Questions & Answers...
Question: What is a sacramental?
Answer: A sacramental brings holiness to states of life and are used in a variety of circumstances, In brief, these sacred signs are instituted by the Church to help sanctify us (make us holy), and are available to us in a variety of life's circumstances.
Sacramentals always include a prayer and are often accompanied by a specific sign (such as making the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of holy water (which recalls Baptism).
Sacramentals come from our baptismal priesthood (every baptized person is called to be a "blessing," and to bless....", hence, lay persons may preside at certain blessing, such as saying grace before meals. Note: the more a blessing concerns our Church and Sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained minister (bishops, priests or deacons).
Sacramental 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. (ref: Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1668-1679).
So! - the next time you say a blessing a meal-time, you are exercising your baptismal calling to be a blessing and to bless! by offering God prayers of praise and thanksgiving you participate in the sacred sign that is a "Sacramental".
Deacon Chuck Kelley