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-