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We hate to be negative, and we realize that you can't put God in a box. But it seems equally important that the Rock of Peter be kept solid and the Church in a state of purity.

Christ said the gates of hell would not prevail against that Church, and they won't. At the same time, we have to watch for what Pope Paul VI called "fissures" through which the "smoke of Satan" could enter.

When the Holy Father spoke those words (in 1972), such was indeed sneaking into the Church -- by way of what became known as the sex-abuse crisis. It was during the late 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s that many of the abusers entered seminaries. The first real wave of cases -- so harmful to many dioceses -- was germinated.

But there is other "smoke," and in our current time it comes both through a continuing struggle with homosexuality (even a seminary in Rome is reportedly afflicted) and infiltration of the occult: dissatisfied with the lack of mysticism in the Church, many of the faithful, especially nuns, have sought it elsewhere -- often in pleasant-sounding, modern, and in many cases well-meaning spiritual techniques that unfortunately tend toward paganism.

They call it the "New Age," and we have posted a number of stories about how it has entered Catholic retreat centers and convents as a spiritual deception. In most cases the manifestation is through healing techniques such as reiki, esoteric personality tests, and Eastern-style meditation. The New Age is actually the Old Age, a modern spin on ancient pagan principles that take the emphasis away from One True God and place it on an array of spirits.

Now, viewers have informed us of something new: what appear to be New Age rosaries.

Is it just a myth?

Apparently, such has been noticed at least since 2005. This is according not only to a number of our viewers but to some Catholic blogs and e-mail lists. In some cases, priests have attempted to debunk concerns.

"One of the things I must mention is that there are now going around in the world plastic New Age rosaries in white, blue and pink," one woman has warned. "I had no idea about them until this was mentioned on a trip. Upon arriving home I went through my own collection of plastic rosaries and found two that had a snake wrapped above Jesus' Head with the mouth just besides his face. Also, no INRI sign and I think it's pentagrams that surround each point. One priest said it would be okay once it's blessed but another priest, whom I trust explicitly and who is a Marian priest, said even though it may be blessed, it has not been exorcised and evil may still persist."

We can not yet verify all the details, but it is always good, in these times, to remain as watchmen.

"These rosaries have appeared on sale at pilgrimage centers across Europe and in most cases are given away for free," warns a blog. "They are made from cheap plastic and come in white, blue, or pink, stamped as having been made in Italy, yet no one knows who has produced them. Since they are available at places of pilgrimage, this makes people automatically think they are fine to use. Information regarding the danger of these rosaries was given at the Marian Cenacle in Limoges, France, on 14th March 2005."

"I found two in my home and a friend found three in her home and another friend of mine found tons of them!" wrote a viewer who received hers from a friend in Richmond, Virginia. " A friend of mine and myself found some of these 'New Age rosaries in our collection of cheap plastic rosaries to give away for Legion of Mary. This is true and I am guessing that we should burn them?"

Yes. Another report has come from Wilmington, North Carolina.

"I thought that this was a hoax until I checked and found that I had a ton of these rosaries," wrote another. "I was given them to use for the Jericho March for Life. We've probably all used them at one time or another -- when we've lost or forgotten our rosary or the children will pick them up here and there -- or someone always gives the children this type of rosary. Creepy!"

"During these days, very disturbed and concerned people from Ireland and England wrote to me and told me about how people are giving back rosaries that they have received in Medjugorje, because a priest told them that these rosaries were New Age," a Croatian priest, Father Jozo Zovko, was quoted as saying.

"I must tell you: this is not true! It is a great temptation, but there is no such thing as a New Age rosary. There can only be the material from which the rosary is made, when the rosary is blessed, when it is placed in the hands of those who believe. It is not a matter of asking who made the rosary, but who prays with it and how they pray with it.

"When the rosary is blessed it becomes a key with which we open our hearts and Godís heart. There is no such thing as a New Age rosary. There is only a rosary that is blessed, and when blessed the value of the rosary is not judged in what it is, whether it is of plastic or solid gold. It does not matter who made it."

Said his translator: "These are not New Age Rosaries, but this is a traditional Italian rosary and it's not a serpent, but this is a ribbon on a standard that has been used and a tradition on Crucifixes in Italy."

"They are considered New Age due to their symbolism which is not too easy to see except by close inspection of the Crucifix, which shows a very sinister story," says another warning. "Behind the figure of Christ there can be seen a caduceus, which is an upright pole, representing mediation between Heaven and earth.

"It is an ancient herald's wand which was carried by messenger gods like Hermes or Mercury. The rod is also a divining rod to measure the earth and its energies of power. Satan is shown behind the figure of Christ and is depicted by a coiled serpent which means latent power, concealed but not yet fully manifest, a dormant power. It may also represent that the devil is co-messianic, co-redeemer, and co-Christ. The circles on the Crucifix are from Egyptian Graeco-Roman, Phoenician, and Baal symbols. The circles or pentagrams have five points which represent, spirit, fire, earth, water and air. The pentagram at the bottom is upside down represents the devil's goat. The four circles with dots in the center signifies gold or the sun in alchemy. In general the meaning is 'The resolution of all possibilities.'"

You can discern whether they are harmful or not. Is the symbolism New Age or simply arcane?

As for the other issue of homosexuality:

We respect the authority of our priests and agree that the Church should love and reach out to all. Hatefulness is a primary sin of our age.

But we have to raise concern over what has been transpiring in many dioceses. Homosexuality is still prevalent in seminaries, and there are hotspots such as Minnesota.

Bishop John NienstedtThere is now a new, more orthodox co-adjutor or "archbishop in waiting," Bishop John Nienstedt, in the St. Paul-Minneapolis diocese. But it is a area rife with reports of militant gay clerics. Ground zero has been St. Joan of Arc parish in Minneapolis -- which has been openly flouting the Church's stand on both homosexuality and the New Age.

This parish must be reined in -- urgently, if not by the new bishop, by the Vatican. There have been attempts. But the parish still promotes homosexuality.

Not since a priest named Matthew Fox openly questioned the divinity of Christ has there been such blatant disregard for the stance of Catholicism. Its parish website has a "gay-lesbian" corner with articles promoting same-sex adoption. And it is still featuring speakers such as the openly heretical Episcopalian John Shelby Spong. A proponent of homosexual activism, Bishop Spong rejects the historical truth claims of basic Christian doctrines such as the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection of Jesus. The title of his talk: "Hurling back the clouds of a New Age."

Add to that, is St. Stephen's Church, also in Minneapolis, where it is said that deacons consecrate the Host, the congregation recites the words of institution, and Dignity Twin Cities regularly meets.

"We are a small Christian community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics, their families and friends," the group explains. "Dignity Twin Cities meets three times a month. On the second Friday of the month we meet at Prospect Park United Methodist Church, Minneapolis, and celebrate Mass with a Catholic priest. On the fourth Friday of the Month, we meet again at Prospect Park United Methodist Church, and celebrate a liturgy presided over by a lay person, a minister from another Christian religious tradition, and in 2007 by woman-priest Regina Nicolosi."

Of concern to at least one viewer is that Auxiliary Bishop Richard Pates reportedly has con-celebrated Mass at  Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ, an openly gay Protestant parish -- again in Minneapolis. "Spirit of the Lakes was welcomed into the United Church of Christ in 1992 and is the first congregation of a mainline denomination serving gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and allied people," explains its website.

However much we must reach out, the Vatican must decide if a bishop should appear in such a place. Neither would a little blessed salt hurt around the area, where there is a blog that displays a profane torso of Christ Crucified (genitalia included) by an artist who claims to have been affirmed by stigmata. Watched too should be the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries.

We are called to love all -- no matter the inclination. Love is more important than anything. But we are also called to obey something called the Bible. Is it love, is it tolerance, we sometimes must ask, or is it a simple assault on decency?

[resources: Prayer of the Warrior]

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