Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Can we study astronomy, charms, dark arts, flying, herbology, history of magic, potions, and transfiguration?--Harry Potter fan

magic wand


QUESTION. This class is boring. Can we learn about astronomy, charms, dark arts, defense against the dark arts, flying, herbology, history of magic, potions and transfiguration?

MY REPLY

1. Astronomy


Yes, of course. We can talk about the sun, moon, planets, stars, galaxies from the beginning of time to the end of the world.  We can talk about invisible forces like gravity, electromagnetism, strong, and weak interactions.  But what we shall not talk about is astrology: how our lives are determined by the movements of stars as what you read in horoscopes.  Man has free will to do good and avoid evil.  God created the universe and He knows all things.  As Christ said:
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.30 Even all the hairs of your head are counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Mt 10:29-31)
This means you can trust in God because He is worthy of trust and He knows each one of us by name.  So we should not worry too much about the movements of the heavens (unless that is your job as an astrophysicist), but rather we should concern ourselves more about the movements in our souls, whether each of our actions is a step towards God or away from Him.  Concerning divination through occult methods such as astrology, palmistry, and tarot cards, let us always remember what As St. Paul said:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things,* nor future things, nor powers,d 39 nor height, nor depth,* nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)

 2. Charms

A woman with a beautiful soul is charming. Frequent confession and communion is the best way to make one's soul beautiful. During our Confirmation, we receive many many things from the Holy Spirit (which sadly, we take for granted):
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord....The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity. (Catechism of the Catholic Church Art. 1831-1832)
Who can refuse to like and love a woman who has all the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit?

Charms also refer to amulets that uses power from outside ourselves (demonic spirits) to give us good luck or ward off the evil eye. Using amulets to charm people to love you is not love but forced love akin to rape or shotgun marriage.  True love requires freedom to choose, and if your loved one chooses you out of his free will, then he loves you truly.  If he doesn't choose you but somebody else, then let go and move on.  Wish them well and pray for their happiness.  On the other hand, sacramentals such as the rosary or scapular are not charms or amulets.  This is what the Catechism says:
1670 Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church's prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. "For well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. From this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power. There is scarcely any proper use of material things which cannot be thus directed toward the sanctification of men and the praise of God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church Art. 1670)
One example of a sacramental in Middle Earth is the Phial of Galadriel:
'Galadriel!' he said faintly, and then he heard voices far off but clear: the crying of the Elves as they walked under the stars in the beloved shadows of the Shire, and the music of the Elves as it came through his sleep in the Hall of Fire in the house of Elrond.  'Gilthoniel A Elbereth!' And then his tongue was loosened and his voice cried in a language which he did not know...the glass blazed suddenly like a white torch in his hand.  It flamed like a star that leaping from the firmament sears the dark air with intolerable light. (The Choices of Master Samwise, LOTR, pp. 729-730)
In the same way, when we use sacramentals, the saints in heaven and earth pray for us.  We are not alone in our daily battle against the evil one.

3. Dark Arts and Magic

Unhealthy curiosity about the Dark Arts of Sauron (e.g. the forging of the Rings of Power) led to the corruption of Saruman.  As Elrond said, "It is perilous to study too deeply the arts of the Enemy, for good or for ill."  This is what the Catechism says:
Divination and magic
2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.
2116 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.48 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.
2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity.
Magic is associated more with the Dark Arts of Evil, and not with the gift given by God to the saints (clairvoyance or bilocation) or to the Arts of Elves.  As Galadriel said to Sam regarding her Mirror:
Many things I can command the Mirror to reaveal... and to some I can show that they desire to see...For this is what your folk would call magic, I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem to use the same word of the deceits of the Enemy. But this, if you will, is the magic of Galadriel. Did you not say you wished to see Elf-magic? (The Mirror of Galadriel, LOTR, p. 362) 

 4. Defense against the Dark Arts

The only sure defense against the Dark Arts is is a soul that knows he or she is a child of God. As St. Therese said, "a soul in the state of grace has nothing to fear from the devil, who is a coward, and will even fly from the gaze of a little child." But if we have lost our child-like faith in God, the church has all means at Her disposal to defend ourselves against evil spirits. There are the sacramentals such as the rosary, scapular, St. Benedict's medal. And there are the exorcists who are commissioned by the Bishop to drive away demons who haunt homes and possess people.

 5. Flying

You can hire people to fly you to any place you wish. That is what airplanes are for. You can also take tutorial classes in flying small planes or even drones. But if you really wish to fly in a broomstick, that is not for you. Many saints have the ability to fly and the best example is St. Joseph of Copertino.
His life was now one long succession of visions and other heavenly favours. Everything that in any way had reference to God or holy things would bring on an ecstatic state: the sound of a bell or of church music, the mention of the name of God or of the Blessed Virgin or of a saint, any event in the life of Christ, the sacred Passion, a holy picture, the thought of the glory in heaven, all would put Joseph into contemplation. Neither dragging him about, buffeting, piercing with needles, nor even burning his flesh with candles would have any effect on him — only the voice of his superior would make him obey. These conditions would occur at any time or place, especially at Mass or during Divine Service. Frequently he would be raised from his feet and remain suspended in the air. Besides he would at times hear heavenly music. Since such occurrences in public caused much admiration and also disturbance in a community, Joseph for thirty-five years was not allowed to attend choir, go to the common refectory, walk in procession or say Mass in church, but was ordered to remain in his room, where a private chapel was prepared for him. Evil-minded and envious men even brought him before the Inquisition, and he was sent from one lonely house of the Capuchins or Franciscans to another, but Joseph retained his resigned and joyous spirit, submitting confidently to Divine Providence. He practised mortification and fasting to such a degree, that he kept seven Lents of forty days each year, and during many of them tasted no food except on Thursdays and Sundays. His body is in the church at Osimo. He was beatified by Benedict XIV in 1753, and canonized 16 July 1767 by Clement XIII.
Flying is a gift of God to his saints, and not something you aspire for through the Dark Arts.

6. Herbology

Study Botany instead. Or if you wish, you can document the amazing herbs of the Philippines. There are herbs for most kinds of bodily ailments.  In the Lord of the Rings, the famous herb is Athelas or Kingsfoil, which is used in Gondor for making infusions for headaches, but which in the hands of the true King like Aragorn, Kingsfoil becomes a more potent and sweet-smelling cure to the Black Breath of the Nazgul:
Then taking two leaves, [Aragorn] laid them on his hands and breathed on them, and then he crushed them, and straightway a living freshness filled the room, as if the air itself awoke and tingled, sparkling with joy.  And then he cast the leaves into the bowls of steaming water that were brought to him, and at once all hearts were lightened.  For the fragrance that came to each was like a memory of dewy mornings of unshadowed sun in some land of which the fair world in spring is itself but a fleeting memory. (The Houses of Healing, LOTR, p. 865)

7. History of Magic

Magic is as old as the Fall of Man.  The first transfiguration is that of Satan into a snake:
Now the snake was the most cunning* of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?”2 The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
3 a it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’”4 But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die!b 5 God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know* good and evil.” (Gen 3:1-5)
Magic always turns us from the worship of the true God to the worship of the thing or of occult powers, evil spirits, and false gods.  In the Old Testament, one of the greatest 'magicians' is Elijah the prophet, but his power comes from God.  When the priests of Baal could not make Baal send fire from heaven, Elijah laughed at them and prayed to the True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob:
At the time for offering sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came forward and said, “LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.37 a Answer me, LORD! Answer me, that this people may know that you, LORD, are God and that you have turned their hearts back to you.”38 The LORD’s fire came down and devoured the burnt offering, wood, stones, and dust, and lapped up the water in the trench. 39
Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, “The LORD is God! The LORD is God!” (1 Kngs 18:36-39)
In Ireland, the practitioners of magic were the Druids, and St. Patrick defeated them:
Thousands were assembled next day on the wide plain, and the stern-looking Druids filled the greater part of the space enclosed for the disputants. After some explanations and arguments were adduced by the missionary which told heavily on the priests, the Chief cried out in an arrogant tone, "if the Son of God has redeemed the human race, and if you were sent by Him, work a miracle to prove your mission." "I will not seek to disturb the order of Providence to gratify mere curiosity," modestly answered the saint. "Then will I approve the truth of druidic worship by effecting what you fear to attempt," cried the infuriated pagan; and beginning to describe lines in the air with his wand, and to chant spells, a thick veil of snow shut out the light and heat of the sun, and covering the ground several feet, an intense cold was felt, and the teeth of every one in the assembly chattered. Cries of discontent arose, and the saint addressed the Druid: "You see how the assembly suffer; banish this snow and cold, and admit the warm sun-shine." "I cannot do so till this hour on to-morrow."
"Ah! you are powerful for evil, not for good. Very different is the gift bestowed on the messenger of the Giver of all good." He made the sign of the cross, invoked the aid of the Holy Trinity, and the snow sunk in the soil, the grass again emerged green and dry, and the blue air again appeared, warmed by the bright and comforting sunbeams. All the people invoked blessings on the head of the beneficent Apostle.
"To convince you all," cried the Druid, "of our power and that of our gods, behold what I am empowered to do!" In a few seconds darkness such as seldom shrouds the earth fell on the assembly, and they groped about and murmured. Again was the thick black cloud dispersed at the prayer of the Apostle, and thousands of tongues blessed him. (St. Patrick's Contest with the Druids, Sacred Texts)

7. Potions

Study chemistry.

8.  Transfiguration

Practioners of magic tend to transfigure humans into the likeness of beasts like snake, bird, or frog--this should be called disfigure not transfigure.  That is why, when Adam and Eve listened to the Serpent and exchanged the dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God to an ordinary fruit (of knowledge of good and evil), God replaced the leaf clothing they made for themselves by a clothing made of a skin of a beast (c.f. Gen 3:21).

But Christ showed us the way.  When He was transfigured, he was clothed with the power of God: "his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light." (Mt 17:2)  Gandalf was also transfigured in a similar way after his resurrection from the death in his battle against the Balrog at Moria:
He sprang to his feet and leaped to the top of a large rock.  There he stood, grown suddenly tall, towering above them.  His hood and his grey rags were flung away.  His white garments shone.  He lifted up his staff, and Giml's axe leaped from his grasp and fell ringing on the ground.  The sword of Aragorn, stiff in his motionless hand, blazed with a sudden fire.  Legolas gave a great shout and shot an arrow high into the air: it vanished in a flash of flame....They all gazed at him.  His hair was white as snow in the sunshine; and gleaming white was his robe; his eyes under his deep brows were bright, piercing as the rays of the sun; power was in his hand.  Between wonder, joy, and fear they stood and found no words to say. (The White Rider, LOTR, p. 494-495)
Wormtongue, too, was transfigured: from a man and a wise counselor he became a beast, a hissing snake, as he followed the footsteps of Saruman.  As Gandalf said:
"See, Theoden, here is a snake!  With safety you cannot take it with you, nor can you leave it behind.  To slay it would be just.  But it was not always as it now is.  Once it was a man, and did you service in its fashion.  Give him a horse and let him go at once, wherever he chooses.  By his choice you shall judge him."
Slowly Wormtongue rose.  He looked at them with half-closed eyes.  Last of all he scanned Theoden's face and opened his mouth as if to speak.  Then suddenly he drew himself up.  His hands worked.  His eyes glittered.  Such malice was in them that men stepped back from him.  He bared his teeth; and then with a hissing breath he spat before the king's feet, and darting to one side, he fled down the stairs. (The King of the Golden Hall, LOTR, p. 520)
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