The Importance of Sacramentals

McWilliams Home Blessing

What the Sacramentals Do

The Family Apostolate brings a gift bag of sacramentals to every home blessing as a gift to the home owners. The bag consists of the following: Holy Water, a blessed candle, blessed and exorcised salt, and blessed and exorcised oil. Also included are rosary beads or a miraculous medal or other blessed object such as a blessed St. Benedict medal.  Why do we do this?

Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood.  Every baptized person is called to be a “blessing,” and to bless (1 Peter 3:9; Lk 6:28; Rom 12:14).  Sacramentals are devotional actions and objects instituted by the Church to assist us in practicing acts of virtue that obtain God’s graces and increase our faith.  Unlike the sacraments, which actually deliver grace, sacramentals prepare us to receive grace.

The sacramentals of protection turn our hearts towards God, helping us always to remember that He is our refuge and our hope.  Likewise, they remind us of our weakness against sin without His help, and of our helplessness against the snares of the devil and lures of the world.  As with the Sacraments, much depends on the faith and devotion of the person using the sacramental.

Sacramentals are very powerful, not in and of themselves, but by means of the Church’s official prayer of blessing – a power derived from Christ Himself (see Matt 16:19; 18:18)  The Vatican has encouraged the use of sacramentals intelligently and actively.  Sacramentals are not to be used superstitiously, but as a way to increase our faith and draw us toward Jesus, as with the blind man in John 9 who had faith in Jesus, not in the mud and spittle used by Jesus to heal him.

Blessed Salt.  Blessed salt is an instrument of grace to preserve one from corruption of evil occurring as worldly or demonic influence, sin, or sickness.  Scripture refers to salt as a symbol of friendship and hospitality, preserving “that quality that makes you a blessing to one another.” (Mk 9:50)  Blessed salt may be sprinkled in one’s bedroom, across the threshold of doors or in cars to invoke Divine protection.  Adding a few grains of blessed salt to water for drinking or when cooking, or using it for seasoning food often brings astonishing spiritual and physical benefits.

Blessed Oil.  Blessed oil is a symbol of our life in Jesus through the outpouring of His Holy Spirit.  Its main purpose is in praying for protection from harm and for healing – as in rubbing sore muscles or anointing a child struggling with a problem at school or with friends.

St. Benedict Medal.  The Saint Benedict medal, when worn or carried, reminds us of our dignity as followers of Christ and inspires us to desire to serve God and neighbor.  When placed above the doorway of our home, it calls down God’s blessing and protection on us, our home, and our possessions, through St. Benedict’s intercession.

Holy Water.  Holy water should be in every home – kept in a font or another prominent place – for family members to bless themselves frequently.  Use of holy water while making the Sign of the Cross reminds us of our Baptism and faith in the Trinity, and remits venial sins.  It may be sprinkled around the home while invoking the protection of the saints and angels.

Blessed Candles. Jesus is the "Light of the World" and candles remind us of this truth. Traditionally Catholics light a blessed candle during strong storms, invoking the power of God to protect their home.It is appropriate to place the blessed candle in a prominent place in your home or on a prayer table.  When you devote time for personal or family prayer in your home, you can light the candle to help you focus.