Prompted by the Catholic Exchange article on the Miraculous Medal I shared, Mundabor muses on the Church's use of sacramentals and other externals.
From Mundabor's Blog
Catholic Exchange has a beautiful post about St Catherine Laboure’. I am one of the many who carry the Miraculous Medal, and could not imagine being without now.
There is a reason why Catholicism is so attached to “physical” things. The cold feeling on your forehead when you sign yourself with the Holy Cross; the smell of the incense in the church; the beauty and majesty of sacred music; the elaborate splendour of our churches; the contrast between the busy street outside of the church and the quiet atmosphere inside it; the appreciation for relics, things which can you can see and touch; the time-honoured tradition of pilgrimage (another very physical way to approach your faith), or the blessing of objects from Bibles to… cars, are only some of the ways in which a Catholic “connects”, on a purely physical but, still, intimate way, with his faith.
Gold crosses, gold medals and, often, miraculous medals are just some of these physical connections to our beautiful faith. They are, literally, on our skin. When I think of my miraculous medal during the day (say, as I walk through an office corridor), I cannot see it, but I know it is there, right on my skin, connecting with me at a very elemental level, and helping me to connect to the Blessed Virgin on a far superior one.
Nor does this seem to be a purely Catholic phenomenon. I am sure every Elvis Presley or Confederacy museum, or every Hall of Fame, has an extensive collections of objects related to the theme of the relevant institution, exactly for the purpose of the physical connection to, say, Elvis Presley, Babe Ruth, or Stonewall Jackson. It’s simply the way we humans are wired. The Church, in Her wisdom, helps us on our journey of faith utilising exactly these elementary but, ultimately, very effective mechanisms.
Let the Protestants say that these are all superstitions; that we worship things, or think they have some magical value (where they got this from, beats me), and that the only thing that count is to be “buddy with Jesus” (I hear some of them talking, and I wonder if they think they “high-fived” Him in the morning).
We, who are Catholics, will hold our traditions dear, and will live – and cherish – the particular way in which our faith connects, at a very intimate level, with us.
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