Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Eve

Tonight is the most superstitious night of the year. Soothsayers, fortune tellers, feng shui masters, psychics find this time the busiest of the year. All known practices to assure ourselves of good fortune and to drive away evil spirits are put to the test tonight. In more secular societies, this night is spent in partying with an abundance of good food and drinks. They may not admit it but basically, the reason for spending this night in abundance is still the superstition that if we have an abundance of everything tonight, we will be sure of abundance in the year to come.

We might not realize that superstition, divination, magic, and sorcery are all grievous sins because they are classified as sins against the 1st commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.” The Catechism of the Church teaches: “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” (CCC, 2110) “Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes…” It is the attribution of some magical importance to some lawful practices or to the mere external performance of prayers and sacramental signs. (CCC, 2111) On the other hand, “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone” (CCC, 2116). What to many people seem to be harmless ventures into the unknown are actually sins that offend the one true God who revealed himself to us through the prophets and through his only begotten Son.

Basically, our inclination towards superstition and divination comes from our desire to control and our fear of what we cannot control. This is the irony of our times: we have successfully relegated God to oblivion and then we become driven with fear for the unknown. Instead of resting in the assuring love of the true God who is able to save us, we would rather connive with demonic powers to control the future. Thus, “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…are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion” (CCC, 2117). It is disturbing that Catholics would rather believe in the lies that are perpetrated by demons through the false religions than in the teachings revealed by the one and only Savior who has revealed himself as “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” We would like to receive blessings in the year to come but we refuse to ask it of the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing.” We would like to be freed from the powers of evil but we refuse to draw near the Savior of whom the demons themselves said: “Have you come to destroy us, Son of God?”

As Christians, we must follow the shepherds who “went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.” This night is a wonderful opportunity to stay close to the Blessed Sacrament in an attitude of gratitude and penitence – gratitude for all the blessings we have received this year and penitence for all our faults in what we have done and in what we have failed to do. This year is admittedly a dark and difficult one for our country but this night should find us on our knees in thanksgiving for the faith and grace that sustained us through it all. Let us worship tonight the holy Name of Jesus which was given to the Son of Mary and by which alone can we be saved.

Blessed be the Name of Jesus.

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