Sacramentals Laid Out

As a converting Catholic whom will be baptized in less than two months, I have had a hard time grasping the concept of sacramentals to its fullest, although I believe in them, the theological implications are what I’m having a bit of a difficult time grasping.

A couple of questions to begin-
-When I bless my food before I dine, does my food effectively become a sacramental? I heard a Priest preach that it does.
-Does it require a Priest to officially make an item a sacramental? I understand that it does, as he acts in persona of Christ.
-When something (an Item) becomes a Sacramental, I understand that it is a mechanism/tool of Grace, but how exactly is it different than before it was blessed?
-I’ve been asked, “If God created everything and essentially IS everything, than isn’t water already holy?” How do I answer something like that.

**My biggest theological question would be this-I enjoy blessing my children with Holy Water. My son was really sick and I blessed him with holy water and said a prayer for health over him before bed. The next day-all better. No fever.
Similar to invoking a Saint,
Why would using a Sacramental, for lack of a better work, “influence” or “strengthen” my prayer or God’s providence in a situation of prayer, meditation (praying with a Rosary) blessing, etc?

God is not everything, essentially or otherwise.

The creation is not the creator. We worship the creator, not the creation.

-Tim-

Timothy,

Thank you for that clarification.

I suppose that within the writing, it could be worded differently - God is IN everything, not necessarily that God IS a pen, but the pen is a product of God, so in a way, that pen is part of God.

Would you be able to comment on my inquiries?

Thanks

Have you looked yet at what the catechism says about the sacramentals?

vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c4a1.htm

Two of the main sacramentals I use are Holy Water and Medals, like St. Benedict or the Miraculous Medal.

These things take their efficacy from the prayers of the church that have been attached to these substances. I don’t pretend to understand how exactly this happens, but I believe it does. It is indeed the priest that can confer the prayers of the church onto objects, far as I know.

A lay person can obviously bless their children and this is powerful and good, but priests bless things like holy water, medals, and rosaries. etc.

We’re not actually blessing the food; we’re asking God to bless it :slight_smile:

-Does it require a Priest to officially make an item a sacramental? I understand that it does, as he acts in persona of Christ.

Some sacrmentals have to be blessed by particular types of priests, mostly certain sacpulars or medals. But they’re kind of rare, more for people in Third Orders than general laypeople.

-When something (an Item) becomes a Sacramental, I understand that it is a mechanism/tool of Grace, but how exactly is it different than before it was blessed?

[quote]-I’ve been asked, “If God created everything and essentially IS everything, than isn’t water already holy?” How do I answer something like that.

You tell them that God is no more what He creates than a potter becomes a pot when he makes it :wink:

**My biggest theological question would be this-I enjoy blessing my children with Holy Water. My son was really sick and I blessed him with holy water and said a prayer for health over him before bed. The next day-all better. No fever.
Similar to invoking a Saint,
Why would using a Sacramental, for lack of a better work, “influence” or “strengthen” my prayer or God’s providence in a situation of prayer, meditation (praying with a Rosary) blessing, etc?

God, taking into account the material aspect of our nature, allows this to help us.
[/quote]

To be honest, it might be better to call holy water “sacred water.” Something sacred has been reserved for special divine or holy purposes. It is set apart. Sacramentals are set apart.

And yes, holy water should remind you that all water is a creation of God, as well as that we owe our eternal lives to Baptism in water and the Spirit.

Re: the other questions - Saying Grace doesn’t make the food a sacramental. If Father does the formal blessing of food in the Book of Blessings, it does become a sacramental.

(And that’s why a lot of saint’s days and holy days are associated with bringing food to Mass for a food blessing, and that’s why people bring that food home for special uses or for passing it out to all their friends and relations.)

That said, saying Grace is very important as a spiritual practice, and it dates back to both pre-Christian Jewish and early Christian customs. If you read the Gospel, Jesus always said the Jewish prayers for meals.

Sacramentals are material goods which are set aside for the glory of God, and should not be used for any other purpose. The Old Testament (the Fifth Chapter of Daniel) has an account of such misuse, which resulted in the death of the pagan king:

1 Baltasar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his nobles: and every one drank according to his age.
2 And being now drunk he commanded that they should bring the vessels of gold and silver which Nabuchodonosor his father had brought away out of the temple, that was in Jerusalem, that the king and his nobles, and his wives and his concubines, might drink in them.
3 Then were the golden and silver vessels brought, which he had brought away out of the temple that was in Jerusalem: and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines, drank in them.
4 They drank wine, and praised their gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, and of wood, and of stone.
5 In the same hour there appeared fingers, as it were of the hand of a man, writing over against the candlestick upon the surface of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king beheld the joints of the hand that wrote.
6 Then was the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him: and the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees struck one against the other.
7 And the king cried out aloud to bring in the wise men, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spoke, and said to the wise men of Babylon: Whosoever shall read this writing, and shall make known to me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with purple, and shall have a golden chain on his neck, and shall be the third man in my kingdom.
8 Then came in all the king’s wise men, but they could neither read the writing, nor declare the interpretation to the king.
9 Wherewith king Baltasar was much troubled, and his countenance was changed: and his nobles also were troubled.
10 Then the queen, on occasion of what had happened to the king, and his nobles, came into the banquet house: and she spoke and said: O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, neither let thy countenance be changed.
11 There is a man in thy kingdom that hath the spirit of the holy gods in him: and in the days of thy father knowledge and wisdom were found in him: for king Nabuchodonosor thy father appointed him prince of the wise men, enchanters, Chaldeans, and soothsayers, thy father, I say, O king:
12 Because a greater spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, and interpretation of dreams, and shewing of secrets, and resolving of difficult things, were found in him, that is, in Daniel: whom the king named Baltassar. Now therefore let Daniel be called for, and he will tell the interpretation.
13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. And the king spoke, and said to him: Art thou Daniel of the children of the captivity of Juda, whom my father the king brought out of Judea?
14 I have heard of thee, that thou hast the spirit of the gods, and excellent knowledge, and understanding, and wisdom are found in thee.
15 And now the wise men the magicians have come in before me, to read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof: and they could not declare to me the meaning of this writing.
16 But I have heard of thee, that thou canst interpret obscure things, and resolve difficult things: now if thou art able to read the writing, and to shew me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with purple, and shalt have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third prince in my kingdom.
17 To which Daniel made answer, and said before the king: Thy rewards be to thyself, and the gifts of thy house give to another: but the writing I will read to thee, O king, and shew thee the interpretation thereof.
18 O king, the most high God gave to Nabuchodonosor thy father a kingdom, and greatness, and glory, and honour.
19 And for the greatness that he gave to him, all people, tribes, and languages trembled, and were afraid of him: whom he would, he slew: and whom he would, he destroyed: and whom he would, he set up: and whom he would, he brought down.
20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit hardened unto pride, he was put down from the throne of his kingdom, and his glory was taken away.
21 And he was driven out from the sons of men, and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses, and he did eat grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven: till he knew that the most High ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he will set over it whomsoever it shall please him.
22 Thou also his son, O Baltasar, hast not humbled thy heart, whereas thou knewest all these things:
23 But hast lifted thyself up against the Lord of heaven: and the vessels of his house have been brought before thee: and thou, and thy nobles, and thy wives, and thy concubines have drunk wine in them: and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and of gold, and of brass, of iron, and of wood, and of stone, that neither see, nor hear, nor feel: but the God who hath thy breath in his hand, and all thy ways, thou hast not glorified.
24 Wherefore he hath sent the part of the hand which hath written this that is set down.
25 And this is the writing that is written: MANE, THECEL, PHARES.
26 And this is the interpretation of the word. MANE: God hath numbered thy kingdom, and hath finished it.
27 thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting.
28 thy kingdom is divided, and is given to the Medes and Persians.
29 Then by the king’s command Daniel was clothed with purple, and a chain of gold was put about his neck: and it was proclaimed of him that he had power as the third man in the kingdom.
30 The same night Baltasar the Chaldean king was slain.

It might help to place Sacramentals in some kind of context. The Catholic Church is a Sacramental Church. We hold to the Seven Sacraments. Simply put, Sacraments are an outward sign of an inward grace. Jesus Christ himself, while he walked the earth was a Sacrament. He instituted a Sacramental Church that used Sacraments (not unlike the Jews, but having been perfected.) So just as we believe in the efficacy and grace attached to Sacraments, we believe that Sacramentals have an efficacious grace attached to their use.

Therefore blessing yourself, or your children with Holy Water, would be more “grace” filled than not using Holy Water. It DOES make a difference, by Faith.

The fact that your child recovered the next day may have been due to the efficacy of the sacramental. But it was certainly an answer to your prayers! :slight_smile:

One could look upon it as a Doctor using a stethoscope to hear the heart. It is barely possible to hear the heart without one, but WITH one, it is more effective and helpful. IOW, they are instruments of grace! :wink:

I am responding because you have been asked “isn’t water already holy?” and you have asked how to respond.

A pen is not part of God. God cannot be separated into parts. God is one. Deuteronomy 6:4, Romans 3:30, Galatians 3:20 and James 2:19 make this clear. If a pen were part of God then God could be separated into parts. This is not possible.

God is everywhere.
*
If I ascend to heaven, thou art there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there thy hand shall lead me,
and thy right hand shall hold me.

(Psalm 139:8-10)*

God is in all things.

For thy immortal spirit is in all things. (Wisdom 12:1)

God speaks all things into existence and holds all things in existence from moment to moment.

as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations” – in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. (Romans 4:17)

But God is not his creation nor is creation part of God. God did not speak part of himself into existence.

because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. (Romans 1:25)

So we cannot say that an object is part of God. God is not his creation nor can we worship part of God. We worship one God, all of him. We cannot worship a pen.

Water is good. So is a pen. God created everything good, and declared creation good in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)

Now lets understand the word holy. That word gets thrown around a lot and it is misunderstood.

The word holy means dedicated or consecrated to God for a specific purpose. The opposite of holy is profane. Profane means common.

This definition of holy works for everything except the human person. For the human person holiness means a decrease in sin and an increase in virtue. Holiness shouldn’t be confused with piety. Someone who prays, genuflects, goes to Church and reads the Bible is pious, not holy. Piety can lead to holiness but piety is not holiness. I digress…

Non-human objects are not dedicated or consecrated to God for a specific purpose unless they are specificaly made so. A pen can be used for both the profane and sacred, to curse God and to praise God. A pen is not holy in-and-of itself. Water can be used to drown someone, to clean a garbage can, to heal the sick or to bless something - it can be used in profane and sacred ways and is not holy in-and-of itself. Water becomes holy when it is dedicated or consecrated to God for blessing.

We have to be careful when we throw around the word holy. That is what you have been asked about, whether creation is holy. My response would be to ask what holy means. You are likely to get a blank stare or vague answer. Defining holiness is important. Catholics are very good at defining things. :slight_smile:

-Tim-

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