Superstition

My Evangelical friend David comments that a missionary friend of his went to Brazil and was dismayed to find Catholics there bound by superstition, Pelagianism (the belief in salvation by works) and the repetition of vain rituals to please a demanding God.

What are we to say to such charges? First of all, our sincere Evangelical friend must be biased. The very foundation of his particular denomination is a certain and sure anti-Catholicism. He would not be a Protestant if he were not also anti-Catholic. One of his most basic and rock solid convictions is not only that Catholics are wrong, but that they are (as he has been told) locked into the above abuses.

Let us leave his basic assumptions that make him so biased on one side for the moment. Let us leave on one side the charge of salvation by works (never mind that it was the Catholic Church that both defined and condemned Pelaganism in the first place) Let us put on one side his charge that the sacraments are ‘vain rituals to please a demanding God’ and listen seriously to his charge of superstition among the faithful.

Is such a thing true? Undoubtedly. I am sure that among the devotees of the ‘Day of the Dead’ and among those who carry statues of Mary in processions with dollar bills pinned to her, and among those Catholics in Haiti who mix voodoo with Catholicism there is some superstition. Among others there are less extreme examples: we can think of those who mutter prayers to St Antony to find lost keys, those who bury statues of St Joseph to sell houses and those who wear a scapular in the vain hope that a piece of brown cloth on its own might save them from the fires of hell.

We have to admit to some superstition among Catholics. Yes, it is so.

But mustn’t the critic examine his own house first? It is so easy for the cool, Bible believing Evangelical missionary to distance himself from the superstition of Protestants. Allow me to remind him of his own widespread superstition: There are the exteme cases of snake handlers and faith healers. Let’s remember too the charismatics. Do they really really need to cast out the ‘demons of thumb sucking’ from five year olds? Do they really really speak in the tongues of angels, or is some of that perhaps a little bit of superstition? What about the ‘Toronto Blessing’? Was the getting down on all fours and barking like dogs, snarling like lions and mooing like cows really a rational and thoroughly Biblical display of religion, or was that perhaps a bit of superstition? We could go on. What about he televangelists who tell the faithful to put the affected bit of their body on the television set while they scream and sweat and call down ‘healing’. Shall we mention the prosperity gospel preachers who promise the faithful that if they tithe they will become rich?

Is it only the ignorant lower class Protestants who are superstitious? I think not. What shall we make of the sophisticated Episcopalians and Lutherans who indulge in New Age practices? Are their crystal healing workshops, their labyrinth sessions, their channelling and sweat lodge therapies any less superstitious? Are their yoga classes, visualization sessions and angel therapies not just a tiny bit superstitious?

If all of this is so, and there are indeed some superstitious Catholics, then most of them might just be excused for being so. They are simple people, most of them peasants, many of them illiterate. If their faith descends at times into superstition out of ignorance it is regrettable, but understandable.

The American Protestants, on the other hand, are comparatively well educated. These are people who should know better. They, after all, have had an Evangelical catechesis. They should know their Bible. They should know that superstition is wrong. They should not indulge in such silly abuses. To whom much is given, much shall be required. As for the educated Episcopalians and their ilk, well for them there is no excuse–to practice silly occult, New Age superstition is surely quite unforgiveable.

Now my good Evangelical friends will distance themselves from such stuff. “But we are not that sort of Protestant! It is not fair for you to accuse us of such things. We are not part of all that. We deplore such things. That is not real Protestantism.”

Quite. And the same applies for Catholics.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05227411938775535934 Jeffrey Smith

    Welcome back and keep up the good work.

  • Anonymous

    Huh? Praying to St. Anthony is “superstitious” – since when?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09356738924839809045 Andrew

    Well said, Father. And very true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03591370011958920087 Hermitian

    The ND ball players slap a sign upon exiting the locker room on game day Saturdays in South Bend that says “Play Like a Champ Today”. For good luck no less…Banish Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy combined. But please, please do not banish that hallowed superstition.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01736672972579055865 Nate Wildermuth

    Father, what reason do you have for criticizing the scapular?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12594214770417497135 Maureen

    Well, gorsh, I guess I better never call my brother on the phone for tech support. ‘Cause it’s superstitious not to rely on Microsoft alone.

  • Anonymous

    Father Dwight, I have been reading your blog on and off for months now, mostly out of curiosity, and also because I wanted to learn what you found so attractive in the Catholic faith. After months of reading your blog, I still don’t have an answer. The bantering back and forth in the last couple of days over missions has left me wondering if there is any real difference between Catholics and Evangelicals. Both have their nominal believers, both have their superstitions, both have their petty doctrines, their missionaries out to convert the other, their traditions and forms of religion. You and your Evangelical opponents seem to be sitting on opposite sides of the same religious fence. Where Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our Faith is in all of this (if He is there at all), I have no clue. It is certainly not where I have found Him to be. Catholicism, Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism and any other “ism” you want to name do not bring peace, joy, forgiveness of sins or eternal life. Life can only be found in Jesus Christ. If we do not have Him, we have nothing. An old friend

  • bernadette

    I prayed to St Anthony this morning for his intercession to help me find something I have lost. I am certain I did this in FAITH, not in supersition. One is based on love, the other on fear.

  • Anonymous

    I ask St Anthony to help me to find lost articles, I wear a scapular. To speak scathingly of those practises and people who perform them while not ascertaining if those practising them are religiously literate is very anti-Catholic.People who have been Catholic for 5 minutes should wait a while before criticising those devotions of which the Church approves.Next you will be criticising the Rosary for ‘vain repetition’.

  • http://vultus.stblogs.org/ Don Marco, O.Cist.

    Dear Father, I want to think that your caricature of the scapular was written in haste and without sufficient reflection. Such icons of our Catholic faith must be approached with a gentle humility. (You might want to read the Akathist to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I will send it to you as an attachment.) And, by the way, Happy Feast of Saint Anthony. See my post on blessing lilies and bread!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I am not saying prayers to St Antony and the wearing a scapular are necessarily superstitious. I’m saying they may be.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17129629173535139807 elena maria vidal

    I guess that St Simon Stock, St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, St Therese of the Child Jesus, and St Alphonsus Liguori (who asked to be buried with five scapulars!!), and General Louis de Sonis, OCDS were all superstitious,too. Not to mention Pope John Paul II who was a Carmelite tertiary. Please count me in with them any day.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Dear Anonymous old friend, the question is not so much what I find ‘attractive’ about Catholicism, but what I find true about it. Catholicism is true. I believe it. So I became a Catholic. If you would like to read more about the reasons for my conversion please visit my website and access some of the archived articles there which recount my conversion story.Your final paragraph is a total red herring. Jesus Christ is not found in different denominations? He is where you have found him to be? Where is that? How do you know? Must we all join your group? You’ve raised more questions than you’ve answered.According to the New Testament Jesus Christ’s body is raised from the dead. Where is that body to be found? St Paul says the Body of Christ is found in two places: the eucharist and the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ, and the bread which we break is the Body of Christ.Catholic beliefs are therefore thoroughly Scriptural. Where do we objectively find Christ? By belonging to his Body the Church. Where do we objectively receive the Body of Christ? By faith through the Eucharist and Baptism.The rest is subjective religious experience.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12594214770417497135 Maureen

    “I am not saying prayers to St Antony and the wearing a scapular are necessarily superstitious. I’m saying they may be.”Well, that’s a horse of a different color, and I think you should add the “may be” to your post in some way, for all this stuff.I think we can all agree that people can _use_ perfectly good spiritual practices in such a way that they _become_ superstitious. (Heck, there are probably some inherently superstitious practices that become pious when practiced by the pious.)_Using_ things that are sacred as if they were vending machines, degrading ourselves in order to use a method we’ve told will work like a machine, or treating God and our brothers and sisters in heaven as things to use — that’s the whole problem, in fact. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Dear friends of the brown scapular. You will note that in my original post I specified ‘wearing the brown scapular on its own’ would save a person from hell. We would all agree that the use of sacramentals must be done with faith and trust in God combined with efforts to lead a holy life.What I’m referring to are the folks who wear a scapular and live like the devil, yet believe that the scapular will still save them from hell. This is simply a dangerous and foolish superstition, and I’m sure on this we all agree.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07973123164984397844 Andrew M. Fanco

    I think Father Dwight rightly observes that simply wearing a scapular does not guarantee salvation. The scapular is only part of the commitment one makes. There are also daily prayers and such to be made in good faith.If one thinks they might go straight to heaven despite any misdeeds or their fractured relationship with God simply because they are wearing the scapular, then yes they are superstitious. If they wear it as a way of deepening their relationship with God through Mary and the Saints and as a mere external sign of internal conversion and prayer, well that’s not superstition, that’s devotion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08572976822786862149 Darwin

    While scapulars are certainly valuable sacramentals and not inherently superstitious, there are definaly superstitions that a number of people have about them.I seem to recall being told quite seriously that if one died wearing the brown scapular that one would “walk to heaven” on the following Sunday, thus making it proof against purgatory and especially beneficial for those who died late in the week.Call me a skeptic, but I’d tend to label that a superstitius understanding of the sacramental, though perhaps a pius one.Now, that said, I think a few folks here are being a little overly defensive in regards to Catholic superstition. The fact that there are a number of superstitious Catholics (especially among the less well educated in their faiths) does not mean that there is something inherently defective in Catholicism or Catholic practice. While superstition is certainly a danger, it seems often as not to be the result of a childlike and trusting (is slightly misinformed) faith.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14850575419673561383 Tom

    Well, of course praying to St. Antony to find lost car keys is nothing but superstition. He’s for skin rashes and pestilence.No, if it’s lost car keys, there’s only one saint for you. As the old rhyme has it:Whenever I’ve asked St. Anthony of PaduaTo help find something, he’s always been gladua.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Then there’s the old favorite of harried shoppers…Hail Mary Full of GraceHelp me find a parking space

  • Anonymous

    Father:I respond to you as a Reformed protestant, in fact a former Catholic. I agree with you and your evangelical friend’s distancing from weird superstition. From the syncretism and rank idolatry in South America to American folk practices such as burying statues of St. Joseph and other devotions I will not get into so as to avoid offense, Roman Catholicism, at least in the laity, is frequently awash in bizarre superstitions. And you are 100% right to point the finger right back at snake handlers, faith healers, and I would even include the “Prayer of Jabez” people in the list.But let me defend my own church and at the same time make a stab at a popular Catholic apologetic. Issues such as snake handlers and the like do bother me, but because they are plagues upon the Body of Christ, just as Catholic syncretism is. The difference is that I and my ilk can distance ourselves from them through the discipline of the church. I can assure you that if someone in my congregation were found to be involved with such a thing, that person would surely come under discipline. If a church body in fellowship with us were to practice faith healing, we would sever ties with that church body.Catholics love to make the claim that protestants are divided and Catholics are one. OK, I’ll grant you this: you are united with those who practice the Day of the Dead and extreme Mariolatry. However, as sinful as splintering of the Body is, I will accept being divided from those who practice a corrupt Gospel, whether Faith Healing or extreme liberalism.I do not write this in a spirit of triumphalistic “Ha! I’m in a church that is pure and you aren’t!” but rather drawing the contrast that conservative protestants (and this applies to REAL Lutherans, Baptists, and even evangelicals as much to Presbyterians) stay aware of such abuses and keep them in check. Where’s the true teaching on prayers to the saints in Brazil? Where’s the issue of Dios La Muertes being brought to the attention of the Latin American Bishops? Where’s the sermons to correct the American folk idea of “Mary more loving than God”?Unlike many of my protestant brothers, I believe Catholics and protestants have much in common to share and celebrate together. However, one area where I can say we have you beat, perhaps due to our sad divisions, is keeping silly superstitions checked by church discipline. Perhaps that’s a place where you guys can learn from us.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Dear Protestant: it may be possible to maintain doctrinal and moral purity in your Christian group, but it is at the expense of church unity. You mention this yourself that the purity you praise yourself for is because of your ‘sad divisions.’I think you underestimate the negativity of your ‘sad division’. In your laudable attempts at ‘purity’ you have separated yourself from the fullness of the historic Christian faith. I do not know what brand of Protestant you are, but most of the Baptist type of Evangelicals I know have (in the name of purity) abandoned the sacraments, the authority of the church, the proper devotion to the Mother of God and any concept at all of the need for unity in the Body of Christ.You may have preserved a ‘pure’ faith, but what sort of Christian faith is it? To my mind it is a watery, subjective, rootless thing.In addition, why do you feel that you can separate yourself from the Protestant abuses I mentioned, but Catholics must automatically endorse the Catholic abuses? Just as you rightly criticize and correct your fellow Protestants we rightly wish to criticize and correct our fellow Catholics. What we don’t do, however, is withdraw into a self righteous holy huddle saying, “We are not part of all that!”That’s what the Pharisees do.Finally, in my experience, our church hierarchy works tirelessly to weed out superstition, false teaching and false devotions in the church. She does not always succeed, but she is constantly working to correct error. This may not be to your standard as a Protestant, but it is going on nonetheless.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02327763839418228519 RC

    We’ve got plenty of Pelagianism here too, in case nobody’s noticed. People seem to base their hopes for heaven on being a “good person”, and not on Jesus Christ. A few years ago, Cdl. Ratzinger wrote a piece about a risk that can affect even well-meaning faithful: to place an exaggerated emphasis on morality, to the point where they feel more akin to non-Catholics who share their moral concerns than to Catholics who neglect those matters.

  • Christine

    Catholics love to make the claim that protestants are divided and Catholics are one. OK, I’ll grant you this: you are united with those who practice the Day of the Dead and extreme Mariolatry.Dear Anonymous,As one who has traveled in the opposite direction from the Reformation to Roman Catholicism may I humbly point out that our unity as Catholics is in the fullness of Word and Sacrament as entrusted to the Chair of Peter in union with the bishops. No syncretism of any kind can change that.Latin America, with its high rate of poverty, illiteracy and indigenous practices are a unique challenge to the Church and the bishops are aware of them.Nominal Christians, wheat and tares will always exist in every Christian community. It was so from the beginning. The Catholic Church nevertheless welcomes and embraces all who seek the truth and will do so until the Lord returns to gather in His own.

  • Anonymous

    I avoid superstition. It’s very bad luck to be superstitious.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09819523933502820341 Terry Nelson

    Superstition is one of my favorite Stevie Wonder songs!Good luck with this one Father! :)Don’t you just love blogging?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06267967091087124016 Ray

    I would hazard to guess that many who wear the brown scapular do so out of superstition.So much so, that both the branches of the Carmelite family issued some guidance on its use:The Carmelite Scapular is not:–a magical charm to protect you –an automatic guarantee of salvation –an excuse for not living up to the demands of the Christian life You can read more here: http://carmelnet.org/scapular/scapular.htmBTW, they subsequently published a catechism on the scapular.Ray, T.O. Carm.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05713878947084713014 DGus

    Dear Christine: You say, “Latin America, with its high rate of poverty, illiteracy and indigenous practices are a unique challenge to the Church and the bishops are aware of them.”Very artful–”unique challenge.” This is your way of admitting, without admitting, that false religion flourishes in South America under RC auspices. What Fr. Dwight effectively says is, This is our (RC) problem, so Ev Prots should butt out.It won’t happen, however (i.e., Ev Prot missionaries WON’T butt out), because, unlike the majority of their RC counterarts, the Ev Prot missionaries have an unambiguous belief that lost souls without Christ die and go to Hell (a belief they share with those 16th- and 17th-century Jesuits), whereas the official RC position is very nuanced (see LG 16; CCC 161, 839-848, 1257, 1260; Dominus Jesus 8, 12, 20-22), and the retail-level, on-the-street position of the majority of RC missionaries seems to be practical universalism (i.e., the good news that you have already been saved, by Christ).Fr. Dwight must think that because these “uniquely challenged” South Americans were been baptized (as infants) in the RCC, the urgency of their situation has been removed. The Ev Prots don’t see it that way, of course. To us, the fact of baptism on its own would not save a person from hell. This must be accompanied by (followed up with?) faith and trust in Jesus Christ. We’re not content that there are baptized Catholics who are ignorant of the Gospel.And if there are baptized Baptists (or Presbyterians or Anglicans or Methodists or whatever) who are ignorant of the Gospel, and if there are RC missionaries who propose to tell them about Jesus Christ, then by all means let them do so, and may their tribe increase.

  • http://vultus.stblogs.org/ Don Marco, O.Cist.

    After 21 years as a priest, I have to say that I have yet to meet a scapular-wearing Catholic who did not understand, at some level, that it signifies, above all, a desire to live each day, and to die, under the protection of the Mother of God and in her company. The wisdom of the saints is that the secret of “abiding in Christ” is to live with Mary, as did the Apostle John, taking her into his own home.The tempest stirred up by Father’s post may have to do with a certain Catholic sensibility (one that dear old Father Faber made his own): it’s a gift from Mamma! Don’t you dare say anything even remotely disparaging about something given me by Mamma! Rational? No. Italian? Oh, yes! Mamma gave it to me. E basta!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02538161183912665994 Augustine

    As a Brazilian myself, I can only say that reports of syncretism and superstition in Latin America in general are quite exaggerated.Protestants may get scandalized at a procession of a statue of Mary adorned with flowers, but Americans shouldn’t. At least if they aren’t as too “protestantized” to forgo the whole practice of processions, if it’s not too late yet.

  • Christine

    Protestants may get scandalized at a procession of a statue of Mary adorned with flowers, but Americans shouldn’t.Indeed. American culture has no problem with its secular icons. Witness what we are willing to pay for shopping malls and sports icons. How about the baseballs, t-shirts, posters, etc., that Americans are willing to pay outrageous amounts for if they are signed by their favorite athletic celebrity?We have no problems with statues of Lincoln, Washington, Hamilton, etc. but we call ecclesiastical art idolatry because some still mistakenly believe we worship statues.Look at the adulation we give movie and rock stars. Processions? There’s plenty of them in American culture.And do we even want to get into our status-conscious homes, cars, clothes, etc.? I’ve seen plenty of evidence of that in the Evangelical world, also.

  • Christine

    This is your way of admitting, without admitting, that false religion flourishes in South America under RC auspices.Dgus,Not at all. Not *under* Roman Catholic auspices. The blending of many cultures in places like Brazil has a history of indigenous practices that were neither encouraged nor supported by the Church.Actually, it exists in some forms right here in the U.S., even in the Bible Belt South. The existence of practices such as Voudon is a remnant of the days when some slaves clung to the animism that they brought with them from Africa.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00890263882434450870 pritcher

    Two things:I spent two years living in Nicaragua among just about the poorest, least-educated folks you’ll find in Latin America, and the priest there worked and preached tirelessly against the theological errors of Protestantism and against allowing Catholic devotions to deteriorate into superstition. Granted this is just one village in Central America, but there it is.Second, re: Stevie Wonder…one of the first songs to play at my wedding reception a week and a half ago was “Superstition,” and since most of my family isn’t Catholic, I wondered half-jokingly how they’d have perceived the nuptial Mass. Would they see it all as superstition? I needn’t have worried. In fact, my family came with us to Mass at St. Mary’s the day before the wedding, and my mom commented that she was both surprised and impressed to see a Catholic Mass celebrated so reverently (the celebrant was Fr. Longenecker).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    DGus. You are a very smart guy, so you can’t be missing the point ’cause you’re dumb. Therefore are you intentionally being disingenuous?The point once more is this: we Catholics don’t object to missionary enterprise. We want evangelisation: the more the better.We don’t object to people winning souls for Jesus. We do object to the fact that for Protestant missionaries this usually also means that the souls in question must deny the authority of the Catholic Church, deny her sacraments, deny proper devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and espouse doctrines that are usually schismatic and often heretical.By all means let Protestant missionaries win souls for Christ, but then encourage such souls to be better Catholics.You exagerrate our universalism. It’s because we fear for the souls of those who apostacize that we so strongly regret Protestant missionary efforts that intentionally seek to draw people away from Christ and his Church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01186202810919174492 Mac McLernon

    I’d disagree that Catholics were superstitious: A superstition is the belief that events are influenced by specific behaviors, without having a causal relationshipBelief that prayer produces results relies on a causal relationship, doesn’t it?

  • Anonymous

    Father Dwight, As ambiguous as I might have presented it, you missed my point entirely. And that is: Jesus Christ can be found in the denominations (in those who truly belong to Him), but you are so busy arguing you have ignored HIM entirely. Perhaps I should word it this way: Who do you put your faith in? Jesus Christ? or the Mother Church?I don’t see any where in the Scriptures that Jesus’ physical body went into the Eucharist or the Church. He ascended into Heaven the last time I checked the Scriptures. Anonymous old friend

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Dear Old Friend, I agree that Our Lord Jesus Christ may be found within many different traditions of worship and belief.He is indeed ascended, but he also said, “I will be with you always.” It has been Christian belief from New Testament times forward that Christ’s body really is present here on earth through the mystery of the Church and through the mystery of the Eucharist. This is why he calls the bread his body and why St Paul calls the bread Christ’s body and calls the church Christ’s body.This is an objective reality. Do you wish to be ‘in Christ’? Then be baptized into he death and resurrection. Do you wish to remain ‘in Christ’? then remain a faithful part of his body, the Church. Do you wish to have Christ in you? Then receive his body at the Eucharist.This is not the place for a total exposition of these ancient and universal Christian beliefs. I guess if you are a Protestant this sounds a little bit strange to you, but it is all good sound New Testament theology.God bless you and thank you for writing.

  • Frank

    “I would hazard to guess that many who wear the brown scapular do so out of superstition.”And what do you base your guess on? Many? Is that so?

  • Angela M.

    Father – You said that it “may” be superstitious. Then again it “may” not be! I don’t know why a Catholic priest would use that as an example of a potentially superstitious practice along with the other examples you provided in your post. Not very good context I am assuming. Almost anything is potentially superstitious. It is similar to saying Confession “may” be bad because someone “might” intentionally withhold a sin. Also, it would seem that the Scapular should be more likely not to be an object of superstition, especially since people need to be enrolled (and therefore instructed in it…we hope…beforehand)…Your post left me with the impression that you were pooh-poohing a beautiful devotion given to us by Our Lady. Could you please clarify? Thanks.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I have already clarified in my comments above.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05495771160792293715 Archistrategos

    I think the problem here is not whether superstition has become the only thing that defines orthopraxis in South America, but whether or not faith should be celebrated with such humanity, for alck of better word. I think we can’t honestly judge the whole of Brazil or Nicaragua or El Salvador as being steeped in superstition because we don’t even live there to begin with. A Marian procession on two-storey floats is a common sight here in the Philippines, but in America or Britain it might seem a tad too incongruous. Maybe the reason we are all up in arms is because we have forgotten just how great and glorious God is. The honor we give to the saints and to the Blessed Virgin are nothing compared to the majesty of God– we simply worship Him on a different level.As for the Scapular, I have to agree with Father Longenecker that some people do wear it out of superstition. Yes, almost all know about the promises of the Virgin to St. Simon Stock and the conditions that apply to it, but sadly, many are just too ignorant or confused about it. I myself used to think that the Brown Scapular would save me no matter what; later on I learned that one has to die in a state of grace for this to work.I’ve heard this siad a million times before, but I think it’s especially warranted in this discussion: the more it looks like Voodoo, the more Catholic it is. Our faith will always look like superstition at one point because it is very much a human religion, too; and as such, it grafts itself to ordinary life. In fact, if you think about it, the earliest followers of Jesus followed Him for the miracles, and only secondarily for His claims to be the Messiah. The fact that the Church resembles this model most should give us pause to think and reflect. As for me, I think of it as a ‘felix culpa’.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15222328459836041333 Gillimer

    I dropped “superstition” from my vocabulary when I realized that, like “cult”, it is one of those funny words which BY DEFINITION can only apply to Them. My mother would disdain Catholics for believing in the “superstition” of transsubtantiation, but cry “don’t put the umbrella on the bed, it’s bad luck!”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08110491371985845560 Apostolic Anchoress / Rowena Hullfire

    The local (non-Catholic) Christian college has a horoscopes column in its student newspaper.At Eastern KY University, college students (probably not a lot of Catholics) rub the toe of the Daniel Boone statue on campus for good luck on exams.I properly observe the brown scapular devotion; Mary has made me a disciple by covering me with her cloak. (Pop quiz: name the two OT prophets this refers to.)Since that devotion unites me to the prayers of the Carmelites– God’s Marines of prayer, storming heaven–I receive great spiritual benefit. If there is a Sabbatine privilege, it’s because being united to these Marines will get the job done quickly. Hopefully I’ll only have a quick toasting in my purification process, but God’s will be done.Is that biblical? Yes, it’s called the power of binding and loosing, part of the authority that goes with the keys.Which is why I read the Scriptures at least half an hour each day. I want a plenary indulgence.HA!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08110491371985845560 Apostolic Anchoress / Rowena Hullfire

    BTW, that pic next to my name is a great Carmelite, St. Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in religion)–and what a Cross. Martyred with her sister Rosa at Auschwitz.She was a wonderful, genius philosopher (phenomenology), a convert from Judaism after reading the autiobiography of St Teresa of Avila (Carmelite), and I believe Rosa was also a Carmelite nun. St Edith Stein anticipated her martyrdom and offered it as Eucharist–much like St Polycarp of Smyrna.Her writings–intellectual philosophical and intensely spiritual journals and prayers–are powerful. I have chosen this dear sister in the Lord as a special patron for me, because we have so much in common.~ ~ ~ ~ ~Fr D’s anonymous friend says he is Reformed. Well, that’s not a god I can believe in. Double predestination? Egads! I’d rather be an ethical heathen than to believe in a god of double predestination.You can tell it was a religion invented by a lawyer.


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