Church and the occult

Hello, As I stated in my profile I am a history major at Oakland University in Auburn Hills Mi and I am taking a class on the History of Alchemy Witchcraft and the Occult in Europe. We have been studying Thomas Aquinas and the view of the church. I have a term paper due in December and my working thesis is something along the lines "Besides just good magic an evil magic what is the difference between what the church does using symbols and prayers to ask for divine intervention from angels any different than what an occultist does? The research I have done so far has not shown me much of a difference so this is why I came here to hopefully gain some insight
thanks
Bill

You have chosen a complicated topic.

Symbols and objects are important aspects of Catholic worship and private devotions.

But the Church approaches this on two levels. The first are the seven Sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Unction, Matrimony, Confirmation, and Holy Orders). The Church defines a “sacrament” as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. In other words, something is objectively happening as a result of the rite alone. It does not depend on our belief or faith - bread becomes the Body of Christ no matter what you or I believe about it.

Every Sacrament has five components which must all be validly present: recipient, minister, form (the words used), matter, and intent (of the minister). The result of the Sacrament is a form of divine Grace called Actual Grace. The effect of Grace is to confirm and enrich us spiritually. A Sacrament would not ordinarily have a scientifically testable outcome (and, if that happened, it would be considered miraculous).

Then there are sacramentals. Although the name is similar to Sacrament, these are very different. Examples of sacramentals include rosaries, crucifixes, holy cards, vestments, holy water, and funerals.

The Church does not teach that sacramentals confer grace. That would be considered “magic” by the Church. Sacramentals serve to focus our attention and prayer, which can (and will) result in Grace, but not because of anything to do with the sacramental. You don’t get “extra Grace” simply because you’re holding a Rosary.

Sacraments are important (and Baptism is necessary), but the Church does not compel anyone to make use of sacramentals. These are always optional.

There has been much superstition over the centuries regarding sacramentals, and there still is, to some degree. Some people wear brown scapulars like this one with the so-called Sabbatine Privilege printed on them (it’s phony, obviously). It is superstition to think that wearing a bit of wool will assure your salvation, though you will be in good shape if you strive to live by the Carmelite values the scapular represents.

The Church believes that we can impact God through our prayers, but we cannot control him. The faithful Christian prays as Our Lord did in the Garden: “thy will, not mine, be done.”

To GOD and HIS Church there is NO so called “good” magic, all magic is “evil”.
Any attempt to control nature OR the divine on our part by means of: spells, potions, incantations, etc. is considered grave sin. It is condemned directly by GOD in the Old Testament.
The Church does NOT invoke the divine intervention of Angels except to ask for their protection from the evil one. And the Church when invokes the help of GOD always, always defers to GOD’s will and not ours.
Occultism, kabala, numerology, tarot, fortune telling are all condemned practices by the Church any one that uses them is committing a mortal sin and is opening him/herself to the evil influence which can have very bad consequences.

The occult is a very broad topic and a lot of research would have to be done to understand it correctly. As a Catholic, I cannot post the names of most of the books I’ve collected over the years but I can provide a general overview.

There are many types of “occultists.” Diviners, seers/mediums/channelers, those that claim to have the ability to perform supernatural things that include a large list of supposedly real magic. Most of them are in it for the money, and fortune telling is fake. Among the few that can do certain things, such power only comes from the devil. There are no serious scientific studies that show the occult or supernatural is real. Alchemy is a primitive form of science where it was thought base metals could be turned into gold. If only the right formula could be found.

On the Christian side, God, in the person of Jesus Christ, who is alive at this moment, told us that we could ask in His name and believing, receive. Now, prayer is not an instant thing in some cases. A petition to God for something good may not manifest itself right away. And sometimes, our motives for asking for something are wrong. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:3

Then there are miracles, which are thoroughly investigated by the Church and often include obtaining records from doctors, and hospitals and eyewitness testimony. Or other experts are brought in to examine miracles that do not involve, for example, miracle cures. While we can petition saints, it is God alone who performs the actual miracles.

There are books out there that claim certain things can happen if you believe and do certain things. Avoid them. As I wrote, science has not and cannot study the supernatural. Supernatural events can occur but they either come from the devil or God. Exorcism has been documented but no scientist, as far as I know, has recognized demonic possession as a real event.

Ed

Briefly. The Occultist is seeking to impose his will on nature to effectuate a change in nature that only he desires. The prayerful Believer or Priest, is seeking to unite his will with that of the Divine to effectuate a change that is in harmony with the Divine Will. God is able to effectuate any and all changes He might want in this Universe, but as part of His Divine Plan, he wants us to freely join Him in seeking changes that are harmonious with His Will before He will effectuate some changes (God answers all prayers, but at times the answer is “No”, of course sometimes the answer is always “Yes”, such as during Mass when the presiding Priest is consecrating the Host)

Similar reason why we pray to Saints to pray for us to God, or ask for others to pray for us, it is part of His Divine Plan that we all seek to assist each other, uniting our human wills in prayerful request for a change that is consonant with the Divine Will.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Divination and magic

2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.

2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future.48 Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity. (source)

It’s good verses evil.
Morality vs self indulgence
Charity vs oppression
Love vs hate

Make no mistake the occult can make miraculous things seem to happen (through satanic forces) but the cost is eternal damnation of the soul.

The problem is your research material.

There is a difference between spirituality and religion. Spirituality is the whole life of a person lived in relationship with the transcendent. A person’s individual spirituality may or may not incorporate the rituals, practices, and beliefs of a particular religious group. However, for billions of people throughout the world, institutionalized religion provide the setting in which personalized spirituality is expressed and developed.

Religion acknowledges both the communal dimension of spirituality and the place of tradition of the spiritual journey. It provides a connection to the wisdom and richness of those who have gone before us. Religion enables the tradition to come alive in our own experience and it calls the faith community to apply the tradition to the needs and hopes of the present.

Occult practices are anti-antithetical to this and proven to be damaging. You are trying to find a correlation between authentic religion/spirituality and the occult because both use symbols.

An inverted cross symbolizes the up-side-down crucifixion of Pope St. Peter, the same symbol has been recently hijacked by Satanists depicting the alleged failure of Christianity.

Do atheist professors teach religion at Oakland U.? It seems to be fashionable at Ivy League universities these days.

Thank you everybody for the responses. I didn’t know whether you would want me to ask you my questions privately or in the forum so for this round i will do my best to direct questions at the person who responded. If you would like me to email you directly please let me know. I would like to say before I go further all I am asking for is an open and honest debate and q+a session. I am not out to offend anyone question ones beliefs or how they do things again thank you for all the help you have given and may give:)

David: One of the questions I have is you talk about the sacrament and the part of which are the words used… my question is this how is a prayer and different than say an incantation?
Both could be asking for a blessing (good or bad which i know is a curse) health again good or bad etc so besides the good vs evil theory what is the difference?

Jerry I’d like to see your answer to the question I asked David above. If you would

Ed the first part of what you wrote sounded like a lecture from mt professor lol We just moved out of the beginning of alchemy, My question to you is besides the god is good satan is evil reason what difference is there between a christian and for lack of a better term a satinist? Both believe their god is a live and both will ask them for help. Both make take time to manifest or happen so why is one not cool so to speak if in essence they are both the same thing?

Trevor my question to you is close to the same as I asked David. Is a prayer essentially the same as incantation? Both are asking either a “middle man” or in some cases right to the “boss” to bless curse intervene do something…i’d also like to add this part while as you say and I am paraphrasing an occultist is asking for selfish reasons couldnt the same be argued for a believer. For example if a believer prays for you and asks for your crops to bountiful isn’t that selfish of him to just ask for you because he is your friend or you asked him to?

Todd my question to you is this in 2117 it mentions charms and i think i can assume talismans or objects as well… what is the difference between that and a crusader putting the cross on his shield an armor and getting it blessed there for maybe having him believe that his shield being blessed and having the cross will protect him and if that shield stops a stray arrow its really on then

Wt: my question you is this isn’t heaven to an occultist damnation and hell so they would be getting what they want so they wouldn’t care the price

epostle: to answer you question I don’t know if any of them are. i haven’t taken a religion class. I’m working on becoming a teacher and depending on the level i teach i am going to have to take the stand that i cannot say on is better than the other.
I don’t know if correlation is the right word what i am trying to understand is the relationship between the two and what is the differences. I have discussed this with my professor and this is why I looked at this… if somebody says a prayer asking for some sort of divine intervention for them selves how is that any different than an incantation said by an occultist or a witch etc all they are asking for is divine intervention

Thank you to all for this and once i write the paper I will be more than happy to share it with all … again I am not looking to say who is right or wrong just trying to understand I am a history major not a theological one

You’re not understanding the concept of Divine Will (God’s Will) vs. Man’s Will. Occultism is using your will to effectuate a change that only you want. Prayer is uniting your will with God’s will to effectuate a change that He and you want. You can’t pray for bad things to happen to another person.

You have a lot of definitional issues: what do you mean by incantation? Saying “Bless you” to someone sneezing is theoretically an incantation. Why do you think it is selfish for someone to ask for bountiful crops? Is feeding other people a selfish act? Do you think it is selfish to pray for good health in your definition of things?

If you do then you have a very weird definition of selfish, prayer is grounded in God’s moral universe, you pray for good things to happen to others and yourself and they do the same for you. That’s not selfish, that’s people showing charity to each other.

Trevor thanks for getting back to me im understanding most of what you are saying so ill try to be more on point
In your first point about prayer i understand what you are saying. Now he is a question what if what you want is not what god wants? ( i have had very little religious education) but one thing i have been taught is god has a plan for all of us so what if what you want is against what he wants?
I also think i am looking at the act its self maybe not the meaning but more the act…
Also if a person only asks to have his friend blessed and not others for instance if he prays something like " please bless my friend or neighbor john’s crops and while he may not ask mine to be cursed he leaves me out because he does not like me he may not wish me ill will but he will not ask for me

I guess my bottom line question is going along with your bless you comment …according to Thomas aqunias and the church magic of any form is evil and not condoned which includes incantations … is a prayer asking st.peter to watch over the same thing as an occultist saying an incantation asking a demon for something other than the one is for good and one for bad i dont see a difference
Thanks again for the insight

This idea that God has a “plan” for us is cut from protestant cloth.

God has no “plan” for anyone. He has one desire (and it is the same for everyone), that we die in a state of Grace (either actual or imputed) and dwell for eternity with him in heaven.

The Church does not teach that God has any preference regarding what college we attend, or who we marry, or what job we accept, or where we live, provided our choice does not adversely impact our potential salvation.

is a prayer asking st.peter to watch over the same thing as an occultist saying an incantation asking a demon for something other than the one is for good and one for bad i dont see a difference

Asking St. Peter (or any Saint) to “watch over us” is the same as asking a night watchman (a security guard) to do the same. If something happens, the watchman is expected to raise an alarm to summon official help (the trained and tactically armed police).

No Saint in heaven, not even Our Lady or St. Peter, has any ability to directly and physically intervene on our behalf, except by special dispensation (miracle) of God. These Saints can communicate with God on our behalf, just as a watchman can call 911.

Our prayers to Saints for such overwatch do not compel them to cooperate. They still have free will and may decline our petition if they feel it is unjust. If a drug lord wants to kill a competitor and prays to St. Peter for protection, the Saint may (and probably would) decline to participate.

In “magic” (as I understand it), the practitioner claims some command authority over the “forces” he invokes. He is able to control and manipulate these “forces” to do his will, regardless of what his will might be.

This concept has no counterpart in Catholic thought. No Catholic believes that he can influence any Saint to act in any manner that is contrary to the divine Will of God. We cannot influence any Saint to act in accordance with OUR will alone. We can only ask Saints to help US act in accordance with God’s will.

David thanks for the answer:

Your answer has my wheels turning a bit.
Your answer: “Our prayers to Saints for such overwatch do not compel them to cooperate. They still have free will and may decline our petition if they feel it is unjust. If a drug lord wants to kill a competitor and prays to St. Peter for protection, the Saint may (and probably would) decline to participate.”
Does that mean a demon has to obey if compelled to do something if the person asking it to do something will is strong enough to force him? Does the demon have the right to refuse just as an angel does? Since I do agree demons are usually evil could they refuse to heal somebody just like the saints can refuse to as you say help kill a drug lord?

What if killing the drug lord is the right thing to do? Have people tried to play both sides of the fence when it suits them?

“No Saint in heaven, not even Our Lady or St. Peter, has any ability to directly and physically intervene on our behalf, except by special dispensation (miracle) of God. These Saints can communicate with God on our behalf, just as a watchman can call 911.”

This one made me smile a bit. In our last class we are no getting into astrology and studying Ficiano. Where does the chrch stand with this. We talked about planets and how each of them is ruled by on of the zodiac signs. The and they are broken down into 10 degree and each degree has a deacon that is a go between like the saints and god. What does the church say about that

It is my understanding that demons still have free will. Unless I’ve misunderstood something, that means they could refuse to cooperate with any particular magical incantation. I don’t think the person you are responding to meant that the demons are compelled to cooperate with magic, but if that is what he meant, I think that’s incorrect.

Since I do agree demons are usually evil could they refuse to heal somebody just like the saints can refuse to as you say help kill a drug lord?

I think so.

What if killing the drug lord is the right thing to do? Have people tried to play both sides of the fence when it suits them?

I’m sure people have tried to play both sides of the fence. People will try anything. But not the saints in heaven – they are perfectly aligned with God’s will and they do not make any flaky choices.

“No Saint in heaven, not even Our Lady or St. Peter, has any ability to directly and physically intervene on our behalf, except by special dispensation (miracle) of God. These Saints can communicate with God on our behalf, just as a watchman can call 911.”

This one made me smile a bit.

Good. It is also what the Bible teaches about the angels: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 18:10.

In our last class we are no getting into astrology and studying Ficiano. Where does the chrch stand with this.

I’m not familiar with Ficiano, but the Church rejects astrology: “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.” source

We talked about planets and how each of them is ruled by on of the zodiac signs. The and they are broken down into 10 degree and each degree has a deacon that is a go between like the saints and god. What does the church say about that

First, the Church does not teach that the saints are go-betweens between us and God, except in the sense that anyone can intercede in prayer on behalf of anyone else. In that sense, I can go to my pastor, or a saint, and ask them to pray for me to God, and there is a sense in which you could say that that person is an advocate between me and God. But that is far different from what you are discussing re astrology. Second, I have never seen the Church say anything about the Zodiac signs other than that we should not consult horoscopes, but I have read some classic Christian thinkers who believed that every piece of creation, including planets, has an angel involved in it somehow. I think C.S. Lewis held to this theory, for example, and it sounds reasonable to me. But I don’t think the Church says anything about that.

Marsilio Ficino, not Ficiano.

Good Italian humanist, decent Greek translator, stupid boring occultist. Boy, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried to verify a footnote by wading through his Latin books.

OTOH, those Italian printers sure had nice readable fonts.

I’ll have to disagree on this with respect to the no “plan” part, I know of priests who have felt called to the priesthood, I would presume called as part of God’s plan for them. I obviously agree with the desire that we die in a state of Grace part.

The Church does not teach that God has any preference regarding what college we attend, or who we marry, or what job we accept, or where we live, provided our choice does not adversely impact our potential salvation.

I’ll mostly agree on this, so maybe we’re arguing semantics.

No Saint in heaven, not even Our Lady or St. Peter, has any ability to directly and physically intervene on our behalf, except by special dispensation (miracle) of God. These Saints can communicate with God on our behalf, just as a watchman can call 911.

I will disagree with this (again semantics), the Virgin Mary and at least the Saints who are Angels, so I would presume all Saints, are perfectly capable of directly and physically intervening on our behalf. However, Our Lady (and the Saints) are obedient to God and thus would never directly intervene were it not God’s Will that she (they) do so. So effectively same result as what you wrote but different underlying premise. Contrast the obedient Blessed Virgin, Angels and Saints with the rebellious angels.

This concept has no counterpart in Catholic thought. No Catholic believes that he can influence any Saint to act in any manner that is contrary to the divine Will of God. We cannot influence any Saint to act in accordance with OUR will alone. We can only ask Saints to help US act in accordance with God’s will.

I gave up trying to explain this to the OP, maybe he’ll understand your phrasing, it’s seems a little clearer than what I wrote.:thumbsup:

I also know of a priest also who felt called to the priesthood. He happens to be my brother. And, I am happy to say that his priestly ministry has been abundantly blessed by God.

So I am obviously disposed to agree that SOME (but few) people have a divine “plan” (though I refuse to accept the idea that God will somehow curse or impede them if they don’t carry through and chose a secular vocation instead).

But I categorically deny that God has some sort of divine plan for everyone, and we are expected to somehow discern this plan and follow it (from “big decisions,” such as what job offer to accept, down to “little decisions” such as what to have for lunch).

God calls a few. For the rest of us, he does not care what we decide to do, provided it does not jeopardize our salvation.

I will disagree with this (again semantics), the Virgin Mary and at least the Saints who are Angels, so I would presume all Saints, are perfectly capable of directly and physically intervening on our behalf.

It’s not semantics. They are spiritual beings. We are physical beings. The two cannot intersect without direct divine intercession.

Contrast the obedient Blessed Virgin, Angels and Saints with the rebellious angels.

They are the same. Satan cannot tempt or torment us without God’s permission (see the Book of Job).

Tell me about he is not an easy read the book we are in right now is Frances Yates Giordano Bruno and the hermetic tradtions

Good morning all
Thanks again for all the valuable insight
David you gave me my things I did not know moment this am and of course now I got a question lol…

“They are the same. Satan cannot tempt or torment us without God’s permission (see the Book of Job).”

So Satan still answers to god is that what your saying? He can only tempt and torment us with his permission. Is satan on his own for anything else he chooses to do? What about other evil things a person may do? Are demons just fallen angels?

So if god gives satan permission to tempt and torture us and god is the one who judges us why doesn’t he do it it himself or by having satan so it he is?

Hello all our next chapter is on Pico della mirandola and cabalist magic any thoughts before i go to class tommorow

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