|Theresa Caputo, from the Long Island Medium TV Show|
By: Glenn Dallaire
Since I have such a great interest in all that concerns authentic mystical phenomenon (as is evident in this extensive website on the Mystics of the Church) I have been asked on several occasions my thoughts concerning Theresa Caputo and the popular TLC television show "Long Island Medium". While the alleged gifts of psychics or mediums is outside the realm of authentic Christian mysticism and is not within the scope of this website, it is still of interest and concern in that it deals specifically with spiritual realities concerning the afterlife. Also not within the scope of this article is to judge whether Teresa Caputo's alleged gift of being able to talk to the dead is authentic or fake. The Catholic church is full of occasions over the centuries where Saints and departed souls from purgatory have appeared to various mystics of the Church and other countless individuals, so the possibility does in fact exist within accepted Catholic belief that the spirits of the deceased could come and give messages to Theresa.
Concerning the show, I can sincerely state that I have watched with interest the majority of the episodes beginning with season one to the present end of season three, and so in this article I will present firstly (and most importantly) the position of the Catholic church concerning such matters, along with my own thoughts and perspective in light of the Church's teaching.
But first, for those who have not seen any of the episodes, Mrs. Theresa Brigandi Caputo is a 45 year old Long Island (Hicksville, NY) wife and mother of two children who purports to receive messages from the deceased. She is a practising Catholic with a strong faith who attends Mass weekly, as stated in an interview here. Even before the show aired for the first time, her appointment schedule was booked for close to 2 years, so her popularity even before the show began airing is evident. Having watched quite a few episodes, I personally find Theresa to be very sincere, and it would be very difficult to argue against the fact that she often makes some astonishingly remarkable statements concerning people and events she could not possibly know of through natural means.
The position of the Catholic Church concerning mediums, psychics, channelers, clairvoyants etc.
The official Catechism of the Catholic Church is very clear about the position of the Church concerning mediums, psychics etc:
2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.
2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.
Additionally, the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament is also quite clear on the matter:
10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
And so we can clearly see that God strongly condemns the action of invoking spirits or calling upon the dead. Actively calling upon, conjuring up and evoking the dead or spirits is the sin of necromancy and is strictly forbidden.
The important distinction between authentic prophets, mystics and visionaries versus mediums, channelers and psychics. -The sin of necromancy.
In both the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Scriptures we find that throughout salvation history God has brought forth a large number of prophets and mystics such as Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Jeremiah etc. and this has continued throughout the entire history of the Catholic church to the present day. In fact the Catholic church has canonised countless mystics and visionaries throughout the centuries and many of these Mystic-Saints such as St Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena, St Theresa of Avila etc. are the "crown jewels" of the Catholic church. And so it is that the Catholic church greatly admires the holy prophets and mystics who have been chosen by God to be His spokespersons and the messengers of His holy Word and His desires for humanity. Therefore we can clearly recognise and state that the Catholic church is not adverse to or against authentic mystics, prophets and visionaries.
The Church honors the prophets, mystics and visionaries for their heroic obedience to the will and desires of God. Such persons are the instruments of God's holy will. And reading about such persons throughout history (most particularly in the Old Testament) we find how the prophets, mystics and visionaries are often persecuted and have faced severe condemnations from those about them. In fact Jesus himself points out that the majority of the prophets were put to death by their fellow compatriots. In Matthew 23:37 Jesus says:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing."
And so in light of this we have to be very, very discerning and careful NOT to quickly condemn those who may have been given special gifts or charisms by God. But then what is the difference and the distinction between a authentic mystic or a medium? Firstly, authentic mystics don't normally relate messages from the dead, and certainly not on a daily basis, while mediums on the other hand claim to have this gift or ability, and some like Theresa Caputo often use this alleged gift on a daily basis and often charge a fee for doing so.
The primary danger with mediums lies in the careful reading of the Scriptural condemnation by God in Deuteronomy quoted above, and also in the careful reading of the statement above from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. What God strictly condemns as the sin of necromancy is the act of conjuring or calling upon the dead or spirits by an individual.
At the same time, in the Chapter on Necromancy, the Catholic Encyclopedia states:
"The Church does not deny that, with a special permission of God, the souls of the departed may appear to the living, and even manifest things unknown to the latter."
Now, if a soul or spirit appears to a person without the person having actively called, channelled or conjured them, then in no way would this be a sin, because the person is not the originator of the action, that is, the person did not of themselves actively seek the experience.
|Theresa Caputo on the "David Letterman" show|
And so we come to the possible grave problem with some of Theresa Caputo the "Long Island Medium's" readings. It all boils down to the action of invoking or calling upon the dead (or "spirit" as she often calls it). When a person, referred to by Theresa as a "client" comes to her for a session, and Theresa then actively seeks a message for them from their loved one(s)--then this may very well be crossing the line into the grave sin of necromancy because for her part Theresa is then actively seeking to channel the spirits of the dead, and this is what is specifically condemned by God in the Old Testament and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as stated above. And what causes even further concern is that Theresa charges money from the person(s) involved for these hour long channeling sessions. If a person receives a gift or charism from God, the gift should be given to others freely, without charge, however I do think that in such cases it would be permissible to accept free will offerings.
However, at the same time the show often depicts the many occasions where Theresa walks up to a person on the street or in a restaurant etc. and spontaneously begins to relate to this random person a very consoling alleged message from a deceased loved one. In these cases there is no obvious invoking or actively calling upon the dead or spirits, so in these cases it seems to me that there is nothing wrong with such circumstances, as they do not correspond with the sin of necromancy. Additionally in these type of circumstances there is no fee being charged by Theresa.
In other words, what it all comes down to is from what side the "channel" is being actively opened. Again, if a person is calling upon the dead or spirits, then this is the sin of necromancy and is condemned by God in Holy Scriptures. Additionally, when a person receives an authentic gift or charism from God, it should be used and given to others freely, without charge.
Additional concerns from a Catholic point of view
Having watched many of the episodes, some additional concerns that immediately come to my mind is the fact the the (alleged) departed souls never talk about God or give thanks to Jesus for their own salvation. And also the Catholic dogma and concept of purgatory--that is, the purgation and purification of souls in preparation for heaven--is never mentioned or brought forth by any of the channeled spirits or souls.
And while the departed souls that allegedly come through NEVER mention Jesus, they also never ask for prayers. Additionally, other dogma's of the Church such as the reality of hell, the existence of demons, final judgement and other grave matters concerning the afterlife are also completely absent from the spirits that come through for the persons on the show.
Additionally, perhaps one of the most disconcerting things that is missing from the show is the fact that the departed souls never thank God or give any glory to Jesus for their salvation, or for His love and His mercy shown to them. All of this makes one wonder then is it likely that a departed soul that is in heaven, or at least bound for heaven, would not wholeheartedly and fervently thank and bless Jesus for its own salvation and for God's infinite love and forgiveness towards him/her? One would think that this would be the primary message that a departed loved one would want to share as an important lesson and encouragement to those living here on earth.
|The "Long Island Medium" during a group channelling session|
As many are aware, St Padre Pio (1887-1968) was a contemporary mystic and stigmatic who was often visited by heavenly visitors and also the departed souls in purgatory. In fact, for those interested I have written about some of these extraordinary visits here.
Maria Simma (1915-2004) is another contemporary Catholic who was often visited by the departed souls from purgatory. In fact there is an excellent book entitled "Get Us Out Of Here -Maria Simma Speaks With Nicky Eltz" 2002 which consists of a series of interviews with Maria where the subjects of visits from departed souls in probed in depth, especially from a Catholic viewpoint.
In the cases of both of these individuals, the most profound lesson is that although they were often visited by souls of the deceased, they never sought or desired such visits, and they were told that the souls of the departed themselves where given special permission by God to come to them for a specific reason, usually the reason being was to request their prayers and sacrifices, so that the visitors time in purgatory being purified may be lessened.
In fact, during one interview Maria Simma was asked:
"What do you think of the practices of spiritism? For example: calling up the spirits of the departed, Ouija-boards, etc.?
"It is not good. It is always evil. It is the devil who makes the table move.
(-Here Maria is referring to the phenonmenon of the movement of a table when individuals join hands over a table with the hope and intention that spirits may move the table. It is a similar phenomenon to that of the Ouija board where the planchette moves on its own while being held by the participants in Ouija board sessions. --Interestingly, the phenomenon of table moving happened to Theresa Caputo on one of the "Long Island Medium" espisodes. And concerning the strange phenomenon of the table moving Theresa said "See, I have said it before that spirit can do remarkable things". What she didn't seem to understand and recognise was that the phenomena of moving tables is a common occurance when evil spirits are involved. In fact this phenomenon is always attributed to evil spirits and is often seen in house hauntings, ouija board sessions and quite often in cases of demonic possession--see the St Louis possession case of 1949 for example--editor)
"What is the difference between what you are living with the souls of the departed, and the practices of spiritism?
"We are not supposed to summon up the souls - I don't try to get them to come. In spiritism, people try to call them forth.
"This distinction is quite clear, and we must take it very seriously. If people were only to believe one thing I have said, I would like it to be this: those who engage in spiritism (moving tables and other practices of that kind) think that they are summoning up the souls of the dead. In reality, if there is some response to their call, it is always and without exception Satan and his angels who are answering. People who practice spiritism (diviners, witches, mediums, etc.) are doing something very
dangerous for themselves and for those who come to them for advice. They are up to their necks in lies. It is forbidden, strictly forbidden, to call up the dead. As for me, I have never done so, l do not do so, and I never will do so."
Experiences and sessions with mediums and psychics should be strongly avoided by everyone
One of the obvious reasons why God condemns necromancy is because of the very real and grave danger of a medium or psychic being misled by an evil spirit(s), and thereby also seriously misleading the persons involved. The demons prowl about the world seeking to deceive and ruin souls and neglecting this fact is potentially catastrophic to one's soul. And then too there are of course those psychics and mediums who are complete frauds and who willfully deceive for monetary profit.
Also, persons who actively seek out messages from the dead through channelling sessions with mediums and those who seek the advice of psychics run the possible risk of sin themselves by patronising and encouraging the act of conjuring of spirits invoked by mediums and psychics, along with also running the very obvious risk of being deceived, even by the most well meaning and sincere medium or psychic, because of the very nature of the sin of necromancy. Therefore, all persons should avoid seeking personal sessions with mediums and psychics.
But then what about the large "group reading" events?
As for myself, the popular group readings that Theresa and other mediums often host don't seem to be so much of a problem and concern as the personal readings, since Theresa is not specifically seeking to channel specific spirit(s). They seem to be similar to the spontaneous "stranger on the street" type of events--the big difference being that the stranger on the street is not being charged for the alleged message, while the participants in the large group events pay a significant ticket fee.
In conclusion, while I personally find Mrs. Theresa Caputo to be very kind and loving person who is very sincere in her desire to help others, this does not however mean that she may not be sincerely at fault in the manner in which she uses her alleged gift at times, particularly during personal sessions where specific spirits of the dead (ie- the clients family members and friends) are being sought and channeled, and the person(s) involved are being charged a fee.
I welcome everyones thoughts and perspectives so long as they are charitable and respectful, so please feel free to comment below.