirut, 1980, pp. 36-39.
  3. L. Krehl and Th. W. Joynboll, El-Bokhari, Le recueil des traditions Mahomatanes, Vol. IV, Brill, Leyde, 1908, under gadr. Compare Muhammad Muhsin Khan, op. cit., Vol. 8, p. 388.
  4. “That is, beings in the darkness of the created soul with its evil lusts”, if I understand the added Arabic interpretation correctly.
  5. Mishkat al-Masabih, op. cit., p. 28.
  6. Here it is worth noting that Sultan Muhammad Paul recognizes Mawlana Muhammad Ali’s extensive study of the Bible in preparation for his commentary on the Qur’an because, as Sultan adds: “Quranic commentary with no reference to the Book (Bible) is impossible.”

He also notes that “created in the image of God” does not mean that God has hands and feet but that the reality of all God’s attributes are reflected in man in a shadowy manner.

  1. Mishkat al-Masabih, op. cit., p. 31. A literal translation in English of Sultan Muhammad Paul’s Urdu translation of the latter part of this tradition reads: “Through Adam’s denial, his offspring became deniers; through Adam’s forgetfulness – who ate from the forbidden tree – his children became forgetters; Adam sinned and his children became sinners.”
  2. Ibid., p. 24. The text has omitted the latter part of this tradition beginning with: “and He has created others….”
  3. Ibid., though I have not been able to locate it!
  4. Mishkat al-Masabih, (op. cit.), p. 23. Emphasis is ours.
  5. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, op. cit., Vol. 8, p. 399 reads: “You are our father who disappointed us and turned us out of Paradise.” In a footnote on 2:36 Pickthall (op. cit.) states that this command is addressed to Adam’s race.

 

 

 

 

Appendix notes

  1. For this, two books have been especially helpful: Bernard Ramm, Offense to Reason: A Theology of Sin, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1985; J.S. Whale, Christian Doctrine, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1952.
  2. An example: “In a speech delivered to the Jamaat-i-Islami in Lahore in December of 1944, (Abul Ala) Mawdudi said that in his opinion the greatest reason for the world’s evils lay in the failure of the righteous rightly to understand what righteousness is. Their tendency is to live in isolation and to leave the affairs of the world in the hands of evil people” (Charles Adams, “Mawdudi and the Islamic State” in Voices of Resurgent Islam, ed. John L. Esposito, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1983, p. 105). What are we to make of their tendency? Could we describe it as the unrighteousness of the righteous, the natural tendency of people towards selfishness and evil – not to comment further on “the world in the hands of evil people”? Shall we recall the popular tradition recorded by Bukhari and Muslim that apart from Mary and Jesus no one has been born without the touch of the Devil?
  3. I recall hearing about a drunken mother giving birth to a drunken child.
  4. It is quite unfair to animals to equate animal behaviour with the sinful behaviour of humans. Whatever one may think about the relation between animals and humans, “sinful behaviour is sinful behaviour and not just residual animal behaviour”. The human capacity for evil – conceiving it, planning it and implementing it – far surpasses that of the animal. (Ramm, op. cit., p. 81)
  5. Surely concerned Muslims and Christians, individually and corporately, should devote more attention to this vital topic than it normally receives – more so if all concerned are to manifest a mutually appropriate sense of repentance before God also for past and present relational conflicts.
  6. Lutheran Book of Worship, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, Hymn 310.

 

Books by Ernest Hahn

 

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TESTIMONY OF A FORMER MUSLIM-41 TO 45 KHALIL, MOHAMMED*, DINI, KHOSROW, ALI

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/TESTIMONY_OF_A_FORMER_MUSLIM-41_TO_45.doc

TESTIMONY OF A FORMER MUSLIM-46 MOHAMMED SALEEM

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/TESTIMONY_OF_A_FORMER_MUSLIM-46.doc

TESTIMONY OF A FORMER MUSLIM-47 SHAMIM HUNT

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/TESTIMONY_OF_A_FORMER_MUSLIM-47.doc

TESTIMONY OF A FORMER MUSLIM-48 ABU MANSUR

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/TESTIMONY_OF_A_FORMER_MUSLIM-48.doc

TESTIMONY OF A FORMER MUSLIM-49 SHEREEN SHARIF

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/TESTIMONY_OF_A_FORMER_MUSLIM-49.doc

TESTIMONY OF A FORMER MUSLIM-50 RIMA FAKIH (MISS USA)

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/TESTIMONY_OF_A_FORMER_MUSLIM-50.doc

TESTIMONY OF A FORMER MUSLIM-51 KAMAL SALEEM

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/TESTIMONY_OF_A_FORMER_MUSLIM-51.doc

*TESTIMONY OF A FORMER MUSLIM-52 MOHAMMED

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/TESTIMONY_OF_A_FORMER_MUSLIM-52.doc

TESTIMONY OF A FORMER MUSLIM-53 NABEEL QURESHI

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/TESTIMONY_OF_A_FORMER_MUSLIM-53.doc

TESTIMONY OF A FORMER MUSLIM-54 TAHER

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/TESTIMONY_OF_A_FORMER_MUSLIM-54.doc

 

 

TESTIMONY OF A FORMER MUSLIM-55 ISHA HABLA

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/TESTIMONY_OF_A_FORMER_MUSLIM-55.doc

TESTIMONY OF A FORMER MUSLIM-56 ANONYMOUS

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/TESTIMONY_OF_A_FORMER_MUSLIM-56.doc

And more than 100 others.

 

FROM ISLAM THROUGH YOGA AND NEW AGE TO CHRIST

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

 

VIDEO TESTIMONIES OF MUSLIM CONVERTS TO CHRISTIANITY

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

 

MILLIONS OF MUSLIMS CONVERTING TO CHRISTIANITY

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

WHEN MUSLIMS BECOME CHRISTIANS

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

 

QUO VADIS PAPA FRANCISCO 39-SILENT ON ISLAMIST TERRORISM CONCEDING TO ISLAM

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/QUO_VADIS_PAPA_FRANCISCO_39-SILENT_ON_ISLAMIST_TERRORISM_CONCEDING_TO_ISLAM.doc

 

DO CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS WORSHIP THE SAME GOD?

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

ANSWERING ISLAM-DR NORMAN L GEISLER

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/ANSWERING_ISLAM-DR_NORMAN_L_GEISLER.doc

 

5_ “A COURSE IN MIRACLES”

 

Metamorphose

A Catholic Minstry for exposing the truth about alternate medicine, the occult in reiki & pranic healing
and oriental spiritual exercises of the New Age Movement.

For Queries and detailed information please call on, Michael Prabhu,
Michael Prabhu, #12 Dawn Apartments, 22, Leith Castle South Street, Chennai 600028. India
Phone: +91 (44) 24 611 606
Email: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net
Website: http://www.ephesians-511.net

 

 

“A COURSE IN MIRACLES”

 

CATHOLIC PAPERS

 

A Course in Brainwashing

http://www.ewtn.com/library/newage/brainwas.txt

By Tracy Moran, June 2, 1996 issue of Our Sunday Visitor

 

Catholics across the country are alarmed at the increasing popularity of a New Age phenomenon known as A Course in Miracles,” a system of spirituality that proponents claim is the “Third Testament” of God to His people.

Even more alarming, critics say, is that the movement is gaining a foothold among some Catholics.

“A Course in Miracles,” a 1,249-page study manual, was authored by the “inner voice” of research psychologist Helen Schucman between 1965 and 1972. Schucman, a professor at Columbia University and a self-described atheist at the time, claims the “voice” was that of Jesus Christ.

In 1977, New Age guru and best-selling author Marianne Williamson discovered “A Course in Miracles” and helped spread its message internationally, reeling in stars such as Oprah Winfrey and Shirley MacLaine along the way.

Today, the course has sold more than 1 million copies, and more than 2,000 groups in the United States meet to study the course, which Williamson calls “a self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy.”

 

But a former disciple of “A Course in Miracles” who returned to the Catholic Church calls it a course in brainwashing. Moira Noonan, once a New Age minister and psychic, was introduced to the course 20 years ago. Upon returning to the Church, she was shocked to find that “A Course in Miracles” is sold in some Catholic bookstores and that many fellow believers are studying it. “They say in the course that the Holy Spirit wants us to have these new thoughts, a new reality,” Noonan explained. “It says right in the beginning of the course to question everything … The course is Satan’s mock bible,” she said, adding that its disciples “want people to think it’s a religion, but it’s not.”

 

The Foundation for “A Course in Miracles,” based in Roscoe, N.Y., is not affiliated with any church or denomination. Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, the foundation’s director, was a Catholic seminarian about to enter the monastery when he met Schucman and read the manuscript for the course. A clinical psychologist, Wapnick claims the course teaches that the way to recover one’s buried knowledge and memories of God is by “undoing” guilt through forgiving others. It aims to remove “the blocks to one’s awareness of love’s presence,” which is every person’s natural state of mind.

Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa, who has written on New Age religions, sees how such language can resonate with Catholics, luring them to study the course. “The key problem is the [course’s] pseudo – Christian vocabulary and ideas,” said Father Pacwa. “People don’t know the Catechism; they don’t know their faith … The course strongly rejects the use of reason and thinking … This is precisely what makes the course feasible. Once you get rid of reason, you get rid of discussion.”

Noonan explained the course’s attraction to Catholics by noting that “in our culture, we want a quick fix. [The course] teaches that you can claim a miracle. It’s part of the individualistic attitude we have in this society.”

Noonan said some Catholics pick up the course thinking: “I never really liked or understood the Bible anyway, so why don’t I read this? The language is easier for me to understand.”

 

Led astray

Critics of “A Course in Miracles” warn that Catholics who try to incorporate its principles into their faith will severely compromise their beliefs because the two theologies are completely incompatible.

Father Pacwa said the course repeatedly misquotes the Bible and “presents a false Jesus.” Even though Jesus supposedly dictated the course to Schucman, the course’s Jesus “does not like the Crucifixion,” Father Pacwa said. “One of the things said repeatedly and forcefully in the course is that sacrifice has nothing to do with love-they are incompatible.”

 

 

The “Jesus” of “A Course in Miracles” is not really the Son of God, never really had a physical body, and hence never really suffered on the cross. He even rephrases the Lord’s Prayer, replacing “hallowed be thy name” with “Our holiness is Yours,” Father Pacwa pointed out.

With such glaring differences between Christianity and the course, it is no wonder Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., another critic, said the movement “has become something of a sophisticated cult.”

And he should know, having studied at Columbia University under Schucman.

In his book, “A Still, Small Voice,” Father Groeschel recounts his “utter astonishment” when he was told in 1969 about Schucman’s alleged encounter with “the Son of God.” According to Father Groeschel, the course that resulted from this encounter is “centered on a Son of God who at times seems to be the Christ of orthodox Christianity and sometimes an avatar of an Eastern religion.”

Father Groeschel said that among clergy and Religious, “There’s a lot of suspicion about the course right now.” And suspicion seems warranted, considering that the course denies the existence of suffering and sin, claims the Holy Spirit’s main purpose is to heal people’s unconscious thoughts, and reinterprets the word “miracle” into psychological terms.

 

According to a recent book promoting the course, the “purpose of this system . . . is to draw our minds into a completely different way of thinking…. Education on this level is clearly re-education, which demands, first of all, unlearning.”

Moreover, “A Course in Miracles” purports to be a “purifier of Christianity,” as explained in the book: “Echoing the Bible, [the course] thus presents the image of a contemporary revealed scripture, a modern-day message from God to mankind.”

Yet, ironically, perhaps the strongest argument against wedding Christianity with the course comes from Wapnick himself. In the book “A Course in Miracles and Christianity: A Dialogue,” published by his foundation, Wapnick and Jesuit Father W. Norris Clarke map out the sharp differences of the two theologies, defining them as “mutually exclusive.”

Wapnick writes that “to attempt reconciliation between [the two] must inevitably lead to frustration at best and severe distortion at worst…. ‘A Course in Miracles’ directly refutes the very basis of the Christian faith, leaving nothing on which Christians can base their beliefs.”

Whatever the course’s true intention, however, Father Pacwa warns that the course “presents a false Jesus, false Spirit and false Gospel, and therefore it deserves simple rejection.”

And even if the course does attempt to “purify” the Gospel, its effort is fruitless, as Father Clarke points out in the

“Dialogue”: “Traditional Christianity maintains that human beings have really sinned and turned away from God, hence [they] have the burden of a genuine (not merely neurotic) guilt…. Then Jesus took on the burden of our own sins and truly suffered and died on the cross to make reparation for them. He then truly rose from the dead, with a real, though transformed or glorified body, and is forever united with His Father now in glory.”

 

Moran writes from San Diego, Calif. For more information on A Course in Miracles,” contact Moira Noonan at: P.O. Box 232716, Encinitas, CA 92023

 

 A Course In Miracles

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/CATHOLIC%20ASHRAMS.doc EXTRACT

By Michael Prabhu, October 2005

 

During my investigation of the seditious — and New Age — Catholic Ashrams movement in December 2004, I had stayed for a week at the Camaldoli Benedictine Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam at Thannirpalli.

I noted that A Course in Miracles — one of many New Age titles in the Ashram library — was one of the more popular reads among the visitors according to library records. An excerpt from my Report:

 

A COURSE IN MIRACLES

A New Age classic, in 3 volumes, Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975

This thoroughly New Age classic is one of the most frequently drawn books from the library. I give selected extracts from its ‘Idea for today’ [with the lesson no. in brackets]. They are to be continuously repeated as affirmations or mantras so as to spiritually benefit the user. [They are not much different from the New Age teachings of Bro. John Martin Sahajananda, the de facto guru of Shantivanam, as we shall see shortly when examining his satsanghs and his books.]

[10] My thoughts do not mean anything…This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.

[25] I do not know what anything [this chair, this hand] is for.

[29] God is in everything I see. God is in this waste basket.

[35] My mind is part of God’s. I am very holy.

[36] My holiness envelops everything I see… You are holy because your mind is part of God’s… If your mind is part of God’s you must be sinless, or part of His Mind would be sinful.

 

 

 

[38] There is nothing my holiness cannot do… Your holiness is totally unlimited in its power because it establishes you as a Son of God.

[39] My holiness is my salvation… Your holiness means the end of guilt and therefore the end of hell.

[61] I am the light of the world… How holy am I who have been given the function of lighting up the world! Let me be still before my holiness.

[70] My salvation comes from me… All temptation is nothing more than some form of the basic temptation not to believe the idea for today… When you realize that all guilt is solely an invention of your mind, you also realize that guilt and salvation must be in the same place. In understanding this you are saved. Today I will recognize where my salvation is. It is in me… It is not found outside.

[77] I am entitled to miracles. You will offer miracles because you are one with God… You state a fact that cannot be denied. The Holy Spirit cannot but assure you that your request is granted.

[93] Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God. Over and over this must be repeated until it is accepted… The self you made, evil and full of sin, is meaningless.

[95] I am one Self, united with my Creator.

[96] Salvation comes from my one Self.

[101] If sin is real, salvation has become your bitter enemy, the curse of God upon you who has crucified His Son. You need the practice periods today. The exercises teach that sin is not real, and all that you believe must come from sin will not happen… You have made a devil of God’s son. There is no sin.

[124] Let me remember I am one with God.

[163] There is no death. The Son of God is free… The idea of the death of God is so preposterous that even the insane have difficulty in believing in it. For it implies that God was once alive and somehow perished… And with the Father died the Son as well… There is no death and we renounce it now in every form… God made not death. Whatever form it takes must therefore be an illusion.

[183] I call upon God’s name and on my own. God’s name is holy but no holier than yours. To call upon His name is but to call upon your own.

[191] I AM THE HOLY SON OF GOD HIMSELF.

[253] My Self is ruler of the universe… It is I who rule my destiny.

[259] LET ME REMEMBER THAT THERE IS NO SIN.

[300] Christ’s Second Coming… is merely the correction of mistakes and the return of sanity.

 

A Course In Miracles

http://www.ewtn.com/library/NEWAGE/COURSE.TXT, http://www.catholicreason.com/shtml/course.shtml

By Edward R Hryczyk

 

The text of the book “A Course in Miracles” is the product of seven years of trance spirit channeling of a Mrs. Helen Schucman. The spirit that channeled a “new gospel” to Mrs. Schucman claimed to be Jesus Christ. The “spirit” made contact with her to correct errors in Sacred Scripture, and the teachings of the Church. The “spirit” that channeled through Mrs. Schucman wrote that Sacred Scripture was in error in teaching us that sin separates us from God, and that Jesus Christ did not die on the cross for our sins. The book “A Course in Miracles” contains a Text (the dictations of Mrs. Schucman), a Student Workbook, and an Instructor’s Manual. (1)

 

Mrs. Schucman, a Columbia University professor and psychologist, was an acquaintance of Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R. (seen on EWTN)

Fr. Groeschel gave a eulogy at her funeral. Fr. Groeschel wrote (2), “This woman who had written so eloquently that suffering really did not exist spent the last two years of her life in the blackest psychotic depression I have ever witnessed.” Fr. Groeschel is a holy, practical, wise, no nonsense priest, and psychologist. During an October 1994 lecture on “Discernment” given at Holy Cross Church, Rumson, N.J., Fr. Groeschel stated that he believed that Helen Schucman’s experience with the channeled “spirit” was possibly a true diabolic manifestation.

Fr. Groeschel’s experience as a psychologist and priest included being called upon by his Bishop to investigate reported diabolic manifestations in his New York City diocese. In the lecture Fr. Groeschel described one experience – called as an exorcist – where he witnessed objects unexplainably being thrown about a room. At the end of a lengthy discussion he attributed that particular experience to paranormal manifestations – but not diabolic in nature (3).

Fr. Groeschel is not easily inclined to attribute any experience to the diabolic. The possible diabolic origin in the spirit channeling of Helen Schucman was one exception given by Fr. Groeschel. Fr. Groeschel’s suspicions find support in Sacred Scripture. Helen Schucman’s “channeled spirit” denies that our Lord Jesus Christ came to the earth in the flesh.

An abstract of “the Course” can be written based solely on two lines of the “spirit” channeled writings.

Chapter 8, Section VII, paragraph 7, page 152 states:

“The Bible says, “The Word (or thought) was made flesh.” Strictly speaking this is impossible, since it seems to involve the translation of one order or reality into another.”

 

 

Contrast the “spirits” channeled words to the inspired words of St. John (1 John 4:1-3):

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already.”

 

To further stress the assertion to a “student” of “the Course” that Jesus Christ was but an illusion the accompanying Manual For Teachers, page 87, Clarification of Terms, Section 5, “Jesus-Christ”, paragraph 2 states:

“The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but one with God. The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as illusions do.”

The “channeled spirit” was not from God.

 

On page 186 of the Text the “spirit” writes, “I do not bring God’s message with deception, and you will learn that you always receive as much as you accept.”

 

One does find truth in the writings of “the Course.” The following quote would be humorous if it were not for the sad ending of Mrs. Schucman’s life, and the influence “the Course” has had on thousands of individuals. Chapter 9, Section IV, paragraph 8, of the Text, page 170 states: “Anyone who elects a totally insane guide must be totally insane himself.” Chapter 25, Section VII, paragraph 8, of the Text, page 533, again states: “It would be madness to entrust salvation to the insane.”

 

The writing style of “the Course” is very confusing – but at the same time in some way intellectual and emotionally seductive. The writings may start with a beautiful, seemingly inspired truth and than will slowly drift to confusion – logically ending up with conclusions that are contrary to Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church.

 

The course is “Gnostic” in teaching and practice. The writings deny the reality of physical creation (4). The course acknowledges the need for a novice student to receive training in “the Course” by a teacher that has already received some enlightenment by studying “the Course.” A separate teacher’s guide forms part of “the Course.” As with all “New Age” teachings, seminars are provided – for a fee – to help the individual advance in spirituality.

 

Some of the beliefs, as written in “the Course” are:

  1. REALITY: Reality is illusory.

(1.) From Manual, page 85, “The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself” (Manual, p85).

(2.) “And therefore all your sins have been forgiven because they carried no effects at all.  And so they were but dreams” (Manual, p87).

(3.) “Forgiveness through the Holy Spirit lies in looking beyond error from the beginning and thus keeping it unreal for you” (Text, p169).

  1. CREATION/TRINITY: The writings teach that God and His creation are one.

(1.) “There is no separation of God and His creation.” (Text, p147)

(2.) “If you are part of one you must be part of the other, because they are one. The Holy Trinity is holy because It is One. If you exclude yourself from this union, you are perceiving the Holy Trinity as separated” (Text, p146).

(3.) “Creation is your will because it is His” (Text, p196).

  1. JESUS CHRIST’S ORIGIN: The writings state that Jesus Christ was created (made not begotten).

“God would not have us be alone because He does not will to be alone. That is why He created His Son, and gave him the power to create with Him” (Text, p150).

  1. SALVATION: We do not need a savior. Salvation is nothing more than right mindedness. We are the source of our own salvation.

(1.) “Never forget that the Sonship is your salvation, for the Sonship is your Self. As God’s creation It is yours, and belonging to you It is His. Your Self does not need salvation, but your mind needs to learn what salvation is.” (Text, p200)

(2.) “My holiness is my salvation.” (Workbook, Lesson 58, p97)

(3.) “My salvation comes from me. It cannot come from anywhere else.” …”My salvation cannot come from any of these things. My salvation comes from me and only me.”…”My salvation comes from me. Nothing outside of me can hold me back. Within me is the world’s salvation and my own.” (Workbook, Lesson 70, p120)

(4.) “Whenever two Sons of God meet, they are given another chance at salvation.” (Text, p142)

(5.) “We cannot be separated. Whom God has joined cannot be separated, and God has joined all His Sons with Himself.” (Text, p150)

(6.) “Yet all loss comes only from misunderstanding. Loss of any kind is impossible.” (Text, p152)

(7.) “He will teach you how to see yourself without condemnation, by learning how to look on everything without it.  Condemnation will then not be real to you, and all your errors will be forgiven.” (Text, p168)

 

  1. GOD: God is your identity, you will be like God.

(1.) “The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself. There is no separation of God and his creation.” (Text, p147)

(2.) “God’s Name is holy, but no holier than yours. To call upon his Name is but to call upon your own.” (Workbook, p342)

(3.) “My decision cannot overcome yours, because yours is as powerful as mine. If it were not so the Sons of God would be unequal.” (Text, p145)

(4.) “Our creations are as holy as we are, and we are the Sons of God Himself, as holy as He is.” (Text, p150)

(5.) “God Himself is incomplete without me.” (Text, p177)

(6.) “God is not jealous of the gods you make, but you are.” (Text, p186)

  1. SELF: We are sinless and are like God.

(1.) “My true Identity is so secure, so lofty, sinless, glorious, and great, wholly beneficent and free from guilt, that Heaven looks to It to give it light.” (Workbook, Lesson 225, p403)

(2.) “You do not know yourself, because you do not know your Creator. You do not know your creations because you do not know your brothers, who created them with you…. He is the co-creator with God and you.” (Text, p137)

(3.) “Glory to God in the highest and to you because He has so willed it.” (Text, p141)

(4.) “What God and His Sons create is eternal, and this only is their joy.” (Text, p148)

(5.) “God does not contradict Himself, and His Sons, who are like Him, cannot contradict themselves or Him. Yet their thought is so powerful that they can even imprison the mind of God’s Son.” (Text, p149)

(6.) “God gave you the function to create in eternity.” (Text, p168)

  1. LAST JUDGMENT: Have no fear of God’s Judgment

“Do not fear the Last Judgment, but welcome it and do not wait, for the ego’s time is “borrowed” from your eternity.”… “The Second Coming is the awareness of reality, not its return.” (Text, p170)

 

In dealing with individuals who teach and follow “the Course” one must realize that they probably believe they are truly seeking God in their studies of “the Course.” Those trying to follow the teachings would consciously reject all evil. Unfortunately, their beliefs are “Gnostic” and they probably consider a Catholic’s devotion to the Faith, given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, as unenlightened medieval superstition to be rejected by all in this enlightened “new age.” The teachings in “the Course” are particularly attractive to individuals who have fallen away from the faith and find themselves seeking some- thing to fill their spiritual void.

Reading Sacred Scripture is nourishment for the soul, since the words have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. Taking the words of “the Course” into one’s heart will lead to a slow spiritual death. It is a book to be avoided at all costs.  Unfortunately celebrities such as John Denver have been taken in by the book and have spread its influence.

 

NOTES:

(1) The quotations are taken from “The Course in Miracles”, published by the Foundation for Inner Peace, P.O. Box 1104, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, second edition, second printing, August 1992.

(2) Page 79 of, “A Still, Small Voice, A Practical Guide On Reported Revelations”, by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R., Ignatius Press 1993

(3) For a good discussion of the para normal see Fr. Groeschel’s video series “Religious Experiences”, distributed by the Daughters of Saint Paul.

(4) The Spiritual Counterfeits Project, SPC Journal, Vol. 7, No 1, 1987 analyzes the teaching found in “the Course” in an article by Dean C.  Halverson, “A Course in Miracles, Seeing Yourself as Sinless.” The SPC claims to be a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization; the organization has demonstrated an anti-Catholic bias in its recent publications.

Also at: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=2575

A Course In Miracles- A Biblical Evaluation

http://www.catholicreason.com/shtml/course2.shtml, http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/thcourse.html

By Russ Wise, Probe Ministries International, July 29, 2003

 

Historical Background

In 1965 a Jewish atheistic psychologist from Columbia University began to channel messages from a spirit she believed to be Jesus. She ultimately produced, or she says Jesus revealed to her, well over a thousand pages of revelation during the next seven years.

According to her testimony, Helen Schucman had a difficult relationship with her department head at the university. In an attempt to move beyond their differences, they set out on a journey to find a base of common agreement. Schucman began having “highly symbolic dreams” and experiencing “strange images.” Her colleague encouraged her to transcribe the content of these phenomena so they might understand them better.

 

As she began to write, she was surprised to see “This is a course in miracles” appear on the paper. She went on to say that this was her introduction to the “Voice.” This voice began to give her rapid inner dictation that she took down in shorthand.

According to the dictated material, the voice of The Course was Jesus. As a result of the influence Christianity has had on humanity, The Course chose Christian terminology to convey its message. A 1977 pamphlet published by the Foundation For Inner Peace states “its only purpose is to provide a way in which some people will be able to find their own Internal Teacher”- -in other words, their personal “Spirit Guide”.

 

Key Players

There are several individuals who play key roles in spreading the message of The Course. Perhaps the most prominent is Marianne Williamson. A former lounge singer and now its most celebrated guru, she has become The Course’s media star, appearing on numerous television programs. Her most-watched and persuasive appearance was on Oprah. She has been Oprah’s guest on several occasions. Because of her personal interest in New Age philosophy, Oprah Winfrey purchased a thousand copies of A Return To Love, Williamson’s book, to give to her television audiences.

Another high profile individual, well-known in New Age circles, is Gerald Jampolsky, M.D. He is a psychiatrist, formerly on the faculty of the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco and founder of the Center for Attitudinal Healing in 1975. He has written several books based on what he has gleaned from The Course.

In his influential book, Good-Bye to Guilt, Jampolsky describes his conversion to The Course.

“I began to change my way of looking at the world in 1975. Until then I had considered myself a militant atheist, and the last thing I was consciously interested in was being on a spiritual pathway that would lead to God. In that year I was introduced to . . . A Course in Miracles. . . . My resistance was immediate. . . . Nevertheless, after reading just one page, I had a sudden and dramatic experience. There was an instantaneous memory of God, a feeling of oneness with everyone in the world, and the belief that my only function on earth was to serve God.”

As a result of the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of our society, namely the baby boomer generation, there is a ready-made market for the feel good” spirituality of The Course. Through the influence of Williamson, Jampolsky, and others, a growing number of Christians are being sucked into this whirlpool of spiritual confusion in which they exchange the truth for a lie.

 

The Course and the Mainline Church

We have already established that The Course uses Christian terminology and its followers believe it to be the revelation of Jesus. As a result, a number of denominations within Christendom have embraced The Course as being legitimate and introduced it into their churches.

Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians have used The Course in Sunday schools and special study groups within the church. Presently there are over 1,500 official study groups that have utilized The Course both inside and outside traditional Christian churches.

 

If It’s Not Love–It Must Be Illusion

Marianne Williamson, author of the best-selling book A Return To Love, says that we have “a natural tendency to focus on love.”

Only love is real. All that is negative is illusion. It simply does not exist. If anything negative is in your consciousness, it is real only because you give it reality by holding it in your mind. According to The Course, sickness, hate, pain, fear, guilt, and sin are all illusions. The Cyclopedia In A Course In Miracles states that “illusions are investments. They will last as long as you value them.” The Cyclopedia continues, “The only way to dispel illusions is to withdraw all investment from them, and they will have no life for you because you will have put them out of your mind.”

The Course sums it up this way, “There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion.” There you have it! It is perfectly clear–murder, rape, and other forms of evil do not exist because they do not come from “love.” Try explaining to a mother who has lost a son or daughter that their loss is the result of an illusion.

 

The Problem of Evil

You guessed it, The Course also teaches that evil does not exist. It is an illusion that must be overcome by right thinking. The Text (i.e., volume one of The Course) reads, “Innocence is wisdom because it is unaware of evil, and evil does not exist.” In essence what is meant is that evil does not stand on its own, that it only has reality as the individual believes its existence. So, you might say that the rape victim created her own evil situation and thereby caused her own suffering. The victim is guilty; the perpetrator had no choice.

 

The Problem of Guilt and Sin

A pamphlet published by the Foundation For Inner Peace states, Sin is defined as a ‘lack of love.’ Since love is all there is, sin in the sight of the Holy Sprit is a mistake to be corrected, rather than an evil to be punished.”

The Course further teaches that there is no need to feel guilt because there is no sin. Sin does not exist. The problems that man faces are a result of separation from God. This separation is only illusion because it likewise does not exist. It is only a reality for those who believe they are not part of the divine.

 

 

The Text makes this point clear where it declares that “no one is punished for sins, and the Sons of God are not sinners.” As you might anticipate, there is likewise no need for the cross because there was never a transgression that needed to be dealt with by God, only a mistake. If we are a part of God, how then can we become fragmented by sin since separation (i.e., sin) does not exist?

 

Thought-Reversal

The stated goal of The Course is to change how one thinks, to change one’s belief system by subtle deception. The individual is for the most part unaware of the transformation he or she is undergoing because The Course utilizes Christian terminology. The Manual for Teachers (i.e., volume three of The Course) boldly says, “It cannot be too strongly emphasized that this course aims at a complete reversal of thought.”

 

Religious Recovery–The Thirteenth Step

Many who become involved in studying The Course are active in self-help groups such as Twelve Step programs. They are seeking to make connections in their lives and discover who they truly are. They are willing participants in this transformation.

Many are desiring some form of “spirituality” and for those who see the Bible as being too harsh, The Course offers what they believe to be God’s correction of our misinterpretation of the original message of Jesus.

The Course becomes the “thirteenth step” in recovery for those who are attempting to escape the rigid fundamentalism that has smothered them in the past. For them, the recovery process becomes a spiritual transformation.

The integration of psychology and spirituality becomes a lure that pulls them deeper into the web of deception and ultimately suffocates them.

The biblical teaching of original sin is dismissed for the more palatable “original goodness.”

This “thirteenth step” regards all faiths as a part of the whole; they are one, and a psychological unity of sorts is achieved. The Course becomes whatever the individual desires it to be, it is “Christian,” but not if you don’t want it to be.

It’s psychology, but more than psychology. It’s not New Age, but then again it is.

The Course claims to have all of life’s answers. It has become the “spiritually correct” solution to bring about peace and unity. However, in the end, this transformation brings spiritual death.

Helen Schucman’s new do-it-yourself psycho-spirituality is not new. The Hindus have been taught for centuries that the world and all that is in it is Maya, or illusion.

 

Sense and Sensibilities

We must be clear that the message of The Course in Miracles is not the message of Jesus Christ.

Schucman and her Course do not teach that Jesus is God incarnate yet fully human, but that He is a highly evolved being who became divine. The Bible does not allow for such an idea.

The Bible also leaves no room for the idea that evil does not exist, but instead that evil entered the world through disobedience. Likewise, the Bible does not allow for the idea that God is a universal oneness rather than a personal Being.

Kenneth Wapnick, a Jewish agnostic who later became a Catholic monk, founded the Foundation for A Course in Miracles. Wapnick states that The Course and biblical Christianity are not compatible. He gives three reasons why he holds such a view.

First, The Course teaches that God did not create the world.

Second, The Course teaches that we are all equally Christ. Jesus is not the only Son of God.

And third, The Course is clear in its teaching that Jesus did not suffer and die for man’s sin.

The above differences clearly show why a Christian cannot in good faith consider The Course as a source for his or her spiritual understanding. It is unequivocally anti-biblical and is without doubt promoted by Satanic deception (2 Corinthians 11:14: 1 Timothy 4:1).

 

A Short Course in Doctrine

The Course teaches that there are no absolutes; truth is relative and is determined by one’s experience. According to the Cyclopedia In A Course In Miracles, “only what is loving is true.” So truth is subjective.

Marianne Williamson, the author of A Return To Love, made this observation about truth in her book: “There’s only one truth, spoken different ways, and the Course is just one path to it out of many.” In other words, no one religious tradition has all the truth, but there are many avenues to the truth and the individual has the freedom to choose the path most suitable to him or her.

 

Who Is Jesus?

According to Williamson, Jesus is one of many enlightened beings. In her text she makes this statement, “Jesus and other enlightened masters are our evolutionary elder brothers.” She continues by saying that “the mutation, the enlightened ones, (including Jesus) show the rest of us our evolutionary potential. They point the way.” So in reality Jesus is a way-shower.

 

 

 

Williamson makes a telling observation on page 41 of her book by saying that, “A Course In Miracles does not push Jesus. Although the books come from him, it is made very clear that you can be an advanced student of the Course and not relate personally to him at all.” This is an interesting comment regarding the lack of relationship one is to have with their God. For Christians, faith is built on a personal relationship with Jesus. Without it, their salvation would be in question.

Williamson continues by saying, “Jesus reached total actualization of the Christ mind, and was then given by God the power to help the rest of us reach that place within ourselves.” Such a statement brings to mind Matthew 7:23 where Jesus says, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'”

 

The Christ and Salvation

The Manual For Teachers states that “Jesus became what all of you must be.” It continues by declaring, “Is he the Christ? O yes, along with you.

The Course identifies with much of New Age thought in that it teaches false Christology. New Age proponents teach that The Christ is the one who is the most highly evolved being during a given age. This Christ, whether it be Buddha, Krishna, or Jesus, is the messiah for a given age. They believe, for example, that Jesus was The Christ for the Church or Piscean Age. According to their philosophy, Jesus achieved Christhood and, by right-thinking, we too can achieve Christhood.

The Text says that, “Christ waits for your acceptance of Him as yourself, and of His wholeness as yours.” Keep in mind that these words you have just read are, according to The Course, the “spirit-dictated” words of Jesus. Now hear the true Word of God from the Bible where we read, “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5). The Scripture is crystal clear about the deception of multitudes by signs and wonders based in experience rather than His Word.

The Scripture teaches that Jesus alone is the Christ, the Son of the living God. John 1:20 and 20:31 indicate that we are not His equals.

 

Abandoning Your Miracle

There are a growing number of people waking up to the fact that The Course cannot adequately meet their growing need to worship a being beyond themselves, much less defend them in spiritual warfare.

Warren and Joy Smith are examples of how The Course is totally inadequate when it comes to defending one’s spirit from the evil one and his dominion. The Smith’s were deeply involved in the study of The Course. Warren relates Joy’s story in his book, The Light That Was Dark.

Joy was being spiritually harassed by a man who was highly proficient in astral projection (projecting his spirit for great distances). Warren relates how they faced the attacks. “We tried every metaphysical and spiritual technique we had ever learned–we repeated our Course in Miracles lessons, did visualizations, prayed as best we knew how, sent the spiritual intruder blessings, and kept the whole situation surrounded in white light–but none of it had any effect. We had to wait it out. The spiritual presence was calling the shots.”

After an intense time of frustration, they went to their course study leaders for help. Joy explained that they “had repeatedly applied their Course in Miracles lessons, such as: ‘There is nothing to fear,’ ‘In my defenselessness my safety lies,’ and, ‘I could see peace instead of this.'” After explaining that nothing had worked, Frank, their study leader, “made it clear that he agreed with the Course’s metaphysical teaching that evil was only an illusion and that the experience was probably something that Joy was working out within herself.”

Frank’s wife, Trudy, was dazed when she heard herself say, “Put on the whole armor of God and stand fast against the wiles of the devil!” In amazement at herself she added, “Ephesians 6:10. It’s in your Bible.”

Trudy went on and said, “I’m sorry, Frank. There is a devil . . . read Ephesians!”

In the days ahead Joy continued to undergo the harassing attacks. During this time of uncertainty Warren visited a bookstore and discovered a book entitled The Beautiful Side of Evil by Johanna Michaelsen. He read it through and decided its message of deliverance was worth a try.

It wasn’t long before he had an opportunity to test his newly found discovery–biblical exorcism. Joy fell into a depression as she had on so many occasions, and Warren seized the opportunity to act.

He relates the incident in his book this way, “Reading from my notes the exact words that I had taken from Johanna’s book, I firmly addressed the presence. ‘Satan, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I command you to be gone! I forbid your presence here. I claim the protection of the blood of Jesus upon us. Go where Jesus sends you!'” Immediately Joy’s face cleared and the oppression was gone.

Warren later remarked, “We were amazed that the presence left every time we called on his [Jesus Christ’s] name. Nothing in A Course in Miracles or any other metaphysical teachings had ever talked about this aspect of Jesus.”

Warren and Joy’s encounter with personal evil ultimately convinced them that the Bible was the spiritual teaching that they could rely on. Warren said it best, “So far it hasn’t let us down.”

 

Russ Wise has been an observer of the occult and cults (both Eastern and Western) for over 20 years. Russ seeks to create an awareness of these non-biblical teachings in the Christian community, thereby helping to prevent Christians from falling victim to these deceptions. He is a former associate speaker with Probe Ministries and resides in Richardson, Texas, with his wife, Wendy.

 

 

What is Probe?

Probe Ministries is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to reclaim the primacy of Christian thought and values in Western culture through media, education, and literature. In seeking to accomplish this mission, Probe provides perspective on the integration of the academic disciplines and historic Christianity.

In addition, Probe acts as a clearing house, communicating the results of its research to the church and society at large.

Further information about Probe’s materials and ministry may be obtained by writing to: Probe Ministries 1900 Firman Drive, Suite 100 Richardson, TX 75081 (972) 480-0240 FAX (972) 644-9664 info@probe.org; www.probe.org.

 

Is Oprah Leading People Away From Christ?

http://www.newagedeception.com/new/free-resources/3-information-on-the-dangers-of-new-age-thinking-and-the-new-thought-movement-and-possible-qwaysq-to-help-friends-and-loved-ones-exit-the-deception-.html

 

Oprah [Winfrey] has totally transformed herself and her media empire. She is no longer a microphone-toting interviewer of tearful guests and cheering audiences. Believe it or not, she has become . . . a spiritual icon.

Because of her, New Age teachings are being pitched to millions of our fellow Catholics – many of whom are being taken in by the mega-popular Oprah Winfrey and her promotion of three key books in the New Age Movement:

The Secret. . . A New Earth . . . and A Course In Miracles.

 

Oprah: Televangelist Of The New Age Deception

http://www.newagedeception.com/new/shop/oprah-televangelist.html EXTRACT

By Sharon Lee Giganti

 

Dear Friend of Catholic Answers,

Karl Keating asked me to write you this letter to alert you to a serious spiritual threat.

My name is Jimmy Akin, and I’m the director of apologetics and evangelization for Catholic Answers.

If you know my personal story, you know that I am a convert to the Catholic faith from Evangelicalism.

What you may not know is that before I was an Evangelical, I was a New Ager. That’s right. When I was young and impressionable, before my religious convictions matured, I was a follower of the New Age Movement and its bizarre beliefs regarding reincarnation, astrology, clairvoyance, psychic healing, Atlantis, “Earth changes,” automatic writing,” Christ consciousness,” and all that stuff. But I grew out of it.

By God’s grace, I was led to embrace the Christian faith … and then the fullness of the Christian faith in the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, many people are still trapped in the New Age Movement, and now it is more dangerous than ever.

It’s hard to believe that one of the most well-known, most popular, and most influential women in the world is also one of the most dangerous because of what she’s teaching to millions of unsuspecting people every single day.

She’s Oprah Winfrey. You know her as a wildly successful TV talk show host; you’ve seen her equally successful woman’s magazine, “O,” at the checkout stand in the supermarket; you may have heard her popular radio program.

But if you are like many people, you’ve assumed that she’s just been pumping out the same kind of confessional TV talk show pablum, pop psychology, and feel-good self-affirmation that you find on so many other programs.

If that’s what you think, you haven’t seen her show in years.

Oprah has totally transformed herself and her media empire. Believe it or not, she has become …a spiritual icon.

In its article, “The Church of O,” Christianity Today reports:

Oprah Winfrey has become one of the most influential spiritual leaders in America … To her audience of more than 22 million mostly female viewers, she has become a postmodern priestess — an icon of church-free spirituality.

Oprah Winfrey arguably has more influence on the culture than any university president, politician, or religious leader, except perhaps the Pope. Even if you don’t watch her TV talk show or listen to her radio show or read her magazine, you or someone you love will be affected by what she’s passing off as “spirituality” these days.

Because of her, New Age teachings are being pitched to millions of our fellow Catholics-many of who are being taken in by the mega-popular Oprah Winfrey and her promotion of three key books in the New Age Movement: A Course in Miracles, The Secret, A New Earth.

 

 

Again, if you haven’t heard of these books, you probably don’t subject yourself to watching the Oprah Winfrey Show. But the teachings contained in them – particularly A Course in Miracles – are very dangerous because they are the opposite of real Christianity. And yet … they claim to come from Christ Himself!

Sharon Lee zeroes in on the most powerful, destructive top New Age Ideologies.

Let’s start with A Course in Miracles. It’s a foundational book of today’s New Age Movement-and it’s one that Oprah Winfrey is promoting so religiously on her show.

It’s a 1,249-page, 3-volume set that was written in the 1970’s by a woman named Helen Schucman – a psychologist from Columbia University. She claimed that she “heard a Voice” that she identified as Jesus. He spoke to her and dictated this entire book. She merely “scribed” everything he said, and she later dictated that to another writer. It took her seven years to write A Course in Miracles (Jesus speaks slowly, I suppose) – but even when she was finished with it, she curiously wanted to “re-write” the whole thing!

The bizarre (and dangerous) claim behind this book is that it is “divine revelation.” In fact, its proponents claim that it’s a “Third Testament” that should be included with the Bible.

The set has been popular for decades. When I was a New Ager, I saw it all the time on the shelves of the (then small, now huge) New Age section in the bookstores. But now the course has been carried to new heights of popularity.

Oprah Winfrey, who already had a long history of promoting New Age ideas via the guests she featured on her show, has locked onto A Course in Miracles and chosen to do a 365-day, non-stop “lesson a day” program that would present it to her millions of fans.

 

What does A Course in Miracles teach?

“Revelations” from “Jesus” such as

–There is no such thing as sin.

–Evil, pain, suffering, sickness are all illusions.

–Since man never sinned, he has no need of salvation.

–A slain Christ “has no meaning” and so we should not cling “to the old, rugged cross.”

–The name of Jesus Christ is a symbol “of all the gods to which you pray.”

–To recognize God is to recognize yourself.

 

Believing that “you are God” is perhaps the worst idea ever sold to the masses!

Keep watch. Be vigilant. The New Age ideas being pushed by Oprah cannot be easily dismissed. They’re building steam and gaining ground-even among our fellow Catholics.

I feel strongly about this because I myself was once trapped by the lies of the New Age Movement. Millions of people still are, and it is up to us to help them.

Sharon Lee Giganti’s new 3-CD set is an ideal tool to help educate and inform people about the dangers of the New Age. Won’t you join us in the effort to liberate souls from its deadly clutches?

Sincerely in the real Christ, Jimmy Akin, Director of Apologetics and Evangelization

 

Moira Noonan: The deliverance story of a former New Age guru, occultist

http://www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/667 EXTRACT

By Roxanne King, Denver Catholic Register October 1, 2008

 

Raised as a Catholic, author Moira Noonan began delving into New Age practices as a college student. For years she worked in Religious Science ministry, as a psychic counselor and a therapist. In 1993, after a series of powerful conversion experiences, she returned to the Catholic Church, and is now a popular speaker in the Christian community, explaining the deeper meaning and influences of the New Age movement. Noonan has told her story in the book “Ransomed From Darkness: The New Age, Christian Faith, and the Battle for Souls” (North Bay, 2005). She has a chapter about her conversion in “Prodigal Daughters” (Ignatius Press, 1999). For more information, visit spiritbattleforsouls.org.

 

Q: How deeply were you involved with the New Age movement?

A: I was involved for 30 years. I was really far gone in every kind of psychic practice: clairvoyance, Reiki, neuro-linguistic programming. I was a clinical hypnotherapist.  I was in ministry in the Church of Religious Science, which is similar to Scientology. I was working with the Course in Miracles“—the New Age bible. (The “Course in Miracles”) is not mainstream New Age; it leads you into the occult.

 

 

 

Occultist to Evangelist – Halloween Is Holy Again

http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/16311 EXTRACT

By Matthew Rarey, October 26-November 1, 2008 Issue of the National Catholic Register

 

Moira Noonan left the Catholic faith in the early 1970s and became a leader in the New Age movement. … Following a powerful conversion recounted in her autobiography, Ransomed From Darkness: The New Age, Christian Faith and the Battle for Souls … Noonan has devoted her life to exposing the errors she escaped and evangelizing for the faith…

Register correspondent Matthew Rarey recently spoke with her.

 

You mentioned Oprah Winfrey.

Since January 1, Oprah has been offering on her daily radio program a year-long course on the New Age Christ from the New Age bible called A Course in Miracles. With one lesson a day, she will completely cover the 365 lessons from the companion workbook. However, A Course in Miracles is not Christian.

The Course is actually three books based on the messages received by its “scribe”, Dr. Helen Schucman, a psychologist at Columbia University who was a self-described atheist. Starting in the mid-1960s and lasting for seven years, she claimed to receive daily instructions from an invisible teacher who called himself Jesus, and she auto-wrote these messages, seemingly without exercising her own will. She was always uneasy about this.

Anyhow, this “Jesus” explained that his biblical counterpart was misunderstood and misquoted — that his true teachings were not revealed. Her colleague, Dr. William Thetford, and especially her pupil, Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, got the Course published and popularized. And here’s an interesting factoid: Dr. Wapnick, a former Catholic seminarian, studied under Dr. Schucman with Father Benedict Groeschel. They’re like night and day. Wapnick has worked tirelessly promoting the Course, getting it into Barnes & Noble and helping make it mandatory reading in so many [university] psych departments.

At the height of my New Age career, I participated in study groups in which Dr. Thetford was involved. Maybe because I spent so much time studying the Course, its radical departures from Church teaching are so shockingly clear.

 

Former Occultist is Converted by Mary and Warns of New Age in the U.S. Church

http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/moira-noonan/former-occultist.htm EXTRACT

March 25, 2009

 

Infiltration of the New Age into the Church is usually subtle…

[Moira] Noonan relates the time she attended a conference at Xavier University in Ohio and found that the student bookstore featured vampire books, astrology titles, goddess manuals, and even The Dictionary of Satan.”

“In my own parish, I learned that the Friday night program for divorced, single, and separated Catholics was using A Course in Miracles as one of their textbooks,” she reports, alluding to an occult bestseller that has ensnared countless Christians. “I’ve had priests from all over the country contact me to inquire about the Course. Make no mistake. This book is the dictated pronouncements of a demon, transcribed by a Columbia University psychologist in the 1960s and 1970s.

 

Quick Questions Related to New Age

http://www.devthrone.com/thisrock/quickquestions/keyword/New%20Age EXTRACT

 

Q: What exactly is wrong with the book A Course in Miracles? My sister said she thought it was Catholic-based, but I said I didn’t think so.

 

 

A: Forget about this one. It is New Age in Christian trappings. It teaches that all is relative, that there are no absolutes, and that Jesus is one of many enlightened masters. As I said, forget this one! – Fr. Vincent Serpa

Also: http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/quickquestions/?qid=477, http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=203749

 

A WARNING ABOUT: A COURSE IN MIRACLES

http://www.sharingthetreasures.org/pdf/warning_about_course_in_miracles.pdf

By Sharon Lee Giganti

 

A Course in Miracles is the name of a book that was written by a channeled spirit, who claimed to be Jesus.

Described as “spiritual psychotherapy”, it’s been widely promoted by Oprah, and as of January 2008, she now has Marianne Williamson, the Course’s leading spokesperson, teaching this “Course” on her world-wide radio show.

This is unfortunate, because many of the Church’s most trusted Catholic leaders — such as Fr. Mitch Pacwa and Fr. Benedict Groeschel — have warned the faithful for years, to stay away from this false teaching for the following reasons:

The teachings of A Course in Miracles contradict Holy Scripture, Tradition, and Authentic Catholic Teaching; claiming that: Jesus was NOT God, the devil does not exist, and there’s no such thing as evil, or sin—especially original sin, as the Course teaches that man’s fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden never happened— (preface, pg. xiii) and that Holy Scripture cannot be trusted, as Christ’s apostles misinterpreted his message and taught in error. (Text pgs. 94 & 95) These false tenets alone clearly show that the channeled spirit who wrote them, while claiming to be Jesus, is in fact, a counterfeit Christ.

 

The teachings of A Course in Miracles have FAILED many, if not all, of the standard “tests of discernment” the Church has used for centuries, to distinguish a true and Godly spirit from a false one. EVEN FOR THE NON-CHRISTIAN, THE VERY REAL DANGER of studying “A Course in Miracles” can clearly be seen in what the Course asks you to believe: Claiming that physical life on Earth is really just a “nightmare” the collective human race is having while in a state of psychic sleep, (Text pg. 18 and throughout) the Course teaches that: everything you see around you is an illusion,(lesson #14 and throughout) that sin and guilt are not real but, solely an invention in your own mind” (lesson #70) that, you can neither hurt others, nor be hurt (text pg. 96 and throughout)… that “you can and should deny any belief that error can hurt you”the false promise that: if you see your neighbor as sinless, “you will be released entirely from all effects of sin” (text pg. 474) that “the reality of everything is total harmlessness” (text pg. 158)… that you alone are the sole cause of anything hurtful that’s ever happened to you (lesson #23, #304, and throughout)… that, “The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist.” (Lesson #14 and throughout)

 

MANY FORMER STUDENTS OF A COURSE IN MIRACLES and it’s founding teachers attest to it’s core message: that if enough people, (an amount large enough to affect “mass consciousness”)—or if even just one person realizes and integrates these “truths” fully, the human race will “awaken” from it’s psychic nightmare and find that we’ve never left Heaven. The only condition necessary for this amazing occurrence is this: the student must make NO EXCEPTIONS in the application and full acceptance of the ideas. (Workbook introduction Pgs 1 & 2, Lesson #1, and throughout)

Course students all over the world are seeking to be “the one” to hasten this “great awakening”, because they’ve been taught that when it occurs, “in the twinkling of an eye”, the entire world of “form”, with all its suffering and sorrow, will disappear and we’ll be back in Paradise.

 

THE HAZARDS OF ADOPTING THIS OUTLOOK ON LIFE cannot be stressed enough — to give just a brief example, lest you think I’m exaggerating — the 14th lesson, which is to be accepted as true by the student, reads as follows: “With eyes closed, think of all the horrors in the world that cross your mind. Name each one as it occurs to you, and then deny its’ reality. God did not create it, and so it is not real. Say for example: God did not create that war, and so it is not real. God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real. God did not create that disaster, and so it is not real. Suitable subjects for the application of today’s idea also include: Anything you are afraid might happen to you, or to anyone about whom you are concerned.”

 

ANOTHER POISONOUS TENET the student of A Course in Miracles is asked to accept, is that — any unjust, hurtful, or violent incident that happens to you, is, in actuality, merely an illusory “manifestation” of your own fearful “attack thoughts” projected outwards, like an image on a screen… (Workbook pg. I, lesson #23 and throughout)

 

 

 

This is another reason, according to the Course, that no forgiveness is ever warranted since your own ego is the “cause” of anything hurtful that ever happens to you. (Text pg. 649 and throughout) One could say, this is a perfect example of why our adversary, the devil has been called, “the accuser of the brethren”.

 

THE FAITHFUL ARE TO BE WARNED: The Course is very deceiving, as it uses Christian terminology but gives the words alien meanings. For example, many people may have heard that the Course is “all about forgiveness”, but they’re most likely not aware, that “forgiveness” according to the Course, means saying to yourself, “since no sin ever occurred, no forgiveness is necessary.” (Text pg. 548, manual pg.79, and throughout) According to the Course, teaching our brother that he has NOT hurt us, is how we forgive.

Another example: the “Atonement”, according to the Course, is: “the acknowledgement that I am NOT in this world”, (Text, pg. 97) and this “atonement” teaches that: never having sinned, I have no need of salvation.” (Text, pg. 237)

 

I WAS A DEVOTED STUDENT AND TEACHER OF THE COURSE, before returning to my Catholic Faith, and I’ve now devoted my life to exposing the very real dangers of A Course in Miracles and other “New Thought” teachings such as Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth”, and the Law of Attraction teachings as found in “The Secret” and the books and workshops of Abraham-Hicks. (I formerly taught their material and was known as an “Abraham Ambassador”).

I’VE SEEN WITH MY OWN EYES, and have often shared my belief, that the living out of A Course in Miracles lessons, and the like, can, and did, spawn such tragedies as rampant divorce, suicide, mental breakdown, and even murder.

I’ve publicly stated my opinion, that “You cannot study A Course in Miracles without seriously jeopardizing your faith, and putting your mental, physical, and spiritual health at risk.”

I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN WHO I WAS DEALING WITH, when I read in the Course, that, after finishing the lessons, mighty companions would walk beside me… that, “helpers are given you in many forms… their names are LEGION.” (Manual for teachers, pg 87) Unfortunately, it was only years later that I would read in the gospels, the story of Jesus healing a man possessed by unclean spirits, and that, when casting out those demons Jesus asked, “What is your name?” and they replied, “WE ARE LEGION, for we are many.” (Mark 5:9 and Luke 8:30)

 

PERHAPS YOU’VE ASKED YOURSELF THE QUESTION that seems to be on everyone’s mind lately: Can I still be a good Catholic and devotedly watch a show like Oprah’s which promotes New Thought teachings, study A Course in Miracles, or embrace the lessons of “A New Earth”?

FOR ME, THE ANSWER RESOUNDS IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES OF OUR CHURCH: The following passages are found in 2nd John chapter 1. I’ve used the words of the NAB and Douay-Rheims Catholic Bibles, all emphasis is mine.

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, (the complete, apostolic doctrine of Jesus Christ and the historical truth about Him), DO NOT RECEIVE HIM INTO YOUR HOUSE, or even greet him, wishing him ‘God-speed’; for whoever greets him or wishes him ‘God-speed’ shares in his evil works.” Verse 10 Douay-Rheims Bible footnotes regarding these and other such verses: “This admonition is in general, to forewarn the faithful of the dangers which may arise from a familiarity with those who have prevaricated and gone from the true faith, and with such as teach false doctrine. BUT, this is NOT forbidding a charity for all men, by which we ought to wish and pray for the eternal salvation of every one, even our enemies.”

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh: THIS IS A SEDUCER AND AN ANTICHRIST” Verse 7 “Anyone who is so ‘progressive’ as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God.” Verse 9

And from Ephesians chapter 5 – “Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient– SO DO NOT BE ASSOCIATED WITH THEM”. Verses 6 & 7 “TAKE NO PART in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret…” Verses 11 &12

 

MORE DEADLY QUOTES FROM: A COURSE IN MIRACLES

Lesson #14“The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of our own making, and it does not exist.”

Lesson #101“You need the practice periods today. The exercises teach sin is not real, and all that you believe must come from sin will never happen, for it has no cause… say: God’s Will for me is perfect happiness. There is no sin; it has no consequence.”

Text page 158, Line 2“The reality of everything is totally harmless, because total harmlessness is the condition of its reality.”

Text page 96, Line 19“The Holy Spirit says you cannot either hurt or be hurt. Your brothers need to hear this. Perceive only this need in them and do not respond to any other.”

Text page 474“Christ’s Vision is to see your brother as sinless – do that and you will be released entirely from all effects of sin.”

 

A Course in Miracles asserts again and again that: A sense of guilt for having done “wrong” is an illusionary invention of our own minds, and is to be downplayed or overlooked as much as possible.

Here is an excerpt taken directly from the text:

 

 

“When you realize that all guilt is solely an invention of your mind, you also realize that guilt and salvation must be in the same place. In understanding this you are saved. The seeming cost of accepting today’s idea is this: It means that nothing outside yourself can save you; nothing outside yourself can give you peace. But it also means that nothing outside yourself can hurt you, or disturb your peace or upset you in any way. Today’s idea places you in charge of the universe, where you belong because of what you are. This is not a role that can be partially accepted. And you must surely begin to see that accepting it is salvation.” (Lesson# 70)

 

According to the Course, TO FORGIVE means, you: “hold not the proof of sin before your brother’s eyes… You must attest his sins have no effect on you to demonstrate they are not real”.

The Course teaches, in a thousand ways, its axiom that: “In our defenselessness our safety lies”. While this may sound “spiritually loving”, the Course’s teaching of this idea goes seriously awry; for, according to the Course, no defense is ever warranted since “in reality” no offence or attack really occurs. The Course teaches that sin and guilt are not real, and therefore, neither are any of their “seeming effects”.

 

Marianne Williamson believes A Course in Miracles can, and does generate real and lasting peace. She will undoubtedly be very involved in our Government’s “U.S. Department of Peace” if she can help to make it a reality. She is the founder of The Peace Alliance, a grassroots campaign group working to install in our Government, this “Department of Peace”, as a compliment to our Department of Defense. This group’s numbers are growing daily, nationwide, thanks to Oprah’s enthusiastic promotion of Marianne Williamson. Marianne has said that the head of the Department of Peace will be VERY influential in our Government’s policy making, “having the ear of the President” as it dispenses advice on the art and science of “Peace keeping”. Knowing that Marianne Williamson is a world renowned devotee of A Course in Miracles and the channeled spirit who authored it, and knowing full well what the Course teaches, I find myself thinking of a certain passage in Scripture: And Jesus wept, for they knew not the ways of peace”.  Luke 19:41 (paraphrase)

 

For more information or to have Sharon speak to your group, Please contact Sharon Giganti (619) 463-2310 sharontheword@yahoo.com or call Judy Salmon at (619) 884-3829

Note: All quotes from A Course in Miracles are from the combined three volume 1992 edition, Published by The Foundation for Inner Peace (Now called The Foundation for A Course in Miracles)

Also at http://www.newagedeception.com/new/free-resources/5-a-warning-about-a-course-in-miracles.html,

http://www.newagedeception.com/resources/Warning%20about%20a%20course%20in%20miracles.doc

 

Wanting to Have Your New Age Cake and Eat It Too

http://www.asanas.org.uk/files/001York.pdf/ http://www.asanas.org.uk/files/001Contents.pdf EXTRACT

(Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies 2005)

By Michael York, 2003

 

Among the portfolio of New Thought groups, those which are chiefly significant for New Age include Unity, Divine Science, Religious Science, the Adventures in Enlightenment Foundation (Terry Cole-Whittaker) and Miracle Experiences, Inc. (A Course in Miracles).

Whilst most New Thought is to be found in America, New Thought groups exist throughout the world. Much of the New Thought – New Age international impetus is now led by the formation of A Course in Miracles study groups.

 

Hidden Dangers of the New Age

http://www.catholicassociates.com/leaflets/Hidden%20dangers%20New%20Age.pdf EXTRACT

 

Another ‘…ism’ that should be mentioned here is Gnosticism, that heresy which was widespread in the second and third centuries, and which has re-surfaced repeatedly ever since, albeit under different disguises – the present one being the New Age Movement. (Incidentally, Gnosticism is also the ‘religion’ of the Da Vinci Code which is currently doing irreparable harm to the faith of millions – young and old alike – by means of both the book and the film).

The writings of many New Age authors contain Christian terminology and quotations from Sacred Scripture. This gives the writings a cloak of authenticity which they do not deserve. An example of this is a programme called ‘A Course in Miracles’ promoted by the Institute for Teaching Inner Peace. They have an impressive website offering a range of books, CD’s, DVD’s, audio and video tapes and a free quarterly magazine.

 

The purpose of this self-study course is to change one’s perceptions. The late author, Dr Helen Schucman, claimed that the course was given to her as an inner dictation. Some of it is written as though the words come directly from Jesus. The unwary may be taken in by this, but the ‘Course in Miracles’ has been described as a modern version of Gnosticism. It is counterfeit Christianity.

It is interesting to note that in Volume One of his ‘History of the Church’ Philip Hughes states that the Gnostic movement became ‘a rich and confused amalgam of rituals and beliefs, magical practices and theories, which attracted many followers.’ That would be a suitable description for much of the New Age Movement today.

Also at http://www.catholicassociates.com/Talk%20ProFide%20Apr_07.pdf, Religion, Spirituality and ‘Mumbo-Jumbo’

 

Why New Age is a Challenge for Christianity

http://www.zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=56135 EXTRACT

 

Father Alessandro Olivieri Pennesi Responds

VATICAN CITY, June 30, 2004 (Zenit.org) The spread of New Age and its use and abuse of Christian elements make of the movement a challenge for the baptized, says a specialist at the Lateran University.
Father Alessandro Olivieri Pennesi, a professor at the Mater Ecclesiae Higher Institute of Religious Sciences of the Lateran, gave that warning in an interview with us.
An international consultation on New Age, held by the Holy See from June 14-16, emphasized the need to know this phenomenon better in order to provide more appropriate Christian answers.

 

Q: What are the conceptual characteristics that describe New Age? And what are the main differences that characterize Christian doctrine?
Father Olivieri Pennesi: [I]nsofar as sin is concerned, while reference to Adam’s sin is silenced, it is affirmed, as “A Course in Miracles” states, that man’s principal problem is his ignorance of his divinity. Every perceptible fault that man thinks he has is more an absence of knowledge; with this is eliminated the need for salvation and for a savior.

Sixty-eight, mysticism, Satanism

http://www.30giorni.it/us/articolo.asp?id=910 EXTRACT

Published in 30 Giorni, May 2003, Rome

The relevance of the ancient Gnosticism and its perversions insinuate themselves into Catholic thought even at higher-levels. An interview with Alessandro Olivieri Pennesi, Lecturer at the Lateran Pontifical University by Giovanni Cubeddu.

How widespread [is New Age thought]?
Father Olivieri Pennesi: The attempt at divinizing man that the New Age propagates, through a transformation that can be brought about by working on oneself, comes with a retrieval of the idea of alchemy. In the Celestine Prophecy there is the metaphor of the spiritualization of the man who becomes pure energy: a Gnostic attempt to get back to the divine spark. That also comes in another of the sacred texts of the New Age, Course in Miracles. It’s a book that came out of academic circles in the United States, the work of Helen Schucman, who is Jewish. She claimed to enter in contact with her deep self, receiving from it the “revelation” of Christ.

New Age: Still with Us and Still Dangerous, Part Two

http://catholicexchange.com/2009/11/24/124328/ EXTRACT

By Cheryl Dickow, November 24, 2009

 

New Age teachings are dangerous because they encourage us to assume that we know what is best for our salvation and when we enter into these teachings we jeopardize our eternal life in ways that we may never know — until it is too late.

 

Sharon Lee Giganti is a popular speaker on the new age phenomenon with tragic, first-hand experiences with its dangers. Sharon was recently a guest on Teresa Tomeo’s EWTN radio program “Catholic Connection” where she shared the family tragedy that resulted in her New Age philandering and her passions to ensure that new age teachings are seen for what they are — evil.

The cornerstone of Sharon’s speaking and upcoming book is based upon a list she calls “The Devil’s Dirty Dozen“. Sharon’s website is www.NewAgeDeception.com. Sharon was kind enough to give me some of her time to answer a few questions and offer resources.

 

Dickow: Sadly, I’ve heard you share other personal stories of New Age teachings gone terribly wrong. I know that you were so entrenched in this teaching that you couldn’t see yourself clear from it — even when these tragedies surrounded you. Can you tell us a little of your friend’s suicide?

Giganti: A friend came to me with questions regarding the taking of one’s own life and I answered with the most common New Age teachings, especially those of Abraham, and another well known New Age teaching: A Course in Miracles. I told this young lady, “No, it is not wrong as there is no absolute right or wrong, good or bad, you’ve only been conditioned to believe it’s wrong.” Quoting Abraham, I told her, “In Truth, every death is a suicide, since we each are in charge of when we re-emerge into the Non-physical dimension.”

Would her family be devastated?” she worried. “Only if you envision them that way. You can create that scenario if you want, but you can also create a better scenario with the power of your thought and feeling vibrations… No, God would not be displeased since there is no ‘God’ that exists as such a judge.” Quoting Abraham again, I told her, “God is nothing more or less than the Law of Attraction, and you are free to attract anything you want, even death.”

She left my home the next morning, locked herself into a hotel, and drank poison until she died. […]

You won’t really understand the depth of A Course in Miracles depravity, unless you read some of its samples that I’ve listed on my free document: “A Warning About: A Course in Miracles”*—found under Free Resources, on my website www.NewAgeDeception.com. *See page 12

 

The World’s “Most Dangerous” Spiritual Guru: Oprah Begins 10-Week Online New Age Class

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2008/mar/08030701

By John Jalsevac, LifeSiteNews.com March 7, 2008

 

This past Monday Oprah Winfrey, considered by many to be the world’s most influential woman, began a ten-week long online course on the best-selling book, A New Earth, by New Age guru, Eckhart Tolle. A New Earth has already sold some 3.5 million copies worldwide, thanks largely to the publicity given to it by Oprah. According to Oprah, 500,000 people from across the world signed on to the first segment of the online course, to spend an hour and a half listening to Eckhart and Oprah talking about chapter 1 of the book, and taking calls from participants.

In recent years Oprah has been inviting an increasing number of representatives of new age spirituality onto her talk shows, including figures such as Marianne Williamson, Barbara DeAngelis, LaVar Burton, Richard Carlson, Betty Eadie, and many others. Oprah has strongly endorsed many of their works, and has included some of them in her “Book Club” list.
Since the beginning of this year Oprah has offered daily classes on her XM radio station on the book A Course in Miracles. “A Course in Miracles” (or ACIM for short) was written by another major player in the New Age movement, Helen Schucman, who claims that the book was dictated to her by an interior voice, which she identifies with Jesus Christ. In that course, the listener is taught that there is no sin, is told not to make the “mistake” of “clinging to the old rugged cross,” and that the name of “Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol.”

Oprah, who is a self-labeled “Christian”, was recently named the “most dangerous woman in the world” by Bill Keller, considered by some to be the world’s leading Internet evangelist. He accused Oprah of peddling the equivalent of “spiritual crack.” Keller has been warning the subscribers of his Daily Devotional for years about Oprah and how she uses her TV program to promote every New Age philosophy in the world, including the wildly popular book and DVD last year, The Secret,” which teaches readers or viewers that simply by desiring them strongly enough, one may obtain wealth, health and happiness.

However, rarely has Oprah shown more enthusiasm for a New Age guru than for the so-called Eckhart Tolle, who takes his first name from the well-known 13th century Catholic Rhineland mystic, Meister Eckhart. Tolle is the author of several books including The Power of Now*, and, most recently, A New Earth. *See my comments on page 18

 

 

Much like many other New Age systems, Eckhart’s “spirituality” is a vague, ethereal blend of spiritual theories and ideas, gleaned from all of the world’s major religions. Eckhart promises the attainment of “inner peace” and a higher state of consciousness by utilizing methods of meditation that plunge one into the “now.” He also says that mankind is in a moment of crisis, in which the race must either achieve the next stage in its evolution by attaining “higher consciousness”, or destroy itself and the planet.

The title of his newest book, A New Earth, is taken from Chapter 21 from the Book of Revelation, in which the Biblical visionary says that he “saw a new heaven and a new earth.” Throughout his newest book Eckhart sprinkles quotations from Scripture, and he frequently speaks about Christ and Scripture in his talks.

The core of Eckhart’s teaching is a religious relativism, in which he eschews all rigid doctrine or exclusive claims to truth as dangerous and manifestations of “egoic consciousness.” “The moment you say ‘only my belief’ or ‘our belief’ is true, and you deny other people’s beliefs, then you’ve adopted an ideology,” Eckhart told the participants in Monday’s online class. “And then religion becomes a closed door.”

Eckhart explains away conscience and feelings of guilt as but the consequence of years of conditioning. He told one caller, who confessed that she still feels guilt when she decides against going to church on Sunday, that she must recognize that “the voice” which tells her to go to church is simply the result of social conditioning.

One caller into the show told Oprah that she was a Catholic, and was having trouble seeing how Eckhart’s teachings could be reconciled with her Catholicism. Oprah responded that the caller must simply realize that Christianity is but one of many ways to achieve the “higher consciousness,” and that the belief that one must follow a set of doctrines is a consequence of “egoic consciousness.” While Christianity is a valid way to achieve high states of spirituality, it must not be considered a unique way, or a “correct way”.

“Jesus,” said Oprah, “came to show us Christ-consciousness…Jesus came to show us the way of the heart…Jesus came to say, ‘Look I’m going to live in the body, in the human body and I’m going to show you how it’s done.’ These are some principles and some laws that you can use to live by to know that way”

She concluded, “I don’t believe that Jesus came to start Christianity.”

“What Jesus said is much deeper than what you, how the church interprets it. There’s a depth to it. And it reflects your own depth when you read it. So there’s no conflict between this teaching, which is purely spiritual, and any religion.”

Oprah also indicated that there are many names that one might give to that which she calls “God”, including “energy,” “consciousness” and “life.”
Oprah also contrasted what she called the “old” spirituality vs. the “new” spirituality, as espoused by Eckhart. “The old way is the hierarchy has the authority. Church authorities tell you how to worship in church and how to behave outside of church. The new spirituality is that you are your own best authority as you work to know and love yourself, you discover how to live a more spiritual life.”

Despite Oprah and Eckhart’s reduction of Christianity to but one “way” amongst many other equally legitimate ways to God, and their calling Christ a “revolutionary” who has been misunderstood by the Church, and who simply came to manifest “Christ-consciousness”, a quick search through the internet reveals that many Christians are following Oprah in attempting to fuse together the teachings of Eckhart, and the doctrines of the historical Christian church.

One writer on the message board on Oprah’s website wrote a message with the subject line, “Scared I’m replacing my religion, which I love.” “I just started the book” she wrote, “and I love the idea of the book but I guess the question I keep repeating in my head is will this be replacing my religion? How do the two work together. Can someone please help ease my mind that I’m not turning on the lord?”

Many of the respondents to the questioner confessed that they too had similar misgivings about the book, but “upon reflection”, realized that Tolle draws from numerous Christian sources, and that he and Oprah were giving them a “deeper understanding” of their faith.

However, Keller, and a number of other Christian pastors have begun to actively warn Christians that Oprah and Eckhart’s teachings are by no means compatible with Christianity. “Oprah is now trying to be the spiritual guru to this nation,” said Keller in an appearance on Fox. “Sadly, she is being used as a tool of Satan to lead millions of souls to hell with her false teachings.”

Another pastor, James A. Smith Sr., writing in the Florida Baptist Witness, criticized Oprah’s “spirituality” for its emphasis on the power of the individual to define truth and reality, and to totally control one’s own life. “What this fails to acknowledge is that man dos not define reality; man does not determine what truth is,” wrote Smith. “The source of truth for our decisions and power is the one true God of all reality and He has communicated plenary propositional truths to us in the Bible and remarkably, uniquely in His incarnation in Jesus Christ.

“Oprah, as with other New Agers, is not in pursuit and in communion with God.”

WorldNetDaily columnist Chuck Norris, wrote about Oprah and The New Earth, “The reason Tolle’s psychology and spirituality is marketed so easy is that it is an eclectic mix of conventional and unconventional wisdom, and Western and Eastern beliefs, presented in a tolerant, non-threatening, and non-sectarian way. In other words, it’s ‘Religion Light’, in which one can be spiritual with ‘little down and no credit’.”

Norris recommended that his readers simply sit down and read a Bible, rather than A New Earth. “One could easily save the purchase price of A New Earth and subsequently avoid misleading remarks by reading a Bible, which gives a much more thorough and accurate picture of life’s purpose and methods for overcoming its obstacles,” said Norris.
See YouTube video of Fox interview with Bill Keller http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFtKIztRtnY

 

 

 

*From page 16, my comments on “The Power of Now“.

Like so many other New Age titles, The Power of Now is available at the Good Pastor bookshop run by St Pauls Society in Chennai: The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Eckhart Tolle, published by YOGI Impressions, Rs 250; with reviews by New Agers Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey on the cover.

 

 

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=68 EXTRACT

By Susan Brinkmann, March 15, 2010

 

EFT is a New Age alternative medical practice that is based on the balancing of an energy form that is not supported by science, and is therefore considered to be a pseudoscience… According to EFT founder Gary Craig, EFT combines two New Age techniques (which he refers to on his website as “well established sciences”) Mind Body Medicine and Acupuncture (he’s referring to the traditional Chinese medicine form of acupuncture, which is based on the alleged existence of opposing energy forces known as yin and yang rather than the medical form)…

On his website, he openly admits that he is an avid student of A Course in Miracles, an occult-based mind-control program created by a woman who claimed to be channeling Christ.

Note: For more on EFT, see separate article at this ministry’s website. Also see my compilation NEW AGE by Susan Brinkmann.

 

Stay Away from A Course In Miracles

http://vivificat1.blogspot.com/2007/04/stay-away-from-course-in-miracles.html April 4, 2007

 

Q: I was wondering if you might know of A Course In Miracles. Thomas Merton left when A Course In Miracles was scribed, and he taught also ideas taught by Jesus in A Course In Miracles. I like it, especially in these times, when Jesus offers a new interpretation of old concepts from the Gospel.

Some I have mentioned in my blog, http://teachingacourseinmiracles.blogspot.com. I am always looking at ways to introduce A Course In Miracles to a wider audience.
What does a Catholic like you say about A Course In Miracles, and the fact that is quite obvious to anyone looking at this masterpiece, that Jesus is the author of it?
Once I heard that it is on the index of the Catholic Church. I do not know if that is true. Yet who was more a heretic than Jesus Christ? Isn’t it the same today than it was 2000 years ago? That is why no one wants anything to have to do with it.
It has changed my life. Once I wanted to become a priest, but while growing up in a Catholic seminary I lost my faith in the god I was taught. Nothing made sense to me anymore. I could not resolve the existence of this world of cruelty with the idea of a loving God, and still can’t. But through A Course In Miracles I found relief that I don’t have to. It allows me to experience God in me, in everything, God not knowing of this world, God Who truly has no opposite. My relationship with Him is not broken or lacking, and therefore it is a fact that there is no sin. If sin were true, I would be forever separated from God. Separation is a false idea. So, aren’t we all in need of teaching this? Teaching in order to learn, teaching the truth; in order to learn forgiveness, I have to teach it. In order to be healed, I have to heal. In order to be free, I have to release, to free. All power is given me in Heaven and Earth. The resurrection did happen, and it must include everyone and everything. This is and can only be an individual discovery for anyone here on Earth. Nothing else will ever solve any problem that besets mankind. Happy Easter. Alban
A: Dear Alban,
I am about to disappoint you. I think that A Course In Miracles is nothing short of a modern Gnostic work, contradicting the Gospel in several key areas. I don’t see how “Jesus” could be the author of this work. As such, this work is not apt to instruct or correct Catholic Christians in the living of the Gospel.
The Catholic Church stopped keeping an “Index of Forbidden Books” back in 1965. Such an endeavor was easy to do when the book printing output was a fairly small enterprise and a book catalog could be kept by bored clerics. That’s a very impractical, if not impossible thing to do today, considering the publication output of modern media and the Internet. Besides, putting a work in such an Index would constitute a “reverse endorsement.” Any such designation would be exploited by publicity-hungry authors and publishing houses who would then use the Church’s censure for maximum propaganda effect. Advertisements would read “Come, buy this book! BANNED BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!” People would just flock to buy it.
Nevertheless, we all still have the responsibility to refrain from reading works damaging to the faith, unless one is prepared to face up those arguments and the truth is that not all of us are that well-prepared.

 

 

 

Context is also important: I may read an essay by Dawkins and his coterie of lonely atheists if printed in a reputable publication, but probably would pass if it were printed in Penthouse. Such a context would provide a marked occasion for sin at numerous levels. The Catholic Christian must not be either proud or naive when facing temptation and should have a distinct appreciation of when s/he is staring down the chasm of temptation and sin, less one tempts the Lord in the process.
This brings us back to A Course In Miracles. Jesus didn’t write this, nor was He “channeled” by anyone to do so. The work contradicts the Gospel, as I said, in many key places, as you yourself have admitted by denying the reality of sin. To say something like…my relationship with Him is not broken or lacking, and therefore it is a fact that there is no sin is, in my view, wrong, for it assumes that the soul has reached an ontological “perfection” in this life, that the Christian life consists only in the “unfolding” of this realization. I also think that this assertion reflects a sin of presumption of God’s grace. Any spirituality flowing from such an axiom would be, in my view, damaging to one’s soul.
The constant use of the first person pronouns (“I, me, mine”) also unsettles me, because Catholic Christianity is a reality that transcends the individual. The Gnostic “spirituality” contained in this book sets the individual and his/her “gnosis” (“knowledge”) over and against the Body of Christ, which is the Church.
Finally, the allegation that Jesus granted a new “revelation” violates the apostolic consensus that public revelation, the one binding on all Christians everywhere and at all times, ended with the death of the last apostle; that every “revelation” since is by definition a “private revelation” subject to the discernment of spirits which St. Paul talks about, and other criteria we find in the Johannine writings, and that even if such a private revelation were to meet these criteria, it would only be binding on the person who received it, and also on those who voluntarily make its teaching their own. In this line of “revelations” we find those received by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque about the Sacred Heart, and to St. Faustina regarding the Divine Mercy, along with all “approved” Marian apparitions.
Because of its substance, contents, and claims, A Course In Miracles fails the “discernment of spirits” test. I believe that if you practice its teaching, you will end up in a state of spiritual confusion and captivity. My suggestion to you is that you break away from this book and return to the true Christ you meet in Word and Sacrament in the Catholic Church.
I remain, Your concerned brother in Our Lord Jesus Christ, Theo [Teófilo de Jesús]

Also see: http://community.beliefnet.com/go/thread/view/43861/13255939/A_Course_in_Miracles_and_Catholicism

The Making of ‘A Course in Miracles’

http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/2004/07/The-Making-Of-A-Course-In-Miracles.aspx

By Randall Sullivan

 

A Catholic priest recounts the mysterious spiritual journey of ‘A Course in Miracles’ scribe Helen Schucman.

Journalist Randall Sullivan met Father Benedict Groeschel, a Catholic priest and popular speaker, while Sullivan was investigating claims of miraculous occurrences in America and abroad. In this excerpt, Father Groeschel discusses Helen Schucman, who “scribed” the bestselling spiritual work “A Course in Miracles.”

Reprinted from The Miracle Detective: An Investigation of Holy Visions with permission of Grove/Atlantic.
[Father Groeschel] was certainly no less perplexed by what he had witnessed more than 30 years earlier, when he had been present at the inception of a book now considered to be the “New Age Bible.” He had been a graduate student in psychology at Columbia University during the late 1960s when one of his professors, a woman named Helen Schucman, had written – “which is not to say authored” – A Course in Miracles.

Helen Schucman was nearly sixty when they met, and Groeschel, who was then almost forty, knew her not only as a teacher but also as a friend. “Helen was a very scientific lady,” he recalled, “a Jewish intellectual who considered herself to be an extreme agnostic, though not quite an atheist, and very skeptical about everything having to do with religion or spirituality.” Schucman also was witty and engaging, and Groeschel, who was writing his dissertation on the relationship between science and theology, found her to be one of the most stimulating conversationalists he had every encountered. The older woman became a good deal more fascinating to him when she announced in 1969 that she was taking dictation from a disembodied voice she knew only as the “Son of God.”

It had all started one day when she was riding the subway uptown and experienced a vision, Schucman explained: A beautiful light suddenly filled the car and shone on the faces of the people all around her. A short time later, she felt compelled to begin writing page after page of blank verse that eventually grew into A Course in Miracles. Groeschel still could vividly recall his “dizzy astonishment” as the professor explained that she knew the meaning of each sentence she was writing, but had no idea what was coming next. “The interesting thing is that it scanned,” the priest remembered. “It was written in iambic pentameter, and some of the passages were quite beautiful.” The result was a series of discourses by the “Son of God” in which the narrator/teacher/protagonist came across as the figure Jesus Christ might have been if born a Hindu rather than a Jew. Sin, sacrifice, and suffering all were dismissed as illusory, the maya (though this word was never used) of those chained to earthly existence.

Only forgiveness is real, and all things, even the most heinous acts, are forgiven, the “Son of God” says again and again, without any need for penance or punishment.

 

He eventually came to understand the book as the product of “an intellectual experience called ‘sequential words,'” Groeschel said. “It’s actually very common and probably the least impressive of all these things. St. John of the Cross nailed it. He said, ‘They’re calling the words of God the thoughts that they address to themselves.’ Now, there’s an ice-cold glass of hot water.”

What Groeschel found to be at once most thrilling and confusing about Helen Schucman’s process was that, during the time she wrote A Course in Miracles (a book that any number of fundamentalist Christian ministers have called the most dangerous ever published), she became intensely attracted to the Catholic Church, attended Mass regularly, and was devoted to the Virgin Mary. Only under close questioning did Schucman admit that, many years earlier, she had briefly been a Christian. This had resulted from an “accidental” childhood visit to Lourdes, where she had been so moved that she received baptism upon her return to the U.S. She also had prayed the Rosary for years afterwards, Schucman claimed, until she adopted scientific skepticism as her creed, and lived by it for most of her adult life.

When he suggested she apply for membership in the Catholic Church, Schucman replied that this was unnecessary because, as a Jew, she had been Catholic before “you Gentiles came along and made all these rules.”

No less fascinating to the priest was the sharp distinction between Schucman’s own stated convictions and the content of A Course in Miracles. “I hate that damn book,” she often told him, and regularly disavowed its teachings.

Groeschel continued to try to “open the doors of the Church” to Schucman, but his influence was subverted by her husband. William Thetford, also a Columbia professor, was a mysterious character, and “probably the most sinister person I ever met,” the priest recalled. Only after he retired from teaching did Thetford’s Columbia colleagues (who knew him best as a rare-books expert) discover that all during the years they worked with him, the man had been employed as an agent of the CIA–one who was, among other things, present at the first fission experiment conducted by physicists assigned to the Manhattan Project. Thetford also was “the most religious atheist I have ever known,” Groeschel recalled, and conceived a great enthusiasm for A Course in Miracles, personally arranging for its publication. Schucman was embarrassed, Groeschel remembered, and confided to the priest her fear that the book would create a cult, which of course it did.

Groeschel initially read the Course as “religious poetry,” but grew steadily more negative in his assessment of it as the years passed and sales of the three volumes passed into the millions of copies. From his point of view, A Course in Miracles served to undermine authentic Christianity more effectively than just about any other work he could recall, and while he was inclined to reject the position of St. John of the Cross that “these things are diabolical unless proven otherwise,” doubts had crept in over the years.

Most troubling to him by far was the “black hole of rage and depression that Schucman fell into during the last two years of her life,” the priest explained. She had become frightening to be with, Groeschel recalled, spewing psychotic hatred not only for A Course in Miracles but “for all things spiritual.” When he sat at Schucman’s bedside as she lay dying, “she cursed, in the coarsest barroom language you could imagine, ‘that book, that goddamn book’. She said it was the worst thing that ever happened to her. I mean, she raised the hair on the back of my neck. It was truly terrible to witness.”

Only during Schucman’s last weeks of life did Groeschel learn that the woman’s mother had been a Christian Scientist, one who read to the girl from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy all during her childhood. This information had contributed to the appraisal of the woman he found easiest to live with, the priest said: “I decided that A Course in Miracles was a fascinating blend of poorly understood Christianity inspired by her visit to Lourdes and poorly understood Christian Science inspired by her memory of Mary Baker Eddy’s writings, all of it filtered through some profound psychological problems and processes.”

Yet doubts persisted. The morning Schucman died, Groeschel said a funeral Mass for her. “Only, when I opened the missal did I discover that it was the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes,” the priest recalled, “and I tell you, I shivered. The odds are one out of three hundred and sixty-five.”

He had been sifting his experiences with Helen Schucman through his mind for more than three decades now, Groeschel said, and over the years had realized that any attempt to define them was futile. “What I learned, I think, is that these things can be both real and imaginary, paranormal and spiritual, divine and diabolical. And that when you enter the world of the supernatural, the worst mistake you can make is to impose an ultrarealist point of view. You can’t make those kinds of distinctions about experiences that are beyond our comprehension. You have to do as Moses Maimonides instructed and teach your students to say, ‘I don’t know’.”

The Secret, A Course in Miracles, and Oprah Winfrey

http://catholicischristian.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/the-secret-a-course-in-miracles-and-oprah-winfrey/

By Christine, April 30, 2011

 

 

I believe any individual today who does a moderate bit of research over the internet regarding some ideas they’ve heard expressed on the Oprah Winfrey show, or to follow-up on certain individuals she’s had on the show will find a great deal of hubbub going on regarding these practices and ideas she’s promoting. Even without being a viewer of the Oprah Winfrey show many people today are catching wind of some very influential books on the market such as The Secret, A Course in Miracles, and New Earth.

This has made a significant ripple in the Christian world as well. Many different Protestant and Catholics have been quite outspoken regarding the ideology of these movements of thought and the individuals behind them as well. Names like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, and sometimes Esther Hicks speak of individuals who have become very influential not only in the secular world but among many Christians as well. The raging debate with the methods being taught by these individuals and the Christian collective is most starkly summed up, from a Christian standpoint, as the fight between New Age and Christianity. This new movement of thought permeates Christian thought on a much more wide scale level because this latest movement incorporates many ideas of Christianity and yet reconstructs its tenants to also incorporate other world faith views and ideas as well as New Age beliefs. Through an a la carte potpourri of tenants, ideas, and world religious mantras, this new breed of spiritual self-help guru’s is having a widespread effect on the beliefs and ideas of the Christian populace.

In order to clarify this position and to create a factual basis for these statements, I’ve selected a short list of quotes regarding this movement and its influence.

First, I’ll discuss The Secret. It deals, primarily, with what’s called the Law of Attraction. According to a foremost former New Age “evangelist” Sharon Lee Giganti the Law of Attraction was “the premiere teaching of a channeled spirit called Abraham” whom Giganti herself used to follow. She also states that, “although this was only mentioned once or twice in The Secret the media picked up on this and it was dubbed, ‘the Secret behind The Secret.[1]  

The spirit “Abraham” was channeled through Esther Hicks. Esther Hicks was a narrator and star of the original version of the film The Secret, as well as a central source of the film’s inspiration. The Hicks’ books, including the best-selling series The Law of Attraction, are — according to Esther Hicks — “translated from a group of non-physical entities called Abraham” (Hicks describes what she is doing as tapping into ‘infinite intelligence’). After a contract dispute with the writer of The Secret the source of the inspiration for it, Abraham – via Hicks – no longer appear in the film version.[2]

A Course in Miracles (which encompasses a textbook, a workbook for students, and a manual for teachers), [was] authored by research psychologist Helen Schucman. Dr. Schucman maintained that between 1965 and 1972 an “inner voice” (which she identified as Jesus) dictated the material to her, which she took down in shorthand and transcribed into what was eventually published as A Course in Miracles.” [3] “It’s been widely promoted by Oprah, and as of January 2008, she now has Marianne Williamson, the Course’s leading spokesperson, teaching this “Course” on her world-wide XM radio show.”[3], [4]

“The teachings of A Course in Miracles [claim] that: Jesus was NOT God, the devil does not exist, and there’s no such thing as evil, or ‘sin’ especially original sin, that man’s fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden never happened— (preface, pg. xiii) and that Holy Scripture cannot be trusted, as Christ’s apostles misinterpreted his message and taught in error. (Text pgs. 94 & 95) Everything you see around you is an illusion,(lesson #14 and throughout) that sin and guilt are not real but, “solely an invention in your own mind” (Lesson #70) that, you can neither hurt others, nor be hurt (Text pg. 96 and throughout)… that “you can and should deny any belief that error can hurt you”… the false promise that: if you see your neighbor as sinless, “you will be released entirely from all effects of sin” (Text pg. 474) that “the reality of everything is total harmlessness” (Text pg. 158) … that you alone are the sole cause of anything hurtful that’s ever happened to you (Lesson #23, #304, and throughout) … that, “The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist.” (Lesson #14 and throughout) ” [4] One of the more startling teachings within the course as “the 14th lesson, which is to be accepted as true by the student, reads as follows: “With eyes closed, think of all the horrors in the world that cross your mind. Name each one as it occurs to you, and then deny its’ reality. God did not create it, and so it is not real. Say for example: God did not create that war, and so it is not real. God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real. God did not create that disaster, and so it is not real. Suitable subjects for the application of today’s idea also include: Anything you are afraid might happen to you, or to anyone about whom you are concerned.”

Another startling teaching for anyone familiar with the gospel of Mark 5:9 and Luke 8:30 is the teaching included in the teachers manual that states, “helpers are given you in many forms… their names are LEGION.”[4]

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, a Capuchin Order Roman Catholic priest, knew the medium Helen Schucman personally — was at her bedside when she was dying— and has stated that, by the end of her life, she was almost completely overcome by rage (against all things spiritual—especially the Course in Miracles which she used to curse!) and [was in] the blackest depression he had ever seen. According to Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s point of view, “A Course In Miracles served to undermine authentic Christianity more effectively than just about any other work he could recall…” Fr. Groeschel shares his story concerning Helen in an interview, “No less fascinating to the priest was the sharp distinction between Schucman’s own stated convictions and the contents of A Course in Miracles. ‘I hate that d___ book’, she often told him, and regularly disavowed its teachings. Most troubling to him by far was the ‘black hole of rage and depression she fell into during the last two years of her life’, the priest explained. She had become frightening to be with, Groeschel recalled, spewing psychotic hatred not only for A Course in Miracles but ‘for all things spiritual.’ When he sat at Schucman’s bedside as she lay dying, ‘she cursed, in the coarsest barroom language you could imagine, ‘that book, that g__d___ book’. ‘She said it was the worst thing that ever happened to her. I mean, it raised the hair on the back of my neck. It was truly terrible to witness.’ [5], [6]

 

Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth was also promoted by Oprah. Tolle himself doesn’t align with any one religion but blends tenets of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sufism, Christianity and other faiths. A review in The Vancouver Sun said of Tolle: “His spiritual outlook has become more complex since (his earlier book) The Power of Now, when he dismissed external reality as an illusion and made it sound as if ‘living in the now’ was a panacea for all the world’s problems. …”

In addition, Tolle believes outer realities — including politics, war, poverty and even the climate — will magically be transformed when individuals change their inner consciousness. This may be true, but only to an extent. The reason Tolle’s psychology and spirituality is marketed so easily is that it is an eclectic mix of conventional and unconventional wisdom, and Western and Eastern beliefs, presented in a tolerant, non-threatening and nonsectarian way. In other words, it’s Religion Light, in which one can be spiritual with little down and no credit. Tolle only quotes relatively benign sayings of Jesus, avoiding the more difficult ones. For example, Tolle notes that Jesus taught that the “kingdom of heaven” is already present on earth and can be experienced right now, but Tolle overlooks Jesus’ teaching that one must be born again (by believing in him as the Son of God and Savior) to see that kingdom in the future.”[7]

 

All of this information comes back to Oprah Winfrey because she is a huge, enthusiastic promoter of these New Age authors. She has promoted The Secret, A New Earth, and A Course in Miracles. As a result, “Since Oprah’s endorsement of Tolle’s book a month ago, about 3.5 million copies of his spiritual self-help guide have been sent out to enlighten the minds of people around the globe. More than 500,000 people in 125 countries have signed up for [a] World Wide Web seminar.”[6] After her promotion of The Secret the sales for that book went through the roof, as well as it did for A Course in Miracles. “Because of the long list of New Age teachers she promotes on her media outlets, she has done more to promote New Age Spirituality than any other person on the planet Earth.”[8]

One of the biggest statements out of Oprah indicating her belief as what is called a New Age Christian is a statement of a discussion with audience members where she effectively dismisses and cuts off an audience member who adamantly proclaims (to the applause of the rest of the audience) “Jesus Christ is the only way”. Oprah herself says, “There are many paths to what you call ‘god’. If it brings [one person] to the same place as [another person] it doesn’t matter if [they] call it God or not. Does God care about the heart or does God care if you call His Son Jesus?”[9] I feel the woman’s final answer to Oprah regarding this (contained at the end of the video) and the individual who posted this video make weak points in their view of to what Oprah is saying. However, these statements and her enthusiastic endorsements of New Age Christianity should call into the mind of every Christian an earnest wariness.

I believe many Christians today are fooled into the idea that Oprah is a true Christian. I also believe many Christians are being duped into believing that these sources of spiritual self-help are harmless. I have even seen these ideas such as the Law of Attraction (your outlook on life creates your reality) drawn into the teachings of prominent Christian ministers and their books. My “beef” isn’t with the idea of trying to think more positively in your attitude toward life. Nor is my argument against seeking out the fruitful things in your life such as God and your relationship with Him, how you approach your own faith tradition inasmuch as it entails embracing God in the closest possible way, or limiting things in your life which call your mind to always be pessimistic or wading in a sea of “negative” thoughts. Everyone wants that, I believe. Everyone has the need and want to be happy and I don’t discourage that. However, the methods mentioned above from the most prestigious promoters of these ideas goes so far beyond just trying to look at the “bright side of life” and gets into very un-Christian beliefs, or their source for designing these methods is obtained as a way absolutely counter to Christian law. (Cf. Deuteronomy18:10-12; 1 Samuel 28) I would encourage anyone who believes these sources or these materials to be harmless to speak to the pastor of their church and ask what the standing of their own faith is regarding this. I can guarantee you, as far as Catholicism goes, they have outright condemned these and other highly sought after “fads” such as Yoga, Reiki, Law of Attraction, and many other thoughts that, if studied would bear them out as nothing more than New Age Thought obtained, in certain cases, from “spiritual beings”.

Again, I encourage everyone to take seriously these methods and means of obtaining these ideas into serious question.

I don’t doubt that a committed well-established Christian can read The Secret or New Earth and take from it only what one would deem “positive” reinforcement for their own faith and absolutely nothing more. However, when I read deeper into the beliefs of the authors or the sources of their writings like a spirit that calls itself “Jesus” or “Abraham”, I’m much more likely to be too scrupulous as to allow those things a place in my life and I would encourage all honest Christians to seek the true nature of anyone promoting a “new way” of obtaining religious insight.

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:8

The ACIM and relevant information comes from Sharon Lee Giganti’s own firsthand knowledge and more information can be obtained from her website as well as the entire document the excerpts were obtained from.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc7DBDga87c
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther_Hicks
[3] http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/newageoprah.asp
[4] http://www.newagedeception.com/new/free-resources/5-a-warning-about-a-course-in-miracles.html
[5]http://www.newagedeception.org/resources/Information%20on%20the%20Dangers%20of%20New%20Age%20Thinking%20and%20the%20New%20Thought%20Movement.doc
[6] The full article The Making of ‘A Course in Miracles’ by Randall Sullivan can be read at www.Beliefnet.com)

[7] http://townhall.com/columnists/chucknorris/2008/03/04/oprahs_new_easter/page/full/
[8] http://erwinlutzer.com/images/OprahMiraclesExcerpt.pdf
[9] http://youtu.be/pwGLNbiw1gk

 

 

A Course in Miracles
http://catholic-bulletin.blogspot.com/2008/08/course-in-miracles.html

Q: My niece was advised by a psychologist friend (Church of Christ) to do “A Course in Miracles.” She asked if I knew anything about it. I do not. After looking at their web-site, I’m still not sure about its basis. What do you know about it? Is it compatible with Catholic teaching? If not, is there a good spiritual course that might be more Catholic. This niece is prone to depression, is very intelligent and concrete, and she questions everything. I’d like to see her read materials that help her strengthen her Catholic faith as well as her “inner strength.” Thank you, Kathy Sekula, 8/7/2008

A: I know next to nothing about the “Course.” However, red flags go up in my mind when I hear the Course is based on private revelations from Jesus Christ, particularly when the recipient of these “revelations,” Helen Schucman, is said to have “channeled” them. Sounds New Agey to me.
Private revelations are always subject to doubt unless they are investigated by Catholic authorities. I find nothing suggesting any connection between the “channeler” and the Catholic Church, such that her revelations would come under Catholic scrutiny.
The danger of embracing a system based on supposed revelations is that they may have an infernal rather than a heavenly source. Remember, as St. Paul writes, Satan can transform himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
For psychological as well as spiritual guidance, I suggest your niece read Fr. Benedict Groeschel, whose books and DVDs are available from our Religious Catalogue section or most online book suppliers. – David Gregson, 8/25/2008

 

 

Against “A Course in Miracles”

http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=74770

 

June 8, 2011 TheologyOnLine poster Damian’s favorite book to quote is called “A Course in Miracles.” The relevant wikipedia article is here. An excellent article against the book from the Catholic perspective is here on an EWTN page. I rather like the name of the article: “A Course in Brainwashing.” I decided to make a thread against this book a few days ago when, Damian quoting it, he said that he was referring to a higher authority.
Ok, Damian. Let’s talk about your so called “higher authority.”
First question: Since it’s obvious that the work is a theological/metaphysical work, is it the case that the work is dialectical /rational (philosophical) or dogmatic (religious)?
“‘A Course in Miracles,’ a 1,249-page study manual, was authored by the “inner voice” of research psychologist Helen Schucman between 1965 and 1972. Schucman, a professor at Columbia University and a self-described atheist at the time, claims the “voice” was that of Jesus Christ” (“A Course in Brainwashing”).
Well, I suppose that answers that question. “Inner voices” usually don’t give rational arguments. The work is dogmatic, and it must be evaluated in terms of the authority of the one issuing the doctrines.
The author of the book was Dr. Helen Schucman. She was a professor of medical psychology. Uh…ok. I’ll give it to you, Damian, that our woman is an authority. She was an authority on medical psychology. But, last I heard, medical psychology isn’t religion. Why should we trust Dr. Helen Schucman whenever she talks about religious matters?
Because she heard a voice in her head and she thought it was Jesus? Damian, I’m sure that there’s got to be a joke about a psychologist hearing voices in her head…
But seriously, Damian. Why would you want to claim that her writings are authentic? The way I see it, there are two possibilities. 1. The voice originated outside of her. 2. The voice did not originate outside of her.
Even if we suppose that she really heard a supernatural voice, why should we believe that the voice was Christ’s? Perhaps she was writing down Satan’s gospel:
“And no wonder: for Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Of course, it seems a lot more likely that the voice was her own. According to wikipedia, Schucman issued a related pamphlet called: “Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice.” Further: “And suspicion seems warranted, considering that the course denies the existence of suffering and sin, claims the Holy Spirit’s main purpose is to heal people’s unconscious thoughts, and reinterprets the word “miracle” into psychological terms” (“A Course in Brainwashing”).
How convenient! A psychologist heard voices in her head. The voices told her to write a religious text. That religious text just so happened to interpret religion in terms of…psychology! Mirabile dictu! “A higher authority,” Damian? Really? Perhaps you might have considered the Bible to be a higher authority. Perhaps at least you might have considered the philosophers to be a higher authority. At least the philosopher is qualified to speak on metaphysical/theological matters. But no! Your so called “higher authority” is a psychologist who heard voices in her head and set out to rewrite religion in terms of psychology.

All of a sudden, I think I realize why you only ever quote wikipedia.
But this much is certain: the voice wasn’t Christ’s. If Schucman identifies the voice as being Christ’s, then I must ask her: “Who is this Christ, and how do you know about him?” The only answer is that the Christ is the Christ that was crucified about 2000 years ago, and we know about this Christ because the Holy Church preached His gospel for over 2000 years.
And St. Paul writes:
“Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead, [2] And all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia. [3] Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, [4] Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present wicked world, according to the will of God and our Father: [5] To whom is glory for ever and ever. Amen.
[6] I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. [7] Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. [9] As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. [10] For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:1-10).
But the most pernicious thing about the book is not that it teaches a false gospel. A false gospel is of no harm if nobody believes it. Worst of all: “‘The key problem is the [course’s] pseudo – Christian vocabulary and ideas,’ said Father Pacwa. ‘People don’t know the Catechism; they don’t know their faith…. The course strongly rejects the use of reason and thinking…. This is precisely what makes the course feasible. Once you get rid of reason, you get rid of discussion'” (“A Course in Brainwashing”).
The most vicious lie is a lie that refuses to be questioned, refuses to be interrogated. If you question the lie, if you put it on trial, you can see plainly that it is a lie. But if the lie is such that it refuses to be questioned, then it remains hidden, and it might even resemble truth.
“And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil. [20] For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. [21] But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God” (John 3:19-21).

What is the Catholic view of “A Course in Miracles”?
http://forum.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=5282432

 

Q: I am an active, participating Catholic. I am currently studying A Course in Miracles. What is the Catholic impression of ACIM? I would like to discuss the course with a Catholic who has actually studied the course. – Jo Ro, June 3, 2009

A: Recommended resource: Oprah: Televangelist of the New Age Deception http://shop.catholic.com/product.php?productid=445&cat=0&page=1, by Sharon Lee Giganti (CD set) – Michelle Arnold, Catholic Answers apologist, June 3, 2009.

 

 

DOES “A COURSE IN MIRACLES

REALLY MEAN WHAT IT SAYS?

http://www.newagedeception.com/new/free-resources/22-does-qa-course-in-miraclesq-really-mean-what-it-says.html

Compiled by Sharon Lee Giganti, 2010 (all emphasis mine).

 

A listing of the “NO EXCEPTIONS” directives within the text of: “A COURSE IN MIRACLES”

All quotations are taken from the Combined Volume, Second Edition, of “A COURSE IN MIRACLES”

This document is designed to combat the assertion (from Course devotees) that Catholics and other critics of “A COURSE IN MIRACLES” have “misinterpreted” it, or that it is to be understood and applied only in a metaphysical sense”… or that it applies only in the spiritual realm, but not the physical

 

Trust me– as a former “Course” student and teacher, I can assure you that unfortunately, such is emphatically NOT the case. When the Course says, “The body is not real… the body is not a part of you…” and, “At no single instant does the body exist…”, it means exactly what it says.  The Course confirms this, IN IT’S OWN WORDS!!! (This document lists some of these specific quotes) And, yes—this is the same “A COURSE IN MIRACLES” that is still being taught by Marianne Williamson, a lesson a day for 365 days, on Oprah Winfrey’s Official Website.

 

Many times, fans of “A COURSE IN MIRACLES”, when hearing criticism of the Course’s bizarre claims, often say of former students of the Course, like myself, who are now denouncing it, that we’ve “misinterpreted” the ideas, or taken them too literally, or that the Course, “when properly understood”, would have the student use common sense when applying the ideas and perhaps make appropriate exceptions when the “situations” involve something like cancer or a heroin addiction, or something equally potentially hazardous.

The following quotations taken directly from the pages of “A COURSE IN MIRACLES”, however, should suffice to prove that, in actuality, such an assertion is not true– the student reading the Course is, in fact, directed by the Course itself, NOT to make ANY exceptions when it comes to the application of the ideas– even when (according to Lesson 14) the student is being directed to “deny the reality” of such things as a war, or an airplane crash.

Page 2 of “A COURSE IN MIRACLES'” Workbook, for example, instructs the student to: “be sure that you do not decide for yourself that there are some people, situations or things to which the ideas are in-applicable.

All the examples below, of actual Course quotations, should come in handy for the critic of “A COURSE IN MIRACLES”, who is being told that he or she has “misunderstood” it, or that the Course is only to be interpreted and applied in a “metaphysical” sense.

The sad fact is, “A COURSE IN MIRACLES” itself states within its’ own pages that such is NOT the case! Therein lies the danger of the Course’s teachings.

But, could the Course really mean it, when it says things like, “the body is a dream” (vol. 2, pg. 409) and “at no single instant does the body exist at all”? (vol. 1 pg. 362)

Unfortunately, the answer is “yes”, and for verification, one needs only to consult the actual text of the Course—and read the following passages:

 

“You have surely begun to realize that this is a very practical course, and one that means exactly what it says.”  —Text pg. 159

 

“The purpose of the workbook is to train your mind in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world. The exercises are planned to help you generalize the lessons, so that you will understand that each of them is equally applicable to everyone and everything you see.”  —Workbook Intro to Lessons, pg. 1

 

There must be no exceptions. Your consistency is called on despite chaos. As long as you’re assailed by any doubt, His accomplishment is not apparent in you.”

—Text pg.110

 

“If true perception has been achieved in connection with any person, situation, or event, total transfer to everyone and everything is certain. On the other hand, one exception held apart from true perception makes its accomplishments anywhere impossible.” — Workbook Intro to Lessons, pg. 1

 

“The only general rules to be observed throughout then are that the exercises be practiced with great specificity, as will be indicated… (Note: example of exercise: “…this war is not real, this earthquake is not real, this airplane crash is not real”… from Lesson 14) This will help you to generalize the ideas involved to every situation in which you find yourself, and to everyone and everything in it.

Second, be sure that you do not decide for yourself that there are some people, situations or things to which the ideas are in-applicable. This will interfere with the transfer of training. The very nature of true perception is that it has no limits.  It is the opposite of the way you see now.”  —Workbook pg. 2

 

“The overall aim of the exercises is to increase your ability to extend the ideas you will be practicing to include everything.” —Workbook pg. 2, #7

 

“Some of the ideas the workbook presents you will find hard to believe… they may seem quite startling. This does not matter. You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. You are not asked to judge them at all, you are only asked to use them. It is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you they are true.”

—Workbook pg. 2, #8 (Note: Remember that Lesson 1 says, “This body does not mean anything…” and Lesson 13 says, “Nothing without meaning exists”. Also, Lesson 14 says, “God did not create that war, and so it is not real… God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real…” Are those ideas really “true”?)

 

Note: “A COURSE IN MIRACLES” states, on page 2 of the Workbook that using the ideas will show you “they are true”. Take a look at the last paragraph of Lesson 14; it says:

 

 

“The idea for today can, of course, be applied to anything that disturbs you during the day, aside from the practice periods. Be very specific in applying it. Say: ‘God did not create a meaningless world.  He did not create [specify the situation which is disturbing you], and so it is not real‘.” (Note: What if the “situation” that is disturbing me is a cancer diagnosis—is it really “true” that the cancer is “not real”?)

 

“Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, or accept them… or even welcome them… you may actively resist them… none of this will matter or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your resistance to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than that is required.” (Note:  Remember that Lesson 1 says that the body does not mean anything…) —Workbook pg. 2 #8, #9

 

Make no allowance for differences in the ‘kinds’ of things to which they (the ideas) are applied. The statements should merely be applied to anything you see… use it totally indiscriminately—only be sure that nothing you see is specifically excluded. One thing is like another as far as the application of the idea is concerned.”  (Note:  remember, you’ve been told that their use will show you that ‘they are true’, and Lesson 1 says, “That body doesn’t mean anything”…) —Workbook, Lesson 1

 

The Holy Spirit opposes the idea that differences in form are meaningful, emphasizing always, that these differences do not matter.” —Text pg. 115

 

“For the body is a limit on love. The belief in limited love was its origin, and it was made to limit the unlimited. Think not that this is merely allegorical, for it was made to limit you.” —Text pg. 364 (vol. 1(Note: so, ‘you’ are unlimited?? Really??)

 

BOTTOM LINE: The handful of examples listed above should suffice to prove that any student of “A COURSE IN MIRACLES” who actually applies the ideas and lessons of “A COURSE IN MIRACLES”, to real people with real problems is not “mis-reading the text”, nor are they “misinterpreting the Course” or taking the directives, “out of context”.

 

Again, the text of “A COURSE IN MIRACLES” states within it’s own pages that,this is a very practical course, and one that means exactly what it says…” —Text pg. 159

 

The rest of that paragraph, found on page 159 of the Text, has the supposed “Jesus” who dictated the Course to Helen Schucman saying, “I would not ask you to do things you cannot do, and it is impossible that I could do things you cannot do.  Given this, and given this quite literally, nothing can prevent you from doing exactly what I ask, and everything argues for your doing it.  I give you no limits because God lays none upon you.”  End Quote

 

Of course, nothing could be farther from the Truth, and I know from past experience– as a former student and teacher of the Course—that one is never farther from God’s Truth, than when one is reading, believing, and acting on the ideas found in A Course in Miracles.

+ http://www.newagedeception.com/resources/Does%20A%20Course%20in%20Miracles%20REALLY%20Mean%20What%20It%20Says.doc

 

Does Oprah Have the Last Word? New Age Thinking – Mp3s

http://catholicicast.com/2010/06/09/does-oprah-have-the-last-word-new-age-thinking-%E2%80%93-mp3s/
Sharon Lee Gig