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Archive for May, 2011

Faith Challenges:  the Renewal of our Minds

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Praying In the Spirit

Recognizing our need for a renewed mind

In this post, I take another look at the scriptural theme that we discussed in my prior article regarding our conformance to the “world” as being one of the primary impediments to fulfilling our purpose as Disciples of Christ. In that sharing I commented that the way we counter the enticement of the flesh to the ways of the world is by surrendering our very “selves” to the Holy Spirit in cooperation with His Grace so that He can begin the process of renewing our minds to enable us to discern the will of God’s in our lives.

Without such discernment and yielding to the will of the Father, we cannot truly become a living sacrifice because we will not have placed our own self-will on the altar of Love, as St. Paul exhorts us through the cited scripture. Unless we crucify the flesh (especially our egos) we will not be able to be fully responsive to carry out God’s will in our lives – because the ego is so deceptive that, unless we disconnect from it completely, even the religious things we do will be done to satisfy our “selves” and NOT for the Glory of the Father and His Son.

Jesus does not intend for us to bear this burden alone – indeed He offers to ease the burden by asking us to be yoked in Love to Himself (cf., Sweet Yoke of Love). For it is only in being yoked to Him and His Love that the Holy Spirit can begin the process of renewing our minds.

Yielding to the renewal of our minds

Yielding to the renewal of our minds

In this posting I intend to flesh out just what the “renewal of our minds” entails so we may more easily accommodate ourselves to the Graces the Holy Spirit will bring into our lives as He conforms us more and more to the image of Christ (cf., Rom. 8:29) by leading us to follow in His example:

…..

“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

  Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

Who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death—

even death on a cross.” (Phil.2:4-8)

The renewing of our minds, then, is the process the Holy Spirit uses to bring us to the point where we no longer have to ask ourselves. “what would Jesus do?” but instead, without constraint and in response to the agape Love that has  been deposited in us (Rom. 5:5)), we instinctively think and do what Jesus would do in similar circumstances. In bringing us to this point the Spirit works in the particular story of our life experiences to gradually bring the mind of Christ into manifestation in our lives so that we as the Apostle Paul may also say, “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”  But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor. 2:16 )

Our access to the mind of Christ is not just an upgrading of our own natural mental processes but an entry into the divine wisdom of God through direct revelation by the power of the Holy Spirit. For as St. Paul also says,

“… a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,  ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.’ For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God…” (1 Cor. 2:6-12)

For most of us, the renewal of our minds is indeed a difficult task, for first of all we must divest ourselves of the mindset that has been ingrained in us by the world culture since our youth – the self-centered attitude that we must “look out for number one” because if you don’t look out for ourselves no one else will. And the associated attitudes that say: “It matters not how straight the gate/how charged with punishment the scroll/ I am the master of my fate/ I am the captain of my soul” and, that, you must do whatever it takes to survive in human society regardless of the moral fences you have to break.

No my brothers and sisters the TRUTH is that we are not our own (1Cor.6:19-20)! We have been bought at a price through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross and the ONLY way we can fulfill our destiny is to yield ourselves to HIM and to HIM alone so that He and HIS LOVE reigns in our hearts. We must make a decision to renounce the world and the flesh and walk in the Spirit through the renewal of our minds.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”  (Rom. 8:5-9)

In order to set your mind on the indwelling Spirit, you must rid yourself of all those attitudes that place you and your “self” at the center of your universe. You must renounce the false god of “self” and place Jesus at the center of all your life events, thoughts, actions and motivations. If you are to bear fruit for His Glory you must be firmly attached to the TRUE VINE (John 15:1), Jesus, the son of the Living God! For as He says, “without me you can do nothing” (Jn.15:5), and, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, No one comes to the Father but by me” (Jn.14:6).

Divesting ourselves of self-sufficiency, then, becomes one of our greatest challenges because it goes against the world mindset, But if we are attached to the TRUE VINE, He will be the provider of our strength, our resolve, and the faith that is required for the task. If we detach our selves from the vine we will be on our own and thus disable ourselves from brining forth fruit for His Kingdom!

Now, such a life dedicated to the Lord cannot be reached unless our relationship with Him deepens and we are able to discern His voice in us, through every moment of our lives (cf., On Hearing His Voice …) This level of communion and intimacy with the Divine requires that we go deeper and deeper in prayer through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the Light of His Word reaching our hearts.  We cannot come to this level through mere perfunctory religious activity or rote recitation of scripted prayer — it involves our total giving of our deepest self and the emptying of our hearts to Him so that He can place His desires in us. Even in this He will help us if we give ourselves totally to Him.

It is very important brethren that we permit the Holy Spirit to activate and inspire our reading of His Word. For, it is only through His inspiration that the Word can break through the veil of our human minds and reveal and activate the truths He wishes us to act on in faith. The more we imbibe of His Word and interact with the Holy Spirit, the more and deeper our relationship to Jesus becomes to the point where we like Paul can also say, “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).

Now, it is true that all those who abide in Him have access to “His mind”, but if we let the cares and worries of the world occupy us, the “mind” of Christ will never be able to surface in our lives. We, like Jesus, must set time apart from the world to still our hearts and commune with the Divine so that the Spirit of His Love that has been poured into us (Rom. 5:5) may take the appropriate place of dominance in our lives.

As our trust and communion with the Lord increases so will our ability to activate our faith to bring forth fruit for His Kingdom out of the circumstances that He places before us in our lives. So many of us don’t realize that the world systems in which we are embedded affect our ability to live out our faith. This is because the negative emotions and attitudes the world promotes weaken our faith, just as Peter’s faith was weakened by the roar of the waves and the wind when he attempted to walk on water at Jesus’ behest (cf., Matt.14:28-31). For that reason it is important to ignore whatever attitudes the world is attempting to impose on us and to place our entire focus trust and faith in Jesus and His Word regardless of what is going on around us!

Through the renewal of our minds and our renewed fellowship with Christ we develop an increase in trust in HIM, His promises and His directives to us. In this way whatever the world says or thinks is placed into the irrelevant background of our lives, as it rightly should.

As our faith and fellowship with Christ increases through the renewal of our minds so also our ability to enter into worship is increasingly enhanced by the Holy Spirit. Although we may not realize it, the activities we currently categorize as “worship” are really only the means the Lord uses to bring our spirit to the level of awareness where we can enter into and experience true worship “in the Spirit and in truth”. One of the main reasons we are hindered is that our natural minds “get in the way” and act as a veil before the Holy of Holies. The renewal of our minds rips out that veil of self-consciousness and permits us to enter into the Spirit (or God-consciousness) without our human intellects getting in the way.

As our minds continue in the renewal process we will find ourselves being drawn more and more by the Spirit into the true worship that the Father desires (cf., John 4:23), a worship where we lose all consciousness of “self” and are drawn in to a spiritual union with the Divine – a state where He and He alone matters and NOT the attitude and postures of ourselves or others around us. Worship, true worship, only starts when our surrender to Him is so total and complete that our only awareness is of Him and of being enveloped in His Glorious Presence. It is the point where we, like Jacob, personally experience a “Beth El” (cf., Gen.28:10-17) and we can, like Jacob, say ” truly I have been in the Presence Of God”! The Lord has graciously provided the spiritual gifts that enable this entry into His Presence – one of these being “Praying or Singing in the Spirit“. Praised be His Holy Name!

Now, you may say or think to yourself, ” but I know the life I have lived and I am not worthy to enter into His Presence”.  That thought, in itself, brethren, is exactly what qualifies you to enter. For He himself said, “the first shall be last and the last first” (Matt. 19:30), whereas to the Scribes and the Pharisees, who thought themselves to be “first” He said, “…even the prostitutes and tax collectors enter in before you”(Matt.21:31). Yes you are qualified because, “…blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”.

Recognizing your own unworthiness indicates your poverty of spirit and Fear of the Lord. But the blessing comes with recognizing that He took on your unworthiness to give you His worthiness.  All you need to do is throw yourself at His feet, repent and accept the robe of righteousness that He offers, His Robe of Glory that lets you come before the Heavenly Throne. Let yourself, then, be enveloped in Him and His Mercy by surrendering yourself to Him and His Love. Do this with a pure heart and you will enter into the Kingdom, and inherit the Promise of the Father!

In closing, brethren, I exhort you to deepen your relationship with Jesus so that you may fully realize the spiritual strength He provides us in facing the difficulties of life. He has not left us orphans (Jn. 14:18) to deal with the problems that face us on our own strength. Rather, He has sent us His Holy Spirit to indwell us, enlighten us, strengthen us and guide us through all the intricacies of our lives to reach the point where we are made whole in every sense, in spirit, soul and body. He desires to share with us every portion of our life experiences, our failures, and our successes, our pain and sorrows as well as our joy and happiness. He has a purpose for us but He can only achieve His purpose in us if we let Him.

As long as we want to be in control of our lives in both the material and spiritual spheres we will be disconnected from the TRUE VINE and really be “on our own”. I urge you therefore, do not cling to the world, do not cling to your fleshly pleasures and ambitions, cling only to the VINE. For only in abiding in HIM can the purposes of God for you be realized and you can bear fruit for His Glory!

Do not be afraid then of yielding yourselves to the Holy Spirit and receive all of the Gifts He has set aside for you – for other wise, how can He work in you and through you, if you, in your own willfulness and self-centeredness, refuse to accept the very Spiritual Gifts that will enable you to fulfill His purpose?

May the Lord renew your minds and bless you in all your undertakings for His Glory….. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2011])

RECOMMENDED LINKS

<>  Sweet Yoke of Love

<>  Releasing the Spirit

<>  Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

<>  Hearing His Voice…. and Obeying it!
<> Praying In the Spirit
<>  Responding To the Spirit’s Call
<>  The Kingdom of God Our Spiritual Inheritance

Other Articles

~ Breaking the Mold

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False Spiritual Practices and Conforming to the World

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

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Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ,

One of the greatest challenges we Christians have in living the Christian life today is that we are immersed in the world’s culture that surrounds us and unfortunately that immersion tends to open us up to forces that lead us into compromising our faith and our walk with Jesus.

As disciples through a loving relationship with Jesus, we have no problem with willingly offering ourselves as a living sacrifice – as indicated in the first verse of the introductory citation above. The area where we tend to have the most problem however is in keeping to the purpose and intent of the second verse, that is, keeping ourselves from being conformed to the world. What we don’t realize is that we cannot be faithful to the first verse without doing what the second verse requires.

The only way we can cooperate with the Grace of God in His work of transformation in us is by separating ourselves in spirit from the world’s systems and culture so that Jesus, and He alone, rules in our hearts. If we let the world encroach on what and how we think and desire, then Christ cannot be fully in control of our lives, thus, keeping us from discerning God’s specific will for us. Only by detaching ourselves from the “world’s lifestyle” through the renewal of our minds can we truly discern God’s will to do what is good acceptable and perfect and so carry out His purpose in us.

Now, the Lord has placed us in the world so that we can minister His Love to the world but, in doing His will this He does not want us to be caught up in the world’s way of thinking and behaving and emulating their sinful behavior. He desires that His desires and His will so take root in us that all our thoughts, word and actions are completely aligned with His will, while yet being immersed in the world.

Always keep in mind, then what Jesus said to His disciples:

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you”. (Jn.15:16-19)

Jesus told His disciples not to be discouraged even though they had to live in the world, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (Jn 16:33)

And John the Apostle tells us that, “… whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.” (1 jn.5:4)

However, although, Satan, the former ruler of this world has been cast down through the atoning death of Christ on the Cross and through His glorious resurrection, the evil one still exerts his power over the world through deception, lies and the lust of our fallen flesh. For this is the only way that his rule over this world can persist since he no longer has authority here unless we permit it. For, as His disciples, baptized in water and empowered by the Holy Spirit, each of us has a specific delegation of His authority over the limited sphere of influence we have been given in each of our lives to extend His Kingdom of Love and to resist the evil one.

After His resurrection “Jesus came and said to them, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt.28:18-20)

At His Assumption to the right hand of the Father he also said “…but you shall receive power [authority] when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (acts 1:8)

We, the Church Triumphant, the baptized in the Holy Spirit, then, have been placed in this world to be His witnesses and to enforce the Victory of Our King through the truth of the Gospel and the Power of the Holy Spirit, until He Himself comes in Glory to reign and rule over His Kingdom. We fulfill our calling not only by preaching and teaching the Good news but by living out our lives in such a manner that the Love of God is clearly manifested by our loving sacrifices for each other and for the world as we sow the seed of the Kingdom to bring forth fruit for His Glory.

However, although we have, through the Spirit, received New Life in Baptism, we still retain our fallen human nature and it is mainly this weakness that the forces of darkness use to compromise our faith and our ability to serve as soldiers for Christ in fulfilling our roles to be ministers of His Love. It is through the lustful incitements of the world, which is still in darkness, that the evil one uses to disable us from bringing forth the Kingdom of the Father’s Love.

The battlefield of this struggle between the evil one and the world that he controls is in our minds and in our hearts. Whenever we compromise our principles and attempt to live our lives with one foot in spirit and the other in the world we will lose – and Christ loses our services through our defection to the World because we cannot serve two masters (cf.,Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13).

If we are to serve Him we have to be totally dedicated to Him and to single-mindedly obey His directives through Love. We must be yoked to Him and to Him alone! We CANNOT be double-minded with respect to whom we belong (James 1:8). In fact, James in his Epistle, rebukes those are in this adulterous state: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8).

Likewise, we are all challenged by the Apostle John to be single minded in our loyalty, our mission and our purpose and thus to overcome the world in His Name! “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1John 1:6-7)

Now, I must tell you the bad news, that within today’s church many naïve and well-intentioned Christians are compromising their faith and permitting themselves to be double-minded and conformed to the world by unknowingly partaking of the spiritual darkness of the world. Most faithful Christians are, by the grace of God, able to discern and avoid the most evident evil works of the world: drugs, sexual immorality, greed, pride, anger, contention, strife, and dishonesty, and not be caught up in that area of the world lifestyle. However, the forces of darkness, through deceit and subtlety have been enticing otherwise faithful Christians into dark deceptive spiritual practices that permit the enemy to influence their inner spiritual loyalties.

One of the reasons this goes unperceived is that we “egalitarian” moderns have somehow become insensitive to the fact that there are spiritual forces of darkness that are as much a part of the current world system as the works of the flesh which are so self-evident. Somehow in our lopsided modern thinking, there are no such things as evil spirits therefore conclude that all things spiritual must be of God, a philosophy which disables our intellectual defenses and judgment regarding false spiritual practices promoted by those evil spirits that seek to control us and keep us from bring forth the Kingdom of God into this world. Of Course, this is just another way for the enemy and his cohorts to conform us to the world (their world)!

And how do these evil spirits get past our defenses? Well they merely present themselves as alternative paths to an assortment of what they claim are enhanced spiritualities and syncretistic methods, that claim to be extensions of Christian spirituality (which they are not!). These New Age pseudo-spiritual practices, in fact are merely a means to entice us to open our spirit to the wiles of the forces of darkness and their destructive deceptions and thus to keep us from the true spirituality that comes from a deep and transcending relationship with Jesus, who is the Way (the only Way), the Truth and the Life!

“Jesus said to him [Thomas], ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ “. (Jn 14: 6)

While it is true that those Christians who entertain these New Age practices1 are merely seeking to satiate a spiritual hunger that is not being currently supplied by the church, it does not excuse them or prevent the evil one from perturbing up their lives with spiritual deception. How is it I ask myself, that these hungry and thirsty Christians prefer seeking fulfillment in these dark heretical mysteries rather than accept the genuine, supernatural, and magnificent supernatural Gifts of the Spirit that are our inheritance from Pentecost?

Why is it that these so-called Christians have not experienced the power of the real spiritual nourishment that is available through Sacrament of the Eucharist – the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ?

After all did not Jesus say. “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) ?

Brethren, I believe part of the answer is ignorance – ignorance not only of the dangers of dabbling on the occult and eastern religions, but also ignorance of the power and magnificence of the spiritual life that is available within the Church of God through the inspired Word of God, the Sacraments, and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Sadly, the problem stems from the fact that even some clerics in the Church have never experienced the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit and His Gifts and therefore are unable to properly teach others or lead others the true way of enlightenment and spiritual understanding.

In order to help the situation I have added a new section to the “Resources” cited on the right hand margin under the TAB: 5. More! / # Dangers of Deceptive Spirituality. This section contains several articles that will provide some useful information to those that are seeking to truly worship God in Spirit and the Truth!

In making my case, I present to you, below, an article from this section of a priest, who commendably has given His testimony about how he wandered into these New Age practices before He entered the priesthood and how it took him several years into the priesthood before he totally understood the perilous path he had taken and was delivered from this error.

May the Lord Guide you with His Word and His Spirit as you seek to worship Him in Spirit and in TRUTH!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2011])

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Catholics and the dangers of New Age movement
Exerpted from:    http://www.catholicmessenger.org/articles/2011/01/12/opinion/guest_opinions/doc4d2ddb6eb021c530661137.prt

How I was delivered from New Age Practices

By Father Bill Kneemiller
Published:  Wednesday, January 12, 2011 10:55 AM CST

Fr. Kneemiller Comments on New Age practicesThe topic of New Age movements, once a budding campus phenomenon, is now mainstream and as close to us as our local bookstore or DVD movie. New Age refers to forms of spirituality that draw from old systems of knowledge such as Zen, Gnosticism (secret knowledge) and Eastern meditation.

New Age concepts and ideals are even becoming part of our vocabulary. I know this terminology well, as I had a former involvement with Eastern meditation practices before my reconversion to my Catholic roots. I have been steeped in both traditions. So, I may have some insights for Catholics who are dabbling in New Age practices.  I have not publicly written about this before because it has taken time to come out of this New Age involvement.

I was blessed to get a solid Catholic education in St. Charles, Mo., attending Catholic grade school and high school, and being taught by dozens of faith-filled priests and religious Sisters. After high school, I was ready to see more of life. As far as my faith life, Catholicism was OK but I wanted to get a spiritual high. At the University of Missouri I was intrigued by the philosophy of yoga, and in reading my first yoga book “Heaven Lies Within,” it seemed then to fit with me, the new “seeker.” After all, didn’t Jesus use these very words? After about a year of stumbling around with self-help yoga books, I started practicing the Eastern meditation technique, transcendental meditation. From this date in the early 1970s, there followed about 18 years of doing everything with this program. I traveled to half-a-dozen countries spending months, even close to a year overseas at a time studying the technique and advanced programs.

Also, I thought I was meeting the coolest people in the world such as Deepak Chopra, now a self-help guru in his own right, and Johnny Gray, author of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” At the time, it seemed great to me that Catholic leaders such as the Trappists in Massachusetts were practicing this meditation technique along with priests endorsing it. Everything seemed OK at the time because I was taught it is just a technique which enriches everyone’s own religion and the mantra used for this meditation practice was a meaningless word. It would be decades before I learned that mantras are names of Hindu gods.

After about 18 years of Eastern meditation involvement, I started going to a family rosary, at first, out of curiosity. I was taught “prayer with the heart” and it completely changed my concept of prayer from being a rote practice to being a conversation and relationship with Christ. With my newfound rosary friends, I enjoyed going to Catholic conferences and events. The first change I noticed was that I wanted to be around people who believed in the Catholic faith; the conversation and New Age-culture started sounding unusual, even strange.

After a few years, the Catholic culture won out, and I just stopped all involvement with Eastern meditation. I did wonder at the time if I could just walk away; was there any closure? Five years of seminary followed, then, soon after ordination, I started attending the healing Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. One of the priests there offered a prayer of deliverance for me at that time, and recommended that I denounce the mantra, and that was a huge step in cutting my former ties with Eastern meditation.

My story then picks up in 2010, after a tour as a military chaplain in Afghanistan, when I attend a healing conference in Chicago. This conference is held at Mundelein Seminary every August and is for priests involved in the healing ministry, along with training for exorcists. There I meet Father Bob Thorn, a diocesan priest from Wisconsin who had a similar history as me, being a former meditation teacher and now a Catholic priest. Fr. Thorn was helping with reconciliation one evening, so I waited, last in line to go to confession with him. I thought, “Well, Fr. Thorn may have some insights about the Eastern meditation movement, and his subsequent re-conversion to his Catholic roots.  I also thought that when we talked, it would be a friendly social visit, such as “Ha-ha-ha,” wasn’t that kind of crazy back then in the ‘70s, and our involvement with meditation and everything …”

But as soon as I sat down with Fr. Thorn, there was no “Ha-ha-ha” — only seriousness. I told him I was involved as a meditation teacher back then as he was, and he looked fairly concerned. He said, “Bill — you still have that Eastern meditation in you.”  He went on to explain that I needed to denounce every Hindu god that is invoked in the meditation ceremony.  I realized he was right. The transcendental meditation ceremony is filled with dozens of invocations to gods, such as ‘Brahma, Shiva’… you name it; it’s there in the ceremony in which everyone is taught the technique.

So, Fr. Thorn and I went to the conference directors and asked them if they could pray for us that evening. Fr. Thorn downloaded the meditation ceremony from the Internet, and we were ready to be prayed over for this intention.

Three priests helped with this, including one from Canada and one from Peru who I understand to be two of the most skilled exorcists in the world. The priests recommended that I denounce each god and proclaim Jesus Christ as savior, which took about a quarter of an hour.  I did this, and the priest did a casting-out prayer. The healing session was a profound gift and grace. Wow, the effects of spiritual healing! That night, I slept like a baby.

Then, the next week, and in subsequent months I have felt lighter and freer than I have ever experienced in my life. The next week at the healing Mass in Davenport, I gave a talk about healing from New Age practices and spent an hour-and-a-half afterwards hearing confessions and praying for people who had similar involvements. I could never recommend anyone using Eastern meditation for any reason at all. But, I also now see many intrusions of New Age thought, or re-formulated Hinduism in our culture, and some in our parishes.

“Many people are convinced that there is no harm in ‘borrowing’ from the wisdom of the East, but the example of transcendental meditation should make Christians cautious about the prospect of committing themselves unknowingly to another religion (in this case Hinduism),” according to a 2003 Church document entitled: “Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the New Age.”

“There is no problem with learning how to meditate but the object or content of the exercise clearly determines whether it relates to the God revealed by Jesus Christ … or simply to the hidden depths of the self,” the document states.

Our Church’s teachings remind us that we have in the person of Jesus Christ a trustworthy and sure guide, true man and true God, and source of all goodness!

(Fr. Kneemiller is pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Hills and St. Mary parishes in Lone Tree and Nichols.)

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