Sacerdotal benedictions are not indeed sacraments - means of grace ordained by Christ himself, but sacramentals (sacramenta minora) ordained by the authority of the Church and exercised by the priests, as the plenipotentiaries of God, in virtue of the powers conferred on them at their ordination; "that whatever they bless may be blessed, and whatever they consecrate may be consecrated."
P. 119) the following definition is given of sacramentalia: " Sacramentals are certain things or actions instituted or consecrated by the Church for the production of certain spiritual effects, and sometimes for the obtaining of a temporal effect."
Some of the older authorities, like Caietanus and Soto, taught that sacramentals as above defined have power to produce their effects ex opere operato, i.e.
He therefore inclines to the opinion that there is no inherent virtue in sacramentals, but that God is moved by the prayers uttered in their consecration to produce salutary effects in those who use them.
The sacramentals of the great Church were denounced by them as vehicles of the evil one; and this class of prejudice was carried to such a length that some of them eschewed even baptism with water and the sacrament of bread and wine.