“Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.”

  • Sacramentals
    Sacramentals are instituted for the sanctification of certain ministries of the Church, certain states of life, a great variety of circumstances in Christian life, and the use of many things helpful to man. In accordance with bishops’ pastoral decisions, they can also respond to the needs, culture, and special history of the Christian people of a particular region or time. They always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of holy water (which recalls Baptism).
  • Blessings
    Among sacramentals blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father “with every spiritual blessing.”  This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ.

 

Sacramentals are not unlike the sacraments in that they are channels of grace and can obtain for us these benefits:

1) Actual graces

2) Forgiveness of venial sins

3) Remission of temporal punishment

4) Health of body and material blessings

5) Protection from evil spirits

One difference 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. Sacramentals 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.

Since 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 and prayerfully.