is a sacramental?
teaches us that sacramentals are “holy things or actions of
which the church makes use to obtain for us from God, through her
intercession, spiritual and temporal favors.”
is anything set apart or blessed by the church to excite good thoughts
and to help devotion. It is through the prayers of the church offered
for those who make use of these sacramentals, as well as through
the devotion they inspire, that they convey and obtain God’s
grace and blessings.
are not unlike the sacraments in that they are channels of grace
and can obtain for us these benefits:
2) Forgiveness of venial sins
3) Remission of temporal punishment
4) Health of body and material blessings
5) Protection from evil spirits
between sacraments and sacramentals is that the latter do not produce
sanctifying grace, a power that belongs to sacraments alone. Another
difference is that sacraments were instituted directly by Christ
while sacramentals were instituted by Christ through His church.
should never take the place of sacraments. The sacraments are necessary
for salvation; sacramentals are not necessary. Nevertheless, the
prayers, pious objects, sacred signs, and ceremonies of Mother Church
are means to salvation.
they are blessed objects, sacramentals should always be treated
with reverence and devotion. It is a custom of Catholics to kiss
a rosary or scapular that they have accidentally dropped on the
ground. The sign of the cross or a genuflection should be made deliberately
do they work?
obtain favors from God through the prayers of the Church offered
for those who make use of them, and through the devotion they inspire.”
should not be thought of as contracts, investments, or good luck
charms. To wear the scapular does not give us free reign to commit
mortal sin and still be assured of heaven.
is a symbol of Marian devotion and a silent prayer to Our Blessed
Mother in heaven for salvation that she most certainly will not
ignore. Using holy water is not an infallible wiping away of our
venial sins unless we have contrition for our sins when we use it.
of sacramentals, then, depends greatly on the devotion of both the
priest who gives the blessing and the person who is receiving the
sacramental. They depend on the prayers of the church, the prayers
of the blessings that are imposed on them, and the merits of Jesus
Christ, the Blessed Mother, and the Saints. Of themselves they do
not save souls, but they are the means for securing heavenly help
for those who use them properly.
blessed objects of devotion, it is good to remember that it is the
blessing the priest gives an object that makes it a sacramental.
The blessing gives God ownership over the object and dedicates it
to Him, and He then works through it. This is why it is very important
to have sacramentals blessed; without the blessing they do not hold
any of the graces of benefits promised by the Church.
otherwise is to degrade the sacramental to the level of a good luck
charm. It is superstition to hold that the grace and spiritual benefit
one may receive comes from the sacramental itself; all grace comes
from God. A sacramental is merely a channel through which He has
chosen to work.
surrounded by sacramentals. The Church has placed them in every
aspect of our day-to-day life. They may more or less be divided
into categories, though some sacramentals may fall under more than
one. For instance, a rosary is both a prayer and a blessed object
of priests and bishops -- All blessings are considered sacramentals.
The blessings of priests and bishops, such as the consecration of
churches, the absolution contained in the Confiteor at Mass, the
Asperges, and the blessings bestowed on palms, candles, or ashes
are all sacramental actions.
are free to bless objects, and we do so often in blessing our children,
blessing meals, blessing Advent wreaths or Mary Gardens, etc. However
our blessings act as ‘mere’ plea to God.
alone have been given the power to bless with a guarantee, as it
were, and it is they and they alone who can take a new crucifix
or rosary and turn them into sacramentals with the power and prayers
of the entire church behind them.
-- One of the most remarkable effects of sacramentals is their ability
to drive away evil sprits. Exorcisms constitute the second category
of sacramentals. They can be found in prayers or even placed upon
other sacramentals such as the St. Benedict medal.
objects of devotion -- The Church blesses an untold variety of objects
which the faithful use to inspire devotion. It would be impossible
to list them all, but some of the main ones are holy water,candles,
ashes, palms, crucifixes, medals, rosaries, scapulars, and images
of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints. Some of these blessed
objects, namely candles, ashes, and palms, are given to us directly
through the liturgy. Others, such as the scapular, rosary and Miraculous
Medal have been instituted or directly propagated by Our Blessed
Mother. Sacramentals such as these play a pivotal role in the devotion
and spiritual life of any Catholic and should be treated with the
respect and dignity they deserve.
and prayers -- It is easy to forget that rubrics and prayers are
all sacramentals, such as the bowing of the head at the holy name
of Jesus or the sign of the cross. Many of these actions are used
so often that they are performed flippantly and without thought.
How easy it is to forget that a sincere recitation of the Confiteor
before communion and the absolution of the priest afterwards can
remit venial sin and be used as a way of purifying one’s soul
before receiving Holy Communion. How often in a day do we make the
sign of the cross, forgetting that it is a testimony of faith in
the Trinity to Whom we belong and in the act of Redemption. All
these things should be done deliberately and devoutly, since they
were deliberately instituted by the church to aid us in attaining
a deep love of God.
a material sacramental becomes so worn that it can no longer be
used as a sacramental, one should not casually toss it into the
trash. To prevent desecration, the sacramental should be returned
to the earthly elements.
water, for example, should be poured into a hole dug in the earth,
in a spot no one would walk over. Combustible sacramentals, such
as scapulars and holy books, should be burned and then buried.Larger
sacramentals that do not burn should be altered so that their form
no longer appears to be a sacramental (for example, a statue should
be broken up into small pieces) and then buried.
made of metals can be melted down and used for another purpose.Items
lose their blessing or consecration if they are desecrated, if they
are substantially broken such that they can no longer be used for
their sacred purpose, or if they are publicly sold. If an item is
sold by one individual to another for only the price of the material
itself, that is, if no profit is made, the blessing remains. For
example, if you were to give someone a blessed rosary or sell it
to him at cost, he would not have to have it re-blessed. If you
were to sell a blessed rosary to someone for profit, he would need
to take it to a priest to be blessed.