When you think you’ve seen it all

Remember the post about the people in Albany who do the Stations of the Cross in clown gear?

When you think you have seen it all… a reader comes around with this sort of thing (edited).  This is from St. Louis and the Washington University Catholic Student Center.

To be fair, it is juxtaposed with a lecture by Peter Kreeft and an ad for confessions.

A student sent me this text.  I found the advert on the website of the Student Center.

Yoga Stations of the Cross Tonight!

Wednesday, March 23rd, 7:15pm, CSC Commons

Join us for a contemporary meditative experience of the Stations of the Cross that involves body movement, prayer, meditative music & pictures, and reflections. This CSC original combines traditional images and reflections of the Stations of the Cross with a unique way of feeling the suffering of Christ’s Passion in your own body through Yoga poses that spur a prayerful experience.

All are welcome to attend, please bring your own yoga mat. No experience necessary, there will be a brief instructional time at the beginning to go through the yoga poses before beginning the prayerful experience.

Also, join us for Pi Pizza tomorrow from 11:30-1:30!

The CSC Staff

The physical dimension of yoga is not so objectionable… though … with Stations of the Cross…. iust don’t know.  That doesn’t seem right to me.

Holy Church has warned us about the spiritual dimensions of yoga in a document about various “new age” phenomena.

Yoga, zen, transcendental meditation and tantric exercises lead to an experience of self-fulfilment or enlightenment. Peak-experiences (reliving one’s birth, travelling to the gates of death, biofeedback, dance and even drugs – anything which can provoke an altered state of consciousness) are believed to lead to unity and enlightenment. Since there is only one Mind, some people can be channels for higher beings. Every part of this single universal being has contact with every other part. The classic approach in New Age is transpersonal psychology, whose main concepts are the Universal Mind, the Higher Self, the collective and personal unconscious and the individual ego. The Higher Self is our real identity, a bridge between God as divine Mind and humanity. Spiritual development is contact with the Higher Self, which overcomes all forms of dualism between subject and object, life and death, psyche and soma, the self and the fragmentary aspects of the self. Our limited personality is like a shadow or a dream created by the real self. The Higher Self contains the memories of earlier (re-)incarnations.

Follow Fr. Z on Twitter!I think it is a bad idea to join to something like Stations of the Cross an activity which has a clearly non-Christian connotation, a connotation as a matter of fact which has spiritually harmful implications for those involved with it on a spiritual level.

Clowns Stations … Yoga Station… what’s next?  Dancing with the Stations?

I now begin the countdown clock for someone to post her defense of yoga.

In the meantime, check out today’s 5 minute LENTCAzT.

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67 Responses to When you think you’ve seen it all

  1. OK, Yoga Stations are strange and a bad idea. But, combined in a bulletin with a Confession Marathon and a talk by Dr. Peter Kreeft, they become downright surreal!

  2. amenamen says:

    E pur si muove. And yet it moves.

    If I bring my Yoga Mat, should I presume I will stay in one place for the entire … (er?) …exercise? But then how are we to move from Station to Station? Will we be instructed on how to levitate? Do we need to bring a flying carpet?

  3. Random Friar says:

    I’ve done Yoga for helping my balance (although I ignore most of the explanations). Adding it to the Stations would cause spiritual imbalance. Stick to St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s.

  4. Why can’t we just have…oh, I dunno…STATIONS OF THE CROSS?????

    When I was a kid, Stations of the Cross were a Catholic oasis in the howling Spirit of Vatican II desert. Not anymore.

  5. medievalist says:

    “…unique way of feeling the suffering of Christ’s Passion in your own body…”

    Perhaps there’s a hidden hermeneutic of continuity here: Yoga – painful. Medieval flagellation – painful. Hmm…

  6. jarthurcrank says:

    Could be worse. There’s a story on the internets about Bay Area ‘Piskies having a “Lady Gaga Mass.”

    And who could ever forget the consecration of Gary Gloster as Suffragan Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina where the bishops wore CLOWN NOSES.

    http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/print.php?storyid=329

    I’m sure the supporters of these Stations are thinking, “let’s not scare the kiddies with big gory crucifixes….let’s make them happy and joyful with CLOWNS!”

    Or they were thinking of Godspell…or the awful Clown Jesus movie that appeared at the Protestant Pavillion in the 1964 World’s Fair.

  7. inara says:

    no argument coming from me…I used to think just doing the stretches was fine, but then I investigated further:

    ‘Swami Sivenanda Radha, a well-known yoga teacher, has said in the book on Hatha Yoga, “Asanas are a devotional practice…” ‘(to honor particular Hindu gods)

    ‘deep breathing techniques such as the ones taught in Yoga are a time-honored method for entering altered states of consciousness and for developing so-called psychic power.”’

    ‘Tantra, sometimes called Kundalini Yoga, is the worship of God as the Divine Mother…The words Ha and tha represent the energy which is on each side of the spinal column. Hatha yoga suppresses the flow of energies through these passages, forcing the kundalini (“serpent power”) to rise from the base of the spine through the psychic energy channel in the sushumn (the spine), up through each of the chakras.’

    ‘Subhas Tiwari, a professor of yoga philosophy and meditation at the Hindu University of America in Orlando, Fla.: “Yoga is Hinduism.”…A staff member of an east coast Classical Yoga Academy wrote to me, “Yes, all of yoga is Hinduism. Everyone should be aware of this fact.” ‘

  8. Christo et Ecclesiae says:

    They have yoga at my parish (I never went though) – it’s great because you get the physical benefits whilst in the light of Truth of the Church – people are aware of the odd spiritual connections with yoga, but simply practice it as a physical form.

    In other news, Peter Kreeft is the MAN.

  9. medievalist: Yoga – painful. Medieval flagellation – painful.

    Okay… how about Medieval Flagellation Stations of the Cross.

    All are welcome to attend, please bring your own discipline of knotted cords. No experience necessary, there will be a brief instructional time at the beginning to go through the best methods before beginning the prayerful experience.

  10. APX says:

    Father,
    Combining church and yoga is quite common now. Just the other day I was reading about “Holy Yoga” on my home diocese’s event calendar.

    Personally, it’s sounds like a bunch of ooowy-ooowy-ooowy hogwash to me, and completely detracts from the purpose and our need to go to Mass on Sunday. Now we need Holy Yoga worship to “deepen our connection with Christ.”

    From my home diocese’s event calendar:
    Introduction to Holy Yoga (1 session)

    Holy Yoga is an experiential time of worship created to deepen one’s connection to Christ. The introductory workshop will help us to understand how we can use our “minds, bodies, and spirits” to de-stress and become more receptive to God in our lives. We will use our breath, and some primary yoga postures to calm our minds, calm our spirits and relax our bodies. Our sole purpose is to facilitate a Christ honoring experience that offers an opportunity for participants to authentically connect to God through his word, worship and wellness.

    I do hot yoga as a means of relieving my back pain in my recovery from an MVA, but I go to the civic centre and our sessions aren’t anything even remotely close to the spiritual nature behind Yoga one would find at a Yoga Studio or a real Yogi.

  11. jflare says:

    Ow.
    Hey, maybe instead of “Dancing with the Stations”, they’ll do a wine tasting at the proper time next?
    They DID offer Christ refreshment of sorts on the cross, didn’t they?

    This is truly sad.

  12. amenamen says:

    Ouch. Ouch.

    Which Station is this, Yogi?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viJqk-NIPag&feature=related

  13. You just HAD to post about YOGA and quote from that document the same day I did, didn’t you? :)
    So much for me getting any blog hits… hehe [awwwwwww]

    In all seriousness though. This sort of thing is so frequent. The whole, “YOGA isn’t bad, well the physical part isn’t – it is actually GOOD; and if you combine it with prayer it is a GREAT CATHOLIC THING!”

    It is like we enjoy walking about in the “Greys” of the Faith. As long as it isn’t prohibited, we should be encouraging it. Isn’t that a silly way to operate? Everyone talks about how “I do Yoga this, and I do Yoga that, But…. I dont do the dangerous parts of it.” Shouldn’t we find other ways to do these things? If it is just STRETCHING, call it stretching. Names have power, words have power. There is this odd fascination I have found with people that ENJOY calling it Yoga, and not stretching, while at the same time making sure to note they dont do the bad parts.

    [OKAY EVERYONE! ACTION ITEM! Click HERE and visit this guy's blog, at least for a moment and spike his stats. Just DO IT! It'll take 2 seconds to calm this feller down. And if you leave a comment, say "Hi from Fr. Z!" o{]:¬) ]

  14. Dr. Eric says:

    Body weight exercises and breathing exercises are not evil in and of themselves, otherwise push ups and biofeedback are also evil. Just because something has a pagan origin doesn’t mean that it’s bad, unless you wanna condemn Christmas trees and El Dia de Los Muertos. Singleton and Alter are of the opinion that many of the yoga poses are derived from the calisthenics that the British soldiers did during the occupation of India.

    Now, huffing and puffing and uttering the blasphemous names of demon “gods” and their incantations is evil and no Catholic should do that. But let’s get our facts straight and not look for the devil under ever rock and under every leaf. We are not fundamentalists. Body weight exercises and stretching are not evil in and of themselves (I know I already wrote that.)

    Having written all of the above, I will admit I don’t do yoga.

  15. Fr. Z:
    LOL! Thanks… now I feel like a whiner :) [Whiner! o{];¬) ] Not a very virtuous quality, definitely not a Beatitude – I feel foolish.

    Dr. Eric:
    I responded at my place, but I want to stress that argument is the danger. No the physical part isn’t evil, and I haven’t seen it argued that way by most who are wary of the practice. What is troublesome is that the FULL TRUE practice of Yoga is PROBLEMATIC. Along with that comes the ability for an unsuspecting person to start doing the “breathing” and then the “meditation” portion of Yoga, and quickly there is a confusion. This isn’t about demons and incantations either. As the Pope once said, the “idolatry of the Body” is just as bad and dangerous. I suggest EVERYONE take Fr. Z’s advice and read the document he has linked.

    As for Christmas Trees and other PAGAN things those are different in that we have stripped completely their name, spiritual aspect and everything leaving behind only the physical portion. That isnt the case with Yoga.

  16. digdigby says:

    The traditional Catholic Church is very ‘Yoga friendly’ because it is so rich in physical expressions of awe, humility, adoration, breast beating and so forth. There are different ‘forms’ of the stations and I would imagine that this is using the body ‘as a language’ expressing the the distinct and powerful emotions of each station. As a matter of fact, the usual group-reading of words seems inadequate to express the intense feelings of the Way of the Cross. One needs the whole body to express grief, remorse, adoration and so forth…….

    I just made this up off the top of my head. Pretty good, huh? What a pile! I’ve been listening to this kind of horse manure for so many years I can spin out paragraphs of it at will! I should have been a New Age guru. Father Z, you will have to continue your ‘countdown’ as I was just goofin’ on you.

  17. Childermass says:

    The only yoga I’ve ever done is the “Yoga X” from the “P90X” video exercise series. It’s yoga moves adapted for strength/heart conditioning without any spiritual. It is also one of the most exhausting workouts I’ve ever tried.

    But I would never combine it with anything Catholic, ever. I’ve done enough Holy Week seder suppers at my former parish to last a lifetime. The Catholic spiritual patrimony is enormously rich—why add non-Christian stuff when so much of our great spiritual tradition already lies fallow?

  18. bookworm says:

    Yoga Stations? For REAL penance I’d suggest Jazzercise Stations :-)

  19. priests wife says:

    isn’t ‘clown-phobia’ (don’t know the Latin) rather common? What is this obsession with Clown masses? Is would either creep me out or make me want to go to Mcdonald’s

  20. Brad says:

    We can bet in this yoga there will be no kneeling/genuflecting. [But there will be some thing where you put your foot to the back of your head. Surely more conducive to prayer!]

  21. Brad says:

    Inara, excellent point. I heard Sharon Lee Giganti destroying yoga’s covert/overt demonic idolatry recently with those same revelations. Thank you.

  22. jeffreyquick says:

    “feeling the suffering of Christ’s Passion in your own body”
    Uh, if they really want to do that, I can think of a more literal way to do it.

  23. everett says:

    Obviously there’s nothing inherently evil about breathing exercises or stretching/calisthenics. However, given that there are numerous ways to do these things without risking any entanglement in other things that are inherently evil, why put yourself at risk?

  24. patrick_f says:

    You all see the goofiness we have here? Pray for our Archbishop that he can endure such foolishness

    Also – Inviting people to purposely eat “PI PIzza” should in itself hold some sort of canonical penalty – Place is nasty – Its all “natural” ingredients…and there isnt a pizza that doesnt include mushrooms and wheat flour…

  25. s i says:

    >>I now begin the countdown clock for someone to post her defense of yoga.<<

    Only women do yoga Stations then? [I'm just being sensitive and inclusive.]

  26. Peggy R says:

    And now for something different:

    If you’re in the STL Metro area on Friday April 8, at 7 pm, there will be a Solemn Stations of the Cross at the St. Peter’s Cathedral, the See of the Belleville, IL, diocese. Soprano Ms. Christine Westhoff, accompanied by Mr. Timothy Allen, will sing several sacred hymns. I presume the music follows or is intertwined with Stations appropriately. The rector, Fr. John Myler, is a solid priest, a good man. He arranges for such fine sacred music and good quality adult ed regularly at the Cathedral. I am looking forward to this myself.


    I sadly bet you’ll find similar silliness at SLU, a Catholic university. They have in the past done stations focusing on suffering of people today, such as the perennial favorite AIDs victims. Not much about Jesus.

  27. Random Friar says:

    The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic would be a rather good choice for spiritual/physical exercise.

    http://www.users.csbsju.edu/~eknuth/nineways/nwintro.html

    (Click on “Next” to cycle through the Nine Ways)

  28. hicks says:

    jarthurcrank says:
    “Could be worse. There’s a story on the internets about Bay Area ‘Piskies having a “Lady Gaga Mass.” ”

    Hoped that couldn’t possibly be real, but of course it is. Proof, from a blog describing itself as “weekly reflections on the lectionary texts through my eyes which are shaped by my experience as a queer, transgender, lesbian, feminist, pastor to the homeless in San Francisco (and other such influences) [... and yoga clowns...]
    http://queerbiblestudy.blogspot.com/2011/03/lady-gaga-mass.html

  29. fieldsparrow says:

    @Fr Z.: “Okay… how about Medieval Flagellation Stations of the Cross.”

    This? was hilarious.

  30. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    hicks. Thank God that the Gaga “mass” is in a Presbyterian church and she or he ??? (what do you call a transgender by their former or latter “sex?”) is tied to the Lutheran churches, but likely not those who want to “cross the Tiber” using the Pope’s A.C. No way it can ever be a mass. EVER!!!!

    And I am ever thankful that at the two parishes I frequent we have good old regular SOTC. In fact, my home parish even went a bit more traditional with SOTC in that only people in ministry and higher can participate in the main roles (although the change was mandated for a non-traditional reason).

  31. edm says:

    It is interesting that one can have Stations of the Cross and Yoga but around here Stations of the Cross and BENEDICTION is not being done. Apparently it is now forbidden, or at least discouraged in Roman Catholic parishes?

  32. LarryD says:

    I’m kinda holding out for the Mime Stations of the Cross, myself.

  33. spock says:

    Can we please, just once use the Stations of the Cross from a missal. It seems that in my experience, nobody does that. Not even trads. It’s always different. People are too easily bored. I don’t get it. To say nothing of “Yoga Stations” or “Social Justice Stations” or “I feel your pain stations” or whatever which is another thing altogether.

  34. APX says:

    Brad says:
    We can bet in this yoga there will be no kneeling/genuflecting.

    http://holyyoga.net/sites/holyyoga.net/files/site_files/tip_toe.jpg

    Why kneel when you have the unique way of feeling the suffering of Christ’s Passion in your own toes while in the Tip Toe pose? With hands placed in the prayer position, it promotes prayer.

    “jarthurcrank says:
    “Could be worse. There’s a story on the internets about Bay Area ‘Piskies having a “Lady Gaga Mass.” ”

    Aside from that abhorrent re-write of Bad Romance, I wouldn’t be too concerned about this “Gaga Mass”.

    “Community of Travelers” is a group of folks figuring out how to be a liturgical, Christo-centric, social justice oriented, incarnational, contemplative, irreverent, animal friendly, ancient- future church with a progressive but deeply rooted theological imagination.
    http://communityoftravelers.blogspot.com/p/leaders.html

    @Young Canadian RC Male
    (what do you call a transgender by their former or latter “sex?”)
    In school we were taught that you refer to transgender people as the gender the identify with; however, some prefer to be referred to as “they”. If you’re not sure, refer to them by name until you know.

  35. Art says:

    If one wants to get a physical workout along with a spiritual one, why not visit an Eastern Catholic parish that does full prostrations? The way they worship can be very vigorous and involves more than the kneeling and genuflecting we are used to at mass. Think about it – it will help you breathe with both lungs too!

  36. I can see it now:

    "The First Yoga Cross Station is … is… ummm…."

     

    "Okay… this may take more than an hour."

  37. Tina in Ashburn says:

    So this is what we have come to? Now we know why all those churches look like gyms! Pews and kneelers would soooo get in the way.

    I used to do Yoga but now I have Yogaphobia.
    Johnette Benkovic programs offer a lot of information on this and are very ‘enlightening’. The yoga positions each represent Hindu gods for instance. And there is more really icky things about the practice. No, there can be no such thing as Catholic Yoga. YIKES!!

  38. anilwang says:

    Yoga, in and of itself is incompatible with Christianity. An essential part of Yoga are the mantras. They aren’t repeated prayers, like the Jesus Prayer which is used by Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox to focus one’s mind on God. They’re language destruction devices such as the Om for the purpose of defusing the mind from anything and teaching that nothing is ultimately real, especially pain and suffering.

    G. K. Chesterton once pointed out the difference between a Hindu saint and a Catholic saint, via traditional artwork in each culture. In eastern art, the Hindu saint is peaceful with his eyes closed focused within. In western art, the Catholic saint has his eyes wide open and fully aware of the outside world piercing him and the God who is there. Yoga and the Stations of the Cross are as opposite as these two artworks.

    I guess that the confession marathon is set after the Yoga event for this reason….

  39. Clinton says:

    edm, it is interesting that so many parishes will try anything, anything, anything — from
    mime passion “readings” on Good Friday to clown Masses to yoga Stations to supersoaker
    Asperges. The one thing they will not do, the one line they will not cross, the one ‘diversity’
    they will not embrace, appears to be anything that could be considered ‘traditional’.

  40. Luvadoxi says:

    Hi Defend Us In Battle–I visited your blog and love it!!! Any friend of the Doctor is a friend of mine. And the Dr. Who cupcakes–where can I get some of those???? Anyway–I tried to post on your blog but I regularly have trouble with Blogger, and after composing a really nice message, it wouldn’t let me post. So I’m saying hi here!

  41. skull kid says:

    Devil stations. Participants dress up as one of the tormenting demons accompanying the Lord on the way of the cross. Oops, I’m giving them ideas!

  42. Nathan says:

    Dancing with the Stations? That is some idea. At the risk of crossing the line from humor into sacrilege…. Cue in British announcer voice, “Now dancing the cha cha cha, the Women of Jerusalem!”

    In Christ,

  43. digdigby says:

    anilwang-
    That’s one of my favorite Chesterton insights. The Buddhist saint, eyes closed is practicing what Cardinal Ratzinger once called ‘spiritual self-abuse’.

    young Canadian RC Man – a man who has had ‘the operation’ is called ‘a hideously mutilated man’. Every cell in his body is distinctly and forever male. Although, in a mental hospital someone who thinks he’s Napoleon and had an operation to make himself shorter, and wears the Emperor’s clothes you might, out of charity address as Your Majesty.

  44. robtbrown says:

    Bill Buckley wrote a column some years ago that he took up yoga in the hopes that it would help him tolerate the new liturgy.

  45. David Homoney says:

    Would dancing with the Stations be to the tune of Lord of the Dance from the blue hymnal? :)

  46. Brooklyn says:

    Actually there is a Church here in Brooklyn that is putting on liturgical dance with the stations of the cross. This is the same church where one of the lay leaders of the church told me that she doesn’t believe in infant baptism and doesn’t like the way the Church does confirmation, and during the 2008 election, she wore her Obama button to Mass every day, and when I mentioned to her that Obama was very pro abortion, she got quite angry. I went to a Christmas Eve Mass there one year. At communion time, a bunch of kids just started running around, people were talking and taking pictures, and before the end of Mass, Father went into the Church and started asking people where they were from, and then everyone sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. It was more than I could take, and I haven’t been back.

  47. AnAmericanMother says:

    Well, this is just about as loopy as the Stations of the United Nations Millenium Goals.

    It’s borderline to have yoga in the gym at the parish school . . . . even yoga stripped of any mantras or prayers. It certainly doesn’t belong in church . . . .

    And you’re right, Fr. Z, it’s overwhelmingly attended by women (although there are usually 2-3 men in the class).

    If anybody can suggest something else that promotes stretching and flexibility as well, speak up!

    Defend Us In Battle — your essay reminded me of a lady I knew who read Tarot cards and insisted that she was a “good Catholic” because she incorporated various prayers into the readings. That was back when I was a non-Catholic hippie, I haven’t touched a deck in years, but even then that sounded sort of fishy and dishonest to me. . . .

  48. benedetta says:

    I don’t know, I’m just thinking, “out of the box” here but, how about, something like, say, a prayerful Jane Fonda -Ninja bodily devotion experience, while dressed as Smurfs? With imagery and musical accompaniment. Refreshments to follow.

  49. Centristian says:

    “‘deep breathing techniques such as the ones taught in Yoga are a time-honored method for entering altered states of consciousness and for developing so-called psychic power.”’

    No, they don’t do anything, but people can convince themselves of anything.

    ‘Tantra, sometimes called Kundalini Yoga, is the worship of God as the Divine Mother…The words Ha and tha represent the energy which is on each side of the spinal column.”

    There isn’t any “energy” on either side of anyone’s spinal column.

    “Hatha yoga suppresses the flow of energies through these passages,”

    No, it doesn’t.

    “…forcing the kundalini (“serpent power”) to rise from the base of the spine through the psychic energy channel in the sushumn (the spine), up through each of the chakras.’”

    All of that ridiculous gibberish is just fiction, just made-up nonsense. There are so many variations of this type of stretching and excericise under different names and they all amount to a great way to sell DVDs. It’s all just stretching, breathing, and exercise. There’s nothing magic about it, nothing spiritual about it, nothing religious about it, and so it belongs in the gym, or at home, and not in Church. You might as well host a joggers’ Stations of the Cross or a calisthenics Stations of the Cross or a treadmill Stations of the Cross. A Yoga Stations of the Cross makes no more sense than any of those ideas.

    Yoga has no genuine spiritual component, thus neither can it have any genuine spiritual danger, and likewise no spiritual value. With Eastern meditation and breathing techniques, self-delusion is the danger. Anyone can sit Indian-style on a mat and spin a yarn about what that posture symbolizes and what foolishness is being released from where. The Yoga instructer will offer one explanation. The Qi Gong instructer has a different one. But anyone can be completely full of garbage…as Digdigby is good enough to demonstrate.

  50. Charles E Flynn says:

    The Times Literary Supplement has a long, funny review of a long, funny book about the origins of yoga:

    http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/article7172361.ece

  51. benedetta says:

    Outdoor, walking stations or rosary can be very encouraging, whether with a group or on your own. There are local shrines where I am which have established walks or paths. And the annual Good Friday C & L way of the cross over the Brooklyn Bridge always has a great turnout. When you are outdoors it is like a mini pilgrimage. And when you are out in the air you can take in all that is around you and appreciate all that is uplifting which God has provided, and in communion with others, whether they are joining in the prayer or who may happen by, whereas with the yoga experience the focal point is on your breath, your posture, your bodily self, how you feel and are responding. Anyone who has done yoga knows that it is all about feeling the weight of your own body, monitoring and checking your own breathing, challenging your limbs and no yoga class, even at the Y is complete without the “namaste” prayer with pressed palms.
    Our Lord did not experience the physical reality or activity of the way of the cross for pain’s sake, but rather, for others, with others, in outward relationship and interaction with all whom He met on that final path.

  52. teomatteo says:

    YOGA stations of the cross…. oh… I thought it read ‘TOGA’ stations of the cross…. thats better (?!?!?!).

  53. irishgirl says:

    Oh, brother….’Yoga Stations of the Cross’? Insane….
    I’m with Anita Moore-why can’t we just have’ Stations of the Cross’?
    Why do people want to ‘dress it up’?

  54. I feel so left out! My parish just does normal Stations of the Cross followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament! It’s reverent and beautiful! I guess we’re just dull here in Wisconsin! :-)

  55. chironomo says:

    Hmm… I’d have to wonder if this isn’t a way of wedging New Age practices into the Church….which usually means a very specific kind of person in charge. Of course, THAT has never been done before! I’ll stop there…

    <>
    As for the Clown Stations… this has to be a joke. Just the other day I was reading on Pray Tell that the whole Clown thing is an urban legend and never really happened. It was, I think, Paul Inwood who said so. So it obviously can’t be clowns in church because that is just some myth created by conservative bloggers… really, that’s what they said.

  56. MichaelJ says:

    Not intending to be contrary, but I am not convinced that there are no spiritual dangers associated with yoga. Yes, I agree that all the talk about spiritual energies and chakras and chi is so much nonsense, but that seems rather beside the point.

    If it can be demonstrated, at least to a reasonable level, that the purported benefits of a particular act are so much hogwash and that there is a mundane explanation for why it is believed to work, are we as Catholics free to perform that act? Along with yoga, the same thing can be said about tarot cards, ouija boards, chain letters, wishing on a star, reiki and countless other “harmless” superstitions. Should we do any of those things?

    It is my understanding that the principle danger associated with yoga, et al, was not so much that it works as described, but that it opens our intellect to the possibility that it does – giving a foothold to satan and all of his evil works.

    No thanks. There are countless other ways to achieve the health benefits that have no assicated dangers. Why on earth would I want to use one, or encourage others to use one that has such a risk, no matter how slight I perceive the true danger to be?

  57. BobP says:

    >Yoga, in and of itself is incompatible with Christianity. An essential part of Yoga are the mantras. They aren’t repeated prayers, like the Jesus Prayer which is used by Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox to focus one’s mind on God. They’re language destruction devices such as the Om for the purpose of defusing the mind from anything and teaching that nothing is ultimately real, especially pain and suffering.<

    I read somewhere that the word "god" may itself have Sanskrit origins. If true, shouldn't that be prohibited from using it as a mantra if all Eastern practices are taboo?

  58. green fiddler says:

    Johnette Benkovic programs offer a lot of information on this and are very ‘enlightening’… there can be no such thing as Catholic Yoga.

    I especially remember the testimony of Clare McGrath Merkyl, a guest on that program. She began practicing yoga as stretching exercise and progressively became involved with its spiritual beliefs, until she found herself in a very dangerous place. Her Cross and Veil web page has resources about various New Age healing techniques. She was also interviewed on “The Journey Home” 12/18/2000 … (program #488 in EWTN’s audio library).

    Fr. Mitch Pacwa has given valuable guidance in these areas as well.

    Innocent people with good intentions sometimes “dabble” with things they do not fully understand, trusting that their own intelligence and inner strength will get them out of any predicament.
    Trust in the LORD.

  59. Dr. Eric says:

    Thanks to Mr. Flynn for linking to the article about Singleton’s book on the origins of yoga:

    “Claim 5: Contemporary postural yoga was invented in India in the nineteenth century. This is Singleton’s most provocative assertion. He argues that a transnational, anglophone yoga arose at this time, compounded of the unlikely mix of British bodybuilding and physical culture, American transcendentalism and Christian Science, naturopathy, Swedish gymnastics, and the YMCA, grafted on to a rehabilitated form of postural yoga adapted specifically for a Western audience. The Swedish gymnastics came from Pehr Henrik Ling, the physical culture from a number of people including Eugen Sandow, Bernard MacFadden, Harry Crowe Buck and Charles Atlas. Most influential was the YMCA, in the hands of which physical culture was eventually elevated to a position of social and moral respectability…

    “But the Vedantic yoga of Vivekananda was not the antecedent of the yoga practised in America today. That came from many sources, but particularly from the invention, by T. Krishnamacharya, between 1930 and 1950, of a novel sequence of movements, partially derived from a royal gymnastics tradition in Mysore; and from B. K. S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga, published in 1966. Other techniques that we now recognize as yoga were, by the 1930s, [b]already a well-established part of Western physical culture, particularly that intended for women, but were not yet associated in any way with yoga[/b].”

    Let us not act like Victorian prudes who are afraid of anything that is not Western.

    Dr. Eric (still not practicing yoga)

  60. eyeclinic says:

    Now, if I could only incorporate the yoga into my labyrinth stations walk,throwing in a little smudging for good measure, I’d be all set.

  61. amenamen says:

    @ Centristian
    “… it belongs in the gym, or at home, and not in Church. You might as well host a joggers’ Stations of the Cross …”

    Actually, this might not be a bad idea. I could place the Stations at intervals of about 200 yards (400 during Lent?). I could use the exercise.

  62. Bee says:

    I heard a guest on Relevant Radio who was speaking on the topic of yoga saying the positions of yoga are actually worshipful prayer poses to the various gods of Hinduism. Just as we have kneeling and folding of our hands to show our worship of God, each pose of yoga is worship to a god of Hinduism. That in itself is enough to make me avoid the whole thing!

  63. jflare says:

    @David Zampino:
    I’m surprised to hear that you have time to be dull there in Wisconsin.
    Isn’t your Senate having a (somewhat more classy) bar-room brawl with your Governor?
    I thought I’d heard that whole school districts closed down for a few days while the teachers joined the “festivities”.

  64. Centristian says:

    “I heard a guest on Relevant Radio who was speaking on the topic of yoga saying the positions of yoga are actually worshipful prayer poses to the various gods of Hinduism. Just as we have kneeling and folding of our hands to show our worship of God, each pose of yoga is worship to a god of Hinduism. That in itself is enough to make me avoid the whole thing!”

    Even if that were true, there are no gods of Hinduism; they are fictitious. There is only one God.

    A Christian can assume any physical position he or she wants to assume, without any risk of any danger (apart from physical danger, that is) from imagined influences of entities that do not exist. A Christian, not believing in any Hindu ‘deity’, can assume any or all of the postures or techniques of Yoga without committing idolatrty because, regardless of what any of those poses or postures or breathing techniques might mean to some hemp-wearing delusional in L.A., physical poses and breathing are not the property of any one philosophy over another.

    The ability to configure the human body in one way or another is universal to all able-bodied persons, regardless of what they believe or do not believe.

  65. MichaelJ says:

    Centristian,
    I think you are missing the point. The dangers associated with yoga and other new age practices are far more subtle than you seem to realize. They are more like heavy metal poisoning that will have no initial effect but will, over time and accumulation, be very deadly.

    Can you guaranteethat a Catholic, who does not believe in the fictitious hindu gods, upon learning what the yoga postures are intended to convey and relizing that these practices are encouraged by his local Catholic (!) Parish will not begin to believe in these deities? Do you reject the notion that while posture is primarily an outward manifestation of inward disposition, the posture one adopts does also influence our inward disposition?

    If not, what do you suppose the influence would be if you adopted a posture that you know is intended to be a posture of supplication to some pagan god?

  66. Bee says:

    Centristian,
    I guess you are correct to say that the gods are fictitious, but what if these “gods” are demons? Our participation, even unknowingly, in the practice of pagan worship is probably not a good thing to do.

  67. Charles E Flynn says:

    My least-favorite (OK, most despised) type of SAT question was the one that asked the student to choose the best title for a short essay. The trap was to choose something interesting to a young reader, as opposed to the intended subject of the essay.

    I suggest that the best title for this thread is:

    Should We Get Bent Out of Shape Over Yoga?