Sacramentals


Q. Are sacramentals always blessed objects?


A. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines sacramentals as “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. … 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)” (CCC 1667, 1668).

Among sacramentals, the Catechism continues, “blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first” (1671). So sacramentals include blessings, not just of objects, but also of people and places. A particularly powerful blessing, which most Catholics probably don’t realize is a sacramental, is the exorcism of demonic powers. In the section on sacramentals, the Catechism notes: “When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing” (1673).