The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes (prohibits) superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; and to irreligion (tempting God, in words or deeds, sacrilege, and simony).
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 (effectiveness) of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition. For example, attributing powers to a medal, a relic, or to the repetition of prayers, rather than to God. The throwing salt over the shoulder; avoiding ladders or stepping on cracks or black cats or the number 13, are a few of the most common, long-standing superstations. Athletes follow many superstitions in attempts to positively control the outcome of the game. I would suspect that most of us have at least a couple of small superstitious practices in our daily lives that we may not even be aware of. If we believe that our day is going to go wrong if we omit or don’t do something properly or fail to follow a precise sequence of procedures in our morning routine … we are guilty of it!
Idolatry: The first commandment condemns polytheism (the belief in many gods) and it requires man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God. Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of "idols, (of) silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see." These empty idols make their worshippers empty: "Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them.” God, however, is the "living God” who gives life and intervenes in history. Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing (making to be God) what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, Satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and mammon.” Many martyrs died for not adoring "the Beast"; refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.
Human life finds its unity in the adoration of the one God. The commandment to worship the Lord alone integrates man and saves him from an endless disintegration. Idolatry is a perversion of man's innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who "transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God."
Divination and Magic: God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility. 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. Occult practices, consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the reading of tarot cards, the use of Ouija boards, 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.
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. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called “traditional cures” does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity. (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #s 2110 – 2117)
Santaria (a perversion of true religion that mixes the veneration of the saints with elements of witchcraft and ancestor worship), crystal-ball gazing, lucky charms (i.e.: rabbit’s feet, lucky horseshoes, etc.); “mojo” items; the cornuto, corno, or cornicello (a.k.a. “Italian horn”) worn to “protect” against the “evil eye” and/or to promote fertility and virility; numerous other pagan amulets of various cultures… the list goes on… all of these are incompatible with the Christ who suffered, died, and rose from the dead to save us from sin and everlasting death. There is no such thing as “white (good) magic,” which is opposed to “black (evil) magic.” Witchcraft, witch doctors, and the adherents of thousands of religious movements and cults are out there looking to lure people away from true religion and salvation. If practitioners of any of these (and there are too many to mention them all) do not ascribe all praise, power and glory and honor to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, run away from them with all haste.
There are some people who are indeed gifted by God with the ability to see and know things that most others are not able to (as mentioned above about prophets and saints; a number of examples may be found in Sacred Scripture). Hopefully these individuals use their gifts as God wills and
However, many of those who are mediums and fortune tellers are either profit-driven charlatans preying upon those in states of desperation – or even worse – are in consort with Satan and his minions. Yoga, reiki and myriad eastern practices have become extremely popular these days. I honestly do not claim to know much about them and have no interest in exploring them. All the spiritual and meditative treasures I need are in the tradition of the Catholic Church. I do not want to invite evil to walk right into my life. Be very wary when approaching these things, so that you are not led into praying to false gods or letting yourself be “channeled” by entities other than those that come from the living God. May the Holy Spirit of God, our Blessed Lady, and our Guardian Angel keep us in the ways of the Lord always.
LIGHTHOUSE MEDIA: As everyone knows since the summer we have had a kiosk in the narthex of the Church. This kiosk is stocked with very fine catholic literature and CDs. We are grateful to Jesmel who stocks the kiosk. A minimal offering is asked simply to keep the program going. It is non-profit but may we ask that those who take items please pay for them. Next week a speaker from Light House Media, Theresa Piekutt will speak at the Masses about this program.
CATECHETICAL SUNDAY: Today is Catechetical Sunday. At the 9.30 Mass our catechists and students will all be blessed. Sincere gratitude to Brother Joseph Bellizzi, S.M., our Director of Religious Education, and Mrs. Louise Shannon, our Faith Formation Administrator, to all our grade coordinators, catechists, aides and staff. May God bless those who teach and those who learn.
BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS SECOND COLLECTION: Since today is the Third Sunday of the month we will have our second collection for our own parish maintenance. We are trying to address some of the matters of long deferred maintenance. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.
DOORS: This week our new doors have begun to be installed. These doors are made of a special durable fiberglass and are weather resistant. They have applied panels (instead of recessed panels) and thus are more attractive and less tempting for sand wasps to build nests. They will be much lighter to open and much safer. They are very attractive and maintain the original integrity and style of the building. We are very grateful that Mr. Eric Anderson, who is the Head of the Building Office of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, is also a devoted parishioner. Eric is faithfully at Mass every Sunday at 8.00am. The building department of the Diocese assists us in our many projects.
PROJECTS OF THE LAST YEAR: I am so grateful to all the parishioners who have enabled in just the last fifteen months, for mold remediation to take place in both the rectory and Msgr. Costa hall, the parking lot to be illuminated, extensive tree work and stump grinding to be accomplished, the shrine of St. Paul to be erected, the Daily Mass Chapel, and sacristies to be painted, the dry wells to be cleaned and cleared, Monsignor Costa hall to be painted, the flat roofs of the Church to be restored, new carpet placed in the sanctuary, and a new state of the art sound system to be installed. I am also so grateful that in the last fifteen months we have established or re-established our parish RCIA, Pre-Cana, St. Vincent de Paul, Outreach, Food Pantry, Choir, Altar Guild, and Youth Group. Your generosity has enabled us to purchase complete sets of new vestments in all the colors, the Crucifix and altar candles for Church and Chapel, the ambry, new acolyte candles, four new statues for the Chapel, stands for real candles, new ciboria, new altar linens, a new hanging crucifix for Good Friday. The one thing all of these things have in common is that I have had nothing to do with any of them.
Look to the star of the sea, call upon Mary…in danger, in distress, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. May her name never be far from your lips, or far from your heart…If you follow her, you will not stray; if you pray to her, you will not despair; if you turn your thoughts to her, you will not err. If she holds you, you will not fall; if she protects you, you need not fear; if she is your guide, you will not tire; if she is gracious to you, you will surely reach your destination. – St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda