Sacramentals are powerful sacred signs and an indispensable means of grace. Through them, the liberation from evil and the healing of sicknesses (including psychological disorders) can occur and conversions may happen. Sacramentals can help to overcome multiple difficulties in life, providing a manifold help on the way to God. The blessing of persons is an example of a sacramental. It is important to understand how sacramentals work in order to receive the graces God wants to pour out on us.
How Are Sacramentals Different Than Sacraments?
To start, sacramentals are similar to sacraments. Thus, they consist of a visible element and produce an invisible spiritual effect. The seven sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ and, consequently are of divine right. They work by themselves because Jesus Christ works in them and through them.
Sacramentals are different. They are usually instituted by the Church, and their mode of action is therefore distinct. The spiritual effects of sacramentals are obtained “from the work of the doer.” Even though the intercessory power of the Church is also at work in them, the effectiveness of sacramentals depends first and foremost on the moral condition of the person who administers them as well as the person who receives them.
This is of utmost importance concerning the spiritual meaning and use of blessings. They are not to be understood as a form of magic or superstition. On the contrary, their spiritual effect depends on the disposition of the receiver, i.e. that he or she lives in communion with God. This is called the “state of grace” (not being separated from God by mortal sin) and permits divine grace to permeate daily life. If these basic conditions are met, abundant graces can be obtained even through a simple blessing.
5 Benefits Of A Blessing Of Persons
Generally speaking, blessings can be applied to persons (if they are well disposed), places, and objects. The following explanation will be limited to the blessing of persons. Even though it does not claim to be exhaustive, the list below does provide a good overview of some of the benefits the faithful may receive through blessings:
The first benefit of blessings is that they can stir the heart towards piety, leading to conversion. Grace may change the heart of a person, causing liberation from egotism and self-centeredness. Conversion means turning to God, who is “all in all.” How many people today are interiorly blocked; how many say they cannot believe in God? A blessing, when received in the way explained above, may solve such problems.
A second benefit of blessings is the remission of venial sins. When a blessing is received with devotion and the right inner disposition, venial sins can be forgiven. For this, one usually makes the sign of the cross as an exterior expression of the interior grace, when receiving the blessing.
Third, a blessing can free people from the power of evil spirits. The devil and his evil works are a real threat to everyone. Even though he is not as powerful as God, his actions can enslave people. A blessing may lead to deliverance from evil since every blessing contains the sign of Christ’s victory, the sign of the cross.
Fourth, a blessing can help to preserve and/or restore bodily health. My book Sacramentals: Their Meaning and Spiritual Use describes this in detail. Health—both physical and mental—can be affected by sins, curses, spiritual burdens, etc. A blessing has the power to free and heal individuals from these.
Finally, blessings can produce other temporal or spiritual benefits. Through them, a variety of difficulties can be resolved, even things like concentration problems; but most importantly, through the blessing, the person is strengthened spiritually to remain in God’s grace and to follow God’s path.
Learn More About Sacramentals And What They Mean
In Sacramentals: Their Meaning and Spiritual Use (Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 2023), practical guidance is offered that will help the believer to consciously live their faith and thereby benefit more greatly from the spiritual effects of blessings. Our very existence depends on God’s blessing.