Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
| A sacramental
is anything (material object, time, space, ritual) set apart and
blessed by the Church to "excite good thoughts and to increase
devotion, and through these movements of the heart to remit venial
sin." (Baltimore Catechism). It is a sacred sign, the use of which
disposes us to receive the grace of the Sacraments and which helps make
various aspects of our lives holy.
They are not talismans, magic rituals, or "good luck charms" which give us power over God and His creation; their power derives from Grace of God, through the Church's prayers and the piety they dispose one to. In other words, unlike the seven Sacraments, which were instituted by Christ Himself and which operate ex opere operato -- or by their very form, matter and ministerial intent -- sacramentals, most of which were instituted by the authority of the Church, operate ex opere operantis, that is, their effectiveness relies on the devotion of the individual. However, as signs of the individual's prayers and piety, and because of the power of God to sanctify material things, and space, and time for our benefit, they are powerful and drive away Evil Spirit when properly used.
The use of
sacramentals is one of the most obvious differences between us and
Protestants. While most types of Protestantism see a radical divide
between body, on one hand, and the soul on the other, Catholicism sees
the human person as an integrated unity of body and soul (a
hierarchical unity with the soul of prime importance). We know that:
We are not souls trapped in totally vile flesh; we are enfleshed souls, i.e., our bodies are part of who we are, which is why our sex ("gender," as they say) matters as a fundamental aspect of our personhood and why ritual, chastity, corporal works of mercy, etc., are so important. God did not create us with flesh as some sort of cruel joke. And He does not expect us to behave and think as Gnostics, treating the material as unimportant or believing it to be inherently evil. He saw His creation and called it good -- but we are born lacking grace because of the sin of Adam. We are to overcome that state by co-operating with the saving grace of Jesus Christ, through faith, the Sacraments, and charity. Sacramentals help us do this.
Our society mocks Catholic ritual -- but understands the importance of
ritual really well all of a sudden when it comes to saluting the flag;
having turkey on Thanksgiving -- and expecting the President of the
United States to issue a "pardon" to one of these creatures each year;
setting up a Christmas tree at the Nativity; going to graduations,
funerals and weddings; celebrating birthdays; marching in parades;
doing "the wave" at football games; joining a fraternity or sorority;
buying your girl some roses and chocolates for St. Valentine's Day;
21-gun salutes , riderless horses, and fly-overs at the funerals of
soldiers, cops, and Presidents; loving the pomp and circumstance of the
opening of the British Parliament; hearing "Gentlemen, start your
engines!" before the Indy 500; gathering in Times Square to watch the
ball fall on New Year's Eve, and then eating a bowl of black-eyed peas
the next day; checking for "monsters" under your daughter's bed after
reading her a goodnight story; having breakfast with the newspaper after
the morning shower, never before, etc.