A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.
The art of manifesting to another the fortune (luck), good or bad, that the future has in store for him or her. The real objective in fortune-telling is the disclosure of future events. Quite often, though, to inspire confidence, the fortune-teller will communicate bits of information about a person's past that would be naturally unknown to anyone else. As a presumed help in peering into the world of secret events they employ, for example, tea leaves, a crystal sphere, or a small pool of blood.
The Church considers it gravely wrong to consult a fortune-teller who is known to seriously claim access to the knowledge of future events. It would be a sin of formal co-operation. It is likewise wrong to consult a person who may not actually make such claims, but whom the client believes to be a fortune-teller with powers of divination. The gravity of the sin would depend on how seriously one takes the fortune-teller. If neither party takes the thing seriously and someone has a fortune told as a pastime, there is no sin. But even in this case the danger is that if what was predicted actually takes place, one's faith in fortune-telling is (or may be) aroused and there is danger that what began as amusement may become a temptation to learn about the future through forbidden means.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.