Priest: No to feng shui; yes to hard work, perseverance, prayer

MANILA, Philippines–Practicing feng shui and similar rituals to attract good fortune in the new year might invite evil instead, a Catholic priest warned, adding that hard work, perseverance and prayer are the three key elements to achieve success and prosperity in 2015.

Fr. Michell Joe Zerrudo of the Diocese of Cubao said that obsessing about feng shui and other superstitions could open one to “attacks of the devil.” This Chinese practice and faith contradict each other, he added.

Feng shui is a traditional Chinese concept used to facilitate or harness the power of nature to bring harmony and balance in one’s life and environment. Practitioners often cite the spatial arrangement, orientation and design of buildings and objects as crucial in attracting good energy and fortune.

“If one makes use of sipag, tiyaga at dasal (hard work, perseverance and prayer), why would there be a need to harness the elements of nature through feng shui?,” Zerrudo said in an interview with CBCP News, the official news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Demonic spirits in nature

The parish priest of the Holy Family Church in Roxas District, Quezon City, also cited St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians which spoke of the principalities of air and water … to warn us of demonic spirits living in and influencing nature.

“That is why harnessing the elements of nature to one’s advantage means attempting to influence these principalities and the powers of air and water to work for our advantage,” Zerrudo said, adding that feng shui and wearing lucky charms and amulets meant to attract luck could instead open one to attacks of the devil.

In a talk at the Arzobispado de Manila in Intramuros last year, Msgr. Jay Bandojo aired a similar warning against yoga, occult practices, astrology, horoscopes, transcendental meditation, cursing and other practices that he said allowed demons to have a claim over a person.

“When you practice yoga, you are told to ‘empty your mind’ while saying [the mantra] ‘om,’ so you can feel relaxed. But when you empty yourself, you’re opening yourself to possession. You have to be careful because demons might take advantage of (this) empty [vessel of your soul] and possess it,” said Bandojo, who has special permission to perform exorcisms.

Contrary to religion

Zerrudo, the diocese’s catechism minister, said that the practice of feng shui and other superstitious practices are against the teachings of the Catholic Church.

In its catechism, the Church declared that “all practices of magic or sorcery, by one who attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s services and have supernatural power over them—even if these were for sake of restoring their health—are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion,” Zerrudo said.

“Welcome the New Year by praying to God. Stop doing feng shui and other New Year superstitious practices,” he advised.

In 2003, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture and Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue released the document “Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the New Age” to explain the difference between the New Age movement and Christian faith.

The 90-page document also gives Christian guidance on New Age phenomena such as feng shui, yoga and meditation, among other practices.

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