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September 2, 2008 / vivator


One of mortal sins that violates God’s first commandment is sacrilege. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines sacrilege as:

Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us.

Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2120

Do we have scriptural support of sacrilege or is it just Catholic’s superstition?  From Daniel we read:

King Belshaz’zar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in front of the thousand. Belshaz’zar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver which Nebuchadnez’zar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought in the golden and silver vessels which had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Daniel 5:1-4 (RSV)


Belshazzar’s Feast

A painting by Rembrandt (c. 1635)

National Gallery, London

(picture taken from

Then the king saw a hand write on the wall, which he and all his men were not able to decipher.  At the advice of the queen mother, Daniel was summoned and he was able to read and to interpret the words.

but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven; and the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.

Daniel 5:23 (RSV)

Those vessels refer to those his father (or great grandfather) Nebuchadnezzar looted from Jerusalem Temple.  They were consecrated to God and are not supposed to be used for other purpose – this is what angered God.  Was God angry because he praised his gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone?  This action certainly did not please God – yet it was unlikely in the feast recorded in Daniel 5 he first practised idolatry.  His sacrilege action, compounded with praising his idols, was the one that brought him destruction.


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