First Commandment and Superstition |


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First Commandment and Superstition

刊登日期: 2014.02.23
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  


 This article will not deal with the commonly known superstitions like fortune telling, reading horoscope, wearing good luck charms, etc. Rather, I would like to comment on our day-to-day little superstitious habits. 

1. Good omen (好意頭). We Chinese have a bad habit of having to say things that sound good and avoiding those that do not. We think that they may bring luck we do or do not desire. On occasions of celebration we want to say the right sounding words. Thus, we have fish () and meat () for new year because they bring plenty () and fulfilling desires (). We certainly want good numbers because some numbers do not sound good. (The number four, for example. This is different from westerners’ aversion of the number thirteen.) Public figures, priests included, get complaints because they used a word the sound of which could be misheard and bring bad luck. It gets even harder when switching between Cantonese and Mandarin. That’s superstition. 

2. We are also superstitious with words and signs like blessedness turned upside down otherwise they may all flow out. 

3 . O u r l i v i n g and w o r k i n g environments have to have a certain rightness according to our superstitious belief. One example is, (from what I heard), how the escalators at the HSBC building have to be placed in an “open” manner to bring in richness. 

4. Athletes are, as a group, habitually superstitious. They often think that they have to go through certain routines, wear certain clothes in certain ways, in order to win a game. It gets as silly as putting on socks in a certain order and many other idiosyncrasies. 

We can go on and on about behaviors and habits that, by themselves, have no supernatural power but we afford them such powers. That is what superstition is all about. 

The issue is about where God is in all our daily activities. People acting superstitiously are saying that some things are beyond God. Or that God expects us to act that way, otherwise HE will let bad things happen to us. Sadly, this may even involve religious acts. I have watched basketball players make the Sign of the Cross and bounce the ball exactly five times before shooting a foul shot. This shows a lack of faith, in God and in oneself. 

Lack of faith in God. 

As Christians, our actions are good because we have good moral intentions, what we do is morally good and the outcome is morally good. There are many things we do that have no moral criteria. In those instances, God simply lets us do our thing. So, when we play basketball, there is no moral value on how we shoot the foul shot. Just go do it. Now, there may be habits in the act of shooting that falls under “muscle memory”. That is very different from thinking that if we do not go through certain routines, God will not let the ball go in. 

Lack of faith in oneself. 

This happens when a person thinks that a particular routine by itself will guarantee a certain outcome. The routine somehow has a power of its own. A basketball player may think that the ball will go in only if he makes the Sign of the Cross and bounces it five times, that it has nothing to do with how diligently he has practiced shooting. 

Can you think of habits you might have that border on superstition? Imagine how hilarious it must be to God when He watches us doing those silly routines for no good reason. 


Trust Him. He loves you. 

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