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."173
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.174 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).175
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."176
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.
Sacramentals are for the Faithful. If you are talking with a person to convert them and praying for them and the time is right to pass on a medal or rosary, fine. But, it is your prayers and your efforts, through the grace of God which converts. The Holy Spirit converts, not a thing.
I have written on the danger of magical thinking. This type of thinking is not the same as having faith and praying for people, situations or things.
Magical thinking is irrational, whereas intercessory prayer is not. Magical thinking believes that an item or a prayer must be attached to a particular object, or that a person must do particular things to get answers. Also, magical thinking denies suffering and working.
Working means work. So many women in Ireland have told me that God will take care of the abortion issue. No, we have to do such work. The laity, the Church Militant if you prefer that great title, provide the hands and eyes, and ears and feet of God in the world.
There will be no deus ex machina.
And, I am sorry, but medals and holy water do not take the place of hard political work.
Prayer and fasting, yes. Throwing holy water on people will not convert them. This is a misuse of sacramentals, as is the idea that one can bury a medal in the ground and convert the people in that house. Sorry, that is a misuse of sacramentals and is superstitious thinking.
Sorry about the rant, but magical thinking ends in nothing happening and reveals a childish, not childlike, mindset.
Here are some other posts on the dangers of magical thinking. Work and pray, but do not indulge in magical thinking. It is not God's Way.