Here's an example.
At St. Joseph's in Belmont, parishioners grieving over the death of a loved one are being treated to some dame named Maureen Hancock who is spiritual exploiting them by 'channeling' their dead relatives and performing pagan rituals like "reiki" to "heal" them:
Apparently this woman put on her show at St. Brendan's in Dorchester recently and is making the rounds in local parishes.
Here's her website:
Longtime readers know that I am a believer in the mystical and in fact have had mystical experiences myself. I didn't have people talking to me, but in a period when I was deeply immersed in daily prayer four or five hours a day, in front of the Blessed Sacrament, daily Mass and practicing mystical prayer - I in fact had several mystical experiences.
I won't bore you with tough road in finding a priest who knew how to handle it but handle it we did.
For amateurs, there is no way to tell whether what you are seeing is angelic or demonic. (Even people like Padre Pio had no way of knowing at times.)
If you come across a mystic, there is are clues about whether the person's gifts are fruits of the Holy Spirit.
We do have legitimate mystics in the Boston Catholic community - several priests and at least one lay person, Frank Kelly (whom I will post about on another day).
In terms of claiming one is a mystic, anyone claiming to be channeling your dead relatives and/or you look at their other 'services' and they are performing 'reiki', it is a no brainer. There is spiritual danger.
What's wrong with reiki?
Reiki is actually the laying on of hands to deliver to you the spiritual forces that come from the 'reiki god'. It is the antithesis of the spiritual forces delivered to Catholics by the Sacraments, the spiritual forces that come from the 'other' God, our Triune God. Somebody who delivers the forces of the reiki god is called a Reiki Master.
It has actually been formally condemned by even by the USCCB.
About 2 million Americans have used Reiki, according to a 2002 survey by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Practitioners believe that a salutary life energy flows through the body and fosters well-being, the center said. The energy is often transmitted through experienced Reiki practitioners who lightly touch or place their hands above the patient's body.
But the bishops said "Reiki lacks scientific credibility" and "has not been accepted by the scientific and medical communities as an effective therapy."
The Japanese practice differs from Christian faith healing because "the healing power is at human disposal," the bishops said. In contrast, "for Christians the access to divine healing is by prayer to Christ as Lord and Savior."
Moreover, practicing Reiki puts Catholics' spiritual health in danger, the bishops said, by corrupting worship of God and turning religious devotion "in a false direction."
I can't begin to tell how how outraged Catholics are that see our brothers and sisters who are grieving their dead being exploited instead of being pastorally cared for, healed through prayer and the Sacraments.
Letting go, surrendering back to God somebody whom we love is a very, very hard thing to do. Probably the hardest thing any of us have to do. It is the biggest challenge to our faith. It needs the support of a good priest and a caring spiritual community and friends, relatives.
Aside from being hijacked away from authentic healing, what is wrong with someone claiming to be channeling the dead?
It is divination and condemned by the Catholic Church.
Here's the citation from the Catechism.
"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 readings, 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" (No.2116),Here is another story in the Boston Globe, loaded with clues about the spiritual dangers of this gig.
There are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, aunts and uncles, grandparents, best friends, even beloved dogs. Everyone's here. You might call it a family reunion, only many of the members aren't actually in the room. They're dead.
There is a little bit of truth to this but it is being used to exploit people.
We are indeed in communion with the dead. Dead dogs? No. Dead dogs are not part of our spiritual communion. All in Heaven, purgatory and the angelic are all present.
If this woman is hearing voices, they are not being channeled through or by the spiritual institution that belongs to Christ. nothing angelic would defy what the deposit of faith has condemned. It is impossible.
By the way, before this gig, Hancock was a stand up comic.
That's where Hancock comes in. A former stand-up comic and paralegal, she now devotes her time to what is literally her calling: She hears voices from beyond who want to connect with their loved ones through her. She's an "overseas operator," a "comedian medium," as she puts it, injecting humor into her sessions to keep them from becoming wakes.
She'll do a decent Whoopi Goldberg-as-medium imitation from "Ghost." She'll call your dearly departed "Gimpy" if that's what she hears. She'll dance with members of the audience when she's channeling a "hot ticket" or take on the personality of the dead one. If a funny husband pops up, she'll tell the widow that he "just pinched my rear." She once asked a startled man how his "plumbing" was and then told him that his (dead) mother was asking about his colonoscopy. The room erupted....Those in the audience have paid $60 apiece for the chance to hear something, anything, from their loved ones.
Crude and vulgar arenot the signs a mystic is operating in the spirit of God.
Keeping people who are practicing the occult as the road to healing far away from your flock is a pretty basic duty of a priest. And, when the priest is a lost soul, the duty falls to the Bishop.
The Bishops here under the Cardinal are being held back by the Cardinal.
There is a man at the top and that man is the Cardinal. Some of the auxiliary Bishops are being prevented and forbidden from acting on the errors and scandals and, in this case - the occult.
In other cases, they couldn't care less what happens to the people, they are reserving what is holy unto themselves.
This is precisely what is broken in the system and what the Boston Catholic Blogger Community is working on "fixing".