The New Age Movement is made up of individuals and groups who have turned to “spirituality” rather than God. It is considered a form of Gnosticism. This often leads to confusion among Catholics, as New Age philosophy has permeated a host of Catholic institutions and has influenced some leaders in the Church.
New Age teaching often uses terms or practices that are common to Christianity, such as meditation, and symbolism, to promote its false claims. Transpersonal psychology is another form of New Ageism.
The Vatican, in a 2003 document titled, “Christian Reflection on the New Age”, condemned New Age philosophies and practices. In a nutshell, the New Age movement substitutes the influence, dependence, and submission of our lives to God for a set of principles which themselves are the key to happiness and fulfillment – God is not the source. One of the many forms of New Age practices is that of the Enneagram. The following articles describe details about the Enneagram. Why is this important for the Diocese of Gaylord? It is because this Diocese has a New Age Enneagram teacher/writer as its Director of the Marriage Tribunal (Dr. John Amos). No New Age follower should be in any leadership role in the Church. Not only has the Diocese continued to keep him employed, the Diocese refuses to acknowledge the significant harm this is doing to Catholics in Northern Michigan.
(Taken from “The New Age: A Christian Critique” by Ralph Rath, published by Greenlawn Press, 107 S. Greenlawn, South Bend, IN 46617.)
Out of nowhere, the enneagram burst onto the Christian scene and became very popular with publishers and retreat houses. The enneagram is a circular diagram on which personality types numbered one through nine are symbolically represented at nine equidistant points on the circumference. The numbers are then connected by arrows in significant patterns which point the way to health (integration) or to neurosis (disintegration). Each human personality is said to fall into one of these nine types.
The personality types and the animals symbolizing them are:
1. Perfectionist/reformer, terrier
2. Helper, cat
3. Status-seeker, peacock
4. Artist, basset hound
5. Thinker, fox
6. Loyalist, rabbit
7. Fun-loving/generalist, monkey
8. Powerful, rhinoceros
9. Peacemaker, elephant.
In an article in , Dorothy Ranaghan raised a number of criticisms of enneagrams. To begin with, she had problems with its origin in contemporary Sufism. (Sufism is a mystical offshoot of Islam.) “There is much in the zeal, devotion and asceticism of Sufis that is admirable,” she wrote. “Yet, in contrast to the contemplation and the yearning for holiness of the Muslim mystics of former ages, contemporary Sufism, which claims over 40 million adherents, has become a mix of pantheism, magic and rationalism with a belief in telepathy, teleportation, foreknowledge, transmigration of souls and a denial of a personal God.”
Ranaghan also had problems with some of the terminology which seemed Christian, but was not. “Redemption, for example, does not mean, among Sufis, the saving action of God in our lives, but “return from ignorance.” The very worst thing, according to Sufi doctrine, is “not sin, but ignorance.” “All Gnosticism flows from this premise,” Ranaghan observed.
The goal of Sufism is to make a person whole and the enneagram chart seeks to enable healthy integration of the personality as the path to redemption. “Jesus can and does heal and restore sight to the blind and hope to those who are cast down,” Ranaghan wrote, “but brokenness in mind or body is not necessarily an obstacle to holiness. Furthermore, even the most authentic, self-discovered, psychologically healthy, integrated and whole person on earth can go to hell.”
In her book , Ranaghan said the man primarily responsible for transmitting the enneagram into the West was George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, an Armenian occultist who lived in Russia from 1877 to 1947.
He also had a great influence on the contemporary New Age movement. Gurdjieff’s writings, Ranaghan noted, are “filled with descriptions of planetary influences, astral bodies, clairvoyant and telepathic experiments, and with explanations of the true significance of occult interests such as and the Tarot.” For Gurdjieff, the enneagram had secret powers not particularly allied to personality typology. “The enneagram is a universal symbol,” Gurdjieff believed. “All knowledge can be included in the enneagram and with the help of the enneagram it can be interpreted.”
The enneagram seems very faddish. It seems to be the in thing. Proponents seem so excited because they claim it comes from the wisdom of the ancient Sufis, but they are hard-pressed to mention any book from the Sufis that is generally accepted as a work of great wisdom. (Sufis are known for having spawned the whirling dervishes, who spin themselves into an altered state of consciousness.) The enneagram symbol is often portrayed in promotional materials as something magical and mystical in itself. Authors assure us that there are only nine personality types. “The term ‘enneagram’ is derived from the Greek word ‘enneas,’ meaning nine,” a 1985 book stated. “According to the enneagram system, there are nine, and only nine, types of human personality.”
I have personally challenged a number of enneagram proponents about there being only nine personality types possible. Everyone I talked to backed off. Some mentioned that the complete enneagram system itself allows for flexibility in assigning personality traits to people. A 1987 book agreed with this: “While the nine personality types of the enneagram form discrete categories, you should not think of them as iron-clad entities. You will find that the enneagram is open-ended and extraordinarily fluid, like human beings themselves.”
Furthermore, Christian proponents of the enneagram are sometimes forced to encourage Christians to bend their Christian standards to deal with their problems. “Progress in the enneagram seems to be movement from one sin type to another sin type,” Ranaghan wrote. “Persons who are 2s (the ‘nervous breakdowns’ in the world) need, according to Sister Mary Helen Kelley, to ‘come to conscious selfishness’ for redemption. Sister Barbara Metz states that ‘to come to wholeness . . . the 6 (the loyalist) needs to walk into the darkness of deviance and disobedience.'”
February 2, 1995 issue of “The Wanderer” “Catholic Replies” by James J. Drummey
Q. Our parish Is holding an enneagram basic workshop. Just what is that and how does our Catholic Church see it?-G.T.C., Indiana, and K.D., Indiana.
A. For some good information about the enneagram, and its incompatibility with Catholic teaching, see chapter five (“Occult Roots of the Enneagram”) of Fr. Mitch Pacwa’s book (Servant Publications). Moral theologian Msgr. William B. Smith has also cautioned Catholics about the dangers of the enneagram. Writing in the March, 1993 issue of , Msgr. Smith said:
“The enneagram is a circular diagram on which nine personality types are systematically represented at nine equidistant points on the circumference. Lines connect various points to each other. It is this diagram itself which is the enneagram, and it is used as a psychological tool of self-discovery. Each of the nine personality types (numbered I through 9) is described negatively by some compulsion, fixation, or basic driving force to avoid something unpleasant. This compulsion is seen as one’s basic psychological orientation. To discover your number, you have to realize what you seek to avoid, what your compulsion is….
“The basic premise of the enneagram is that there are nine and only nine personality types; this is simply given as true, it is nowhere demonstrated as proven. To my knowledge, there are no scientific studies to determine whether enneagram theory can be integrated with other typologies; but that would not really bother some advocates one way or the other…. The more you read about it, the more it begins to resemble a college-educated horoscope; and that is not compatible with Catholic doctrine or practice….
“As a tool for spiritual direction, it seems to me most deficient, even dangerous. The enneagram is really built on a theology (?)-perhaps ideology-of self-renewal and self- regeneration that is a far cry from (perhaps contradiction of) the Gospel teaching: ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit’ (John 12:24)….
“[Pope John Paul II said on Nov. 1st, 1982]: ‘Any method of prayer is valid insofar as it is inspired by Christ and leads to Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).’ The enneagram is not the Way, nor is it the Truth, and on those bases not truly compatible with-much less essential to-the Life in Christ.”
ENNEAGRAM VERSUS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
It is quite common for one religion to assimilate things from another religion. It has been done often in the history of Christianity; for instance, our word “Easter” has pagan origins. Taking things from other religions and Christianizing them is useful and healthy, adding variety.
It also happens that other religions take elements of Catholicism and adapt them to another religion. Voodoo did that: mixing Catholicism with African superstitions, but it is a harmless example because people do not consider it to be Catholic since it was never made to appear Catholic. But there are times when Christian elements are assimilated into another religion and there is an effort to deceive and trick good people into their religion.
New Age does this. The attendant spirit of a witch is traditionally depicted as a black cat and called a “familiar”, which is unacceptable to Christians, but instead of a black cat, picture the familiar as a person with wings and long robes, and instead of calling it a “familiar” call it an “angel”, and now Catholics can be tricked into accepting it. Or if a crystal pyramid is used to gain magical powers, no good Catholic would listen to such a foolish notion; substitute a container of Lourdes water for the crystal, and suddenly you’ve gotten the Catholics’ attention. Good Catholics are attracted by talk about angels and Lourdes, or about creation and prayer, and often take it for granted that whenever people talk about such things, they mean what people normally mean. Actually they were assimilated into the New Age religious system and given new definitions. That’s how formerly good Catholics, even priests, can be tricked into accepting another religion, sometimes without ever even realizing it.
THE SUFI RELIGION
The Enneagram was developed from the Sufi religion, though it was not made up by the Sufis. It was introduced to the West by a Russian, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, who sought to use it to foretell the future. It later gained acceptance among some Catholics. The Enneagram as we have it now was invented in Chile.
Many Sufis are very similar to witches. They believe they have the power to cast spells (they call it projecting “baraka”), to travel through time into the past and future, to heal, to read minds, to communicate telepathically with each other, and they have a superstitious belief in supernatural powers of certain things (certain kinds of candy and flowers). Clairvoyance and ESP to them are simply normal parts of life.
These Sufis believe in using their powers for the sake of the Design. This “design” is God’s plan for mankind: the direction God wishes human evolution to take. Only the Sufi masters are privy to this secret design; the Sufis are Gnostics in the sense that they believe in esoteric knowledge (but they do not believe in a good god vs. an evil god). They believe they must safeguard this hidden design or pattern; whenever human beings anywhere in the world do something which harms the design, they must use their supernatural powers to put things right. (There is also a vague connection between the Sufis and Freemasonry, because of the similarity of symbolism used by a 9th century Sufi, Dhul Nun, who was associated with the Order of the Bannayin (Builders), and modern Masonic symbolism.)
The Sufis believe the “design” (“naqsh”) is hidden underneath appearances, which are false: reality lies beneath appearances. They must see through outward appearances to find the truth, the reality, under them, where the design can be found. This especially includes looking beneath their own appearances. They must come to know their “real selves” and only then they can know “Reality”. To know Reality, and then act on it, is the ultimate goal of the Sufi religion.
The Enneagram is a system of assigning a number from 1 to 9 to oneself and every human being. This number is said to reveal the hidden motivation for everything a person does. Intelligence is given three “centers”: thought, emotion, and instinct. Mainly because of the environment, the three centers are always imbalanced. The result of this imbalance is that a person’s “true self” is always hidden beneath a “false self”. The Enneagram is supposed to enable a person to gain knowledge of his true self, exposing the true motivations for actions and illusions developed regarding himself and regarding how to deal with the world.
Discovering one’s “true self” and the real motives for everything one does, concealed as the Sufis believe they are beneath false appearances, is vital to the Sufi religion; it is not part of Christianity. On the other hand, goodness and holiness, to know, love, and serve God on Earth and be happy with Him forever in Heaven, are the proper goals of the Christian, and these are not goals for the Sufi. If evil must be done for the sake of the design, that is not a problem for them. They believe the ends always justifies the means: it makes no difference at all whether human evolution is set right through good or through evil actions on the part of the Sufi.
In promoting the Enneagram, an effort is made to take Sufi objectives, their kind of self- knowledge and knowledge of others, for the sake of promoting Christian objectives. But it’s the opposite that happens: Christian goals are used for the sake of promoting the aims of the Sufi religion: the Catholic religion is assimilated into the Enneagram and the Sufi religion.
Catholics using the Enneagram talk about things like saints and sin and faith and “fruits of the spirit”. Using these words makes it sound legitimate. But they are only adapting these terms to the Enneagram, by giving them different definitions.
The word “saint” is used in the Sufi religion, but can have an entirely different meaning. It has nothing whatever to do with holiness. A Sufi “saint” (“wali”) is a person who is illuminated to Reality. This is the word used in the Enneagram (even by Catholics): a “saint” is a person who overcomes his false self and knows and acts according to his true self.
The word “sin” is used a lot, but with a new definition. Sin is not a deliberate transgression of God’s law. The word is redefined into personality traits that separate people from God or their real selves. Sin is the sinister motivation everybody has for everything they do, a part of human personality. It must be accepted and brought under control. The number assigned to a person by the Enneagram indicates what their one “root sin” is and will always be. “Sin” is also called “addiction”.
“Original Sin” has nothing to do with Adam and Eve. Their “Original Sin” is a psychological condition, meaning that a person is never at any time in his life undamaged or free, but is always exposed to harmful forces. It describes the conditions in the environment which cause the imbalance among the three intelligence centers.
Another term used in the Enneagram is “fruits of the spirit”. These have nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. In the Enneagram, the fruits of the spirit are good inclinations a person gets according to his number in the Enneagram. The “Holy Spirit” according to the Enneagram is not a Person at all: He is a synonym for “power” or “energy” in Enneagram spirituality (unlike the Father and Son, who are recognized as real persons).
“Prayer” is talked about as part of the Enneagram, but their definition of prayer has nothing to do with God: prayer is absorbing elements from the environment into oneself, or projecting oneself into the environment, or delving into Nothingness. “Redemption” in the Enneagram has nothing whatever to do with Christ. It is the same as maturity, which is what they call freedom from one’s “false self” to one’s “true self”. This true self is also called the “soul”, another redefined word. Even “Heaven” is given a new definition: it is only a symbol for the perfection of freedom from one’s false self to one’s true self.
Two other terms which are given new definitions according to the Enneagram are “faith” and “obedience”. According to their definitions, a person cannot have true faith unless he has doubts. A person cannot be truly obedient unless he refuses if he disagrees; in fact, in the very act of defiance, a person is being truly obedient according to the Enneagram’s definition of obedience.
Taking words from our religion and changing their meanings can give things, even an entire different religion, the outward appearance of being Catholic. Some people are satisfied that something is good just because they hear a Christian vocabulary being used. That makes the slip into apostasy very gentle and painless.
R. Kephart 1994
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