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 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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the 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…
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.
This morning I was listening to the 10/30/15 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radio 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…
I’m about 3.5 months behind in listening to the daily podcasts of the “Calling 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…
This morning I was listening to the 1/13/17 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show broadcast on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY, with Catholic priest, Dave Baker, and moderator, Mike Denz, taking questions from listeners.
Towards the end of the show, Mike read a question sent in from “Kim” in Rochester, NY regarding the brown scapular. But first, a little background:
Catholic tradition posits that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Carmelite friar, Simon Stock, in Aylesford, England in 1251 and presented him and his religious order with a brown scapular (a ceremonial apron), proclaiming, “the one who dies in it will be saved.” A smaller version of the scapular, basically two strings with patches of wool on each end that is draped over the head and rests on the shoulders (see photo of Catholic traditionalist, Mel Gibson, wearing his scapular), was created in the late-1500s so that lay people could also benefit from the scapular. A priest must first bless the scapular in order for it to transmit its advantages to the wearer. Untold millions of Catholics have worn the small, brown scapular over the last 430 years, believing that wearing the sacramental would earn or help earn their salvation as the Marian apparition had allegedly promised.
Okay, now let’s get back to Kim’s question. She asked, “If you have the brown scapular but you are having surgery and aren’t allowed to wear it, do the protections and benefits that it provides still apply if something happens?”
Priest Dave and Mike discussed this one for several minutes and concluded that while it’s extremely important to wear the scapular in order to gain Mary’s promise of salvation, there are probably some circumstances when it’s permissible to remove it temporarily such as during surgery, taking a shower, or while swimming. However, they acknowledged that some priests would advise that the benefits of the scapular would only be in effect if it was being worn. Dave and Mike also made sure to add in that the scapular wouldn’t do a person any good if they weren’t following the other teachings of the church. Dave also said that if a scapular becomes worn out, it can be replaced with a new one which does not need to be blessed. The blessing of the old one is grandfathered to the new. But hold on!!!! If the wearer of a brown Carmelite scapular switches to a different color scapular (red, black, blue, white, or green), Dave said they will need to have a priest bless the new one because each of the different colored scapulars has its own distinct protocols. Got that? Are you dizzy yet?
Can this ex-Catholic and born-again follower of Jesus Christ ask just a couple of questions?
1) Dave and Mike said a person needs to be following the prescribed teachings of the church for the scapular to be effective, but if a Catholic were already following the teachings of the church – receiving the sacraments and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules – why would they need a scapular? Well, in works-righteous Catholicism the thinking goes that every little bit helps.
2) Dave opines an individual who dies without the scapular can still earn the promise of salvation if it was removed for a “legitimate” reason (surgery, swimming, showering, etc.), but other priests disagree and say the promise is null and void as soon as the scapular is removed. Who is right?
If you’re a blood-bought, born-again follower of Jesus Christ, you know all of the above is sheer anti-Scriptural superstition. But to a Roman Catholic trying to merit their way to Heaven, it all makes perfect sense.
“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:6-8
Come out of religious legalism and ritualism and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.