These are great questions!
Your example of a mother who instinctively knows her child is in danger even when that child is not in her presence is an example of what is called “normal ESP [extra sensory perception].”
As Walter Martin explains in his book, Kingdom of the Occult, “Normal ESP is the ability to know of an event while it is in process, a telepathic capacity to access information simultaneously preset in another person’s mind. This normal form of ESP has nothing to do with the occult. It is a latent sense often referred to as a sixth sense or intuition, more developed in some people but most likely present in all.”
Years ago, while writing a series on the New Age for the Catholic Standard and Times newspaper in Philadelphia, I consulted with Father Lawrence J. Gesy, lead author of Today's Destructive Cults and Movements who was serving as cult consultant for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He told me that he has been encountering people with these abilities for many years in his work and believes everyone has psychic abilities to some extent.
"A mother has psychic ability. She knows when her child is in harm's way," he said. "Haven't you ever known that something was wrong before it happened? We all have this. It's an instinctual psychic ability.
"There are some who have the ability — and I've experienced people like this — whose powers are so strong they can see beyond the veil of this world into the next. I don't understand it, but they do. And I really believe that is just a part of their makeup."
As Martin explains, normal ESP usually manifests itself in telepathy which is the ability to access knowledge of an idea or event while it is in process. “This knowledge has no connection whatsoever with the occult or with religion.”
This usually occurs between people who share a close relationship, such as couples who have been married for many years who seem to be able to “read each other’s minds.”
“These people do not have any ties to the occult, yet they seem to have access to information outside of their own minds,” Martin writes.
The difference between normal ESP and what psychics do is that normal ESP typically occurs without invitation or seeking. Psychics, on the other hand, actively try to engage these powers, usually for the purpose of divination.
“When people deliberately try to access ESP, they trespass willingly into the world of the occult, attempting to acquire power over an unexplainable phenomenon,” Martin explains. “Quite often, intentional exploration of paranormal power or experiences opens the heart and mind to the occult.”
This is because in occult ESP, the source of the knowledge is not the mind or normal intuitive abilities but links to “an interdimensional being, identified biblically as a demon…” Martin states.
Occult ESP typically manifests as clairvoyance, precognition, and mediumship and is always used to pursue secret and/or forbidden knowledge, a pursuit that Satan is always happy to oblige.
This is why the Catechism forbids all forms of divination because they “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.” (No. 2116)
There is no need to stifle our normal, God-given abilities; but we must take care never to use those powers in ways that have been forbidden by God.
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