Angels and Unseen Forces

October 17, 2023

I left the New Age and occult in late 2017 and returned to my Catholic faith in early 2020. Many of my spiritual experiences before I came back to the Faith were dark. But the funny thing was - I didn't realize it at the time. 

For me, the New Age was all light and color and feel-good energy. And every time I started to think otherwise, a bright and sparkly new course of study would drop into my lap. This, I told myself, was a sign that I was being guided by unseen forces. And, at times, I think I was.

But those forces were not of God. Or His angels.

The Discernment of Spirits

Shortly after my return to the Faith, I discovered "The Rules of St. Ignatius For the Discernment of Spirits." The Rules gave me a tool I could use to understand spiritual influence and where it was coming from.

The Rules are a set of 16th century instructions meant to help us decide if a given experience is from our guardian angel (good spirit) or from the enemy (evil spirit). The first thing I noticed about The Rules was that rule number one was the exact opposite of what the New Age and occult taught.

Almost all New Age and occult teachers tells their students to trust their intuition. But all this really meant was that we were supposed to rely on our emotions. If a spiritual experience felt good we were told to "trust our intuition" and accept it.

I did this for seven solid years but, while I had some success in business, my life as a whole did not get better. In fact, it got worse.

St. Ignatius helped me understand why that happened.

First Rule. The first Rule: In the persons who go from mortal sin to mortal sin, the enemy is commonly used to propose to them apparent pleasures, making them imagine sensual delights and pleasures in order to hold them more and make them grow in their vices and sins. In these persons the good spirit uses the opposite method, pricking them and biting their consciences through the process of reason. - St. Ignatius, The Rules for Discernment of Spirits 

Being involved in the occult might not sound all that bad. But if you look at sin as moving away from (rather than towards God), my New Age and occult practices definitely qualified. And the pattern was just as St. Ignatius described.

While I was happy skating from one occult experience to the next, at some point I would always began to feel that whatever it was I was doing wasn't what I was meant to do. This, I think, was my guardian angel giving me poking at my conscience. But before I could figure out exactly what was troubling me, a new spiritual experience would lead me on to some other New Age practice.

That, I believe, was the bad angel (or enemy) leading me from sin to sin. Content but deluded. 

The Angel God Promises

He said, “Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Eli′sha prayed, and said, “O Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire... - 2 Kings 6:16-17 (Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition)

While a lot of what the New Age has to say about angels is inaccurate, it is right in this: We do have angels to guide us. Each individual, in fact, has a dedicated guardian angel. This is a truth of the Catholic faith that can be found in both the Bible and the catechism. 

According to saints like St. Ignatious and St. Thomas Aquinas, our guardian angel communicates with us through our conscience and our imagination. He may inspire us and give us new ideas. Or help us think twice when something is taking us in the wrong direction. 

Our guardian angel may also work through dreams or other experiences. Very occasionally, he might even speak aloud. This happened to me just before my oldest son's accident and has happened to lots of other people in similar circumstances. 

While I don't believe that all psychic experience is questionable, I know I have been misled. So I try to be as discerning as possible!
  • For more about the angels please check out the Opus Angelorum. There is some great free content as well as wonderful books and lectures!
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