Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 6, 2016 and has been substantially revised.
In previous posts, we’ve looked at several Catholic “sacramentals,” including the rosary and divine mercy chaplet, holy water, the scapular, St. Christopher’s medal, and the Agnus Dei locket.
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.”
Properties of the medal include:
- Mary stands on a globe, crushing a serpent beneath her feet. Describing the original vision, Catherine said the Blessed Mother appeared radiant as a sunrise, “in all her perfect beauty.”
- Rays shoot out from Mary’s hands, which she told Catherine, “symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them.”
- Words from the vision form an oval frame around Mary: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
- A cross-and-bar surmounts a large, bold “M.”
- Twelve stars disperse around the perimeter.
- Two hearts are depicted underneath the “M,” the left lapped with a crown of thorns, the right skewed by a sword. From each, a flame emanates from the top*
The medal is a stark example of how the Catholic church unabashedly replaces the Lord God with Mary in its worship and devotion.
Followers of the Miraculous Medal cult attribute many miraculous healings and blessings to the wearing of the medal. Pope John Paul II was an ardent devotee of the medal.
In his book, “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” (2014, Crossway), evangelical theologian, Gregg Allison, examined the Catholic “nature-grace interconnection,” whereby it is taught that God’s grace is conferred by the Catholic 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 owner/participant to better obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules in order to merit Heaven. See my review of Allison’s book here.
The Catholic church readily admits its sacramentals are rooted in pagan talismans and amulets (see here). 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.
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 to 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 alone.
“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.
*The properties of the medal that are listed here are taken from the Wikipedia article. See here.