Everybody knows Holy Water, but have you heard of Blessed Salt?
The use of sacramentals is one of the most misunderstood practices in the Catholic Church. Even if they have been part of the Church’s life from the very beginning, they are commonly (and mistakenly) viewed as some sort of superstition.This is largely due to the fact that many Catholics over the centuries have used sacramentals in a superstitious way as they were not taught how to use them properly. Instead of using them with faith, some Catholics used them as magic charms, rather than instruments of grace.
This is unfortunate, as sacramentals are meant to enrich the spiritual lives of believers, not hinder them. They have been instituted by the Church to draw us into a deeper relationship with Christ and are focused on sanctifying every part of our lives. Sacramentals are extensions of the seven sacraments and bring the grace of God into everything that we do.
One place where sacramentals are especially powerful is in your own home. If used in a spirit of faith, sacramentals can protect us from spiritual harm or inspire us to live a holy life dedicated to God.
Here are three such sacramentals that, if used properly, can provide a spiritual boost to the home as well as keep away spiritual enemies lurking in the shadows.
Holy water has a double meaning of reminding us of our baptism as well as a symbol of spiritual cleansing. Holy water is said to have great power over the devil as the devil cannot stand this “clean” water, since he is entirely unclean for all eternity. It is a reminder of the water that flowed out of Christ’s side, which is a symbol of Baptism, and brings to mind the day of the devil’s defeat (that is, Christ’s crucifixion).
It is an ancient custom to have what are called “holy water stoups” or “holy water fonts” on the walls of a home. They are elaborate or simple cups that hold holy water, which can then be used to bless oneself throughout the day. It is especially helpful to have them at the doors that lead outside the house as well as in the bedrooms of family members. That way we keep ourselves always fixed on Christ and remind ourselves to remain pure. It also keeps the holy water handy when needed to ward off any influence of the Evil One.
If possible, it is also good to have a small container of blessed salt in your home. You would have to specifically ask your parish priest to provide that for you and odds are likely that your parish priest would not be familiar with it. This is one sacramental that is often neglected and is not typically used in parishes. However, it is a powerful weapon against evil as can be seen by the following portion of the blessing said by the priest found in the Roman Ritual.
Almighty and everlasting God, we humbly implore you, in your immeasurable kindness and love, to bless (+) this salt which you created and gave to the use of mankind, so that it may become a source of health for the minds and bodies of all who make use of it. May it rid whatever it touches or sprinkles of all uncleanness, and protect it from every assault of evil spirits. Through Christ our Lord.
Another very powerful sacramental that is more typically found in our homes is the crucifix. Not only does a crucifix remind us of the great love that God had for us, but it also is a strong deterrent to spiritual enemies. The crucifix is the bane of Satan’s existence and is the sign of everything that he despises. It is beneficial to have a crucifix in every room in your house (or apartment) so that you can frequently meditate on Jesus’ great sacrifice of love as well as have an image to remind you what you need to focus on during times of temptation.
Here are two prayers of blessing a crucifix in the Roman Ritual which sum up all the reasons we need them in our homes.
Holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, be pleased to bless + this cross, that it may be a saving help to mankind. Let it be the support of faith, an encouragement to good works, the redemption of souls; and let it be consolation, protection, and a shield against the cruel darts of the enemy; through Christ our Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ, bless + this cross by which you snatched the world from Satan’s grasp, and on which you overcame by your suffering the tempter to sin, who rejoiced in the first man’s fall in eating of the forbidden tree. Here it is sprinkled with holy water. May this cross be hallowed in the name of the Father, + and of the Son, + and of the Holy + Spirit; and may all who kneel and pray before this cross in honor of our Lord find health in body and soul; through Christ our Lord.