What is a Sacramental?

The distinction between sacraments and sacramentals in the Catholic Church can sometimes cause confusion. So, what exactly is a sacramental?

In simple terms, sacramentals are objects or items that have been set apart or blessed by the Church with the purpose of sanctifying our lives and guiding us towards the sacraments. These sacred signs serve as channels of grace, providing spiritual assistance through the intercession of the Church.

Examples of sacramentals include scapulars, medals, holy cards, rosaries, crucifixes, and essentially anything that a priest blesses with holy water.

One way to understand sacramentals is to see them as extensions of the sacraments. Although they are not sacraments in themselves, they are closely associated with the seven sacraments and derive their significance from them, ultimately leading us back to the sacraments.

Sacramentals act as instruments that God employs to direct us on the right path. However, it is crucial to use them properly and in accordance with the Church’s guidance. They are not mere “lucky charms” or objects that function independently. Their efficacy relies on our disposition and openness to God’s grace. If our hearts are closed to Him, how can His grace reach us? To fully receive the graces intended through sacramentals and avoid superstitious practices, it is important to prepare ourselves by regularly participating in the sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist.

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