I just spoke with a friend of mine who recently took a mind-altering substance (he said it was an extremely potent form of LSD) and that the hallucinations lasted for approximately a period of 12 hours. He states that he experienced God, Heaven, the Garden of Eden, Life, and Death all at once.
I told him I could not sympathize, and that the Catholic Religion forbids the use of mind-altering substances, particularly in a spiritual manner.
My question is this: what should I tell my friend (or others for that matter) who have done this? These experiences sound so powerful that he cannot be convinced otherwise; he seems to truly believe in what he says happened.
GUEST PRIEST RESPONSE: Fr. Tim Ferguson
You are correct that the use of mind-altering substances, such as LSD, PCP, or the NCR (aka Fishwrap) is a grave moral evil.
God gave us the wonderful gift of consciousness and free will, and to surrender these gifts for a feeling of euphoria is an insult to the Lord who created us. The ingestion of mild intoxicants or mood altering substances like alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, the History Channel is permissible, as long as one is cautious and moderate.
How to convince those who have used mind-altering substances and have “experienced” something they deem to be transcendent?
Relentless ridicule is probably the best way. Serious argumentation is doubtfully going to do much good. Referring to them as “space cadets” or “druggies” or “Maximum Beans” will likely anger them to the point of complete distraction.
Will this convince them that they are wrong? Probably not. Will this cause them to dismiss you as a friend? A fair chance of that happening.
Tragically, once someone goes down that road and begins finding value and transcendence in the paltry experience of drug use or NCR readership, there is little outside of prayer and the direct action of the Holy Spirit that can bring them back to reality.
Fortunately, we do have a God who is willing to hear our prayers and sometimes effects a miraculous conversion. These things are best left in his hands, however.
Fr. Z adds:
In view of the creation of the US Space Force, I disavow any disparaging use of “space cadet”.
Please stick to the far crazier and much more degrading “Maximum Beans”. If that doesn’t get through to what’s left of shame and common sense in their addled brains, nothing will.