Superstition and the Shepherds

2110 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--Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 2nd Ed., (c) 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference, Inc., p. 512

It is not surprising that so many people have yielded to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Magisterium. After all, what Rome claims and teaches to be her doctrine seems quite biblical. There is, however, a vast difference between the teachings and the practice of the RCC. This difference is discernible and should be apparent to anyone who reads the Word of God.

Let us here examine just one example of the great difference between what Rome teaches and what she practices. Paragraph 2111 of the Catechism reads:

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]--Ibid.

This paragraph, which is part of the Catechism's section dealing with the First Commandment, appears to teach that, somehow, religion is a feeling, an experience. If that were the case, it would go a long way toward explaining the importance given in Catholic worship to experiential things. The incense burned in a High Mass and other ceremonies, appeals to the sense of smell. The great churches and cathedrals with their lofty spires, gorgeous stained glass windows, golden altars, sunburst monstrances, and so on certainly appeal to the sense of sight - the experience of beauty. The music of the Mass, the processionals, recessionals and all the other music that accompanies almost every action of the priest make witnessing a Catholic High Mass a treat for the ears. The handshake and brotherly kiss which is a part of most every Mass lets one experience personal contact with those around him. The Catholic communicant can say that, according to his faith, he has not only touched his Jesus, but actually consumed him in his temporary form as a cookie. Oh! Definitely! Catholic worship is an experiential thing.

But should those religious feelings and the practices they inspire deviate from Magisterial norms, Rome says that is superstition. Even Rome acknowledges that superstition can have an effect on one's worship. Again, what Rome says and what Rome does are widely divergent.

We see, all around the world, innumerable visions and apparitions of Jesus and/or Mary. Every year, there are reports of these peculiarly Catholic happenings in out of the way places, for the most part. Christ has appeared on a flour tortilla in New Mexico, as an oil stain on the floor of an auto parts store in Texas, as knots on trees in Zaragoza and Sabinas in Coahuila, Mexico, as a shadow cast by leaves on a garage wall in San Antonio, etc. The local ordinary might look into the visitation and then, like Pilate, make some noncomittal and nonincriminating statement concerning its authenticity. Meanwhile, the local parish priest likely will set up a confessional near the apparition site and, dispense "holy water" to those wishing to have some to bless their homes. As likely as not, a few enterprising folks will set up stands to sell rosaries made from pumpkin seeds, dried beans or whatever. And the crowds continue coming, to the point that police have to assign an officer or two to facilitate traffic flow and crowd control. In my experience of these "wonderful" events, there never has been a message of any kind. Just a shadow, or a knot or a stain somebody said looked like Jesus. This certainly would appear to be a deviant religious practice, yet the Roman church does nothing tangible to correct the actions or the mistaken beliefs of the sheep she claims to watch over. Instead, the "shepherd" carefully washes his hands and looks in another direction as his flock experiences a new outlet for their superstition.

Look to all the "apparitions" of Mary. In the former Yugoslavia. In Portugal. In Georgia and Arizona and Maryland.

Some have become really big business. Certainly, the apparitions at Lourdes and Fatima and Medjugorje have been cash cows for the region and the Roman Church. To a smaller degree, so have the "apparitions" in Conyers, Georgia and Emmitsburg, Maryland. Not long ago, the ordinary of the Conyers area investigated the reported "visitations" of Mary and withheld declaring them "real." That did not, however, stop the folks in Conyers from taking in plenty of money or the Catholic Church from setting up a dozen or more priests on the site at "visitation times." I suppose the idea here was, "well, if you can't prevent the folks from acting on their superstitions, might as well make a buck or two out of them."

Mary's special friend in Emmitsburg virtually took over the operation of her church - at least on Thursdays, the day when Mary visited her. Every Thursday, following an early morning Mass, the Emmitsburg Catholic Church must have hummed with the continuous recitation of the Rosary, until the evening Mass, followed by more Rosary recitations - during which Mary delivered her message privately to her special friend. The friend then would pass along to folks what Mary had said. Like all the other "apparitions" of Mary that I am familiar with, the Earth Mother is only visible and hearable to her special friends. Mysticism? Superstition? Can't be, for the Roman Church has declared against both.

Someone asked the archbishop having authority over the Emmitsburg church to look into the authenticity of these "apparitions." The archdiocesan spokesman responded that the diocese back in Arizona, where Mary's special friend had first begun to receive her Marian "visits," had investigated them. The Phoenix see made some sort of noncommital finding, which was enough to permit the east coast archdiocese to wash its hands of responsibility for any further action. Let the sheep look after themselves. As they used to say in New Orleans, "Laissez les bon temps rulez."

How fast do YOU pray the Rosary? Every person I know who prays while tolling the beads can get through five decades in light speed. They are able to say the 50 Hail Mary's faster than I can order a cheeseburger and large fries. Is this praying? Or is it just droning a mantra? I wish someone would have visited that Emmitsburg Catholic Church some Thursday to put a stop watch on those folks as they continuously droned the Rosary throughout the day.

Many hundreds of years ago, the Lord God Almighty had grown weary of the meaningless rituals and repeated sacrifices of His chosen people, who had replaced the spirit of worship with the form of worship. Isn't that what Rome has done with her multitudinous prayers, which are rewarded with indulgences? Isn't this what Rome has done by her alleged and perverted re-representation of Christ's atoning sacrifice in her bloodless eucharist? Isn't this what Rome has done with her devotion to forms and feelings?

The words God gave Isaiah then, certainly apply to Roman Catholic teachings and practice today. God does not change. What offended Him in Isaiah's day, surely must offend Him still. Be warned.

Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.--Isaiah 1:10-20

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