THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE
A Christian reflection
on the “New Age”
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. What sort of reflection
1.1. Why now?
1.4. The New Age and Catholic faith
1.5. A positive challenge
2. New Age spirituality: an overview
2.1. What is new about New
2.2. What does the New Age claim to offer?
There Must be an Angel
2.2.2. Harmony and Understanding: Good Vibrations
2.2.3. Health: Golden Living
A Magical Mystery Tour
2.3. The fundamental principles of New Age thinking
A global response in a time of crisis
2.3.2. The essential matrix of New Age thinking
Central themes of the New Age
2.3.4. What does New Age say about
220.127.116.11. ...the human person?
18.104.22.168. ...the world?
“Inhabitants of myth rather than history”: New Age and culture
Why has New Age grown so rapidly and spread so effectively?
3. New Age and Christian faith
3.1. New Age as
3.2. Spiritual narcissism?
3.3. The Cosmic Christ
3.4. Christian mysticism and New Age mysticism
3.5. The God within and theosis
4. New Age and Christian faith
5. Jesus Christ offers us the water
6. Points to note
6.1. Guidance and sound formation are needed
6.2. Practical steps
7.1. Some brief formulations of New Age ideas
7.2. A select glossary
7.3. Key New Age
8.1. Documents of the Catholic Church's Magisterium
9. General bibliography
9.1. Some New Age
9.2. Historical, descriptive and analytical works
The present study is concerned with the complex phenomenon
of “New Age” which is influencing many aspects of contemporary culture.
The study is a provisional
report. It is the fruit of the common reflection of the Working Group on New Religious Movements, composed of staff
members of different dicasteries of the Holy See: the Pontifical Councils for Culture and for Interreligious Dialogue (which
are the principal redactors for this project), the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council
for Promoting Christian Unity.
These reflections are offered primarily to those engaged
in pastoral work so that they might be able to explain how the New Age movement
differs from the Christian faith. This study invites readers to take account of the way that New
Age religiosity addresses the spiritual hunger of contemporary men and women. It should be recognized that the
attraction that New Age religiosity has for some Christians may be due in part
to the lack of serious attention in their own communities for themes which are actually part of the Catholic synthesis such
as the importance of man's spiritual dimension and its integration with the whole of life, the search for life's meaning,
the link between human beings and the rest of creation, the desire for personal and social transformation, and the rejection
of a rationalistic and materialistic view of humanity.
The present publication calls attention to the need to
know and understand New Age as a cultural current, as well as the need for
Catholics to have an understanding of authentic Catholic doctrine and spirituality in order to properly assess New Age themes. The first two chapters present New Age
as a multifaceted cultural tendency, proposing an analysis of the basic foundations of the thought conveyed in this context.
From Chapter Three onwards some indications are offered for an investigation of New Age
in comparison with the Christian message. Some suggestions of a pastoral nature are also made.
Those who wish to go deeper into the study of New Age will find useful references in the appendices. It is hoped that this work will
in fact provide a stimulus for further studies adapted to different cultural contexts. Its purpose is also to encourage discernment
by those who are looking for sound reference points for a life of greater fullness. It is indeed our conviction that through
many of our contemporaries who are searching, we can discover a true thirst for God. As Pope John Paul II said to a group
of bishops from the United States : “Pastors must honestly ask whether they have paid sufficient attention to the thirst
of the human heart for the true 'living water' which only Christ our Redeemer can give (cf.
Jn 4:7-13)”. Like him, we want to rely “on the perennial freshness of the Gospel message and its capacity
to transform and renew those who accept it” (AAS 86/4, 330).