Can one be Catholic without all the Superstition?

Some of the greatest theology, moral philosophy, and arguments for the existence of God I have read have been written by Catholics, but then I see prayer candles, transubstantiation, scapulars, etc., and I’m wondering if one has to accept all those things as well in order to be a Catholic.

I think these things can be excellent faith devices, I just don’t want to walk around saying they are actually true.

What’s wrong with my thinking? :nerd:

Well, those things are not superstitions. Prayer candles are nothing but a representation, a symbol, of someone’s prayer. It doesn’t aid in making the prayer more powerful or anything like that. Unless someone else sees the candle and prays for the intentions of the one who lit the candle (more people praying, more powerful prayer). Transubstantiation is a philosophical explanation for what we believe happens during the consecration of the Eucharist based on scripture and the teachings of the Early Church Fathers. What is says is that while it may still, on a scientific, physical level, appear to be bread and wine, it is in actuality Jesus (The Real Presence). Scapulars are also a physical object that represents a prayer. It is not magic, and itself has no power. It is simply a symbol of prayer.

I’m glad you have enjoyed some of the writings from Catholics. Read more!:slight_smile: Perhaps.
There are essential “things” one has to believe to profess their faith as Catholic. The
above poster did a great job explaining specifically.

Peace in Christ,

To be less specific, to be Catholic, you must profess that:

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

This is the Nicene creed, if you don’t recognize it. Some further remarks:
*]consubstantial means of the same substance or being (meaning the Son and the Father are both one in the being of God)
*]catholic meaning universal
*]apostolic meaning that our beliefs stem from the teachings of Jesus to the apostles, and from the apostles to their successors, and more specifically through the successors of Peter

Also, the Apostles creed:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

*]communion of saints being the collective Body of Christ of those on earth and in heaven.

If you can “see” transubstantiation and do not accept it, then you reject Jesus Christ. I do not believe that is the case. Can it be that you do not understand each of these things? You really need a copy of Catholicism for Dummies. It will explain each of these, and many more subjects, in an easily understood manner. Afterward, if you still desire to, you may criticize the Church from a position of knowledge if it.

In your personal prayer life, using prayer candles or scapulars would be completely optional. You would never even have to say a rosary in your entire life, if you didn’t want to (although you probably wouldn’t have a good grasp on why the church allows those items if you did). Transubstantiation, on the other hand, is a core dogma of Catholicism. There is no room for negotiation on that. Either you believe some lesser form of presence occurs (such as the Lutherans), or that it’s just symbolic (like most Protestants). That’s one of the main differences in our denominations.

I love this response, concise and accurate, thank you for taking the time to respond so appropriately.

To be a Catholic, one is expected to…

  1. Observe the Precepts of the Church as a minimal standard (i.e., more is better)

  2. Participate in the sacramental life of the Church in accordance with Canon Law (for example, not to get married “outside of the Church”)

  3. Accept the doctrines/dogmas of the Church as truths revealed by God. Doctrines/dogmas of the Church are officially defined teachings pertaining to faith and morals.

Many devotional practices that Catholics use to enhance their prayer life (such as the candles and scapulars you mentioned) do not come under one of these topics, and are therefore optional. Transubstantiation, however, is a doctrine and is to be embraced as truth. If a Catholic thinks that a doctrine of the Church is not feasible or unrealistic, he is to put aside his personal opinion and place his faith in the Magisterium (i.e., the teaching office of the Church) because the Magisterium has a guaranteed guidance of the Holy Spirit in defining matters pertaining to faith and morals, while the average person does not. Although the Holy Spirit does, indeed, provide wisdom and guidance beyond the Magisterium, people are also subject to other influences such as sin, personal desires & expectations, etc., so there is no guarantee that their conclusions about faith and morals are “God’s own”.

A baptized Catholic who engages in a persistent denial of doctrine/dogma is in danger of being in a state of heresy. But, as I stated above, this would not (generally speaking) include devotional practices.

To begin with, you don’t know what you’re talking about and that’s not meant to be an insult, you just are obviously not educated in these things.

You want to go around saying transubstantiation isn’t true? Why, because Jesus lied when He said This is my Body.…?

Candles. You can ignore the candles all you want, but they do not involve your insulting reference to “superstition.” The candles you see in the church are representative of people’s prayer intentions (I presume you believe in the power of prayer) - the cost and time are a small sacrifice, but the presence of them is something we recognize as representing the hopes, the problems, the needs, the pain and the gratitude of others and so we pray for those as well as for ourselves. I don’t need to know what that candle represents that I am offering a prayer for, because God does. (I also presume you believe in God’s omniscience.)

All the rest is also something you should try to become educated about. You don’t want to wear a scapular or carry a prayer card or pray a Rosary, that’s up to you. But the real point is you seem to think as much as you admire how wise everyone is writing about theology, they all got really really stupid (at least not as smart you) about all these other things.

The church of Jesus Christ has always been faithful to the true Presence of Christ in the bread and wine as they are, by the power of God, transformed into His Body and Blood. Always. For 1500 years, longer actually, no one ever doubted. This is the Church. It’s all real. The miracles really happen, people who have passed really do help us out and we them and the Kingdom of God is right here.

That’s hard and fast reality. If you can’t accept it, the one living in a dream world is you.

Short answer, one is not compelled to believe in any particular manifestation apparation so on and so forth. At the same time, in the peace and unity etc. one wouldn’t be welcome to run around trying to tell everyone they are silly.

As a general direction I encourage you to study into the Jewish roots of the Catholic faith. From personal experience therein lies the answer to much of this.

That said…If I said to you that I had brought you a cloth that had been blessed by a Christian leader for the purpose of working a miracle with it would you call it superstitious ? Yet this was from apostolic times in Acts. If I carved an image and asked you to look towards it in hopes of miraculous healing would it be superstition ? Yet thats what happened with the bronze serpent. If I asked you to worship praying toward carved images of celestial beings surrounding the focal point the presence of God would that be wrong ? Yet that is precisely what the Jewish temple worship was. The focal point, the Most Holy was carved angels on the ark, first embroidered angels on the fabric of the tabernacle and then later in the temple carved angels filling the room. The temple was covered in gold and precious gems too, just like Christian churches were places of beauty. The mitre, turban, head piece and ornate robes vestments ] of Jewish priests mirror the same in the Catholic faith. Candles and incense likewise come from that. Liturgical worship, recited prayers, all descend from the faith of Judaism. Even the liturgical readings, like when Christ read from Isaiah in the Synagogue, that was the appointed reading for that day. If I were to suggest that a miracle could occur from the relics of a deceased would that be superstitious yet thats what happened in the Bible when the deceased man was put in Elishas tomb. And if I told you to go to the tomb of someone deceased for centuries for a miracle or sign to confirm what I told you would that be superstitious yet thats what Samuel told Saul to do and he went to the tomb of Rachel. Sprinkling with blessed water, holy water, to sanctify places and objects, have you ever read the usual consecration methods of the israelites for the temple and its objects, for homes and things. Just be glad only water is used today and not blood as well.

Just food for thought… It really is a different way of understanding from what I grew up thinking as a protestant.

You’d have to take one thing at a time a try to understand it really. If you can see the mountains even from a distance, the streams and trees will become clearer up close.

What’s wrong with your thinking? In my humble opinion, not much.:slight_smile: You have laid out for analyzation some of the visible things associated with Catholicism.

Before I forget. The book, Rome Sweet Home by Scott & Kimberly Hahn is a fascinating insight of two great personalities. Its interesting tale was written before Scott Hahn became famous.

Back to your listed items. First, Transubstantiation is part of the greatest theology ever – God exists!

God as Creator has a personal relationship with His unique creature, the human person. Being supernatural, Jesus Christ True God is free to choose the mode in which He will be personally present to created humanity. Shortly, we will celebrate Christmas where Jesus Christ True God was born with the nature of True Man. (Hypostatic Union) Catholic Theology continues with the free choice of Jesus Christ to remain present on earth not within a human body, but within or under the characteristics of bread and wine. This is Transubstantiation.

The basic theology of the Existence of God is fulfilled with the Presence of God in the Catholic Eucharist.

The difference between superstition and a faith device is how a person chooses to use the object and/or practice. When prayer cards or scapulars represent trust in God or trust that one can communicate with God, then these are seen as based on the theological truth that God exists and does personally care about each individual. In themselves, a piece of paper or a piece of cloth does not hold power. This is in contrast to superstition where an object has power. Note: some Catholics do go overboard with a particular prayer card, etc. Don’t pay any attention to that. Look to the essential theology that God loves us with an everlasting love.

We can rule out Transubstantiation as a superstition or a faith device because it follows from theology.

You don’t have to draw profit from any sacramental, but it’s important to respect people who do. It’s important to recognize them in their historical/spiritual context.*

You do have to accept doctrine.

Not being able to distinguish doctrine from a sacramental implies that, specifically, the thing that is wrong with your thinking is that you haven’t educated yourself enough to make the decision to “take” or “leave” something as profitable/unprofitable.

  • Prayer candles, for example, are a symbol of the light of faith, the Light of Christ, etc. Wearing a scapular around your shoulders calls to mind how Christ’s “yoke is sweet and his burden light”. The particular scapular you wear helps call to mind a particular aspect of spirituality that appeals to the individual… someone with a special devotion to the Passion of Christ may wear a red scapular; someone with a more Carmelite spirituality may wear the brown scapular; etc.

Superstition is --well superstition and so is* rejected by the Catholic Church*.

Authentic teaching and devotion though are not superstition.

On the question of transubstantion…

John 6 whole chapter. Those who left Christ were those who could not believe it

I can’t really ‘top’ what most everyone has so eloquantly explained about sacramentals …and Church Doctrine…you may not realize it but you are making many of us cringe with your question/comment…To question…is good…to investigate things we don’t understand is also good…you ask…;.‘what is wrong w/ my thinking’…that leads me to think that you really want to know…ignorance of any topic is not bad in and of itself…but I think that we owe it to ourselves to thorougly examine something that we are interested in…If you are not Catholic…or perhaps you grew up in a nominally Catholic household…(which ofcourse is no fault of yours)…please pray pray and read read …If you are not Catholic and are merely visiting this site to feel things out…I am only guessing…then please know that becoming Catholic is not like joining some club…I have a few friends married to spouses that converted to Catholism by virtue of their marriage…some of them really have truly embraced Catholicism and except all of the Church’s teachings…others really bother me with their attitudes regarding many of the Churches teachings…but , ofcourse it isn’t for me to judge…There is sooo much to appreciate about our beautiful Church…PAX

I think that you ask a good question. I breezed through a few of the responses and as usual they are quite good. That said…i might repeat some things…

As someone else pointed out already - none of these things are “superstition”. Rather they are Church approved teachings (in the case of transubstantiation) or Church approved private devotions.
The important thing to differentiate is between what is part of the necessary deposit of faith, and what is basically a pious, but private, devotion.
Of the three things that you list above, one - transubstantiation - is a necessary belief and dogma of the Church. That Christ is really and truly present in the the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
The other two things, Candles and Scapulars, are considered private devotions. They are things approved by the Church, even encouraged by the Church, but they are not required.

THIS SITE lists the Dogmas of the Church and of course the Catechism provides a lot of good information.

I suspect that you , like myself, like to keep things simple…As such, I do not avail myself of some of the private devotions that are common among my fellow Catholics. Some say that I restrict the flow of graces - I do not feel that is the case. I accept these approved private devotions as beneficial. Some I am drawn toward, others not so much.

Anyway - I’m rambling…
If there are particular items that you wonder about besides the three you’ve listed…just ask and we will try to enlighten.


Quite a bit actually…

Others have well explained the candles, and scapulars are simply a sacramental, but neither are “superstitions”.

Transubstantiation is a 50 cent term that helps describe the actual miracle of the Eucharist. I suggest that you have a look at my blog article called The Eucharist IS Scriptural and perhaps invest some time in the EWTN series Catholicism by Fr. Robert Barron particularly the 7th episode where he talks about the Mass and the Eucharist. I just saw it last night in a class that my parish is hosting and I believe it would much better inform your thinking.

Better still you might consider investing in the book that follows the series if you are serious about the Catholic faith.,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01.jpg
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First of all, I’m rather ashamed of the tendency of modern Catholics to duck all accusations of superstition by reducing things like sacramentals to mere symbols. If the thought of a medal being able to drive away demons troubles you, then how can you abide by the thought that mere bread becomes God? The OP is actually being more consistent than a lot of you. That being said, yes OP, the Church’s traditional teaching does state that medals and such can convey grace and, in colloquial terms, have powers — not in virtue of themselves and their shapes or whatnot, but in virtue of the prayers said over them. These prayers are called constitutive blessings, and essentially consist of an object being consecrated to God for certain uses and effects. The Church has been given authority to do this. So they are not superstitious but rather, to put it simply, prayers connected to physical objects. This consecration is also the reason why it is considered sacrilege to destroy or otherwise disrespect these objects. They become sacred.

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