In March 2020, Pope Francis went to a specific church to pray in front of a certain crucifix, asking for a stop to the coronavirus. Apparently this crucifix had survived a church fire in 1519 and was, therefore, labeled as sort of miraculous. Then three years after that fire, a plague was supposedly stopped in its tracks because of this same sacred object. Pope Francis had also prayed before a statue of Mary at a different church. This Mary statue had been carried in a processional hundreds of years earlier to stop a plague—and had also been prayed to in the 1800s in hopes of the end to a cholera outbreak.
I don’t mean to pooh-pooh anyone’s sincere prayers to the Lord for help. I’m going after the pagan idea that the use of supposedly magical places and objects will make answered prayer more likely. (We’ll save the topic of praying to Mary for another time.)
(Sidebar: During March 2020 there were several news articles about Catholic churches removing the holy water fonts to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Many people—including at least one atheist website—couldn’t help seeing the irony. After all, if this sacred water is infused with the Lord’s own power, what could be the danger?)
My sister had been recalling that in our childhood it was popular to carry around a “lucky rabbit’s foot.” And we were discussing how silly that was. We have the Lord himself right with us, and he says, “Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). So what are we doing when it comes to such objects? Are we thinking, OK, I need major help. So I’ll keep my lucky rabbit’s foot in my pocket all day. If the Lord can’t manage things all by himself, maybe he can use this hunk of dead animal to increase my odds?
Yes, in the Bible there were a few “sacred places” (like the tabernacle, the temple) and a few “sacred objects” (like the ark of the covenant). But the only legit ones—that is, truly sacred in God’s eyes—were things that the Lord himself, not people, so designated. And their use was limited to his very specific purposes. There’s nothing in Scripture indicating that we need to be near a certain location or a certain object just in case Almighty God has trouble connecting with our prayers. Read more in my “Nothing Sacred” handout.
1 thought on “Of Crucifixes and Rabbits’ Feet”
Here is an interesting Scripture that may have prompted the teaching of using “sacred objects” to perform miracles. The super natural gifts given by the Holy Spirit, first to the apostles and then to whomever the apostles laid their hands on enabled them to perform miracles no available to us today. These miracles, signs and wonders were to validate the word spoken by the person that God was with them [as Nicodemus recognized Jesus to be from God because of the miracles he did]. Mark 16:20 “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.” Hebrews 2:3–4 “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”
–Acts 1:26 :And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the ELEVEN APOSTLES.: Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost arrived, THEY were all together in one place.” —Acts 8:18–19 “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit [one of the miraculous gifts].” Here may be where they are misusing a Bible verse to get to their teaching. Acts 19:11–12 “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.” Thank you for your posts. Thought provoking! bro. Lynn & Margie