The New Age Invasion


Over the past few years I’ve noticed a very disturbing trend regarding an invasion of New Age activities within Catholic environments. Many of us have taken notice.

New Age activities include things such as reiki, enneagram, earth spirituality (eco-spirituality), drumming circles, smudging, medicine dolls, tarot, polytheistic labyrinth meditations, buddhist chant, feminine God, etc, etc, etc…

Such activities are being promoted in quite a number of “Catholic” retreat centers, parishes, and convents. I’m afraid the number isn’t small, either. I did a quick web search and found many (many!) of these Catholic places practising and/or supporting the New Age.

I realized that this must be a vast problem when I relocated to another town and found that the nearest parish had things like “autumnal equinox celebration” “labyrinth meditation”, and “enneagram” listed in their parish activities calendar.

In fact, it’s so easy to find these many Catholic places that practice New Age activities because they boldly and proudly mention them on their websites.

A while ago I read the document from the Vatican which specifically addressed the new age. Long story short, it’s forbidden.

“Thank God!”, I thought. “The Church does not approve of this.” The document gave me hope, and made me glad that the Catholic Church does not approve of such things. But as the months and years have passed, the new age trend continues, and it continues to be very disturbing…

I have noticed religious communities, nuns, and priests promoting this sin of New Age. Reiki master nuns, parish enneagram workshops… and a strange practice of “spirituality”, with vague, polytheistic definition. These things continue.

They continue regardless of what is written in the Bible, in the Catechism, by church fathers, and by the Vatican. Sad sisters still continue to have their little pagan retreat centers. Parishes continue to have their enneagram workshops. Pagan philosophy abounds.

I’ve seen a website of an archdiocese that is having a workshop at a Passionist Earth and Spirit Center… and the Passionist Earth and Spirit Center has things in their activities such as “Eastern spiritual traditions”, “transpersonal psychology” and “Enneagram”, among others.

I’ve seen Catholic nuns gonging a bell in Buddhist Chant. I’ve heard nuns refuse to call God “Father”, and instead call Him “mother”.

I’ve read about a list of convents that supported an earth spirituality conference (hosted at a Catholic college) where an actual witch was a part of the guest speakers.

I’ve even run into unorthodox experiences myself. When I attended a Catholic dominican college, I attended a prayer meeting. The prayer meeting turned out to be anything but Catholic. I went there to pray to Jesus with other people, but the next thing I knew I found myself being swirled in a whirl of confusion when a lady lead everyone to ask the four corners to bless us, and then she smudged us the Native American way with an incense bundle. And just recently I even had a hard time at confession… not because it was hard to confess my sins- I was glad to… the problem was the priest said my sins weren’t sins! Yet I know they were, because the catechism says so.

I’m a Catholic convert. I converted to the Catholic church because I believe it is Jesus’ church. But now I find myself saying I converted to be Roman Catholic, not Pagan Catholic. It becomes hard for me to defend the church to protestants. I find it troubling that I even have to say that. I worry that Jesus will be angry with me for being part of the Catholic Church, when so many leaders within the church (priests, nuns, bishops) practice or allow idolatry and other paganism. Are their sins on my head too? It was never about them, though, it was and is about Jesus.

And you know, I look back over the years, and I see the moral relativism and the paganism still exists. And I find myself asking why. Why? Why aren’t these new age “Catholic” retreat centers and convents shut down? Why are some parishes still pushing liberal theology? Why do so many parish activity calendars have Reiki and Enneagrams? Why do some diocese do nothing about these places that dabble in New Age? If the bishops and archbishops do nothing, and thus such is tolerated, does that mean they approve? Does that mean it’s okay with the Catholic Church too?

If this is Catholicism… if this is the new face of Catholicism, I feel that I would be betraying Christ to be among such heterodoxy. I would feel it would be a mortal sin to be Catholic.

Please tell me, that the fact that this New Age pervasion is being tolerated (tolerated in that it still exists), that it does NOT mean that it is Catholic or approved by the Church.

*Please tell me this is not Catholicism.

*I wonder what Jesus would say about all of this…


Also, is this a problem all over the world, or is this mostly an American problem?


I had a similar experience. This is not Catholicism and it should be taught in our parishes. We got the impression that the New Age Movement was ok because it was being offered at our church. It’s dangerous and misleading. I can understand your frustration.
I recommend Fr. Mitch Pacwa Catholics and the New Age.
EWTN Audio Library File Index: The New Age Movement


It is not unique to the United States, I’m afraid. This evil has spread far and wide. Take some small consolation from the fact that the communities of religious men and women who engage in these practices are dying on the vine because of a lack of vocations. Oh, you’ll get the occasional neo-hippy university religious studies syncretist who’ll apply for admission to one of these communities, but they don’t usually stick it out long-term.

The median age in these heretical religious communities is easily 60+, so the clock is ticking.

We have to pray for their souls though; these practices are a terrible offense against the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


Let me add here …

Petite Fleur, your faith is being tested by these things. It’s saddening, frustrating, enraging … I know. I’m a convert to the Faith too, and I majored in religious studies at a supposedly “Catholic” university in the mid-western U.S. many years ago (in the 1980s) and it was hell. Absolute hell. For many years I was only major in the department and the professors would certainly have preferred that I hadn’t been, because all we did was clash. They ridiculed my faith openly in classes on a few occasions, didn’t allow me to participate in the discussions in some other cases, and one even tried to fail me on a technicality because I had stopped attending classes after he refused to allow me to participate in class following a disagreement over the meaning of a section of Lumen Gentium.

By the way, my position vis-a-vis the meaning of the section that we disagreed over all those years ago is the very one that the Holy Father has just reaffirmed in the recent document from the CDF here:

So. if you’ll excuse some momentary triumphalism and nyaah-nyaahing …:extrahappy:

Anyway, please read a bit about the heresies in the early Church’s history and the responses of the Fathers of the Church to strengthen your faith and strengthen your courage. These things have been with us from the beginning! They are the devil’s attempts to destroy the Church’s Faith, undermine her efforts and make Our Lord’s sacrifice a vain one. But the Church has and always will endure.

Finally, with regard to another of your questions, those bishops who are acting as true pastors can and have spoken against these things when they are brought to their attention. Not all of them, of course (some have certainly been negligent in this regard), but many have. The problem is, and this is important, convents and retreat centers are the property of the communities that own them, and the owners can do pretty much as they please there. The bishop can and should teach clearly and warn the faithful about the heterodox nature of the activities taking place in these centers and disassociate the diocese and the Church from them, but unless it is taking place on diocesan property, he cannot intervene directly stop them from sponsoring these programs. He cannot even oblige them to stop calling themselves “catholic” I’m afraid.

So it’s up to the rest of us to help out those good bishops who are trying to do something by doing everything we can to speak up and to educate and warn people about the heretical and anti-Catholic nature of these activities.

Have courage! I’ll pray for you at Mass today … :thumbsup:


I know where you are coming from. I have watched the order of sisters who taught me my Catholic faith in the 50’s (and very rigorously also) take a downward spiral into New Age practices. I have worked for them for 25 years in a hospital and it’s gotten a lot worse over the years. Currently they are having a Labyrinth retreat, teaching a class on herbal medicine, teaching Reiki, holistic medicine, planning for some kind of Nature retreat, you name it They celebrate the Solstices every year… They used to be a bastion of orthodox Catholicism. I refuse to go to any more functions at their retreat house. The last time I went to something (for work) they were playing some strange music. I asked about it, and was told it could be bought at any New Age music store. I am appalled at what has happened.

Thankfully, they have very few women joining their order any more, and most of them are in their 60’s and 70’s. I expect they will die out eventually.

Unfortunately, I do not believe they answer to the Bishop. I am not sure how this works, maybe someone can enlighten me.



I’ve heard many great reviews of Fr. Pacwa’s book. I’ll save the link so that I can listen to the audio file. One issue that I also find concerning is that these parishes (etc) with New Age will cause parishioners to think that New Age stuff is okay. I fear for anyone led into new age practices. Another issue is that Catholics have endured protestant claims that Catholicism is pagan. True and Loyal Catholicism isn’t, but these parishes/etc that have new age activities make it very hard to prove otherwise. And it’s ultimately not very ecumenical, because it drives protestants away. Thank you again for the link.


I have also heard the same… that these new age neo-hippy places are fading. I’ve also heard that those entering orders are very loyal and reject New Age. That is a great comfort. I care for Jesus’ church; I hate that there has been a true infiltration of paganism, which of course is completely against church teaching. It’s upsetting that Jesus did so much for us, he suffered for us, and yet there are Catholic places that have committed adultery against Him with His enemy (whether they agree their new age is satanic or not). What also is sad and troubling is that the clock is ticking for the heretical religious communities; no one knows the state of anyone’s soul, but I do fear for them, very much. So in the midst of this, it is a good idea not to just be upset about the new age infiltration, but to remember to pray for the souls behind the new age movement in the Catholic Church.

Yesterday I had the thought that perhaps God is separating the sheep from the goats. The church has been and is being purified from the abuse crisis of the 60’s+. Now we have this New Age infiltration; more and more every day loyal Catholics are realizing that the New Age is evil and has no place in Catholicism. What has been done in private is now brought to light. As hard as it is at times to bear, it is a blessing that such has been brought to light; that we may see it for what it is, turn from it, and be purified. I don’t know why a Christian would dabble in paganism, etc. Jesus is the One who completes us. Saints died to their deaths fighting against paganism; what a dishonor it is to our Lord and to the martyrs to pray to other gods, encourage tarot, practice reiki, enneagrams, praying to the “Four winds”, etc. It reminds me of how in Egypt some turned to worship the golden calf, and God was angered.

I once had a professor at a Catholic college refuse to give me an A in my New Testament class if I didn’t deny that Jesus is Lord. I refused to deny. Catholic colleges have suffered from this unholy liberalism too. How many souls have been led astray? God help us.

You’re absolutely right, it is Satan. There have been heresies over the years. They have not destroyed the church. I know that our time on earth is a time of trial. And I believe you’re right when you say my faith is being tested. We’re all being tested. Will we stay faithful to Jesus, loyal to Him, which includes being loyal to the teachings of the Church? Some have chosen to practice both paganism and Catholicism, and are teaching others that this is todays “progressive” Catholic faith. That might make some Catholics want to leave. Loyal Catholics should stay in their seats; it’s the devil that must go. I’ll stay with Jesus’ church, and I’ll fight for Him. We should all fight against this new age sin. It has no place in the Catholic Church.

I wasn’t aware, though, that a bishop cannot always stop some Catholic places from new age activity if it is not on diocesan property. That’s unfair of them to put bishops in a hard position where it is not in their control. But, how else to get by with the new age activity? How sly!

Thank you for your prayers! Please also pray for the Bishops that have to put up with this new age heterodoxy. They are great men of God and may they have our support and prayers. God bless them :slight_smile:


CB Catholic,

Why would some get into such things? What you described sounds wiccan. I don’t dislike pagan people, or people who practice wicca (I love all people, I just don’t agree with their religion). Everyone here in the US has the legal right to practice their own religion. But I have a problem when people say they’re Catholic, but they practice non-Catholic things- sometimes things which are forbidden- and fail to mention to anyone that what they’re doing isn’t Catholic. I’m not specifically referring to the nuns you mentioned, but in general when these things happen. That was an issue that mwmroe brought up, that sometimes lay people think it’s okay for Catholics to dabble in paganism (eco-spirituality, etc) and it’s forbidden for us. I don’t understand why in the world Religious would turn to reiki, eco-spirituality, enneagrams, etc. I find it very odd when I hear them mention “spirituality”. I know the various beliefs of pagans and those who follow wicca, and what some of these Sisters are saying and practicing match exactly with paganism. Sometimes their community appears less like a convent and more like a coven. I hate to say that, but sadly it’s true. I wonder what defining moments led the sisters you know away from orthodoxy and into what they’re doing now. God love them… I know the sisters around the country that engage in and teach these new age practices mean well. I’ve heard them express their care for God’s creation, I believe they want to help people and that (unfortunately) reiki and enneagrams are part of that. I don’t know what they’re thinking. The Catholic Church specifically addressed the issue of the New Age. Does “progressive” Catholicism teach that loyalty to the Vatican/Church is just an option and that it’s something that can be put to a vote or ignored? The progressives call Catholics that strictly obey church law as “traditional”… like it’s the name of another type of Catholic, an option according to one’s taste. The progressive movement got it’s start in the 1960’s correct? What in the world happened in the 1960’s that made the world suddenly have a mass “freak-out”?

You mentioned that they don’t have to answer to the bishop. I think Moneo was probably right, that it has to do with a property issue. I’m sorry about your Sisters. It’s always sad to hear.

God bless you all :gopray:.


I see your point about your concerns over many of the areas, but I am wondering in what way the labyrinth meditations you mention are polytheistic? Is this different from the standard Christian usage of the labyrinth? There is a long tradition in the church of using the labyrinth, so, while such is also used in other religions, it is not something new and foreign to the Catholic Church. Think of Chartres.


Karen: It is true that both things like labyrinths and centering prayer have been used in Christianity many centuries ago.

However, unfortunately, because these two things (and others, but I’ll just go with these two examples) are also becoming more and more common in what is termed “New Age” practices, quite often what happens is that through human error, rather than the “Catholic” practice, the "New Age’ practice is assumed to either be ‘the same as’ or the ‘real’ practice. And it’s not. Whether it is due to a deliberate choice by some who have become devotees of “New Age” and think that ‘blending’ or adapting it ‘as a Catholic practice’ is what ‘should’ be done, or a simple mistake by overworked people who picked the first ‘google’ article and never dreamed that there was ANOTHER ‘labyrinth’ practice . . .to name two possible scenarios–the end result is that what is presented in a majority of places as “the ancient Catholic labyrinth” or “the ancient Catholic centering prayer” is No Such Thing. . .and in fact so far oppositional to Catholic teaching that its practice can be dangerous to authentic Catholic faith.


In addition to what TantumErgo said above, it also should not be automatically assumed that the tiled labyrinths found in the floors of some of the great Gothic cathedrals always had profound mystical significance. There is a tendency to over-mystify the signifcance of things sometimes, particularly when we do not know exactly what the designer or artist’s intention was!

The labyrinths in some of the cathedrals mentioned in the Catholic Encyclopedia article may simply have been intended as beautiful and intriguing decorations by their creators.

There is also a tendency to idealise medieval Catholicism and to regard everything about it as wonderful and orthodox, and we need to be careful about this. We should not assume that just because something can be found in a medieval cathedral or monastery that it is therefore a good thing or an accurate expression of the Church’s faith. Every age has had its heterodoxies, heresies and superstitions.


Huge sigh of relief reading this thread: mainly because of the discovery that lots of other people object this pagan stuff, too! I remember reading an article by a woman who called herself Catholic, talking about gathering with a group of women once a week to sing hymns to “She Who Is” because they’d decided for their convenience that God is a woman. Far from feeling “liberated from patriarchy”, I just felt sick.

It is a constant source of amazement, too, that it could be nuns who engage in New Age practices. As someone considering a vocation to religious life, I’m looking at the training process involved (about six years before I’d be able to take even temporary vows) and wondering how anyone could go screwy after that much instruction in their faith.

In Australia, New Ageism tends to take the form of trying to “meld” Catholicism with Aboriginal beliefs, due to current cultural and political sensitivities. It doesn’t work; please take my word for it that having the Nicene Creed replaced by a homage to “The Great Creator Spirit” is very uncomfortable!


Ok, I can see that happening—it is an unfortunate tendency at times on the part of many to wrest rituals and symbols from their cultural context and mish mash them together. It is my understanding that the medieval labyrinths were intended as a substitute for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

The best way to deal with this in my opinion, as the symbols and ritual obviously touch a deep chord within some in these Catholic communities, is to educate your folks about and reclaim the historical Christian use of these symbols and rituals, if applicable. Talk with the people drawn to these practices and find out exactly what about them makes them spiritually meaningful to them then help them find similar ones that exist already within the faith tradition. Look to that history and seek to consciously revive some of those ancient (and not so ancient) practices.

Unfortunately many folks are attracted to the lure of the exotic. If it can be seen as wholly “other” it appears more powerful, mysterious, mystical, spiritual, etc. in ways that something familiar simply cannot seem to be. It’s sort of like being unable to imagine that your parents, of all people, ever were able to do anything really exciting or amazing, because, after all, they are your parents and you know everything there is to know about them, right?:slight_smile:

In the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church, there is an enormous spectrum of practice upon which to draw that is in accordance with Church teaching. What is smudging but a slightly exotic way to do exactly what the thurifer does during a regular Mass? One can look to St. Francis for a model of eco-spirituality and concern for the environment and its other denizens. There are many practices among the mystics of which many lay people are simply not aware.

Good luck.


The Catholic Church is not of this world. Is it any surprise that it would be under attack from within as well as without?

The common denominator in all these heresies is The Atomic Church of Me, the first commandment of which is: “The religious experience is one which I must deem “authentic”, which I must deem “fulfilling”, which I must deem “entertaining” or “engaging”. Therefore I will try anything which seems more authentic, fulfilling, entertaining, or engaging than the Mass”.

Because, you see, within the Atomic Church of Me, if I’m not feeling “moved by the Spirit” ceaselessly, it must be the Mass which is in error, for it cannot be Me.


Interesting! :newidea: I can’t recall having heard that before, but it sounds intriguing. Do you recall where you might have heard it?

As for the rest of your post, I agree wholeheartedly. People DO tend to wrench symbols from their cultural context, imo, and create mishmashes of symbols as well. Catholicism is so absolutely rich in symbols too; it’s hard for me to see why people feel the need to run all over the place looking for new ones from other sources. The human need for novelty I guess, or what you said above: disregarding the familiar in favor of the exotic precisely because they think that only the novel and exotic can be true. :shrug:


We were taught that in our Sacred Liturgy class while in the Minor Seminary.


Thanks! :thumbsup:


My sister in-law a Catholic gave my wife something to hang from the ceiling for luck.

Well when I quizzed my sister in-law I asked her was this like those crystals that they claim to do healing with, her reply “yes.”

So I took hold of them and into the bin they went, it’s amazing how many people don’t know nor care about having this tripe around their person.

Also the amount of people who are contacting the dead via mediums is quite alarming, fueled by the amount of programmes that are on TV these days.


There seems to be two different meditations occuring with the labyrinth… There is the traditional Christian labyrinth of which you wrote… that is good. But in this new century there are people who now use the labyrinth to meditate not necessarily to our Christian God…


Labyrinths are patterns that exist far back into history in numerous cultures. They have never belonged to a specific faith or purpose. Some are just for decoration, others for fun, and they are sometimes used in religious or superstitious ways as well.

People of all manner of beliefs have been using them for a long time, it is not a case of now/then, Christian/New Age. They are merely a tool that people can and do use in a myriad of ways. In and of themselves, they hold no power nor do they have one specific meaning or symbolism.

There is no need to fear or be suspect of a labyrinth simply by its nature, or the fact that some people use them in ways you find distasteful. The same could be said of hammers.

I have walked labyrinths on church grounds, in sanctuaries, libraries, spiritual center grounds and my own backyard.
I’ve walked on some that were being used by people of many faiths at the same time.

I’ve watched kids run and play on them, and drive their toy trucks and cars on the meandering paths.

They are a squiggly mark on the ground. What matters is what you do with them, what one chooses to comtemplate while in one.

They are a way of fitting a long walking path into a small space. Some people meditate and pray more productively while in motion, the twists and turns of the labyrinth, the blocking out(mentally) of one’s surroundings as one follows the path, are condusive to focused prayer.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit