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But the tendency itself has not wholly disappeared.Side by side with the Rationalistic philosophy and the rigorous scientific methods which are characteristic of modern thought, there are still to be found various sorts of superstition.

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Superstition of any description is a transgression of the First Commandment: "I am the Lord thy God ,-- thou shalt not have strange gods before me. thou shalt not adore them nor serve them" ( Exodus 20:2-5 ).

Thomas (II-II:92:1) as "a vice opposed to religion by way of excess; not because in the worship of God it does more than true religion, but because it offers Divine worship to beings other than God or offers worship to God in an improper manner".

Superstition sins by excess of religion, and this differs from the vice of irreligion, which sins by defect.

They were to a large extent eliminated by the preaching of Christianity ; but so deep-rooted was the tendency to which they gave rise that many of the ancient practices survived, especially among peoples just emerging from barbarism.

It was only by degrees, through the legislation of the Church and the advance of scientific knowledge, that the earlier forms of superstition were eradicated.

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 ).

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.

The theological virtue of religion stands midway between the two.

(II-II:92:1) This division is based upon the various ways in which religion may be vitiated by excess.

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.

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