Casting Lots

I was wondering how the Church feels about casting lots.

Justin buys a twenty-sided die to interpret the Lord’s will. So, for starters, he uses it to determine whether he should go into the priesthood. Saying a quick prayer, he rolls the die to find out what God’s will is.

**Advisable or morally suspect?
There seems to be some biblical support for the practice:

Then again, some other verses also come to mind:

So what’s the verdict? If Justin wants to carry around a mystical die by which he can determine the will of God, is he in the clear?[/FONT]

It’s true, there is plenty of biblical support for casting lots in the bible.

I’m not sure it’s a good practice for us though… I also think that it’s an attempt to dodge our personal responsibility for the decisions we make. Aren’t we meant to pray and use discernment? I’m also pretty sure there’s something in the catechism preventing us from trying to read the future. This seems like a form of divination/superstition to me and your third quote seems to pretty much cover this.

At the end of the day though, I really don’t know with any certainty… I just know I wouldn’t try it as I’d feel I was being presumptuous to suppose that I could determine that my roll of the dice was God’s will… rather than a simple turn of the dice.


I don’t think it’s wrong, but I’ve tried stuff like that before. I’ve asked God, “so I’m going to toss this coin 3 times, and if such and such is your will, let tails come up 3 times in a row.” Hasn’t worked yet. Gave up on stuff like this long ago. :shrug:

Casting lots and the like, in and of itself, is not divination. What makes it divination is when you expect hidden or preternatural forces to decide the lot, so that you may learn future or hidden things which God has not made known. Divination is an act of distrust in God.

God can, if he chooses, work through otherwise arbitrary or mechanical means to communicate his will. If he has ordained something for this purpose, and someone uses it for that purpose, it is not divination.

That said, I don’t think there are any divinely ordained “lots” in the present era. God expects us to rely on the wisdom he gave us, the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and the teachings of the Magisterium. Flipping a coin to discover God’s will is, in my opinion, rather dubious.

I’m not a gambler by choice, but
it says that a Lot’s every decision is
“from the Lord” Prov. 16:33

When Justin explains this to the vocation director in his diocese, a more rigorous process of discernment may begin.

See also this:
USBBC: Information for Men Discerning Vocations

I had a couple of thoughts on this. My first thought is basically what was already said here:

The other thought that came to mind goes along with what AD said above. If we compare your example of Justin’s casting of lot to go into the priesthood with Acts 1:26 you are comparing apples to oranges. Along with what AD mentions above, the St. Peter already used the wisdom given to him from Jesus and the gift of the holy spirit in Acts 1:15-16. As well as the Magisterium’s teaching in regards to the interpretation of the old testament. Acts 1:20. At this point he had already come to the decision that another should take his place. The lot was only cast to determine which one of the 2. So to compare apples to apples Justin would only cast the lot to determine which seminary he should attend after he himself already made the decision to enter the priesthood.

Just my 2 cents. :slight_smile:

It’s one thing for the Jewish high priests and the apostles to cast lots after much prayer and thanksgiving, and for the greater good of the whole people, but where is the permission for an individual to demand an instant answer from God?

If this practice was allowed, why aren’t all Jews and Christians carrying a mystical die, or coin to flip, in our pockets? What’s to prevent us abusing this mystical die? If we don’t get the answer we want… do we go best of three, or best of five, or wait half an hour and try again? What’s to stop this mystical die from being tampered with, as we all know there are demonic forces at work in the world? And what would be the point of the ‘battle’ of prayer that the catechism mentions?

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Since Pentecost, God’s Holy Spirit came upon each of us - bearing gifts. These gifts are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. The gift of counsel, which is not simply prudence, as anybody can have that, it’s something more. It allows us to judge rightly what we should do …and when it’s used with the other gifts, like wisdom, understanding, knowledge, it keeps us on the right path towards God.

2847 The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man,152 and temptation, which leads to sin and death.153 We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a “delight to the eyes” and desirable,154 when in reality its fruit is death.

God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings. . . . There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us.155 

In my opinion, we’ve been given these gifts to use, and this act would be a rejection of many, if not all, of those gifts. The parable of the talents springs to mind… even though it may not even be relevant to this discussion.

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