What does the church teach about physics, mediums, tarot cards, and Ouija boards?
In December of 2019, Pope Francis, while addressing a crowd during his regular Wednesday audience at the Vatican, departed from his prepared statements on the Acts of the Apostles, to give a stern reminder to all Christians: “True faith means abandoning oneself to God who makes himself known not through occult practices but through revelation and with gratuitous love,” Pope Francis said. “How is it possible, if you believe in Jesus Christ, you go to a sorcerer, a fortuneteller? Magic is not Christian! These things that are done to predict the future or predict many things or change situations in life are not Christian. The grace of Christ can bring you everything! Pray and trust in the Lord.”
Even though this is a topic that has been addressed by a great number of Catholic saints, leaders, and theologians, there is still a lot of confusion, and even lack of awareness about what the church actually teaches on this topic.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraph 2116 states that “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead, or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”
The church is clear that all of our trust, faith, and hope should be grounded in God and in his sacred Word to us. We trust in Jesus, our hope, peace, knowledge — and wisdom doesn’t come from any other source.
In Scripture and throughout history, God called prophets and future saints, gave them visions and even messages from himself, angels, or others who had already died. In these cases, God allows it as part of his plan, and the source is coming from God to his people.
The danger comes when someone attempts to seek that themselves through other means; a wide variety of doorways can be opened. They may even appear to seem good, with messages of God or loved ones, but they are in fact not good, nor from God. One demon is more intelligent than every single human being combined. They know how to manipulate and deceive, to use people to make things appear like they are good, even quote Scripture, but in the end, they seek to harm us and separate us from God.
Therefore, the message is this: Jesus knows our hearts, minds and souls, and he knows any fears, anxiety, pain, or loss we are suffering. Jesus tells us to trust in him, his word to us, his church teachings, and his promise of eternal life that we will see our loved ones again. Don’t be deceived — avoid psychics (even those who claim to be Catholic), Ouija boards, tarot cards, horoscopes, the “spiritual components” of yoga, channeling spirits, energies, or anything of the like. If you already have come to the sacrament of confession, there, Christ forgives and breaks any connection to it. Only God can give us the spiritual things we need. We strive to grow in complete trust of Jesus. He makes all things new and will give us the grace we need in all situations in life.
Father Marty Smith is pastor of St. Francis Parish in Jerseyville and St. Patrick Parish in Grafton and is an associate vocation’s director for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.