As members of the Church Militant, we have an incredible arsenal at our disposal; with this arsenal we can equip ourselves for every battle — large or small — that may come our way. And when we cannot access the “big guns” of the Sacraments themselves, the Sacramentals are perfect to reach for.
‘‘[Sacramentals] are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the Sacraments: they signify effects, particularly of a spiritual kind, which are obtained through the Church’s intercession. By them all are disposed to receive the chief effect of the Sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy’’
— The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.
Before delving into specifics, we should make one thing absolutely clear: Sacramentals are not magical charms. They must be used with Faith in God, understanding that His Will alone is the power really at work, and the Sacramentals themselves are not to be unduly attached to, nor are they to be given an intrinsic significance that they, in fact, lack. For they are reminders and they are channels of grace — not grace itself — as such, we ought not neglect them, even while understanding their limited nature. The Sacraments themselves, of course, are also not “magical charms,” but they do indeed confer the grace of the Holy Spirit even more powerfully, and they do so ex opere operato — from the work performed — and are efficacious merely by the fact that they have been validly given.
For these limitations do not detract from the great power sacramentals do indeed carry. Here are a few examples of sacramentals:
- Blessings (of persons, meals, etc.)
- The Sign of the Cross
- Grace Before Meals
- The Father blessing his children
- Holy Water (and salt, oil)
- For use with The Sign of the Cross
- Sprinkling in rooms and other places
- Having accessible at the main entryway to the house
- The Brown Scapular
- Should go along with being “enrolled in the Brown Scapular Confraternity” by a priest
- Ideally one worn and one in each room of the house
- The Miraculous Medal
- Ideally continually worn
- St. Benedict’s Medal
- Very powerful protection against demons
- Blessed Candles
- To be lit especially during prayer
- Holy Images
- Especially the Divine Mercy Image, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Holy Face (from the Shroud of Turin), and images of the Holy Family
- Marian Consecration Chain
- To remind one continually of his 33-day Consecration to Jesus through Mary
- For veneration
We should be sure to make use of these sacramentals whenever the situation calls for doing so; they afford both spiritual and physical protection. The Church also grants indulgences — both plenary and partial — for the use of many of these sacramentals.
|↑1||The Sacraments themselves, of course, are also not “magical charms,” but they do indeed confer the grace of the Holy Spirit even more powerfully, and they do so ex opere operato — from the work performed — and are efficacious merely by the fact that they have been validly given.|