Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

True faith

POR VIDA - Archie Modequillo - The Freeman

The intense fervor exhibited by devotees of the Black Nazarene in Manila is disturbing. The footage of the procession shown on TV portrays wanton selfishness, with people fiercely trying to outdo one another just to get to touch the religious statue. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt – or killed – in the process.

Some people claim that that such expression of faith works. Which get the others really confused.  No good father would want his children to hurt each other so they may express their love and respect for him. If Jesus were around today, what would he say of it?

Beliefs or practices not supported by proper religious doctrine or even of mere logic or scientific explanation may be generally considered as superstition. Often, these are products of ignorance or of fear of the unknown and a blind belief in supposed forces that can be influenced by certain objects and rituals. Hence, superstitious people equip themselves with all kinds of amulets and perform various rites.

Stories abound of scheduled marriages that don’t push through because the prospective bride fitted her wedding dress before the set day of the wedding. Many people are very careful about such things as sweeping the floor at night or taking a bath on Good Friday. They believe these simple acts could bring sickness or misfortune.

There are, of course, no real bases for such superstitious beliefs; otherwise they won’t be mere superstition. Yet the unfounded beliefs persist, sustained by an unwillingness to check out the truth about them. And, sadly, it seems superstition and religious faith have become synonymous in the minds of people these days.

There are even those who incorporate their religious faith into their superstitious traditions. There are Catholic Christians that burn black candles before images of saints, to exact revenge on their enemies. Many gamblers discreetly wear religious scapulars as lucky charms.

Superstitious practices and beliefs are most common in situations involving a high degree of risk, chance, and uncertainty, when events seem to be beyond human control. This is especially so during times of personal or social distress or crisis. Others resort to superstitious practices just to play safe. They follow the saying: “Better to be safe than sorry.”

Curiously, after a while, events in a person’s life do really tend to support his superstitious beliefs. It all begins to become real to him – life unfolds exactly as he thought it would. What he believes to be so becomes his own reality. And then, the more and more superstitious he becomes.

Psychologists cite the power of suggestion as sometimes able to make real a person’s intense beliefs or intentions. The Bible tells of Jesus advising a sick man, “Go home, your faith has healed you.” Or, perhaps, it is simply man’s innate desire for self-validation that, at times, makes him see connections – no matter how vague or distant – between his beliefs and his life realities.

Yet the most practical prescription for a good life and the best antidote to misfortune is simple – to be knowledgeable, careful and responsible. A person who earnestly seeks to know the truth, uses the knowledge as his guide, and assumes responsibility for his own life conditions is most likely to be okay. A person who is well-informed and conscientious will not need to be superstitious.

What eventually brings flood is not necessarily the cutting of the balete trees but the cutting of trees in general. Of course, it helps to believe in a Divine Power that allows good things for those who deserve the blessing. But, still, having good luck takes working for it.

In the end, the question of what is or is not superstitious is relative. One person’s spiritual beliefs can be another’s superstition. Unbelievers may view all religious beliefs and practices as superstition. On the other hand, the pious may condemn unorthodox religious practices as a superstitious parody of true faith.

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