The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association Home Page
The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association Home Page

Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Archives


Questions and Answers

Return to:  Home > Archives Index > Questions and Answers Index

Ask Father Hardon

Catholic Faith
Vol. 4 - #2, Mar / Apr 1998

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Q.  Could you inform us why Yoga is incompatible with Catholicism? —K.L.F., Bombay, India

A.  Yoga is incompatible with Catholicism because the best known practice of Hindu spirituality is Yoga. “Inner” Hinduism professes pantheism, which denies that there is only one infinite Being who created the world out of nothing. This pantheistic Hinduism says to the multitude of uncultured believers who follow the ways of the gods that they will receive the reward of the gods. They will have brief tastes of heaven between successive rebirths on earth. But they will never be delivered form the “wheel of existence” with its illusory lives and deaths until they realize that only “God” exists and all else is illusion (Maya). To achieve this liberation the principal way is by means of concentration and self control (yoga).

Indian spirituality is perhaps best known by the practice of yoga, derived from the root yuj, to unite or yoke, which in context means union with the Absolute. Numerous stages are distinguished in the upward progress toward the supreme end of identification: by means of knowledge with the deity; the practice of moral virtues and observance of ethical rules; bodily postures; control of internal and external senses; concentration of memory and meditation — finally terminating in total absorption (samadhi), “when the seer stands in his own nature.”

Although the psychic element is far more important in yoga than the body, the latter is more characteristic of this method of Hindu liberation. Its purpose is to secure the best disposition of body for the purpose of meditation. The practice begins with a simple device for deep and slow breathing.

Stopping the right nostril with the thumb, through the left nostril fill in air, according to capacity. Then without any interval, throw the air out through the right nostril, eject through the left, according to capacity. Practicing this three or five times at four hours of the day, before dawn, during midday, in the evening, and at midnight, in fifteen days or a month purity of the nerves is attained.

After such preliminary exercises, more complicated practices are undertaken, but not without the guidance of a professional yogin called guru. The meditative phase begins with fixing the mind on one object, which may be anything whatsoever, “the sphere of the navel, the lotus of the heart, the light of the brain, the tip of the nose, the tip of the tongue, and such like parts of the body” or also “God”, who on Hindu terms is the only real being who exists. Gradually by sheer concentration of attention, the mind reaches a state of trance, where all mental activity stops and the consciousness rests in itself. The state of samadhi is the culmination of yoga and beyond it lies release. The life of the soul is not destroyed but is reduced to its “unconscious and permanent essence.”

Q.  It is still common at “children's Masses” for the priest to invite the children present to come up to stand around “the table.” Is this permissible? —A.O'D., Nebraska

A.  To put it mildly, this practice is not encouraged by the Church’s magisterium. It is not only at Masses for children, and the practice is widespread in not a few parishes.

As stated in the Vatican instruction of November 18, 1997, “every effort must be made to avoid even the appearance of confusion which can spring from anomalous liturgical practices” (Article 6). The standard dictionary definition of anomalous is “deviating from a general rule or method; being out of keeping with accepted notions of fitness or order, inconsistent with what would naturally be expected.” On these terms, for children or adults to stand around the altar while the priest offers the Holy Sacrifice is, to say the least, misleading.

As the Vatican document of 1997 makes clear, “the crisis of faith of the past generation has been express in consistent efforts to downgrade the sacred character of the ministry of the priesthood (turning the priest into a mere community leader) and to upgrade the priesthood of all believers…. Those attempting to hold on to their faith in the midst of a hostile secular culture have not benefited from this confusion” (Introduction).

What makes the situation even more serious is when children are exposed to this confusion. They will grow up identifying themselves with the ordained priest at the altar.

In the sixteenth century, this was the basic premise of Luther, Cranmer, Calvin and Zwingli. They placed the laity on the same par with the “minister” of the Holy Eucharist. The “presider” did not change bread and wine into the living Body and Blood of Christ. Why not? Because he was not an ordained priest whose priesthood is traceable to Christ’s ordaining the twelve apostles as bishops. The apostles, however, did passed on their priestly powers to the bishops and priests whom they ordained.

Catholic Faith
Vol. 4 - #2, Mar / Apr 1998, pp. 54-55

Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica
No reproductions shall be made without prior written permission

search tips advanced search

What's New    Site Index

Home | Directory | Eucharist | Divine Training | Testimonials | Visit Chapel | Hardon Archives

Adorers Society | PEA Manual | Essentials of Faith | Dictionary | Thesaurus | Catalog | Newsletters

Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association
718 Liberty Lane
Lombard, IL 60148
Phone: 815-254-4420
Contact Us

Copyright © 2000 by
All rights reserved worldwide.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior
written permission of