Sneaky Superstition

Friday the 13th is the feast day of superstition. I’m not sure what faith this feast represents, but it isn’t the Catholic faith but something more sneaky, more insidious.

Perhaps you think I’m being a bit severe. Aren’t common superstitions just innocent fun?

Don’t drop that mirror or you’ll have seven years of bad luck.

Don’t walk under a ladder.Beware of black cats.

Hey kids, it is Friday the 13th so don’t leave home without your lucky rabbit’s foot.

Did you read your horoscope today? What about that fortune cookie after the chop suey; are you destined to meet the person of your dreams?

It is all just silly fun, right?

Perhaps, but I recently found superstition creeping into my thinking, which means less room for truth – and God.

In one instance I was fishing in my favorite local lake when a gust of wind blew off my hat and away it went across the lake, never again to grace my homely head. Oh no, there goes my lucky fishing hat, I exclaimed (with emphasis added by a few ungracious words). Did I really think the loss of the hat would change how many fish I catch?

In a second instance, I had written an article about a local couple who have a successful business. A number of factors had combined to make the business successful, which I referred to as a “favorable aligning of the stars”. My volunteer proofreader (AKA faithful Catholic wife) mentioned that the phrase suggested a belief in astrology, so I was able to purify my text even as my mind remained tainted.

Finally, a close friend recently sold a house. Several of her Catholic friends advised her – you guessed it – to bury a statue of St. Joseph upside down in the backyard to ensure the house would sell quickly. My friend declined, perhaps in the knowledge that St. Joseph didn’t know the local real estate market. And there is no record of a line in the Sermon on the Mount that goes “blessed are those who bury an image of my dad in the yard – they shall sell their home at great profit.

My friend did put a statue of St. Joseph on a table in the house to remind her of the blessings of her Catholic faith. The home sold quickly – at a solid price.

Even supposedly devout Catholics stumble into superstition: fortune tellers, palm readers, crystal-ball gazers, Ouija boards, tarot cards, and so on.

So what? The First Commandment is what:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.

When I embrace superstition or a belief in luck, I deny God’s love and diminish my faith in Him. And I need to fill myself with God.

About Jim Fair

Jim Fair is a writer and consultant. He lives in the Chicago area and has a wonderful wife, son and daughter. He enjoys fishing and occasionally catches something. He tries to play the piano and sings a little. In addition to writing for Regnum Christi Live, he blogs at Laughing Catholic. And you can follow him on Twitter: Jim Fair (@fishfair).
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