What are Sacramentals?

03-18-2021From the desk of Fr. Villa

Many people, while understanding the meaning of the sacraments, have never heard of sacramentals.

Sacramentals are sacred signs instituted by the holy Church, which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By these people are disposed to receive the chief effects of the sacraments and various occasions in life are rendered holy.

Sacramentals always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, or the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of Holy Water. Sacramentals derive from the share in Christ’s priesthood which we have through our baptism.

Sacramentals do not confer grace the way sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer they dispose us to receive this grace and cooperate with it. Among the sacramentals blessings come first. Certain blessings have a lasting meaning because they consecrate persons to God.

When the Church publicly and authoritatively in the Name of Jesus Christ asks that a person or object be protected against the power of Satan and withdrawn from his domination, it is called an exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from Him the Church derives her power and office to expel the demon.

In simple form exorcisms are performed at baptism. The solemn or major exorcism can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed against the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to His Church. On the other hand illness, especially psychological illness, is a different matter the concern of medical science. Before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One and not an illness.