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Does the Church Encourage Superstition?

David Anders

Audio only:

Dr. David Anders joins us for an in-depth look at the accusation that the Catholic Church is superstitious. The Catholic relationship to superstition might at times be complicated, but the complications have a very Catholic remedy.


Cy Kellett:

Hello and welcome to Focus, the Catholic Answers podcast for living, understanding, and defending your Catholic faith. I’m Cy Kellett, your host. And we’re familiar with the need to defend the faith against objections, but sometimes, we end up defending the faith more against a misimpression or a suspicion about the faith, and superstition is one of those things. We can often defend the faith against the charge of superstition with an explanation of incarnation, and sacrament, and sacramental, and all that. But even if we make a perfect explanation, the suspicion, the impression lingers, that looks an awful lot like a superstitious faith. So, how do we deal with the accusations of superstition against the Catholic Church and against Catholic people? I thought I’d ask maybe one of the best, not maybe, definitely one of the best Catholic radio hosts in the world, and a really good theologian too. Dr. David Anders, of course, is an adult convert to the Catholic faith and the host of the EWTN program Called To Communion. Dr. Anders, thank you for being here with us.

David Anders:

Hey, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Cy Kellett:

I think this is the first time we’ve ever done this on Focus. I actually heard you talking about this topic and I was like, “Oh, I really want to ask him questions about that on Focus.” So, I’m so glad that you agreed to do this with us. So-

David Anders:

Well, believe it or not, this is one of my favorite topics.

Cy Kellett:

Is it really? ‘Cause-

David Anders:

I really like this and there’s a specific reason that’s peculiar to my history. I used to be a Presbyterian, I’m a convert to the Catholic faith and I did my doctoral dissertation on the reformer, John Calvin. And my specific area of emphasis was Calvin’s criticism of popular piety, both Catholic and Protestant forms of lay devotion and popular religion. And for Calvin, superstition was a polemical word and it had a very specific meaning, and he constantly employed it against people that he had a problem with. And so, I spent a lot of time sort of buried in the mind of this Protestant reformer in his critique of Catholic, and for that matter, Protestant superstition. And in doing that research, I learned a lot about the history of Catholicism because I had to dig in and go, “Okay. Well, why do Catholics do these things that Calvin is criticizing? What’s the rationale from the Catholic point of view?”

And I learned that the criticism of superstition was a deeply Catholic conviction going all the way back to the second century apologists, third century apologists, in folks like Tatian and Justin Martyr and Tertullian, these characters and of course, Jerome, and Augustine, and all the rest of them, were staunch critics of superstition, both pagan and Christian, and had a conception of Catholicism as rational religion-

Cy Kellett:

Yes.

David Anders:

… Yeah, which, of course, we continued to have today. And so, that was just a way of looking at things that was not familiar to me and was deeply attractive. So, I got very embedded in this topic from a scholarly point of view.

Cy Kellett:

Well, what would you say to a Catholic, like myself for example, who, I do not believe that Catholicism is a superstitious religion. I do, in fact, believe that one of the great challenges to superstition down through the ages has been the Catholic faith, but I still think we are superstitious sometimes. What would you think of that?

David Anders:

Sure. Superstition is not a uniquely Catholic or Christian vice. It is a human vice and it probably is the result of certain adaptive mechanisms in human psychology. The same sorts of things that tend to the cognitive biases that cognitive scientists are always discerning. Things like confirmation bias, and availability bias, and these kinds of things, agency detection, you read about this in the literature. And so, you find modes of irrationality that are kind of endemic to the human condition, and I think one of those is superstition.

Augustine, himself, understood superstition as the tendency to think that some process, could be some ritual, some action, some gesture, could manipulate the unseen world because it possessed intrinsically some signifying convention. All right? So, he actually talks in non-Christian doctrine. He says, “If someone says to you, ‘Here, eat this herb when your stomach hurts, it will make you feel better.’ That’s not superstitious. But if they said, ‘Here, hang this herb around your neck because it looks like a stomach,’ Then that would be superstitious.” It’s the signifying convention rather than some natural property that he understood to be the essence of superstition. So, I think the tendency to do that, there’s a cognitive bias, what is it called? Apophenia, I think, and pareidolia, which is the tendency to see patterns where they don’t actually exist.

Cy Kellett:

Sure, yeah.

David Anders:

Things like the gambler’s fallacy. “I’ve lost this roulette wheel 20 times in a row, the next one’s going to-

Cy Kellett:

Going to hit.

David Anders:

… has got to be.” Those kinds of things. People tend to look for those sorts of patterns and significations in nature where they don’t actually exist. And I think, that’s one of the reasons why superstitious behavior and thinking is just endemic. You find things like soothsaying and fortune-telling in every culture going back deep into antiquity.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah, you remind me of the comedian Norm Macdonald who was a gambler himself, he said, “All gamblers have a system.” And he would say, “You’ll be surprised to know this, but most of those systems don’t work.”

David Anders:

They don’t work. Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

Which you could see in the beautiful buildings of Las Vegas. But even with your definition and even with your clarification, I will hear… Let me give you one that I actually disapprove of, I don’t like this Catholic practice and I don’t want to be too critical of popular piety, but if you want to sell your house, dig a hole and bury a statue of St. Joseph upside down. Have you ever heard this one?

David Anders:

Unfortunately, yes.

Cy Kellett:

So, this bothers me.

David Anders:

It should bother you.

Cy Kellett:

Okay.

David Anders:

It should bother you.

Cy Kellett:

So. Help me out with that. That’s not like that’s the core of the Catholic faith or anything, but you do have these really kind of almost magical-

David Anders:

Of course, they’re superstitious.

Cy Kellett:

Okay.

David Anders:

Yes. It’s superstitious. Sorry. The fact that a Catholic does it, doesn’t make it legitimate Catholic practice.

Cy Kellett:

Okay. That sounds good.

David Anders:

Okay. So in the history of this, in the ancient world, people like Cicero and Plutarch used the term superstition, or superstitio in Greek, to criticize what they thought of as an irrational fear of the gods. That’s how they understood it. Religion had a kind of social utility, but when it became sort of neurotic and dysfunctional, they criticized it for the irrationality. The church fathers took that vocabulary over, they inherited it, they drew it into the Christian tradition, but they applied it to a critique of paganism itself, not just neurotic practice, but polytheism, they thought was irrational and therefore superstitious.

Now, when you get into the 14th and 15th centuries, you do find Catholic theologians, Catholic reformist thinkers, like St. Thomas for one, but later you would have people like Pierre d’Ailly, and Jean Gerson, Nicolas de Clamanges, and Nicolas of Cusa, who begin to criticize Catholic practices that they think that these are things that Catholics are doing that deviate from the rule of right reason and from rational religion.

And you find a satirist like a Erasmus of Rotterdam in the 16th century writes satires, really critical of Catholic superstitious practice. One would be his magnificent work, In Praise of Folly, which is a hysterical satire, making fun of silly things that Catholics were doing. And they would be things like burying statues upside down. Another one that was quite popular, Eamon Duffy writes about this in his book, Stripping of the Altars, was the superstitious belief that if you could see the elevated host at mass, that you would not die that day. And this is well-attested in a number of places. And so, you find a number of people like Erasmus, for example, criticizing folks who would run from mass to mass to try to witness as many elevations as possible in a day, right?

Cy Kellett:

Yes.

David Anders:

In the thought that that would somehow convey some sort of inoculation against harm or disease. But there’s nothing about that in Catholic sacramental theology, right? This is just a superstitious belief that emerged in 15th century Catholic Europe. So, the Catholics can clearly do superstitious things, but Catholic theology has always rejected that.

And if you read the catechism of the Catholic church, the catechism takes a very nuanced view towards popular religious practices and popular piety, and says that they really need to be continually purified. And the bishops of the church and the pastors of the church have to be alert to that, and they can draw out of them their humane values that tend to advance the cause of community and charity and piety in a good sense. But there’s a constant need to purify them of superstitious secretions. And I think the fact that people are given to superstition, again, this is not a Catholic problem, this is a human problem, and you’re going to find it in every religious community.

Now, interestingly, the catechism of the Catholic church also says that even the practice of the Catholic sacraments, even our participation in the Eucharist can be superstitious if you understand its efficacy in a quasi magical way.

Cy Kellett:

Yes.

David Anders:

So, here’s how I characterize the difference. What is the difference between prayer and magic? It boils down to the Lord’s prayer, Our Father. A true Christian prayer says, “Lord, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I want to assimilate my life to your divine will. That’s the essence of Christian prayer. Magic says, “My will be done.”

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. Right.

David Anders:

Magic attempts to manipulate the unseen world through some right or ceremony or symbol that I can impose my will on inanimate matter or on some invisible spirit to effect or to project my wishes out onto the world, that’s the magical attitude. The Christian attitude is the exact opposite, let me be conformed to your will. And so, the essence of the superstitious participation in the sacraments would be, “I don’t want to change my moral life. I don’t want to repent of my sin, I don’t want to be contrite.” And somehow, by going to communion without contrition, without charity, that I’ll guarantee my place in heaven, just in virtue of having participated in the right. The catechism says, “That’s superstitious.” Can you hold a communion in the church, all the sacraments presuppose faith, repentance, ordered to charity, and sometimes requiring charity?

Cy Kellett:

Okay, so what am I doing then? If keeping that distinction in mind, I will be done and my will be done, I can’t imagine what this would’ve seemed like to you as a young man, a Protestant, the Catholic practice of praying the novena. }What am I doing it? It can seem like magic, this novena thing that we do.”

David Anders:

Yeah. So, here’s what I always say to people when they ask, whether it’s about novenas, or the scapular devotion, or any of these, we have a lot of devotions in the Catholic faith to which there is some private revelation attached, right?

Cy Kellett:

Okay.

David Anders:

And sometimes, those private revelations will come with promises. If you perform this devotion in this set way, here will be the consequences. And so, people become very exercised to, Well, I’ve got to do it exactly that way.”

Cy Kellett:

Yes.

David Anders:

And I have seen, and you probably have too, people who become almost sort of scrupulously neurotic about the prayer of the rosary, such that if they leave off a bead, they think, “Oh, well it didn’t work. It didn’t take. I missed the value of my rosary because I lost a decade, or I prayed the wrong mystery, or I didn’t get a bead.” And Catholic spiritual writers, and theologians, and mystics, have written about this attitude, and they’ve told us how to deal with it.

And essentially, it is this, that the value in any devotional practice is only that it could move us to contemplation, which is this deep experiential knowledge of the love of God, this conformity to the divine will, and this conformity to the person of Jesus that sort of penetrates our personality, and perfects us, and sanctifies us. And so, everything else in the faith serves that goal of contemplative union with God. And St. Augustine actually said one time, and again, on Christian doctrine, he said, “The entirety of the faith, the whole dispensation of our faith, that’s the scriptures, the sacraments, the doctrines, all of it,” he says, “Functions like a road or a chariot.” The purpose of which is to lead us to charity. It’s not an end in itself. The goal is that charitable union of the soul with God. So, if you begin your rosary, and let’s say you make it into the middle of the second decade, and suddenly, or maybe not suddenly, maybe very, very softly, you find yourself drawn into a kind of wordless contemplation of God’s love and majesty that is working on your will in transforming your personality.

The great writers of the church tell us, “Well, that’s when you put down the rosary.”

Cy Kellett:

Really?

David Anders:

“That’s when you stop”- Yes. Because the goal is always to move into contemplation. And so, a person who says, “Oh, no, no, I got to finish my rosary. I got to get through all four decades. I can’t let myself be taken up in the love of God, that would be terrible.” to completely miss the purpose of the rosary. And in the same way, when you come to these things like the brown scapular devotion or particular novenas, we know that it’s the dogmatic teaching of the church, the public revelation, that always controls the interpretation of the faith. We don’t interpret the dogmas through the lens of the private revelation, we interpret the private revelation through the lens of the dogma. And so, those kinds of promises, I take them as these are provocations, if you will, they’re exhortations to take seriously this devotion as a path to holiness.

But we must interpret them. We must live them in a way that is fully consistent with Catholic doctrine. And Catholic doctrine tells us there is no salvation without contrition. There is no salvation without charity. There is no salvation without the interior transformation of the person. And the love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit is the one condition of being saved. It’s not that I perform a particular ritual under a particular set of conditions. Those things could be effective to bring me to charity, but it’s ultimately charity that unites the will to God.

Cy Kellett:

So, you mentioned that the catechism advises that even in these popular practices, and we have many, many popular… You could probably go your lifetime and not even be able to discover all of them. The proliferation of spiritual practices and undertakings in the church is tremendous. So, you said, “Well, yeah, but these need to constantly be purified, and this would be the role of bishop and pastors,” but how do we do that? Sometimes, I feel like this requires direct correction to somebody. If you get that email that says, “If you pray this prayer and send this to a hundred people or something, then all these things will happen or something.”

David Anders:

So-

Cy Kellett:

Go ahead.

David Anders:

… So, I don’t want to name any particular devotions or movements because I don’t want get people off on the wrong track if I name your favorite practice, and gets you all upset. But there are absolutely some spiritual movements in the church today that are controversial, they have divided communities, they’ve divided monasteries and convents that are the result of reputed private revelations, alleged private revelations, that may or may not have been approved, in many cases, not approved. And it boils down to this, it boils down to some individual claiming some form of enlightenment, or illumination or election saying, “I’ve got the stuff. I have the way. I have the secret sauce, do it my way.” I was just reading even just yesterday about a case in a diocese in the United States quite recently when a bishop sent a directive and said, “This particular devotion may not be promoted in our diocese.” And it’s a very popular one.

If I mentioned it, you would’ve heard of it. You cannot do this. This has been the fruit, this has been the result, this is not acceptable, this has been divisive, and you may not promote this devotion in our diocese. I have once or twice in my own life, I have written a note to my bishop or to his representative saying, “Hey, this went down in this Catholic parish and this is what was being represented, and it conflicted with the dogma of the church in this way. Just want to let you know.” And then, it’s really the bishop’s pastoral judgment.

Now, you cannot admonish every center and you cannot eliminate every superstition. And so, I think, it has to be a prudent balancing act by the bishop. In just war theory, you don’t go attack the enemy if the prospect of victory is going to cause more harm than the evil you’re trying to prevent. And there are instances where you might be able to go in and put it into a practice that is, at root, superstitious, but in doing so, you might wound tender consciences, and we know what Jesus says about those that calls little ones to stumble.

Cy Kellett:

See, this is where I actually wanted to ask you about this because, and I think you’ve probably already addressed it, but maybe let me just ask you the way I wanted it and we’ll see if there’s more that you wanted to say about it. But there is this kind of, I don’t know if you might call it denuded Catholicism in the post Vatican II era where churches were built without stained glass windows, there’s just a reduction in the statuary, and I don’t think that this was Protestantism. I think this was real Catholicism trying to take out all those things that made anybody nervous about whether or not Christ in the Eucharist and that this was the center. But it actually seems to have done a great deal of harm because I don’t know how you can have a healthy church without popular piety.

David Anders:

Oh, well, so, I’m looking at the catechism of the Catholic church right now. Okay. And I’m going to try to find… Okay, all right. Beautiful. Everyone should read what the catechism says about popular piety. And I won’t read you the whole thing, but the catechism says, “These expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the church, but they do not replace it. They should be drawn up so they harmonize with the liturgical seasons. But in accord with the sacred liturgy and our derived from it and lead people to it, since the liturgy by its very nature is far superior to any of them.” So, right off the bat, one criteria is, does popular piety tend to move people to deeper sacramental and liturgical participation? And so, your instance of, say the statuary and stain glass in churches, well, that’s not popular piety, but it’s an embellishment of the liturgy that’s meant to enhance and deepen our appreciation of the mysteries-

Cy Kellett:

Okay. Yeah.

David Anders:

… if the popular piety has the same effects. Now, this is quite beautiful. Pastoral discernment is needed to sustain and support popular piety and if necessary, to purify and correct the religious sense that underlies these devotions. So, what would be a deviation of the religious sense? If there were a practice of popular piety that people were treating magically. If their approach to the right with such that this thing has a spiritual efficacy in me or in some other agent that’s just due to the mechanical repetition without the proper disposition, well, that would be the improper religious sense that needed to be corrected. At its core, the piety of the people, this is quite beautiful, is a storehouse of values that offers answers of Christian wisdom to the great questions of life. The Catholic wisdom of the people is capable of fashioning a vital sensitive synthesis,”

Hang on, I just lost my place. “It combines the divine and the human Christ and Mary spirit and body, communion and institution, person and community, faith and homeland, intelligence and emotion. This wisdom is a Christian humanism that radically affirms the dignity of every person as a child of God establishes a basic fraternity, teaches people to encounter nature, and to understand work, and provides reasons for joy and humor, even in the midst of a very hard life.” Now, such a beautiful description of the value of popular piety. It goes on, but I don’t want to belabor the point. And when I read that the discussion of the Christian humanism that affirms the dignity of community and the individual, I think about the… I am an Anglo-Saxon, former Protestant, analytic, character with a kind of Anglo-American mind, and my approach to the faith has always been very analytical, and very verbal, and very doctrinal.

But I’m deeply sensitive to the fact that there are many, many, many Catholic cultures, far more ancient than mine, whose approach to the faith is entirely different. You think about someone like St. Ephrem the Syrian, who is the church father and a doctor of the church, and his approach to the mysteries of the faith is so much more poetic than it is propositional. It’s singing the faith into fruition rather than dogmatizing about it. And my friends that are Lebanese from the Maronite tradition experience their faith with so much pageantry. And there’s such a sense of community belonging of processions and pilgrimages and devotions that really, they’re not just individual acts, they’re communal acts, that affirm their common commitment to this ancient heritage that they’ve had for 2000 years. And I’ve had conversations with elderly Lebanese Maronites, and said, “Tell me about the experience of the faith in Lebanon.” And it’s a description of the liturgical pious acts that they perform together as a community.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. Wonderful.

David Anders:

They start with the visible expression of piety rather than the way a more Anglo person like, I might start with confession of faith and an explication of doctrine, but the former is the more natural mode, that’s the more traditional way of living the faith. And if you’ve known people, whether they’re from Latin America, or they’re from the Middle East, they’re from these traditional Christian countries, you know how much that popular piety is woven into their sense of community and their identity as a people.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

David Anders:

And I think it we’re more prone to superstition in some ways as Westerners, as modern anglophone westerners because we are so unbelievably individualistic in our practice of the faith. And so, for many of us, like our rosary, for example, might be something that I cherish at 4:45 in the morning alone in the darkness of my house, but it’s not something that I’m used to experiencing as a form of communal bonding. You see what I’m saying?

Cy Kellett:

I do see what you’re saying. And now, when I think of those communities, particularly, we have wonderful Lebanese Catholic communities here in San Diego, and they welcome children, they have great food, they love to be around one another, they’ll welcome you in. So, there is something there that builds a really tremendous community too. It’s not just that it’s different, but it has a fruitfulness to it that’s quite striking.

David Anders:

So, I’m going to go on a limb here. I know people, you know them too, whose Catholic piety is so devotional that the devotional expression of the faith seems to define and penetrate their entire personality. And I know people who are like that, whose love is so sincere, whose life is so genuine, whose witness to the faith is so edifying and so positive, and you see how it has shaped and formed their character in the virtues.

Cy Kellett:

Yes.

David Anders:

But I also know people who are just as expressive and committed to a devotional form of piety in whom, to me, it feels deeply neurotic and imbalanced.

Cy Kellett:

That’s exactly it. If you’re Catholic, you know both of those people, there’s no way you’ve lived in the Catholic church and not known both of those people.

David Anders:

And so, I think, this is why the catechism speaks the way it does. And I think this is a catechesis that I try to come back to all the time because it’s so relevant to the actual lived experience of Catholics in the world today. We need to always have this conversation about the neurotic personality and the superstitious use of the faith. And that’s not just the devotions, could be the liturgy too. And the goal, ultimate goal, of living according to the rule of right reason. St. Thomas tells us that’s what virtue is. Virtue is life according to right reason. And sin is nothing other than an irrational act. One that sort of deforms or falls away from the rule of right reason.

And Francis de Sales is another one of my favorites here. If you’ve ever read his introduction to the devout life, he goes right at these issues. He says, “Look what is true devotion. It is not praying the rosary, it is not giving alms, it is not going to mass it, it’s none of the stuff of Catholic life. True devotion is nothing other than the love of God and neighbor. And everything else in the faith should serve that goal or else is superstitious.”

Cy Kellett:

Wonderful. That’s so helpful.

David Anders:

And de Sales was an influence in Jesuit circles in the 18th century, I’m sure you know this. Characters like Jean Pierre de Caussade and Jean-Baptiste Rousseau were writing treatises like abandonment to divine providence and the sacrament of the present moment, that kind of spirituality. And it was, I think, that and many other similar treatises were about confronting this kind of neurotic, frenetic piety and trying to point people towards this, no, it’s really about the spirituality of the interior life, the present moment, and finding God in all things. And we find that the great mystics and spiritual writers of the church are always coming back to these themes over and over and over again.

Now, there’s another form of superstition that is more subtle, but I think it’s also very dangerous. It’s one that Pope Benedict, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote about in 1989, in that document on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation. He equated it with the ancient heresy of Messalianism, which is not when we talk about very often, and this is how Cardinal Ratzinger defines Messalianism. Messalian is the error of equating the Holy Spirit’s presence in my soul with my experience of sensible emotion.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, yes. Yeah.

David Anders:

All right. So, if you have ever been in a charismatic, or a Pentecostal worship service, or maybe just a very lively worship service with a lot of active music, and someone walks out of the experience and says, “Well, this spirit of God was really moving today,” and what they mean is, “I had a moving emotional experience,” and they are reading from the motions of their passions that that means that God was here, that God was present. That, Cardinal Ratzinger tells us, is a very dangerous proposition, because God’s presence in the soul is compatible with complete aridity, the utter lack of emotion, the absence of emotion, or of very dark and bitter emotion. You remember in the Psalms, the psalmist… What is it? Psalm 88, expresses his experience of God’s utter absence is, “God you are not here, you are gone. My one companion is darkness. Amen.”

And that is an inspired writer of sacred scripture who is giving vets to giving expression to an experience of loneliness, abnegation, loss. These are not the kinds of emotions that are typically provoked in the frenetic, charismatic worship service where people walk out and go, “Oh, well, the spirit of God was here today because we were all hopping and jumping.” And Teresa of Avila had very little patience with this sort of thing. She was a magnificent apostle of reason, to be honest with you. And one of my favorite lines from Teresa in the interior castle, she says, “Some people are so weak in intellect,” she’s basically calling them stupid. “That they think that everything that they imagine, they see.” Like whatever they imagine that that’s true. And she’s like, “They’re not discerning about reality. And they’re led very naively by their passions, by their emotions, and by the force of their own imagination. And then they just go with that”. And she’s extremely critical of that disposition. So, superstition doesn’t require a material prop.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. We can be superstitious even about our own experiences. That’s the sign. There it is.

David Anders:

There is a Stanford sociologist who is not a Christian, as far as I know, she’s not a Catholic named Tanya Luhrmann, and she wrote a book a number of years ago called When God Talks Back. And it was a sociological-anthropological analysis of a trend in 20th century American, predominantly Protestant, spirituality that is easy to characterize, is easy to see, you’ve witnessed it many times, and it is the fellow who comes up to you and says, “Well, God told me.”

Cy Kellett:

“God put it on my heart to tell you.” Yeah.

David Anders:

“I need to fill in the blank.”

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

David Anders:

And what she draws out, and I’m very grateful for her analysis and I see it all the time, and I think it’s a problem, is that there are tremendous number of churches that encourage people to do this and actually teach them to read certain interior tokens as if, “When you have this experience, if you have this kind of fault, if you have this kind of interior motion of your soul, well, that just means that God is talking to you,” or “That just means that God is speaking to you.” And it’s a subtle, interiorized version of reading the tea leaves. It’s the same kind of thing as someone that would read cracked bones, or dragon’s teeth, or tea leaves, or whatever. But instead of reading a physical object, they’ve been taught to read particular motions of their own psychology as if they were reliable tokens of God’s presence or voice. You see what I’m saying?

Cy Kellett:

I would never worship a statue of Mary, but in a certain sense I’ll worship my own emotional reaction at any given time. I have a lot of that.

David Anders:

I’ll worship my own emotional reaction. And every Catholic treatise on prayer recognizes, teaches, that it is possible to pray badly and dangerously and to confuse my own imagination, the projections of my own passions and my own narcissistic self-concern, as if that were divinely authoritative. And sometimes, people who do that give all appearances of sincerity, piety, and orthodoxy. And many times, they end up in leadership in Catholic or non-Catholic organizations, only to bring wreck and ruin, because they are essentially leading out of their own narcissistic self-regard rather than out of the virtue of humility. But that is also a form of superstition.

Cy Kellett:

Indeed. Dr. David, I’m so glad we got to speak with you about this. The day that I was listening to you talking about it on the radio, I just thought… I just appreciated that there is a very Catholic, very reasonable way of thinking about this, which is not interested at all in denying that we suffer from this sometimes, but also, that there is a cure for it, which is to focus on that which is essential, love of God and love of neighbors. So, I just want to thank you so much-

David Anders:

And humility, humility, humility, and humility.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. Well, I’m-

David Anders:

And the virtue of humility and the virtue of surrendering to the will of God, that I can give up the need to be in control of my environment, and I’m okay if my house doesn’t sell.

Cy Kellett:

Dig up St. Joseph, let him get a breath.

David Anders:

It’s sure far way to sell your house is lower the price.

Cy Kellett:

Dr. David Anders, thank you.

David Anders:

It’ll sell.

Cy Kellett:

Thank you very, very much.

David Anders:

Thank you. Appreciate it. Bye.

Cy Kellett:

And thank you for joining us here at Catholic Answers Focus. You can always communicate with us, our email address is [email protected] If you’d like to support us financially in what we do, you can do that by going to givecatholic.com and leave a little note saying, “This is for Catholic Answers Focus.” And if you like to pray for us, we would sure appreciate that but we’d be happy to pray for you. Send us an email. Maybe you’ve got an idea for a future show, maybe you’ve got a prayer request, whatever it is, we’d love to hear from you. We’ll see you next time. God willing, right here on Catholic Answers Focus.

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