Roman Catholics and the “Sign of the Cross”

One of the most common and distinguishing practices of Roman Catholics is the sign of the cross. Surely, I must have addressed this practice after 5.5 years of blogging and 1844 posts, right? Wrong. I searched my archives and couldn’t find a single post dedicated to it. Okay, let’s finally examine the ubiquitous sign of the cross.

The Roman Catholic church considers the sign of the cross to be a “sacramental,” something not as powerful as a sacrament, but still very helpful. The church officially defines sacramentals as “holy things or actions of which the church makes use to obtain for us from God, through her intercession, spiritual and temporal favors.”

In making the sign of the cross, a Catholic touches the fingers of the right hand to the forehead, to the chest, and to both shoulders while saying or silently invoking the trinitarian formula: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The sign of the cross is a self-blessing. Catholics are taught that this self-blessing will accord to them favors and protections. Catholics will reflexively practice this ritual while attending mass or other Catholic religious services. It’s believed that using “holy water” blessed by a priest in conjunction with the sign of the cross will increase the blessings. Holy water fonts are strategically located near the doorways of Catholic churches and congregants routinely dip their fingers into the fonts and bless themselves as they enter and exit the church. Outside of church, it’s common for Catholics to perform the sign of the cross during difficult and threatening circumstances. Catholics believe the sign will protect them from evil spirits and danger. In that respect, the sign of the cross is a superstitious prop in the same manner as a pagan rabbit’s foot, charm, or juju. How many movies have you seen in which a Catholic character is in dangerous circumstances and unthinkingly makes the sign of the cross upon themselves?

The sign of the cross self-blessing has its origins in the early church. Church “fathers” Tertullian and Athanasius mention it in their writings. As the early church became increasingly institutionalized, the clergy class accorded to itself increasingly greater powers including the supposed abilities to administer the sacraments and to efficaciously bless people, objects, and events. We can piece together from the writings of the “fathers” that pastors/bishops began the practice of “blessing” their congregations by tracing the sign of the cross in the air while reciting the trinitarian formula. The lay congregants responded by blessing themselves in conjunction with the clergy’s blessing, the more crosses the better, and also blessed themselves on occasions when the clergy wasn’t present. What started out as a somewhat “innocent” practice was ritualized and devolved into rank superstition.

What are we to make of the sign of the cross self-blessing? There is no mention of the ritual in the New Testament. A symbol of the cross of Christ, whether material or traced in the air with the hand, has no special powers. Roman Catholicism has a myriad of other sacramentals besides the sign of the cross including physical crosses aka “crucifixes,” rosaries, statuary, scapulars, medals, candles, etc., etc. These are all facets of Catholicism’s false salvation system that’s ultimately based upon sacramental grace and merit. In contrast, Gospel Christians preach the genuine Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus Christ is our Savior, Lord, and ever-present Shepherd. Born-again believers do not need sacramentals, which are superstitious pagan amulets by another name.

Catholic friend, come out of works-religion and superstition. Repent (turn from your sinful rebellion against God), trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone, and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

father son holy spirit gifs, john boehner gifs, thumbs up gifs, sign of the cross gifs

Above: Former U.S. Speaker of the House and “devout” Roman Catholic, John Boehner, casually demonstrates the sign of the cross.

Sign of the cross – what is the meaning?

Throwback Thursday: Worshiping Jesus’ heart?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on April 30th, 2016 and has been revised.


Seeing the article far below about the popular “devotion” within Catholicism to Jesus’ “sacred heart” brought back memories. I grew up as a Roman Catholic in the 1960s and 1970s and back then there were a lot of sacramentals in our home and in the homes of our friends and extended family. Crucifixes, statues, rosaries, and palm fronds were frequently displayed. It was taught that sacramentals blessed by a priest brought good luck to a house and to those who dwelt inside.

One popular statue that didn’t appeal to me at all was the statue of Jesus with his heart exposed. Why worship one of Jesus’s organs? Even to my young, credulous mind it seemed that worshiping a body organ was going beyond reasonable religious piety.

The practice of worshiping Jesus’s heart had some earlier advocates, but gained great popularity in the late 17th-century when a French nun, Margaret Mary Alacoque, claimed Jesus appeared to her several times and instructed her on the rubrics of the sacred heart devotion. The alleged Jesus apparition promised several special graces to those who worshiped his sacred heart. Most significantly, to those who went to mass and received communion on the first Friday of each month for nine consecutive months in honor of his sacred heart, the Jesus apparition promised “the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.” In other words, following the “Sacred Heart First Fridays” formula was a ticket to Heaven.

Catholicism has several other salvation formulas involving the wearing of scapulars and medals, saying the rosary, practicing the Five First Saturdays, etc., etc., etc.

Worshiping one of Jesus’s body parts is idolatry. Nowhere in the Gospels or the epistles does it insinuate that we should worship Jesus’ heart or any other of His body parts. No one will go to Heaven by engaging in religious rituals for nine months or any other period of time. They’re all just man-made, anti-Biblical traditions. God’s Word says we must repent of our sin and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone. Put religious rituals and formulas aside. Accept Jesus as your Savior by faith. Trust in Him alone.

Legalistic Rabbit Hole Question: If a Catholic observed six Sacred Heart First Fridays in a row, but came down with a bad case of the flu on week #7 and couldn’t attend mass, would they have to start all over again or could they continue the streak intact the following month? Just asking.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

5 Things Catholics Should Know About First Fridays: Learn about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the graces that come from observing First Fridays

Postscript: Many, many Catholic churches across the country are named “Sacred Heart.”

Throwback Thursday: The Miraculous Medal

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 6, 2016 and has been substantially revised.


In previous posts, we’ve looked at several Catholic “sacramentals,” including the rosary and divine mercy chaplet, holy water, the scapular, St. Christopher’s medal, and the Agnus Dei locket.

The Catholic church defines sacramentals as “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.”

Simply, without the ecclesiastical gobbledygook, Catholics believe they will receive great blessings and ward off evil spirits by using sacramentals.

Another popular sacramental is the Miraculous Medal. Catholic tradition has it that Mary visited French mystic, saint Catherine Laboure, in 1830, giving her the precise design for this medal and promising that all who wore the medal would “receive great graces.”

Properties of the medal include:

Front side:

  • Mary stands on a globe, crushing a serpent beneath her feet. Describing the original vision, Catherine said the Blessed Mother appeared radiant as a sunrise, “in all her perfect beauty.”
  • Rays shoot out from Mary’s hands, which she told Catherine, “symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them.”
  • Words from the vision form an oval frame around Mary: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

Reverse side

  • A cross-and-bar surmounts a large, bold “M.”
  • Twelve stars disperse around the perimeter.
  • Two hearts are depicted underneath the “M,” the left lapped with a crown of thorns, the right skewed by a sword. From each, a flame emanates from the top*

The medal is a stark example of how the Catholic church unabashedly replaces the Lord God with Mary in its worship and devotion.

Followers of the Miraculous Medal cult attribute many miraculous healings and blessings to the wearing of the medal. Pope John Paul II was an ardent devotee of the medal.

In his book, “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” (2014, Crossway), evangelical theologian, Gregg Allison, examined the Catholic “nature-grace interconnection,” whereby it is taught that God’s grace is conferred by the Catholic church through nature (priests, sacraments, sacramentals, shrines, relics, etc.). Catholic “faith” is connected to concrete objects and rituals, which purportedly confer grace and enable the owner/participant to better obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules in order to merit Heaven. See my review of Allison’s book here.

The Catholic church readily admits its sacramentals are rooted in pagan talismans and amulets (see here). Citizens of pagan Rome were passionate believers in good-luck charms and the increasingly institutionalized church simply “christianized” the practice. There is no mention of believers using charms or amulets in the Bible.

My Savior, Jesus Christ, paid the entire debt for my mountain of sin. I am so incredibly grateful!!! My Shepherd guides me throughout the day and I lean on Him. I place all my trust in Him. He’s my Rock. My Life. My Everything. The Holy Spirit indwells me and sustains me from moment to moment. My Lord directs my paths. It would never even occur to me to turn to a religious charm or amulet or to someone other than my Lord.

There is no salvation in physical religious ritual. The only way to God’s salvation is by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

“But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” – John 1:12

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23-24

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” – John 6:63

See here for more posts on sacramentals.

*The properties of the medal that are listed here are taken from the Wikipedia article. See here.

Throwback Thursday: An Early Catholic Rabbit’s Foot

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 15, 2015 and has been revised.


Although the use of sacramentals in the Roman Catholic church isn’t what it was back in the 1960s when I was going to Catholic grammar school, sacramentals are still quite popular. What’s a sacramental? According to the Baltimore Catechism, sacramentals are “anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to increase devotion, and through these movements of the heart to remit venial sin.” Sacramentals include blessed crucifixes, rosaries, scapulars, religious pictures, medals, holy water, liturgical candles, statues, and palm fronds.

Let’s now look at a once very popular sacramental that has fallen a bit out of favor; the Agnus Dei. The Agnus Dei (Latin for “Lamb of God”) is a piece of beeswax taken from a paschal candle blessed by the pope and used previously at the Basilica of St. Peter or in one of the papal chapels that has been embossed with an image of a lamb bearing a cross or pennant. It is usually encased in a small locket and worn around the neck (photo above). Catholic vendors claim that those who carry or venerate the blessed Agnus Dei are promised protection from “tempests, lighting, fire, water, malice of demons, adversity, pestilence, sickness, and sudden death.” It also allegedly protects “women bearing children that they may be preserved from all harm and are favored with a happy delivery.” See here.

Church tradition has the Agnus Dei sacramental making its first appearance in the 5th-century, making it one of the oldest of the church’s sacramental objects. But there’s actually no written record of the Agnus Dei until the 9th-century. Catholic apologists readily admit that the Agnus Dei was a “christianized” replacement for pagan charms and amulets “from which the ruder populace were weaned by the enjoyment of this Christian substitute blessed by prayer.”*

The Agnus Dei, like the church’s other sacramentals, is essentially a Catholic rabbit’s foot, allegedly warding off evil and eliciting good fortune.

Relatively few Catholics read the Bible, but if they did they would be surprised that there is absolutely no mention of Jesus or His followers ever using religious charms or talismans. Neither were amulets used by the faithful Israelites of the Old Testament. Rather, such objects were always linked to pagan sorcery. As early Christianity transitioned into the institutionalized, official state religion of the Roman Empire, it adapted many of the practices of the pagan religion which preceded it. Simple faith in Jesus Christ devolved into ritualism, legalism, and “christianized” superstition, all tightly controlled by an increasingly powerful clerical class.

Can any believer who knows God’s Word with any degree of intimacy possibly imagine Jesus Christ passing out “blessed” charms and amulets to His followers?

Thank you, Father, for freeing me from religious superstition and saving me by Your grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone!

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church where the Gospel of grace is preached without compromise.

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you.” – Deuteronomy 18: 9-12

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23-24

*Agnus Dei article, Catholic Encyclopedia.

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.


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.


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, 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

Our Lady of Victory church in Prague, Czech Republic – Official website

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.


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?

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.

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: