My Culture Better Than a Horoscope by Kaitlyn Callahan I have the same birthday as my dad. We’re both considered “Aquarius.” I remember reading the Sunday newspaper and ever so casually checking our horoscope to see what our “fate” was that week. I would also buy those teen magazines and consider what the horoscopes had to say about predicting what would happen with my love life, my friendships, or if something totally embarrassing would happen to me at school. I think at one point I even had a “daily horoscope” app on my phone. Yikes… no bueno, am I right? Listen to this story: It was a warm summer night. I was a sophomore in high school. My friends and I strutted confidently down the beach boardwalk with our carnival food and saw an attractive, flashing sign that caught our eyes: “Fortune Teller.” My friends all wanted to do the tarot card thing. I had heard before that this wasn’t the best idea, but I didn’t know why, so I did it anyway. I thought “This is harmless.” Long story short: I walked out on that fortune lady. At one point, she remarked distastefully to me, “Are you religious? I can sense a very strong spirit surrounding you.” I immediately got up and said, “Well, that must be the Holy Spirit telling me to get out of here!” and I left. Then what happened? All of this was B.C. In other words, “before conversion.” I had a faithfulness problem and a forgetfulness problem. In many ways, it was the beginning of a journey toward trusting God more fully. I was searching for Him and only just beginning to understand our Catholic faith. I had no idea how much God was pursuing my heart and wanting me to entrust it fully to Him. I had no real idea why horoscopes or fortune tellers were wrong, I just thought it was another “rule” that adults wanted to impose upon me to keep me from having fun. I had no idea that, at the core of the “rule,” was a radical invitation to love. By engaging in these acts, I was putting my trust in someone other than God. All along the first commandment had been warning me against these temptations, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:2-3). I didn’t know just how much freedom was offered to me until I actually entered into a living relationship with Jesus Christ who frees me from all bondage. Nowadays it’s all so normalized: horoscopes, fortune tellers, witchcraft, magic, superstitions, Ouija boards… the list goes on. The culture portrays these options as harmless, or even helpful. They’re often seen as exciting or just silly games. We can sometimes feel invincible, as I did, and think, “nothing’s really bad will happen to me, right?” But it’s the opposite. By engaging in these, we close ourselves off to our good and loving God and open ourselves up to the evil one. And, by doing this, we separate ourselves from the One who loves us unconditionally. But here’s the Good News: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13). All throughout salvation history we see the Lord continually reminding His people to return home to Him. They would constantly return to worshipping idols, and He never let them off the hook, but He remained patient and kept His promise to redeem us. The truth that I came to discover was that I really could my full trust an all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful Father. I didn’t have to grasp after anything else. I just had to be open to receiving His love on a daily basis. Worshipping gods that Cannot Save In December, I had the incredible opportunity to do missions in Haiti. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. It is culturally Catholic, but some people practice voodoo alongside Christianity. They do this because they’re afraid and want to do whatever they can to ensure their own protection and welfare. They baptize their children to gods who can’t save and worship them. It is a culture of fear, and it can be very open, expressive, and easily seen. Before going to Haiti, we learned about this reality, and something that our trip leader said about it has stuck with me ever since, “Don’t be afraid because sometimes you can see the evil in Haiti, be afraid because you can’t see it here in America.” In a lot of little ways, we can become too comfortable putting our trust in someone that is not our Heavenly Father. The Devil is very insidious in this regard. We can do this when we turn to our friends for advice and consolation first and not prayer. We can do this when we seek to quench our thirst for love in relationships that will never satisfy. We can do this by missing Mass. We can do it by worshipping money, fame, and success. We can do it by trying to control our future by trying to plan and predict every detail. We can do it by turning to sinful habits and hoping that they’ll save us. And we certainly do it with more outward expressions of mistrust like horoscopes. I know I did. I had such little faith in Him! Sometimes I’m still afraid of what my life will look like, but every day I realize how worth it to put my all trust in Him. Worthy of all Praise One day I realized that Saint Paul encountered idolatrous people like me all the time. In the book of Acts he encounters the men of Athens, whom he can “perceive in every way are very religious” after observing their objects of worship to an unknown god. Wait…what?! Yes! He calls them religious because we are naturally a religious beings. Whether we know it or not, since we come from God and are going back to God, we are constantly looking for Him in all that we do. So Paul calls us to repentance, “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth… that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’” (Acts 17:22-28) In any sinful habit or temptation, we are crying out for God. Paul proclaims to us that a relationship with Jesus is our truest hope. What does this mean for us? It means that we need to spend more time dreaming big with Him and less time limiting His power in our lives by idolizing that which cannot save. Instead of falling into darkness, we should be falling to our knees in prayer. We can trust that God is eager to give us an abundance whenever we ask. The Litany of Trust helps me a lot in my journey toward detaching from the false gods in my life and turning to the one who is worthy of all my praise, attention, and hope. In reality, my dreams are limited. When I’m united with God, “nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37). Praised be to the one who saved me from myself, knows me better than I do, and never lets me settle for what I don’t deserve. Jesus is way better than a horoscope. I’m praying for you!