Archive for the ‘Sacramentals’ Category

Steve Ray – Wearing Rosary Keeps Away Demons?

August 29, 2008

On the May 8, 2008, edition of Catholic Answers Live, I was amazed to hear Steve Ray reference (seemingly approvingly) a book called, “The Secret of the Rosary,” for the idea that wearing a rosary “around your neck keeps the Devil away – it keeps the evil powers away, because they hate the rosary and they hate the crucifix … .” I can safely say that wearing a rosary has about equal efficacy in keeping demons away as does wearing a scapular or dousing oneself in “holy water.” In short, it has no power at all.

Meanwhile, enjoy the ecumenical flavor of that most lovely work:

The heretics, all of whom are children of the devil and clearly bear the sign of God’s reprobation, have a horror of the Hail Mary. They still say the Our Father but never the Hail Mary; they would rather wear a poisonous snake around their necks than wear a scapular or carry a rosary.

And truly, I would rather (as Louis de Montfort claims) have a king cobra round my neck than participate in the superstitious and anti-Christian tradition of the rosary or the scapula. I think the portion Steve Ray was referring to was this:

Blessed Alan relates that a man he knew had tried desperately all kinds of devotions to rid himself of the evil spirit which possessed him, but without success. Finally, he thought of wearing his rosary round his neck, which eased him considerably. He discovered that whenever he took it off the devil tormented him cruelly, so he resolved to wear it night and day. This drove the evil spirit away forever because he could not bear such a terrible chain. Blessed Alan also testifies that he delivered a great number of those who were possessed by putting a rosary around their necks.

This may be from an eighteenth century book, but make no mistake, these superstitious beliefs are alive today, as evidenced by Mr. Ray’s comment.


After-Splash – Paul Hoffer Responds to Holy Water Debate

May 6, 2008

Some time ago, PhatCatholic and I concluded a debate on the alleged efficacy of Holy Water (link to debate). Now, Paul Hoffer has taken up the cause in support of PhatCatholic’s position.

His initial post is here (link), though I understand he plans a series of additional posts on the subject.

A few quick thoughts in response.

Mr. Hoffer describes my role in the debate as “defending the negative” and lists a few of the many arguments I presented. Mr. Hoffer appears to have overlooked that I actually took the negative position by presenting rebuttal arguments that took out the attempted arguments presented by PhatCatholic.

Interestingly, Mr. Hoffer fails to provide the arguments that PhatCatholic presented. Of course, in the absence of those arguments, the counter-arguments in rebuttal may not seem to make such sense. Mr. Hoffer, however, seems to be under the impression that I needed to prove “Holy Water,” to be ineffecacious. This is consistent with his presentation of only (a few of) my rebuttal arguments, and not of PhatCatholic’s attempted defense of the resolution.

Mr. Hoffer mistakenly asserted “it became clear that Turretinfan … have no real understanding of what Holy Water is or the manner in which the Catholic Church teaches it could possibly be effective against demonic forces.” In fact, I do know what it is and what the Roman Catholics teach about it. Regardless, though, whether or not I knew “Holy Water” from dishwater, PhatCatholic had the burden of establishing the actual efficacy (not “could possibly be effective”) of whatever-it-is that he calls “Holy Water.” In other words, my supposed ignorance was something that could only have helped PhatCatholic. I think that the objective reader can judge for himself whether any of PhatCatholic’s positions and/or fallback positions had merit.

Mr. Hoffer goes on to explain that he would like to spend some time explaining Sacramentals. I have no problem with him doing so, of course. I think, though, that if he wishes to revive PhatCatholic’s position that Holy Water is actually effective at stopping demonic forces, he is going to have a long creek to paddle – and that he will not get to his destination simply by explaining what they are.

At the end of the day, I think we will find that the notion of using “Holy Water” to try to ward off demons is not Biblical, but rather that such use of “Holy Water” is nothing more than a superstitious medieval invention. In fact, that it is simply a superstition that evolved over time is something that seems rather immediately apparent when an investigation into the alleged basis for the practice is made.

So, I look forward to Mr. Hoffer’s series on the so-called Sacramentals. I appreciate his systematic way of thinking and his pleasing way of presenting his position. On the other hand, I do not have high expectations that the arguments in favor of the alleged efficacy will be any less leaky than those of PhatCatholic. Still, Mr. Hoffer’s posts with their calm and well-planned presentation may provide benefit both for Roman Catholics and others in analyzing the issues and simplifying the differences between us. Additionally, Mr. Hoffer may provide a new position (for example that “Holy Water” is merely possibly efficacious) that will somewhat moderate the position taken by PhatCatholic in the debate.


N.B. Two items:

a) Mr. Hoffer at one point refers to me as “he/she.” Just for the record, it is “he,” as can be seen, for example, in my Blogger profile.

b) I note that Mr. Hoffer views this discussion of Sacramentals as more important than debating the Corban rule. I don’t know whether this should be viewed as his announcement that such a debate is off the table, or only that it is to follow the discussion of the so-called Sacramentals. Since I believe that such a debate would be instructive, I hope that the latter case is what Mr. Hoffer intended.

Superstition or Sacramental?

February 13, 2008

American Papist reports (link), you decide.

My own two cents: this is plainly superstition. The Giants’ victory had nothing to do with a scrap of metal in someone’s pocket. I doubt the American Papist would be willing to debate the topic of: “Resolved: that blessed medals are effective for winning football games.”

Nevertheless, we have amazing anecdotal evidence to support that resolution. The Giants were thought by the masses (hoi polloi) to be the underdogs, and yet they won. One could point out that the other team’s star player had been nursing an ankle injury in the week prior to the game, but that would just show lack of faith in the church. So don’t. Instead, believe that rubbing the medals and praying to whoever is depicted on them won the biggest sports game of the year.

I wonder if they work for Hockey too?


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