Friday, October 30, 2009

Boo! Part Two - Ghosts? Really? Really!

Part Two of Boo! About Ghosts
I look for ghosts; but none will force
Their way to me. 'Tis falsely said
That there was ever intercourse
Between the living and the dead.

 ~William Wordsworth,
 The Affliction of Margaret

Whenever teaching, writing about, or discussing theology, I have a pet phrase: Watch your language!

I'm not implying that my students or audience use vulgarities and cussin’ in my presence. (No, only after I leave!  Hardee-har-har!).

Ahem.  What I mean is this: When doing theology, it is of the utmost importance that anyone who  participates in the discussion, express his or her thoughts clearly and accurately, free of colloquial expressions, clichés, images or vocabulary which may alter, confuse or cloud the actual concept being discussed.

With that theological rule of thumb operating, let's do a little “Q and A.”

When I am speaking with someone or teaching a group, and I mention “ghosts”, I am usually grilled with the same question: “Do you believe in "ghosts"?”

Using my above-stated theological rule of thumb, my answer is usually, “I believe in God, His Son Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of our bodies, the Real Presence, and the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.  I don’t believe in "ghosts":  I  acknowledge the existence of the paranormal activity colloquially called, ‘ghosts.’

Then comes the secondary question: “Really? You really believe in "ghosts"? You’re a Catholic Priest! How can you believe in "ghosts"?” 

I usually parry by using a counter-question: “How can I not acknowledge ‘"ghosts"’? They are really real!”

Now, unless you’ve been stranded on Gilligan’s Isle, you surely must have seen commercials on television or ads in newspapers and magazines, advertising shows about “"ghosts"”  or  “ghost’-hunting. Many recent incidents of paranormal activities have been scientifically documented, with several eyewitnesses, who usually have video, audio, or photographic evidence capturing these strange incidents.  Like it or not, there’s no denying that these events are happening,  They are real.  But … real whatThe interpretation of these activities is the heart of the matter.  Yes, okay, we see the video capturing a paranormal event; but who or what is performing for the cameras?

Since ancient times, across many cultures, there have been acknowledgements of the existence of "ghosts" or discarnate spirits. This includes the Ancient Jews.

Follow me now, as we “go through the back door” to prove something:

    ✓    God ’s Laws, revealed to the Jewish people, include prohibitions of any activity involving speaking with the dead or with discarnate spirits. 
    ✓    In 1Samuel 28, we find King Saul consulting a”necromancer” (medium) so he could speak with the soul of the deceased judge, Samuel. 
    ✓    However, in Leviticus 19:31 the Lord says: “Do not have recourse to the spirits of the dead or to mediums: they will defile you.” (For “extra credit, read Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Leviticus 20:27.)
    ✓    Saul sins and defiles himself by this activity.

If "ghosts" and discarnate spirits don’t exist, why does God prohibit interactions with them?

And, so, humanity has always acknowledged the presence of beings like "ghosts".

The pragmatic issue within this fact is this:  When people go to mediums or on ghost hunting expeditions to see or hear “ghosts,” are they seeing and hearing the disembodied souls of human persons, or spirits created as discarnate beings (without physical bodies)? (Discarnate beings include angels, both holy and fallen. The fallen angels are referred to as demons or devils.)

Expressed as a simpler question: When a "ghost" tells you through a Medium or Ouija Board that you have contacted your deceased Aunt Tilly — is that really your Aunt Tilly?  Or is it some thing  that is hell-bent on deceiving you and destroying your holiness and your life? (There will be more about this in the next Post.  Stay tuned!)

So, yes, “ghosts” really exist.  But that doesn’t mean that you and I should be involved with them as a form of entertainment or recreation.  There are reasons why God says NO to that.  The primary reason is that human beings involved with "ghosts" and spirits are in deep waters that are way over our heads.  It’s like playing “Tag” with the demons. Play with those nasty, hostile, lying playmates, and you’ll eventually suffer loss: the loss of your faith and hope, the loss of peace and balance in your life, and in some cases, emotional breakdown and loss of sanity!

Faithful Catholics will trust God and His decisions regarding human beings’ involvement in spiritually dangerous pursuits.  After all, He is God and we are not.  To think that we actually know better than God is foolish and ignorant, and a product of inflated pride.  Thinking that way is dumb, dangerous, and  sinful!

Sadly, human beings arrogantly thinking that something which God prohibits is actually beneficial to us (because we will learn what only God had known and we will be as intelligent as He is) is exactly the result of believing the lie which the Serpent (Satan, a discarnate spirit) told our first parents in an apple orchard in Eden (see Chapter Three of The Book Of Genesis).  Eve and Adam both believed that lie.  They swallowed it: hook, line, sinker, and fishing rod!  You and I are the inheritors of the virus of our protoparents’ Original Sin, with all the misery and  death it keeps reproducing in every human being conceived! 

Hopefully, you can see how sinful human pride easily connects to our society’s current fascination with the paranormal. That fascination increases in proportion to society’s  attempts to play God — to replace God — and to distance itself further and further from God and true religion.  Spiritualism and obsession with the paranormal amount to pseudo-religions: religions without God.  People are being lured into them, and dangerously deceived by them.  This cultural obsession with the paranormal is evil.  Catholics must have nothing to do with this.  No one should have anything to do with "ghosts" and mediums, whether as a form of entertainment, recreation, or “higher” education. 

So, my dear Academicians, take the Assistant Headmaster’s advice:  Attend to our Headmaster’s instructions!  If God communicates HIs warning and prohibition of certain actions or forms of knowledge, then we human beings should be compliant and confident that He knows better than we do, and that His prohibitions are for our own safety and happiness.   To think otherwise is reckless, excessive pride and immature defiance of God.  Such sinful, exaggerated self-confidence almost always ends in self-destruction.


To Be Continued…

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Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
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