Have your own question? Then pitch it to us!
Richard G. Malloy, SJ Answers:
Question: What is known about the use of Angel and Saints Oracle Cards? There appears to be “readers” who offer this as a spiritual guide. The cards suggest the use of saints like St. Francis, Mother Teresa and Padre Pio as spiritual guides. I doubt the Church would endorse such practices and a reader being paid to provide this service seems to mimic psychic or tarot card reading practices. Is a Catholic in “harms way” to seek or receive and be influenced by such card readings for oneself? Thank you!
Many people think religion is about pleasing God or getting God to do something we want done. Religion at its best is all about living in loving relationship with God. The manipulative “getting God to do what I want God to do” style of religion turns sincere people off. Such distortion of religion is often at the root of people saying they are “spiritual but not religious.” The “religion” such people reject is the false religion of “if I say three rosaries instead of two, Notre Dame will win (and I’ll win my bet!).” Angels and Saints oracle cards sound like the manipulative, “I can control God,” type of religion.
The Catholic faith is not a religion that controls God. As Catholics we know that our sacraments and prayers change us, not God. Even more, all the powers and principalities of the universe have already been made subject to Christ, and we are involved in the ongoing processes of Christ handing all over to the Father, “so that God may be all in all” (I Cor 15:28). Rather than our controlling God, God is drawing us and all to culmination and fulfillment.
The Catholic Catechism is very clear on these matters. CCC # 2117 “All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity” (CCC #2117).
Fr. Rick Malloy, S.J., is a Jesuit priest, fisherman and author. He is an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, and serves as a Chaplain at the college. His book, A Faith That Frees: Catholic Matters for the 21st Century, (Orbis Books 2007) examines the relationships between the practices of faith and the cultural currents and changes so rapidly occurring in our ever more technologized and globalized world.