Discussion Topic: Devotions that were originally rejected

Popular devotions have existed from the beginning of Christianity, although it wasn’t until the Counter-Reformation that they began to overshadow liturgy.  It is largely unknown that a number of these devotions we know were originally rejected from approval or outright discouraged by those in authority.

So in light of The Rad Trad’s idea to move into seminar-like forum discussions, I’ll start one and beat him to the punch.

Why were the Divine Mercy and the Sacred Heart devotions rejected initially?  What were Benedict XIV’s reasons for forbidding the latter and the Holy Office’s grounds for rejecting the former on four separate occasions?  I am honestly asking because I do not know.  What were other devotions that received the same same scrutiny?

Keep calm, and fast on.


3 thoughts on “Discussion Topic: Devotions that were originally rejected

  1. In 2002, John Allen reported this in a column at NCR (Aug 30):

    “Although Faustina’s diary is the only mystical text composed in Polish, it might have ended up in the ashbin of history had it not been for Karol Wojtyla, later to become Pope John Paul II.

    In 1959, the Holy Office (the Vatican’s doctrinal agency, today known as the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith) issued a cease and desist order against Faustina’s diary and the devotion to Divine Mercy, a ban that was to last almost 20 years, until 1978. Wojtyla had long been working to reverse the verdict, having launched the beatification process for Faustina in 1965 while he was archbishop of Kraków.

    Officially, the 20-year ban is now attributed to misunderstandings created by a faulty Italian translation of the Diary, but in fact there were serious theological reservations — Faustina’s claim that Jesus had promised a complete remission of sin for certain devotional acts that only the sacraments can offer, for example, or what Vatican evaluators felt to be an excessive focus on Faustina herself.

    John Paul has pushed no devotion further or faster. His second encyclical, 1980’s Dives in Misericordia, was inspired by Faustina. He beatified her in 1993, and canonized her in April 2000 as the first saint of the third Christian millennium. He approved a special Divine Mercy Mass for the Sunday after Easter in 1994, and celebrated it himself in St. Peter’s Square before a crowd of 200,000 in April 2001. He assigned the Church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia in Rome as a headquarters for the Divine Mercy movement in 1994, and just this month approved a special indulgence for taking part in Divine Mercy Sunday.

    Some critics say the content of Faustina’s message of divine mercy is unoriginal, even banal. But Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, John Paul’s successor as archbishop of Kraków, said in response to an NCR question Aug. 18 that Faustina “reminds us of the gospel we had forgotten.”

    Macharski added that Vatican disapproval was never “absolutely negative,” but merely a “warning” to use caution. He said it was Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, head of the Holy Office, who gave a green light for a sainthood investigation in the 1960s so testimony could be collected while witnesses were still alive. He did so despite his own office’s doubts.

    Macharski added that in the end it was Paul VI, not John Paul II, who reversed the ban on Faustina’s work in 1978.”


    • So, it was a local Polish devotion that got pushed through by a Polish pope who was in love with said devotion. It was to Poland what the Sacred Heart was to France…

      “Faustina’s claim that Jesus had promised a complete remission of sin for certain devotional acts that only the sacraments can offer…”

      I object to that myself. I have no problem with the chaplet itself (although it’s never been part of my prayer life), but it’s certainly no substitute for Mass/Liturgy/Qurbana and reception of the Eucharist (and while we are at it, neither is the rosary).


  2. Consider these selections from Faustina’s Diary:

    “Ask of my faithful servant [a priest] that, on this day, he tell the whole world of My great mercy; that whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy.” (300)

    “I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day, the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.” (699)

    “I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy.” (1109)


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