Sacramentals

Throughout the centuries, the testimony of many Christians, including a number of saints, confirms that objects blessed by a priest, through the power of the Church’s intercession, can repel demonic powers. Again and again, evil spirits have recoiled in dread, not just from the Sign of the Cross, but also from holy water and blessed oil, crosses, crucifixes, medals, candles, or salt (Manual for Spiritual Warfare, 55).

In a previous post, Spiritual Warfare, I mentioned that sacramentals provide protection from the devil.

Someone close to me suggested that I write a post on these valuable weapons.

In honor of Saint Benedict of Nursia, a champion in spiritual warfare whose feast we celebrate today, here’s a post dedicated to sacramentals.

Information on Sacramentals

Definition

Sacred signs that extend and radiate the sacraments, signifying the mostly spiritual effects obtained through the Church’s intercession and disposing a person to the grace of the sacraments.

The Elements

There is always a prayer

  • Blessings: persons, meals, objects, places
  • Exorcisms: public, authoritative requests in Jesus’ name that a person or object be protected against and/or withdrawn from the power of the Evil One
  • Side note: the prayer/blessing is typically done by a Catholic priest because he is an ordained minister and has authority granted by the Church

There is often a specific sign

  • Laying on of hands
  • Sign of the Cross
  • Sprinkling of holy water

Information taken from the Catholic Source Book, page 318

List of Sacramentals

There are many types of sacramentals.

I’ll share three that I use most often. I’ll explain why each is important as well as practical tips.

Sign of the Cross

  • Externalizing the faith of anything done in the name of the Lord: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
  • A form of prayer
  • Marks us as children of God and reminds us of the price of our redemption: Jesus’ death on the cross

Tips

  • Make the Sign of the Cross throughout the day: upon waking, when getting in the car, when entering a building, before meals, when passing a Catholic Church, before prayer, when witnessing blasphemy, when tempted, before going to sleep.
  • Teach children to bless themselves frequently.

In a statement attributed to St. John Chrysostom, demons are said to “fly away” at the Sign of the Cross “dreading it as a staff that they are beaten with” (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Holy Water

  • Used for baptizing and to remind us of our baptism
  • Kept in fonts in churches and homes to be used when one enters and leaves
  • Often sprinkled on individuals, assemblies or objects as part of a blessing

Tips

  • Keep a bottle of holy water next to your bed.
  • Use it to bless yourself, your spouse, your children, and anyone else living in your home upon waking in the morning and sleeping at night.
  • Use it before leaving home and after returning home.
  • Jugs of holy water are in each church for the faithful to use. Empty bottles are available at the church and where religious items are sold.

“From long experience I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and prevent them from coming back again.” ~ St. Teresa of Ávila

Cross/Crucifix

  • The distinct symbol of Christianity
  • Represents Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation
  • Many types: Celtic, Jerusalem, Russian, Saint Thomas, San Damiano etc.
  • When a cross has the figure of Christ crucified (the corpus), it’s called a crucifix

Tips

  • Keep the cross/crucifix in visible places in your home, especially in your bedroom.
  • Wear a cross/crucifix around your neck or carry one in your pocket or purse.

“Fill your children, my dear brethren, with the greatest respect for the Cross, and always have a blessed cross on yourselves. Respect for the Cross will protect you against the Devil, from the vengeance of heaven, and from all danger.” ~ St. Jean Vianney

Final Words

It’s important to remember that when a priest blesses an item, it becomes a sacramental.

Because the priest is a sacred minister of the Church, his blessing imparts the prayers and graces of the Church on the person, item or place that is blessed.

Sacramentals are always meant to be treated with reverence and respect.

Sacramentals are never meant to be treated as good luck charms or with any superstitions.

They are to be used for devotion to God, as a channel through which He chooses to work. Their purpose is to point to God and bring us closer to Him.

Make sure to get any and all objects of religious devotion blessed! You can ask a priest to bless an item after Mass or by going to the rectory when a priest is available.

Many people underestimate — or aren’t aware of — the power of a Catholic priest’s blessing.

Don’t be afraid to ask for blessings from a priest. The Lord wants us to do so, and we miss out on many graces when we don’t.

Whether you already use sacramentals or begin to do so after reading this post, I hope you’ll grow closer to God and experience His grace through them.

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