The Sacraments and Sacramentals - A Life Immersed in Grace

"The sacramentals either lead up to or continue the grace of the Sacraments."
Fr. Philip T. Weller 
In the introduction to the third volume of the Roman Ritual, Fr. Weller provides a brief history of the sacramentals and their relationship with the Sacraments.
In this Introduction, he provides a wonderful explanation of how the sacramentals all flow from, and are ordered to, one of the seven Sacraments.

This relationship exists because there is not such a clear delineation between "sacrament" and "sacramental" as we have come to understand today. 
Separating them so strictly often leads to a reduction in reverence for and the high regard due to these great gifts, these "lesser sacraments," known as "sacramentals."
Often, it is said firmly that the Sacraments were instituted by Christ but the sacramentals were instituted by the Church.  While the former is true, and the latter is true, there is also a middle place:  many of the sacramentals were instituted by Christ Himself! 

As Fr. Weller states, 
"Furthermore it is not true to say without qualification that one distinction between sacraments and sacramentals is that the former owe their institution to Christ, the latter to the Church. For some of the sacramentals definitely come directly from Christ, exactly how many and which ones is not clear."
The one sacramental which he goes on to describe as being given directly by Christ is the Mandatum, the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, commanded by Christ at the Last Supper and used throughout the history of the Church, but never regarded as a Sacrament.
This statement that Christ directly instituted some of the sacramentals should lead us to a greater wonder and awe at these great gifts!  Further, it demonstrates the union between Christ and His Church:  even if the Church were the one to institute all of the sacramentals, she does so by the power and according to the mind of Holy Spirit.

As St. Peter once said, "For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." (Acts 15:28)

Here, then, let us look at examples of the harmony between the Sacraments and the sacramentals which Fr. Weller describes:

The Holy Eucharist
As Fr. Weller says, "Eucharistic worship is the consecration of all time and all matter... A Christian's every and entire day is sanctified by it... Sacramentals can be said to form an outer circle around the Sacraments, all of them converging toward the Eucharist at the center."

Tied back to Baptism are the sacramentals of holy water, the Sunday morning Asperges, the blessing of infants, and of children. 
Relating back to Confirmation are the blessings of a school, a library, an archive, an ambulance, and the other sacramentals which have a connection to the manifestations of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Orders
Connected to Holy Orders are the consecration of a monk or a nun, which are patterned after this Sacrament.
Inspired by Matrimony is the blessing of a bridal chamber, of an expectant mother, the act of churching, the blessing of a home, and the abundance of blessings for material things, like eggs, butter, bread, and oil, which are used in family life. 
Connected to Penance are the sacramentals of the Confiteor, absolutions during Mass, the Apostolic Pardon at the moment of death, and exorcisms. 
Extreme Unction/Anointing
Flowing from Extreme Unction are the blessings for the sick, of sick pilgrims, wine, medicine, linens, the blessing of a corpse, and the blessing of a grave.

Fr. Weller adds, "The various circumstances and conditions and materials of life are consecrated, lest by their unsanctified state they prove to be obstacles in the way of sanctified humanity."

This is the purpose of the Incarnation:  to remove the blight of sin from all of creation - man's body and soul and the external created order, that all may be redeemed in Christ, for... St. Paul says,
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
Learn what is in the Roman Ritual, the many blessings available to you!  
Speak to your priest about it.  Introduce him to the Roman Ritual if he is unfamiliar - a lot of priests are, sadly.
And learn the power of sacramentals, as witnessed and attested to by exorcists, by getting a copy of the highly acclaimed and extremely practical spiritual warfare manual, Slaying Dragons: What Exorcists See & What We Should Know.   
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