Aspirant Month 8




1.  Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Sacramentals,” paragraphs 1667-1679,  an excerpt for personal use only, posted below

2.  Brochure: The Brown Scapular and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

3. Optional:



  1.   The liturgy of the Catholic Church celebrates 7 sacraments unlike many  other Christian churches . Imagine that a non-catholic  asks you to explain the sacraments and why we celebrate them.  In your answer,  give a description of each sacrament and the impact (effect) of the sacrament on the individual receiving it.

  2.  Describe your understanding of sacramentals and how they help the faithful lead more faith-filled lives.

  3.  What sacramentals have been a part of your spiritual life? Has the scapular been one of them, and if so, why?

  4.  “Today, the Carmelite Orders, while encouraging a belief in Mary’s aid and prayerful assistance for their souls beyond death and commending devotion to Mary especially on Saturdays which are dedicated to her, explicitly state in their official catechetical materials that they do not promulgate the Sabbatine privilege, and are at one with official Church teaching on the matter.”  Catechesis and Ritual for the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel  

     What is your understanding of the Sabbatine privilege and the official Church teaching about the brown scapular?




2.  Catechism of the Catholic Church , ” Sacramentals” (for personal use only )


1667    “Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.”

The characteristics of sacramentals

1668    Sacramentals are instituted for the sanctification of certain ministries of the Church, certain states of life, a great variety of circumstances in Christian life, and the use of many things helpful to man. In accordance with bishops’ pastoral decisions, they can also respond to the needs, culture, and special history of the Christian people of a particular region or time. They always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of holy water (which recalls Baptism).

1669    Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood: every baptized person is called to be a “blessing,” and to bless. Hence lay people may preside at certain blessings; the more a blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or deacons).

1670    Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. “For well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. From this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power. There is scarcely any proper use of material things which cannot be thus directed toward the sanctification of men and the praise of God.”

Various forms of sacramentals

1671    Among sacramentals blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father “with every spiritual blessing.”  This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ.

1672    Certain blessings have a lasting importance because they consecrate persons to God, or reserve objects and places for liturgical use. Among those blessings which are intended for persons—not to be confused with sacramental ordination—are the blessing of the abbot or abbess of a monastery, the consecration of virgins and widows, the rite of religious profession and the blessing of certain ministries of the Church (readers, acolytes, catechists, etc.). The dedication or blessing of a church or an altar, the blessing of holy oils, vessels, and vestments, bells, etc., can be mentioned as examples of blessings that concern objects.

1673    When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing.  In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism. The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. 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. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.

Popular piety

1674    Besides sacramental liturgy and sacramentals, catechesis must take into account the forms of piety and popular devotions among the faithful. The religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church’s sacramental life, such as the veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals, etc.

1675    These expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it. They “should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some way derived from it and lead the people to it, since in fact the liturgy by its very nature is far superior to any of them.”

1676    Pastoral discernment is needed to sustain and support popular piety and, if necessary, to purify and correct the religious sense which underlies these devotions so that the faithful may advance in knowledge of the mystery of Christ. Their exercise is subject to the care and judgment of the bishops and to the general norms of the Church.

At its core the piety of the people is a storehouse of values that offers answers of Christian wisdom to the great questions of life. The Catholic wisdom of the people is capable of fashioning a vital synthesis…. It creatively combines the divine and the human, Christ and Mary, spirit and body, communion and institution, person and community, faith and homeland, intelligence and emotion. This wisdom is a Christian humanism that radically affirms the dignity of every person as a child of God, establishes a basic fraternity, teaches people to encounter nature and understand work, provides reasons for joy and humor even in the midst of a very hard life. For the people this wisdom is also a principle of discernment and an evangelical instinct through which they spontaneously sense when the Gospel is served in the Church and when it is emptied of its content and stifled by other interests.


1677    Sacramentals are sacred signs instituted by the Church. They prepare men to receive the fruit of the sacraments and sanctify different circumstances of life.

1678    Among the sacramentals blessings occupy an important place. They include both praise of God for his works and gifts, and the Church’s intercession for men that they may be able to use God’s gifts according to the spirit of the Gospel.

1679    In addition to the liturgy, Christian life is nourished by various forms of popular piety, rooted in the different cultures. While carefully clarifying them in the light of faith, the Church fosters the forms of popular piety that express an evangelical instinct and a human wisdom and that enrich Christian life.



AN EXCERPT FROM WELCOME TO CARMEL, “Carmel and Our Lady”, by Eamon Carroll, O. Carm.

The Scapular

Writing of the Scapular, a devotion very popular among lay people at the end of the fifteenth century, Bostius recounts the familiar story and combines a careful understanding of Mary’s spiritual motherhood with his sense of the bond between Mary and Carmel. The Scapular, given to Saint Simon Stock in the thirteenth century at a time of crisis for the Order, is a sign of relationship to the Blessed Virgin.

It is a garment given us by our Mother, a gift for our spiritual good. It requires a reciprocal love on the part of the wearer: to invoke Mary in all needs, to contemplate her life and virtues, to live in continual dependence on her, to imitate her. “Happy are they who receive the gifts of Mary with tenderness in the embrace of mutual spiritual love. Knowing they have been chosen by her for so great an inheritance, seeing this habit they will remember with joy the love of predilection with which the most lovable giver surrounds them.”

“Oh heavenly mystery, equally admirable to hear and to relate: the Queen of mercy, who by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit clothed the Eternal Word with her own flesh for the redemption of the world, now, with the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, rewards with her own garment the Carmelites who spread the divine word for the reconciliation of the world,” Bostius says.

The beloved medieval hymn associated with Saint Simon Stock and the Scapular of Carmel is the Flos Carmeli; it has often been set to music, in gregorian chant and other forms.

Flower of Carmel, Vine blossom-laden, Spendor of heaven, Child-bearing maiden, None equals thee.

O Mother benign, Who no man didst know, On all Carmel’s children Thy favors bestow Star of the sea.


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