“Ask a Priest: What If a Relative Is Dabbling in New Age Stuff?”

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Q: I have a relative who has been posting messages from a certain website. In this last one, which she posted on Facebook, it referred to this Angel 818 and all these things that would happen. It sounds like New Age stuff. I think she is a baptized Catholic and says that she prays to Jesus and Mary, but this doesn’t sound right. We are close relatives but not that close. My inclination is to write her a letter explaining as charitably as possible that these messages are incompatible with Christian belief and to be careful. Should I do so, or just pray for her and mind my own business? My guess is that it might be the end of what little relationship there is between us, but I don’t want to avoid a work of mercy if it is my duty to do so. – M.L.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Your concern for your relative is praiseworthy. While we aren’t called to go around policing others, we are called to look out for their spiritual well-being as best we can.

The key here is to do something out of love and out of a genuine desire to help a person.

Human nature being what it is, it’s good to take into account how a person will receive a certain message. It’s one thing to say the right thing. It’s another to say the thing in the right way.

So how might you proceed? A few points might be worth considering.

First, your relative says that she prays to Jesus and Mary. That’s a good sign. That shows that she has some kind of a spiritual life and that she might be trying to live it as best she knows how. So there is good will here.

Second, this mention of Angel 818 gives you a pretext for dialogue with her. For starters, you could even compliment her on her interest in angels, etc.

This in turn could be an opportunity to bring her closer to the faith. For the Holy Spirit might use this moment to touch your relative’s heart and enlighten her mind, through you.

Third, you might want to check out that website (assuming that it won’t hurt your faith) and see if you can detect some of its specific flaws. Then, look in the Catechism for numbers that refute the site.

You might ask your relative how she found the site and what she thinks of it. Do a little probing. Again, with the help of the Catechism, you might be able to address some of her specific points.

Before doing any of the above, it would good to pray for guidance. Ask the Spirit to open your relative’s heart.

If your e-mails or calls come across as loving and respectful, that will help your relative be open to what you have to share.

You might want to be prepared to suggest some reading to her. One suggestion is a posting from Peter Kreeft: http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/angels.htm. I hope some of this helps.

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