A disconnect between reality and perception may be caused by fear, stress, a habit of thinking either magical or fantastical thoughts, or just plain spiritual sloth. All of these have been discussed on this blog, but I want to pursue in this mini-series, the problem with this common problem.
I can skip dwelling on magical thinking, as one can look at all the posts I have written on this, with the links found through the tag.
But, stress, fear, and fantasy can cause some people to run away from the truth, whether it be within themselves or in the society.
One poor psychological manner of facing or not facing hard times has to be denial. Perhaps, many of those who lived in Nazi Germany chose denial rather than responsibility for the death of millions in the camps because of fear.
Spiritual sloth may be another reason-as some people get use to not looking at their own sins, thereby, not seeing how they themselves contribute to the general malaise of paganism, about to strangle religious freedom across the West.
Over and over again, I meet Catholics who have not read or studied the CCC, or any encyclicals, or looked at commentaries regarding the reality of the coming loss of religious freedom.
These Triumphalists decide either to ignore the real decisions being made at the highest levels of government, or among groups who are deciding policies outside of the public's control-Bilderberg, Tri-Lateral Committee, Council for Foreign Relations, and so on.
Americans swallow evening news reports from a small cache of news services all owned by about five people in the world, never thinking that there is real news out here to be found--if one takes the time.
Triumphalists trust governments to "do the right thing" even after years of most Western government deciding to murder babies in the womb either by abortions or chemical abortions. Triumphalists believe the main parties may change this slaughter, not understanding that there has never been a will to do so.
Triumphalists trust liberal clerics to do the right thing, or simply do not pay attention to what is going on in the local parishes, dioceses, or Rome, (see my many posts on this from 2013), until the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, Catholics were daily persecuted in England.
In America, the Ku Klux Clan and other Anti-Catholic groups, including the Masons, undermined freedom in many states. In fact, this undercurrent of hatred has never disappeared, only gone underground here.
|"Conspiratorkkk" by Branford Clarke (March 18, 1885 – July 7, 1947) - From Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty, 1926. Published by the Pillar of Fire Church in Zarephath.. |
Too many Catholics have become idolators of the State, putting country before God, America before Rome, which forms the basis of the heresy of Americanism.
But, in those long years of intolerance in England, a minority remained true to Rome, defying public laws and choosing the Faith over country.
Triumphalists want it all-they want an America which is holy without understanding that America choose evil over God in the acceptance of Roe v. Wade, and the not-so-hidden socialist agenda of certain parties.
Now, Americans face the final act of intolerance towards our Faith-the most likely passing of ssm by the highest court in the land. Either it is made legal across the board, sin guaranteed by the Constitutional interpretation of SCOTUS, or the court will let each state decide. Either way, Catholics will again come under intense persecution.
Triumphalists live in fantasy land, thinking somehow God will be, like the deus ex machina in old dramas, the god in the machine who comes down into the play and changes the ending for the good. Aristotle (and others) criticized this method of solving plot problems in a play. I am so happy I just found two weeks ago by collection of all of his works in my books. Aristotle understood that this idea of false intervention was irrational, unnatural, and even against the rules of his heaven. From Poetics:
In the characters too, exactly as in the structure of the incidents, [the poet] ought always to seek what is either necessary or probable, so that it is either necessary or probable that a person of such-and-such a sort say or do things of the same sort, and it is either necessary or probable that this [incident] happen after that one. It is obvious that the solutions of plots too should come about as a result of the plot itself, and not from a contrivance, as in the Medea and in the passage about sailing home in the Iliad. A contrivance must be used for matters outside the drama — either previous events which are beyond human knowledge, or later ones that need to be foretold or announced. For we grant that the gods can see everything. There should be nothing improbable in the incidents; otherwise, it should be outside the tragedy, e.g., that in Sophocles' Oedipus.
Wiki has a great article on the god in the machine, which is found here and where I got this quotation today.
Triumphalists naively believe that God, like the god on the lever in Greek drama, will intervene to stop persecutions.
However, there is one problem with this type of fantastical thinking. God may and has promised to cut short the time of persecution for our sake, but He has told us this will come. Divine Providence allows persecution for the purification of the Church and each one of us.
Saints develop under persecution. People become converted, seeing the nobility and bravery of those who stand up for Christ, for Rome, for truth.
I remember taking a survey in a class in 2003. I asked my Catholic students who would be willing to die for the Faith. Out of about fifteen teens, only three raised their hands. Then, we discussed this.
Many could not see that compromise would cause the death of their immortal souls. Denial of the Faith is called apostasy. Yes, God does forgive if the person repents, and so does the Church, which is the great result of the condemnation of the Donatists, but one may not presume one can or will repent. Many great families joined with Henry VIII in his personal triumph over the Pope, the Catholics in England, the clergy. In fact, most families left the Church--most.
Triumphalists cannot believe that the person sitting next to them in the pew on Sunday could very well be the person who will persecute them, or may be doing so even now, by cooperating with evil.
A few reposts and...to be continued....
On magical thinking and Catholics
I must write on the difference between magical thinking and belief in devotions. There are many Catholics, and sadly, many are Charismatics, who believe if someone does something, either with medals, cards, holy water or holy salt, that there will always be a one-one correspondence to a spiritual occurrence. Most of the time, these ideas are held by lay people, and not priests, who having been trained in sound thinking, realize the limitations of sacramentals, which are there to encourage the faithful in devotion.The idea behind magical thinking is that if one either does a certain activity, or if on repeats a certain ritualistic action, a certain good, or in the case of nasty people wanting to curse someone, an evil outcome will occur.
While not denying that certain actions do bring about grace, and these are called the Sacraments, which are efficacious, in that something happens when the material events occur. For example, Catholics know that when the water is poured over the person's head in baptism with the Trinitarian words given to us by Christ, that Original Sin is taken away, sanctifying grace enters the person, and that person becomes a child of God.
Magical thinking would make things or events into sacraments, that is, turn certain activities into efficacious events, when these are not.
If one is in mortal sin and wears a Miraculous Medal, if one does not repent, the medal will not stop one from going to hell. The idea that a medal, in and off itself, with keep one from hell is simply not true. For the believer, for the person who honors Mary in the heart, the medal represents an existing spiritual reality, that is, love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
How to separate real supernatural thinking from magical thinking is difficult, in that humans want to control their lives and the lives of others with things. This is a common problem, as we all want to play God and be in control.
Real religion tells us that we are not in control, and that our wills need to be conformed to the Will of God. No amount of magical thinking, wearing medals, novenas, and prayer meetings will necessarily save us, if our minds and hearts, and our souls are not conformed to Jesus through the Teachings of the Catholic Church. We can only be saved through Jesus Christ and the merits of the Catholic Church.
A sign of a false religion is frequently the reliance of exterior pity, or externals talismans. For example, if one believes that if they have a rabbit's foot, good luck will happen. Or, if one says a certain number of prayers, then one is holy, or if one faces in a certain direction for prayer, one gets more merit. Not so.. The only way to God is through Christ and His Church. Nothing external can make one holy, or even a place holy, unless this is determined by the Church. Shrines are merely superstition if not approved by the Church, or if there is not a long history of devotion attached to such, which usually means the Church has approved the place, the spring, the chapel, etc.
Our family always marked the top of the doorway on January 6th with the initials of the three Kings and the year's date. However, even though this pious custom invokes those three saints to bless people going in and out, it is not a given that burglars will not enter the house and steal things if I leave the door open by mistake, which happened. The natural act of leaving a door open led to theft, and that it was not worse could be attributed to the Three Kings, but such a cause and effect would be magical thinking.
The only efficacy we know for sure lies in those sacraments of the Church and the bona fide
indulgences given and approved by the Church authorities, using bishops, sometimes the authorities in Rome. I caution Catholics not to fall into magical thinking. Be pious, use the sacramentals approved by the Church and stay away from spurious items and unapproved prayers. Make sure what you use has been approved by some bishop somewhere.
Just a reminder, there is no such thing as a good witch, as cute as Glinda was in the movie.
Statistics, superstition, and magical thinking again....
I just read a statistic that only 3% of the world's population has OCD. I must have met 1.5% of them in Great Britain and Ireland!
Superstition is part of the OCD syndrome in that those who are superstitious. Of course, spiritually minded people can fall into superstition, but supposing an even or action is directly related in a irrational manner to another. This attitude has nothing to do with FAITH.
, my favourite book this past weekend, has something to say about superstition. It is a serious sin and deadens the virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
III. "YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME"
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.
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
I have met many Catholics in Ireland and England who are superstitious and not faithful. They do not see the difference and this is connected to magical thinking. These good people are self-deceived into thinking that the externals of faith mean they are saved.
Interior disposition is ALL in real religion. The externals, such as pilgrimages, novenas, medals and other devotions cannot make up for conversion of the heart, the mind and the soul.
Why is superstition in the same category of sin as idolatry? Because one is hoping in something else rather than God Himself.
People are superstitious because it is easier to be so than to have real faith and hope.
Here is a reminder of those definitions.
1814 Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God."78 For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity."79
1815 The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it.80 But "faith apart from works is dead":81 when it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his Body.
1816 The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: "All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks."82 Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: "So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."83
1817 Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."84 "The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life."85
1818 The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.
1819 Christian hope takes up and fulfills the hope of the chosen people which has its origin and model in the hope of Abraham, who was blessed abundantly by the promises of God fulfilled in Isaac, and who was purified by the test of the sacrifice.86 "Hoping against hope, he believed, and thus became the father of many nations."87
1820 Christian hope unfolds from the beginning of Jesus' preaching in the proclamation of the beatitudes. The beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. But through the merits of Jesus Christ and of his Passion, God keeps us in the "hope that does not disappoint."88 Hope is the "sure and steadfast anchor of the soul . . . that enters . . . where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf."89 Hope is also a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation: "Let us . . . put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation."90 It affords us joy even under trial: "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation."91 Hope is expressed and nourished in prayer, especially in the Our Father, the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire.
1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will.92 In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere "to the end"93 and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for "all men to be saved."94 She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:
- Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.95
Grace Is Not Fairy Dust--Ranting on Magical Thinking Again
Grace is not fairy dust. Grace is the life of God given to us in several ways. There are also many posts on grace. One can use the search bar or the labels or the tags. Sacramentals. Here is merely the section on sacramentals in theCCC
1667 "Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy."173
The characteristics of sacramentals
1668 Sacramentals are instituted for the sanctification of certain ministries of the Church, certain states of life, a great variety of circumstances in Christian life, and the use of many things helpful to man. In accordance with bishops' pastoral decisions, they can also respond to the needs, culture, and special history of the Christian people of a particular region or time. They always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of holy water (which recalls Baptism).
1669 Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood: every baptized person is called to be a "blessing," and to bless.174 Hence lay people may preside at certain blessings; the more a blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or deacons).175
1670 Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church's prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. "For well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. From this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power. There is scarcely any proper use of material things which cannot be thus directed toward the sanctification of men and the praise of God."176
1677 Sacramentals are sacred signs instituted by the Church. They prepare men to receive the fruit of the sacraments and sanctify different circumstances of life.
1678 Among the sacramentals blessings occupy an important place. They include both praise of God for his works and gifts, and the Church's intercession for men that they may be able to use God's gifts according to the spirit of the Gospel.
1679 In addition to the liturgy, Christian life is nourished by various forms of popular piety, rooted in the different cultures. While carefully clarifying them in the light of faith, the Church fosters the forms of popular piety that express an evangelical instinct and a human wisdom and that enrich Christian life.
Sacramentals are for the Faithful. If you are talking with a person to convert them and praying for them and the time is right to pass on a medal or rosary, fine. But, it is your prayers and your efforts, through the grace of God which converts. The Holy Spirit converts, not a thing.
I have written on the danger of magical thinking. This type of thinking is not the same as having faith and praying for people, situations or things.
Magical thinking is irrational, whereas intercessory prayer is not. Magical thinking believes that an item or a prayer must be attached to a particular object, or that a person must do particular things to get answers. Also, magical thinking denies suffering and working.
Working means work. So many women in Ireland have told me that God will take care of the abortion issue. No, we have to do such work. The laity, the Church Militant if you prefer that great title, provide the hands and eyes, and ears and feet of God in the world.
There will be no deus ex machina.
And, I am sorry, but medals and holy water do not take the place of hard political work.
Prayer and fasting, yes. Throwing holy water on people will not convert them. This is a misuse of sacramentals, as is the idea that one can bury a medal in the ground and convert the people in that house. Sorry, that is a misuse of sacramentals and is superstitious thinking.
Sorry about the rant, but magical thinking ends in nothing happening and reveals a childish, not childlike, mindset.
Here are some other posts on the dangers of magical thinking. Work and pray, but do not indulge in magical thinking. It is not God's Way.
Again and again on magical thinking with scary results...
Can I blame Walt Disney and Tinker Bell? Can I try and find a pattern as to why so many men and women in their 70s on down do not understand the theology of the sacraments?
Magical thinking seems to be the most common problem I constantly meet with Catholics regarding Baptism, Confirmation and the Last Rites.
Serious problems exist because many Catholics do not understand that the sacraments bring responsibility and must be met with responsibility.
Magical thinking is indicated by people who think that baptism of infants whose parents are either atheists, (a priest told me today that many priest baptize infants of practicing atheists and a priest in Walsingham a few years ago baptized anyone's children without preparation of any kind), or non-practicing Catholics. This is against the Canons, but indicates a lack of understanding on the part of the priests and the parents. Why would atheists, who have no intention of raising their children Catholic, desire baptism? Why would fallen away Catholics seek baptism for their children, when there is no demand that they come back into the Church or take classes?
Why do priests baptize infants and children of pagans, who will not raise their children in the Faith? I now know several priests in different dioceses who know the Canons and ignore these. Why?
Is this taught in the seminaries? Are bishops aware that this goes on in their dioceses?
Baptism takes away Original Sin and gives sanctifying grace. It makes a child an adopted child of God, and a member of the Catholic Church.
Magical thinking states that baptism saves a person once and for all-the fundamental option.
Magical thinking supposes the person stays in sanctifying grace without the sacraments or training to be a Catholic.
Why are priests baptizing babies of couples they will never see in Church again, thus putting that couple into the position breaking promises to raise the child Catholic? Why are priests not asking parents to raise the child Catholic?
Magical thinking is protestant. My attempting to talk with a few priests on this subject caused me not to be hired as a catechist in their parishes. The same magical thinking applies to Confirmation, when priests confirm young people who are not going to Mass on Sunday and are contracepting.
Magical thinking also effects many people who read the mystics and think that the writings are infallible. I have written on this. Not all the writings of those who have received personal, even approved, visions, are infallible and to believe such is magical thinking.
For example, only the Church can grant indulgences, not mystics. The Church may take blessings promised from God and make these promises into a set of indulgences-such as the Divine Mercy novena and Divine Mercy Sunday guidelines for the indulgence. But, not all things in St. Faustina's writings have been given indulgences.
Magical thinking wishes that people are saved without their free will being involved.
Magical thinking denies free will. We choose God and good. We have a lifetime to do this. We must respond to grace and work for our salvation in fear and trembling, states St. Paul.
Sanctifying grace is not a permanent state, nor is it once and for all, as many protestants believe. It can be lost and in the case of mortal sin. We are deprived of sanctifying grace by the sin of Adam and Eve, and we must, therefore, be baptized. But we can lose that state of grace and those who no longer go to Sunday Mass, or abort, or contracept, or are in irregular marriages, have not only removed themselves from sanctifying grace, but from the community of God, the Church.
Here is the CCC
on this point:
1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.
Anything less is magical thinking. Here is the CCC again.
The Baptism of infants
1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called.50 The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.51
1251 Christian parents will recognize that this practice also accords with their role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them.52
1252 The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole "households" received baptism, infants may also have been baptized.53
1253 Baptism is the sacrament of faith.54 But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the godparent is asked: "What do you ask of God's Church?" The response is: "Faith!"
1254 For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism. For this reason the Church celebrates each year at the Easter Vigil the renewal of baptismal promises. Preparation for Baptism leads only to the threshold of new life. Baptism is the source of that new life in Christ from which the entire Christian life springs forth.
1255 For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized - child or adult on the road of Christian life.55 Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium).56 The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.
1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.60 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.61Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.62 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.
1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.
1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism
As to the Last Rites...
some people have been led to believe by some religious leaders, lay and priests, that people can be saved by certain prayers of others outside of the indulgences granted by the Vatican. Again, this is magical thinking. Faith allows us to pray for the dead and have Masses said for the dead. But, plenary indulgences are for the souls in purgatory, and may be prayed for those who have died outside the Church, but these indulgences are not prayers outside the merit of the entire Catholic Church. Quite the contrary. The Church passes the merit onto those people.
Prayers which are not given approval by the Church cannot provide a living person with a magical assurance that someone is in heaven.
We are called to evangelize and no amount of magical thinking can substitute for spreading the Gospel.