In what way does law of attraction contradict catholicism

Hi! recently, I learned about law of attraction and upon research, too many articles are spreading stating that it is incompatible with Catholicism. Yet I do not know in what way it contradicts the church teachings. I was thinking, maybe it all depends on how we apply law of attraction. But I may be wrong. I know there is this possibility that I havent yet grasped the concept of law of attraction very well.

The basic thing I know about law of attraction is that having positive thoughts bring positive things. and this is how I apply law of attraction:

If I were to assess my faith in God, I can say I have a rich faith. It is because of my faith in God that I believe that whatever good thing I ask for in prayer, I will get it. And because I have that belief, I always have positive thoughts.

Say for example, I am praying that I get a good job. Because of my faith, i believe that I will indeed get a good job. and because I know I am going to get what I prayed for, I only have positive thoughts or emotions.

and if in the same example you feel worried that you may not get a job despite your prayer, isn’t that a lack of faith? Now, why do many people say Law of attraction is against catholicism? shouldn’t law of attraction be also a practice for us catholics?

It places the individual in charge of his reality, his well being. It rules God’s will - which our will naturally opposes - out of the picture. As far as I can tell, it is incompatible with Judaism (Job) or with Christianity (Tobit, Gospels). As well, I have no idea how this “law” could ever be scientifically demonstrated.

:o Excuse me, please, but might I ask you to elaborate a bit upon what you said? I mean the part about the will of humans “naturally opposing” the will of the Creator. If you think your response will not add to the O/P’s thread, kindly just indicate you think it would be inappropriate to post a response here.

Thank you very much.

The main point you are missing about the New Age teaching surrounding the “law of attraction” is that God has no place in this “law”.

In the “law of attraction” you make things happen by your own “psychic” power of “good thoughts” impacting the physical world, which is a completely false teaching.

You are describing the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love when you talk about trust in God. The “law of attraction” is not based on almighty God, but on your own works apart from God.

Stay away.

Christians believe that, since the fall of the human race as recorded in the 3rd chapter of the Book of Genesis, the essential nature of creation was forever altered. Man and woman thereafter suffered from concupiscence, or the predilection (inclination) to evil. This bias toward evil and away from the goodness of the Creator God carried the natural consequence of making human free will stand in opposition to the perfect will of God. Mankind chose disobedience as the first act of free will, and even though deceived in their temptation, they chose freely to disobey. They desired to be like gods, knowing good and evil, when it had been taught them that they were not intended to have knowledge of evil, but rather, only of the good. In essence, this act introduced entropy to all of creation.

It is from this broken nature, this predilection toward rebellion, that our wills oppose that of God. We can conform our wills to that of God, but it takes a denial of the self and active determination to do so.

I think you, like many people, are operating on this idea without a firm understanding of true happiness.

I recommend you read St. Thomas Aquinas’ Treatise on Happiness in the Summa Theologiæ.

I challenge your use of the word “naturally.” Even Calvin admitted that he wasn’t really using it to refer to human nature, but just to the fact that we come into the world sinful. And Augustine and the Catholic tradition, to my knowledge, have never spoken of the “essential nature” of human beings as altered or sinful. Nature is, by definition, good. The will is twisted and turned in on itself by sin (which is your original, valid point), and the powers of the soul are darkened. But nature itself isn’t changed, according to Catholic teaching as I understand it.

St. Maximus the Confessor, one of the greatest theologians of the Eastern Church, distinguished between what he called the “natural will” (which is good, as is nature) and the “gnomic will,” which is fallen. I think that’s a helpful distinction. Through grace, while imperfections remain, our wills are realigned with God’s will. You’re right, though, that this does take effort on our part and we can’t just assume that whatever we want is good.

The broader problem with the “law of attraction,” I think, is that it’s patently false and cruel. You don’t have to be a Christian to see that. It posits that if bad things happen to people, they have brought them on themselves. It seems to imply that prosperous people are more virtuous than unfortunate ones.

There’s some truth in it, of course. Hope and faith and joy do tend, on the whole, to produce good results in one’s life even in temporal terms. But one can’t be assured of this. It’s not a “law.”

Edwin

I would expect nothing less from you, Edwin! As you are well familiar with my clumsiness in responding, if I have done so in violation of the letter, I at least attempted to do so in the spirit of Catholic teaching. To wit:

377 The “mastery” over the world that God offered man from the beginning was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self. The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence254 that subjugates him to the pleasures of the senses, covetousness for earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason.

400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.282 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.283 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.284 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,285 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.

And, in apparent opposition to Calvin:

405 Although it is proper to each individual,295 original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called “concupiscence”. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

There are two principles that you’re mixing here: the “law of attraction” and Faith.

Faith is a certainty that God will answer our prayers. The note here is that God is the active agent in response to our petitions to Him.

The “law of attraction” asserts that the universe will respond to our positive thoughts and intentions. The note here is that the universe is the active agent in response to our general attitudes.

Different agents responding to different things. The way you’ve presented this, you’re blending the agents (God and the universe) and saying they’re responding in conjunction, and you’re blending the object of the response (our prayers and our attitudes) and saying that our attitudes align with what we hope for in our prayers.

But this does not truly reflect either position. If you say that God is responding to your prayers through the universe, it’s still God responding to your prayers. If you say that the universe is responding to your attitudes, which are reflected in you prayers, it’s still the universe responding to your attitudes, not God.

Deuteronomy 18:11 specifically prohibits Charmers, as charming is abhorrent to God, and an abomination. A charmer is someone who tries to attract good things in life through magic. It would be a mistake to understand “charmer” as a wizard or sorcerer, as it is mentioned specifically seperate from these in the same passage of Deuteronomy. It is precisely through magical means that the “law of attraction” operates. It is through the force of the person’s will acting on the universe that it works. This is magic. This is why it is considered wrong.

We are to rely on God for what we receive in life, and on His blessings, not magic.

Sorry for nit-picking. I don’t remember whether you come from a conservative Protestant background or not, but those of us who do have run into this “humans are naturally bad stuff” so often that we get hyper-sensitive to it. I shouldn’t have distracted from your main point, which is that human sinfulness is one of the reasons why treating the universe like a great wish-granting machine is a really, really bad idea.

Edwin

Edwin

I would guess that it comes down to one’s definition of concupiscence. Here are two sections which I was looking for:

2514 St. John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.301 In the Catholic catechetical tradition, the ninth commandment forbids carnal concupiscence; the tenth forbids coveting another’s goods.

2515 Etymologically, “concupiscence” can refer to any intense form of human desire. Christian theology has given it a particular meaning: the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of the human reason. The apostle St. Paul identifies it with the rebellion of the “flesh” against the "spirit."302 Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin. It unsettles man’s moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins.

When I wrote of our nature, I intended that to mean our inclination to commit sin, which did not exist before the fall. It is certainly not Calvin’s exaggerated view of our nature, but rather allows for our seeking after God by that level of good which remains in our wills.

Thanks for the replies. I would have been led astray had I not posted this question. I am actually in the process of learning more about LoA. and I still do not know whether at this point, I am already properly practicing LoA or not.

Great debate is going on in here and I really do not know where to start. Honestly, I cannot fully grasp most of you are trying to say. It’s so unfortunate that I was not able to study the bible before and that I just read on my own.

From reading your posts, it appears I am not really practicing law of attraction. or am I?

It’s really hard to explain this. but I think I’ll just simplify what I do. It goes like this:

I always pray for good things to happen. Because I prayed and I have faith that it will be answered, I feel good. and if I don’t feel good, I always find a way to feel good. - Now, is this law of attraction? If not, am I still in contradiction with the church teachings?

When I knew about LoA, the way I pray changed. Even in my prayers, I have to see to it that most of the time, I am positive. For example, when I pray for good grades, I don’t pray that I won’t fail. Instead, I pray that I pass.

One thing didn’t change though. That is: all things are given by God.

What can you say?

You’re right MrSnaith. I am trying to mix those 2 principles except that I don’t see God and the universe as separate. I think the word universe is just synonymous to the word God which is used by those who are “seasoned” practitioners of LoA. For them they call our God as Universe. and we call their Universe as our God.

So for me, I don’t see God as responding to my prayers through the universe. But I see God as the one who directly answers my prayers.

I have come to the conclusion and thankful that from what I have been reading, I am not FULLY practicing the concept of LoA. The most apparent thing that LoA did to me was to always see to it that I am in a very positive condition. Which I think is not wrong. What do you think?

Clear Catholic Doctrine states that the Universe and God are distinct. The universe is a creation of God’s, and therefore not synonymous with God. If the universe was synonymous with God, then the universe would have been self-creating, which is non-sense, because to create implies prior existence. God is not a created being. He has always been. The universe is created. If you assert that the universe is God, then you must necessarily assert that we are “part” of God, which is also against Catholic Doctrine. We are not pantheists.

If a seasoned practitioner of LoA asserts that the universe and God are one and the same, then this is all the more reason to acknowledge that LoA is contra-Catholic.

The desires of the flesh or the spirit - it’s a constant battle in our lives

I would love to read that! can you post a link where I can find that? I found this but I do not know if that’s exactly what you were talking about. sacred-texts.com/chr/aquinas/summa/sum132.htm

thank you!

Thanks for making that clear to me. Yet it is still unclear to me whether what I do is against catholic teachings. Based from the many posts, the practice I do does not exactly fit the LoA. I would be grateful if you’ll let me know what exactly I am doing that is against catholic teachings. Again thank you for helping me not to go to the wrong path,

The Treatise on Happiness is in four questions in the Summa;
[LIST]
*]Of Those Things in Which Men’s Happiness Consists
*]What Is Happiness?
*]Of Those Things That Are Required for Happiness
*]On the Attainment of Happiness
[/LIST]

It’s important to recognize that Thomas uses two different Latin words for happiness, which are sometimes both translated as “happy.” Felicitas is lesser happiness, which is imperfect by nature; beatitudo is perfect happiness that comes only from God.

I don’t think it’s bad to have a positive attitude, obviously, and it’s very important to have hope and trust in God. The problem with LoA is the claim that there’s some sort of automatic “law’” whereby a positive attitude “attracts” good things to you.

And as po18guy said, there’s also the problem that our will may not be the same as God’s will, and in fact since we’re sinners it often won’t be. I resisted po18guy a bit, because I grew up in a tradition (Wesleyan Holiness) that really emphasized “dying to self-will” to the point that it’s very hard for me to admit that I want anything–I assume that if I want something it must be bad. So a mild dose of “positive thinking” has actually been very helpful for me.

As L. Marshall has pointed out, Thomas Aquinas has a lot to say that’s relevant here. Basically what he’s talking about is that according to Aquinas ultimate happiness is found in God. God is the fulfillment of our legitimate desires. We desire God with our very natures, which God created (this, again, is why I wanted to qualify what po18guy said). So there’s nothing wrong with joy and hope and desiring God to give us good things. Those things are all great.

A further qualification is that many saints have experienced what is called a “dark night of the soul” in which the good feelings you’re talking about in your relationship with God stop showing up. So a relationship with God doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in good feelings. But often it does, and we should be grateful for that!

Edwin

When u say that u have faith that your prayers will be answered, I think so long as u keep in mind that things will go according to God’s will (and not your own), and that this means that things may end up happening in ways that u don’t understand (and they usually do), then, I think you’re probably fine.

Just remember, though, that prayer is an intimate, loving conversation between u and God, and it shouldn’t be about “feeling” good.

Also, I’m not really sure what u mean when u say “I always find a way to feel good”. Do u mean that if u don’t feel good after prayer, that u do something like play a video game to feel better? Or do u pray again till u feel better? :shrug:

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