II. B. Increase in the Life of God - Sacramentals

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B.  The Sacramentals


Sacramentals are part of the sign language of the Churchís liturgy (public worship), and are available to us to increase our holiness.  The holy prayer of the Church is always pleasing to God.  When we join ourselves to God and our neighbor through these prayers, we profit according to our generosity.


The proper use of Sacramentals: prepare us to receive and apply the sanctifying effects of the Sacraments.  Sacramentals are signs instituted by the Church through which the Church obtains grace for us because of her priestly intercession to God.  Sacramentals signify favors obtained through the Churchís intercession ex opera operantes ecclesia (by the action of the Churchís prayer).        


Through the Sacramentals, the Church brings all created things into the orbit of Godís blessing, and touches everything with the grace merited by Christís Redemption, making all material things and persons instruments and channels of the grace of God.


The highest form of sacramental worship is the prayer called the Divine Office.  This consists of prayers said at certain times of the day.  Sacramentals may be blessings of persons;  of objects such as crucifixes, statues and pictures; or prayers for health, rain, success at work, success in school, and worthwhile undertakings.  Sacramentals remit the temporal punishment for forgiven sins, and free us from demonic influences.


The private use of blessed objects brings to us and our lives the aid of the Church's prayer of worship.  These include the veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, making the Stations of the Cross, praying the Rosary, the use of medals, venerating the Crucifix, the Sign of the Cross and genuflecting before the tabernacle.


Sacramentals are less than the Sacraments but more powerful than purely private prayer.  Remembering this, one must not exaggerate the use of Sacramentals above the Sacraments but should not overlook their great help for Christian living.