Catholics throughout history have used medals as a reminder of the faith and the lives of the saints. The images of the saints remind us about the details of their lives, and they give us a way to remember to imitate the holiness of the great ones who have gone before us. Each time someone places one of these medallions around their neck, it’s a physical reminder to be faithful.
Our mission at Discount Catholic Products is to provide the prayer tools that help people grow closer to God. Granted, we have a vast array of items on our site, but there is a core 5 categories that I think are the most important for those who are looking to deepen their faith.
So whether you are looking for yourself or to help a friend along their own faith journey, here is our list of the 5 items every Catholic should have. But remember – the tools only work when they get used.
1. Bible – The Church encourages us to read the Bible as part of our daily prayer lives. Whether you use your bible to practice lectio divina or simply to become more familiar with the text, having and knowing your bible is important to growing your spiritual life.
2. Scapular – “Whosoever dies in this garment shall not suffer eternal fire” – the promise of Our Lady to St. Simon Stock regarding the Brown Scapular. Wearing a scapular is a prayer in itself. It is a way to show your surrender to the protection of Mary. Any Catholic can be enrolled in the brown scapular, the most common of scapulars, by a priest. Children often receive their first scapular with their First Communion.
Wearing a scapular is certainly a test of your faith and devotion when it become inconvenient or unfashionable to wear. It’s not a commitment to be taken lightly, but the promise it bears far outweighs the temporary uncomfortable moments found in our daily lives.
3. Rosary – Mary promises great graces to those who pray the rosary. By meditating on each mystery, we give Mary the opportunity to turn our eyes to her Son. We see Jesus through her eyes.
4. Crucifix – Having a crucifix displayed in your home is an indication of how your family places Christ above all else. It is a statement that you each first belong to Him, and a way to remind yourself of that very same thing.
5. Holy Water Vessel – Whether kept in your pocket, purse, car, or home, having access to holy water is important. Holy water can heal the sick, evoke graces and banish demons. You can use holy water to bless any space including your home, work and vehicle.
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones – Ephesians 1:18
I’m a “follow-the-directions” type of gal. I’m a master at Ikea furniture and complicated Lego mechanisms if you give me the instructions. I like knowing the end result ahead of time and having a clear path to that goal. Put the words “How to” in the title of a book, and I’ll read it. Even if it’s something obscure that I know I’ll never do – like “How to Build Your Own Apple Press”, I want to read it.
Maybe this harkens back to my days watching Mr. Rogers’ Picture Picture videos about how to make things like candles, crayons and violins.
So when I came across St. Alphonsus Liguori’s work “How to Converse with God,” I was all over it. The book is small enough to carry with me – it can fit in a jeans pocket, but intricate enough to read over and over again.
The basis of St. Alphonsus’ book is confidence and love. It is simple, so why don’t we do it? It’s one of those habits that take time to build. But this one is majestic in its outcome and a pleasure to practice.
Below is my own summary of only a few of the wonderful parts of this book. Do not treat this list as if it were complete. The depth and breadth of the contents of this small book stand in stark contrast the petite size.
- God loves you with the greatest love possible, and wants to be the greatest love of your life.
- God wants you to talk to Him with confidence, because that means you trust him. To lack confidence when speaking to Him shows there is a lack of complete, confident love.
- If you want to spend eternity with God, start now by speaking with Him as you would your closest friend – don’t be timid or cower.
- “God is not wont to speak to a soul that does not speak to Him.” Speak to Him all the time. That inner monolog you have throughout the day can easily be turned towards addressing Him.
- These conversations with God are not tedious or restrained. Talk about what you want to talk about. Tell Him your plans, griefs, worries, fears and hopes.
- You will find peace by putting your confidence in God and conversing with Him regularly.
- Beg His pardon when you sin.
Truly, I want to emphasize to you the importance of St. Alphonsus’ message in that God does not want us to talk to him with a fear so great that we cannot treat him like an intimate friend. Confidence is key.
Learn more than I can convey by reading and studying the book How to Converse with God.
And if you can’t muster the confidence, then fake it ‘til you make it.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. (Hebrews 4:16)
How cool is it to get mail that’s not a bill or advertisement or form letter? How often does that happen?
I love all the mail we get at Christmas. Seeing the pictures and watching my far-away friends’ kids change from year to year is sweet. Sobering – because of how fast they grow, but sweet.
When it comes to sending Christmas a Christmas mailing, there are many options out there, including postcards, letters, photos and the traditional card. Continue reading Add Prayer and Love to your Christmas Cards
The advent wreath I had when I was little was the construction paper one I made in Sr. Jane’s 3rd grade class. Like most of my Catholic education, I took that little wreath for granted and used it more to count down the slowest weeks of my life – those leading up to Christmas – than as a prayer tool.
There are so many wonderful reasons to have an Advent wreath. Here we’re going to talk about the top seven:
- Different form of Prayer
Prayer is an exercise. And like exercise, it works best if you do many forms – not just bench presses and squats. Having (and using!) an Advent wreath gives you an opportunity to pray in a different way than what you do on a day-to-day basis.
You’re only job in life is to get to heaven. If you read through the 4 weekly prayers below, you can see they are asking God to help us change in ways that make us more holy and reject sin.
- Deepen your Relationship with God
That’s the whole point of prayer, right?
Advent wreaths are a sacramental, meaning we use them to sanctify ourselves.
- Establish a Family Tradition
Family traditions are a way for families to express their love for each other! Like that favorite serving bowl your grandmother used, a family Advent Wreath absorbs more and more meaning every year it is used.
- Teach your Children Well
The correct reason for the season is the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Giving 30 seconds to Advent prayer every night before supper (or dinner…) brings their attention back to God.
- Get Outside your Comfort Zone
Still not excited about getting an Advent wreath? That can be a good thing! Growth happens fastest outside your comfort zone.
There is something mesmerizing about a lit candle. Eating dinner with your family with the light of Advent candles burning gives dinner a refreshing ambiance.
I’ve started and stopped writing this blog post many times. At first it was just supposed to be informational and light; but the further I dug, the more frustrated I became. I thought I had a pretty good handle on Sacramentals, but I was wrong.
The more definitions of “sacramental” I found, the more frustrated I grew. I felt like I was getting farther and farther away from understanding what they actually were and how they fit into our Catholic faith.
According to the Catechism (CCC #1667) Sacramentals “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.”
Ummm… I still didn’t quite get it.
And because I, as a person who works with rosaries, scapulars, and all things Catholic objects all day long, felt confused, I guessed that there were others out there in the same boat: You know they exist, they help in prayer life, but it just never felt super important to have a solid understanding of what a sacramental is or isn’t.
In light of this, I’ve been reading up! And here’s what I’ve found.
Sacrament vs Sacramental
As Jesus instituted the Seven Sacraments, the Church has instituted sacramentals.
The clearest definition I’ve found comes from Julie Dortch Cragon: “Sacramentals are items, actions, and blessings that remind us to be faithful, to pray, to love one another and to be grateful to our God.”
While Sacraments are signs and instruments of God’s grace, the role of Sacramentals is to magnify the grace of the sacraments. They show us what is holy and “draw us into a deeper devotion and prayer.” (Cragon’s Amazing Graces – The Blessings of Sacramentals)
Below are examples of Sacramentals under their 3 different forms – Actions, Blessings and Items. These are by no means comprehensive, but I find that examples help me understand the abstract better.
A few weeks back I had written about crossing our head, lips and heart before the Gospel at Mass. This is a sacramental. It reminds us to be witnesses to God’s Word.
A few more actions:
The Sign of the Cross
Ringing the bells during the liturgy of the Eucharist
Sprinkling Holy Water
Prayers, scripture and the accompanying gestures are used to bless tools, people and experiences like pilgrimages and quinceañeras.
The clergy are not the only one able to bestow blessings (although they are certainly needed for blessing that call for a little more fire power. “[T]he more a blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or deacons” (CCC 1669)
In baptism we laypeople are called to bless. Even a step farther, Luke 6:28 tells us to ‘Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” So be liberal with spreading those blessings!
Blessed items, beyond rosaries and scapulars, are considered sacramentals when they are blessed and are used to sanctify ourselves.
The Catechism (1670) tells us that the list of items that can become sacraments is boundless. “There is scarcely any proper use of material things which cannot be thus directed toward the sanctification of men and the praise of God.”
A few more common sacramental items include:
Sacramentals in your life
We often talk about bringing more prayer into our lives. Using sacramentals helps us on this quest. Creating habits around them like crossing ourselves when we wake up in the morning, enrolling in a scapular, or keeping a bottle of holy water handy all serve us in completing the meaning of our lives: Get to Heaven.
“The soul who blesses will prosper, whoever satisfies others will also be satisfied.” Proverbs 11:25
Everywhere I turn these days I seem to encounter athletes. One of my friends did a half IronMan this last weekend, we’re in the middle of the Olympics, and I recently learned about Sister Madonna Buder, about whom Nike recently made a great commercial.
Sr. Madonna’s story is fantastic. She has completed over 40 IronMan competitions – for the uninitiated the race includes a 2.4 mile swim, a marathon run, and 112 bike ride, for a total of 140.62 miles in under 17 hours. Oh… and she’s 86.
It’s all very intimidating or inspiring… I can’t decide which one. I’m not a complete couch potato – I play on a few rec leagues, but what these people can physically accomplish is amazing. It makes me want to go out and run a mile.
My mom always said that I shouldn’t use the word hate. So I won’t.
I very strongly dislike running. VERY strongly.
I love mowing the lawn. I have a super old Dixon lawn mower and for 2 and half hours every weekend I get to mow the lawn. It’s very mesmerizing.
What do these two thing have in common? They are great times for prayer.
I’m particularly fond of the Divine Mercy Chaplet (I found the one sung by Angelina on Google Play is my favorite) when I’m mowing. It is such a powerful prayer and when sung, it adds time for me to meditate on each iteration of “For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” It’s beautiful and moving and very personally meaningful.
Then there’s running. Did I tell you how I feel about running? Well that hasn’t changed in the last 4 paragraphs. I don’t like to do it.
However, prayer is a great tool for my mental game when I run. It not only keeps my mind busy, but it also helps me keep tempo and sets milestones for marking my run. (Tip – Rosary Rings work really well for this.)
The man who teaches the adult education classes at my church swims as he prays the rosary. He says he can spend an entire half hour on a single mystery. That is inspiring.
So with rosary ring securely around my finger, I run. I run the rosary. And the results are a slightly better soccer game, physical well-being and an inner satisfaction that can only come from the grace of God.
Every once in awhile one of our customers will request engraving that hits me right in my heart. One in particular that I still tear up over when I think about it.
It was for her granddaughter. She bought a St. Joan of Arc medal and on the back had engraved “You’re brave too. Love G-ma.”
Ugh. My eyes are doing it again.
I love it when we get submissions like this. I wish I had the creativity to come up with these. But as I have learned, our customers are far better at this than we are.
So I’ve decided to get a few ideas from past submissions, and I’m hoping you can help us out. I’d like to create a free guide for our customers eventually.
Below is a starting list. What would you add?
St. Joan of Arc
You're brave too
There is hope
St. Anne or St. Joseph
You are mine
St. John of the Cross
St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Edith Stein
Always be learning
Pray, hope & don't worry
Spread Love Everywhere
St. Catherine of Siena
Be who God meant you to be.
St. Catherine of Siena
Set the world on fire
St. Teresa of Avila
God alone suffices
St. Ignatius de Loyola
Give. Don't count the cost
St. Clare of Assisi
Love God, serve God; everything is in that
- Bookmark – I have my grandmother’s old St. Joseph Missal from long ago – something like 1960 or the like. She kept many holy cards in that book. I have a few in my bible that mark my favorite places.
- Greeting Card Insert – Whether it’s Christmas cards or Birthday cards, a prayer card is a little extra something that the recipient will hold onto long after the greeting card has been forgotten.
- Love Note – Just like that sticky note I like to leave for my husband every now and then, a holy card can become a love note.
4. Evangelize – Keep a stash of cards with you and when you come across someone who is struggling in their life, give them a prayer card. It will be a little bit of light during a hard time. About 7 years ago man who I held the door open for at a store handed me a prayer card. I still have it, and I still think of him to this day and say a little prayer for him. That small gesture is still fresh in my mind.
5. Reminder – Keep a prayer taped to your mirror so you can pray it every morning and night while you brush your teeth.
6. Handouts – We had a child ask for a stack of 50 St. Patrick prayer cards to hand out at his Catholic school’s Saint Museum Day project. The students dressed up as their favorite saint and would tell visitors about them. Each of his visitors went away with a prayer.
7. Commemorate an Occasion – For weddings use the bride and groom’s patron saints’ prayer cards as favors. It’s inexpensive, meaningful, and best of all prompts guests to pray for the new couple. There are prayer cards for First Communion, Reconciliation, Easter baskets, Christmas and so much more. I once gave my boss a prayer card for Boss’s Day and later saw that he had it clipped to his visor in his car – that really made me feel valued.
8. “Thinking of You” Token – When a friend becomes ill and there is not much you can do, sending them a healing holy card lets them know that you are thinking about them and you are praying for them.
9. Thank You Note – A quick, handwritten note in the margins of a card, or even a sticky note stuck to a prayer card adds meaning for the recipient.
10. Keepsake – Carry your favorite prayer in your purse or pocket. One of our favorites artists has aluminum prayer cards that last forever, so no worries about wearing it out. Pick a favorite prayer and keep it with you at all times.
Product Feature Post: Chaplets
I admit it… I hadn’t heard of a chaplet until I was 33. I had no idea what they were. So I know there are many of you who know what a chaplet is, but probably many more who, like me, are continuing to discover many beautiful things about the Catholic Church.
Sometimes things are new to us that are old hat to others, and we think “I’m supposed to know all of this already. Does that mean I’m not a good Catholic?” This is the same question I asked myself when I first came across chaplets. Continue reading Quick Lesson on Chaplets