Q. 1053. How do the Sacramentals excite good thoughts and increase devotion? A. The Sacramentals excite good thoughts by recalling to our minds some special reason for doing good and avoiding evil; especially by reminding us of some holy person, event or thing through which blessings have come to us. They increase devotion by fixing our minds on particular virtues and by helping us to understand and desire them.
Q. 1054. Do the Sacramentals of themselves remit venial sins? A. The Sacramentals of themselves do not remit venial sins, but they move us to truer devotion, to greater love for God and greater sorrow for our sins, and this devotion, love and sorrow bring us grace, and the grace remits venial sins.
Q. 1055. Why does the Church use Sacramentals? A. The Church uses Sacramentals to teach the faithful of every class the truths of religion, which they may learn as well by their sight as by their hearing; for God wishes us to learn His laws by every possible means, by every power of soul and body.
Q. 1056. Show by an example how Sacramentals aid the ignorant in learning the truths of faith. A. Sacramentals aid the ignorant in learning the truths of faith as children learn from pictures before they are able to read. Thus one who cannot read the account of Our Lord’s passion may learn it from the Stations of the Cross, and one who kneels before a crucifix and looks on the bleeding head, pierced hands and wounded side, is better able to understand Christ’s sufferings than one without a crucifix before him.
Q. 1057. What are the Stations or Way of the Cross? A. The Stations or Way of the Cross is a devotion instituted by the Church to aid us in meditating on Christ’s passion and death. Fourteen crosses or stations, each with a picture of some scene in the passion, are arranged at distances apart. By passing from one station to another and praying before each while we meditate upon the scene it represents, we make the Way of the Cross in memory of Christ’s painful journey during His passion, and we gain the indulgence granted for this pious exercise.
Q. 1058. Are prayers and ceremonies of the Church also Sacramentals? A. Prayers and ceremonies of the Church are also Sacramentals because they excite good thoughts and increase devotion. Whatever the Church dedicates to a pious use or devotes to the worship of God may be called a Sacramental.
Q. 1059. On what ground does the Church make use of ceremonies? A. The Church makes use of ceremonies (1) After the example of the Old Law, in which God described and commanded ceremonies; (2) after the example of Our Lord, who rubbed clay on the eyes of the blind to whom He wished to restore sight, though He might have performed the miracle without any external act; (3) on the authority of the Church itself, to whom Christ gave power to do whatever was necessary for the instruction of all men; (4) to add solemnity to religious acts.