In previous posts I’ve looked at several Catholic sacramentals including the rosary and divine mercy chaplet, holy water, the scapular, St. Christopher’s medal, the Agnus Dei, and the body of St. Maria Goretti.
The Catholic church defines sacramentals as “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.”
Simply, without the ecclesiastical gobbledygook, Catholics believe they will receive great blessings and ward off evil spirits by using sacramentals.
Another popular sacramental is the Miraculous Medal. Catholic tradition has it that Mary visited French mystic, saint Catherine Laboure, in 1830, giving her the precise design for this medal and promising that all who wore the medal would “receive great graces.” Followers of the Miraculous Medal cult attribute many miraculous healings and blessings to the wearing of the medal. Pope John Paul II was, of course, a big fan.
In his book, “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” (2014, Crossway), Evangelical theologian, Gregg Allison, considers the Catholic nature-grace interconnection whereby it is taught God’s grace is conferred by the church through nature (priests, sacraments, sacramentals, shrines, relics, etc.). Catholic “faith” is connected to concrete objects and rituals which purportedly confer grace and enable the recipient to better obey obligatory commandments and rules in order to merit Heaven. See my review of Allison’s book here.
The Catholic church readily admits sacramentals are rooted in pagan talismans and amulets. Citizens of pagan Rome were passionate believers in good-luck charms and the increasingly institutionalized church simply “christianized” the practice. There is no mention of believers using charms or amulets in the Bible. Neither is there any veneration (aka worship) of Mary in the Bible but I’ll try to stay on topic.
My Savior, Jesus Christ, paid the entire debt for my mountain of sin. I am so incredibly grateful!!! My Shepherd guides me throughout the day and I lean on Him. I place all my trust in Him. He’s my Rock. My Life. My Everything. The Holy Spirit indwells me and sustains me from moment to moment. My Lord directs my paths. It would never even occur to me to turn to a religious charm or amulet or someone other than my Lord.
There is no salvation in physical religious ritual. The only way to God’s salvation is by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior, by faith.
“But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” – John 1:12
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23-24
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” – John 6:63
See here for more posts on sacramentals.