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The Christian Mystery

Other Liturgical Celebrations

Biblical Reflection: 2 Pt 1:3-11

Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramental. These are 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. (CCC 1667)

Sacramentals are instituted for the sanctification of certain ministries of the Church, certain states of life, a great variety of circumstances in Christian life, and the use of many things helpful to man. In accordance with bishops’ pastoral decisions, they can also respond to the needs, culture, and special history of the Christian people of a particular region or time. They always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of holy water (which recalls Baptism). (CCC 1668)

Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood: every baptized person is called to be a “blessing,” and to bless. Hence lay people may preside at certain blessings… (CCC 1669)

Besides sacramental liturgy and sacramental, catechesis must take into account the forms of piety and popular devotions among the faithful. The religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church’s sacramental life, such as he veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals, etc. (CCC 1674)

“For well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ…”Vatican II, SC 61. (CCC 1670)

Questions for discussion:

  • Among the Sacramentals we may mention the sign of the cross with holy water, the ashes at the beginning of Lent, the blessing of branches on Palm Sunday, the blessing of the table, the blessing of an image, etc. Please say something about any of these or any other sacramental and indicate if they are important to you.
  • In your opinion, as a lay person, what blessings would you be able to guide or preside?
  • What do you understand by “popular piety and devotions”? Please mention some examples or your experience with popular devotions.
  • What would you like to say about the Holy Rosary or the Stations of the Cross?
  • Have you ever visited a sanctuary? Which one? What did you do during your visit? What was your experience?

Further reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, numbers 1667-1690.