Definitions

Blessed Trinity — According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church in section 202, "We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God, eternal, infinite and unchangeable, incomprehensible, almighty, and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple."1

Consecration — According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church in section 260, "The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God's creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity."2

Discernment — Two types of discernment are necessary for evaluating apparition sites. The messages need to be evaluated from a theological perspective, and they also need to be spiritually discerned. Spiritual discernment is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8–10.

According to 1 Corinthians 2:14–15, "Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things."

Idolatry — The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the sin of idolatry in section 2114 as follows: "An idolater is someone who transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God."3

"Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, Satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc."4

According to Ephesians 5:5, those who commit the sin of idolatry do not have any inheritance in the kingdom of God. "Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."

Sacred Scripture refers to greed as the same as idolatry because, "No one can serve two masters."5 When a person places the love of money above the love of God, that person commits the sin of idolatry. If the pursuit of money is more important than God, then money can become a false god.

God wants to be the center and focus of everybody's life and heart. It is possible to commit the sin of idolatry with anything (including religious behaviors) upon which a person places a higher importance than the Blessed Trinity.

Prayer — According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church in section 2564, "Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ."

"In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit."6

According to the definition of prayer found in the Catechism, all prayer needs to be focused on God. If you are not praying to God, you run the risk of committing the sin of idolatry.

Supernatural — There are two types of negative judgments issued by local bishops in regard to false apparition sites. Constat de non supernaturalitate is the strongest, which means that there is evidence that the communications are not supernatural in nature. The second, non constat de non supernaturalitate, means that, based on the investigation, no evidence has been found that the messages are supernatural in origin.

This statement can be confusing because Webster's dictionary defines the word supernatural as "Not able to be explained in terms of the known laws which govern the material universe." For example, when someone sees the sun spinning in the sky or rosaries turning to gold, the material laws of the universe cannot explain these events, hence that only leaves two other possibilities—the sources are coming from God (supernatural sources) or from demonic influences.

When the Church says the paranormal activity is not coming from God (supernatural sources) that only leaves one other possibility—the paranormal activity is coming from a demonic influence.

Superstition — The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the sin of superstition in section 2111 as follows: "To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition."7

A man commits the sin of superstition anytime he attributes supernatural powers to the external practices of his religious behaviors, rather than attributing them to God. For example, if a man believes he will receive power, protection, and good luck by wearing a religious medal, he is committing the sin of superstition, because all power, protection, and grace come from God alone and not from magic charms.

 

Notes

Excerpts from the English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for use in the United States of America © 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.—Libreria Editrice Vaticana. English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Modifications from the Editio Typica copyright © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.—Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with permission.

Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition copyright © 1993 and 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

  1. Catechism of the Catholic Church 202; Lateran Council IV: DS 800.
  2. Catechism of the Catholic Church: 260; Cf. Jn 17:21–23.
  3. Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2114; Origen, Contra Celsum 2, 40: PG 11, 861.
  4. Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2113.
  5. Matthew 6:24.
  6. Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2565.
  7. Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2111: Cf. Mt 23:16–22.