Throwback Thursday: Whatever happened to St. Christopher medals?

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Throwback Thursday.” For today’s installment, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 2nd, 2015 and has been revised.

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Does anyone remember St. Christopher medals? Ho, boy! They were EXTREMELY popular within Catholicism when I was a young boy back in the 1960s. Well, Catholic tradition has it that Christopher was a 3rd-century Christian living in Palestine who served God by helping people ford a dangerously swift river. One day, a young boy needed help getting to the other side of the river so Christopher hoisted the lad up on his shoulder and carried him across. But Christopher staggered because the boy was so inexplicably heavy! Well, it was alleged that the child was actually the incarnate Jesus Christ who was so heavy because he was weighted down with the cares of the entire world! The legend of Christopher spread far and wide throughout the church.

Christopher was never formally canonized as a saint (the Roman church didn’t officially canonize its first saint until 993 AD), but was presumed to be one because of his longstanding popularity. He was designated by the church as the patron saint of travelers and millions of Catholics wore St. Christopher medals that had been blessed by their priest as protection in their daily commutes or on trips. Catholics were told they would never die in a travel accident if they wore a St. Christopher medal.

However, in 1969 the Catholic church reviewed and reorganized its liturgical calendar. Feast days of saints who were determined to have been largely based on myth and legend, like Christopher, were quietly removed from the calendar. Although Christopher is still considered to be a saint by Rome, he has been demoted to third-string and, except for a few traditionalist die-hards, his protective medal has become a memento of a bygone era.

The Catholic church likes to present itself as the unchanging foundation of spiritual truth but even a casual study of church history reveals the fallacy of that claim. What about the millions of Catholics who prayed to St. Christopher for safe travel prior to his demotion? Did wearing a “blessed” St. Christopher talisman actually protect people from being injured or killed in travel accidents? Did any Catholics die in travel accidents while wearing St. Christopher medals? I think we all know the answer to that question.

Friends, Catholicism’s veneration of “saints” and trust in sacramental rabbits’ feet are rooted in Roman paganism. Nowhere in the Bible does a follower of God pray to anyone other than God. Nowhere in the Bible does a believer wear a “good luck” talisman. In pandering to its heathen “converts,” Catholicism became a mixture of apostate Christianity and pagan superstition.

Praise the Lord for freeing me from the chains and superstition of Roman Catholicism and saving me by His grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone!

Catholic Voodoo: Burying a St. Joseph statue in the yard in order to sell a house faster

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to revisit a slightly re-edited post that was first published back on August 1, 2015. The subject material is timely since we’re entering into the busiest months of the real estate buying/selling season.

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Periodically, I like to visit our local “Christian” bookstore. Admittedly, there’s a lot of “Jesus junk” sold at those stores along with a preponderance of books from the TBN “prosperity gospel” crowd, but occasionally I do find something useful. During a visit last year, I noticed a very large supply of St. Joseph statues (photo above) stocked in the store’s Catholic section. Huh? I wondered WHY there was such an incredibly large number of St. Joseph statues on the shelf because I knew that Catholics worship Mary much, much more than lowly Joseph. What was going on? A couple of weeks later there was an article in the real estate section of the local newspaper that explained it all. I learned that many Catholics, and even non-Catholics, follow the superstition of burying a statue of Joseph, the “patron saint of home and family,” upside-down in the yard of a house they’re trying to sell in order to bring “good luck” and expedite the sale. Oy vey.

Folks, this is sheer pagan superstition at its very worst, but I’m not surprised at all. Catholicism is full of similar voodoo good luck charms and jujus including such things as blessing yourself with “holy” water, making the sign of the cross, “holy” medals, scapulars, crucifixes, rosaries hanging from automobile rear view mirrors, etc., etc. Catholic priest, Robert J. Levis, a writer at EWTN.com, states that burying a St. Joseph statue to facilitate the sale of a house is blatant superstition, although I’m sure there are many other priests who would simply wink at the practice rather than make a stink about it.

I wrote a letter to the owner of the “Christian” bookstore asking that they remove the large supply of St. Joseph statues from their shelves since they were being used in a superstitious pagan practice, besides the fact that God forbids the worship (Catholics call it “veneration”) of statues in the first place.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” – Exodus 20:4-5.

Needless to say, the popular St. Joseph juju statues are still being sold by the “Chri$tian” book$tore.

Believers can thank the Lord for freeing us from the chains of religious superstition and opening our eyes to the simple but glorious Gospel of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE.

Examining a Catholic devotional juju: The Infant Jesus of Prague statue

Yesterday, I wrote in general about un-Biblical Catholic devotion fetishes (see here), but today, I would like to focus on one devotion in particular; the Infant Jesus of Prague statue.

Several days ago, I was listening to the 9/5/18 podcast of the “Called To Communion” Catholic talk radio show and Joelle from Oklahoma City phoned in at the 41:25 mark stating she was a convert from Presbyterianism to Catholicism. She said she had a hard time initially accepting Catholic devotions, especially the Infant Jesus of Prague. The National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague in the U.S.A. is located just one hour away from OKC in Prague, Oklahoma. Joelle stated that she has since come to love the Infant Jesus of Prague devotion. Show host, David Anders, followed up by saying Catholics are free to pick and choose from the church’s many devotions and are not obligated to adopt the Infant Jesus of Prague devotion.

Evangelical Protestants may not be familiar with it, but most Roman Catholics are certainly familiar with the Infant Jesus of Prague; a statue of child Jesus clothed in red imperial regalia with the left hand holding a globe of the world and the right hand in a posture of benediction.

The original 19″ tall statue (see photo) traces back to the 16th-century and it currently resides at Our Lady of Victory church in Prague, Czech Republic. In 1628, noblewoman Polyxena of the House of Lobkowicz donated the statue to the church and a devoted cult following quickly grew, claiming miraculous healings and blessings. Pilgrims from afar began visiting the church and statue. Versions of the statue eventually proliferated throughout Catholicism. Many American Catholic families display an imitation Infant Jesus of Prague statue in their homes for protection and blessings as a superstitious juju. Various versions are readily available from Amazon (see here).

We already know that having a statue of Jesus as an object of worship is anti-Biblical. But why this fixation on Jesus as a young child? Pagan religions all had their versions of the mother goddess and her infant son as objects of worship. In Egypt, the mother and child were worshiped as Isis and Osiris, in Babylon as Ishtar and Tammuz, in Phoenicia as Ashtoreth and Baal, in India as Isi and Iswara, in China and Japan as the mother goddess Shing-moo with child, in Greece as Ceres or Irene and Plutus, in Rome as Fortuna and Jupiter, or Venus and Adurnis, and in Scandinavia as Frigga and Balder. Pagans were very fond of worshiping the mother goddess and her son and Rome adapted this extremely popular cult into the worship of the Blessed Virgin Mary and infant Jesus. Worship of the infant Jesus apart from his mother was a predictable next step.

A standard novena “prayer” to the statue juju was formulated for supplicants seeking blessings. The intercession of Mary figures prominently in the “prayer.” See here.

Postscript: One of my sisters had an Infant Jesus of Prague statue on the top of her dresser back when I was growing up. She’s now an atheist. She liked her infant Jesus juju for a period, but she didn’t know Jesus Christ as her Savior.

Infant Jesus of Prague – Wikipedia article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infant_Jesus_of_Prague

Our Lady of Victory church in Prague, Czech Republic – Official website
https://www.pragjesu.cz/en/

A stroll through the Our Lady of Victory church’s online gift shop is a revealing education in Catholic superstition. See here.

Devotions: Evangelical vs. Catholic

If you mention the word “devotions” to an evangelical Christian, they will generally associate the word with the time they spend each day reading and studying God’s Word and praying to the Lord. But for Catholics, the word “devotions” conjures up an entirely different meaning.

In Catholicism, there are literally hundreds of particular ways of approaching (g)od, Mary, and the canonized saints and these are called devotions. Some of these approaches/devotions are very popular throughout Catholicism (e.g., the rosary, the stations of the cross), while others have only a small number of adherents or are limited to a specific geographical locale. Catholics are encouraged to adopt either a single devotion or several as an aid to their “spiritual development.”

Below is a partial list of Catholic devotions. There are many more than these:

  • Devotion to Christ the King
  • Devotion to Jesus Crucified
  • Devotion to One’s Guardian Angel
  • Devotion to One’s Patron Saint
  • Devotion to Our Lady Under Various Titles
  • Devotion to St. Joseph
  • Devotion to St. Michael the Archangel
  • Devotion to the Angels
  • Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament
  • Devotion to the Blessed Virgin
  • Devotion to the Child Jesus
  • Devotion to the Holy Face
  • Devotion to the Holy Family
  • Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus
  • Devotion to the Holy Souls in Purgatory
  • Devotion to the Holy Spirit
  • Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • Devotion to the Infant Jesus
  • Devotion to the Infant of Prague
  • Devotion to the Precious Blood
  • Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
  • Devotion to the Saints
  • Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother / Devotion to the Seven Sorrows
  • Devotion to the Wounds of Jesus
  • Divine Mercy Devotion
  • First Five Saturday’s Devotion
  • First Friday’s Devotion
  • Holy Rosary
  • Miraculous Medal
  • Scapulars
  • Stations of the Cross / Way of the Cross
  • Three Hail Mary’s Devotion

See the Catholic source here.

The above devotions encourage superstitious and idolatrous perceptions of God and anti-Biblical worship (aka “veneration”) of Mary, the “saints,” or the angels. In its efforts to convert the pagan masses, the Catholic church adapted pagan religious fetishes (amulets, good luck charms, talismans, rabbit feet, juju, etc.) into acceptable and church-sanctioned devotions. Many Catholics become strongly attached to a particular devotion and it becomes the central focus of their religious practice in much the same way as a superstitious juju for a pagan. Catholics aren’t obligated to follow any devotions, but are strongly encouraged to do so and may pick and choose from the church’s thick catalog of options as to whatever strikes their fancy. Many Catholics adopt the devotion/s of one of their parents or those of their favorite priest.

Bible Christians have no need of these superstitious religious fetishes. We have repented of our sin and accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone. We commune with the Lord through reading His Word and through prayer to Him. Nothing else is needed.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:23-24

Tomorrow, I will focus on one specific Catholic devotion, the Infant Jesus of Prague.

What’s with all of those little candles at Catholic churches?

As I’ve mentioned before, I listen to an hour of Catholic talk radio daily in order to stay abreast of what’s going on in the Catholic church for the purposes of this blog, although I obviously would not recommend the practice to others as a general rule. I used to listen to a local Catholic talk radio show, “The Catholic Connection,” but their recent decision to revamp their format and refrain from criticizing the church’s hierarchy has made for very dull listening, so I’ve switched to EWTN’s “Called to Communion,” an “outreach” to Protestants and lapsed Catholics.

This morning, I was listening to the 4/3/18 podcast of the “Called to Communion” show featuring moderator, Tom Price, and host, David Anders. A listener, Ken from Camden, Tennessee, called in and asked why Catholics have large candle displays in churches and at shrines. If you visit a Catholic church or a shrine, you’ll notice a large display of small “votive” (definition: “offered or consecrated in fulfillment of a vow”) candles, usually in red glass containers and placed in front of a statue of Jesus, Mary, or some other saint. Votive candles are made available to Catholics visiting a church or shrine. Supplicants contribute an offering into a nearby donation box, take a candle, light it, place it in the display, and then say a prayer to Jesus, Mary, or a saint. But why do Catholics do this, was Ken’s question.

Anders answered that the candles serve as physical signs and reminders that the supplicants’ prayers are going up to God (or to Mary or to a saint). He stated that it’s useful to have physical “props”/sensory objects so that the accompanying sounds, smells, lights, and touches “can help us elevate our minds to the eternal.” In Catholic parlance, candles and other such religious objects are “sacramentals,” supposedly “sacred signs” that bear a resemblance to the sacraments by which people “are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments.”

Anders qualifies his endorsement of candles by saying, “It would be wrong to think of (candles) in a superstitious way, as if the candle kept praying after (the supplicant is) gone.” But, of course, that is the exact thinking of many/most who use these candles.

Catholicism has always conflated the physical with the spiritual and votive candles are just one example in a multitude of many other such practices. In place of a genuine spiritual relationship with God through the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, the Catholic church has substituted ritualism, legalism, and the veneration of objects.

Pious Catholics love the ambiance of burning candles as part of their religious ritual, as if they somehow create an atmosphere of reverence and heightened spirituality. Practitioners believe a burning candle in conjunction with prayer will enhance the effectiveness of the prayer. And, yes, many/most walk away believing the prayer continues as long as the candle burns.

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Votive candles are just part of the elaborate ritualism that developed within the increasingly institutionalized early church. Yes, in the Old Testament there was the lampstand/menorah standing in the Holy Place in Israel’s Tabernacle and Temple, which was a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ as the Light of the World.

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

But there’s no record of ritualistic candle burning in the New Testament. Besides that, nowhere in the entire Bible does a believer pray to anyone other than God. Burning candles while praying or “meditating” is also becoming popular among non-Catholics who are increasingly attracted to Catholic, New Age, and Eastern “mysticism.” We don’t need candles to “enhance” our prayers and we should only be praying to the Lord.

Catholic friend, religious ritualism and formalism do not help you merit Heaven. The Bible says we are all sinners and all of us deserve eternal punishment. But God loves us so much he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this world to live a perfect life and pay the penalty for our sins. But He rose from the grave, conquering sin and death, and offers you the free gift of eternal life if you will just come to Him in prayer, repent of your sin, and accept Him as your Savior by faith alone. Will you trust in Christ?

Is it allowable to use candles in connection with prayer?
https://www.gotquestions.org/prayer-candles.html

Postscript: As an eighth-grade Catholic grammar school student, I remember our class going to the attached church building during school hours for some kind of religious service. In every Catholic church near the “altar” or “tabernacle” box (where surplus consecrated Jesus wafers are stored), burns a large candle in red glass, which is meant to symbolize the perpetual presence of Jesus in the church. The candle must never be allowed to go out. Well, on this particular occasion, our nun-teacher, Sister Virginia, noticed that the flame of the red candle had in fact gone out! She became emotionally frantic and completely discombobulated! From her reaction, you would have thought she was witnessing a four-year-old drowning in a pool. A student would have suffered injury if they had gotten in the way of the nun’s desperate race to relight the candle. It’s this kind of ritualistic, material-minded, superstitious, false spirituality that Catholicism breeds.

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A Catholic church’s red “tabernacle” or “sanctuary” candle must never be allowed to go out

Canadian Catholics flocking to venerate Francis Xavier’s arm?

I was perusing through Catholic news over the weekend and came across the articles far below, which mention the tour of a “relic” of “saint” Francis Xavier, specifically his right arm (see photo above), across Canada this month. Xavier was a co-founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), which was created in 1534 to counter the growing Reformation movement in Europe. Xavier spent the years 1541 to 1552 in India and the Far East, converting tens of thousands of souls to Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. Today he is one of Catholicism’s most celebrated “saints.”

The church defines a relic as “a piece of the body of a saint, an item owned or used by the saint, or an object which has been touched to the tomb of a saint.”

The Catholic church has been collecting relics of “saints” for centuries. Catholics are encouraged to make pilgrimages to sites where relics are displayed in order to venerate and pray to the saint.

The purpose of relics, according to the church, are to “remind (Catholics) of the holiness of a saint and his cooperation in God’s work. At the same time, relics inspire (Catholics) to ask for the prayers of that saint and to beg the grace of God to live the same kind of faith-filled live.”

None of the above is Scriptural. We are to pray to God alone. There’s not one instance in the New Testament when a believer prayed to a dead believer or venerated one of their body parts or personal belongings. Praying to dead people and worshiping aka “venerating” their body parts is blasphemy. See the article, “How should a Christian view relics?,” here.

Xavier’s right arm will be presented for veneration/worship at 26 churches in 15 Canadian cities from Wednesday, January 3rd to Friday, February 2nd.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I wonder what Stephen J. Nichols of Ligonier Ministries thinks about the tour of Xavier’s right arm across Canada? Nichols betrayed the Gospel of grace when he included Xavier as one of the 26 “Heroes of the Faith” in his children’s book, “The Church History ABCs: Augustine and 25 Other Heroes of the Faith.” See here.

Catholic friend, praying to dead saints or their body parts won’t save you. Repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. He is the only way to Heaven.

Question: “Is Jesus the only way to Heaven?”


The holy and uncorrupted arm of St. Francis Xavier is crossing Canada for a two-week tour
The holy and uncorrupted arm of St. Francis Xavier is crossing Canada for a two-week tour

Canadian cities and churches where the relic is scheduled to visit:
https://cco.ca/relic/

Curious minds want to know: Are blessings transferable?

Catholics are taught that their priests are endowed with unique powers to bless material objects. When a priest blesses an object he allegedly imparts spiritual qualities to the item, which then bestow physical and spiritual benefits to the owner. Catholics bring their religious objects like rosaries, crucifixes, candles, medals, scapulars, prayer books, and statues to their parish priest for his blessing. Once an item has been blessed by a priest, it is considered to be a “holy” sacramental. A sacramental that is no longer wanted or is in poor condition may not be disposed of in the trash but must be buried or incinerated. Catholics also arrange for their priests to bless non-religious items like their houses, cars, and boats.

Today I was listening to the 5/12/17 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring moderator Mike Denz and priest host, Dave Baker, taking questions from the listening audience and there was an interesting query about priestly blessings:

Mike Denz: We have a question about blessings from one of our listeners who emailed in. It starts off, “If your car has been blessed and you sell it, does the blessing expire or end with the new owner?”

Priest Baker didn’t sound all too sure in his response but conjectured that the blessing upon the car and anyone who travels in it remains intact even after the transfer of ownership UNLESS the new owner does something “to kick the blessing out” by being involved in a way of life that is “completely out of synch with the spirit of Christ.” Baker admitted that he wasn’t sure in such a case if the blessing leaves immediately or gradually fades away over time.

Denz then referred to the second part of the same listener’s question, which asked why the mandatory rule regarding burying or burning of unneeded or worn out blessed religious objects doesn’t also apply to unwanted homes, cars, boats, motorcycles (or airplanes, farm tractors, space shuttles, nuclear submarines, etc.) that were also blessed?

Priest Baker got a condescending chuckle over that one and patiently explained that religious objects are blessed and “consecrated” as items used in worship while blessed dwellings and vehicles aren’t consecrated and therefore don’t have to be ceremonially disposed of.

Is your head spinning yet? All of these teachings and regulations about blessings are man-made and nowhere to be found in the New Testament. Come out of ritualistic religion and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

Palm Sunday?

Many churches will celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend as a part of their liturgical calendar. But what does it all mean? Here’s a replay of my thoughts on the day from last year.

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“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from thePALM trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna (Deliver us!) to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!'” – Matthew 21:8-9

There’s probably a few out there thinking to themselves, “Oh great. What negative stuff is that excatholic4christ guy going to say about Palm Sunday?” No, let’s not be “negative” but let’s make sure we glorify Jesus Christ in all we say and do!

When Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the crowd spread palm branches on the road, a customary way in those times of honoring a triumphant king returning from battle. They called out “Deliver us!” to this One many were whispering was the long promised Messiah, hoping He would save…

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Is it OK to eat Chicken in a Biskit crackers on Fridays during Lent?

It’s the first Friday of Lent so Catholics are instructed by their church they must abstain from eating any meat today or they will pick up a mortal sin that will doom them to hell. But how exactly does the church define “meat”? It’s not as simple as you might expect. Here’s a post from a year ago that examines the intricacies (and impossibilities) of attempting to follow a legalistic religion.

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This morning I was listening to the 10/30/15 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radiocb show on The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, New York. “Father” Dave Baker was taking questions, assisted by moderator, Mike Denz.

One of the listeners had a question regarding the church’s rule on abstinence from meat on Fridays during Lent, which I thought was quite timely because we’re currently in the Lenten season. Because the Catholic church absolutely forbids meat on Fridays during Lent, any Catholic who defiantly consumes meat commits a “mortal” sin and is doomed to hell for eternity unless they confess the sin to a priest.

But the rule’s not always as cut and dry as a juicy rib-eye steak or a succulent pork chop. The listener wanted to know if the ban on meat even included something like beef bouillon. “Father” Dave suggested that beef bouillon was probably okay to eat…

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Attention everyone! I’m fasting just so you know!

Today is Ash Wednesday for Catholics and the start of Lent on the Catholic liturgical calendar. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I’m re-posting this message from last year.

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I’m about 3.5 months behind in listening to the daily podcasts of the “CallingASB All Catholics” radio show on The Station of the Cross (101.7 FM, in Buffalo, NY) so please excuse me for the untimeliness of the subject matter.

This morning, I was listening to the 02/10/16 podcast featuring Catholic priest, Peter Calabrese. February 10th, Ash Wednesday, was the first day of Lent for Catholics this year and there was some discussion on the program about Lenten fasting and what to “give up” for the season.

Lent always begins on Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation so Catholics are only encouraged to attend mass that day and receive ashes, but they are not required to do so. However, Catholics are required to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday. For Catholics, eating meat on Ash Wednesday is a “mortal” sin and will doom them to hell if they don’t confess…

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