I would like to know … (omitted, editor’s note)
I have one more question: is the crucifix a sacramental, and are the scapular, the medal of Saint Benedict, the miraculous medal sacramentals as well?
The priest’s answer
1. during the early times of the Church, all those rites that accompany the celebration of the Sacrament – though they did not constitute its essence – were considered sacramental.
For instance, Baptism’s essence consists in pouring water on the head of the person being baptized, uttering the words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
On the other hand, the various anointings performed on the person being baptized, the exorcism, the touching of ears and mouth, wearing the white robe, the lighted candle, the various blessings – are sacramental.
2. Subsequently, more blessed manifestations that the faithful carry with them have been considered sacramental, such as Holy water, the Rosary, the crucifix, various medals and images, various blessings and blessed objects.
3. Here is what St. Thomas Aquinas says: «Blessed water and other consecrations are not called sacraments, because their use does not produce the effect of the sacraments which is the bestowal of grace.
Rather, they are dispositions to the Sacraments as they remove obstacles, such as holy water used against the snares of the devil and against venial sins, or as they prepare the administration of the sacraments: thus the altars and vessels are consecrated for the respect due to the Eucharist » (Sum theological, III; 65,1, ad 6).
4. He also says: «Since these things do not concern the grace necessary for salvation, the Lord left their institution to the faithful, according to their needs» (Ib., I-II, 108, 2, ad 2).
5. All those demonstrations (things, gestures, words, rites) which help to enter the sanctifying power of the Church are therefore sacramental.
Among the words, we find first of all blessings and also exorcisms.
Among the rites, there are the various anointings both in the celebration of the sacraments and outside the celebration of the sacraments, processions, rogations …
Among the gestures, the main one is the sign of the Cross.
Among the blessed objects there are scapulars, crucifixes, rosary crowns, medals …
6. Regarding the effects of the sacramentals, Father Sertillanges writes: «The effects that Christians expect from them are the same as required for living a Christian life. The purification of the soul; the satisfaction of justice for our sins, the expulsion of evil spirits; the relief of our pains, if our Heavenly Father finds it opportune; the removal of the scourges under the same conditions and the interior freedom of the children of God: such are those that theology records.
Tiny and familiar gestures, little things; a sprinkling, a Cross drawn on the forehead or on the chest, a formula: these things, entering the great religious stream, become effective. They do because of our psychological structure in which the sensing plays a crucial role.
Again, they do so because the Church has the power to capture superior forces: the force of association that is creative with regard to the individuals; the strength of the Redeemer, in which Christian society finds its core; the strength of God which is united with the Redeemer and who, through Him and the Church, is united with us» (“The Church”).
Hoping that you can always make a holy use of them, I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.