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.It is to this ignorance of the true God, coupled with an inordinate veneration for human excellence and the love of artistic representations appealing to the senses, that St. While these are dispositive causes, the consummative cause, he adds, was the influence of demons who offered themselves as objects of worship to erring men, giving answers through idols and doing things which to men seemed marvellous (II-II:94:4).These causes explain the origin and spread of superstition in the pagan world.Now as in the past the rejection of Divine truth in the name of reason often opens the way to beliefs and practices which are at once unworthy of reason and dangerous to morality.
deorum", I, 42, 117); or from superstes , "surviving": "Qui totos dies precabantur et immolabant, ut sibi sui liberi superstites essent, superstitiosi sunt appellati", i.e.
The numerous cases in which the event seemed to justify the superstitious practice, and the universality of such incongruous beliefs and performances, though they may not always induce inculpable ignorance, may possibly obscure the knowledge and weaken the will to a point incompatible with mortal sin.
As a matter of fact, many superstitions of our own day have been acts of genuine piety at other times, and may be so still in the hearts of simple folk. Improper Worship The first type of improper worship, cultus indebitus , consists in introducing false or superfluous elements into the practice of true religion.
So far as this includes the worship of things other than God, it is not only an essential part, but the foundation also of the Positivistic system (Comte), which sets up humanity as the object of religious worship (see POSITIVISM).
Nor can Pantheism, which identifies God and the world, lead consistently to any but superstitious practices, however it may in theory disclaim such a purpose.