Sacramentals: Armor Of God
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What Are Sacramentals?
Sacred Signs of the Catholic Church
Holy Water is a Blessed Object, a Sacramental
Sacramentals are a very distinctive part of the Catholic Church experience. Learn about the different sacred objects and holy actions that Catholics use in everyday life.
Sacramentals are closely connected to the sacraments of the Catholic Church. Many sacramental such as holy oils, holy water, blessings, candles, and incense are used in the celebration of the sacraments.
Sacramentals like the sacraments are also externals signs through which people can receive God’s grace or blessing. However, sacramentals do not confer blessings or grace in the same manner as do the sacraments.
The Catholic Church also defines other differences between sacraments and sacramentals and the various different forms of sacramentals.
What are Sacramentals?
Sacramentals are “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The fundamental difference between sacramentals and sacraments is that Christ instituted sacraments, while the Catholic Church instituted sacramentals.
Another difference is that the sacraments are said to work by the direct power of Christ, while a sacramental obtains grace or power by the prayers of the Church. The purpose of all sacramentals is to help people grow in faith. In essence, they are contact points that represent Catholic faith.
There are various forms and types of sacramentals. However, sacramentals can be divided into three main categories: sacred actions, sacred objects, and blessings.
One of the most familiar and oldest holy action is the sign of the cross. This basic action is a profession of faith and identifies a person as a Christian. In liturgical functions and many of the sacraments like the Anointing of the sick, the priest will make the sign of the cross either in the air or on a person’s palms and forehead.
Some other sacred actions are sprinkling with holy water, bowing the head, kneeling or genuflecting, folding the hands, and other gestures or postures people generally assume while praying.
Once a priest or other members of the Catholic clergy bless an object, it becomes holy. The most well known holy objects Catholics use are blessed rosaries, holy water, and scapulars. Some other sacred objects used in the Catholic Church for many liturgical celebrations include holy oils, blessed palms on Palm Sunday, candles, blessed ashes on Ash Wednesday, and incense.
Holy oils are a sign of spiritual strength and are important for many rites. One blessed oil the Church uses is the holy chrism used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders. The other two holy oils are the oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick.
In addition, Catholics may also use blessed objects as sacramentals for private devotions that can include pictures of saints, icons, religious medals, statues, books, relics, Bible, and Crucifix
Prayers and Blessings.
A principal sacramental is the prayer of the Church known as the Liturgy of the Hours. Other prayers such as exorcism prayers are also considered sacramentals.
Blessings also play a vital role in the lives of Catholics. In fact, there is a wide range of different ceremonial blessings. The most familiar may be the final blessing given at the conclusion of Mass. Likewise, the blessing given by a priest at weddings, is another example. Blessings are invoked at many other occasions such as the blessing of animal on the feast of St. Francis or the blessing of throats on the feast of St Blasé.
People can also give a blessing or say a prayer over their children or the food they eat at mealtime. In this manner, lay Catholics can use blessings to celebrate the sacredness of their everyday lives.
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