I've been reading and learning a lot lately about sacramentals. I think that many of them have spiritual use and meaning, and I can see how each could evolve into such a powerful devotional.
I had two objects blessed this weekend so that they could be considered sacramentals. First, I've been wanting a crucifix to display by my bedside for a while, and I found a small one I really liked, that was a Benedictine Crucifix. It looks like this:
The crucifix includes a St. Benedict medal, so it has to be blessed with a particular blessing. The lady at the store gave me a copy of the blessing.
The second sacramental I had blessed this weekend was a green scapular. My sponsor gave it to my husband and me for a convalidation present. I thought it was kind of cool.
There seems so many different things that a Catholic can display or carry with them to show devotion to Christ, either through different types of devotions such as Sacred Heart or Divine Mercy, or devotion through Mary or the Saints. There's medals and scapulars and pictures and crucifixes and statues. There's a huge amount of devotions that can be done to Christ, and to Mary, and there's lots of information about the saints.
The only thing that kind of bothers me about the sacramentals is that the letters about them almost seem like bad chain letters. "I carried this scapular/medal/picture with me and I was healed/my children were healed/entire towns were converted, etc."
I can understand how faith in a particular sacramental can be beneficial. But how does one choose between what is authentic, and what is hooey? If it's been blessed by a Pope (like the Green Scapular, and the medal of St. Benedict), is it hooey? Or is it because the church has been around 2000 years that there are so darn many of them? How does one choose?
I've been wanting to get a necklace to wear, so that I feel ... I don't know, just a little more "Catholic." But which do I get? Should I go with a classic, and get a Crucifix? Or should I get a Miraculous Medal? I kind of think Four Way crosses are kind of cool. I like how they say on the back, "I am Catholic, please call a priest." They are apparently traditional gifts for people receiving sacraments. Then again, they're awfully busy looking. I could get a medal of one of my patron saints, St. Jude or St. Mary Magdalene.
I don't know. I suppose I could build up a collection of different necklaces and wear them as the mood strikes me. I'm not really sure how loyal I should be to any particular devotional, if that makes sense. I mean, there are nuns out there whose whole contemplative life revolves around the rosary, for example. I know some things, like the Brown Scapular and other specific type scapulars, you have to make some sort of pledge to that specific devotion. Other things, like the Miraculous Medal, apparently you only need to have them blessed by a priest.
Maybe I should just keep it simple and get a crucifix. The only problem is that teeny tiny Jesus sculptures always look a little odd. I thought about a Divine Mercy necklace, but they're not very pretty, at least compared to the pictures that I see of the Divine Mercy. They have a lot of Sacred Heart devotional medals, but I haven't found a lot of information on them enough to decide to get one.
At any rate, today I'll stick with my Benedictine Cross and my Green Scapular next to my bed. I hope that they protect me as the blessings say they will. And I'll keep praying to God the Father and God the Son to continue to draw closer to them, through prayer and devotionals.