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Chapter 22. Sacramentals and Popular Devotions • 297

cism strictly. “Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to

the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority

which Jesus entrusted to his Church” (CCC, no. 1673). One needs to

distinguish psychological illness from demonic possession. Illness is the

domain of psychological and medical care, whereas demonic possession

requires the pastoral care of the Church through exorcism.


The faith of the Christian people has developed numerous forms of pop-

ular piety and devotions. The religious instincts of the Christian people

have always found ways to surround sacramental life with helps to ben-

efit more effectively from them. Popular devotions have proven to be

powerful forms of prayer and to be of spiritual benefit to many.

These forms of piety include praying at the Stations of the Cross;

making pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Rome, Marian shrines, and

shrines of other saints; lighting candles in church; having throats blessed

on the feast of St. Blaise; joining in Corpus Christi processions; wearing

medals of the Blessed Virgin and the saints; and honoring sacred relics.

Some materials that form part of the Church’s liturgical rites, such as

the ashes received on Ash Wednesday and the palms distributed on Palm

Sunday, are also sacramentals.

Devotions to the SacredHeart of Jesus, the DivineMercy of Jesus, and

the Blessed Mother are frequently part of parish life and often include a


, nine days of prayer associated with the devotion. Prayer groups

such as those sponsored by Charismatic Renewal, Cursillo, Marriage

Encounter, and Teens for Christ have both a strong liturgical foundation

as well as a vibrant devotional component.

The praying of litanies (a series of invocations of the Blessed Mother

or the saints) and the use of icons, holy pictures, and statues as supports

for prayer are also forms of popular devotion. The faithful do not wor-

ship pictures and statues; they venerate or honor the Virgin Mary and

the saints and worship and adore only God. The veneration of Mary and

the saints ultimately leads to God. Among the forms of popular devo-