Recently, I went in search of a rosary which my Grandmother had made for me when I was just a little girl. As I looked through my nightstand drawer then moved on to the catch-all drawer in the kitchen, I was amazed at how many sacramentals I came across. Grabbing a small box, I began to gather up the various “Sacramentals” that I had found and by the time I retrieved my Grandmother’s rosary from my pajama drawer, I had quite the collection of rosaries, medals, scapulars, chaplets, and holy cards. Wow. A feeling of guilt over came me as I looked at the Catholic treasures I had in the box wondering how on earth they had ended up strewn all over the house in such a careless fashion.
Okay, a sacramental does not need to be CARELESSLY stuffed in a drawer, a purse, or a closet, but I’m finding out that not a few of us Catholics out there do this very thing, and then forget where we’ve put them. I know that there are times when I have worn my brown scapular until it has broken and needed to be replaced. I have put it aside to be disposed of properly but have never gotten around to doing it. I have broken rosaries in need repair, and those have gotten put into a drawer or purse until I can fix them. Then there are the medals of our Lord and Lady or various saints I’ve collected and worn over the years, but then for some reason or another, they too have gotten shelved as well. Holy cards (Which seem to multiply on their own) get stuck in books in my “Catholic” library and are rarely seen again.
So what do we Catholics do with all of our Sacramentals, and why do we have them in the first place. Sacramentals are those certain rituals such as making the sign of the cross to remit venial sin. They are also blessed salt, holy water, ashes and those blessed things that people give you to keep, carry or to use. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy says that SACRAMENTALS are sacred signs instituted by the Church that dispose people to receive the chief effects of the sacraments and they make holy various occasions in human life. My mother’s definition of a sacramental is pretty basic, she says, “Put this rosary in your pocket, it’ll get you to heaven!” Well, how can you really argue with a Mom about that issue? Shoot, as a kid I remember her “LOOK” the one time I complained about my brown scapular always popping out over the back of my collar and people questioning me about it. Obviously I didn’t understand back then what the scapular was truly all about, but Mom’s words and her look were gospel to me so the rosary went into my pocket, and I’ve yet to figure out how to keep my scapular from popping out over my collar. The difference now is that it is a point of evangelization and not embarrassment.
I know that each time I look at, touch, or kiss a sacramental it is an occasion of ridding me of venial sin. It also raises my thoughts to the holy, and it is a way of keeping me in check with my faith. My Catholicity.
So what are some of the things we find in our Catholic Closets? Well, let’s talk about a few of these sacramentals. I’ve already mentioned the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, given to us in the thirteenth century by our Lady to Saint Dominic. It has Plenary and Partial Indulgences attached to it under the normal circumstances, and there are fifteen promises from our Blessed Mother given to those who will pray her prayer. I will just mention two of them here.
- 1. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
- 2. All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son Jesus Christ.
Pretty awesome promises attached to this sacramental! There are many more, and I encourage you to go read about them as our Blessed Mother has given to us the secret for drawing closer to her Divine Son. Another Sacramental of Mary’s is the Brown Scapular which has a powerful promise attached to it as well. She gave this sacramental to Saint Simon Stock in the 13th century as well, and she said to him “…take this scapular of thy Order as a badge of my confraternity, and for thee and for all Carmelites, a sign of grace. Whoever dies in this garment will not suffer everlasting fire. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers; a pledge of peace and of the covenant.” Again, wow. She said it was a “SIGN OF SALVATION!”
Two sacramentals that were in constant use in the home in which I grew up were the Miraculous Medal and the Green Scapular. These two Catholic sacramentals or “tools for conversion” were given to the order of the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. In a ten year period, within the same walls of a convent in Paris, France two nuns were communicating with our Blessed Mother. She gave to them each a mission to have a sacramental made to be used with certain prayers. These would be used for conversions and many miracles which have been reported and proved. I can’t even imagine the Mother superior of that convent having to report to her higher authority that she had two nuns having visions, and that she needed to mass produce a couple of new sacramentals. Eventually, they were made and distributed and many miracles and conversions followed.
The Saint Benedict medal is my favorite. In our home we have them hanging above each door, and we also wear one. Saint Benedict is known as the Father of western monasticism and the father of the great order that bears his name. The medal shows the likeness of St Benedict as well as the Cross of Jesus Christ, and it is also a prayer of exorcism against Satan, a prayer for strength in time of temptation. Use of this sacramental is a way of calling down God’s blessing and protection, on us, our homes and our possessions, through the intercession of St Benedict.
Well, those are just a few of the sacramentals in our home, and there are many more throughout. The good thing is that I always seem to have an extra one or two around the house that I can pass on to someone else who may want one. I figure there are probably more hidden in my desk drawer and car. Hmmm, what about you? I wonder, what’s in your Catholic closet?
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Donna Sue Berry
March 27, 2012