Jesuit cautions faithful about Feng Shui rituals

Father Dy reminded his audience that many of these rituals bordered on superstition and could potentially undermine a Christian’s faith in the Divine.

February 18 2014, 6:02 PM
Jesuit cautions faithful about Feng Shui rituals

Jesuit priest and Xavier School director Father Aristotle C Dy has urged Catholics to be discerning so that the practice of Feng Shui rituals would not endanger their faith.

Post-Chinese New Year celebrations, he discussed the basics of Feng Shui and taught Catholics how to practice it without jeopardizing their faith during a talk at the Santuario de San Jose Parish conference hall last Saturday.

Feng Shui (wind-water) is an ancient Chinese philosophical system of “harmonizing human existence with the surrounding environment”. Relatively unknown to most of the world till recently, it has gained popularity where overseas Chinese communities have a marked presence, like in the Philippines and other countries of Southeast Asia and North America.

Feng Shui and other Chinese traditions are more popular outside China than in the mainland now, after the Communists systematically suppressed it during Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

Father Dy, who has an advanced degree in Buddhist studies and is of Chinese origin, reminded his audience that many of these rituals bordered on superstition and could potentially undermine a Christian’s faith in the Divine.

Feng Shui enthusiasts believe among other things that constructing one’s house on an auspicious site, or placing one’s furniture in a certain location prescribed by a Feng Shui expert would bring them fortune and prosperity. Even Chinese burials often have to observe Feng Shui rules to “ensure that the departed will have a smooth journey ahead”.

Dy criticized Filipino Christians who have adopted Feng Shui practices without really knowing what they are about. Most of these people, he said were drawn to Feng Shui because of its novelty and exoticism, and because others are doing it.

The Jesuit enumerated key Feng Shui concepts compatible with or at least similar to those already present in Christian doctrine. He mentioned the Chinese custom of venerating the dead as being like the Catholic practice of “praying for the souls in purgatory”. Dy said that if Feng Shui was about “harmony with nature”, Christians could see it as “integrity with Creation”.

While not endorsing the custom of carrying good-luck charms, the priest explained that if a particular Feng Shui ritual posed no problem to Christian teachings on a moral, theological, pastoral or missionary level, he found no reason why Chinese Catholics could not adopt them.

He said that the Catholic Church has always respected regional cultures and early Christians were the first to observe “inculturation”.

Source: CBCP News

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