Appalling Catholic E-mails

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I just received the most ghastly appalling e-mail and my outrage must be vented.

It starts with a prayer card showing St. Thérèse and an animation of a blossoming rose. It is followed with this:

REMEMBER to make a wish before you read the poem. That's all you have to do. There is nothing attached. This is a powerful novena. Just send this to four people and let me know what happens on the fourth day.

Do not break this, please. Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. There is no cost but a lot of reward.

(Did you make a wish?) If you don't make a wish, it won't come true.

Last Chance to Make a Wish.

Make a wish and say a prayer? What is this sympathetic magic? I wish for a million dollars. Now I'll say the prayer and it will come to me.

I don't know if this has its origins in Catholic Circles or if it starts Catholic and is picked up by others, but it is an abuse of prayer and religious life akin to those that sparked reformation theology and it is a practice that should be soundly repudiated by every thinking Catholic as soon as they encounter it.

Prayer to and with the Saints is efficacious--it is not wish fulfillment or fantasy land. It also is not sympathetic magic. Ultimately one must be aligned with God's will and completely willing to do whatever God has in mind.

This kind of thing does us no service. And worse, it does God no service. How many who are not believers receive this, try it, and conclude that God is not listening, or worse does not exist?

Sorry I'm so het up about it, but it just acts in opposition to all we stand for and it needs to be acknowledged for what it is--wishful thinking not faith.

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Amen and amen! There are too many Catholics who get wrapped up in these "prayer chains", which are nothing but superstitious nonsense. Drives me nuts when I get them.


A woman came by the rectory last year and wanted to use our photocopier. When I asked her why, she explained that she had to make 18 copies of a special St Jude prayer to leave in the church so that her wishes would come true. When I explained to her that we didn't believe in that sort of thing, she said, "Oh, but the preacher at the Baptist church up the road sent me here when I asked to do this at his church. He said it was a Catholic thing."

Groan. At least the lady wasn't a Catholic.

Emails like this also annoy me. But it's also an opportunity to reach out to these people and show them the truth...

Hi Steven - I've received a couple of those myself, though none of my was "Catholic"!

I second Steve's idea - you've probably got the email addresses of several people to whom you can communicate the truth - charitably of course.

In Christ, John

Hi Steven,

As a LAN admin in a previous job, I once had to castigate my entire client base over some anonymous 'prayer chain' emails that were going around. In my email about it, I ended up making the same points you have.


I agree but do remember that most Catholics are dumb sheep being led unthinkingly along.

Good post, Steven!

Every so often our parish priest gives the obligatory homily correcting those who leave the photocopies of the prayer to St. Jude in the back of the church on the proper way (and motivation) for praying . . .

I always wonder who writes those things and sets them going.

Sometimes the line between folk piety and superstition is blurred (burying upside down statues of St. Joseph comes to mind). It is no way a Catholic only sort of abuse, however. Remember all that balderdash about that prayer that was somehow to force God to give you what you wanted? It boils down to human nature intersecting with the mysteries of the Divine.

Being from an Italian family I have encountered more than my share of these sort of things (we do tend towards the superstitious - it is probably our biggest fault as a people).

I do believe in prayer.It is a conversation with God. A God who listens and cares, who is my best friend. How many friends does a person have who loves you for what or who you are.

Dear all,
Although you are kind of not into the prayer chains, I am requesting your prayers. Kris, a woman from my parish in Galesburg IL was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago while she was pregnant and she declined treatment until after the birth of her child. Now the cancer has spread to her lungs. Please pray for her. If you want we have asked St. Gianna Beretta Molla to pray with us. Thank you all for your time and prayers. Peace be with you all.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 9, 2004 9:56 AM.

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