Monday, December 28, 2020

Gluttons For Punishment


This week's post comes to you from A Simple Man as guest poster. As for me, I'm spending Christmas with more time for my wife and family, thanks to Simple Man! I hope you enjoy his guest post this week. Happy New Year to all my readers! I shall return with the next installment of When Strangers Come Knocking on Monday, January 4, 2021.---Introibo

Gluttons For Punishment by A Simple Man

A familiar season of festivities has returned to America. As of this writing [November 30, 2020], I have a bunch of leftovers from the Thanksgiving meal still within my refrigerator. I know that I am not the only one facing this “difficulty”, seeing as how nearly two hundred million pounds worth of turkey will end up being thrown away. (Source: LaMagna, Maria. “Drowning in leftovers? This is how much food Americans waste at ThanksgivingMarketWatch, published Nov. 25, 2016) As 2019 USDA statistics show, to the 2.4 million households suffering from food insecurity, seeing all of that wasted food can be akin to watching a man drown while they die of thirst.

It’s become a proverbial punchline regarding how obese America is compared to the rest of the developed world (even though the increase in overweight or obese people is a global phenomenon, America is the proverbial king of the hill in terms of quantity, no pun intended), and the statistical data to support this observation is immense. Anecdotal examples, I’m sure, will abound about this increased prevalence for many readers, seeing as how in these days it’s become a mark of poverty to be overweight, while it’s considered a mark of wealth and affluence to be trim and fit. Whether it be due to the nature of food production, dietary changes relative to past ages, a more sedentary lifestyle in general, or a simple reflection of material abundance, it could be argued that gluttony is America’s favorite sin.

What is gluttony?
Per the Catholic Encyclopedia, from the Latin gluttire (to swallow, to gulp down), it is “the excessive indulgence in food and drink.” That seems so simple, does it not, for something that is numbered among the capital vices (otherwise known as the capital sins, of which the classical enumeration gives Pride, Avarice, Lust, Sloth, Envy, Anger, and finally Gluttony)? Yet, how would one classify an excessive indulgence? When there is a true occasion for making merry (for Christ implicitly acknowledged as much to the scribes and Pharisees in response to their criticism that he ate and drank with publicans and sinners: “…Can the children of the marriage fast as long as the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.” – Mark 2:19), do the standards for what counts as an excessive indulgence change? It is this matter (and more) which we shall investigate.

First, we shall quote a few selections from St. Thomas Aquinas on the matter, citing Question 148 of the Second Part of the Second Part of the Summa Theologiae, which deals exclusively with gluttony (all punctuation and spelling is as cited):

-          From Article 1, Whether gluttony is a sin?I answer that, Gluttony denotes, not any desire of eating and drinking, but an inordinate desire. Now desire is said to be inordinate through leaving the order of reason, wherein the good of moral virtue consists: and a thing is said to be a sin through being contrary to virtue. Wherefore it is evident that gluttony is a sin.”

·         Reply to Objection 2: “As stated above, the vice of gluttony does not regard the substance of food, but in the desire thereof not being regulated by reason. Wherefore if a man exceed in quantity of food, not from desire of food, but through deeming it necessary to him, this pertains, not to gluttony, but to some kind of inexperience. It is a case of gluttony only when a man knowingly exceeds the measure in eating, from a desire for the pleasures of the palate.”

-          From Article 2, Whether gluttony is a mortal sin?I answer that, As stated above (Article 2), the vice of gluttony properly consists in inordinate concupiscence. Now the order of reason in regulating the concupiscence may be considered from two points of view. First, with regard to things directed to the end, inasmuch as they may be incommensurate and consequently improportionate to the end; secondly, with regard to the end itself, inasmuch as concupiscence turns man away from his due end. Accordingly, if the inordinate concupiscence in gluttony be found to turn man away from the last end, gluttony will be a mortal sin. This is the case when he adheres to the pleasure of gluttony as his end, for the sake of which he contemns God, being ready to disobey God's commandments, in order to obtain those pleasures. On the other hand, if the inordinate concupiscence in the vice of gluttony be found to affect only such things as are directed to the end, for instance when a man has too great a desire for the pleasures of the palate, yet would not for their sake do anything contrary to God's law, it is a venial sin.”

·         Reply to Objection 2: “In so far as it turns man away from his last end, gluttony is opposed to the love of God, who is to be loved, as our last end, above all things: and only in this respect is gluttony a mortal sin.”

-          From Article 3, Whether gluttony is the greatest of sins?I answer that, The gravity of a sin may be measured in three ways. First and foremost it depends on the matter in which the sin is committed: and in this way sins committed in connection with Divine things are the greatest. From this point of view gluttony is not the greatest sin, for it is about matters connected with the nourishment of the body. Secondly, the gravity of a sin depends on the person who sins, and from this point of view the sin of gluttony is diminished rather than aggravated, both on account of the necessity of taking food, and on account of the difficulty of proper discretion and moderation in such matters. Thirdly, from the point of view of the result that follows, and in this way gluttony has a certain gravity, inasmuch as certain sins are occasioned thereby.”

·         Reply to Objection 3: “The glutton intends, not the harm to his body, but the pleasure of eating: and if injury results to his body, this is accidental. Hence this does not directly affect the gravity of gluttony, the guilt of which is nevertheless aggravated, if a man incur some bodily injury through taking too much food.”


Next, we shall turn to St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696 – 1787), founder of the Redemptorists; beatified by Pope Pius VII in 1816, canonized by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839, and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1871, St. Alphonsus is the patron saint of confessors and moral theologians. His seminal multi-volume work on moral theology is, fittingly enough, the Theologia Moralis, consisting of a series of annotations and commentary on Hermann Busenbaum, S.J.’s theological treatise titled Medulla Theologiae Moralis, summarizing the thoughts and insights of various other moral theologians and theological schools (Cajetan, Navarre, Toledo, Laymann, the Salamancans, et al.) up to that time. It is noteworthy, much like the rest of St. Alphonsus’s works, for threading the golden mean between Jansenist rigorism, strict legalism, and moral laxity, as extolled by Pius IX in his apostolic letter honoring St. Alphonsus as a Doctor.

The version cited shall be the 2017 publication of Volume I by Mediatrix Press, translated from the Latin by Ryan Grant. For the sake of readability, the precise (and numerous) citations that St. Alphonsus refers to have been largely redacted. All other punctuation, formatting, and spelling is as cited.

On Gluttony

What is Gluttony?

73. ̶  “Resp. Gluttony is a disordered appetite for food and drink, and it is opposed to abstinence and is committed in five ways: 1) if one were to eat before it is time; 2) If it is exceedingly exquisite. 3. If it is more than just. 4) If he eats voraciously. 5) If it is prepared very exquisitely…

Thus it is resolved:

“1. Gluttony by its nature is only a venial sin, because none of these modes is precisely opposed to the love of God or neighbor. (Note here proposition 8 condemned by Innocent XI, "to each [recte eat] and drink even to satiety only on account of desire is not a sin." Nevertheless, one may use delectation to take food or drink for health of the body [ASM’s note: delectation is pleasure or delight; in this context, it is referring to the pleasurable sensation one may feel when eating food which is nonetheless taken for sustenance as its primary end.], as the Salamancans teach…in fine, from St. Augustine).

“2. Hence it is probable what Navarre, Toledo, etc., teach, and what Laymann says is not opposed, that, provided scandal and other things are removed, it is only a venial sin to fill oneself with food and drink even to vomiting; and that also, if anyone would vomit so that he could drink again and again, Sa and many others, on the verb comedere [eating], think it would be a mortal sin. […] (To eat or drink even to vomiting is probably only venial of its nature, unless scandal were present, or notable harm to health, as the authors commonly say…Moreover, one who vomits what he has eaten by his own will so that he could eat or drink again, would hardly be excused froma [recte from a] mortal sin since this seems to involve a great deformity…).

“3. There is hardly any doubt that one may eat or drink or otherwise create vomit if it were judged healthy. [ASM’s note: for example, if vomiting were induced to expel spoiled food or a toxic substance that was unwittingly ingested.]

“4. Meanwhile, intemperance is considered a mortal sin by the circumstance and great disorder in these cases: a) if anyone for the sake of gluttony would violate a fast of the Church; b) If anyone from gluttony became noticeably inept for the functions to which he is held under pain of mortal sin; c) If someone would gravely harm his health, noticing it, otherwise if only lightly, e.g. if fevering he would increase his illness from a draft of water; d) If feastings and drinking parties were continually held so that he would have as a God his belly; e) If someone drank to perfect drunkenness, on which we will speak below; f) If someone would eat human flesh or blood from pure gluttony, both because it is repugnant to the piety due to the dead and because it is against the instinct abhorrent to nature. It will be excused if it were done for the sake of medicine [ASM’s note: For hundreds of years, peaking in the 16th and 17th centuries, Europeans routinely engaged in “medical cannibalism”, using organic material from mummies, corpses removed from graves, or freshly executed criminals for their concoctions, elixirs, and tinctures. (Source: Dolan, Maria. “The Gruesome History of Eating Corpses as MedicineSmithsonian Magazine, published May 6, 2012.], or for another just cause, e.g. extreme famine from a siege, still therein one is not held to so preserve life…

74. ̶  “5. The daughters of gluttony are also venial of their nature, on the side of the soul. 1. Sluggishness of the mind, or stupidity born from intemperance, e.g. that one could not pray, etc., which becomes a mortal sin when someone from voluntarily eating or drinking in a disordered fashion became inept to understand or furnish those things which are necessary for salvation, or which are due from an office, or other things held under grave sin…

“2. Inept joy, through which not every disorder is understood which follows the sin, but those which move one to obscene songs, foul acts, dances, or dishonest group dancing, etc. and it becomes mortal when it induces another to consent, or mortal delectation, ordered to it. Ibid.

“3. Loquaciousness. [ASM’s note: This refers to extreme or excessive chattiness, the character of which is self-centered, immodest, or unseemly.]

“4. Scurrility, which differs from inept joy and loquaciousness, because it is in the appetite, the former is in words, this is in words and deed; and it is always called dishonesty, although per se, so long as scandal is removed, it is a venial sin, e.g. to say scurrilous things, or to sing, or to break wind, etc. from levity to excite laughter; still it will be a mortal sin if it would become the cause of venereal delectation [i.e. sexual impurity]…

“On the side of the body, uncleanliness, vomit, and the effusion of seed [i.e. onanism]. The last, if it were voluntary, will be a mortal sin. […]” – Moral Theology, Volume I, p. 474-477  

To summarize, the following general principles can be taken from St. Thomas and St. Alphonsus on the matter of gluttony:

1)      Of its nature, the inordinate and excessive desire for food and drink is a venial sin.

2)      However, the effects of gluttony can render it mortal (it renders you unable to perform the duties applicable to your state in life, perhaps because you are put into a stupor; you intentionally violate the precepts of the Church or harm your health; it excites you or others to perform scandalous or immoral actions, especially of a sexual kind; and so on).

3)      What may be considered excessive intake of food for some may not be to others, according to their circumstances (someone has a much faster metabolism, which means they must eat more often as a matter of biological necessity; your profession may require a higher caloric intake than average, such as a laborer or athlete; and so on).

4)      If utilized for the sake of one’s health and not for the sake of pure gluttony, food and drink or even vomiting are acceptable, save for that which is prepared or taken in an immoral or obscene way (the example utilized by St. Alphonsus was the eating of human flesh or blood, since even if it could be excused, it would still betray a potentially inordinate attachment to one’s own life).

Now, how can such a vice be combatted?

There will not be any diet plans prescribed here.
Not only am I not a nutritionist nor a dietician, everyone has different physiological needs, notwithstanding the disorders which one may be suffering from (Celiac disease, diabetes, lactose intolerance, etc.). However, since gluttony is a vice born of our fallen human nature, there are spiritual remedies to pursue, as the Church has revealed.

1)      Prayer: No improvement in the spiritual life can come without it. The moment a hunger pang arrives when you know you don’t need to eat, offer a prayer to our Lord. Request the intercession of our Lady and the many saints who attained to holiness through the ascetic life. “It is in view, then, of these sins, and others of the same sort, and of others again more trifling still, which consist of offenses in words and thought (as the Apostle James confesses, "In many things we offend all"), that we need to pray every day and often to the Lord, saying, "Forgive us our debts," and to add in truth and sincerity, "as we forgive our debtors." ”– St. Augustine, The Enchiridion, chapter 78

2)      Mortification: Even on days where fasts and abstinence aren’t prescribed, pursue them anyway. Temptations are to be resisted as one in battle, and no improvement can be had if your battles are never fought. Witness the example of the monastic orders, borne by the Rules of St. Benedict or St. Francis of Assisi. Witness the example of countless saints who mortified their members and desires so that they could truly live as though it were only Christ living through them. “Be on your guard when you begin to mortify your body by abstinence and fasting, lest you imagine yourself to be perfect and a saint; for perfection does not consist in this virtue. It is only a help; a disposition; a means though a fitting one, for the attainment of true perfection.” – St. Jerome, in his letter to Celantia, as cited in the Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on “Asceticism

Even in the midst of the various celebrations occurring at this time of year in America, remember the season of Advent. Recall that, as we prepare for the coming of our Lord at Christmas, the priests wear purple vestments to remind us that the days are still dark; St. John the Baptist is still, as ever, preparing the way of the Lord. Let us have recourse to his intercession and that of our Lady, along with that of all the other saints, that we may obtain the graces from God to conquer our weakened flesh, which – no matter how much it devours or consumes – will never be satisfied by the things of this world.

But in the meantime, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to avoid the buffet line.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Single-Minded Devotion


"Make another comment like that, but before you do, ask yourself, 'Do I like eating hospital food'?" Rob's hand was firmly clenched around his ski pole and his face was dark red with anger. I immediately stepped in front of him and explained to the other two skiers that they should go to their rooms before someone got hurt. "No need to act like [expletive deleted]. We were trying to be helpful," they said to us. I responded, "What you suggested was highly offensive, and unless you want your vacation to end badly, just go your own way and say no more." They gave us a hard look and left.  I turned to my friend Rob (not his real name---Introibo) and said, "You need to calm down good buddy. This is what modern society has produced." Breathing less intensely, he said, "Yeah, well maybe modern society needs a good beating--starting with those two!" (All dialogue as accurate as I can remember---Introibo). 

Let me back up. Rob and I were the unlikeliest of friends. We met in law school. Neither of us were 22 years old like most of our classmates who came in right out of college. I had been a NYC science teacher for five years prior to attending, and Rob took six years to complete his Bachelor's degree. He was the only child of two legal immigrants seeking refuge from an oppressive military regime in Central America. Arriving at age ten, he knew little English. With the help of his mother and aunt homeschooling him, he spoke perfect English by age 18, and had no hint of a Spanish accent, except when he purposely spoke Spanish. He scored very high on his SAT exam, but his family had no money for college. Over the next two years he worked transporting cargo at JKF airport, laboring overtime six days a week.

Rob reapplied to college, and was accepted to his first choice. The money he saved would go a long way to keeping down loan debt. He also decided to go part-time at night so he could still work some days. He graduated six years later with less than 5k in student loans. He decided that he liked to argue and his mother said he could help many people as a lawyer. He did well on his LSAT, was accepted to the same law school as me, and we met first year in Torts class. Affable, intelligent, and possessing a zany sense of humor, we became friends and study partners. I soon discovered Rob was another Victim of Vatican II. 

There was a time when Central America was devoutly Catholic. After the Great Apostasy, the twin evils of ecumenism and religious liberty had many joining false sects. Rob's parents departed from Catholicism after Vatican II for a very liberal Protestantism. Rob went to services on Sunday, and was a convinced Socialist. He saw nothing wrong with abortion, and as long as you believe in something greater than yourself, we all go to be happy in Heaven with a "hippy version" of Jesus who "loves us as we are." No topic of conversation was off the table with us, and we disagreed about much. When it came to religion, Rob was really perplexed as to my beliefs. "I really don't understand how an intelligent guy like you goes to services in a dead language, and thinks bread and wine become God." I saw my opening. "Rob, you're not really understanding what I mean. Would you like to read some material that explains it well, so you can be informed"?

I always admired him for his intellectual tenacity and his willingness to hear out every point of view. "Ok. Sure. Bring me what you have and I'll read it." The next day, I gave him some pre-Vatican II books on the basics of the Faith, and some polemical literature from Fr DePauw. A week later he said, "I'd like to talk with you about what I read. I found it fascinating." He really understood the literature I gave him and had many questions. We continued to talk about religion and everything else as good friends for the rest of our time in law school. When we graduated, he received an offer for a great job from a firm on the West Coast of the United States. Soon after, Rob called me one day and asked if I could mail him some more books on the faith and a Missal. As he drove to work each day, he passed a Traditionalist Chapel run by an independent priest from pre-Vatican II. He remembered our conversations and decided to see what Mass was like. "It was beautiful beyond words," he said.

 I sent him a large package with material from my library, including one of my best Missals. Six months later he called to tell me that he attended the Chapel regularly, and was convinced of the truth of the One True Church! He was taking instructions from the priest and would be baptized on the Feast of Our Lady's Assumption, an event I didn't want to miss! The former pro-abortion Protestant socialist was now a Traditionalist who was fiercely pro-life, and condemned socialism/Communism. As we settled in our careers, we were now in our 30s and single. We both loved cross-country skiing, and decided to spend one week of our vacation time each year in upstate New York, enjoying the great outdoors. 

We went to the same lodge every February, since we liked the accommodations and quality of the trails. We saw a lot of the same faces. The overwhelming majority of men were in their 30s-50s, and spent most of their time drinking at the bar and trying to pick up women. Rob and I didn't drink, weren't womanizers, and would pray the Rosary together after breakfast before spending the whole day on the snowy trails. This particular trip, as we were walking back to the lodge, Rob didn't see a small patch of ice. His legs shot straight out in front of him, and I made a diving leap--catching him mere inches before his head would have smashed onto the pavement. After dinner, we were picking up some ski equipment for the next morning before going to our rooms. Rob said, "If it hadn't been for those fast reflexes of yours, today might not have concluded with a good night for me." Putting his arm around me and pulling me tight, he said, "Love ya, man!"

That's when we heard the voices behind us. "You guys come here together every February. Why do you stay in separate rooms?" The other skier chimed in, "You shouldn't be ashamed of your love. You can come out of the closet." That's when the events recounted in the opening paragraph of this post took place. Just because we were single, in our late 30s, and not picking up women, we must be sodomites. So goes the "conventional wisdom" of our society, the Vatican II sect, and sadly, among some Traditionalists. 

The single vocation is the least understood and appreciated of the four vocations God gives to humanity. Having been a single man by choice until my 40s, I am more than familiar with the stereotypes and discrimination against the calling of the single life. If you are not married (or a nun, priest, brother, monk) by your late 20s or early 30s, there "must be something wrong with you." This post will look into the vocation of the single life by examining three aspects:

  • Church teaching that the single life is a true vocation that comes from God
  • The benefits and trials of the single vocation
  • The single person's place in the Church and the World

Called By God To Be Single

It has always been taught that there are four vocations given to humanity by God. The word "vocation" comes from the Latin "vocare" meaning "to call or summon." Each of us is summoned by God to sanctify both ourselves and the world in one of four callings: the priesthood (for men only); the religious life (nuns, brothers, monks);the married life; and the single life. Some theologians place the priesthood under the same heading as "the religious life," while others list it separately. In my opinion, I agree with the separate designation for the priesthood. 

The single vocation is truly "the forgotten vocation." Rather than seeing singleness as a gift and calling from God, erroneous opinions abound. Many look upon the single person as somehow "deficient" or "wanting." They were "unmarriageable" or "rejects who couldn't get in a seminary/convent." The secular world sees unmarried women as "closet lesbians" or "old maids" who "couldn't get a husband." Single men are "closet homosexuals" or "have problems." Only men who sleep around like heathens can wear "proudly" the badge of "swinging single." All of these ideas are deficient, inaccurate, and disparaging. They show a crass ignorance. 

To remain single in the world and live a life of perfect chastity is to act as an "ambassador of Christ" representing Him and doing all for His greater glory. This is both lawful and meritorious; it is a life most pleasing to God. The single life of necessity entails perfect chastity because the use of sex is exclusively for the married. However, unlike the other vocations, the single life is the only one that does not entail taking a solemn promise or vow. Priests and religious must take binding vows to remain celibate, and married people take marriage vows (the married have rights over each other's bodies for life, but they are also chaste according to their state in life. Sex must be open to procreation and they must remain faithful to each other, together raising all children in the True Church). In this sense, the single person has a better chance to save his/her soul, not having formally committed themselves to special duties and responsibilities. ... And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more. (St. Luke 12:48; Emphasis mine). 

St. Paul, under Divine Inspiration, writes in the seventh chapter of First Corinthians telling us marriage is not to be preferred over remaining single:

For I would that all men were even as myself: but every one hath his proper gift from God; one after this manner, and another after that. But I say to the unmarried, and to the widows: It is good for them if they so continue, even as I...But I would have you to be without solicitude. He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your profit: not to cast a snare upon you; but for that which is decent, and which may give you power to attend upon the Lord, without impediment...But more blessed shall she be, if she so remain, according to my counsel; and I think that I also have the spirit of God.   

 (1 Corinthians 7:7-8; 32-35; 40; Emphasis mine). 

The Council of Trent infallibly declared the life of perfect chastity, when chosen for God, to be superior to the married life. The 10th Canon on the Sacrament of  Marriage declares:

CANON X.-If any one saith, that the marriage state is to be placed above the state of virginity, or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema.

The Council was directing this Canon to those in consecrated religious life, but the principle remains clear: those who choose to remain in virginity or celibacy for the sake of God have a higher calling than the married. This is made clear by the teaching of St. Paul in First Corinthians. Hence, those who disparage the single because they aren't married get it backwards; the single state is the more perfect and better life than the married. 

In his most erudite and beautiful encyclical Sacra Virginitas promulgated on March 25, 1954, Pope Pius XII had this to teach about single life consecrated to God:

And while this perfect chastity is the subject of one of the three vows which constitute the religious state, and is also required by the Latin Church of clerics in major orders and demanded from members of Secular Institutes, it also flourishes among many who are lay people in the full sense: men and women who are not constituted in a public state of perfection and yet by private promise or vow completely abstain from marriage and sexual pleasures, in order to serve their neighbor more freely and to be united with God more easily and more closely. (para. #6; Emphasis mine). 

Single people may take a private promise to abstain from marriage without binding themselves under the pain of sin. The promise can be conditional so if the person changed his mind to marry, there would be no sin. Furthermore, if such a single person sinned against chastity after making such a promise, there would be no concomitant sin against religion. I would strongly recommend not to make a private vow of perpetual and perfect chastity, because to be released from such an unconditional vow made by someone over the age of 18 requires a dispensation from the Holy See according to Canon 1309 of the 1917 Code. In a state of sedevacante, what does one do? I will not venture an answer, only advise against it and urge using the simple promise not binding under sin. 

Joys and Sorrows of the Single

The Holy Father sums up in Sacra Virginitas the true purpose of living in perfect chastity:

 This then is the primary purpose, this the central idea of Christian virginity: to aim only at the divine, to turn thereto the whole mind and soul; to want to please God in everything, to think of Him continually, to consecrate body and soul completely to Him. (para. #15). 

The single person:

  • Can spend more time in prayer and meditation of the things of God
  • Can place himself/herself at the service of others and bring them to Christ
  • Is an amazing witness to the beauty of Christian ideals by putting the Kingdom of God before all else, having no earthly duties to family
  • Has less pressure to work overtime and earn more
  • Can develop more interests/talents and deep friendships that are like family
  • Can be more health conscious and take better care of their bodily condition
  • Becomes highly self-sufficient
  • Can change careers/jobs with much greater ease and retire earlier
I would be less than truthful if I omitted the downside of the single life. In reading the list of hardships, remember that all people in all vocations have crosses to bear. The challenges of the single life include:

  • The older the person gets, more of their friends will be married, and they will have less time to enjoy their company. Going out with their family often makes the single person feel like a "third wheel"--but they can become everyone's favorite "aunt" or "uncle"
  • People will constantly try to set them up on dates or ask them why they don't get married. Do not expect a non-Traditionalist to understand the single vocation
  • They will many times be calumniated as being a sodomite or having "something wrong" with them
  • They come home to an empty house/apartment and can feel lonely at times
  • They need people to check on them if living alone in case of an accident or emergency
  • They will not beget physical children, but will have "spiritual children" from conversions and/or spiritual good works performed to the benefit and salvation of others 
  • They do not have a partner with whom to do things many times
The Single Person's Place in the Church and the World
The single life must not be thought of as a "default position" for those who can't find someone to marry, or don't have a priestly/religious vocation. It is true that there are three kinds of people who embrace the single vocation: (1) those who want marriage but cannot find someone suitable and (wisely) will not enter into a bad marriage; (2) those who sought the priesthood or religious vocation but couldn't make it for some reason; (3) those who feel called to be single from the very outset.

 Being single is everyone's state in life for at least a short time. Not everyone will become a priest, brother, monk, nun, or get married. However, every priest, religious, and married person was single until their ordination, profession of vows, or marriage. Those who fall into the first two categories of people who are single can accept their state without bitterness as a manifestation of God's Will, and thereby make their vocation as meritorious as those who choose it from the very start of their adult life. 

Pope Pius XII's above cited encyclical tells the wonderful place of the single person in the Church:
 And here We think it opportune, Venerable Brothers, to expose more fully and to explain more carefully why the love of Christ moves generous souls to abstain from marriage, and what is the mystical connection between virginity and the perfection of Christian charity. From our Lord's words referred to above, it has already been implied that this complete renunciation of marriage frees men from its grave duties and obligations... It is easy to see, therefore, why persons who desire to consecrate themselves to God's service embrace the state of virginity as a liberation, in order to be more entirely at God's disposition and devoted to the good of their neighbor. (Ibid, para. #20)

As to those consecrated virgins (including singles who ever remain such) the Pontiff adds:
 Finally, virginity consecrated to Christ is in itself such an evidence of faith in the kingdom of heaven, such a proof of love for our Divine Redeemer, that there is little wonder if it bears abundant fruits of sanctity. Innumerable are the virgins and apostles vowed to perfect chastity who are the honor of the Church by the lofty sanctity of their lives. In truth, virginity gives souls a force of spirit capable of leading them even to martyrdom, if needs be: such is the clear lesson of history which proposes a whole host of virgins to our admiration, from Agnes of Rome to Maria Goretti. (Ibid, Para. #28).

In the world, the single person can help many people in his/her profession in ways that only they are capable of doing. First, in order to perform some good work, no consideration need be made of a spouse and children or permission required from a lawful superior in religious life or the priesthood. They need only consider themselves and use their talents to help. As a lawyer, for example, more pro bono work can be done with greater ease as a single person. Singles can have multiple professions or a profession that requires great time and money. Since I was single for a long time, I was able to become both a teacher and a lawyer. A single person could become a neurosurgeon and with no worries of raising a family, live a more modest life, take time to pay back their student loans, and give medical care to those who can't afford someone of their stature as a work of mercy performed for the love of Christ. 

Finally, careers that don't pay much can be undertaken with great love since you only need to meet your own needs. Extra time can be given to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. What a magnificent vocation for those who choose it. Those who have lived a dissolute life, while not virgins, can still live the single life in chastity, and with great merit, as a penitent soul. The Angelic Doctor teaches that chastity can be regained by contrition and penance. The reason is that chastity is essentially a virtue of the will, and so the violation of chastity can be repaired by opposite acts of the will; by a firm will to live a chaste life in the future. (See Summa Theologica, Part 2-2, q. 152, a. 3).   

My friend Rob (now in his 50s) is still single by choice. He told me when we first met that he never wanted to get married because "he didn't have the temperament to be a good husband and father." He enjoyed "being free to do what I want" and having the liberty to help society in the way he wanted, when he wanted. Now, as a Traditionalist, he sees that he was called by God to the single vocation. He has helped countless people as a lawyer, and has done a tremendous amount of pro bono work for indigent clients who got a top-notch attorney. He has given large amounts of money to the Church. Rob is an awesome friend, once (literally) asking for an adjournment on an important case, taking two vacation days, and travelling to New York at his own expense to help me out. My friend converted both his parents to the True Faith. His father died a few years back, and he takes excellent care of his mother (now in her late 70s) as a devoted son. They attend the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass together each week. He is genuinely one of the happiest people I know, and has no regrets about his vocation.

For those of my readers who are married, please be kind and respectful of those who choose the single vocation. They are not to be thought of (or spoken to) as "someone who can't find a spouse." Being single is noble and people are called by God to live their life in that way. It is a state superior to marriage

For my readers who are single and still wondering if the vocation is chosen for them by God, remember there is nothing wrong for praying that God may send you a suitable spouse (if it be His Holy Will), or for praying that God may grant you entry into a convent or seminary (if it be His Holy Will). Always be resigned to God's Will for you. In addition to praying for a particular vocation, it is wise to pray that God will guide you to where He wants you to be. The following prayer, taken from a 19th century Manual of Catholic Prayers should be recited daily by all such single people:

God of Wisdom and of Counsel, Thou see in my heart a sincere desire to please Thee alone and to conform myself entirely to Thy Holy Will in the choice of my state in life. Grant me, I humbly implore Thee, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, my Mother and my holy Patrons, the grace to know what state in life I should choose and to embrace it when known, in order that thus I may seek Thy glory and increase it, work out my own salvation, and deserve the heavenly reward which Thou hast promised to those who do Thy Holy Will. Amen. (See in modern English online 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Coming Back For More


According to a 2018 Pew Research Poll, 36% of Vatican II sect members believe in the pagan teaching of reincarnation; up from 28% just eight years earlier. Reincarnation is the belief that people's souls go through cycles of birth, death, and re-birth until they achieve Nirvana (which means to be "blown out" like a candle) so as to escape the cycle and achieve "oneness" with the universe (a type of pantheism). The idea that people keep "coming back" as other people after death continues to grow in popularity  while the notion of returning as another life form, e.g., a dog, is by and large  rejected by "modern reincarnationists."

 Before 1965, almost all who believed in reincarnation were either Hindus or Buddhists. Since then, there are those who have converted to those pagan religions because of that doctrine. Now, there's the new development (especially in the wake of Vatican II) of "mixing and matching" beliefs to fit personal desires about what people want to be true rather than seeking truth itself--even to the point where chosen ideas are mutually exclusive. There are three major reasons for this continuing rise and acceptance of reincarnation: 

1. Ecumenism fostered by Vatican II. 
The Vatican II Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate,  states in paragraph #2:
Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an unspent fruitfulness of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek release from the anguish of our human condition through ascetical practices or deep meditation or a loving, trusting flight toward God... Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination...The Catholic (sic) Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.

There is no condemnation of these pagan religions both of which teach reincarnation, instead they are lauded. Reincarnation was explicitly condemned in the schema of the Dogmatic Constitution De Deposito Fide Pure Custodiendo, which was drawn up by thoroughly orthodox theologians and canonists under the direction of Cardinal Ottaviani during the preparatory phrase of the Council. Roncalli saw to it that it was rejected and replaced by the Council because of its paucity of "ecumenical character." The heretical ecclesiology of Vatican II makes it clear that even pagan religions have "elements of truth," and that "all paths lead to God." If so, why not choose "the path of least resistance"? 

Accepting reincarnation erodes morals because you can live like a heathen and there is no Hell, just another life to try and "get it right" and achieve nirvana, which is basically extinction--so no one suffers in the end. This wicked idea would mean that there is no real difference between being Joseph Stalin or St Francis of Assisi; Stalin would only need to be reincarnated more times than St. Francis. If the Church (sic) "regards with sincere reverence...those precepts and teachings...differing in many aspects from the ones she (sic) holds and sets forth..." why not be a "reincarnation-believing Catholic (sic)"? 

2. It's in vogue with pop culture. 
Even as Christianity is mocked and disdained, the idea of reincarnation has found favor with the media. Hollywood elitists produce many movies on the subject. Three recent examples:
  • I Origins (2014). The movie revolves around the life of a molecular biologist that is fascinated by the iris of people's eyes. He soon falls in love with a girl with beautiful eyes. But later the girl has an unfortunate death. When he loses her, he sets out to see whether he can find someone with similar eyes. Although he starts out as an atheist, this scientist’s very fundamental beliefs get shaken when he does indeed find a match in a young girl who may be his lost love’s reincarnation.
  • Cloud Atlas (2012). This movie is sci-fi drama where Tom Hanks and Halle Berry take on new lives as they reincarnate from civilization to civilization. The directors Andy and Lana Wachowski tell the story of how everything and everyone is connected.
  • Birth (2004). The movie showcases the story of Anna who becomes a widow. Anna tries to move on in her life and gets engaged to a different person. Soon after that, she meets a young boy who tries to convince her that he is the reincarnation of her dead husband. The more she starts spending time with the boy, the more she starts to questions her life’s choices.
(All movie descriptions are taken from 

In music:
The Beatles. In 1965, a Hindu presented each band member with a book on reincarnation. George Harrison began a life-long association with pagan Eastern religion, as did all the band members for a brief time in the late 1960s. Only Harrison remained openly enamored with paganism until his death in 2001 from lung cancer. His ashes were scattered in India in alignment with Hindu tradition. Harrison's song My Sweet Lord has actually been used at the Novus Bogus "mass" because of its "Christian lyrics." However, the song is really about the demon "gods" of Hinduism. Harrison repeats part of a Hindu mantra in the lyric when he sings, "Hare Krishna... Krishna, Krishna" in the background. The Hare Krishna movement is a branch of Hinduism, formally known as Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Its name comes from its chant — Hare Krishna — which devotees repeat over and over.

Journey. Most of Journey's album covers feature a scarab beetle (pictured at the top of this post). The Evolution album and subsequent work depict the "winged globe" which signifies the omnipresence of the false sun "god" Ra. The album Captured shows the scarab beetle in a mirrored image. Beetles of the Scarabaeidae family (dung beetle) roll dung into a ball as food and as a brood chamber in which to lay eggs; this way, the larvae hatch and are immediately surrounded by food. For these reasons the scarab was seen as a symbol of a "heavenly cycle" and of the idea of rebirth or regeneration. This explains their presence in being buried with the deceased.  The world of Egyptian magic has long been embraced by secret societies condemned by the Church, including Rosicrucian orders, Freemasonry, Theosophy, and the Golden Dawn. 

Famous people who claim to be reincarnated (only a small, partial list):
Actor Sylvester Stallone claims to be a reincarnated American Indian.

Singer, drummer, and high-ranking Freemason Phil Collins said he was the reincarnation of a soldier at the Alamo.

Country singer Loretta Lynn says she was reincarnated six times; one of her past incarnations was as a Cherokee Indian princess.

Actor, martial artist, and Buddhist Steven Seagal, has been declared as the reincarnation of the 17th-century translator-teacher Terton Chungdrag Dorje.

Actor and Buddhist Richard Gere believes he and his current "wife" (34 years his junior) were married in several past lives.  

(See e.g., Time magazine, 9/10/84, pg. 68;;

3. Alleged Evidence of Reincarnation. 
Among the strongest reasons people come to accept reincarnation are the alleged evidences offered in support. The evidence even has those who reject the doctrine flustered regarding how to answer. Reincarnationists keep coming back (pun intended) with more and different "proofs." The Vatican II sect jettisoned all apologetics and polemics since its inception and is no help, as usual. 

Even Traditionalists are unsure of how to respond. I did a post showing the inherent theological and philosophic bankruptcy of reincarnation. (See However, I didn't pick apart the evidence at length. A couple of weeks ago, a commenter wrote: How would you respond to such alleged "evidence" of reincarnation?
"People who remember past lives with obscure historic details they do not know, a 5-year-old kid who can show that he can fly a military plane on a simulator, all kinds of children geniuses with innate skills for art or music they never were taught, people starting speaking foreign languages ​​in a sleep or trance, people being healed from phobias or chronic illnesses by past life regression, etc. "
Your article "A Sensation Of Reincarnation?" it does not disprove all such "evidence."

This post will tackle those "evidences" head on. Theologically, we know  St. Paul tells us in Hebrews 9:27, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment." Philosophically, we know reincarnation is nonsense. The following "evidences" of reincarnation will be debunked in the next section:
  • Past Life Recall and Cures
  • People with Seeming Specialized Knowledge from a Prior Life
I hope this will make up for the deficiency of depth in my prior post on this subject.

I Remember...Or Do I Really?
Evidence: People under hypnosis remember past lives and details of people that lived long ago. This can only be true if they were that person in a past life. Furthermore, "past-life recall" has cured people of phobias; e.g., if it were found out they died by drowning in a past life, they are cured of their current fear of water/drowning after they confront the past. Other people, even children, have demonstrated specialized knowledge (of mechanics, etc.) without having had any exposure to the subject. How can these phenomena be explained apart from reincarnation being true?

I present a seven-part rejoinder comprised of both original research and past citations I used in my previous post:
(a) False memories.
In a recent study, 28 percent of subjects who underwent hypnosis were induced by a researcher to develop false memories about recent incidents in their lives. This occurred even after these subjects were warned that "hypnotized participants may confuse what they imagine with what really occurred."

About 44 percent of participants who were not warned about possible false memories -- also called pseudomemories -- were induced to develop a false memory.

The results suggest that many people have unrealistic and distorted views of the power of hypnosis, said Joseph Green, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University's Lima campus.

"There's a cultural expectation that hypnosis will lead to more accurate and earlier memories, but that's not true," Green said. "Hypnosis can be helpful for some people, but it is subject to the same restrictions and pitfalls of any other memory-retrieval method."

A perfect case in point was  that of Bridey Murphy. Through hypnosis, a woman allegedly regressed to 18th century Ireland. She suddenly spoke Gaelic, described the coastline where she lived, discussed the customs and spoke like a life-long Irish native. Upon further investigation, "Bridey Murphy" (the name of the person she allegedly was in this "past life") never existed but was a figment of the woman's imagination. She was raised by her grandmother who spoke Gaelic and kept history books on Ireland which she related to her granddaughter. The hypnotic subject had forgotten the language and history as she got older, but it was brought back under hypnosis with the mind giving life to the memories by manufacturing a name from her actual past. It was later revealed that she grew up near a woman named Bridie Murphy-Corkell. The subject never believed that she was reincarnated, but rather thought that her mind was playing tricks. This part was never revealed by the author, Morey Bernstein--who was also the hypnotist! Bernstein's obituary from The Washington Post in 1999 reads thus:

Publication of The Search for Bridey Murphy made him a celebrity, and he was convinced that Tighe's[the woman allegedly Bridey Murphy] recollections about a previous life in Ireland were authentic, according to his brother, Robert A. Bernstein, of Bethesda. Tighe, he said, was never totally convinced that she really ever had been Bridey Murphy. (Emphasis mine). 

(b) Cultural Conditioning. Dr. Ian Stevenson, who investigated children claiming to have "spontaneously recalled" a past life, the doctor himself admits of bias in his study due to cultural conditioning. He wrote, "...the principal sites of abundant reported cases are: northern India; Sri Lanka; Burma; Thailand; Vietnam; western Asia, especially south central Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria; and northwest North America, among the natives of that region. The peoples of these areas (of the groups among whom the cases occur) believe in reincarnation." (See Stevenson, Ian, "The Explanatory Value of the Idea of Reincarnation," Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease Sept. 1977, 308).  He further admits, "Neither any single case nor all the investigated cases together offer anything like a proof of reincarnation." (Ibid, 325). 

(c) Inherent dangers from the hypnotist and hypnotic process. 
In his Allocution "Anesthesia: Three Moral Questions" of 1957, His Holiness Pope Pius XII discusses hypnotism as an anesthetic [used in conjunction with medicine by physicians] and had this to say:

But consciousness can also be reduced by artificial means. There is no essential difference, from the moral standpoint, whether the result is obtained by administration of narcotics or by hypnosis--which can be called a psychic analgesic. But hypnosis, even considered in itself, is subject to certain rules...

The subject which engages us here is hypnosis practiced by a doctor to serve a clinical purpose, while he observes the precautions which science and medical ethics demand equally from the doctor who uses it and from the patient who submits to it. The moral judgement which we are going to state on the suppression of consciousness applies to this specific use of hypnosis. But We do not wish what We say of hypnosis in the service of medicine to be extended without qualification to hypnosis in general. In fact, hypnosis, insofar as it is an object of scientific research, cannot be studied by any casual individual, but only by a serious scholar, and within the limits valid for all scientific activity. It is not a subject for a group of laymen or ecclesiastics to dabble in, as they might in some other interesting topic, merely for experience or even as a simple hobby.
(See AAS 49 [1957], 140-141; Emphasis mine).

 According to hypnosis expert James E. Parejko in an article published in the Journal of the American Institute of Hypnosis (Jan. 1975), he listed four factors of subconscious intervention during hypnosis: (a) Expectations of the hypnotist, (b)  diminished critical thoughts in the mind that accompany deep trance states, (c) a triggering idea by the hypnotist, and (d) the ability of the mind to hallucinate. Hence, if the hypnotist is specifically looking for "past lives" there is a good chance he will produce them artificially  in the patients. 

(d) Answering the unique case of James Leininger.  James Leininger is the subject of books and TV shows and countless articles citing him as proof of reincarnation beginning in the early 2000s. In 2009, his parents published a book, Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot. Briefly, James Leininger was born in 1998, and had a fixation on airplanes. By the age of two, he knew many models by name, especially those most commonly produced as toys and featured in books: fighter planes, like Mustangs, Corsairs, and Spitfires. His parents took him to aviation museums, and he loved the WWII fighter planes.  James had recurring nightmares that he was in a plane crash. He came up with details of a fighter pilot named James M. Huston Jr. who was shot down on March 3, 1945 by Japanese Zero planes. Bruce and Andrea Leininger were convinced their son was Huston reincarnated because of all the information a three year old couldn't possibly know.

Sounds convincing, right? That is, until you start to put other pieces of the puzzle together. Carol Bowman is the author of several books on "reincarnated children" and promotes herself as a "past life regression therapist"--as if that's some legitimate occupation with necessary education, training, and licensure. From her own blog, here is a description of her involvement with the case:

 In 2001 I got an email from a mother in Louisiana, Andrea Leininger. She told me that she had just gotten a copy of my first book, Children's Past Lives, and she believed that her two-year-old son, James, was having nightmares about a past life. He would wake up screaming about 3 or 4 times a week about his plane crashing... I told her to follow the guidelines in my book for helping James work through his nightmares...(See

Therefore, James' parents had decided a priori that their son was having problems that stemmed from a past life and tied it in with his love of airplanes. The boy's mother was influenced by her mother--a believer in reincarnation. Andrea Leininger was more than open to the idea. Bruce, father of James, was a believing Protestant. This made them the perfect "victims" for someone who wants to promote reincarnation because if they can win over someone who professes Christianity (and thereby does not believe in reincarnation) it adds an aura of credibility to the story. 

Bowman's advice was to repeatedly assure this toddler that he was, in fact, a reincarnated WWII fighter pilot. The Leiningers wrote in their book:

Carol advised Andrea to tell James that what he was experiencing were things that had happened to him before, that it was now over, and that he was now safe. (pg.57)

The boy's parents, under the guidance of a strongly motivated self-described "past-life regression therapist," put the ideas into James' head themselves. Bruce began researching everything in front of his son in the house. This, in turn, can evoke in James cryptoamnesia, defined as "The phenomenon of perceiving a latent or subconscious memory as an original thought or idea; latent or subconscious recollection." (See 

Bowman had taken advantage of James for her agenda. Again, from her blog cited above:

I encouraged Andrea and her husband, Bruce, to write a book about James's memories. Finally, after three years, they were ready to do it. I introduced them to my wonderful agent, Al Zuckerman, and their book, Soul Survivor, will be released at the end of May.

The book is not about a reincarnated pilot from WWII, but a badly exploited little boy, who might have much to suffer psychologically as a result. James Leininger is 22 as of this year, and I don't know how this experienced has shaped him. One can only hope and pray he is doing well by God's grace.

(e) Cures of phobias and illnesses. Virtual reality can be a powerful new tool for curing phobias. According to one group of researchers, "Behavioral therapy techniques for treating phobias often includes graded exposure of the patient to anxiety-producing stimuli (Systematic Desensitization). However, in utilizing systematic desensitization, research reviews demonstrate that many patients appear to have difficulty in applying imaginative techniques. This chapter describes the Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT), a new therapeutical approach that can be used to overcome some of the difficulties inherent in the traditional treatment of phobias." (See

According to a 2012 study in the peer reviewed journal Consciousness and Cognition 21 (2) 969-975, it was suggested recognition based on familiarity can cause a sensation of deja vu. Using virtual reality technology, it was found that similarity between a scene's spatial layout and the layout of a scene previously experienced (but not recalled) can lead to a subjective feeling of "having been there before despite knowing otherwise." Therefore, "past life regression" can cause vivid imagination, much like virtual reality, and desensitize [even cure] phobias like VRT. Likewise, it can produce a placebo effect in lessening [or even curing] illnesses like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Yet in neither case is the "past life" needed to be anything more than a vivid imagination, devoid of any basis in reality, in order to produce the effect. 

(f) Special knowledge. Some children show a seeming innate ability to do things (e.g., put together complex toys without instructions at a young age) thereby "proving" they learned how to do it in a "past life." This can be explained as a form of "idiot savantism." There are people who are retarded yet know how to play the piano like an expert. Darold Treffert, a world-renowned expert on savant syndrome believes savants are the best example of innate talent and "represent ‘nature’ in its most basic form.” To explain the emergence of savant skills, Treffert proposes the notion of “genetic memory,” which he defines as the biological transfer of proclivities and knowledge that don’t require additional instruction or learning. He argues that this knowledge is “factory- installed” in all of us but remains dormant because we tend to use the same well-worn pathways and circuits that serve us well. He believes this inhibits the "little Rain Man in all of us.” (See Some of these kids could have a form of savant syndrome.

(g) Demonic manifestation. In all the above, we can not rule out the intervention of the forces of Hell. It's interesting that someone can claim they were reincarnated and be looked upon with awe in modern society, but say you believe in Satan and you become a superstitious laughingstock. Demons not only have an ability to predict future events with some degree of accuracy, they also have knowledge of past events. Just as they are able to communicate their knowledge of the future to a human devotee, so too they are able to communicate their knowledge of the past to a human whom they desire to convince that reincarnation is a reality (or whom they desire to use as a means of convincing others that reincarnation is a reality). In hypnosis undertaken for non-necessary medical purposes, the subject opens himself up to an altered state of consciousness where demonic influence is a real possibility. (See e.g., theologian Delaporte, The Devil: Does He Exist and What Does He Do [1872]). 

It has been shown that the "evidence" for reincarnation is far from convincing. If you ask someone who believes in reincarnation, "If we are all reincarnated, why don't we remember who we were without hypnosis?" you will get an answer such as, "The pain of birth makes you suppress the memories," or "You are made to forget so that you make moral progress on your own." Even these so-called explanations, just like the "evidence" they use, are without merit. First, the explanations presuppose reincarnation to be true. Second, these are just ad hoc hypotheses with no factual, theological, or philosophical basis. There is no medical evidence that birth erases/supresses data from the brain. Theologically, who "makes you forget"? God doesn't exist as a personal agent in pantheism. Philosophically, why do you need multiple lives to "become moral"? What difference does it make if a person lives 7,000 years in various incarnations or 70 years in one lifetime when compared to eternity? Are not both infinitesimal in comparison? Isn't getting multiple chances to be moral a disincentive to get it right while you're here this time?

Reincarnation is a lie from Hell. Live as a good Christian and obey Christ's One True Church. Members of the Vatican II sect foolish enough to think they can have "multiple lives" to do what is right may find out too late (God forbid) that there's no second chances after death. 

Monday, December 7, 2020

When Strangers Come Knocking---Part 16


This is the next installment of my series to be published the first Monday of each month.

There are members of false sects, like Jehovah's Witnesses, that come knocking door-to-door hoping to convert you. Instead of ignoring them, it is we who should try and convert them. In 1 Peter 3:16, our first Pope writes, "But in thy hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks thee to give the reason for the hope that thou hast. But do this with gentleness and respect,..." Before the Great Apostasy, the Church would send missionaries to the ends of the Earth to make as many converts as possible. 

Those in false religions don't always come (literally) knocking at your door. It may be a Hindu at work who wants you to try yoga. It could be a "Christian Scientist" who lives next door and invites you to come to their reading room. Each month, I will present a false sect. Unlike the Vatican II sect, I do not see them as a "means of salvation" or possessing "elements of truth" that lead to salvation. That is heresy. They lead to damnation, and the adherents of the various sects must be converted so they may be saved.

In each month's post, I will present one false sect and give an overview of:  

  • The sect's history
  • Their theology
  • Tips on how to share the True Faith with them
Taoism and Holistic Medicine
Many people get taken in by the pagan religion of Taoism by means of "Holistic Medicine." Tens of millions of people in the Western world have been exposed to or use holistic  health methods (i.e., methods claiming to treat the “whole” person, mind, body and soul). Promoters of holistic health techniques prosper by offering patients simple solutions to complex diseases as well as practices and remedies that are said to be free of side effects. Today, even thousands of medical doctors and nurses have bought into these methods and use and/or recommend them. 

Let me say at the very outset that I'm not opposed to any medical method whose safety and efficacy has been established. My problem is with the widespread promotion of methods which have either not been proven, or are questionable (even dangerous) on theological grounds. For the most part, holistic methods reject what is known about how the human body works and are generally opposed to a scientific approach to health care. Let me quickly add that there is much wrong with traditional medicinal treatment, and in turn, that has directly contributed to the rise of Holistic Medicine

This post will examine the pagan religion of Taoism and the pagan/occult ideas that flow from it which permeate two common holistic medicinal practices; reiki and acupuncture. Without realizing it, someone can be duped into using an alleged "health practice" which has them accepting false and heretical ideas. 

The Wrong Way
The sect of Taoism is traditionally held to have originated in China with a man named Lao Tzu or "Old Master" (604-517 B.C.), whose very existence is called into question by many scholars (See Huston Smith, The World’s Religions [1991], pg. 197). Legend has it that that Lao Tzu, “saddened by his people’s disinclination to cultivate the natural goodness he advocated," decided to head west and abandon civilization. As he was leaving, the gatekeeper asked if he would write down his teachings for the benefit of society. Lao Tzu consented, retired for a few days, and returned with a brief work called Tao Te Ching, roughly translated as “The Classic of the Way and its Power.” It consists of 82 chapters. (Ibid).

The term Tao is typically translated into English as “way.” According to religious studies scholar, Huston Smith, Taoism is divided into three main "schools:" philosophical, religious, and "vitalizing." Philosophical Taoism has as its chief object "... to live in a way that conserves life’s vitality by not expending it in useless, draining ways, the chief of which are friction and conflict.” They should take no action contrary to nature which shows the "way." “Vitalizing” Taoists have a different approach to life. Rather than attempting to conserve vitality by taking no action contrary to nature, “vitalizing” Taoists desire to increase their available quota of vital energy, which they refer to as chi. “Vitalizing” Taoists have sought to maximize chi, or vital energy, through nutrition, breathing exercises, meditation, and "energy manipulation."

Religious Taoists attempt to use magical rites to harness occult powers for humane ends in the physical world. There is overlap between Zen Buddhism and Taoism, due to the fact that Taoism has embraced many doctrines from other sects. As a result, some Taoists worship "gods" while denying there exists anything besides "The Tao" or "ultimate reality," into which all is absorbed when death occurs. Some accept reincarnation, while others seek physical immortality by energy manipulation. Taoism can correctly be described as pantheistic (God is the universe) and which allows for a pagan syncretism.

The Taoist "yin-yang symbol," pictured at the top of this post, is a perfect sign of the sect's inherent absorption of all kinds of philosophical and religious ideas, even those that are contradictory.

According to The Ancient History Encyclopedia:
The principle of Yin and Yang is that all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites, for example, female-male, dark-light and old-young.(See The same could be said of "good-evil" as portrayed in the pagan Star Wars franchise where there had to be "balance in the 'Force.'" 

Reiki: An Evil Force
Reiki comes from the Japanese words Ki, (chi in Chinese---which is alleged to be a "universal life-force energy" that everything supposedly possesses) and Rei, which means "higher power."  Reiki claims that everything in the universe is made up of  this "higher power life-force energy" – even humans.  Thus, when someone is feeling depressed, or sick in any way, it is an indication that their energy is "out of balance."  Therefore, it is the function of the Reiki practitioner to "channel positive energy into the person," bringing them back to "balance and wholeness." The founder of this practice is generally considered to be the Buddhist monk, Mikao Usui, who claims he developed mystical power on a pagan retreat. Reiki energy entered his "crown chakra" (i.e., his head), and enabled him to heal people.

According to, Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.

Here is the pagan mumbo-jumbo: The source or cause of health comes from the Ki that flows through and around the individual rather than from the functional condition of the physical organs and tissues. It is Ki that animates the physical organs and tissues as it flows through them and therefore is responsible for creating a healthy condition. If the flow of Ki is disrupted, the physical organs and tissues will be adversely affected. Therefore, it is a disruption in the flow of Ki that is the main cause of illness.

An important attribute of Ki is that it responds to ones thoughts and feelings. Ki will flow more strongly or be weakened in its action depending on the quality of ones thoughts and feelings. It is our negative thoughts and feelings that are the main cause of restriction in the flow of Ki. All negative or dis-harmonious thoughts or feelings will cause a disruption in the flow of Ki. Even Western medicine recognizes the role played by the mind in creating illness and some Western doctors state that as much as 98% of illness is caused directly or indirectly by the mind.

It must be understood that the mind exists not only in the brain, but also through-out the body. The nervous system extends to every organ and tissue in the body and so the mind exists here also. It is also known that the mind even extends outside the body in a subtle energy field 2 to 3 feet thick called the aura. Because of this, it is more appropriate to call our mind a mind/body as the mind and body are so closely linked.  (Emphasis mine).

Reiki, while having Buddhist and Japanese roots,  has been largely appropriated by Taoism.  Here's what's wrong with Reiki therapy:

1. There is no soul as the animating principle of the body, but some impersonal "Ki/chi energy."

2. Ki nevertheless can respond and be manipulated by thoughts and feelings, yet there is no explanation as to how or why this is known/proven.

3. The claim that "some Western doctors" (not even naming one) state "98% of illness is caused directly or indirectly by the mind" is not only completely unsubstantiated, but terms are not even defined. What does it mean that an illness is caused "indirectly by the mind"?

4. It states the existence of some "aura" which is "known" to exist without any citations to a single relevant medical or scientific source.

5. The concept of Rei as the invisible source of all being and of Ki or Chi as the Universal Life Force are completely at variance with the Catholic belief in God as Creator and Heavenly Father. Reiki claims to be independent of any religious belief systems but Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist influences can be clearly identified. Reiki "healers" or therapists often have strong New Age associations, many using crystals and tarot cards. 

Acupuncture: Needles with a Bad Point
Acupuncture is a method of applying stimulation to specific points on the body. Based on the occultic religion of Taoism, acupuncturists claim to be able to stimulate the flow of ki/chi energy through alleged invisible channels or “meridians” in the body (much like "chakras"). When body organs or systems are supposedly deficient in a proper supply of chi energy, imbalance is allegedly produced, resulting in disease. Restoring the flow of  energy through the meridians is believed to revitalize the body organs and systems, thereby curing illness and maintaining health.

Some scientists have claimed that acupuncture is effective for certain ailments and that it works on the basis of as yet unknown principles. However, the latest scientific research is not supportive; studies have yet to demonstrate acupuncture’s effectiveness. For example, an exhaustive analysis of research published in The Clinical Journal of Pain (June 1991) concluded that acupuncture was at best a powerful placebo (See also Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 1990, Vol. 43, pp. 1191-99). When Western scientists attempt to separate acupuncture from its underlying occultic philosophy or practice and merely engage in an unspecific needle stimulation, these methods tend to lose their efficacy.

In 2014, when pharmacologist David Colquhoun at University College London was asked, "Why is it so hard to figure out whether acupuncture works or not?" He responded, "There is a lot of money at stake for those who sell acupuncture—and a certain amount of fascination with New Age thinking. There are excellent controls such as retractable needles. Almost all experiments show no difference between real and sham acupuncture." (See 

While the minority of scientific practitioners of acupuncture avoid the occult, most traditional practitioners do not. Classical acupuncture involves the practice of an ancient pagan medicine inseparably tied to Taoism. In addition, Eastern meditative programs or other occultic practices may be used in conjunction with acupuncture therapy. I was witness to an acupuncture session where the "practitioner" was assisted by four others whose collective job was to "impose their hands over the patient" (much like a bishop at Confirmation imposes hands over all those to be confirmed) and were saying "whoosh!" over and over while the needles were being put in the person's back. Afterwards, I asked what they were doing and I was told they were "projecting their chi energy into the patient for maximal healing." Someone actually paid for this garbage. 

The Vatican II sect actually gets it right...
Proving the old aphorism, "Even a broken clock is right twice each day" true, the Vatican II sect "bishops" condemned the practice of Reiki in 2009, four years before Bergoglio was elected "pope." The document entitled Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy, has this to say in paragraph #9:

The difference between what Christians recognize as healing by divine grace and Reiki therapy is also evident in the basic terms used by Reiki proponents to describe what happens in Reiki therapy, particularly that of "universal life energy." Neither the Scriptures nor the Christian tradition as a whole speak of the natural world as based on "universal life energy" that is subject to manipulation by the natural human power of thought and will. In fact, this worldview has its origins in eastern religions and has a certain monist and pantheistic character, in that distinctions among self, world, and God tend to fall away. (Emphasis mine).

Their conclusion:
Reiki therapy finds no support either in the findings of natural science or in Christian belief. For a Catholic to believe in Reiki therapy presents insoluble problems...In terms of caring for one's spiritual health, there are important dangers. To use Reiki one would have to accept at least in an implicit way central elements of the worldview that undergirds Reiki theory, elements that belong neither to Christian faith nor to natural science.

Without justification either from Christian faith or natural science, however, a Catholic who puts his or her trust in Reiki would be operating in the realm of superstition, the no-man's-land that is neither faith nor science. Superstition corrupts one's worship of God by turning one's religious feeling and practice in a false direction.(See, paragraphs 10 and 11; Emphasis mine. The term "Catholic" is meant to denote a member of the Vatican II sect).

...But Bergoglio Gets It Wrong 
According to CBS News:

 He [Bergoglio] believes in alternate medicine. Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh says in 2004, the Pope, then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, began treatment with a Taoist monk named Liu Ming.  Regular sessions of massage and acupuncture helped Bergoglio conquer symptoms of diabetes and gallbladder problems. (See; Emphasis mine).

Liu Ming is a Reiki practitioner. The fact that Francis believes in, and uses Reiki, exposes his connection to pagan, demonic forces and teachings. In its October 2013 issue, the Spanish language Argentinean magazine TAO ran a story on the association between Bergoglio and Ming. We learn of some additional facts about Ming and Bergoglio. Ming:
  • Practices divination, which is the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of demonic powers
  • Claims Bergoglio will live to be "140 years old"
  • Told Bergoglio there is no difference between the Tao and the God of Catholicism
  • Manipulated Bergoglio's "life-force" (Reiki)
As a result of Ming's "treatments," Bergoglio claimed he was cured, no longer takes medication, and continues to practice what Ming told him. The then "cardinal" from Argentina gave Ming a Spanish copy of the I Ching, a pagan book also known as the "Book of Changes," which is an ancient Chinese divination text.

Remember, this began before Bergoglio's "election" as "pope." According to canonist Coronata:
III. Appointment of the office of the Primacy. 1. What is required by divine law for this appointment: … Also required for validity is that the appointment be of a member of the Church. Heretics and apostates (at least public ones) are therefore excluded. (Institutiones 1:312; Emphasis mine).

By willfully subjecting himself to pagan Taoist practices and giving them credence, Jorge Bergoglio rendered himself incapable to be elected to the papacy in the first place. (That in addition to the heresies of the Robber Council itself). Moreover, reiki was condemned by his own sect. Another blow to the "recognize and resist" crowd.

Proselytizing Taoists
You most likely encounter a Taoist (an actual member or an adherent of the underlying tenets) if you go to an acupuncturist or reiki practitioner. Sadly, there are "priests" in the Vatican II sect that practice reiki (I knew one). Under no circumstance should you submit to reiki. Acupuncture is unlikely to have any real value and should be avoided, even if the practitioner is not Taoist or an occultist.  

Focus the Taoist on the pantheistic idea that is the basis of the sect. For a refutation, use what I wrote under Buddhism, in my third post of this series: In addition, an argument from a personal God and morality may get him/her thinking.

If ultimate reality is impersonal, as Taoism suggests, significant questions are raised. What becomes of morality? Can an impersonal force be the source of objective moral values? Can an impersonal force distinguish good from evil, or can such distinctions be made only by personal beings? If opposites are ultimately united, how can you escape evil, and why would you want to do so? Next, read from the 62nd chapter of Tao Te Ching:

Why did the ancients so treasure this [T]AO? Is it not because it has been said of it: “Whosoever asks will receive; whosoever has sinned will be forgiven”? Therefore is [T]AO the most exquisite thing on earth.

The Taoist immediately finds himself in a conundrum:

First, doesn't sin imply an objective moral standard has been broken? However, if good and evil are intertwined how can there be any moral proscriptions? On what objective basis is something a sin? 

Second, forgiveness can only be sought from a personal agent. However, if the Tao is impersonal, how can an "it" forgive anyone?

Taoism is "the way"--the wrong way to seek God and salvation. Holistic medicinal practices using mystical energy is often an open door to spiritism under another name. It is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish the use of “energy” manipulation and transference in many holistic health treatments from the manipulation of “energy” found among occultists in their various practices.

Is it a surprise that Jorge Bergoglio submits to pagan beliefs and occult practices? He's the perfect syncretism product arising after Vatican II, and truthfully expressed it when he said, "I believe in God, not in a Catholic God; there is no Catholic God." Those of us who still hold to the One True Faith realize that Jesus Christ alone is our "Tao." Only He could say, "... I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Me." (St. John 14:6; Emphasis mine).