Friday, July 3, 2015

Homosexuality: Judgment comes from God!

                                           -------------------------->Fr. Conrad Saldanha
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.    Isa 55:8-9

Humans, apart from the wisdom and grace of God, are the greatest enemy of humans, even collectively and in democratic situations. Even the choices they make are myopic and detrimental either to them or their children for generations to come. 

At a micro level, we disagree with the choices our parents make for us and then we commit worst blunders then them and the repercussions thereof are for generations to come.  Many a times we do not realize the repercussions because of the cushioning on account of the faults of the many that surround us.

The problematic:  when sin increases the increase leads to further increase because humans want to outdo one another.  

Our education teaches us to think wise, sound wise and be assertively self confident; as long as one is successful.  The only criterion for success is material gain: Achievements in school, in office, a better pay packet, a higher position in society, materialistic wealth, power and domination for self aggrandizement.

Who will attribute success to the many successful that have died ignoble deaths, lost to the world?  One such unsuccessful person in his own time was Jesus Christ.

He had a group largely comprising of unqualified fisher men and died the most ignoble death in the history of humanity.  Yet the truth that he died for stands firm forever for all ages and for all generations.  The fact that the church has stood in spite of the many corruptions and evil within its ranks for generations to come bears out a greater truth: the sacrifice of blood shed by Jesus Christ.

Kingdoms have come and gone but the church has withstood the many onslaughts despite the many corruptions within its ranks.  This is in not justifying the actions of the corrupt within its ranks, who have failed to live up to the teachings of Christ and act like Judases.

One such teaching of Christ which has withstood against the deception that the evil one throws up is the institution of marriage and family; Man and woman together are called into the union of marriage.

 But now evil men in high places in society and some in the church too want to break this doctrine of Christ under various deceptive opinions.  They want to give their view a sense of legitimacy through deceptive play of words.

Homosexuality is a prevalent and rampant disease of our time which needs not indiscriminate compassion but a discerned compassionate approach.  I say this because many in the church talk about a compassionate approach towards the homosexuals and which doctrine is misplaced.

When they talk about compassion they talk about rehabilitating them in positions of power in the church, without seeking to correct their orientation, which is detrimental and scandalous to the faith of the church.

For example; the bishop of an Archdiocese may rehabilitate his priest who could be a known homosexual and depute him for higher studies so that he may dish out a happy and gay message to the laity and on the other hand he may even condemn an ordinary priest who questions their wrong teachings.  It seems that the church is more comfortable with its Homo sapiens in homosexual heave!

Without moving away from its mission of compassion, which largely has been its forte, the church could then think about rehabilitating the individual after having sought their recovery through the implementation of the sound elements of its faith.

Does this love and compassion mean that the church should be silent about the evil of Homosexuality or the sin thereof?

Many in our generations, including certain leaders in the hierarchy have started trending the new language: “who am I to judge”?  Surely, in the subjective sense, we are no one to judge the individual who has committed an act as to the punishment and the legal clause to be applied, especially if that individual appears ever repentant. On the other hand we cannot be tight lipped about the judgment of God, as revealed in scripture and affirmed in the rich tradition, about homosexuality and which the canonical and inspired book clearly reveals. 

Hence one would not proclaim the judgment of God only if one doesn’t fully accept the revealed word of God, as God’s word (the Scripture is Canonical even for a Catholic). 

Every true Christian, that includes Clergy, religious, Bishops and even the Pope, are called upon to proclaim not their own judgments about sin and evil but what God has revealed through his word and as Catholic also through its rich tradition. If they find themselves in opposition to the revealed word or have difficulty in proclaiming what the revealed word has to say then they need to either repent or go back into reflection and acceptance of the word or step down rather than fool the people with a white robe and a dead spirit inside.

Primarily, it’s not your judgment or the Church’s judgment or the hierarchy’s judgment but it is the judgment of God and as Christians we are called to be faithful to God and not to somebody else’s opinions and reasoning’s:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor 6:9-11 (Bible)

On the other hand, when genuine Christian Leaders, in keeping with their faith, proclaims certain actions as sinful or morally as unacceptable then:

1.  They are not condemning (judgment of condemnation), but are only warning about an impending consequence.

Condemnation is the prerogative of God. A human being may be given that right to manage society or church, sitting in place of God.

Hence to look at it as a hate language or discrimination is based on false understanding of Christian faith.  Those within and willing to submit to the government of the church, then this judgment is accomplished in faithfulness to the law of God, so that the person is not lost forever.   Unfortunately the abuses of those who sit in such positions of judgment in the church are galore in our day; some of them judging on the basis of socio-psycho ideologies which have their basis in Satanism or a form of humanism which is myopic rather than basing themselves on the truth of the Gospel.

2.       It is an action of concern & deep love, in keeping with the Christian world view of eternal heaven and the consequences of sin in this life too, not only to them, but to others too and for generations to come.

3.       It gives an opportunity to the ones who are facing the problem to see their condition or at least to seek the truth about their condition and even seek help if necessary.  Many Christian have faced martyrdom in their action of love to warn the deviant; compare this with the self centered love of the homosexuals, which is a pure pleasure seeking exercise for selfish gain.  (cfr. Jn. 15: 13)

4.       It is this acceptance of the evil desires at work in them and the need to rectify that leads a person into close union with the Lord; who died, out of love for us in order to save each one of us from our sinful ways.

On point 2, there are enough scientific studies done on the evil effects of homosexuality and the impact it can even have on children who are raised up by such parents. This evil effect will only multiply.  And for a Christian such pulls of this disease is a result of the rejection of God at some stage in a person’s life or in the life of their family and hence the inevitable wrath of God is bound to fall on humanity.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth.” Rom 1:18

What sort of a world are we building with mentally disturbed children, confused on account of the different orientation of their so called parents of the same sex?  - A violent generation to follow, disillusioned and depressed, confused and confounded.

This is just one of the consequences of the effects of sin. When the word of God addresses something as sin, it means that it is going to have a severe negative repercussions on the state of human relationships with various elements of nature and more so with the other.

On the other hand, as in pt. 3, to silence a society, in the name of discrimination and hate speech so as not to refer to homosexuality in any form as sinful, is only aimed at creating an intolerant society by forcing an absurd tolerance on the other whose mission is only love and means no harm but good.

Also, just as in case of a person with mental sickness it is difficult to tell the same to them about their real mental condition, likewise there is now a similar trend among the LGBT’s to refuse to accept their condition, even at times being violent to assert their hypothetical rights.

A pathological sickness or criminal tendencies brings a person under custody of someone; either a parent or a doctor or a rehab institution or imprisonment, etc. What will happen to a society when such people who need to come under the custody of someone now assert that they have equal rights and be given freedom to contaminate society with their unnatural orientations; as if the present evil of such criminals in positions of power is not enough!

Very soon, in the name of human rights and freedom, nothing will be considered a crime in society.

If they refuse to accept their condition then those among them, who are genuinely interested in addressing their condition and would want a solution to their problems, will lose out on it. It is like the denial of any serious sickness till the person realizes or may not realize till the end that it is too late to address it.

No society can be built on lose morality, every sound and surviving society has been built on sound moral principles, if not then it has vanished from the face of the earth like Sodom and Gomorrah. (Gen. 18:22- 19:29). Thus we have the term Sodomy.

As for the church, the time is come to preach the gospel that heals and saves, through an earnest call for repentance and forgiveness of sin, with renewed zeal. It may result in a new wave of martyrdom for the faith and may the martyrdom not begin from the persecution that comes from within its rank.

Some quotes for further reflection in order to understand the mind of God as revealed in the Bible: Leviticus 18: 22-30; 20:13; 1 Tim.1: 8-12; Jude 1:7; Mt. 5: 17-19; Titus 2: 11-15; 2 Jn. 9,10)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Should Christians dabble with Yogic Exercises?

                                                                      >>| Fr. Conrad Saldanha

(I was compelled to write this article in keeping with the urgency of the situation and the sham response of the hierarchy in India and Mumbai to the issue that is eating into the church like cancer)

The world will celebrate world yoga day.  While the Muslims have raised their voice against the imposition of yoga, the voices in the government have managed to appease them by removing the suryanamskar from the routine. 

The Catholics seem to have welcomed the World Yoga day minus the day chosen, which is a Sunday; a sacred day for Christian.  Otherwise they don’t seem to have any objection to the practice of yoga.
Why would the Catholic Church in India not object to Yoga and the world yoga day?

It is solely because the hierarchy themselves, in search of the concealed “ray of that truth” and in seeking to separate the good elements from the bad are indulging in yogic spirituality.  Unfortunately it is part of the formation in many of the seminaries in India too.

Could it be true that even the Catholic Church at the UN voted in favor of the world yoga day without assessing the deceptive claims? (Some of these false claims have been answered in this article without highlighting them)

Besides the practice of it, many from the hierarchy seem convinced and have either written introductions to books on the subject,  written or commented positively on the subject, conducted sessions and classes or invited others to do the same and some of them are even exporting it to other countries, earning for their lavish lifestyles. Some have either started ashrams or are even heading institutions which promote and claim that they use yoga to reach out in healing for the people; which percentage of claim stands in need of verification because deception is always a fruit thereof.

How compatible is yoga, even the so called exercise form (Hatha Yoga) with Christian spirituality? We need to especially look into what seems to be the most innocuous part of it: The so called physical exercises.(In reality yoga is not mere exercises but always referred to as postures (asanas). 

Unlike Hinduism which is free to adapt to a dual or even a multifaceted spiritual lifestyle, a Christian is supposed to be singular in his focus and cannot be dual in his ways, thinking and action. The word of God is supposed to be the primary focus and a basis for discerning and accepting every thought or action and these thought and actions are to ultimately be subjected to Christ through the Church's tradition and magisterium.  It is so because we are capable of self-deception, no matter how intelligent and hence the historical action of the Holy Spirit manifested through the rich Catholic Tradition and Magisterium needs to be respected in all humility

There are well defined moral standards too for a Christian, whether he puts it into practice or not. One is supposed to do so without any duality.

All this, for a striving Christian, is made possible on account of the Salvation which Christ Jesus has accomplished on the cross. Jesus offers one the hope, the healing, the health, consolation and courage and above all the eternal salvation.

Therefore, Yoga in any form is unacceptable to a Christian who believes in Christ Jesus, whether it is the meditations or the postures thereof because Christ Jesus offers us the fullness of salvation and not a partial one.  

Critical Analysis of the claims of Yogic exercises from a Christian point of view:

Yogic postures are incompatible with Christianity because it is incompatible with truth. In other words, it doesn’t have a basis in truth.  For Christians truth is the guiding factor. Unfortunately many may have been deceived into falsity in search of that 'ray of truth' when they either through deception or wickedness of heart missed the fullness of it in Christ Jesus.

The reason why yogic exercises have a growing popularity is on account of its many positive claims; some of which could be true but many are deceptively false, especially from a Christian world view.

Yoga, it is claimed has nothing to do with religion:  While many of promoters of yoga claim that it has nothing to do with religion there are some yogi’s who have clearly affirmed that it has everything to do with Hindu religion.  Some even accuse and condemn the Christians of trying to separate yogic exercises from the Hindu system and then condemn the Hindu’s as damned. Even though they may be disputes as to its religious leanings but no one seem to dispute as to its origin, which is Hinduism.  It should be noted that even if a Christian tries to Christianize the system, it cannot be accepted since it is rooted in Hinduism. 

Hence from a purely Christian point of view it has everything to do with religion, if one finds it difficult to understand that then let me put it differently: “Yoga and the postures thereof along with its goals and aims opposes the Christian understanding of Man created in the image and likeness of God.” And hence any such opposition to the Christian faith is a new religion or cult.

Secondly, for a Christian it is important to identify the source for further and right action. In the scripture, in the temptation narratives of Matthew and Luke when Satan comes to Jesus with the pure written word from the Bible, Jesus could have adopted the new principles of modern man in search of the 'ray of truth' in other religions and separated the written word of God from him and observed it diligently but instead rejects it because the source and the application of it is not in God’s interest and thus in the interest of humanity. 

Hence anyone claiming that the church has not taken a stand is only abusing his office to deceive the ignorant laity.  Similarly those suggesting that it can be safely practiced apart from its philosophy are already walking in deception and if they are shepherds then they should humbly step down for leading the flock astray for long and for acting to be wise in the ways of God.

Let’s arrive at the truth about the exercises from the existential point first:

The west, steeped in secular, scientific education and materialism, had failed to understand the Christian doctrine and many of them were left empty in their spiritual or psychological quest for God, peace, happiness, solace and relationships.  They had the money to buy everything but didn’t realize that the fruit of the gospel was freely available to those who seek it in humility in Christ.

Many entered into the deception of yoga because it claimed that it has nothing to do with religion. Their rejection of religion mired in the pride of education made it difficult for them to see the truth.  They may be right in their thinking from their perspective but specifically from a Christian viewpoint it has everything to with religion as you will see from the explanations below.

The Church, in such circumstances, too failed to communicate the gospel of hope to them.

Hence their materialistic pride thought them that they could buy everything, including truth and in return they got the deception they wanted.  (cfr. Rom. 1;17 ff)

No human being can attain God on his own wisdom, knowledge or efforts unless they humbly seek it, with perseverance: “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart.” Jer 29:13 (Bible)

In the same vein yoga is considered scientific too. Though there are some verifiable facts about yoga and certain things about yoga can be verifiably affirmed but some the psycho-social benefits can be disputed about. What is apparent or may be initial benefits or a deceptive feeling of well being on account of partial difference may be claimed as achievements.

For example: India should have been a sporting giant on account of its roots in yoga and practice of yoga in sports but it is definitely a great giant in corruption and creating an index of unhappiness.  We still need foreign coaches and trainers to train our sports personals.

The following are the practical reasons why one gets into yogic exercises and how compatible is it with the truth and with the Christian world view: 

1.     To fight stress or for de-stressing: Most of the stress we experience is due to hurts, un-forgiveness, guilt, every day conflicts and trials of life or taking decisions which are incompatible with one’s abilities. If a Christian can handle these through prayer, confession and sound counseling then does one need to practice yogic exercise to de-stress? I have seen countless number of people being healed of the symptoms of stress through the right approach to prayer and through the Sacramental ministry of the church.

2.     To attain peace of mind: Yoga doesn’t offer anyone Peace of mind and those who claim that have not really experienced the real peace which Jesus offers to his followers. In fact what yoga definitely offers is a state of calmness and this is often or even deceptively referred to as peace. It is like a deceptive baker selling his bread as a cake because the natives have never seen a cake.

Since one may imagine that I am only disputing about words; let me explain: If one is disturbed on account of a public insult then yoga deals with it through its method of either breathing or mantra or physical exercises, either by ignoring it, rationalizing it or suppressing it. On the other hand the Christian deals with such disturbances in prayer, either through surrender, forgiveness, letting go of what one has held back. Further, to help the weak do it we have the wisdom of the cross and the grace thereof to attain the peace that surpasses all understanding. (Phil 4:6)

3.       For good health: Exercises do give us good health but do they deal with the problem at its root? What is the main reason for most of our ill-health? The few reasons for ill-health:
-        Our not being reconciled to the one true God is the primary reason for the ill-health we face in life and this ill-health working in us can ultimately lead us to eternal destruction, even though we may live long on account of our disciplined life of right eating, right sleeping, and right exercises.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.”  Rom 5:8-11 (Bible)
-          The bitterness of un-forgiveness can be also a big reason for ill-health and most of our sickness. What would be better: to eliminate the problem or to ignore or rationalize or suppress it or may be just rise above it?
-          The guilt of wrongdoing could affect us and lead to some deep emotional problems too. But yoga will seek to ignore guilt as bad and thus suppress or ignore it rather than deal with it  as catholic would do through the confessional.
-          The pain of deep hurt and rejection can leave deep emotional scars which again could be suppressed through physical exercises.
-          The deep rooted fears could be calmed too by yogic exercises with seeking to eliminate the root reason for it.
-          Likewise, many other emotional issues are not dealt with in the true human spirit and thus yoga rejects the truth of man.
Yoga through its exercises seeks the physical and spiritual bliss by ignoring the reality of the above mentioned problem.

4.       To lose weight/ slim down: On the one hand it is claimed that yoga brings about harmony between man and nature and deal with climate change and on the other hand it does encourage the reduction of weight through exercises; which means indulge yourself and then exercise to lose weight. Compare this with the ascetic spirituality of being frugal with our eating and drinking and thus donating and support the poor and orphans. Which would be more environmentally friendly?  Most of these yogi’s are such vegetarian fanatics that they would want to preserve the bovines in order to increase the green house gases in the universe but will not give up on their milk.

5.       To remain young and youthful: The new self is self-confident, seeks to achieve, believes in oneself and adopts a spirituality that helps them in their selfish ambition to be achievers at any cost. There is very little of the moral principle at work.  What is forgotten is that one could remain perennially young and youthful but lost forever into eternal damnation. Because scripture reminds us that God had reduced Man’s lifespan so that he may, reflecting on death would think of his creator and pay him homage (cfr. Gen 6:3; Ps. 39). Whereas yogic exercise has to lead you the other way: long life and youthfulness but eternal damnation. 

6.       For better performance: Indeed yoga could help one perform better in rote learning and may be alertness and in concentration minus the moral principles and emotional control! Unless one has brought their sense of morality along on account of their family or school background one is lost in the maze of a deceptively glorified idea. Much of the sound discerning wisdom is in the morality of life’s principles.  In India a cow may be of more value and may be worshiped than a human being.  I have seen how concern for human life is poor and the karma principle justifies the indifference. 

The immense evil in Yoga vis-à-vis the human being is remarkable: Though yoga may offer some of the benefits which I have acknowledged and described above but in keeping with its tall claim it ignores the moral principle in human nature and even the emotional nature of man.  The claim of peace, de-stressing, equanimity, etc is at the cost of ignoring of the human conscience. What sets human beings apart from the animal world is their conscience which at times even needs to be formed so that he may respect the other, not cheat or give false hopes and promises and make lofty statements of assurances and not fulfill them and give different value or meaning to the same word of assurance given.

All that unity and harmony that it claims to achieve in man is done minus/without reference to the conscience of man which is either ignored or suppressed or harmonized in oneself in order to create a new situation of health, harmony, goodwill, etc. But what appears apparently to be good is nothing but a creation of an intolerable world view that will not tolerate opposition to its ideological claims once it attains full power.  

Finally, a hint of the evil in certain physical exercise revealed in Scripture: “In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying, "Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us."  This proposal pleased them, and some of the people eagerly went to the king. He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.” 1 Macc 1:11-15 (Bible)

Choose:I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days,” Deut 30:19-20

For a still more detailed write-up on the subject I plan to write a book. Those interested could kindly write to me at with name, address and the number of copies. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Deception in Yoga

                                   ~~~Fr. Conrad Saldanha
(May Jesus bless you as you read it prayerfully. Also Pray and reflect on God's Word daily with Fr. Conrad  @  )

The practitioners of yoga have often claimed that Yoga has nothing to do with religion. They could be right in their own eyes because they who practice it look at the world in such a manner.  But for a Christian, it does not communicate the mind of Christ and His body, the Church.  Yoga is the lie of the devil and his deception that is infiltrating the church under the guise of being un-harmful and propagating health benefits which in some cases may be true.  What should be understood is this:  what is contrary to the Christian faith has to be contrary to the very nature of man and thus in the final ending, harmful for humans and the human race as a whole.  Health is not the highest value of life but faith is. One cannot exchange ones eternity for apparent good health and relaxed body here on earth.

And then, one can enjoy better health benefits when one receives the sacramental grace offered through the ministry of the church. Similarly, some claim to have tamed the stuff and call it Christianized yoga, this is a greater deception when one understands the relationship between Truth and lie; a relationship which I am also discussing in my article.

There have been many who have written about the evil of yoga and the reason why one should shun it, though I am unaware of how many have striven to write about it from an existential anthropological angle. Thus the aim of this exercise is to analyze the whole issue from an existential-anthropocentric point of view. 

The reality of ourselves from an anthropological perspective: How are humans different and what makes them different from other living creatures? 

Human by nature have the capacity to reason and express themselves in varied languages and words. They have a capacity to remember, imagine and create which is unique to their persona. Each is so different from the other that no two human beings even if they look alike are the same in every attribute. They may be similar to each other yet not the same as each other.

Hence in the light of the above, the spirituality a human being imbibes has a marked impact on his persona.  If he practices a spirituality that is steeped in mantra, concentration and focus on one object, which could be the breath or a mantra or bodily sensations, then it in no way promotes the uniqueness of his creative abilities. There are better ways to achieve the goal of concentration and relaxation rather than having concentration as its goal.

On the other hand, the aim of Christian prayer is not concentration, though the ability to concentrate better could be the fruit thereof.  Jesus never gave his disciple a mantra to utter. To approach God by way of a mantra and / or to think that we should attain God by using a mantra is not only an insult to the persona of the created being and also to a God who has created us with such varied wisdom.  We who communicate using a language with many words have to reach such pitiable state in order to communicate with God our creator, is an inhuman exercise. This method of communicating means to go against our very persona; which expresses in varied words and language, with emotions and feelings, with non verbal gestures and expressions. The animal and bird kingdom speak in a mono language each according to their nature speak their own sounds (mantras) to communicate.

Some are foolish enough to compare the Rosary or the holy ejaculatory prayers to a Mantra. If one understands the Christian doctrine on God then one would be both watchful in its practice and welcome the beauty of such devotions.   While the Rosary is based on sound Christian doctrine, repeating the words about Mary as revealed in Scripture, its recital never invites one to concentrate. Rather it is an invitation to ponder like Mary on the Mysteries of the life of Jesus, with Mary with us on the pilgrim path. Thus, it should lead us into that contemplation which allows the mystery to work in us through constant revelation. Hence, we do not lose our persona in order to claim oneness with the universe or the cosmic creation whose consequence is often a make believe world ridden in escapism or a form of detachment that suits one’s mindset.

Therefore, Christian meditation or pondering is not an abstract activity that trusts itself but a reliance on a creator in a creator-creature relationship. It is relationship in which we allow the creator to communicate with us his wisdom without which we cannot grow; our vocation to transform the world is thus carried out in union with the God through the Holy Spirit. This is contemplation and is unique to Christianity. A Christian who remains stagnant at only meditation is still a yogi and has not understood the reality of his faith. There are many practitioners of yoga who claim that they now understand faith and scripture better. I pity them for such pride which prevents them to be open to the revelation of God, as in contemplation. This makes them trust their own reasoning’s, with fabulous logic and yet with a sound foundation in falsity and lies.

On the other hand, all the formulated Christian prayers have their sound root in the doctrine of Christ and his tradition. All Christian prayer that is approved and based on sound doctrine is valid and acceptable to God, even if the one reciting it is not doing so with efforts of meditating nor concentrating. It is nevertheless considered effective irrespective, but this degree of effect may vary to the extent to which one is fervent. Thus in Catholic circles we have the concept of ‘ex opera operato’, the heart that is fervent and the intention with which it is prayed adds to the effect. As explained, the rosary is also a prayer that recognizes the limitation of the created being and humbly acknowledging this, calls on God to intervene through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But if one meditates on the mysteries and recites as per the doctrine of the Catholic Church and then one enters into a state of contemplation allowing God to speak through the Mysteries which are a compendium of the Gospel.  

There are other areas of differences too between a Rosary and a mantra but this should suffice. 

Unlike a yogic approach, the Christian approach to God is personal. One approaches God with the aim of either asking or communicating or seeking a relationship.  Hence it is not an abstract approach to an abstract concept of god. On the other hand the yogic approach ends up ‘with me’ as the centre of the universe; tat tvam asi or aham brahamaasmi (Sanskrit: you are that/ I am he or I am the universal being/ ultimate reality)

In a Christian approach every bit of surrender and submission is strongly rooted in one’s ego which seeks to die to itself and in the end is raised up to a new person, in God’s own image and yet with one’s own uniqueness and quality. Never will a Christian at the end of his prayer experience claim that he is ‘He’ or “I am one with creation.”- Pantheism! 

Yoga’s origin is Hinduism and is steeped in a mystery of incoherent understanding of the truth.  The Hindu concept of the universe and life can often lead one to doubt in its many beliefs. Yoga comes as an aid to rescue such a mind set of confusion.  Doubt in Hinduism is looked down upon as negation of the rational mind that is not still. Therefore it has to be calmed by either the discipline of exercises, mantra or hyper activity as in karma yoga or focusing on objects, a word or breath.  The mind that is hyperactive needs to be controlled and focused on in order that one may achieve concentration and altered state.  This practice is a great affront to the assimilation and understanding of truth.

Human beings are born to relish and celebrate beauty and truth.  Yet truth eludes the human mind in the many reasoning’s of the mind.  A glimpse of the truth is enough to give a false sense of satisfaction and to be deceived and be led astray.  It is like being so enamored by the beauty of the rose that one fails to see the beauty of the plant. The Christian understanding is this: Truth is not immanent to man and hence he cannot arrive at the truth even through a brain storming session of high profile intellectuals.  Yet it is seeking and in knowing and understanding the truth and acting on truth that he finds his real freedom and happiness. In truth is his fulfillment.

Truth is objective and to be understood not as we choose to understand but for its own sake. The moment we seek to understand truth as we want to understand it then we are not doing justice to truth. For the Christian truth is also dynamic, constantly revealing itself and contemplation in the power of the Holy Spirit is the way to assimilate it.

Whereas the Hindu concept of truth and its understanding is this : one is in the truth already and it has to be realized through meditation and yoga, i.e. by attaining knowledge, achieving enlightenment and realization through yoga is the method to arrive at such consciousness. Good and evil are almost non-existent concepts and truth diminishes into an abstraction wherein everything is considered to be a part of the cosmic universe. Morality which is an important component of truth is low on the quotient and is ignored totally in the spiritual achievements of the yogi. Suffering and poverty, the existential reality, is attributed to one’s karma or previous life and one’s destiny is already pre-ordained. Detachment here means being separated from the realities and confrontations of daily life. Pain, hunger, desires or carnal manifestations are part of the manifestation of the universal being. How to explain concrete realities of poverty and pain and sufferings? Attribute it to one’s Karma=deeds done in previous life.

How then does one handle matters of truth and morality and the existential realities of life? An ordinary human being confronts this reality or may rationalize about it and if necessary may even take  an aggressive posture to deal with it. The Yogi on the other hand deals with it through the structure and methodologies which boastfully is affirmed as being well rooted in ancient religious wisdom. This yogic methodology ignores the basic reality of life and enters a world of experiences which is termed as the god experiences by some or a state of bliss or nirvana, etc. by others.

Truth sought through the subjective human conscience is totally ignored. Hence many among the Clergy who have trodden this path have been highly wary of the confessional and have even abused the confessional making a mockery of the sacrament besides suppressing the truth of Christ. Morality, which communicates truth, is the dynamic ray of the truth of life.

They who have dabbled with such occult practices have often been in the forefront of attack against the prayer group spirituality, retreat centers and the sound teaching of Christ and the Catholic faith in matters of sin and morality.  “They induce guilt” is the popular allegation and why will they not when they are in a state of deceptive bliss achieved through human effort, i.e. yoga, vipassana, etc.  They ignore the reality of the self that finds true fulfillment in truth; which includes the moral element too.
The most deceptive element of this spirituality is the love that they often talk about. Of being kind to everyone and doing good but the most practical aspect of this love and kindness is overlooked: morality, truth, forgiveness and commitment is of no or less value. Relativism and perspectavalism are objective truths, a contradiction in the contradictions they hold on to. It is a way of willfully shutting out the truth about God arising in the conscience of every human being. “Undeniably, those who willfully shut out God from their hearts and try to dodge religious questions are not following the dictates of their consciences, and hence are not free of blame” (GES. Para 19:3, Vat II).

Jesus, the perfect one, reveals man to himself (cfr. GES 22, Vat. II) which includes his sinful and immoral state cut off from God. He came to set this imbalance of relationship right with God and one another through the reconciliation of the cross.  He speaks to the conscience of every man especially those who have submitted to the obedience of faith to lead a life worthy of his calling by the power of the Holy Spirit received in Baptism. The Holy Spirit constantly working a programme of renewal, through repentance faith and surrender, transforms us from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).

Hence, reason and doubts are not shunned but meet their satisfaction in the search for truth in Christ Jesus who claimed to be the way, the truth and the life and the one way to the Father and no one goes to the Father except through him (Jn. 14:6).

In the light of the above we can say that Yoga then deceives at two major levels. In the first major and immediate way, it deceives the self through its methodologies whereby one through its practice unknowingly walks the path of escapism in an experience which can be compared to that of a drug addict; a altered state of mind. There are some who have come out of it and acknowledge this element of the psychedelic experiences.  This is further affirmed by experts who vouch that the experiences of yogic arousals are the same like that of psychotropic hallucinatory drugs. In India, in some place there are a band of yogi’s who achieve their spiritual goal through the use of such drugs.

The second major deception is that of relegating everything to the deep, the subconscious, and building a wall surrounded by an experience of deception.  This wall is often difficult to break through both for the practitioner or the one seeking to help the victim of yogic philosophy through the truth of the gospel. Unless the practitioners cry unto God to liberate them from such self imposed bondage which they have put themselves in they will never be free.

In my experience in ministering to people with such background of dabbling with the New Age, I have often come across cases of such deception. They reason and have great confidence in their ability to reason out things scientifically and logically.  But they have forgotten the important drawback of logic, viz. that of basing oneself on a wrong premise: All that is logical is not necessarily the truth but the other way is true, all that is truth is always logical, but the yogi finds it difficult to grasp it and sees them as foolish.

There was this person who was involved in the art of living. He had come with problems in interpersonal relationship wherever he went.  He was often discouraged from practicing the calming exercise, the yogic methodology of calming oneself.  But after many reminders and prayers and not without much arguments with logical reasonings that he came one fine day to confess that though he practiced the calming exercise yet within himself he always had this raw feeling of agitation and becoming boisterous often. 

A total renunciation doesn’t comprehensively handle the problem. At our retreats I would encourage those who had dabbled with such occult to renounce or strictly follow the discipline of the retreat. I would tell them that Christian silence is different from that of the yogic silence. Here in the Christian silence you are still communicating to the living God while the yogic silence is communication with an abstract reality with abstract techniques and methodologies.  Those who obeyed the discipline of silence as followed at the DD retreats emerged successfully contemplating the beauty of God in all that they did but others went away empty. 

Another case was of a woman who had gone for a vipassana (Buddhist form of yoga, which focuses on the breathing and bodily sensations. Since her conscience was compromised and was into activities which have its roots in Marxism, she had great difficulty to comprehend the truths of the faith and hence couldn’t deal with her larger fears and anxieties since they were suppressed in the deep subconscious and hence suffered many fears and pains.

As mentioned at the outset, one may ask; how come they who practice these New Age practices receive healing. My contention is this, the healing may be real but it is again rooted in deceiving the body.  While the healing received through the practice of Yogic exercise is different from those received from the practice of yogic meditation.  When a certain nerve causes pain the doctors have two broad options whether to allow the processes of healing through medicine or other forms of palliative care or go for a surgery to cut the pain causing nerve. Both options are not of equal value and significance, the former, if possible, is always a better option.  Yet the doctor and the patient could say; “look I want quick results”, this can lead to long term disaster. Likewise the yogic healing is for this life and cuts us one off from the eternity of life which God has prepared for those who seek their Salvation from him who paid a great price to offer it to them; the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.

Similarly, the effect of yoga can lead to immediate gain but an eternal disaster for ignoring the truth which Jesus came to reveal in order to give us eternal life.

The Catholic Church warns about the evil of yoga through its various documents. Here below I would like to mention the two documents:

1) In 1989 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (SCDF) came out with a letter called “Orationis Formas” on some aspects of the Christian meditation.

Some ask whether we could separate the exercise from the yogic meditation. If you want to eat the food products of Fukushima after the radiation risk in spite of knowing it then it is to your destruction. Similarly, since we know for sure that the exercises, however healthy and beneficial it may be, but, ultimately has its roots in Hinduism, leads to destruction, then we are opting to walk the treacherous path. “It is difficult to separate the individual elements of New Age religiosity – innocent though they may appear – from the overarching framework which permeates the whole thought-world on the New Age movement.” (JCBWL: A Christian reflection on “NewAge”: Chp. 4:1)

Some prefer to practice what they call the safer and good elements of yoga, yet the above document, which I have quoted from, clearly warns about the dark and grim reality. Similarly, you cannot say to yourself I will take the name of Jesus while doing the exercise.  It is like using a vessel used for unclean purpose for a noble purpose. Do not abuse the most Holy name of Jesus and crucify him again in your hearts for shortsighted selfish gain.

Truth has to be sought for its own sake. We cannot say now we understand truth better because of yoga. A contaminated vision cannot make us see things better even though that person may claim that he can see well. Similarly, those immersed in yoga and its philosophy may see things better through the glasses yet it is not a perfect vision in comparison to the direct vision. If the glass is tainted then the seeing also becomes tainted, though the one seeing through the taint may think that it is normal to see in such fashion. It is like this Alcoholic, with wife and children left to fend for themselves, who once told me  that he was not wrong by drinking; because he was only harming himself, so why should his wife and children complain and nag him. The self was more important to him than the others towards whom he had a responsibility and commitment.

Yoga’s base as discussed above is a deception and not based on truth. A lie can’t make truth better. Whereas truth can enhance a lie to make it look better and more convincing; a good lie always contains a good bit of truth. In other words; lie added to truth only makes it a greater lie full of deception, likewise truth added to lie again qualifies for the same state. Truth stands alone and does not require the help of lie to qualify or enhance it.  

Jesus is the truth that saves. The incarnate eternal Word of God is also the revelation of God to the human race in need of the truth that saves. He fully reveals man to himself and has given us knowledge about himself and us. He has revealed to us our true worth and yet in his great mercy and love revealed to us the great mercy of God to save us from our state of sin; a state that prevents us from knowing the truth unless we turn to him in faith. Faith is the foundation to know him; faith is also the beginning to receive this revelation of God. Faith which is expressed through all humility can even lift us up to his level because God is pleased with such humble trust. He does this by pouring into our hearts his life and love (Rm.5:5) so that through his Spirit of Sonship we may continue in the grace, daily nourished at his Eucharistic table and striving in the world.  

If you have dabbled in yoga, vipassana or any other New Age spirituality then it is high time you said no to it and renounce this before the living God and turn to Jesus in all humility for help. Wait on him and ask him to guide your life by giving you his Holy Spirit, who he promised will guide us into all truth. (Jn.16:13)

Prayer: Father your Word is truth, forgive me for not accepting your word as your word and thus not allowing you to speak to me through it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The need for a correction to the Inner-Healing Process

Fr. Conrad Saldanha                                                        Part II
When teachers give homework for the child to work on they generally know that the child is capable enough to do it. Now, if the parent does the homework and leaves nothing for the child then the child will never grow in being independent and know and realize the intricacies of life.

Likewise, a parent will not always carry a child and make them walk. The real joy is in seeing a child walk and even seeing the child walk for the first time.

Similarly, any healing process that seeks diligently to remove the obstacles that apparently seem to hinder can lead to dangerous pitfalls.

If the crosses and the obstacles of daily life are taken out of the way, the most vicious spirit of pride could reign in our hearts.“The beginning of man's pride is to depart from the Lord; his heart has forsaken his Maker.” Ecclus. 10:12

Speaking of the dangers of pride, St. Paul reveals;  “And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:8-10

The debate to know this messenger of Satan we leave it to the experts for the moment. But what is strongly brought across in the above is the direct revelation in vs9 which assures every human with weaknesses, the power of God’s grace released on the cross to attain perfection. Not in achieving perfection based on human priorities but a perfection that is based on God’s priority. This should be the goal of all healing. A healing that makes us forget God and enables us to leave him behind is detrimental to our call of true discipleship.
Another point of contention is this: Does healing have a higher value than the faith we profess? There are many who have deviated from the faith by even proclaiming healing through every kind of New age methodologies such as Yoga, Vipassana, Pranic healing, Cosmic energy, and other such therapies which are contrary to the faith. When challenged the fruit of such practices, especially the healing they have received thereof, is provided as a justification for continuation in such philosophies and therapies.

The Psycho-analytical methods used in inner healing can be fraught with such danger. Its rash application and a heavy usage in prayer groups can be compared to the pre-matured handling of the cocoon which results in the death of the worm.

In the Bible we do not have explicit teachings on the aspect of inner healing.  But like some doctrines of the Church which finds implicit mention in some statements of Scripture so also the concept of inner healing could be routed in forgiveness and seeking the Lordship of Jesus in every area of our life, which includes the past, the present and the future; for he is a God who was and is and is the one to come.  He is God who has created all things and so the old is gone and the new is ushered in by his power. Many a times the emphasis is predominantly on the inner core or the subconscious making it comfortable to the long standing scare, pain or anxiety. There is a certain sense of well being and a feeling of wholeness which may ultimately lead to healing.

Hence any inner healing which follows an abstract methodology, detached from God (though God is mentioned yet in the process what comes across is that we can do it without him) by way of pure therapeutic techniques needs to be banned from the Church and needs to be condemned.  It is unfortunate that some seem to apparently have Christianized the process but yet it is in many ways no different from the New age methodologies in the whole process and approach. Hence practitioners of this type of inner healing go about freely testifying to other new age spiritualities and practices too. What is practiced can be termed as value based spiritualities, without a need for divine intervention.  

The extent to which the Lord is put into the whole process is important and necessary. You cannot separate him and at the same time he needs to be given the legitimate place. The Lord as being primary and not our healing; this will communicate the major difference between therapeutic approach and divine approach to it. So also the human priority should not be a hindrance to the responsibility which Jesus has placed on his followers to carry the crosses of daily life, which in turn is a participation in the Cross of Christ.

It is our many weaknesses which make us humble enough to trust him more than ourselves and this trust is necessary for our salvation.

One of the sound bases to discourage these psycho-analytical processes of inner healing is in the dynamics of the Christian calling; God in Christ Jesus has called us not because we were perfect but in spite of our sinfulness. Scripture in Romans 5:6 reminds us that “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”

Therefore of prime importance is that change of heart and sinful attitude of hostility towards God which prevents us from recognizing him and following Christ.  Hence the sinful tendencies (concupiscence as understood by St. Augustine) and the lack of clarity on sin and wrongdoing may remain for a time and perhaps for a long time to come. But the call to stay on course in following the Master should grow in intensity. The stronger the current that seeks to lead us away from loving God and following him, the stronger should be our efforts and perseverance to stay on course in the journey of life with Jesus.

The over emphasis on inner healing can be an obstacle on this journey and can take our focus away from the Master who has accepted us and called us to follow him. This primary act of repentance requires a mere change of heart and attitude towards God; from that of hostility to one of willing obedience and love.

In this journey, we know that humans have a capacity to exceed themselves beyond their limits and this is further enhanced with a helping hand from Jesus our Savior and the Church which like a huge ship is on course in the same direction.  The food for this journey is the Word and Sacrament. 

We even see beauty and meaning in life when we see humans in spite of their many handicaps winning the battles of life’s journey, though many times they do so for a worldly crown which is perishing. How much we need to do this for Christ who assures us of a surer crown, for those who strive.  St. Ignatius of Loyola calls it Magis: what more can I do for you God, and I would like to add, in return for all that you have done and continue to do for me?

I know of situation and cases where people have been possessed and going through all sorts of oppression in their struggle over sin and right action. They easily stand condemned in the sight of men for sinful action and wrongdoings. Those who have been given the power to heal and set the captives free from their bondages have instead opted for the path of judging them as criminal and bad witnesses of the Lord. Perhaps, if they had looked at the log in their own eye then they would never have stooped to condemn the chosen ones of God. The visible sins of men are more irksome to him then the invisible weaknesses. What the world and people have to say are the new criteria for judging the grievousness of sin.
But God who knows the inner reality of each one of us, the one who looks at the heart of a man and judges unlike man who looks at the outside, also knows whom to show mercy and why. (Rom.9:15; Ex.33:19) Hence his judgment is never unjust or predestined.
As a result, a person who has not experienced inner healing, should never brood over his or her poor fate, nor should the one who has never been for one or failed to receive healing at the inner healing session itself; instead it should increase their resolve to follow him with their many faltering.
It is the Lord that matters and how we love him. Our weaknesses are never a impediment but can be a boost to seek his face more. They become opportunities to offer up to the Lord our bodies as a living sacrifice as we fight and struggle against the many cravings of the flesh.

Prayer: Lord I thank you for accepting me into your family. May I strive in my daily struggles against my many sinful tendencies to live a life worthy of your calling.