Recently I've received a few questions about Catholic items I'm wearing such as the Brown Scapular and the Miraculous Medal. I've always felt unprepared to answer these questions, especially from non Catholics, but I've had some more practice recently. 😉 So, here are some key definitions and facts about these sacramentals.
Sacramental - "Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. 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." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1667)
Common sacramentals are the Rosary, scapulars, holy water, the Miraculous Medal, St. Benedict medal, and blessed salt.
The Brown Scapular - "The best known and most highly esteemed scapular, and the one most favored by the Church, and by the Blessed Virgin in many of her apparitions, is the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. It is adapted from the scapular of the Carmelite Order and represents a special Consecration to Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Those who wear it practice it a special devotion to Mary. In the past this was the Little Office of Our Lady, but today this can be commuted by any priest to the rosary. In addition, the person has a special entrustment of themselves to Mary for their salvation. This, in fact, has been promised to those who faithfully wear the scapular: "Those who die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." This must not be understood superstitiously or magically, but in light of Catholic teaching that perseverance in faith, hope and love are required for salvation. The scapular is a powerful reminder of this Christian obligation and of Mary's promise to help those consecrated to her obtain the grace of final perseverance." (ewtn.com)
The Miraculous Medal - "Especially well known is the Miraculous Medal. In 1830 The Blessed Virgin appeared three times in the chapel of the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, to Catherine Laboure, then a novice. It is a medal in honor of the Immaculate Conception. St. Catherine was canonized in 1947. Her body was found incorrupt, and attracts many pilgrims to the original shrine." (ewtn.com)
Here, we see a woman, the Mother of God, encircled by a short and famous prayer: "O Mary conceived without sin. . . . " Being conceived without sin—the mystery of her Immaculate Conception—means that from the beginning this woman was full of grace.
Mary stands on a globe, the world. Around her feet a twisted serpent, the devil, struggles for mastery. It is a conflict between good and evil. Satan's is a world of darkness and disgrace; Mary's is a world of light and grace. But hers is the victory won by Christ—the light of the world. So we see the light and grace of Christ flowing from her hands; and those who choose grace rather than darkness turn to her for help: "pray for us who have recourse to thee."
On the back of the medal we see a large letter M with a cross above it. M is for Mary and Mother because she is indeed the Mother of God's people—a people founded on the twelve Apostles, signified by the twelve stars arranged around the rim.
The two hearts are those of Jesus and Mary. God's message for Mary was one of suffering "a sword will pierce your heart too"—just as the heart of her Son would be pierced by a soldier's lance. The showing of the two hearts in one grand alliance is a reminder of God's love for us. Mother and Son are united in the work of redemption as Christ offers himself on the cross and Mary stands compassionately at his feet, assenting in faith so that the world might be saved.
The medal, then, is a summary in itself of the Church's teaching on Our Lady—a mini-catechism of the faith for everyone." (ewtn.com)
Saint Bracelet - Although not directly given to us by any of the Saints or Our Lady, the Saint bracelet is a very helpful reminder of our brothers and sisters in Heaven. Just like pictures of your loved ones who have already passed away, the pictures of the Saints remind us of them, their virtuous lives, and the fact that they are in Heaven! We must remember to ask for their intercession. Having the images of the Saints on your wrist all the time sure is a great reminder!!
The Saint Benedict Medal -
This image explains all the symbolism of the medal very well. "There is no special way prescribed for carrying or wearing the Medal of St. Benedict. It can be worn on a chain around the neck, attached to one's rosary, kept in one's pocket or purse, or placed in one's car or home.
The purpose of using the medal in any of the above ways is to call down God's blessing and protection upon us, wherever we are, and upon our homes and possessions, especially through the intercession of St. Benedict. By the conscious and devout use of the medal, it becomes, as it were, a constant silent prayer and reminder to us of our dignity as followers of Christ.
The medal is a prayer of exorcism against Satan, a prayer for strength in time of temptation, a prayer for peace among ourselves and among the nations of the world, a prayer that the Cross of Christ be our light and guide, a prayer of firm rejection of all that is evil, a prayer of petition that we may with Christian courage "walk in God's ways, with the Gospel as our guide," as St. Benedict urges us." (osb.org)
There are many more beautiful sacramentals the Church has given us as signs of grace. Do you wear any of these or other sacramentals? Have you gotten questions from others and how did you answer them? Please let me know in the comments below!!
I pray you have a Christ filled day!!