Real Experience of Christ Vs. Abstract ‘New Age’ Spirituality

Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of Pontifical Council for Culture

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2003 ( Christianity offers, not the abstract spirituality presented by the «New Age,» but a personal encounter with Christ, says Cardinal Paul Poupard.

Cardinal Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, was among those responsible for the report «Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the New Age,» published Feb. 3 by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue.

«The New Age seems to offer its spiritual view of the world, insisting on the profound unhappiness of contemporary happiness, because it promises cosmic harmony, the acquisition of mental powers to transform reality, access to the spiritual realm that is concealed under the appearances of daily life,» Cardinal Poupard explained over Vatican Radio.

The cardinal characterized the appeal of the movement as a seeming » ‘revelation’ of a profound self that would be accessible through certain techniques, a new paradigm, a new world, the final answer to humanity’s age-old expectation.»

As a response to the challenges posed by this New Age, Cardinal Poupard says that the Church can help people to rediscover the personal dimension of salvation in a salvific encounter with Christ, true God and true man, that is, «to encounter Christ as bearer of the water of life.»

This would respond to the profound thirst that exists today, he adds, saying that «many are seeking, they thirst for God, they thirst for the real water of life.» All the Church’s effort should be «to present this water of life, that gushes from the pierced heart of Christ on the cross,» he continues.

It is important to communicate a view of Christian faith «that proposes a concrete encounter, not abstract things, ideologies. Christ is experienced, discovered in the Word of God, he is found in the Sacraments, in the grace of the Eucharist, in the Christian community,» he emphasized.

Christians must rediscover what it means to be an authentic community, «because the really dramatic hope of many people lies in finding an answer to their questions, and also in discovering a warmth that they often do not find,» the cardinal stressed.

Movements such as New Age do not convert «‘pagans,’ but Christians who have not found answers to their doubts,» he said.

«We must be clear: there are people who seek inner peace, harmony with themselves and with the universe, but they want a religion without tears. It must be recognized that the Good News of Christ indicates the only way toward true happiness,» the cardinal continued.

Quoting Bossuet — «All men seek happiness, and all the unhappiness in the world comes from the fact that they do not seek it, where they could find it»

Cardinal Poupard concluded by inviting his audience to listen honestly to what is offered in the catechesis, in liturgical celebrations, and in parish life, adding: «What do we offer? Do we truly offer Jesus Christ, bearer of the water of life?»

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