IN FAMILIA ET MENS / ON 25 JANUARY 2018
The use of sacramentals is one of the most misunderstood practices in the Catholic Church. They are part of the life of the Church from the beginning, but they are generally considered a kind of superstition. And this is definitely wrong. Let’s try to do some clarity.
This is largely due to the fact that many Catholics over the centuries have used sacramentals in a superstitious way because they have not been taught how to do it properly. Instead of using it faithfully, some Catholics used them as magical amulets rather than as instruments of grace.
It is a pity, because the sacramentals are meant to enrich our spiritual life, not to hinder it. They have been instituted by the Church to make us have a deeper relationship with Christ and want to help us to sanctify every part of our life. The sacramentals are extensions of the seven sacraments, and they bring God’s grace in everything we do.
A place where sacramentals are particularly powerful is the home. If used in a spirit of faith, sacramentals can protect us from spiritual evil or inspire us to lead a holy life dedicated to God.
Here are three of these sacramentals, which used properly can offer a spiritual spur and keep away the spiritual enemies that plot in the darkness.
Holy water has a double meaning, reminding us of our baptism and representing a symbol of spiritual cleansing. It is said that holy water has great power over the devil and that this can not bear this “clean” water, since he is not at all “clean”. It is a reminder of the water flowing from the side of Christ, which is a symbol of Baptism, and recalls the day of the defeat of the devil (crucifixion of Christ).
It is an ancient custom to have stoups on the walls of the house, which can be used to bless during the day. It is particularly useful to have them on the doors that lead out of the house, as well as in the bedrooms of the family. In this way we always remain focused on Christ, we remember to remain clean and have holy water on hand when needed to ward off any influence of the Evil One.
The blessed salt
If possible, it is also good to have a small container of salt blessed in your own home. You should ask your parish priest to provide it, and it is likely that he is not familiar with this practice either. It is a sacramental often overlooked, and is generally not used in parishes. In any case, it is a powerful weapon against evil, as can be seen from this passage of the blessing recited by the priest who finds himself in the Roman Ritual:
Almighty and eternal God, we humbly beg you, in your kindness and in your love, to bless (+) this salt that you created and gave to humanity so that it could become a source of health for the mind and body of whoever uses it. May liberate everything that touches or on which it spreads from any impurity and protect it from any assault of evil spirits. For Christ our Lord.
Another very powerful sacramental that is found most typically in our homes is the crucifix, which not only reminds us of God’s great love for us, but is also a strong deterrent to spiritual enemies. The crucifix is the ruin of the existence of Satan and is the sign of all that he despises. It is good to keep a crucifix in every room of the house, to be able to meditate frequently on the great sacrifice of love of Jesus and to have an image that remembers what we must concentrate on in moments of temptation.
Here are two prayers to bless the crucifix taken from the Roman Ritual that summarize all the reasons why we need it at home:
Holy Lord, omnipotent Father, eternal God, deign to bless + this cross, so that it may be a help to humanity. Make the support of faith, an encouragement to do good works, the redemption of souls; and let it be comfort, protection, and a shield against the darts of the enemy, through Christ our Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ, bless + this cross through which you have torn the world from the clutches of Satan and on which you have overcome with your suffering the tempter, who rejoiced at the first fall of man when he ate the forbidden tree. It is sprayed with holy water. May this cross be sanctified in the name of the Father, + and of the Son, + and of the Spirit + Holy, and may all those who kneel and pray before this cross in honor of our Lord find the health of body and soul, for Christ our Lord.
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