Three Decades Later, This Classic Book About the New Age Is More Relevant Than Ever

“All forms of divination are to be rejected. … Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums … contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.” [CCC 2116]

‘Catholics and the New Age’ book cover
‘Catholics and the New Age’ book cover (photo: Servant)

Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa is an EWTN host who is president and founder of Ignatius Productions and senior fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Among his many books is Catholics and the New Age, a book he published in 1992 which tells of his own experience of the New Age movement and warning Catholics to stay away from it.

In a conversation with this writer in which he addressed this topic, he said, “New Age is a mega-trend in religion and it has received its newest impetus from within the Catholic Church.”

Father Pacwa described New Age as a combination of monism and pantheism which leads the individual to make himself God. Monism is the belief that “everything is one” and pantheism holds that “everything is God.”

The element of monism comes when New Age experimenters begin their search for an “altered state of consciousness,” seeking to break down the barriers between themselves and the world around them. This altered state, explained the priest, can be achieved by the use of illegal drugs, meditation and various breathing techniques.

“(New Agers) try to see themselves as one with the Universe,” said Father Pacwa. “They’re big supporters of such things as one-world religion and one-world government.”

New Age also has elements of pantheism, deriving its ideas from Hinduism and other eastern philosophies. If everything is God, then necessarily “you are God.”

Combining these aspects of monism and pantheism, continued Father Pacwa, the New Age believer then awaits the coming of the millennium or “New Age,” when “all people realize they’re God and there will be a new era of peace, love and tranquility.” Our problem now, believes the New Ager, is that we don’t realize we’re God and we resort to crime, war and violence.

Father Pacwa contended that New Age is a multi-billion dollar industry. The profits on such things as New Age books, retreats, meditation aids, items related to the occult, speaking engagements and the like add up to billions of dollars annually.

“Over half of the Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. hire New Agers to give seminars to their employees,” the priest stated. Father Pacwa discussed the lucrative work of a number of New Age advocates, including actress Shirley MacLaine, who has become rich selling New Age books.

New Agers believe in the concepts of karma and re-incarnation, similar to beliefs held in Hinduism. Transposed onto New Age philosophy, Father Pacwa opined, many New Agers believe that people are continually reborn into new bodies as they strive to reach their end goal of enlightenment — the realization that they are God. Christianity condemns such beliefs: “It is appointed that men die once, and after this comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)

Father Pacwa provided recommendations for responding to New Age believers. “The first way to respond is don’t. Let the [New Age] madness take its course.”

He reasoned that New Agers will recognize the irrationality of many of their beliefs and choose to leave on their own.

A second response is, “Know your faith.” The Bible clearly condemns the work of spiritists, he explained. Christianity and New Age are obviously at odds with one another.

Additionally, the priest recommended that listeners “dust off their Baltimore Catechism,” which explicitly condemns séances, charms, spells, believing in dreams, fortune telling or spiritists. It also frowns upon palm reading, astrology and use of Ouija board.

Father Pacwa explained that many of these activities which can play a role in the New Age movement are “forbidden by God,” giving his power to creatures. “If you’ve been involved in any of these things, go to confession and ask God’s forgiveness.”

The solution to the New Age movement, Father Pacwa concluded, is encouraging New Agers to study the Gospels and learn about Christ. People involved in New Age are searching for meaning in life, the true meaning being found only in Christ. People are often attracted to New Age for selfish reasons, he asserted, because they don’t want to believe in objective good and evil and “don’t want to obey God’s law,” preferring instead to create their own.