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A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

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SUPERSTITION

The unseemly or irreverent worship of God, or giving to a creature the worship that belongs to God. Rendering unbecoming worship to God may stem either from false devotion or from a tendency toward magic. Giving divine worship to a creature is either idolatry, divination, or vain observance. The term "superstition" more commonly means unbecoming worship to God.

When supersitition arises from false devotion, it is really superfluous worship of God, which may take on a variety of forms. Their common denominator is an excessive concern that unless certain external practices, such as multiplication of prayers, are performed God will be displeased.

When superstition stems from a tendency toward magic, it reflects a false mentality that may or may not be the root of false devotion. Behind the false mentality is the notion that certain ritual practices, such as chain prayers or veneration of unapproved objects, carry with them an efficacy that is contrary to sound reason or the teaching of the Church.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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