Today I came across something that was completely new to me, though I soon discovered that this is only because I lead a “sheltered” life and am often oblivious of what is going on around me. (I really need to get out more. Maybe not!) What I came across was the Enneagram, which apparently is being used in many Catholic Retreat Centres, though never ever on any retreat that I attended and my first retreat was in 1983, while I was still at school.
I decided to do some research to ascertain whether there was something that I was missing, because, surely if it is being used in many Catholic Retreat Centres, it may be of value to more Catholics than only those who have already been exposed to it. I should, of course, not have been so naive.
It soon became evident that the reason the Enneagram has never been used on any of the retreats, Anglican or Catholic, which I attended, is that it is a complete and utter load of nonsense. The directors of the retreats I attended would simply never have permitted any Christian – of any denomination – to be exposed to such nonsense!
The first thing I came across, as I began my research, was this extract from the Preface to a book on the Enneagram. It sounds entirely reasonable and certainly does not immediately raise any alarm bells about the Enneagram. In fact, it seems to actually be going in the right direction.
“We are all driven by a deep inner restlessness. We may feel this restlessness as a sense that something is missing in us, although it is usually difficult to define exactly what it is. We have all sorts of notions about what we think we need or want — a better relationship, a better job, a better physique, a better car, and on and on. If we reflect for a moment, we may realize that what our hearts yearn for is to know who we are and why we are here. Sooner or later, however, we realize that external things, while valuable in themselves, cannot address the deep restlessness of our soul.”
However, that preface was sadly the end, of any glimmer of hope, that I had possibly discovered something of value. I, of all people, should have known better in the first place. Like many dissenters in the Catholic Church today, the Enneagram uses terminology, which sounds Christian, but is in fact nothing other than a manipulation of the meaning of the word, in order to deceive the hearer/reader.
No sooner had I taken the next step in my research, than I began to realise that the Enneagram simply is not compatible with Catholicism. Takes this Enneagram prayer of gratitude as an example:
“I am grateful that I live in a perfect Universe and know my own perfection because my True Nature is the Universal Source itself.
I am grateful that the Universe is made of love and that I am filled with an endless supply of love that I both give and receive.
I am grateful that I live in a dynamic Universe and know that I can achieve everything that is my heart’s desire.
I am grateful that I am an individual with my own life experience and unique gifts, as well as being an expression of the Universal whole.
I am grateful that I receive the wisdom of the Universe, knowing that I am guided to my highest good in every moment.
I am grateful that I am supported by a benevolent Universe and know that I am always safe because True Nature is indestructible.
I am grateful that the Universe is abundant and that I am filled with joy and endless possibilities.
I am grateful that the Universe is all-powerful and eternal and that I am filled with strength and eternal life.
I am grateful that because I am all of these I am also filled with endless and abiding peace.
I am sure you don’t need me to highlight all the errors in this prayer and how it conflicts with our Catholic belief. I didn’t need to go any further after this. I was already convinced the Enneagram could not be compatible with Catholicism. However, I decided that I should write something to warn others about the Enneagram. It seems however that even that has already been done quite adequately.
I found four other people, including two highly respected priests, who have already produced works on the Enneagram. I also found a great summary of why the Enneagram is not compatible with Catholicism. The summary contains references to these four great authors who have already studied and produced works on the Enneagram. So, instead of reinventing the wheel, here is the link to the summary, by Bruce Sabalaskey.
I would like to end by quoting the conclusion contained in Bruce Sabalaskey’s summary:
“The Enneagram has found a home in many Catholic places, both in parishes and retreat centers. Many religious support and teach the Enneagram. Unfortunately, as we learn from Church history, being religious does not prevent a person from following falling away from the Faith (apostasy) or following error (e.g. heresy) - in fact many Bishops have started heresies in the past.
Best would be to follow the advice of Pope John Paul II who said on Nov. 1st, 1982: ‘Any method of prayer is valid insofar as it is inspired by Christ and leads to Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).’ The Enneagram, an occult pagan tool, is focused on self and therefore leads us away from the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Have nothing to do with the Enneagram.”