Today’s post is adapted from evensong’s Reflections newsletter from April 12, 2021. A dear reader from Hawaii sent me a link to an article published on medium.com by a fellow I’m not familiar with, Alistair McFadden (justacatholic.medium.com). I found McFadden’s monograph useful, and believe that you will too, if you have not yet read it.
What do Gnosticism, the Kabbalah, Hermeticism and the Tarot have in common with Traditional Catholicism?
The answer to that will surprise you perhaps.
Observations on the Influence of the Occult in Traditional Catholic Discourse
McFadden led off by quoting 2Timothy 3-4,
“For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.”
Well, he had my interest with that because I have long noted the very same thing, most especially with those addicted to following the internet blogs of the professional trads who influence so many today. But I had not delved into the issue as McFadden did and his conclusions were stunning and deeply disturbing. McFadden’s work is well documented and he has done us all a great service, even if it is upsetting to read. His conclusions are inescapable.
As I read McFadden’s monograph, I frequently paused to think about it all. The men involved with all this occultism seem to be under the conviction that they are not only truly traditional Catholics, but that they are more so than the rest of us.. I confess that I’m uable to understand how such intelligent Catholic writers can presume that following the pursuit of occult wisdom will be pleasing to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Please read McFadden’s monograph and let me know your thoughts.
For my part, I followed McFadden’s lead and read though the descriptions and reviews of the many books he referred to. I was struck by the condescending nature of, for instance, this quote from a very prominent and popular writer, which McFadden quoted thus,
“St. Thomas’ canonisation,” he laments, “and the employment of his philosophy (or, to be more accurate, more or less distorted versions of it) in the Counter-Reformation, seemed to grant it official status, as though it were THE Catholic philosophy.” By (. . .)’s reckoning, Christianity has been spiralling into ruin ever since: Thomism “contributed to the decline of the Church… [and] rocked the very foundations of both the Medieval Church and State,” he writes.
The only way to arrest and reverse this alleged decline is to repudiate Thomism and embrace the “Magical world-view” of the Golden Dawn instead; such is the argument strongly implied in the essay quoted above, and made explicitly in “The Esoteric Orthodoxy of Catholicism,” a 1990 article penned by (. . . ) for the sixteenth issue of Gnosis Magazine, in wich he wrote:
“One cannot tell with complete accuracy what will happen. But we can know what must happen if the Church is to function properly. She must return to the… magical view of life; and the process of baptizing Hermeticism, interrupted by the Reformation, must be completed.”
McFadden notes that, “(. . . . ), certainly, is an eccentric. But he is also a Contributing Editor at the traditionalist Crisis Magazine, as well as the “Scholar-in-Residence” at Tumblar House, a small but prestigious Catholic publisher that claims for itself “a reputation for publishing quality Catholic books that adhere to Catholic tradition and orthodoxy.”
Water and Fire
And so I read and thought and prayed. I thought of our last newsletter about Mother Maria de Agreda’s insight into Judas,
“He resisted the light of God’s grace, and hardened himself against it, water and fire was shown him, life and death: he stretched forth his hand and chose perdition.”
We have been so blessed by God, who created us to know Him and love Him and serve Him, who gave us His beloved Son to suffer and die to redeem us and He blessed us with His own most Holy Spirit of Love and Truth to sustain us. And even more, He gave us His beloved Blessed Virgin Mary to be our Mother, to teach us true knowledge of Christ crucified. There is no need whatsoever for us to seek some special knowledge, for that is the same old trick that deceived Eve; we should know better by now!
We too have water and fire before us, life and death – let us choose the life of Christ crucified and reject the arcane knowledge offered by those who believe they can serve God better by pursuing their own curiosity.
Even if you already knew of the involvement of many of our trad leaders in this occult “wisdom”,, perhaps you will scan through McFadden’s article and share your thoughts on the subject . I had not known of most of it, but am trying to follow some of his many listed resources to learn more.
At present, I’m only posting the link to the monograph, but ideally, in a better time, I’d like to post on some thoughts from reliable devotional writers to help us counter the thoughts espoused by the prominent professional trad leaders today.
We need to pray for those who seek to be “enlightened” by occult powers. They have been deceived. But many will follow them.
Also, let’s pray for each other, that God have mercy on us all and grant us the grace to hold fast to Our Lady of the Rosary, our safe and sure path to Him through these times.
Remember – Our Lady needs us to obey: First Saturdays of Reparation, daily rosary, at least 5 mysteries, wear her brown scapular and live your Total Consecration to her Immaculate Heart, offering daily duties in reparation and for the conversion of poor sinners.
Open your hearts to the Lord and serve Him only: and He will free you from the hands of your enemies. With all your heart return to Him, and take away from your midst any strange gods” (I Kings 7:3)