Strange mix of Catholic/occult?


#1

Yesterday I drove into town and for the first time noticed a storefront that “creeped me out” for lack of a better term. The signage in the window was in Spanish (we have a large Hispanic minority in town) that said something like this (according to my limited knowledge of Spanish):

Saint Michael’s
Tarot card readings
and other spiritual practices

In the window were statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary, etc. — things that looked very Catholic.

I was in a meeting with my pastor later in the day (on a different matter) and he mentioned that there have been sacred Hosts found on the floor, on the ground, etc. in our church and in a couple of other local churches, and that it might be related to this Hispanic version of what he likened to “voodoo.” Apparently they make a hollow in statues and place non-Christian spiritual stuff inside. People are making altars in their homes with this stuff.

Has anyone heard of this? Where is it coming from?


#2

Check out the post in this section titled “Why did I find this in my cross?”


#3

Consider that much of the Americas received missionaries from the church, and for centuries these missionaries worked to welcome people of many faiths into the church. One of the results of this contact is religious syncretism, a situation where people merge religious beliefs to form new ones. The early church incorporated certain dates of pagan feasts into the church calendar to ease the transition into Christianity, so this practice is not unknown in the Catholic church as well.

The crucial difference that you’ve noticed is that these syncretic faiths, in the ‘St. Michael’s Psychic Parlor’ sense, are still fundamentally polytheistic, and have adopted the outward symbolism of the church onto their pre-existing cosmologies. Their ‘St. Michael’ represents only the triumph of some sort of power, not the triumph of God. Where Catholics rightfully view Saints as servants of God who can be relied on for intercession and help, and that they ultimately exist only to serve God, syncretic faiths pick, choose, and invent in order to to glorify the particular attributes of that saint. Santeria, Candomble, and other Caribbean syncretisms use Catholic saints as almost a visual shorthand to continue their own faith tradition in a different context.

For instance, Santeria combines west African (modern Nigeria) Yoruba worship of “Orisha” (loosely, their gods and goddesses, although ‘spirit’ would probably be more accurate) with Catholic symbolism. If a particular Orisha was, say, considered to be female and to be allied with the snake, a statue of the BVM standing atop a snake would be used to continue traditional worship disguised as catholicism, and over time the BVM would be adopted into this cosmology in a completely different form that Catholics know her.

The same thing happened in Mexico with the melding of Aztec religious imagery and Catholicism. Everyone is familiar with the Day of the Dead, in which tribute is made to ancestor’s graves on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days; this is a continuation of a festival for an Aztec female death deity, Mictecacihuatl, appropriated for Catholic Mexico.

What does this all mean? That depends. On one hand, you have to admire the resourcefulness of a group of people practicing their religion under duress from authorities seeking to suppress it; our symbolism of fish and anchor crosses, Irish penal rosaries, and others spring fro our own history of persecution. At the same time, any religion that asks spirits for favors both good and ill makes me deeply uneasy. A case in point is the latest manifestation of Mictecacihuatl, the cult of Santa Muerte, or “Saint Death.” In recent years, a veneration of Santa Muerte has arisen, most notably among Mexico City’s criminal element, and has spread rapidly amongst Mexican and Mexican diaspora communities.

This is disturbing because people pray to Santa Muerte for things they can’t pray to other saints for, like revenge, money, earthly power, harm on one’s enemies, etc. In other words, bad things no Catholic saint would condone. The Church in Mexico has openly condemned this cult as demon worship, yet popular devotion to Santa Muerte (depicted as a robed skeleton, often the Grim Reaper) has continued and even grown. Just as some gangs use Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe sometimes as a gang emblem or prison code, Santa Muerte takes catholic faith and twists it into something else entirely.

Sorry for the long post, but it was a good question!


#4

Here is another example of why the Church needs good catechists and a program of apologetics. The bishops should encourage RCIA classes; they are not just for converts. These practices weaken the Church and give bad example.


#5

Thanks for your great answer. Since my original post, I did some searching online and concluded that it probably had something to do with Santeria.

One more question, since you seem to be knowledgeable … What if anything might this have to do with stealing/desecration of the Eucharist?


#6

I wonder, too.

I am also getting very, very tired of the way Catholicism has been watered down by rampant ‘feelgoodism.’ :frowning:


#7

I don’t know what purpose there would be for stealing the eucharist; the only conclusion I think anyone could come up with would be “for no good end.” At best, it would spring from a total ignorance of or disrespect for the core religious beliefs of someone of a different faith. At worst, it would be for some act in willful malice against the church.

I don’t think any syncretic religion is “watered down” Catholicism, though. It is a different religion, plain and simple. Watered down Catholicism is no Catholicism at all.


#8

They want a consecrated host because, deep down, they know that the Catholic Church is the true Church.


#9

continuation - sorry - and that the host is the true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.


#10

Guards. (Go for Swiss, if you can, none better! :stuck_out_tongue: )

But, yes. Security, gotta amp it up. The heathen is coming into your sacred place! Committing sacrilege and blasphemy!

( :smiley: You could always hold vigils every night.)

I may not be addressing the root of the issue, but the root of the issue should have been sorted out five hundred years ago…Well…four hundred.

The diabolic influence over these cults is very apparent, just as their misuse of Catholic iconography is clearly intended towards the sin of Scandal.

And StLucy, your latter point is precicely why they do such things (So long as their action is indeed desecration, and not something more obscure). They’re lashing out at their enemy, sadly, Jesus.

Hah! Did I mention prayer? Right, let that be suggestion #1. Move the Swiss guards down to # 2.


#11

That is not Catholic… I suggest you stay away from this stuff…

do you know about the Santa Muerte devotion in Mexico… I’m sure there are many great Hispanic and Mexican Catholics but there are also those who mix in non Christian stuff… Santa Muerte devotion is basically worshipping death, they think there’s a “Saint Death”. But the Church has really spoken against this.

So it’s best to stick to approved Church devotions, etc. :slight_smile: can’t go wrong there. Tarot card reading etc is considered part of the occult and is actually a serious sin.


#12

Great idea! Are there any Swiss guards for hire? My husband is of Swiss descent, but he doesn’t believe in God (yet). Maybe someday … he’d look great in the Swiss Guard uniform!


#13

We got an ad for something weird like that, for a palmist or fortuneteller…I threw it out so I don’t remember, but it had Our Lady of Guadaloupe on it, and the name mixed Catholic and occult elements. It was disturbing to say the least.:shrug:


#14

Update … Apparently our pastor is taking this seriously (it is Santeria that is at the root of what is going on).

This past Saturday our pastor, associate pastor, and deacon reconsecrated our church and went around blessing various locations on the church grounds.

One of the priests offered prayers at Sunday Mass for the protection of our church and parishioners against evil forces. And, lest we point fingers at the Hispanic members of our community, he exhorted all of us to get rid of all dreamcatchers, crystals, ouija boards, consultation of horoscopes, etc.

He also came into all the CCD classes and blessed all the classrooms, students, and teachers (complete with holy water and incense).


#15

Philothea, sounds like you’ve got an excellent pastor.

Perhaps you can get a group to pray before the Blessed Sacrament regularly for the expulsion of Santeria and the occult in general from your town. The Rosary and other Marian prayers (the Litany of Loreto is another good one) are highly effective since Our Lady crushes the head of Satan.


#16

Sounds like your pastor is on point. Santeria is some serious business. I grew up around the stuff for a good part of my life and it is no laughing matter.

In the past, I have had to deal with people who have been trying to get away from Santeria or avoid its influence. I usually suggest, like others have said, frequent visits to the sacraments, prayer (especially to St. Michael and Our Lady), and trying to keep your life in a state of grace. This is especially true if you are trying to remove it from an area. One can expect some challenges. It is nothing that cannot be overcome, but remember you are facing the adversary and his minions. They tend to be a bit stubborn. I would strongly suggest that the parish pray together to accomplish this goal.

Pax tecum.


#17

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