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"Superstition is the baseless fear of the gods, religion the pious worship." According to Isidore of Seville (Etymolog., l. iii, sent.), the word comes from superstatuo or superinstituo : "Superstitio est superflua observantia in cultu super statuta seu instituta superiorum", i.e.

A layman performing priestly functions, a pardoner selling spurious indulgences, a fanatic devotee inventing false miracles and answers to prayers in order to introduce or spread his own favourite devotion, wholesale believers in supernatural apparitions, visions, revelations, which serve no good purpose -- all these are guilty of superstition, at least material.Ignorance of natural causes leads to the belief that certain striking phenomena express the will or the anger of some invisible overruling power, and the objects in which such phenomena appear are forthwith deified, as, e.g. Conversely, many superstitious practices are due to an exaggerated notion or a false interpretation of natural events, so that effects are sought which are beyond the efficiency of physical causes.Curiosity also with regard to things that are hidden or are still in the future plays a considerable part, e.g. But the chief source of superstition is pointed out in Scripture : "All men are vain, in whom there is not the knowledge of God : and who by these good things that are seen, could not understand him that is, neither by attending to the works have acknowledged who was the workman: but have imagined either the fire, or the wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the great water, or the sun and moon, to be the gods that rule the world" ( Wisdom 13:1-2 ).With regard to the subjective guilt attaching to them it must be borne in mind that no sin is mortal unless committed with full knowledge of its grievous wickedness and with full deliberation and consent.Of these essential factors the first is often wanting entirely, and the second is only imperfectly present.

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