Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood: every
baptized person is called to be a “blessing,” and to bless.
lay people may preside at certain blessings; the more a blessing
concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administra-
tion reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or dea-
Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in
the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they
prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. “For
well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacra-
ments 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. From this source all
sacraments and sacramentals draw their power. There is scarcely
any proper use of material things which cannot be thus directed
toward the sanctification of men and the praise of God.”
Various forms of sacramentals
of persons, meals, objects, and
places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In
Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father “with every spiritual
This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the
name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ.
Certain blessings have a lasting importance because they
persons to God, or reserve objects and places for liturgical use.
Among those blessings which are intended for persons—not to be con-
fused with sacramental ordination—are the blessing of the abbot or abbess
of a monastery, the consecration of virgins and widows, the rite of religious
profession and the blessing of certain ministries of the Church (readers,
acolytes, catechists, etc.). The dedication or blessing of a church or an altar,
the blessing of holy oils, vessels, and vestments, bells, etc., can be men-
tioned as examples of blessings that concern objects.
When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name
of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of
the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called
performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power
and office of exorcizing.
In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the
celebration of Baptism. The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,”
can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop.
The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules estab-
79; CIC, can. 1168;
1:25-26; 3:15; 6:7, 13; 16:17.