Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Medal From Rome

Susie from Recon sent me this medal of JP2 that was personally blessed by Pope Benedict during her recent pilgrimage to Rome with Scott Hahn and Mike Aquilina.
Very cool! I have posted on sacramentals before and refer folks to my "Tybercast" to understand them a bit better from an ex-evangelical's perspective. It's not a "Catholic rabbit's foot" or magical talisman. It is intended "to excite devotion and prayer." (Knowing that it has been blessed by the Successor of Peter is no small thing either!) When I see it on my night stand, I will ask for JP2's intercession for myself and others (I know he hasn't been officially canonized but I strongly believe he is before the throne of God enjoying the beatific vision he lived for.) Thanks Susie, I will pray for you and Rich too when I look upon it.

A Sacramental is a sacred sign by which spiritual effects especially are signified and are obtained by the intercession of the Church (Canon 1166). These sacred signs bear a resemblance to the sacraments (discussed in a later chapter) in that they signify effects, particularly of a spiritual kind. Sacramentals take various forms from blessings to blessed objects. Sacramentals with which we are all familiar are making the sign of the cross (blessing ourselves), holy water (water which has been blessed by a priest and is used, among other uses, for baptism), blessed medals and exorcisms (the blessing out of evil spirits).

Sacramentals, as a rule, were not instituted by Christ (exorcism would be an obvious exception), but by the Church. As such, sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church's intercessory prayer they do prepare us to receive God's grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. The efficacy of a sacramental depends upon the devotion, faith and love of those who use them. Sacramentals serve to remind the faithful of the Glory of God and thereby to draw us closer to Him. The prayer over a meal (blessing the meal) for example, reminds us that all that we have comes from God's love for us and this reminder helps us to be open to receiving even more of God's bounty.

Medals and crosses which have been blessed are sacramentals. If they have not been blessed, they are simply considered jewelry. The use in the Church of medals is very ancient and is intended to excite devotion and prayer. These items also signify the individual Christian's commitment to a holy life or commendation to the particular protection of the subject depicted.

Just like with all sacramentals, there is no "magic" benefit derived from wearing a medal, but they do prepare the wearer to receive God's grace and dispose them to cooperate with it. The efficacy of a sacramental depends upon the devotion, faith and love of the person who uses them.


Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

You're most welcome, TJ. I wish I'd have purchased many more medals there. The time for shopping was pretty rushed, but now I'll know to get many more... for the 'next time.'
Thank you for remembering us in your prayers, too. We cherish our new found friends we've made on line! What a blessing to know you both and to pray for you and your family. Some day maybe we can meet in person if not on the banks of the Tiber, then the Missouri or Mississippi. Or at the local watering hole and jaw over a brew.


June 09, 2007 3:55 PM  
Blogger MMajor Fan said...

Catholics do not need to be squeamish about the use of sacramentals, because as you cite from the Canon, they are not "magical." However, do not forget that some sacramentals such as scapulars are designed and revealed by Our Lady or Our Lord in personal revelations that are church approved, so there is the additional efficacy because those items focus devotion and prayer to obtain specifically promised grace. One of my favorites is the Green Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was twice approved by Pope Pius IX in 1863, and again in 1870. Personal revelation that is approved by the Church gives the faithful images that they can have confidence in as expressing advocacy toward a cause espoused by Our Lord or Our Lady (and all that Our Lady does is through the grace of her son Our Lord.) For example, the Green Scapular was designed by Our Lady to "contribute to the conversion of those who have no faith, and above all, procure for them a happy death." There are many examples of a blessed Green Scapular being given to a person and aiding in prayer, healing, and returning to the Church. When an image of a sacramental is revealed by Our Lady or Our Lord and approved by the Church it has been revealed for a reason... to focus prayer and faith on a specific grace. I find it amazing that people are more likely to believe in feng shui than a sacramental, particularly one revealed through revelation and proven efficacious.

June 09, 2007 10:34 PM  
Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

A Curious question, TJ,

I have a Catholic friend, who asked me about a convert she knows who received a "prayer cloth" from some Evangelical preacher/minister and also some "holy oil" and she asked my friend, what to do with these items and if they're the same as blessed sacramentals in the CC.?

My friend wondered what to tell this new convert, and hasn't told her anything yet as she didn't want to give her incorrect information. It's just that this convert still wants to use these things, but being Catholic I told my friend she should be getting anointed by a priest and or sacramentals that are blessed to use in good faith. I guess it's the faith God will honor, (either side of the Tiber) but these things are not 'blessed' in the same way that our Sacramentals are, since they don't believe in one apostolic Church, priests/bishops/Pope.

Anyway, my friend would like to know if she should say anything and what to say in re: to these items to this new convert. I do find it particularly odd that so many Evangelicals and Protestants get squeamish about Catholics and their sacramentals and yet find nothing wrong with prayer cloths sent to them in the mail from TBN preachers and the "holy oil" they buy at Parables bookstores to "anoint the sick?" Yet they freak out about our Holy Water, the sign of the Cross, blessed medals, etc. Some t.v. evangelist can send prayer cloths for a "donation" but when we talk about buying medals and rosaries and having them blessed say, by a priest or our's "so Catholic and sooo scary" to them. Hmm. Any suggestions for my friend to explain or tell her convert friend would be appreciated. I did tell her to visit your blog and listen to your basement tapes, so maybe she'll do that or has done so by now. Thanks TJ.

People are a funny lot, no?

June 11, 2007 2:23 PM  

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