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Sacramentals of Protection

compiled by Catherine Fournier

Sacramentals are devotional actions and objects instituted by the Church to assist us in practicing the acts of virtue which obtain God's graces. Unlike sacraments which actually deliver grace, sacramentals prepare us to receive grace.

Perhaps more than anything else, it is sacramentals which make us 'distinctively Catholic'. Sacramentals are not the whole of our faith, by any means, they are not sacraments, they do not redeem souls, they are optional items. But sacramentals teach.

A sign of the Cross, a crucifix in every room, a rosary in our pocket, going to the Church for First Fridays or the Stations of the Cross, celebrating a saint's feast day, these are the things that show us as Catholic to our neighbour and teach our faith to our children. They open our hearts to God's graces, and they also open us to the scrutiny and questions of those around us. A good thing.

The sacramentals of protection are those actions and objects which turn our hearts towards God, always remembering that He is our refuge and our hope. They acknowledge our helplessness against the snares of the devil and the lures of the world, our weakness against sin without God's help. And as they need to be, these sacramentals are very powerful.

Blessed Salt

by Maria Hernandez, used with permission.

This information is taken from a pamphlet written by Father Hampsch. You can obtain the entire pamphlet, tapes, and books by contacting his ministry at Claretian Tape Ministry, P.O. Box 19100, Los Angeles, CA 90019

Blessed salt is an instrument of grace to preserve one from the corruption of evil occurring as sin, sickness, demonic influence, etc.

As in the case of all sacramentals, its power comes not from the sign itself, but by means of the Church's official (liturgical, not private) prayer of blessing -- a power the Church derives from Christ Himself. (see Matt. 16:19 and 18:18).

As the Vatican II document on the Liturgy states, both Sacraments and sacramentals sanctify us, not of themselves, but by power flowing from the redemptive act of Jesus, elicited by the Church's intercession to be directed through those external signs and elements. Hence sacramentals like blessed salt, holy water, medals, etc., are not to be used superstitiously as having self-contained power, but as 'focus points' funneling one's faith toward Jesus, just as a flag is used as a focus point of patriotism, or as handkerchiefs were used to focus faith for healing and deliverance (Acts 19:12).

Thus, used non-superstitiously, modest amounts of blessed salt may be sprinkled in one's bedroom, or across thresholds to prevent burglary, in cars for safety, etc. A few grains of blessed salt in drinking water or used in cooking or as food seasoning often bring astonishing spiritual and physical benefits. As with the use of Sacraments, much depends on the faith and devotion of the person using salt or any sacramental. This faith must be Jesus-centered, as was the faith of the blind man in John 9; he had faith in Jesus, not in the mud and spittle used by Jesus to heal him.

Blessed salt is not a new sacramental, but the Holy Spirit seems to be leading many to a new interest in its remarkable power as an instrument of grace and healing. Any amount of salt may be presented to a priest for his blessing using the following official prayer from the Roman Ritual:

"Almighty God, we ask you to bless this salt, as once you blessed the salt scattered over the water by the prophet Elisha. Wherever this salt (and water) is sprinkled, drive away the power of evil, and protect us always by the presence of your Holy Spirit. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen"

If you are interested in getting blessed salt, print this information out and present the blessing prayer to your parish priest. Ask him to bless the salt for you using the official prayer from the Roman Ritual printed above.

If it's not possible for you to get your priest to do this, you can write me for a 'starter supply' of blessed salt. Please send a stamped self addressed envelope to: M. Hernandez, 15581 W. 141 St, Olathe, KS 66062. Mention that you'd like the blessed salt. I don't include any information about its use, as it's all printed here, so print this information out for yourself if you want the blessed salt.

I can personally attest to the power of this sacramental to keep away evil. When we first moved to this house, a very evil family lived next door. The man and woman were not married, he was a drug dealer, she was ...I don't know what. Their teenaged boys were almost worse, loud, destructive and violent. We had rocks and bricks thrown against our house, the children's bikes were stolen, their basketball net was broken and our lawn was regularily littered with broken bottles. We considered moving to get our children away from this family and the danger they presented. A family friend presented us with a large container of blessed salt, and (feeling very conspicuous) I sprinkled it around the perimeter of our yard.

Within a week, there was a For Sale sign. Next door.

Holy Oils (Olea Sacra)

Holy Oil represents strength, sweetness and spiritual activity. Christians are referred to as 'the athletes of Christ' and so are anointed with holy oil to remain spiritually strong.

The Church uses three oils in its liturgies: the Oil of Catechumens at Baptism and Holy Orders, the Holy Chrism at Baptism, Confirmation and Episcopal Ordinations, and the Oil of the Sick, used in the Anointing of the Sick. None of these oils are appropriate for use in the home.

There are other oils available that are used as sacramentals, to anoint the sick or family members. This oil is typically taken from oil lamps burning at a shrine. Saint Joseph's Oil is obtained from Saint Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, and blessed Saint Philomena Oil is available for a donation from: The Universal Living Rosary Association, P.O. Box 1303, Dickinson, TX 77539.

Again, the oil itself has no healing properties, it is the faith of the user that is powerful. The oils may be used to rub sore muscles or anoint a child who is struggling with a problem at school or with friends.

Medals

Medals are also effective protection for our home and family in situations where salt or water will be washed off (even nine year old boys bathe occasionally!) The commonest of these sacramental protections are Saint Benedict medals which can be placed above the doorways of your home for safety and protection. Blessed Saint Benedict medals can be ordered for 15 cents each from: The Benedictine Mission House, P.O. Box 528, Schuyler, NE 68661-0528.

Many people wear medals on chains around their necks. These are also protective sacramentals.

Holy Water

This is a very common and well-known sacramental that should be in every home. It can be kept in a holy water font in a prominent place so that members of the family can bless themselves upon entering and leaving the house, and before bedtime. It can be sprinkled on family members during blessings, around the home while invoking the protection of the saints and angels, and even drunk.

Your parish's years supply of Holy Water is blessed at the Easter Vigil. It is a wonderfully moving ceremony, one that has been celebrated in every parish around the world for hundreds of years. You feel part of the tradition of centuries while watching it.

Some people fiddle around with adding plain water to Holy Water in order to stretch their supply and caution not to exceed certain proportions of each. Holy Water is simple enough to obtain and used in such minute quantities, even when used a lot, that this should not be necessary.

For more information about Holy Water and instructions on how to make a Holy Water Sprinkler, see Fridge Art.

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