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Such clearly seemed to take place at the Bishop Howard Hubbard Interfaith Chapel at the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York, recently, where, according to at least one report we have received, a Haitian voodoo service was allowed. We have no further details. According to the diocesan spokesman, Ken Goldfarb, the chapel is not under diocesan control, and repeated attempts to educe an answer from the college itself have not as yet borne fruit (despite promises of a quick reply). But if true it may be the most extreme example in what are proliferating reports of alternate religions, New Age-like practices, and outright occultism in Catholic settings.

Another example: a conference in Louisville, Kentucky, called "Earth Spirit Rising" (June 8 through 10). The conference -- which features a famous witch from California named "Starhawk" -- will propagate the view of earth as a living organism. "This shift is a change towards Earth Wisdom," says the website. "It represents a movement towards recognizing that nature provides the ultimate answers to the questions of our times."

Sponsoring "patrons" of the event include the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Cincinnati Region; Sisters of Providence, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana; Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana; Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania; Sisters of the Precious Blood; St. Mary of the Springs; St. William Church; the Franciscan Sisters of Mary; and the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

The sponsoring "friends," meanwhile, include Sisters of St. Joseph of LaGrange, Illinois; Sisters of St. Joseph of Wheeling, West Virginia; the Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University; and The Well, Sisters of St. Joseph, La Grange, Wisconsin.

The New Age long has been seen in ecological movements that incorporate paganism by means of "Mother Earth" (as opposed to defending it as God's Creation). Christians argue that only God Himself has the ultimate answers -- and that while protecting the environment is crucial to the good Christian, introducing pagan notions (particularly nature spirits, and especially witchcraft) is contrary to the doctrines of Catholicism -- and condemned in the Bible. 27.

It is not known if local bishops and the Vatican are aware of the nuns' participation.

Meantime, a hullabaloo ( erupted during March when a conservative Catholic -- long a participant in Marian activities -- confronted a yoga teacher at Blessed Pope John XXIII Church in Fort Myers, Florida,. The yoga sessions were being held inside a chapel in full view of those worshipping in the church itself.

While mainly used in the West to "stretch and strengthen muscles, control stress, and find peace," yoga, notes one wary Christian website, is from the Sanskrit word Yug, meaning "union" with the Divine higher "self"). The involvement of self or God as an impersonal universal energy is a prime tenet of the New Age.

Moreover mantras used in the meditative practice often invoke pagan spirits by name, and deliverance ministries warn that methods used to clear or "blank" the mind can offer a vacant home for spirits.

It can be traced back to Patanjali, who was a religious leader. Shiva, one of Hinduism's three most powerful gods, was known as 'The Destroyer' -- he's called Yogi Swara or the 'Lord of Yoga.'" […]
The National Catholic Reporter [NCR] report, below, is in response to the US Bishops’ condemnation, see pages 76 – 81, 94-96, of the practice of Reiki healing.

The NCR, see pages 35, 79, is a left-wing publication that supports New Age, liberalism, relativism, religious pluralism and the heresy of modernism.

8. Reiki practitioners take issue with their bishops

April 19, 2009 By NCR Staff

The U.S. Catholic Bishops last month advised Catholic chaplains, health care facilities and retreat centers not to promote or support Reiki therapy, a Japanese alternative healing practice.

The practice of Reiki, the bishops’ said, "finds no support either in the findings of natural science or in Christian belief."

"A Catholic who puts his or her trust in Reiki would be operating in the realm of superstition," the bishops said.

The statement, issued by the bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, can be found on the U.S. Bishops’ web site.

After its publication, NCR asked two Catholic women who have been practitioners of Reiki to share their experiences. Both said it has enhanced their spiritual lives. Neither sees it as conflicting with their Catholic beliefs.

Lauri Lumby Schmidt tells her story. She is a Reiki Master. She says it has allowed here to continue the healing ministry of Jesus. (copied below) [see page 30]

Maureen Griffin tells her story. She has been a Reiki practitioner for nearly six years and says it has been an invitation to hear God's answers. (copied below) [see page 32]

Submitted by Fr Martin Fox on Apr. 20, 2009: The NCR takes a fascinating stance in this controversy: Science? Eh! Christian doctrine? Not determinative. What matters supremely is personal experience--a good personal experience, in this case of Reiki, is what determines right or wrong! Perhaps the NCR will next apply this method to astrology? The "Prosperity Gospel"? Indeed, how far can we go, in "resolving" so many difficult issues we face as Catholics, where the Gospel confronts our times--materialism, quest for power, idolatry of choice, or the age-old retreat from reason itself--by simply applying this method: empirical evidence is not important, nor is the rule of Faith, but merely personal experience! Why, we need never have called the Council of Nicea.

Submitted by Michael Bindner on Apr. 20, 2009: Father, don't discount personal experience. When all is said and done our aggregate personal experience in encountering God, despite and not because of the workings of the Roman Catholic Church and its oftimes heavy handed doctrinal positions, is the most enduring proof of the existence of God. By the way, personal experience really is the only way to judge the truth of Astrology as well. There is no doctrinal proof either way - except for the fact that the Magi were likely astrologers and found Christ based on astrology and not some heavenly apparition. The doctrinal issues for Reiki and Astrology are about an adult approach to what could be paganism. The objection to paganism in the Torah was about not being taken advantage of by a class of pagan priests and cultists who did unsavory things, like sacrificing children to Baal. There is none of that in either Astrology or Reiki. Paganism is not likely even a part of Reiki (don't know, haven't been through the ritual to unleash the ability). Paganism in astrology shows more about the origins of paganism than astrology. Unless you are willing to concede that there actually is a pagan pantheon on Olympus, the reality is that astrology and human archetypes probably had more to do with creating the pagan gods - in that way paganism, including its eastern form, Hinduism - is about understanding human nature. Call it proto-natural law if you will. We don't have the first three commandments for God's sake. God is perfect and has no stake in the game. We have these commandments for our own sakes. Our highest worship, which is sung, is refrigerator art - and the songs of the angels are slightly better refrigerator art - when compared to the harmony of the Divine Being. To think one's religiosity is essential to God is to repeat the sin of Lucifer, who thought himself more important to creation than the Christ. Let's not make that mistake, shall we.

The Prosperity Gospel is definitely a matter to look at doctrinally, since it has a moral element rather than a strictly personal one. It has to do with greed on the part of preachers and a justification for ignoring the poor. It is much the same as Brahmanism in that respect. It can be denounced for both doctrinal and practical reasons.

Submitted by Arlene Flaherty, OP on Apr. 20, 2009:

It'd be great if the Catholic Bishops would try Reiki- maybe it'd help what ails them. 28.

Submitted by Anonymous on Apr. 20, 2009: I think the U.S Bishops need to stop trying to micromanage the lives of Catholics and start setting good examples by modeling the behavior of Christ, by loving rather than condemning. Instead of making more and more laws, let’s do a little fulfilling of the law. I have experienced Reiki and received quite a bit of pain relief from it. I did not turn away from my faith because of it. Why don't the Bishops go to the drug companies and tell them most of their drugs are not based on pure science, but manipulated science. Belief in much of so-called "modern medicine is just as superstitious as Reiki. I go to the Arthritis doctor and what happens. He tells me to live with it and take pills that cause heart attacks. This kind of stuff has to stop or the bishops will continue to lose more and more credibility until no one will listen to anything they say at all.

Submitted by Anonymous on Apr. 20, 2009: I agree. It reminds me of my trip to Scotland. While on a bus tour in Edinburgh, the guide proudly showed us a bronze statue of the inventor of anesthesia who was from Scotland. He told us that the church promptly came out w/ the statement that Catholics could not use anesthesia b/c it was unnatural.

Submitted by Anonymous on Apr. 20, 2009: This is a tough area as I have seen the good and the ugly with Reiki practitioners. The Bishop has valid points and I support him. Too many weird people crossing the line with their own philosophy about what the church is and not, no following the law or Bishop's etc. I had a horrible experience as people claim to be mystics, practice in new age ideology.

Submitted by Pam DiDente on Apr. 20, 2009: Rose, FYI Pam

PS These Bishops are not representative of the Catholic church even though they think they are.

Submitted by Snowdrop on Apr. 20, 2009:

Sadly a lot of small business people will be affected by this, however a friend of mine who is also in the Reiki business told me that she is well aware of practitioners who are non-catholic and tend to really emphasize a "spiritual" side. Some who often invoke "spirits" and "souls" of the past. She does not agree at all with such practices. And she is aware that some continue to do so without the person receiving the treatment even knowing. I have received the treatment from my friend, but would advise caution since eve people who profess to be "catholic" or "christian" can harbor other beliefs as well. That is why I agree with the Bishop's caution. I feel sorry for my friend because its her only source of income...

Submitted by Henk Gal on Apr. 20, 2009:

I'd suggest that the American bishops also go after the doctors, the psychologists, the psychiatrists, all kinds of counsellors, social workers, psychotherapists, etc., etc. There are weirdos among them all, and maybe, the bishops would take the time to weed them out, or at least issue some more cautions because we lowly lay men and lay women are not smart enough to discern what's right or wrong, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, etc.

Submitted by Anonymous on Apr. 20, 2009: The U.S. Catholic Bishops apparently don't have all that much to do, do they? Other then investigating the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Religious Congregations in the United States, what are they doing during this month of April, proclaimed by our President Barack Obama as Child Abuse Prevention Month? Are they unaware that the problem of sexually abusive clerics continues? They can't really think it is "now behind us" as Wilton Gregory stated so emphatically some years back, can they? Don't forget that there is a big rally in Albany, New York tomorrow about the Markey/Duane Childhood Sexual Abuse Bill which includes a one year window for past crimes and sins. What ever happened to the two or three reports about the rape and sexual molestation of women religious specifically in the African countries but around the world? Nothing has been heard about them since they were shelved in the late 1990s.

Dear Bishops, Did you ever even begin an investigation or did you just decide that it wasn't so, said it wasn't so and so it never existed? I suppose, like the question of the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church, it is similarly not to be discussed. Who fiddled while Rome burned?

Submitted by Brother Ed on Apr. 20, 2009: Are the bishops losing it entirely? Nothing to say about nuclear weapons, etc. but they can take a position on Reiki? What's next? A condemnation of the killer whale?

Submitted by Anonymous on Apr. 20, 2009: My first thought about the bishops' concerns about Reiki is that they do not have any experience with Reiki. The stories written by Lauri and Maureen describe the benefits from their experiences and practices of Reiki. I'm glad they shared. Mary

Submitted by Nancy in Fort Worth on Apr. 20, 2009: The bishops' experience with Reiki is that a lot of WOMEN administer it; ergo, it must be bad, evil, full of witchcraft stuff, etc.

If the practice was offered by only men, or primarily men, it probably would have never been discussed.

And thanks to the poster for aligning the curia with Nero. Excellent analogy. I fully expect to hear from them eventually that female circumcision practices in Africa might not be such a bad thing...

Oy Vey....Senility has struck. Any hope left that the "people" will take back their church from these misguided souls?

I left the convent years ago because I realized "change" would not come from within. Each year the Church seems to take a step backward into the middle ages. This borders on the ridiculous.

Submitted by Anonymous on Apr. 20, 2009:

Reiki is merely another subject the Vatican knows nothing about. It joins the long list of authoritarian mandates fostered by or directly attributable to Benedict XVI. There is no logic behind the pronouncements from the Vatican and it all seems to be power moves to intimidate the entire church. Even the best priests simply "cave in" and don't comment from the pulpit about what is happening. It becomes increasing difficult to celebrate the liturgy (or are we supposed to say "hear Mass"?) when the clergy is pretending that nothing unsettling is coming from Rome! 29.

Submitted by Anonymous on Apr. 20, 2009:

I experienced the benefit of Reiki last October when I underwent a bilateral mastectomy following my third cancer diagnosis. There is no way I could have gotten through the surgery and recovery without reiki. My practitioner was Catholic and we called upon the angels for healing and protection. They were there for me and I definitely experienced their presence. I would love to tell the bishops my story; they need a reality check.

Submitted by Anonymous on Apr. 20, 2009: When we had the priest scandal, the bishops reverted to new regulations for the Liturgy. Now that they are taking on Reiki I wonder what issue they are trying to avoid or cover up. Personally I think they do not have enough to keep them busy.

Submitted by Anonymous on Apr. 20, 2009: From where I sit, if Christians practicing Reiki are abandoning the philosophy/religion that goes with it i.e., all the stuff about "controlling a life energy" of some sort, but rather they remain in Christian prayer during the use of touch, then they have stumbled upon a variation of "charismatic healing." From the descriptions that I have seen of effective "Christian Reiki," Christian practitioners would do well to search the work done, especially during the late 1960s through the early 1980s, on healing in the Charismatic movement. The effects such as heat and relaxation appear to me to be the same effects extant in praying over people for healing and in people who are "slain in the Spirit." Christian practitioners ought to abandon the "Reiki" philosophy/religion and name and instead investigate what Christianity has to offer. My best guess is that certain patterns of touch are helpful in Christian healing prayer and that is where if they team with a good theologian, current "Christian Reiki" practitioners will find their true ministry. Just as their are some approaches to Christianity whose beliefs and practices are not part of Catholicism, nor aligned with the church, there are, of course, similar divisions in Reiki, and some, indeed, may not be compatible with the Church. But to universally reject all of Reiki because of this would be the same as rejecting all of Christianity due to the beliefs/practices of "some" Christians. I have been a Reiki practitioner for ever 20 years, and a practicing Catholic for nearly 70, with a degree in Theology from a Catholic university (University of San Diego) and have never seen a conflict between the two. I believe the bishops need to re-evaluate their position and offer an apology to Catholic users and practitioners of Reiki. Perhaps next their Eminences, Graces, and Excellencies can investigate the doctrinal and scientific bases for Osteopathic medicine and Chiropractic, or simply pharmacology, especially psychiatry, which have proved so helpful in the past. Committee meetings should be investigated next.

Submitted by Mark Andrews on Apr. 20, 2009: The bishops know as much about Reiki as Reiki practitioners, and the recipients of Reiki treatments, know about theology: damn little.
9. 'Reiki allows me to continue the healing ministry of Jesus'

Lauri Lumby Schmidt April 19, 2009

A woman stricken with Multiple sclerosis came to me for a Reiki treatment some years back upon the recommendation of her son. Her granddaughter had been killed in a tragic accident a year earlier and her husband, who could no longer handle the stress of her disease, had recently filed for divorce. She was bent over with grief and stooped from the crippling effects of her disease. As I listened to her story, and witnessed the despair and hopelessness in her face I doubted that Reiki would provide her any relief. As we entered the treatment room, I asked myself, “What good can I possibly do for this woman?” I was then reminded to never doubt the healing power of God!

When the treatment was complete, she stepped down from the treatment table. I will never forget what I saw. She stood up straight and in her new found stride there was a sense of purpose and ease that had not been there before. Her face glowed with a look of new found peacefulness and serenity. She actually looked joyful.

She then sat beside me. “For the first time in my life, I feel completely at peace,” she exclaimed. “The pain of the grief and the loss have simply melted away. I feel like I have been resting within a warm vessel of peace and love.” She said she had never felt such peace, “ever.”

With her remarks, I found myself moved to tears. I cannot fully explain what happened that day. I only know that on that day, this woman experienced the grace of God’s healing power, and it came through me.

Regardless of the limitations some might perceive within the philosophy or practice of Reiki, this incident proved to me, beyond a doubt, that Reiki can be a powerful tool through which God facilitates healing. No one can convince tell me otherwise. It is for this reason that in spite of the prohibitions set forth by a U.S. bishops’ committee I continue to openly share Reiki. While some might accuse me of disobedience, I am content in knowing that to God, the ultimate Authority, my obedience is true.

As a Reiki practitioner and instructor of “Christ-centered hands-on healing practices,” I was deeply saddened by the release of the March U.S. bishops’ “Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Practice.”

The bishops’ committee proclaimed that “since Reiki therapy is not compatible with either Christian teaching or scientific evidence, it would be inappropriate for Catholic institutions…or persons representing the Church…to promote or to provide support for Reiki therapy.”

It saddened me to see that a healing practice that has been widely embraced and shared through Catholic retreat and spirituality centers by lay and religious alike will now be effectively burned at the stake. Being neither theologian nor scientist, I cannot begin to argue the doctrinal perspectives of the bishops involved. Nor can I challenge the scientific studies that were consulted in issuing their statement. However, as a woman of faith, I need neither theologian nor scientist to decide for me if Reiki is, or is not, of God, or whether it is, or is not, an effective tool for healing. 30.

From the time some 20 years ago when a friend introduced me to Reiki to the day 10 years later when I found Catholic women religious with whom I could study, to the moment that God opened the door for me to practice Reiki at the Catholic campus ministry where I was employed, I knew that this was the path God had ordained for me.

In the nine years that I have actively shared Reiki with others, this discernment has been confirmed as I have witnessed the profound presence and action of God revealed in the sharing of this remarkable tool.

Along with other Catholic Reiki practitioners, I consider Reiki to be a way in which we can accept the call to continue the healing ministry of Jesus. In discerning this path, we are saying “yes” to being the body of Christ. Support for this healing ministry is readily available through scripture in the ways in which Jesus commissioned his disciples and in Paul’s exhortation on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Luke 9: 2 Jesus sent them to proclaim the loving counsel of God and to heal the sick.

John 14: 12-14 Amen, Amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these because I am returning to the Source. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do so that our Creator may be glorified. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

1 Corinthians 12: 7-11, 27 To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another expression of knowledge…to another faith…; to another gifts of healing…; to another mighty deeds; to another prophesy; to another discernment of spirits; to another variety of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as the Spirit wishes... Now you are Christ’s Body, and individually parts of it.

While support for this healing ministry is found through scripture, my journey has not been an easy one. I have learned that practicing a truth that is not “explicitly handed down by the magesterium” [sic] can be a dangerous business. By a fearful few, I (along with other Catholic Reiki practitioners) now have been accused of heresy, simony, witchcraft, sorcery and of communing with Satan. In each moment, however, that I become afraid or begin to doubt, God reveals to me another grace frequently received by those to whom I humbly minister.

Lauri Lumby Schmidt is a trained spiritual director, a Reiki Master, and writer. Lauri was employed as the Pastoral Ministry Coordinator at the Newman Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and is currently the owner of Authentic Freedom Ministries, which offers retreats, adult spiritual formation and classes in meditation and healing practices.

Submitted by David Lorenz on Apr. 20, 2009: Lauri - Thanks for sharing your wisdom and your faith with all of us. I am sure that the ones that you have healed are especially thankful.

Mark 9:38-42 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.” “Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us. If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded.

Submitted by Anonymous on Apr. 20, 2009:

Thank you for sharing you moving story, Lauri. May God continue to be with you.

Submitted by Veronica Casano on Apr. 20, 2009: Thank you for printing a reply to the Bishops.

I am a retired Complementary Therapist who worked at an over 400 bed Catholic hospital using Reiki with quiet music and guided imagery in over 3000 sessions to bring the healing love of God to hospitalized persons. For me, Reiki gives me the chance to “Station Keep”—to watch with and be present to those suffering from physical or emotional pain. Reiki allows me to touch someone who desperately needs to feel God’s love with “skin on.” This can be especially true for people who are blaming God for their pain or don’t have a personal relationship with God. I have seen many extraordinary physiological changes in God’s people both with touch alone and when I combine the touch of healing love with positive visualizations and images.
There are so many hurting people in the world who face an uncertain future. They are often isolated because family and friends are overcome with their own fears and avoid listening to them and overworked clergy and doctors don’t have the time or put up walls to the heart-felt anguish of illness. Throughout time, certain women have been called upon to station keep and just be present to the pain of the other. This heart-felt presence, whether it is labeled Reiki or any other name is healing to the core. Yet many have been put to death as witches for their ministry. And unfortunately some practitioners compound the problem by saying that their brand of therapeutic touch is better than someone else’s. There is no trick, no secret—when the heart is open healing flows. It is so simple, yet without some sort of initiation most people refuse to believe that God calls us all to be healers. So we initiate people into what they were already possessed and to the birth-right they were called to claim. When I perform such a ceremony, I tell my students that the gift I have passed down to them is something they already have, but usually they don’t get it at first. Even the apostles needed a little ceremony to accept their gifts. I pray that the one avenue of compassion and humanity left in hospitals remains open for God’s people and that the clinical left brain world of medicine does not snuff out care and love as true healing

Submitted by COCat on Apr. 20, 2009: Ms Schmidt's life and ministry form the obvious exception to the findings of the bishops, as reported in this story. Will there be more exceptions? I suspect yes. I think both God and Jesus are more than anyone, even the bishops, can completely understand. Still, we must carefully read and reflect on all that the bishops are teaching about this issue, and with informed conscience and prayer, make our own decisions. Our faith is much more than what one person or one group experiences.

Submitted by S. Carolyn on Apr. 20, 2009: Thank you Lauri for sharing your story. I too have evidence of God's healing power coming through the hands of a reiki practitioner. 31.

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