What Is Superstition And Which Commandment Does It Violate?
St Boniface felling Donar’s Oak, (Image in Public Domain)
Catechism of the Catholic Church
2111 – 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
41 Cf. Mt 23:16-22.
Superstition is defined by St. Thomas (II-II, Q. 92, a. 1) as “a vice opposed to religion by way of excess; not because in the worship of God it does more than true religion, but because it offers Divine worship to beings other than God or offers worship to God in an improper manner”. Superstition sins by excess of religion, and this differs from the vice of irreligion, which sins by defect. The theological virtue of religion stands midway between the two.
Superstition violates the First Commandment.
I AM THE LORD THY GOD: THOU SHALT NOT HAVE STRANGE GODS BEFORE ME.
Commands: faith, hope, love, and worship of God; reverence for holy things; prayer.
Forbids: idolatry; superstition; spiritism; tempting God; sacrilege; attendance at false worship.
The number and variety of superstitions appear from the following list of those most in vogue at different periods of history:
- Astrology: the reading of the future and of man’s destiny from the stars
- Aeromancy: divinations by means of the air and winds
- Amulets: things worn as a remedy or preservative against evils or mischief, such as diseases or witchcraft
- Chiromancy, or palmistry: divination by the lines of the hand
- Capnomancy: divination by the ascent or motion of smoke
- Catroptomancy: divination by mirrors
- Alomancy: divination by salt
- Cartomancy: divination by playing cards
- Anthropomancy: divination by inspection of human viscera
- Belomancy: divination by the shuffling of arrows (Ezechiel, xxi, 21)
- Geomancy: divination by points, lines or figures traced on the ground
- Hydromancy: divination by water
- Idolatry: the worship of idols
- Sabianism: the worship of the sun, moon, and stars
- Zoolatry, Anthropolatry, and Fetishism: the worship of animals, man, and things without sense
- The worship of abstract notions personified: e.g. Victory, Peace, Fame, Concord, which had temples and a priesthood for the performance of their cult
- Necromancy: the evocation of the dead, as old as history and perpetuated in contemporary Spiritism
- Oneiromancy: the interpretation of dreams
- Philtres: potions, or charms intended to excite love
- Omens or prognostics of future events
- Witchcraft and magic in all their ramifications
- Lucky and unlucky days, numbers, persons, things, actions
- The evil eye, spells, incantations, ordeals, etc.