What does the RCC teach about divination and magic?

Divination tools

From the Catholic Catechism’s “Divination and magic” section:

2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.

2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c1a1.htm

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “What does the RCC teach about divination and magic?

  1. Of course, I can’t not comment on this . . . πŸ™‚

    So, it is worth pointing out, as the more pagany-types I know are wont to do, that in Acts 1:23-26, the Apostles cast lots to determine who the replacement for Judas should be. They then use this to paint prohibitions upon divination as ridculous, seeing as the apostles themseves did it.

    There is, however, a very important difference between what the Apostles do in Acts, and what is prohibited by the whole rest of scripture. Acts 1:24-25 details the Apostles praying “Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas hath by transgression fallen, that he might go to his own place.”

    However, those things prohibited by scripture and the Church are prohibited because they are attempts to use, control, enslave, or consult with powers that are neither God, nor of God. So the prohibition isn’t so much the casting of lots, so much as a prohibition against what’s on the other side of those lots being cast.

    This may be a rather fine point, but I think it an important one (maybe that’s due to being a lawyer’s daughter, or having had Jesuits resposible for part of my education). How many times has anyone here, struggling with a problem, pulled out their Bible, offered up a prayer for guidence and or illumination, then let the Bible fall open where it will and read the first passage their eyes fell upon? From what I’ve seen, this is a pretty normal thing to do. There’s even a word for it: Bibliomancy. The act, taken by itself, qualifies as a type of divination. However, due to the prayer– the deliberated requsting of God for his help regarding a specific situation– this is removed from the prohibited area, because it’s all about God, and listening to Him, and trying one’s best to work out His will. [Naturally, Discernment is always required, as it is for all such quests, no matter the prayer method used].

    I make this point, because I think it’s very easy, sometimes, to throw the “Magic and Superstition!” label at any practice that is strange or unfamiliar. This is certianly often the case from some Protestants toward Catholics, between Protestants, and between Catholics. Or even between Catholics and Fans of Harry Potter(grrr! see: https://americanslytherin.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/how-to-spot-a-fake-azz-occult-expert-in-two-words for my rant on that subject).

    To me, the key points from the Cathechism are this (emphasis mine): “. . . desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone” and “. . . so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion . . .”

    Those points are where the sin is. Not in the strageness of the practice, but because what it may ultimately do– interfering with a sentient being’s free will, or it redirecting attention from it’s proper focus on God and His Will.

    . . . And really, these days, all you need do is run for office, and you can warp the free will of others and steal God’s glory all you want . . . and if you’re of the right party, you’ll even be loved for it . . .

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    • chrissythehyphenated

      Awesome commentary, ZM! I used to go to some kind of “out there” health practitioners for what I deemed to be good reasons. But I did binding prayer before and during my visits, because I knew that while I was committed 100% to the HOLY GOD, they were not so much.

      Not evil. I’d never go to someone like that. More of the New Age-y “spiritual” is always good, white magic, blah blah. Satan really topped himself when he cooked up THAT Big Fat Lie.

      The casting of lots was done by Jewish priests; they had special stones for it. And wasn’t it Gideon who put out the fleece seeking God’s will? There is all the difference in the universe and beyond between pridefully seeking thrills and power and humbly seeking to know God’s will.

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      • I know exactly the New Agey types you mean– well intentioned, not without some skill or talent, and utterly lacking in discernment. They are sweet people, and easily decieved. (Because if you don’t believe there is Bad to be wary of, the Bad will use you. . . always)

        Yes, I think the stones in the Temple were called the Urim and Thummin, or something similar, and I vaguely remember the story about Gideon and the fleece. . . I need to re-read it, clearly!

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    • OT, but I wondered what you thought about the way Paganism was dealt with in the first season of the CW TV show ‘Reign,’ about Mary Queen of Scots? I thought it was rather good. They were a little touchy feely in the way they sympathetically showed pagan practice being innocently followed by peasants in France, but that was legitimate, I thought. They also showed the complexity of the situation, with the dilemmas of the Catholic royals’ suppression of it, along with other harsh realities. Generally not bad work, I thought. I like the way that Laurie McCarthy writes with a strong knowledge of the history.

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