Every so often, a well-meaning friend (or other email correspondent) will send me an email such as the one below:
When you receive the e-mail say a Hail Mary and ask for a special favor.
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God , pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.
Please do not break the Novena. Send it to 12 people (including me) who deserve justice, peace, love, health, prosperity and truth. When you are down to nothing, God is up to something.
Actually, many of them are worse than the one above. They'll promise you "blessings if you send this to your entire address book in the next 5 minutes, and if you don't then you're a faithless apostate". You get the drift!
These are nothing more than electronic versions of chain letters. I regret to say that many decent people will unquestioningly obey the admonition and hit that "send" button. If so, they are unwittingly yielding to superstition and putting their recipients in near occasion of that sin. These are not exhortations to true prayer. Rather, they are calls to engage in incantation cleverly disguised as prayer. I say "incantation" because of the obvious "formula" smell to it; that is, "do x,y and z and God will automatically bless you like a good little vending machine that has had its buttons properly pushed".
Needless to say, I don't forward them at all. I don't even forward them after removing the superstitious parts, for I don't want to reward the sinful behavior of the originator of the chain-email. Rather, what I'll do is write a reply to this effect and send it back to the sender, asking them in turn to send it back to whoever sent it to them.
Might I suggest that we all do this? Of course you could just delete it, but wouldn't it be more helpful to try to eliminate that problem?