Monday, May 1, 2023

Contending For The Faith---Part 15


In St. Jude 1:3, we read, "Dearly beloved, taking all care to write unto you concerning your common salvation, I was under a necessity to write unto you: to beseech you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints." [Emphasis mine]. Contending For The Faith is a series of posts dedicated to apologetics (i.e.,  the intellectual defense of the truth of the Traditional Catholic Faith) to be published the first Monday of each month.  This is the next installment.

Sadly, in this time of Great Apostasy, the faith is under attack like never before, and many Traditionalists don't know their faith well enough to defend it. Remember the words of our first pope, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." (1Peter 3:16). There are five (5) categories of attacks that will be dealt with in these posts. Attacks against:

  • The existence and attributes of God
  • The truth of the One True Church established by Christ for the salvation of all 
  • The truth of a particular dogma or doctrine of the Church
  • The truth of Catholic moral teaching
  • The truth of the sedevacantist position as the only Catholic solution to what has happened since Vatican II 
In addition, controversial topics touching on the Faith will sometimes be featured, so that the problem and possible solutions may be better understood. If anyone has suggestions for topics that would fall into any of these categories, you may post them in the comments. I cannot guarantee a post on each one, but each will be carefully considered.

Are Near Death Experiences (NDEs) Proof of God?
 In 1975, Dr. Raymond Moody (b. 1944) published a most controversial and groundbreaking book entitled Life After Life. Dr. Moody (who impressively is a philosopher, psychologist, and medical doctor) coined the term "near death experience" or "NDE." His research began after meeting psychiatrist Dr. George Ritchie in 1965. Ritchie believed that when he was twenty-years-old, he journeyed into the afterlife for about nine minutes while clinically dead. He believed that his soul had left his body for a short time. Moody then began to investigate others who made similar claims.

There was a definite pattern in what they had to report such as the feeling of being out of one's body, the sensation of traveling through a tunnel, making contact with dead relatives, and encountering a bright light during clinical death. To be "clinically dead"  means death as judged by means of medical observation of the complete cessation of a beating heart and respiration. It is distinguished from "actual death" because of the possibility of resuscitation within a reasonably short time.

 Moody is convinced that NDEs are scientific proof of life after death. Skeptics have accused Moody of "cherry-picking" his subjects to fit his preconceived ideas, and both doctors and scientists have offered naturalistic explanations for NDEs. The value of NDEs has also come under fierce criticism from Protestants and conservative members of the Vatican II sect because of Moody's later research which cannot be reconciled with Christian teaching. They say NDEs are of Satanic origin to confuse the faithful. The case against Moody's later research is strong:
  • Moody claims that by staring into a mirror in a dimly lit room, people can summon "spiritual apparitions"
  • Moody now believes in the false pagan belief of reincarnation (from his study of "past life regression") and claims to have had "nine past lives." 
A personal "visit to Heaven" has become one of the best-selling topics in nonfiction. Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven [2014], Todd Burpo, and Lynn Vincent’s Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back [2010], and Mary Neal’s To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life [2012], immediately come to my mind. Such books regularly find themselves on the New York Times Bestseller List.

In this post, I will use the accounts in the aforementioned books and compare that with Church teaching. I also found much peer-reviewed literature, the findings of which I have incorporated here. I take no credit for myself.  Armed with this information, I will try to give an informed opinion on this topic. For a Traditionalist, is there any truth to NDEs? Are they merely the final hallucination of an oxygen-starved brain? Are they all deceptions of the father of lies? I think that based on all the available research, there are good reasons to believe NDEs may give certain people an actual glimpse into the hereafter.

Common Traits of NDEs
Peer-reviewed literature has shown the following traits of NDEs:
  •  Most people say that no words can describe the near-death experience. Human language is insufficient to depict what occurred.
  • Individuals typically report hearing themselves pronounced dead by medical personnel. To the doctors and nurses present, death seemed real because the heart and breathing had stopped, and the person appeared to be physiologically dead. 
  • Most people who have had a near-death experience say they had sensations of extreme pleasure, peace, and quiet, which often motivate the individual to want to stay “dead” and not return to earthly life. (There are exceptions, for some people have claimed a demonic and hellish near-death experience.)
  • People often feel they are being pulled through a dark passageway or tunnel, usually while hearing the noise described above
  • People typically say that they depart from their physical bodies and observe themselves lying on the operating table, while doctors and nurses attempt resuscitation or pronounce death
  • Those who have these experiences often claim that spiritual entities were present to help them through the experience. Sometimes these spiritual entities are loved ones who have already passed away
  • One of the most common characteristics of the near-death experience is encountering a being of light. Even though the light emanating from this being is brilliant, it does not hurt the eyes. This being also seems to emanate love and warmth. He communicates not with words but through thoughts. Often the communications deal with the meaning of life
  • Sometimes individuals in a near-death experience come upon an instant moment in which they witness a vivid review of their entire life. This life-review is said to provoke in them a recognition of the importance of loving other people
  • Individuals in a near-death experience often come upon an obstruction that prevents them from going any further in their journey or actually reaching the being of light. Sometimes this border is described as a fence, a door, or a body of water
  • Due to the the incredible feelings of peace and tranquility, and because of the love and warmth emanating from the "being of light," many individuals in a near-death experience want to stay in the presence of the being of light and not come back. They nevertheless return because they are told they haven’t finished their tasks on the earth
  • Most people who go through this experience say they are reticent about disclosing the experience to others because they feel their experience is inexpressible. Moreover, they feel others would be skeptical upon hearing of their experience. Therefore, most people choose to remain quiet about what happened, revealing it only to a few
  • Many researchers claim that people who go through a near-death experience typically end up having a more loving attitude toward other people, a greater zeal for living, and a belief that they have a better understanding of the meaning of life
  • Most people who go through a near-death experience say they no longer fear death
  • Many times the individual is later able to corroborate specific events—for example, in the hospital operating room—that would have been impossible for him to know about unless he had been consciously observing things
(I have read several papers on the NDE. One of the most interesting was

NDEs Examined: Materialistic Explanations Fail
Materialist Objection #1: There is bias because the researchers already believe in life after death, or they want to believe it.
That objection can easily be flipped on those researchers who try to debunk NDEs because they allegedly don't believe in life after death or don't want to believe in it. According to Dr. Bruce Greyson, professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia and a highly respected researcher, "Most near death researchers did not go into their investigations with a belief in mind-body separation, but came to that hypothesis based on what their research found." (See Dr. Bruce Greyson, Commentary on Psycho-physical and Cultural Correlates Undermining a Survivalist Interpretation of Near-Death Experiences, p. 140, cited in Chris Carter, Science and the Near-Death Experience [2010], p. 200).

Materialist Objection #2: Oxygen deprivation causes an NDE.
No, it doesn't account for many aspects. The research shows that many NDEs took place where the oxygen levels were being closely monitored in a hospital. The subject was able to tell what was accurately going on in his (and other!) rooms, while having sufficient oxygen in the brain. Researchers who are cardiologists and extremely familiar with oxygen deprivation, nevertheless reject it as a viable hypothesis (e.g. Drs. van Lommel, Sabom, and Rawlings who have all been published). 

Fighter pilots, during rapid acceleration, will sometimes experience tunnel vision, pass out, and dream of friends/family due to oxygen deprivation. However, there is a qualitative difference between the two accounts. The pilots report a dream-like state and experience a lack of peripheral vision, which makes it look like a tunnel around them. NDEs are experienced as vivid and describe a feeling of moving through a tunnel, not seeing things in a tunnel-like way.

Materialist Objection #3: Science does not believe in immaterial components. There is a brain, but no "mind" or "soul" independent of the brain. To believe in a soul is like believing in goblins or ghosts for which we have no scientific evidence.

Science actually does believe in components that are unseen and basically immaterial. Scientists believe in electrons which are invisible even when observed under the most powerful microscopes. Science sees their effects, so they must exist, but they function more like invisible waves than observable particles. Therefore, if we have enough evidence of the effects of a mind or soul, we should believe in it. 

Problems with NDEs
1. Are NDEs occult?
In some cases (but not all) the answer is in the affirmative. Many times the "being of light" (identified by many who have experienced an NDE as Jesus Christ) will teach false doctrines opposed to Church teaching:

  • Sin is either non-existent or "no big deal"
  • There is no Hell 
  • All religions are equally valid and lead to salvation
  • God is nonjudgmental and really doesn't care what we believe or what we do in life
  • Jesus Christ is not God, He was only a "wise man" or a "prophet"
These heretical and evil doctrines cannot be from God. Many who experience such NDEs are members of false, pagan sects or have dabbled in the occult. 

2.  In some cases, suicide may be committed by those who have had an NDE.
Although most recipients of an NDE are more committed to living a morally praise-worthy life, some think that it is better to go "back to Heaven." In popular culture, NDEs dealing with encounters of Hell are rarely discussed. These people have never been known to take their own life. 

Are NDEs Compatible with Church Teaching?
In my opinion, the NDE itself--the idea of a temporary body/soul separation--- is possible.

Objection: Why would God permit an NDE? We are appointed to die only once and then to judgement.   

Reply: True, but clinical death is not actual death which is irreversible. In the case of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Christ, and other people whom great saints raised from the dead, God can suspend the Particular Judgement and send the soul back to the body. This is possible and does not contravene Church teaching. There are many reasons that God could permit such an experience, not the least of which is to give people a realization there is an afterlife, you have a purpose, and you need to get right with God. It can also be used to show the glory of the One True Church, or the holiness of some saint. I'm not God, so I may never understand why He permits the experience, but that doesn't mean NDEs aren't real. 

Objection: All NDEs are of Satanic origin because (a) God would make Himself clearly known; (b) everyone seems to go to Heaven regardless of belief or the life they led; (c) some people report seeing pets. Animals have no immortal soul.

Reply: In reply to (a), we are assuming we know what God would do. That's pretty arrogant.  "For My thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways My ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are My ways exalted above your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts." (Isaiah 55: 8-9). In reply to (b), this is not accurate. There are a significant number of people who have frightening NDEs, mention the experience after being resuscitated, then forget about it; perhaps repressing its horror. Some people do report encounters with Hell.

Remember, an NDE does not guarantee your final destination. Just because you see Heaven doesn't mean you will go there, and the same holds true for Hell. Perhaps God is giving the one who has the experience more time to enter the Church and/or repent from sin. The repression of an NDE may also explain why, even though we all have a soul, only some people during clinical death assert they experienced it.  In response to (c), many who see pets are children. Perhaps God wants to make things as pleasant as possible for them; He is not teaching that animals have immortal souls.

Discerning NDEs
How can a Traditionalist discern an account of an NDE which may be true to one patently false and occult? Here are some points to keep in mind:

A good working policy is to heed Solomon’s advice: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). Never take anything at face value. Always measure NDE claims against Church teaching. Recognize that Satan is the great counterfeiter of God. He is also no doubt behind many of today’s NDEs which feature a counterfeit Christ who preaches universalism, or a "being of light" who denies the Divinity of Christ.

Certain aspects of NDEs are objectively verifiable. They are “evidential.” I am referring specifically to patient accounts of what doctors and other people do and say during the time of the patient’s NDE. These accounts seem to provide convincing evidence of conscious existence apart from the physical body. Other aspects of NDEs are not objectively verifiable. All accounts of the nature of Heaven and people in Heaven are untestable and unverifiable. They, therefore, have no evidential value and must be treated as a private revelation, which need not be believed, even when not in contradiction of what the Church teaches.

 NDEs are not per se opposed to Church teaching. They actually serve as evidence of life after death, and the importance of finding and living the True Faith. The materialistic explanations are caving in as more and more research in this field is being done. The theological objections are not without merit. I'm certainly not claiming that all NDE experiences are true (some people lie) or good (some are of demonic origin). The majority of these experiences are compatible with Church teaching, even if we don't know why God permits them. We should go where the evidence leads. If anyone claiming an NDE speaks contrary to Church teaching, the NDE should be spurned as either a falsehood or of demonic origin. 

Just as there are true apparitions (Our Lady of Fatima) and false apparitions (Our Lady of the Roses at Bayside, New York), so too there can be true and false NDEs. We must learn to discern. As the Apostle St. John wrote under Divine Inspiration, "Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (1 John 4: 1). 


  1. Hi Introibo

    Great article as always.Thank you and God bless

    New Zealand

    1. James,
      Glad my articles are helpful to you. Comments like yours keep me writing!

      God Bless,


  2. I know a Franco-Belgian Novus Ordo theologian who built a theology of the appearance of Christ at the hour of death from the NDEs and false Novus Ordo saints like "Saint" Faustina. He believes that at the hour of our death, Christ will appear to us with the angels and saints and that Satan will also appear. He claims that, following our particular judgment, we will have the choice to follow Christ or Satan. To my knowledge, that is not what the Church teaches. When we leave this world, we will be judged according to our works and we will receive the appropriate eternal sentence. I have read Moody's book but I think there is a lot of uncertainty about NDE as you say and I believe it is best to stick to the teaching of the Church and live a righteous life while waiting for the Judgment.

    1. Simon,
      Yes, that theory was condemned by the Sacred Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office in the 1930s. The possibility of an NDE is real, and I believe they do happen. However, the next question is: Are they of God or Satan? In my opinion, the majority seem to be of demonic origin, but there are some exceptions that appear to be truly of God. We must always, as you wrote, "stick to the teaching of the Church and live a righteous life while waiting for the Judgment."

      God Bless,


  3. Good comment Simon.I always enjoy your comments.God bless you my friend


  4. Thank you James, God bless you too ! Let's keep the faith in these times of Great Darkness !

  5. Hello Introibo:

    What were traditional Catholics doing around the time that the 9/11 attacks happened? For example, did traditional Catholics see the smoke from the twin towers? Were there special Masses? What did traditional Catholics do to help the victims?

    Thank you. Anonymous

    1. @anon7:59
      I cannot speak for all Traditionalists, but Fr. DePauw and those of us at the Ave Maria Chapel were praying and Masses were offered for the victims of 9/11. I saw the smoke from the Twin Towers. Many of us donated to charities to help the families of the victims. At the Chapel, we lost one of our own, Mr. Thomas ("Tommy") Gambino, a NYC Fireman. He lost his life going into one of the Towers to rescue others; he died a hero. There is a plaque in the back of the Chapel in his memory. Tommy attended the Most Holy Sacrifice every Sunday with his wife and children. I sat directly behind him on Sunday, September 9, 2001--the last Mass he would attend in this life. "Always be ready to for Judgement" is the lesson Tommy both understood and lived by, to his everlasting credit.

      God Bless,


  6. Hello Introibo

    Can I ask for your advice on something.How do I deal with a devious female coworker.Have you had problems yourself.

    I work in heathcare where most of the staff are female.


    1. Paul,
      The woman is devious in what way? Has she done anything specifically to you? What is her age and how long has she been working with you?

      When I was a middle school science teacher in NYC, most of my fellow teachers (about 65%) were female.

      God Bless,


  7. Introibo,

    Interesting, thank you. Perhaps the evils of today also serve as a way God brings people to Him. I tend to think that, although I don’t remember it as much as I should. Solomon’s advice: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17) – how true! I think of how many times in the past I’ve changed my mind on a topic after hearing counter-arguments. Learn to discern, as you wrote.

    Prayers please, for a loved one, who has a cross that feels particularly heavy right now.

    I will be attending my first N.O. ceremonies soon, post conversion. I expect unfortunately there will be many more to come. I will be remembering the advice given about non-participation and not giving scandal. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can pray a rosary (the moving lips may be interpreted, and properly so, as prayer), but shouldn’t I be able to read a religious or spiritual book provided the cover is hidden? Or perhaps a spiritual work on a pdf on my phone, surreptitiously read?

    Thanks to all for any prayers.

    God Bless,
    -Seeking Truth

    1. Seeking Truth,
      My prayers are with your loved one, and I ask all my readers to do the same. You could, without sinning or giving scandal, read a good Traditionalist Catholic book or on your phone, kept out of sight so as not to make others angry with you. You'll see what you were missing, and be glad the Vatican II sect is out of your life!

      God Bless,


    2. Reply to "Seeking Truth": I would not hide the Rosary or any other thing.

    3. cairsahr__stjoseph,
      I agree with Seeking Truth. Reciting the Rosary, for example, in the Vatican II sect, would most likely lead others to believe he is a member of the sect perhaps praying the "Illuminati Mysteries." It could lead others to think the Vatican II sect is Catholic, or that Seeking Truth agree with them. That would be scandalous.

      God Bless,


  8. It seems to me that someone being Judged (in every fearful sense of the term) would not come back to report on the NDE

    1. cairsahr__stjoseph,
      You are correct--once the Particular Judgement has taken place, the soul cannot return to the body except at the Last Judgement, when all will rise from the dead.

      God Bless,


  9. Introibo

    Have you ever heard of someone having the knowledge or feeling of someone very close to them i.e a family member of them dying without being told?What about the soul of the deceased person appearing to them as it leaves the world.

    I know of a young man who has a very deep spiritual life who told me in person that this happened to them.

    I would value your comments.Thank you

    God bless you

    1. @anon5:07
      Yes, I have heard of such. While God CAN permit such a thing to happen, it is RARE. Points to remember:

      The Church teaches the souls of the deceased are judged immediately upon death. This is called the particular judgement, which comes before the General Judgement when Christ returns in glory.

      The souls of those in sanctifying grace (the just) go immediately to Heaven, or to Purgatory, to be followed by Heaven. The souls of the wicked (who died without sanctifying grace) go immediately to Hell.

      God only rarely allows the souls of the dead to make contact with the living. Such encounters will be forceful and in line with the teachings of the Church.

      People who expect to see the dead, or claim such on a regular basis, are in touch with the demonic.

      God Bless,


    2. Thank you very much for your quick reply.

      Are there any good pre Vatican Two books on this subject?

      This young man did not expect to see the dead.He is very devoted to our Blessed Mother and holds the full Truths of the True and Traditional Catholic Faith.A CMRI priest told him that this was very rare and the soul must of requested prayers to shorten their time in purgatory.

      I have read that some of the Saints had this experence such as Saint Benedict.

      This young man is well aware of the demonicHe has never try to make contact with the dead.

      God bless you Introibo

    3. @anon3:45
      I am unaware of any pre-V2 books on this subject. There are specific instances written about, as in the case of St. Maria Goretti appearing to her murderer to convert him.

      I'm glad this young man is right with God. If any of my readers know of good books on this topic, please comment here.

      God Bless,