A patron saint for rejecting the occult
Christians are strictly forbidden to dabble in the occult. Poor old King Saul went off his chump after consulting a medium—the witch of Endor—and much the same happened to a lady I knew who was addicted to various forms of astrology and fortune telling. They are all attempts to manipulate spiritual forces. Sometimes, in a deceitful manner, such things seems to work. As with Macbeth, who refers to “the equivocation of the fiend, who lies like truth”. I have noticed that evangelical Protestants take the biblical injunction against such practices much more seriously than many Catholics do. So I was very glad to see this trenchant article by Fr Timothy Finigan in his blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity.
The venerable Benedict Daswa
Sadly it is common in England today, to see advertisements for psychic fairs, shops selling occult paraphernalia, and booksellers displaying books of spells for young people. I recently called into a shop I thought might be interesting but walked out again smartly when I saw that there was a tarot card reading session taking place.
Christians were blamed by superstitious Romans for natural misfortunes. Tertullian pokes fun at this. I quote him first in Latin, because lovers of his barrister’s tour de force style will enjoy it.
Si Tiberis ascendit in moenia, si Nilus non ascendit in arva, si caelum stetit, si terra movit, si fames, si lues, statim Christianos ad leonem! adclamatur. Tantos ad unum? (Liber Apologeticus 40.1)
The translation gets the meaning, but not the accelerating punch of the original:
If the Tiber rises too high for the walls, or the Nile too low for the fields, if the heavens do not open, or the earth does, if there is famine, if there is plague, instantly the howl is, ‘The Christians to the lion!’ So many to one?
The venerable Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa of South Africa experienced a similarly savage expression of superstitious ignorance. He was a convert to Catholicism, a married man with eight children, a Catholic school headmaster, and an upstanding and socially responsible member of the community conspicuous for his charitable work. You can read more about him at the Benedict Daswa website.
In 1990, after heavy rain and lightning in the Venda area, and while Benedict was away, a traditional healer was brought in to find out who was the witch that was responsible. On his return, Benedict refused to pay a share of the healer’s fee and insisted that lightning happened because of natural causes. For his stand against the occult, Benedict was ambushed on the road a couple of weeks later by a mob who stoned and beat him to death. Before his death, he said , ‘God, into your hands receive my spirit’.
Just the other day, Benedict was officially recognised as a martyr, so the way is open for his beatification.
Pray to him for all those involved in the occult, for young people tempted to dabble, for those who sell occult items or promote occult events. When you pass a shop selling crystals, tarot cards, withcraft accessories and suchlike, quietly pray the prayer to St Michael and the prayer to your Guardian Angel. If you don’t know those prayers, it would be a very good idea to learn them. In the meantime, say three Hail Marys.
Prayer to St Michael
Holy Michael Archangel, defend us in the day of battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the wicked spirits, who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
Prayer to your Guardian Angel
O Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God’s love commits me here,
ever this day, be at my side
to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.
Lovers of Latin may like to know that the Guardian Angel prayer is translated from a Latin prayer that rhymes. Not classical of course, but easy to remember:
qui custos es mei,
me tibi commissum pietate superna;
illumina, custodi, rege, et guberna. Amen.