I saw an interesting post on Facebook the other day posing this question: Yoga pants…ok for Catholics, yes or no? A surprising number of respondents reacted like the question was “devil worship…ok for Catholics, yes or no?” I was mystified.
Now let me be clear about two things. First: I believe yoga is incompatible with Catholicism and recommend Catholics avoid it. There are good reasons I say that. It’s more than just exercise but has very clear spiritual components and goals. It’s rooted in the Hindu religion and can lead you astray, whether you participate in chanting or not.
Second, I believe yoga pants are pants. Comfy pants, actually. They are marketed as “yoga pants” because they are comfortable for stretching and exercise…and running around town doing errands. They have no spiritual power. And although those who practice yoga wear them, wearing them to go food shopping, to run on the treadmill or while attending your knitting circle will not lead you into practicing yoga and will not cause you to lose your soul. They. Are. Pants.
Now the reason I bring this up is that for many, the quest to avoid New Age contamination can become reactionary. Anything and everything associated with the New Age becomes an object of suspicion to be avoided. The New Age uses candles and incense. (The Catholic liturgy does as well) They may wear yoga pants. They may even use essential oils.
For Our Use and Our Good
I believe we need to recognize something important here. God made everything in creation for our use and for our good. And as Catholics, we need to take back the turf that is rightfully ours. God gave us plants for food, but they were also given to us for our medicine. Essential oils are simply highly concentrated, distilled plant compounds with scientifically validated medicinal properties. And even though New Agers tend to use and promote them, there is nothing New Age about them, any more than candles and incense, in and of themselves. It’s how we use them that makes all the difference. Used in worship at Mass, they have symbolic meaning and enhance our connection with God through the liturgy. Used for incantations to summon the dead, they are clearly being used for a purpose contrary to legitimate Catholic practice. But we shouldn’t avoid candles because some people use them improperly. Nor should we avoid essential oils, the gifts of the earth given to us by God for our good…(or a particular style of comfortable pants).
But I must be honest…I used to look at essential oils with a jaundiced eye for the same reasons…they seemed to keep bad company. I didn’t understand their medicinal properties (although it made perfect sense to me that they would have them) or how to use them properly for health and other practical uses. Wary of falling prey to New Age involvement, and unschooled in their scientifically demonstrated benefits, I simply kept my distance.
Am I describing you too?
I think many of us have felt the same way. This article by Melody Lyons addresses this subject so well, that I can’t say it better myself. I hope you find it helpful too.
If you would like to learn more about how to use essential oils for health and homecare, I’m happy to set up a free consultation for you. With so many benefits and relatively no side effects, learning how to harness the gifts that God has given us in these powerful remedies, is a great step toward living a more natural and healthy Catholic life.
Allison is also the Founder and President of www.CatholicTherapists.com, a nationwide network of dedicated Catholic therapists.
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