Is fortune-telling just fun?

Blessed Charles de Foucauld said: “The only true future is eternal life”. Unfortunately, knowing this often seems insufficient for us …

From the earliest times, man has been curious about the future and everything that is hidden from him. Adam and Eve were tempted by the snake’s promise that they would become like God and would know good and evil. In ancient Greece, people who wanted to know their fate went to the oracle at Delphi. Also Old Testament peoples made decisions about the future having first sought the advice of court diviners.

People do not often realise that when they use a fortune-teller’s advice or believe in horoscopes, they are breaking the first commandment, and at the same time exposing themselves to the danger of enslavement by evil forces. It is true that the Church is drawing more and more attention to this and warning its members, but it is usually met with criticism and comments that priests are “demonising reality”.

You shall not practise divination

Knowing this human weakness — curiosity about the future — God warned his people against divination practices as early as in the books of the Old Testament, and He presented the consequences of such conduct. “They used divination and augury; and they sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight.” (2 Kgs 17:17–18)

A sound Christian attitude consists in placing oneself confidently in the hands of Providence in matters concerning the future and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it (CCC 2115)

This is also illustrated by the story of Saul, the first king of Israel. Before the third war with the Philistines, he turned to God for advice, but God was silent … For that reason, despite the prohibition — laid down in accordance with God’s words — King Saul went for advice to a medium. The Book of Chronicles reports it in this way: “Saul died for his unfaithfulness; he was unfaithful to the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord; moreover, he had consulted a medium, seeking guidance, and did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.” (1 Chr. 10:13–14)

His is the time and eternity

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says clearly: “God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in placing oneself confidently in the hands of Providence in matters concerning the future and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.” (CCC 2115). In believing fortune-tellers or horoscopes, we assume that our whole future is already laid out, and we just have to adjust to it. We question not only God’s Providence, but also our personal freedom and our right to shape our future by exercising free will and by making choices.

But this is not the only threat. Next we read: “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, the interpretation of omens and signs, 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 honour, respect and loving fear that we owe to God alone.” (CCC 2116). This aspect was also emphasised by an Italian exorcist, Fr Gabriele Amorth, who warned that anyone indulging in occult practices (including fortune-telling, e.g. from cards) risks the direct influence of Satan and opens the door to an evil spirit, which may lead to demonic possession.

What sort of truth can come out of a lie?

St Thomas Aquinas wrote: “all divinations seek to acquire foreknowledge of future events, by means of some counsel and help of a demon, who is either expressly called upon to give his help, or else thrusts himself in secretly, in order to foretell certain future things unknown to men, but known to him.” So let us not be misled by “false prophets”. Let us not look for advice from fortune- tellers or horoscopes, exposing ourselves to the work of an evil spirit. Let us exercise our freedom, following the Commandments and trusting in God’s providence!

Let us wait patiently for the future, encouraged by the promise contained in the Book of Jeremiah: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.” (Jer. 29:11–12)