JS writes: “I was baptized Catholic as a child. For the last 10-15 years, I disregarded the faith and favored eastern philosophy, even though I never stopped believing in God. I became a massage therapist about 7 years ago and also do chakra therapy. I do chakra workshops where I basically categorize life issues with the chakras and look at their psychology. . .
“My concern is that I have recently come back to the church and am currently going through the RCIA process for confirmation. I have read some of your posts about massage, but I am already established in my career as a massage therapist, and love it. I have helped many people physically with their muscular problems. I have also helped people see what part of their lives need work as well with the chakra therapy and workshops. Is there any actual doctrine from the pope or the Church stating that these things should be avoided? Also, it’s harder for me to accept that massage is uncatholic, but I am more willing to give up chakra therapy if it is so stated. I’m just lost as to what I can do as a career if those are taken away from me because I absolutely love it and love helping and being inspiring to others.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with massage therapy, as long as it’s a type of massage that is scientifically sound such as sports massage and other forms of medical massage that involve primarily the use of the hands and fingers to manipulate layers of muscles and connecting tissue. This type of massage has been scientifically proven to be effective for a variety of conditions.
However, this field is being rapidly infiltrated with “energy” healers who practice a type of massage that involves the manipulation of so-called subtle or putative energy forces which supposedly permeate the universe. There is no scientific evidence for the existence of this energy, which is why all modalities based upon it have never been proven to work. This includes everything from acupuncture to Reiki, therapeutic touch, touch for health, crystal healing, aroma therapy and many others.
This problem has become so pervasive that professional medical massage organizations such as the American Medical Massage Association believe it has “advanced to the point of becoming a serious problem that is adversely affecting the overall professional image and reputation of massage therapy in the United States.”
According to a representative of the AMMA that I interviewed several years ago, insurance companies are now starting to crack down on these therapists who have been submitting claims under the auspices of performing legitimate massage therapy when their modalities are, in fact, unproven and considered to be beyond the realm of science.
Unfortunately, chakra therapy is also based upon this fictitious energy. It is founded upon the Hindu principle that the body contains seven energy centers known as chakras or meridians. These chakras supposedly have the ability to receive, assimilate and transmit a life force energy known as “chi.” States of ill health are believed to be due to distortions in the chakra system which prevent the life force energy from freely flowing in and out of the body. Each chakra is believed to resonate with a particular frequency or vibration and are balanced back to their natural state of vibration by a variety of means, such as using light, sound, aromas, touch, etc.
There are many problems with the use of this kind of “energy” medicine/massage, many of which are can be found in the USCCB’s condemnation of Reiki which can be found here. Much of what is said in this document applies to other forms of massage that are based on a universal life force.
Speaking of which, the Church considers this fictitious energy to be a “New Age god” in its document entitled, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life (Sec. 18.104.22.168). This is why practitioners who claim to manipulate or depend upon any kind of unintelligent “spiritual energy” to affect healing could be guilty of the sin of sorcery (See Catechism #2117).
And because these therapies have no scientific basis, persisting in their use is considered to be superstition (See Catechism #2110-2111).
A good overview of energy medicine can be found on our blog at /?p=4
Any good effects that patients may feel as a result of these therapies has been found to be no more than the placebo effect. You might want to read this blog to better understand the power of placebo.
We need to pray for JS who should be commended for her willingness to confront all this even though her life’s work appears to involve some of these modalities. It is not easy to embrace the Faith in this culture, especially when it costs one their livelihood.
But I can assure you from my own personal experience, anyone who gives up something so dear for the sake of the Almighty can expect to be rewarded beyond their wildest dreams. Our God is NEVER outdone in generosity!
“And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting.” (Matt. 19:29)
Send your New Age question to firstname.lastname@example.org