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It is to this ignorance of the true God, coupled with an inordinate veneration for human excellence and the love of artistic representations appealing to the senses, that St. While these are dispositive causes, the consummative cause, he adds, was the influence of demons who offered themselves as objects of worship to erring men, giving answers through idols and doing things which to men seemed marvellous (II-II:94:4).
deorum", I, 42, 117); or from superstes , "surviving": "Qui totos dies precabantur et immolabant, ut sibi sui liberi superstites essent, superstitiosi sunt appellati", i.e.
"Superstition is the baseless fear of the gods, religion the pious worship." According to Isidore of Seville (Etymolog., l. iii, sent.), the word comes from superstatuo or superinstituo : "Superstitio est superflua observantia in cultu super statuta seu instituta superiorum", i.e.
"observances added on to prescribed or established worship"] is defined by St.
With regard to the subjective guilt attaching to them it must be borne in mind that no sin is mortal unless committed with full knowledge of its grievous wickedness and with full deliberation and consent.
Of these essential factors the first is often wanting entirely, and the second is only imperfectly present.
Such false elements, be their origin culpable deceit or inculpable credulity, vitiate the virtue of religion by substituting error for truth in the service of God.
A layman performing priestly functions, a pardoner selling spurious indulgences, a fanatic devotee inventing false miracles and answers to prayers in order to introduce or spread his own favourite devotion, wholesale believers in supernatural apparitions, visions, revelations, which serve no good purpose -- all these are guilty of superstition, at least material.Under the head of vain observances come all those beliefs and practices which, at least by implication, attribute supernatural or preternatural powers for good or for evil to causes evidently incapable of producing the expected effects.The number and variety of superstitions appear from the following list of those most in vogue at different periods of history: The source of superstition is, in the first place, subjective.As regards formal guilt, this is often reduced to the vanishing point by the prevailing credulity and common practice of the period.The worship of imaginary saints or relics, devotion based upon false revelations, apparitions, supposed miracles, or false notions generally, is usually excusable in the worshipper on the ground of ignorance and good faith ; but there is no excuse for those who use similar means to exploit popular credulity for their own pecuniary profit.The theological virtue of religion stands midway between the two.