Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Post Number: 666. Topic: Superstitions.

*cue "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder*

This is a topic I've wanted to write for quite some time because I've seen how many superstitious acts are clumped together with Catholicism... and it's just not right! I am still learning about these things but I'd like to share what I've found in my research. The topic is too broad but I'll try to touch on as many things as I can.

Full disclosure: I grew up with very superstitious parents so it took me a long time to let go of the superstitious beliefs I grew up believing. Unlucky numbers (I hated the number 6), unlucky months (July and August were my worst), etc. It took some time to see that it was the anxiety that was talking and that I wasn't trusting God enough. That and someone once said "luck is for pagans" (which I still laugh over; thanks, Laurence). The deeper I grow in my faith, the less those superstitions make sense. The same goes for my mom. The more she learns, the less she fears and the more she trusts in Him. The number 13? Nope. Black cats crossing my path? I'll stop because I don't to crush the poor animals with my car before going on.

Now, let's get right into the facts. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say about superstition: "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." (CCC 2111)

Where to start on the superstitions? Did some of you know that people sweep an egg over a child's body to remove the "evil eye" while praying Our Fathers and Hail Marys (called a "barrida" in Spanish)? Did you know that some people put "eye" bracelets on their babies so that the "evil eye" won't make them sick (called the "Ojo de Venado" in Mexico)? These are amulets though people don't call them that. Did you hear that you must touch a baby if you gush over how cute they are or else the "evil eye" will get them? All Hispanic superstitions. A lot of them involve using prayers to "counteract" the evil. I'm not saying doesn't exist -- it does -- but to do things that people believe will help them make things go their way? I draw the line there. Let's consult the Catechism again, shall we?

"All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion.... Wearing charms is also reprehensible." (CCC 2117) See? Just say no!

Very devout people are not immune to this. Some believe that wearing the brown scapular 24/7 will save them from the fires of hell, as Our Lady promised. They believe that certain medals have the powers to keep all evil and/or misfortune away. Some ne'er-do-wells wear Rosary beads because they believe it'll protect them while they are up to no good. For students, if you ask St. Joseph of Cupertino to help you pass an exam and you don't study, don't expect to pass. It's one thing to ask for help if you can't concentrate, it's another to think that you'll get your way (without the effort) simply because you prayed for it. Doesn't work that way, loves.

Did you hear about the "Santa Muerte"? It's the "patron saint" of gang-bangers, drug lords, and those generally up to no good. Certain things must be done in order to "ensure" that things go the way people ask. They use Catholic prayers and try to pass it off as a Catholic devotion but it isn't. It's been condemned by Mexican bishops and the Vatican has warned the faithful not to participate in the "devotion."

I know some of you are on the fence about the St. Joseph home selling kits. Personally, I believe these things are superstitious. You're going bury a plastic statue of St. Joseph to help you sell the house? Really? I know blessed items are buried if they cannot be burned, but saying that a statue can control whether or not your house gets sold -- if you do things exactly as directed -- is superstitious.

If you're saying "well, where's the harm in that? It's just silly." Well, if you think it's silly, don't do it. When you participate in superstitious acts you're basically saying that YOU have control over the outcome of certain things instead of trusting God. I'm going to be somewhat bold and say that, in way, you're making yourself an idol by saying that you have some of the same powers God does; that you can control what happens because you had the power to. Trust me, you don't. Sorry but there's only one true God.

As I've said, it's too easy to fall into superstition. We all want things to go the way we want them to and rarely do we just accept that most things won't. We pray because we want things to go our way, and that's the wrong attitude to have. Sometimes we don't get what we pray for because it's not what's best for us. God has amazing plans for all of us yet, let's be honest, we can be impatient and we can be upset when our prayers don't get answered in the way we want them to. What's so wrong with trusting God? What's so wrong with not knowing exactly what's in store for us in the future? Just a few things to think about.

Anyway, that's it for now. I would go on and on on this topic but I have a movie/miniseries date with Julie (and her baby girl, Grace) to get to. OH! And I would like to say that if you do have some superstitions because you have OCD, don't feel about it; that is something you most likely can't control. My prayers will go out for you (and don't forget to ask St. Dymphna for her intercession; she's the patroness of these things).

I hope y'all are having a great week so far. If you have any prayer requests, send them my way.

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!


Joe Potillor said...

Good Post, so good, I'm copying in it's entirety :)

Emmy Cecilia said...

Joe - just give me credit. :-P

Joe Potillor said...

I'm not that evil now, I wouldn't dare do such, lol

Ore Quinos said...

Would you be concerned if you work in an office whose last three digits of the phone number are 666? I have OCD and have been tormented by this to the point that I don't know if I should quit just because of that? It's a good workplace and good, ethical people and I thought God had guided me here but I can't enjoy my blessing due to the anxiety of this number. Can I have an honest opinion, what would you do?

Emmy Cecilia said...

Ore Quinos - have you talked to a priest about this? I have had issues with this number on my debit card before and I had in changed but it was several years ago. I think the OCD doesn't help being worried about it. I once had a priest tell me this. I can't tell you what to do beyond talking to a priest about this worry. How this number is viewed varies from person to person and a priest's advice would be helpful.

Ore Quinos said...

Thanks, I kind of know what a priest would tell me. I will keep praying for God to help me control this irrational fears I get. Pray for me also, thanks!