Wednesday, August 18, 2010

If Catholics are Superstitious, How Come We're Not Allowed to be Superstitious?

Wouldn't you know it? The Catholic Church has a rule about superstitions.

Briefly, it's 'don't be superstitious.'

Here's the same idea, in a little more detail:
"The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.

"Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.41"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2110, 2111)

Aren't Religious People Real, You Know, Superstitious?

I've lived in America all my life, and am all too familiar with the assumption that religious belief is "superstitious." Also, that "intelligent" people are defined by their scorn of religion. Particularly their seething resentment toward Christianity.

I don't expect to alter the beliefs of any person who sees little difference between, say, Tony Alamo and Pope Benedict XVI.

Popes and leaders of today's spiritual fad: what's the difference?

The way I see it, high-profile 'spiritual leaders' of this world come and go. So do whatever organizations they set up.

The Popes? We're on our 266th now. Benedict XVI is operating with the same authority, handed down through the centuries, that Jesus gave Peter.

Somebody's Backing the Catholic Church

I'd be willing to take the assurance of Jesus - but by now, there's some evidence to back up the claim that " are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, 13 and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)

I've studied history: mostly the history of the Western civilization. Institutions don't, as a rule, last nearly 20 centuries. There are exceptions, of course: like Egypt's pharaohs. But even there, although the culture remained relatively stable: dynasties didn't.

Then there's the Catholic Church. There's a chance that I'll live to see the 2,000th year since Jesus gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom. And whoever's Pope then will be using the same authority my Lord gave to Peter: handed down in an unbroken chain.

That's, in my view, wildly improbable. Particularly considering what was going on in the 11th, 12th, and 14th centuries. Which is a slightly different topic.

I could make a number of assumptions about why the Catholic Church is still around:
  1. It's all a lie.
    • The world comes to an abrupt end about 20 miles off the North American shore
    • Everything we're told about the rest of the world is part of a conspiracy
  2. The Vatican has a magic lucky rabbit's foot
  3. The Holy See operates under the authority of God
    • Which is what they've been saying for almost 2,000 years
There are other explanations that have been floated from time to time: some of them fairly imaginative. Looking at these three, though: there's only one that I can accept
It's Some Kinda Plot!
Assumption #1 has been fairly popular. Partly, I think, because quite a few folks like conspiracy theories. I made my example sound a bit silly: but take the 'North America is the entire world' thing out and replace it with a political conspiracy of male chauvinist pigs who plotted to get tortured to death for personal profit - and it still sounds silly.

To me, anyway.

I think a person could still make some money, though, writing a book about a Catholic conspiracy - preferably with a new wrinkle. Maybe involving space aliens or Big Oil?
It's Magic!
#2 is the obviously superstitious explanation. Swap out a mystic crystal for that lucky rabbit's foot: and I think a person could whip up support for the notion.

Since I expect to be asked for an accounting of my actions, I'm not going to do that.

When I go through my particular judgment, I do not need that kind of trouble.
The Catholic Church has Friend(s) in High Places
Maybe this is "simplistic" - but I assume that what the Catholic Church has been saying since before the Roman Empire crumbled is true: that we're operating under the authority that the Son of God gave Peter.

The remarkable longevity of the Catholic Church makes a little more sense when I assume that God the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit are holding it up.

Like they say: it helps to have friends in high places.

Trusting God isn't Being Superstitious

America's dominant culture notwithstanding, being a Catholic Christian doesn't make me superstitious. It does mean that I worship God: and that I'm aware that what I do doesn't make God do things.

Related posts:


Left-Footer said...

Great stuff, well argued and I've tweeted it.
I'm Christomicro on Twitter

Barry said...

The remarkable longevity of the Catholic Church makes a little more sense when I assume that God the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit are holding it up. Catholic Art

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...



(I'm Aluwir on Twitter.)

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...



I glanced at Catholic Art: I see you have contemporary as well as more well-established Catholic art there. It's good to see that sort of mix.

Barry said...


Yes, thanks.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.