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Monday, November 23, 2015

What about Horoscopes?  by Linda Kracht 

After every meal at a Chinese Restaurant, patrons are handed the bill for the meal and a few fortune cookies. The restaurant’s place mats nearly always feature the 12 signs listed in a horoscope (aka the Zodiac) which attribute personal characteristics born under the various signs of the Zodiac. The Zodiac is “closely tied to how the Earth moves through the heavens. The signs are derived from the constellations that mark out the path on which the sun appears to travel over the course of a year. In principle, dates in a horoscope should correspond to when the sun passes through each constellation. But they don’t, much of the time. And a closer examination of the motion of the Earth, the sun, and the stars shows the Zodiac to be more complex than you might imagine!” [What is the Zodiac by Christopher Crocket in FAQs|SPACE on Nov, 14, 2014} 

It takes Faith to realize why the Zodiac is much more complex than we can imagine! When we believe that the movement of the cosmos is orchestrated by the one and only God and Creator of the Universe we will realize that the Zodiac and other means cannot tell us our personal fortunes or losses. 

So, what about the cookies? Should we eat them? Should we read their fortunes or their aphorisms [a pithy phrase expressing a partial truism] that are written on the little piece of rolled up paper inside the cookies? Yes, eat them if you think they taste good. What about reading the fortune? While that may seem harmless, the reading of them is a form of divination on a diet. To ensure that they do not catch our attention or interest, it is safer and wiser to crumble them up without reading them. 

Unfortunately, I had not given this enough thought even while firmly believing that divination was wrong. Even baby steps can move us away from God! So, I am grateful for participating this fall in a Bible Study of The Book of Isaiah [by Fr. Mitch Pacqua, Catholic Scripture Study]. This study among other things, brought to light the full impact of the evil of all forms of divination. The punishment that befell the Israelites, their enemies, and us for participating in divination is/was very real.  The Catechism [2115-2117] helps to explain why. 

And so, even when it seems as if divining the future is just a cheap fortune cookie, is a convenient past time (reading of one’s horoscope) or seemingly just a game, consider this warning.  “Ouija boards and tarot cards and crystals and how-to-palm read booklets might not seem to cost very much, but the spiritual price we pay for using them is often much steeper than we realize.” [Ouija Boards and Tarot Cards by Susan Brinkmann in Catholic See more at:]

And yet, many Catholics participate in practices that try to foresee or gain insight into their future even as they admit that it’s not just a game. This is more obvious when  people pay for the telling of their fortune (or misfortune), send spells on their enemies (voodoo); try to communicate with deceased loved ones; hire sorcerers, charmers, mediums, wizards, or soothsayers to tell them things they do not need to know — at least not in this here and now. But divination is also sold as just a game using a board or a deck of cards. It is also the simple reading of a daily horoscope. 

Imagine my extreme disappointment upon hearing my older sister describe a recent visit with a diviner for the sole purpose of contacting our deceased mother. My sister wanted reassurances that Mom was in ‘an ok place’. Ironically, her visit would have been expressly forbidden by our mother while she was alive! My sister attended this out-of-state session with her adult daughter, and several other friends. When asked why she went, she blamed it on her daughter. Whatever reason, she at least admitted that while she appreciated the evening, she would not ever do it again because it was ‘creepy’. Unfortunately, she isn’t the only one.

Recently, a diviner appeared at the Excel energy Center in St. Paul, MN. The seats were filled despite the fact that the civic center charged a fortune (no pun intended) for the event. The local paper described her meteoric rise to fame and riches in and through her telling of fortunes and misfortunes. The reason for starting a divination business is easily explained (money); but the reasons for giving financial support to this business is problematic at best. 

Another friend (retired pastor of a Luther congregation) recently complained of the new job his granddaughter took. She was hired to run the business side of a local fortune teller. The grandfather had written his granddaughter a lengthy letter explaining why he was opposed to her working in the divination business even if it only involved activities such as balancing the books, re-creating the website; managing the social media and all other types of advertising, etc.  She wonders why he is so concerned. Why should he be concerned? 

Why is any form of divination harmful even if it seems so harmless? Because “they contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.” The First Commandment of God: “thou shalt have no other gods before Me” is still in effect and for good reason. He alone LOVES freely, fully, faithfully, forever and fruitfully and has invited us to participate in His Divine Life - if we want to.  In addition the first commandment “proscribes superstition and irreligion; idolatry; and divination and magic; atheism, and agnosticism.” [CCC 2110]

Divination reveals our hidden desire (to be like God); it causes us to try and grasp for power — that isn’t ours — over time and history. Does this characteristic remind you of anyone in particular? Adam or Eve would be a good guess. Divination exposes the hidden desire to gain supernatural power that is not ours for the taking. Divination opposes the virtue of religion. The practices of divination are not to be used even when there is an intention that appears good — for example the restoration of someone’s health. They are not to be used when the intention is to harm someone. They are not to be used for exploitations of any kind. [CCC 2117]

So, the next time you go to a Chinese restaurant, think about how that little fortune cookie represents the baby steps that we take away from the God who loves us without condition. Let’s love Him back by taking our next baby step toward — not away from — God. Let’s show it by refusing to read every little fortune cookie on our plate — even if we paid for it! 

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