Dan Quinn was the youth minister, and thus my “boss,” the year I led music for our local Life Teen program. Today, in the context of the Beatitude calling us to be “clean of heart,” he reminds us about an old practice many of us don’t give much thought.
If you would ask your Catholic grandparents and especially great-grandparents about sacramentals and devotions you would hear about their affection for rosaries, medals, saints, saint feast days, etc. Today’s Catholics do not seem to have the same affection for sacramentals. How can the Catholic traditions of so many years ago apply to us and our society? Maybe our grandparents and great-grandparents are out of touch with our society? That was a different time – a different morality.
Truth be told, the past generation is out of touch with today’s society. Just look at the difference between the forms of entertainment then and now. They watched TV shows like Leave it to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show while we watch sexually charged shows like Friends and Two and Half Men. For movies they watched Gone with the Wind while we watch Magic Mike. The elderly think that Fifty Shades of Gray must have something to do with the color palate. Maybe we should join our elderly and become out of touch with today’s society.
It appears to me that the gradual decrease of the devotion to sacramentals coincided with the increase of immorality in our society. Whether or not you accept this analogy between immorality and sacramentals, let us first understand how sacramentals help protect us against immorality.
The lack of devotion shown to sacramentals by today’s Catholics may be due to a lack of education. Sacramentals are blessed objects like rosaries, medals, crucifixes, scapulars or sacred signs such as the sign of the cross, sprinkling holy water, bowing, pilgrimages, etc. The major importance of sacramentals is they “prepare you to receive grace” and direct us to “sanctification of men and the praise of God.” [CCC 1670]
Some Christians and even some Catholics do not understand why we should utilize sacraments when you can go straight to Jesus. It is important to note that sacramentals are not to replace our relationship with Jesus, sacraments or the liturgy, all of which are far superior. [CCC 1675]. The fact that they “prepare us to receive grace” flows from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ.  Sacramentals have always been an important part of Christian and biblical faith. Here is just one biblical example:
“So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hand of Paul that when face cloths or aprons [sacramentals] that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.” (Acts 19:11-12).
It is said that we should learn from our past and our past was devoted to sacramentals. Maybe it’s time our society places less importance on the latest iPhone and place more importance on sacramentals such as the miraculous Medal. Sacramentals help us by preparing us to live a sanctified or holy life. A sanctified life spiritually puts us in a better position to receive the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Our immoral society would see more joy, peace, charity, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. I am confident that we all could use more of all of these.
My favorite sacramental is the Miraculous Medal and the Immaculate Conception of Mary. I know this has deepened my relationship with Jesus and I encourage you to find your devotion to a sacramental. Pray this Prayer of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and ask for help finding your sacramental devotion.
O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, didst prepare a worthy dwelling place for thy Son, we beseech thee that, as by the foreseen death of this, thy Son, thou didst preserve her from all stain, so too thou wouldst permit us, purified through her intercession, to come unto thee. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
Dan Quinn and his twin brother, John, are the authors of the Marion Amazon best seller The Ultimate Saint Guide to the Immaculate Conception. He is administrator of the Immaculate Conception of Mary Facebook page.