Not your Mom's Catholic Church

Last weekend, I traveled to my old hometown for my sister’s wedding. My parent’s house was filled with our grown family and kids, so my wife and kids and I were put up at a nearby college run by an order of nuns. We stayed in the college president’s house, which doubled as a guesthouse. We met her at the wedding and got to thank her personally for the accommodation, a very nice — and modern-looking — nun.

At her house I looked through her CD collection in the living room. There was the usual assortment of CDs you would expect to find in a nun’s collection (Hildegarde of Bingen, Charlotte Church), but there was also Circle of Women. Hmm. This CD was full of Goddess songs, Wiccan songs, pagan songs. I put it on and had a listen. I liked the energy of the “Heya Heya Heya Ho” chorus chanted in “Mother I Feel You.”

One of the pamphlets from the campus press laid out in the bedroom detailed the course offerings from the Sophia Center on campus, which provides courses to the public. The first page in the introduction pays lip service to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but that is the last hint of anything Christian in this assortment of New Age teachings. Crystals, Reiki, shamanism, mandalas, chakras, past life regressions, Toltec teachings, feng shui, drumming circles, invoking the Sacred Feminine, reclaiming the ancient power of our moon courses— why didn’t they have anything like this when I was growing up? I really hadn’t paid much attention to the Catholic Church since I got out of high school in the 1970s. I missed when it went New Age. Cool.

I hear the tribal drumming during Mass is really cool.

Tribal drumming at Mass? When did that start? I never knew how much I’ve been missing. In my day, guitar strumming at Mass was considered radical.

Whaddyu say 'bout ma mutha?

Somehow I don’t sense I’m getting through to anyone. Where is Guinastasia when you need her?

Somewhat reminds me the chaplain at my catholic high school.

“Shalom everyone! Last week, we tried Tibetan meditation. This week, we’ll do something a little bit more up-beat; we’re going to be playing psychedelic rock FULL BLAST!”

Wow, they didn’t have Catholic high schools like that when I was in high school. Although we did have a “hip” pastor who advised us guys to go and get laid.

For the record, the Church as a whole hasn’t really gone New Age, though individual communities have, particularly in the US and Western Europe. This sounds like a rather extreme example of even that, though, and the Vatican might well be unamused.

For an authoritative perspective on the Catholic Church’s teaching on the New Age movement, you might want to check out the Vatican’s document ‘Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life: a Christian Reflection on the New Age’. Found online here (apologies for the ugly link!):

Well, I’m not Guin, but I am Catholic, so I’ll step in here and try to be semi-helpful. :slight_smile:

It’s like I said to a baptist (by culture, not really by faith) friend of mine: if you plan on visiting 50 Catholic churches/parishes, you’ll probably find some really big differences between all of them, even though they’re all practicing one faith. There are going to be some that are extremely traditional and some that are more “radical” than what you’re talking about. There are going to be some who don’t have any girls as altar servers and some who have full teams of female alter servers.

I wouldn’t say the attitude/actions you’re talking about in the OP are the most prevalent; however, they’re common enough. I went to Catholic grade and high schools. Both of them (when you got to be old enough to question) told everyone it was a good thing to question your faith; either you find it’s not working for you or as a result your faith grows even stronger.

Then again, my church (it has the grade school I went to and has ~12,000 parisioners) is probably one of those hippie churches you’re talking about. :stuck_out_tongue: After 9-11, our Monsignor included in the church paper meditiation tips that he had learned from Tibetan monks. During his homily, one of the priests read a prayer that a Rabbi friend of his had given him. They’re still very traditional in terms of abortion and capital punishment, but other areas (like Tibetan meditation! :D) show them to be progressive.

I went to a Catholic (Jesuit) college in the early 70s. I wouldn’t describe the college itself as far out, but it certainly offered a lot of alternatives (contemporary and ethnic forms of worship, discussion groups, social action groups, classes in Eastern philosophy) for those who wanted something more than traditional go-to-church/go-to-school/learn-the-catechism Roman Catholicism.

Haven’t been back on campus in years, but I’ll bet they probably have some New Age stuff there by now.

Jomo Mojo – you can always go back if the Spirit is moving you.

kunilou, I have no thought of going back — but thanks just the same.

QuizCustodet, you really think the Vatican will crack down on the Ursuline Sisters and their Sophia Center if somebody blows the whistle?

Most coincidentally, as I went there I was in the middle of reading the novel Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates* by Tom Robbins, the part in which the picaresque hero takes up with a convent of unconventional nuns who are excommunicated and defrocked by the Church for advocating birth control.

*Recommended to me in another thread by Doper Cyn.

Actually, Guin has not been a practicing Catholic for some years now, and her beliefs are more Unitarian-Universalist.


All I can say is that I never heard of the no-birth control, homosexuality is wrong, and all that jazz until I was in high school-OUT of Catholic school.

My teachers were more crunchy-granola, Vatican II, leftist, liberation theology Catholics.