Magic and superstition
The answers to the questions are prepared by the theologian Monsignor Costantino Di Bruno, Central Assistant of the Apostolic Movement.
Q. Can the fact of being bigots be considered a form of superstition?
A. Bigotry is an end in itself religious practice, repeated in an almost obsessive way, but without its finality. Every religious practice is aimed at the fulfillment of the will of God. Even our staying here tonight, has this purpose. We seek God’s will to live it better, at its most, at its top. The first commandment of charity is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength, with all of yourself and the second commandment of charity is like the first, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Therefore, religious practice must lead to discover the ways of truth and justice and to receive strength so that we can live the Lord’s will. This is the inspiring principle behind everything we do. The will of God is the supreme end of all our being Christians, of our being men. Man lives if he is in the will of the Lord.
Q. In CCC there is an expression: the virtue of religion. What does it mean?
A. What is a virtue? It is that inner strength that comes from the Holy Spirit by which you live a thing, a reality, according to its inner truth, not according to its falsity. A friendship can be true or false, authentic or superficial. The virtue of friendship takes you to live it according to a gift of love, a gift of charity, a gift also of your holiness, so you the more you are holy and the more you a true friend. The virtue of religion is that inner strength that comes from the Holy Spirit and you give religion its truth. What is the truth of all religion? Knowing the Lord, loving him, and then serving him in our brothers, because the Lord is loved in the brothers. He is loved in himself, in that you always do his will; and then, the real man is the object or the subject that you must always love. The virtue of religion is that inner, acquired wisdom and this is also thanks to the prayer. Through it, you know, you recognize who God is, and how He wants to be truly served. If you do not have this virtue, this inner strength that is science, knowledge, wisdom, intellect, fear of the Lord and piety, how can you love God according to his truth? You could love according to a falsehood of a man. The virtue of religion educates you, leads you to love God according to his truth.
Q. Is it bad to interpret dreams and believe that that they foretell anything?
A. Scripture says one thing about dreams, let dreams be dreams, because many got lost going after dreams. Unless they come from God. How do you know if a dream comes or does not come from God? If it comes from God, you do not have to do anything, because the dream is fulfilled by itself. For example, when Joseph dreamed that there were twelve sheaves that were bowing down before his, or he saw that twelve stars and the moon and the sun bowed before him, his father was amazed at this. The brothers were envious, but who could ever have imagined that through that dream God showed Joseph, that he would have become viceroy of Egypt tomorrow? The dream is fulfilled by itself and if you do not have to do anything, because God sends it, God realizes it. Unless in the dream, as it happened to Joseph, the Lord does not ask you something in regard to what you need to do. The Lord can ask you through one of his angels to do something, he manifest you his will. But generally the dream, scripture says, let’s leave it to be a torment of the night, then in the morning we forget it and we move on. Then, if it comes from the Lord, it is already fulfilled by itself. If it is a command of the angel of God, or by God himself, you listen to it and you put it into practice, as Joseph did. However, in most cases, you need not listen. But if you have a dream, go to your spiritual father and Iet yourself be helped, and if it is from God, he will help you so that you can live it in the perfect fulfillment of God’s will. We must read everything in the light of God’s will.
Q. In CCC I read that the man, as regards his future, must entrust himself to Providence, and that man himself, at times, is improvident. What does that mean?
A. The life of a man cannot be regulated. What will you do in a second you do not know, you cannot predict what will happen to you in a moment. You must always put your whole life in the hands of God, you have to put it in his will: “Lord be done according to your will as in heaven, so on earth.” You may not dispose of you: disease, health, present, future, joy, sadness, famine, nakedness, abundance and poverty are not adjustable, they come and that is it, and you must what St. Paul did. That is what he says in his letter to the Philippians: “I learned how to be poor, I learned how to be rich, I know how to live in abundance, I know how to live in poverty, I know how to walk in health and I know how to walk in the disease. I am used to everything. As the Lord sends me life so I live it. In his grace, in his mercy, always trying to do his will, every day. ” What will happen to you tomorrow you do not know. There is a beautiful expression of St. Paul in this regard: “What will happen to me tomorrow, I do not know, I only know that the Spirit inspires me to move on. If tomorrow I will be in jail, I will be stoned, I will be crucified, I will be beheaded, I will be beaten or whipped I do not know it; but I know I have to go on because the Lord is waiting for me. He is ahead of me and calls me, I must go. Whether there is a danger of a river, or there is a danger of a bandit, whether there is a peril of the sea, or there is the danger of one of my opponents, I do not know it; but I know that I must go on, He is waiting for me, he is ahead of me.” He had this irresistible force to always go meet the Lord. And he even saw death as the definitive encounter with God. So much so that he wanted to die to go meet the Lord. Then, the Lord still waited for him on earth, and he walked among men. Our life is unpredictable and none of us can program and can establish it. In an instant you are here and in another moment you are no more. This is the mystery of life, and we must accept it as the will of God. Why does a disease come? Nobody knows it. Job is sublime in this. The misfortune of losing everything in a day happened to him: wife, children, possessions, everything he owned, and he said: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, let his will be done. First he wanted me to live as a rich person and I lived as a rich one, now I have nothing and live as a poor man.” Then, he also lost his health and said: “Before the Lord wanted me to live as healthy person and lived as a healthy one, now he wants me to live as a sick and I live as a sick man, let his will be done.” In all this Job did not sin. This is the mystery of life. Life must be welcomed as it is; however, it must always be lived in the will of God. Before, the Inspirer of the Apostolic Movement was healthy and did her ministry as a healthy person: she paced, went on and walked. Now she is no longer healthy, and lives her ministry as a not healthy person. Why was she healthy before and now she is not healthy? I do not know, it is a mystery. But she always lives in the will of God: as a healthy, as a sick, as a lame person, she always lives the mystery of God’s will. She is always in God’s will. This must be for us a great example, because it makes us understand that we can always be in the will of God without us being able to predict what will happen in a minute. One thing I know, that I have to be in the will of God.
Q. Can attributing everything that happens to God’s will be a form of superstition?
A. More than a form of superstition it is a not correct and not holy religion. Not everything that happens is God’s direct will. God allows it, he does not want, but allows it. Then you have to ask yourself, why does the Lord allow this? What is the meaning that I must find out in this permission of God? You put yourself in prayer and ask the Lord for the light, so that you can improve, can perfect yourself and can grow in living according to the will of God. In everything that happens to you, whether good or bad, your task is to always remain in the will of God. In the book of Proverbs it is written: “Lord send me neither poverty and nor wealth, because there is a risk both in wealth and there is a risk in poverty. In wealth I abandon you, I forget about you, I do not live wealth according to your will. I can swear against you in poverty, and so I do not live poverty in your will, I do something bad, something that disturbs my relationship with you. Give me everything that makes me always remain in your will.” It is what we ask in the Our Father: Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Not whatever happens is the direct will of God; however, many times the Lord permits it. It is this way that we can grow, we can improve, we can be wiser, more concrete, we can avoid many things that we think are good and instead they are bad. Here, we need much wisdom in reading history. That is why we always need someone to help us to understand life, so that we can walk better.
Q. Can the excessive veneration of saints make one fall into idolatry?
A. The saints are the friends of God and due to their ministry they are intercessors, they can intercede with the Lord. We have the Virgin Mary, she always intercedes for us before the Lord. When must the cult of saints be purified? When God is replaced with the saint. The saint himself is the one who must go to the Lord. The Virgin Mary is not the one who does the graces, she obtains them from her son; and in fact, we always say: pray for us, intercede for us. In the Hail Mary we tell her, “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” The worship of the church is holy and it is perfect. Let me tell you a true fact. Every morning, a parish priest saw a poor, simple woman that came into the Church and went before a statue, she bowed down, she begged her and then she went home. The pastor after some time, could not stand it any more, and wanted to correct her. One morning he went to the woman and asked her, “Lady, why when you enter into the Church you always come in front of this statue and you never go before the most Blessed Lord?” And she replied, “When that one there will grant me the graces that this one here does me, then I will also pray to him, but as long as this grants me the graces I do not need to go to him. And I am coming for the grace.” This is a cult that must be purified, it must not be destroyed, because if you destroy something in a heart you have to put something else in it. We do not destroy what there is, there; we purify it. The cult is purified by teaching the truth: that the saint is the one who intercedes and he is not the author. In our people there is much ignorance and ignorance must always be illuminated. This is our particular task, always brightening the ignorance of the faithful which is a lot, it is not little. But with the grace of God we can do it. You also have a great responsibility which is that of enlightening people. If you put yourself of good will, you can do so much good. This is our truth, God’s truth, the truth of the Church and the truth of our faith. It is this way that the other person grows, because he knows the truth of things: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Now, we have a popular religiosity that needs lots and lots of light. However, if nobody gives this light how can it be spread. Condemning is always easy; educating, training and forming is our task. You are Apostolic Movement, you are called to give this light of truth in this world that has everything but does not have the light. You are the light, and if you bring it the light is there; otherwise, if nobody gives it, it is not there. The light does not come down by itself because it must be mediated, it must be brought, it must be offered and it must be given. We are the bearers of light in this world.
Q. How do you educate not to believe in the evil eye?
A. Our life cannot depend on a look, on a desire that a person has on us. We have to be serious, we must be strong, we must be convinced of our faith. One thing, an object, cannot have power over us because it is an object. Who can have power is man; yes, he is the one who can harm you, with the suggestion, with envy, with pride, with greed, with luxury and with lust. The devil can harm you, because he tempts you. But inanimate objects, or your desires, because you express them, cannot harm, because they do not have this power in them to be able to have influence on my life. We must be free, and Christianity is freedom from all these things. But, unfortunately, we are not free, because we were not trained to true freedom. People believe in these things, because they are not formed, they are not illuminated, they were not encouraged in the way of true faith. There is a sub-culture of faith today, that we should eradicate. An infinite time is necessary and we should make a communion of light, in order to create a powerful light. The beauty of the Apostolic Movement is that it could be a beacon of so powerful a light as to illuminate the whole universe, so powerful is its light. But if everyone keeps his little light, we can do little. On the contrary, if we put our lights together, and we make a body, we make life, we make communion, we make unity, then things will go well. Surely the Lord will help us, support us and move us. Outside there is a world that has a religious sub-culture that is frightening. But it is not their fault, it is ours because we are not yet the good Apostolic Movement of God. Tonight let us become aware, let us get together as light and will do good things, great things and holy things.
Q. What responsibility does a person, who does the magician or in any case makes fun of people saying he heal and that in these rites also exploits the divine image of Jesus, or of the Virgin Mary or of some saint; have before God?
A. The principle that you have to put in the heart is only one: all deceit perpetrated to the brother’s harm is sin. Every deception, every lie, every delusion, every falsehood, every lie is a sin, because you can never deceive your brother. Beyond your convictions, which can be true or false, made with a good or bad conscience, you have always a duty of never deceiving a brother. The brother needs to be always led into the truth. Whatever form of deception is a sin. It is a sin against the eighth commandment, it can be a sin against the seventh, it can be a sin against the sixth and it can be a sin against the fifth. Many times it happens that these commandments are transgressed together. We must be very careful. Using the image of the crucified to deceive better is a great sin, and it is also a sin of sacrilege. It is a sin against the second commandment, because you call God as a witness of your falsehood to deceive men. But no man has the power to govern the future of a man. We have to react to deception, we must enlighten on what the other does. Many times some things happen, because you live in a state of sin. If we go back into the grace of God, God returns to us and life changes, instantly, immediately. You have to have this certainty, that life changes if I change and go back to God.
Q. Prophecy and magic, what is the difference? Many people around say they are prophets. How can we understand when we turn away from a charlatan or a person truly of God?
A. If we understand what the prophecy is we know if we are dealing with a charlatan or a man of God. Prophecy is the qualified announcement of God’s truth and of his will. Now, we have the verification of the prophecy. We already know the will of God, by official revelation. We have the Holy Bible, we have the Holy Tradition of the Church, we have the Magisterium, we know what the will of God is. If a person announces you the will of God, you cannot say he is a false prophet. But in order to find a fake, or a true prophet, I do not have to go to some kind of hidden place, I do not have to go far. It is enough for me to walk down the street and I know who is a false prophet and I know who it is a true one. Every day you encounter as many false prophets as you want who say things in the name of God, and that God did not say and did not think. Eve was in the garden when Satan/serpent arrived and told her that what God had spoken was not true. If she had had a little bit of intelligence, she would have immediately understood that she was confronted with a truth of contrast: Satan the false prophet, tells a false truth on God. The Christian false prophet says a false truth on God. The Christian true prophet says a true word of God. If I invite you to observe the commandments I am a true prophet, if I invite you to transgress them I am a false one. The false prophecy is not the one that announces you a future that will or will not come, for this is not the task of the false prophecy. The false prophecy tells you a will that is not of God while the true prophecy tells you a will that it is of God. But every one of us can be a false prophet one day and a true prophet another day. One day he may be just and another day unjust. That is why it is necessary to always have a spiritual adviser who can do discernment on the true and the false, the just and the unjust ones. Anybody may propose you an unjust thing, and he is a false prophet. But if you do not have the criterion of discernment you have to walk with a wise person. And there are those wise people who must lead the way. In the Church there are ministers, there is preaching, there is the catechesis because we have to distinguish the true from the false prophecy, the true path with God from the false one, the true will of God from the false one. This we must discern and choose us, every day. This is our journey, this is where life is made. But we also run the risk of being false prophets with our friends when we invite them to something that is not according to the will of God. One who invites you to drugs, vice, sin is a false prophet. One that promises you a future is a false prophet, because our future is so unpredictable that never might any man decipher it. When God speaks to you of the future he does it in a non knowable dimension. God will make a new heaven, but how and when this will happen, you do not know it. The future is not identifiable in the day, in the hour and over time. There is a future that will come but do not know when, how; you do not know it because God keeps the future hidden in his heart.
Q. What is the attitude of the church towards the zodiac signs, horoscopes and so what must our attitude be?
A. Astronomy is a good science because it studies the laws of nature. Astrology is not a good science because it does not study any laws of nature. The zodiac cannot determine your life, the horoscope does not determine your life. All these non good forms are not for you. Life does not depend on stars, but on your will. If we do not put life in our will and govern it with wisdom we always err, because we can do something wrong. A marriage is not done because the stars command it, because one is of the Taurus and the other is of the Ram, or because one is of the virgin and the other is of the aquarium, or because one is Scorpion and the other is Cancer. This is foolishness. The wedding is done praying, asking the Lord to send the right person who then helps me live it holily. But sometimes a man prefers to get rid of his intelligence, his freedom, his will and his discernment, and rely on foolish, insipid and ignorant things. This is not possible, it is a sin against man and we do not want to sin against ourselves. The Lord gave me the intelligence to discern both good and bad for me. It gave me wisdom to see what is most helpful to me, and he gave me the will to always follow the good that my intelligence sees. This is important for all of us and it is nice that we do it. The Lord will of course bless us.
Q. If religion is not lived as a path to know the will of God, but prayer is done just to get graces. Can the prayer, in this case, be seen as a rite of magic?
A. The problem is not whether the prayer is magical or not. The problem is of the conscience. If a desperate person comes to make a prayer, in the Church, you cannot condemn that person, but you have to help him, little by little, pass from prayer to obedience. If you read the gospel you will find that so many people went to Jesus Christ for a grace, for a miracle and then disappeared. How many people went to Christ took the miracle and went back home. Christ did not condemn these people because they were sheep without a shepherd. They were not formed, they were not guided, they were not helped, they were not illuminated. Christ Jesus had compassion and helped them, supported them, cured them and instructed them. A man goes to God as he is, and many times he is ignorant, untrained, used, educated in a certain way. The Virgin Mary, the saints, the very God, do not despise the one who humbly recognizes them as his salvation at that time. God does not despise this prayer, he accepts it. It is up to us to enlighten, guide, help; it is the task of the Church. If you read the book of Acts, you find that the eunuch of Queen Candace departed from Ethiopia and came near Jerusalem. During the trip going he read the Bible, and on the way back he reviewed it. When Philip approached and asked him if he understood what he read, this replied that he did not understand anything. Then Philip went up into the chariot and explained him who the servant of the Lord was. And he explained it to him well. Arrived to a watercourse that man had himself be baptized and returned to Ethiopia with a new spirit. The man who comes to us is this way, not formed, not taken care of in the things concerning the faith. But on the other hand when God took man in the desert took he took him rude, and then with all his divine labour which lasted thousands of years he formed him, but to no avail. Then Christ came, then the Church came, now we are here, but the results are always few because this man is made of sin. So we have to help him, we must have an infinite wisdom to work with this man. We must not despise his heart, though, because when the heart is not evil you can always sow the truth of God in it. His word can always be entered and a holy gospel principle that can change the entire existence. For this reason the Lord wanted the Apostolic Movement, to bring this light of the gospel into many hearts that are thirsty for truth, but that no one gives. Sometimes even we do not donate this light as authentic truth of the gospel. This evening let us make a serious examination of our conscience. There are so many people that want to know God, but we are silent and do not talk. From tonight on let us start talking and many things will be done better.
Q. From Cardolo. Magic in itself originates from the unspeakable dream of a man to be God, or from the presumption of being able to take possession of the very power of God to use it to his liking. There is a certain relationship with that temptation of the beginning that was at the origin of the first sin?
A. There is the magic of who works and of who goes to visit. Who works the magic is driven by this spirit of pride that claims to be able to rule the world and men. But unlike the early days, where there was the pride of wanting to be like God, many times, in so much magic, there is the filthy gain; and therefore, more than pride there is lust, there is deception and there is fraud against the brothers. On the contrary, who attends because he looks for a grace, looks for a miracle, looks for a solution to a problem, finds himself in a state of great ignorance and of much non knowledge of the mystery. We have to work on these people, enlighten them, help them, explain them everything. There is a need of a lot of light, there is a need of a lot of truth, there is a need of much wisdom, there is a need of much grace, there is a need of us. Go home with this conviction in your heart: God needs me to enlighten the world, God needs me to give the taste of his wisdom, God needs me to give the truth of his grace and of his word.
Directions for the preparation of the meeting given by Monsignor Costantino Di Bruno:
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 2110 to 2132 and n. 1852
– Final Document of the Plenary Assembly: “Where is your God – the Christian faith and the challenge of religious indifference” (Attachment PDF).