Connecting with the Supernatural
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

The first two days of November are big holidays for us in the Philippines. These are the days for family gatherings and visiting the dead in the cemeteries. Even before the Americans brought Halloween, Christian Filipinos have developed rituals for these important days. It is the time to clean and repaint the tombs, to pray and offer masses for the faithful departed, to visit the dead as a family and to share a meal right there at the graveyard. It is really a big fiesta. The dead members of the family literally become present in the family gathering. In most Filipinos’ mind the dead are very much alive and are just around. There is life after this life.

This Sunday’s gospel story tells of the Jesus and the Sadducees. This group of Jews did not believe in the afterlife and so they presented a hypothetical case to Jesus. Jesus affirmed the teaching that those who died will have new life, “They will be like angels and cannot die. They are the children of God, because they have risen from the death” (Lk. 20:36).

The past week I noticed that television talk shows offered special segments about death, ghosts, spiritual beings, and the supernatural. When I shifted to movies, the regular channels were showing mostly horror movies, usually about the dead coming back to take revenge or to finish an unfinished business. All these led me to thinking about a current paradox -- in our secular and empirical age, there is the fascination for the other-worldly and the unexplainable. Such fascination makes for big business in the movie industry.

There are healthy and unhealthy elements to this phenomenon. On the positive side, it can be affirmed that the sense of the other-worldly has not been completely erased by secularism. On the other hand, it is noticeable that this sense of the other-worldly puts too much emphasis on the dark side, such as the revenge of the dead or the awakening of evil spiritual forces. It would be much healthier if our sense of the other-worldly or the supernatural puts us in touch with the forces of love and goodness. Instead of connecting with evil spirits, it would be better to connect with good spirits or the source of all goodness, God Himself.

Action starter: Are you involved in the occult? Drop it.

There is somebody I know who got so caught up in the pursuit of the supernatural that he made a career out of it. He is professionally engaged in ghost hunting, detecting the presence of spirits in houses, as well as communicating with these spirits. It gave me the creeps when I visited one of the sets he designed for exhibit purposes. I thought I was part of a horror movie. I wonder about this fascination about the forces of the dark. It seems to me that it would be much more psychologically and spiritually healthy to connect with the Light.

There is a way to connect with the Light. We do not have to possess extraordinary powers or perform exotic rituals in order to be connected with God. All we need to do is make ourselves ready, make space, make time, and be present. This simple exercise is called prayer. Prayer is conversation with God. As in human company conversations have different purposes. As friends, we talk to each other because we enjoy each other’s company. We also converse because we want to express what is happening with us or we want to listen to somebody’s story about herself. Sometimes we approach somebody to do us a favor or to give us some good advice. In general, good conversations help build up our relationships. People who want to cut off the relationship cease their conversations.

When we converse with God, we come to His presence as we are. We do not have to pretend. We have nothing to hide from Him. We can talk things over with Him. As we do this more often we realize that something happens to us. We think more along God’s lines.

Some seek to connect with supernatural forces, including the dark side, because of the sense of power it gives them. It seems rewarding to be able to claim that one can do what others cannot (sense ghosts, talk with spirits, perform magic).

Connecting with God is not primarily to gain exotic powers. Rather, it is about doing the will of the Father. When we keep an open line with God through prayer, we become more and more familiar with His loving ways. This is the greatest power – to love as God loves.