Saturday, October 12, 2013

Catechesis on Sacramentals by Fr. Ronald Check

What is the difference between a Sacrament and a sacramental?

The Seven Sacraments have been instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, and the Church is essentially powerless to change them.  Their matter and form has been determined by Christ himself. When they are worthily received, they actually confer the grace that they signify.  In theology we say that the Sacraments are efficacious signs of grace.  Sacramentals differ from the Sacraments, but are related to them.  Sacramentals are instituted by the Church and they can be modified.  Sacraments confer Sanctifying grace.  Sacramentals do not confer sanctifying grace of themselves, but depend for their efficacy on the personal devotion of the faithful using them, and on the intention of the Church.

Sacramentals assist the faithful in living a sacramental life outside the official and public worship of the Church.  Although, some sacramental are used during the Church’s official celebrations, such as Holy Water.  Sacramentals help us along the way and help the Lord to see that we stand in need of actual graces in our lives.  Actual graces help us to live a good Christian life, whether we are in the married state, the celibate state, or the clerical state.  Here are some examples of Sacramentals:  blessings, exorcisms, holy oil, holy water, recitation of certain prayers, blessed objects such as crucifixes, statues, and pictures.  In addition to assisting us in living the Christian life well, the purpose of these actions and objects is to protect the soul from Satan and to drive away evil spirits, to dedicate a thing to the service of God, they incline the soul to penance and to the Love of God.  We should surround ourselves with Sacramentals to protect us and keep us close to God and help us to be faithful along “The Way”.


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