Sense of Life. Articles in English. Divination: or Reading the Future.
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Divination: or Reading the Future

The practice of divination is based on the conviction that: a) the future of human beings is already laid out and determined; and b) there exist certain techniques of secret knowledge (occult techniques) thanks to which it is possible to foretell the future and gain mastery over it.

The most commonly known divining techniques are: a) cartomancy, i.e. reading the future by means of playing cards; b) astrology, i.e. foretelling terrestrial events by the position of the stars; c) chiromancy, i.e. divination by reading the lines of the hand; and d) necromancy or spiritism, i.e. summoning up the spirits of the dead for the purpose of obtaining information.

To resort to any of these divination practices is a clear transgression against the First Commandment. Why?

The practice of divination supposes that human life is subject not to Divine Providence but to impersonal and mysterious forces that are generally unfavorable, if not hostile, to man. Recourse to divination brings about a weakening and, eventually, a severing of our personal ties with God, which is based on obedience, confidence and trust. A person enslaved by the desire to read the future, who entrusts himself to fortunetellers, is unable to pray and live the sacramental life. Moreover, he opens himself up by degrees to the influence of demonic forces.

Divination is a rejection of the One, True God, i.e. a breach of the First Commandment. Holy Scripture is stern in its warning against this sin: Do not turn to mediums or wizards; do not seek them out, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:31). And again: If a person turns to mediums and wizards, playing the harlot after them, I will set my face against that person, and will cut him off from among his people….For I am the Lord thy God (Leviticus 21: 6-7). St. Paul lists sorcery (under any guise) among those things that will surely exclude us from the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20).

Divination is a radical deception betraying a fundamental theological truth, namely that God alone knows the future. To think that one can steal this mystery from God is illusion pure and simple. Even Satan (although he may act through his instrument the medium) is not privy to the future, since the future comes about through man’s free and uncoerced cooperation with God. Reckoning on the workings of Nature, of which man is ignorant, Satan can only produce possible scenarios of future events; but these need not at all come about.

The fact that only God knows the future in no way limits man’s ability to shape his own destiny (particularly in what is most important, namely his own salvation). Divine prophecy (i.e. knowledge concerning the future communicated to man by God) differs from divination in that it never predetermines the future. It only warns against the tragic consequences of sin and man’s refusal to be converted. Prophecy is therefore conditional (its fulfillment depends on man’s attitude). By contrast, the predictions of spiritist mediums deal with events that are supposedly irrevocable and independent of man’s free agency. 

Divination effectively pulls the rug out from under the concept of Christian maturation — of growing in holiness. By promoting determinism (the future must proceed along certain lines) and fatalism (man cannot free himself of a foreordained course of events) it nullifies the consequences of choosing good or evil. Our revealed knowledge of the last things (judgment, heaven, hell, and purgatory) is totally rejected.

Apart from the danger of bringing on a range of spiritual disturbances (including demonic possession), reliance on spiritist mediums leads to fear, feelings of helplessness, a sense of being trapped, and despair. It can also lead to serious psychic illnesses.

For our own good, Divine Revelation and the Magisterium of the Church sternly forbid us to have anything to do with divination under any guise. A Christian who resorts to the horoscope or has recourse to fortunetellers, clairvoyants, magicians, etc. comes into clear conflict with the first and most important commandment of the Decalog. He thereby exposes himself to the more or less hidden forces of the Evil One, whose goal is to sever our relationship with God and lead us to spiritual death. Daily prayer and the sacramental life is the only remedy against the temptation to know the future. They lead us to an ever-deepening trust in Our Father’s Providence.

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The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!"

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