The latter are thus no mere representations, but as it were emanations from the archetype, vehicles of the supernatural personality represented, and possessed of an inherent sacramental value and power, such as the name of Jesus had for the earliest believers.
Of these water is the commonest, and its efficacy is enhanced if it be running, and still more if a magical or sacramental virtue has been imparted to it by ritual blessing or consecration.
In this philosophy the mystical properties of numbers are a leading feature; absurd and mechanical notions are glossed over with the sheen of sacramental mystery; myths are explained by pious fancies and fine-sounding pietistic reflections; miracles, even the most ridiculous, are believed in, and miracles are wrought.
The less the Church could expect from its penitents, the more it was driven to trust to the miraculous efficiency of sacramental grace.
The number of books required for the performance of divine service in pre-Reformation days was very large; the most important being the Missal for the service of Holy Communion or the Mass; the Breviary for the daily service or performance of the divine office; the Manual for the minor sacramental offices usually performed by the parish priest; and the Pontifical, containing such services as were exclusively reserved for performance by the bishop. Many of the contents of these larger volumes were published in separate volumes known by a great variety - over one hundred - different names.
Hence the rule not to eat meats strangled, except in sacramental meals when the god inherent in the animal was partaken of.
It has been argued that the sacramental rites of the Christians were largely imitated from the pagan mysteries; but for the first two hundred years this is hardly true, except perhaps in the case of certain Gnostic sects whose leaders intentionally amalgamated the new faith with old pagan ideas and rites.
The more fiercely he denounced infallibility, the confessional, the sacramental system, the larger these things bulked in the eyes of Rome.
With the naturalization of the Church in the Gentile world ethical ideas became less prominent, and the sacramental system prevailed.
White is also the colour proper to sacramental processions, and generally to all devotions connected with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.