by HFH Reuvers


There is much superstition in the world. In fact, this is mainly a remnant of former paganism. Thus, Catholicism in the Caribbean Islands is mixed with the voodoo rituals of African natural religions. In Western Europe, there was the detestable witch hunt. This hunt was a consequence of the widespread belief in witchcraft and devilish work that has much in common with voodoo. Only some hundred years ago, in 1900, a ritual murder took place in the Dutch lands of the rivers Maas and Waal. A farmer thought he recognised the devil in one of his farm labourers and beat him to death.
In our Germanic regions, people formerly thought the devil was the same guy as the supreme god Wodan. The nocturnal noise of the devil in the parish house of Ars makes us think of the Germanic Wodan's Chase mystery that survives in today carnival. The connection between Wodan and Satan becomes clear from the following part of the baptism formulas:

Priest: Do you forsake the devil? Convert: I forsake the devil.
Priest: And all sacrifices to the devil? Convert: I forsake all sacrifices to the devil.
Priest: And all devilish work? Convert: I forsake all devilish work and devilish words, Donar and Wodan and Saxnot and all demons who are their companions.

In Germanic paganism, justice of the strong was prevailing. They glorified fight and violence at the cost of the rights of the weaker. Nazism was a late comeback of this old paganism. However ... this evil is still slumbering under the surface of common life, and we will never be free from it. For we really do wish to engage to help the weaker, but, before all, we wish to be in control. We don't usually dare to rely on God, as the monks and nuns used to do.

There is much superstition in the old veneration of saints, too. This is because the early medieval saints were substitutes for the old pagan gods and heroes. So it's no big surprise they managed to do strange miracles, and people credited their relics with miraculous power. God used signs for which we have scientific explanations nowadays, to help people of those olden times believe.