Notes on Sacramentals
Instituted by His Church

crucifix9.gif (2157 bytes) rosary_transparent.gif (7670 bytes) miraculous3.gif (11396 bytes)

 

A Sacramental is a Sacred Object or Religious Action which the Catholic Church, in Imitation-of the Sacraments, uses for the purpose of obtaining Spiritual Favors, especially through Her Prayer. A Sacramental is anything Set Apart or Blessed by the Church, to excite Good Thoughts and to help Devotion, and thus secure Grace and take away Venial Sin or the Temporal Punishment due to Sin.

 

Notes on Sacramentals
Instituted by His Church

by Theologian,
Father William G. Most

angelbar.gif (3645 bytes)

The Generosity of Our Father is so Great, that it seems He never can do enough for us. He made the Redemption itself as Rich as possible, by going beyond Infinity (∞) - an Incarnation in a Palace, without Death, would have been Infinite (∞). He added to that, the Cooperation of Our Lady. He gave us the Mass and the Sacraments. In addition, He gives us a Real Wealth of what we call Sacramentals.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Sacraments were Instituted by Christ;
littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Sacramentals were Instituted by His Church.

Sacraments have the Power within them to, as it were, automatically give Grace, if only, the One who Receives does not place an Obstacle. Sacramentals do not do that. Yet they have Great Power, from a Twofold Source, from the Prayer of the Church, which is His Mystical Body, and from the Good Dispositions of the One who Receives. It is evident that we need to Work at Receiving the Sacramentals. We need also to Work to get the best from the Sacraments. Pope John Paul II (Redemptor Hominis § 20) said if One does not try hard, he could even take a Loss from frequent Holy Communion.

There are many kinds of Sacramentals. They may be Actions, Words, or Objects to which the Church either gives a Ritual Blessing, or by which the Church teaches, we can obtain certain Graces.

Actions - Examples of Sacramental Actions are the Gestures, Postures, Bodily Movements that are Officially Associated-with the Eucharist, and the other Sacraments. Genuflecting and Kneeling, Folding Hands, making the Sign of the Cross, Bowing the Head or the Whole Body - these are all Examples.

Words - There are also Sacred Words, such as Indulgenced Prayers. We notice too, there is a difference between Private Prayers, and those which are said in the Name of the Church, by those Appointed to do so, i.e. the Liturgy of the Hours. Vatican II spoke of the Divine Office as "the Voice of the Church, or of the Whole Mystical Body, publicly Praising God" (On Liturgy § 99).

Objects - Objects that are Sacramentals can include: Buildings, Blessed Food or Drink, Clothing, Medals, Vestments, Religious Habits, Rings for Marriage, Rosaries, and Scapulars. Holy Water is found at the entrance to our Churches, and is used by the Faithful, entering and leaving. It is also Good to have a Bottle of it in the Home, as an Aid against the Temptations of Satan, and for other purposes.

Of course we cannot take up every kind of Sacramental, the list is much too long. But we can comment-on some specially important Sacramentals.

 

Fast and Abstinence

Fast and Abstinence are Sacramentals of great Importance, yet they are often Neglected today, since the Church no longer specifies very much in this category. In the Early Church, there were Two (2) Days of Fast each Week, with very little or no Food. In 1966, Pope Paul VI greatly mitigated the Law of Fasting. The Bishops of many Nations have dispensed-from Friday Abstinence. However, not even the Pope can dispense-from the basic Obligation of Penance for Sins. Hence the U. S. Bishops, in their Document on Fridays, pointed out that if One Eats Meat on Fridays, he must do something Equivalent instead. Many Err today saying: Let us just be Positive, do Nice Things and forget the Negative. However, the Negative has a Special Kind of Value. If someone were to eat only One (1) Food Element, even the Best, there would soon be Deficiency Diseases. Similarly, even though Love is the Greatest Virtue, it is not enough to just be 'Nice' to People; Negative Mortification is Indispensible for Spiritual Eyesight, which is Improved when we cut down the Pulls of Creatures upon us, by giving-up things. Those Pulls, if we let ourselves be Strongly-Gripped by them, make it just so much Less Easy for our Hearts and Thoughts to Rise to the Divine Level (cf. Matthew 6:21: "Where your Treasure is, there is your Heart also"). Dominic.jpg (64056 bytes)

 

Rosary

A specially Great Sacramental is the Rosary. There is an Ancient Tradition that Saint Dominic received the Rosary from Our Lady in an Apparition at Prouille in 1206 A.D. as a Weapon against the Albigensian Heresy. What is entirely certain, is that in One-way or Another, numerous Popes have spoken of Saint Dominic as Author-of the Rosary, without pronouncing-on the Authenticity of the Prouille Vision. They have strongly recommended the Rosary. Vatican II, in its Constitution on the Church § 67, wrote that whatever the Church has ever Recommended in Marian Devotion, should still - in spite of updating - be considered of Great Importance. Not long after, Pope Paul VI in his Encyclical Christi Matri pointed out that that Statement obviously included the Rosary. Countless are the Favors, Individuals have experienced, through the Rosary. The Whole Church benefited especially, when in October 1571, Pope Saint Pius V announced that the Christian Fleet had Won a Decisive Victory over the Muslim Fleet at Lepanto, in the Gulf of Corinth. The Muslims were trying to take-over all Europe. The Pope explicitly attributed that Victory to Rosary Processions being held the day of the Victory. Our Lady, at Lourdes and at Fatima, called for a Great Increase in the Prayer of the Rosary, declaring it one of the conditions needed for World Peace and the Conversion of Russia.

 

Brown Scapular

carmelicon.jpg (6919 bytes) High on the list of Sacramentals is also the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There are many Scapulars, all Valuable, but this one is Eminent among them. There is a very Ancient Tradition that Saint Simon Stock, Superior of the Carmelite Order in England, in 1251, after imploring the Help of Our Lady, was favored-with a Vision in which she gave him the Scapular, saying: "This will be a Privilege for you, and for all Carmelites, that he who Dies in this, will not Suffer Eternal Fire". The Historical Evidence for this Vision is very Impressive, and gives at least some degree of Moral Certitude that the Vision really did take place. To gain this Promise, one must be enrolled in the Confraternity of the Scapular. Pope Pius XII, on the 700th Anniversary of this Vision, wrote to the Major Superiors of the Carmelites, clearly showing his Belief in it: "For not with a Light or Passing Matter, are we here concerned, but with the obtaining of Eternal Life itself, which is the Substance of the Promise of the Most Blessed Virginm which has been handed down to us". However, the Pope warned that the mere Physical Wearing of the Scapular is not enough: "May it be to them a Sign of their Consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of the Immaculate Virgin, which in recent times we have so Strongly Recommended". If one then uses the Scapular as the 'Outward Sign' of Living such a Marian Consecration, then Faith in the Fulfillment of the Promise, is well Justified. In fact, Pope Pius XI said (Explorata Res, Feb. 2, 1923): "Nor would he incur Eternal Death whom the Most Blessed Virgin assists, especially at his Last Hour. This Opinion of the Doctors of the Church, in Harmony with the Sentiments of the Christian People, and supported by the Experience of all times, depends especially on this reason: the fact that the Sorrowful Virgin shared in the Work of the Redemption, with Jesus Christ". In other words, a solid Marian Devotion will assure one of reaching Salvation, even if the Vision to Saint Simon Stock might not be Authentic. Also, when Vatican II said that all things recommended by the Magisterium of the Church towards her should still be considered Matters of Great Importance, the Scapular was clearly Included, for numerous Popes have recommended it strongly.

 

Religious Medals

There are many Religious Medals that are Sacramentals. One of these is the Scapular Medal. It may be used in place of the Cloth Scapular, although the Cloth is to be Preferred. It needs to be Blessed before use, while the Cloth Scapulars, that replace the Original One, Blessed in the Enrollment, need not be Blessed.

It is important to notice that some Scapular Medals are Incorrect. On one side there must be the Image of Our Lord, pointing at His Heart (this Heart is sometimes Omitted); on the other side, any Image of Our Lady. miraculous3.gif (11396 bytes)

Specially well known is the Miraculous Medal. In 1820 The Blessed Virgin appeared Three (3) times in the Chapel of the Motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul in Paris, to Catherine Labouré, then a Novice. It is a Medal in Honor-of the Immaculate Conception. Saint Catherine was Canonized in 1947. Her Body was found Incorrupt, and attracts many Pilgrims to the Original Shrine.

 

Sacred Places

Sacred Places are also Sacramentals. Especially important of course is the Church Building itself, in which the Mass and Divine Office are Celebrated, and in which the Real Presence in the Eucharist is found.

The Sites of important things in the History of Salvation in the Holy Land, are of course preeminent.

lourdes2.jpg (16910 bytes) Countless Shrines throughout the World are also Sacred Places, and Numerous Miracles are reported to take place at many of these locations. Specially famous among these are Montserrat in Spain, Assisi in Italy, Saint Anne de Beaupré in Canada, the North American Martyrs' Shrines in both the United States and Canada, Knock in Ireland, Banneux in Belgium, Czestochowa in Poland.

In our own day, Lourdes and Fatima attract Pilgrims by the Thousands. Our Lady appeared Eighteen (18) times at Lourdes, in the Pyrenees Mountains in Southern France, in 1858, to Bernadette Soubirous, a Fourteen (14) Year Old Peasant Girl. A Spring appeared there which feeds the Baths at the Shrine today. Many Miraculous Healings are reported from Bathing in the Waters. The fact that there is no Spread of Infection, even though no Sanitary Precautions are taken, when People with all sorts of Diseases take Baths there, is a Marvel in itself. Many Miracles take place when the Blessed Sacrament passes in Procession, during the Great Pilgrimages. In passing, we notice that this fact Testifies-to the Real Presence there, a Presence which only the Catholic Church has, and only the Catholic Church teaches.

There is a Medical Bureau there, to which any Qualified M.D. can come to check Alleged Cures. Early in this Century, Dr. Alexis Carrel came to Scoff, was Converted instead. The Church's Demands for Checking and Proof-of Alleged Miracles are so Stringent, that in the more than a Century, since 1858, only a few more than Sixty (60) Miracles, have been Approved. Madame Biré, in 1908 came there Blind, because her Optic Nerve was Withered, Regained her Sight, when the Blessed Sacrament passed. But when the Doctors Inspected her Eyes, they found she was able to See, even though the Nerve was still Withered - Arranged, Doubtless, to keep anyone from saying it was a Case of Suggestion. The Nerve did recover within a few weeks. To Rule out any Possiblity of Positive Error, renowned Jewish Doctors from Prestigious Jewish Hospitals, are Extensively used to Substantiate the Medical Facts regarding Miracles.

guadalupe7.jpg (14834 bytes) eye_fam.jpg (15509 bytes) On December 9, 1531 an Aztec Indian, Juan Diego, saw the Virgin Mary near Mexico City. She put her Image on his Cloak, a Cloak still to be seen in the Great Shrine of Guadalupe. The Fiber of the Cloak, which should have Disintegrated in about Thirty (30) Years, is still Sound. Scientific Checks find that the Process of Impressing the Image is nothing known to Science. And there are Images in the Eyes of the Picture (shown above at the right) of Several Persons, who probably were present there. The Images are Threefold, just as they would be found in a Living Eye (following the Samson-Purkinje Law). The Presence of the Triple Reflection (Samson-Purkinje Effect) is characteristic of all Live Human Eyes, and the resulting Images are located exactly where they are supposed to be, according to such Effect, and also the Distortion of the Images, agree with the Curvature of the Cornea.

The little town of Lanciano, Italy, is a most Remarkable Shrine. Around the Year 700 A.D., a Priest saying Mass there, began to Doubt the Real Presence in the Eucharist; then the Outer Part of the Host changed-to Flesh, the Wine changed-to Five (5) Clots of Blood. In November 1970 the Church Authorities gave permission for a Team of Biologists and Medical Scientists to take small samples of both the Flesh and the Blood. They found the Flesh is Human Heart Tissue, with Type AB Blood in it, the same as in the Clots of Blood at the Base of the Monstrance, in which the Relics are retained. (The Blood of the Holy Shroud was similarly Analyzed as Type AB). There is no Trace of any Preservative in either the Flesh or the Blood. Hence, they should have Decayed Centuries ago. They are still to be seen in the Church there. A further Investigation was made in 1980, revealing even Nerves and Blood Vessels in the Flesh.

Momentous for our own times is the Shrine of Fatima, where Our Lady appeared Six (6) Times to Three (3) small children, each less than Ten (10) years of age. She asked for Penance, the Rosary, and Immaculate Heart devotion, saying that on these conditions, God would keep Russia from spreading her Errors throughout the World - this was said at at time when Russia was still Greatly Religious, under the Czar. The Great Miracle of the Sun-dancing, on Oct 13, 1917 was seen by Thousands, including Non-believers. The Clothing of all had been Drenched from Heavy Rain, yet when the Sun settled down again, all Clothing was found to be Dry. Hallucinations do not dry Clothing and Muddy, Rain-soaked Ground, in a matter of Minutes.

 

Eye Witness Account

miracle_sun.jpg (4106 bytes) sunshine.gif (5039 bytes) "... one could see the Immense Multitude turn towards the Sun, which appeared free from Clouds and at its Zenith. It looked like a Plaque of Dull Silver and it was possible to look at it without the least Discomfort. It might have been an Eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment, a Great Shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: "A miracle! A miracle!" Before the Astonished Eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was Biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the Sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all Cosmic Laws - the Sun "Danced", according to the typical expression of the people ....

People then began to ask each other what they had seen. The great majority admitted to having seen the Trembling and Dancing of the Sun; others affirmed that they saw the Face of the Blessed Virgin; others, again, swore that the Sun whirled on itself like a giant 'Catherine Wheel' and that it lowered itself to the Earth as if to burn it with its Rays. Some said they saw it change colors successively ....

fatima_children.jpg (15519 bytes) Other witnesses too, such as Maria Carreira, testified to the Terrifying Nature of the Solar Miracle: "It turned everything different colors, Yellow, Blue, White, and it Shook and Trembled; it seemed like a Wheel of Fire which was going to fall on the people. They cried out: 'We shall all be killed, we shall all be killed!' ... At last the Sun stopped moving and we all breathed a sigh of relief. We were still alive and the Miracle which the children had foretold, had taken place.

Other people Witnessed the Solar Miracle from a Distance, thus ruling out the possibility of any Type of Collective Hallucination. A final Intriguing, and Important, point was that the Heat of the Sun, as it descended on the people, also had the effect of drying their clothes and the ground, so that they went from being completely-soaked, to being dry in about ten minutes".