National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

The Law of God’s Action

Dave Durand on living the working life, Catholic-style.

BY Dave Durand

June 17-23, 2007 Issue | Posted 6/12/07 at 9:00 AM


I recently read a bestseller about the “law of attraction.” The book claims that positive thoughts are sent out to the universe and rewarded, while negative thoughts return negative effects. What do you make of this semi-spiritual theory?

The “law of attraction” is a very popular topic among motivational professionals right now. Over the past year, I have spoken to executives, sales people and homemakers who have referenced it. In fact I heard so much about it that I purchased some of the material to review for myself.

The bottom line is that the “law of attraction” is a New Age concept that basically replaces God with “the universe.” The idea has been around for a long time, but it resurfaces under new packaging every so often. As we speak, there are several books and other resources on the market popularizing its tenets. The best-known is The Secret, edited by Rhonda Byrne. It has spawned various multimedia spin-offs.

These recent retreads of an old fad are more compelling than any of their predecessors. They are filled with celebrity endorsements and testimonials from people with advanced degrees. As I reviewed my copy, I thought of Proverbs 15:21: “Folly is joy to the senseless man, but the man of understanding goes the straight way.”

It is ironic that people who normally shun dogma accept this stuff as gospel truth. Then again, lots of “law of attraction” materials are packaged slickly and endorsed by some of the biggest names in pop culture.

The greatest danger lies in the fact that much of what these materials propose is true — and it is difficult for a poorly catechized Catholic to spot where universal truths leave off and subtle lies enter in. For example, the idea that positive thinking can yield positive results is sound. What coach would lead a team to the championship by claiming they don’t have a chance or telling the players that they are no good?

It is also true that a man who thinks impure thoughts on a regular basis is likely to act impurely. So a “negative” thought can, indeed, become a reality. Likewise, an entrepreneur who dreams of building a business and acts on his fondest thoughts will surely set his “dreams” — his hopes and ambitions — in motion. He will realize at least some of what he aims for. But should “the universe” get the credit (or the blame)?

The “law of attraction” suggests that a person can simply think “wealthy” thoughts and then go to the mailbox and find checks, vs. thinking “poor” thoughts and finding bills, all compliments of the universe. But the universe is not capable of giving us anything without God. He created it and established the laws of nature.

Most often, our attitudes lead to actions that either merit results or penalties in the natural realm. Other times we get supernatural results as a result of Providence. God is interested in each of our lives and, as a loving Father, he is involved. He answers prayers and intercedes for the benefit of our holiness. It is also true that evil spirits can help people get “results” on earth.

When you feel inclined to “send out a message,” you should disregard the universe. Instead, pray to the Creator of the universe and the perfect provider for all your needs. What comes back to you may or not make you healthy and wealthy in this temporal life, but it will certainly make you more likely to enjoy the next one. And that’s for all eternity.

Executive coach and

author Dave Durand, author of Time Management for Catholics, is online at