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The Power of the Sacraments

Author(s): Sr. Briege McKenna

ISBN13: 9781847301703

ISBN10: 1847301703

Publisher: Veritas Publications (1 May 2009)

Extent: 64 pages

Binding: Paperback

Size: 12.7 x 0.5 x 19.3 cm

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  • In her own inspiring style, Sr Briege McKenna explores the marvellous ways God acts through the sacraments, and explains how nothing can substitute for the power of the sacraments.


    In every sacrament, Jesus acts through the Church to bring his grace and love more fully into our lives. Sister Briege’s charismatic presentation can help renew faith in the power of the sacraments, which bring us into contact with Jesus, who heals, sanctifies, nourishes and builds up his people.

  • Sr. Briege McKenna

    Sr Briege is known world-wide for her ministry to priests and her healing ministry. A member of the Sisters of St Clare, she has travelled extensively, giving conferences in all parts of the world. Her healing from crippling arthritis is recounted in her book Miracles Do Happen (Servant Books).

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    Originally from Newry, county Down, Sister Briege, a member of the Sisters of St Clare, is well known in the wider community for her book Miracles Do Happen, which recounts her recovery from crippling arthritis. She is also well known in the Catholic Church for her work of ministry to priests and for her appearances at conferences throughout the world. As the title indicates, this book is written in praise of the sacraments and Sister Briege extols their power, the ways in which God works through them and their unique place in the Catholic Church. She takes each of the seven sacraments in turn explaining what the sacrament entails and its significance. She draws on her own experience as well as the Scriptures and teachings of the Church to expound on each sacrament and why it should be respected. This is a book written by a believing Catholic for other believers and Sister Briege writes with enthusiasm and commitment about something she holds dear.

    - Books Ireland, November 2009

    Sister Briege, author of Miracles Do Happen, needs no introduction, for she enjoys a world wide-reputation. She rightly begins this new book by suggestion that many people through familiarity (and ignorance too) take the sacraments for granted. She leads the reader through each sacrament, explaining how each one impacts on a different part of their lives as a source of grace, an aid to a renewal of faith and of contact with God.

    - Peter Costello, The Irish Catholic, November 2009

    I first met Sr Briege McKenna during my diaconate year in St Patricks College, Maynooth when she made a presentation to our class during the weeks before ordination to the priesthood. Her topic then was the Sacrament of Ordination and over a fifty minute period Sr Briege held us spellbound as she described with great passion and sincerity the gift of priesthood and how it makes possible the reception of the other sacraments and so transforms lives. Her vivid depiction of the sacrifice of the Mass slightly stunned her young clerical audience as I recall, but was nevertheless a welcome reminder of the momentous nature of the sacrament we were soon to celebrate. In her latest publication The Power of the Sacraments Sr Briege brings her own special energy and insight to bear on the significance of the seven sacraments of the church giving each in turn a short chapter (amounting in all to just 63 pages) which is both reflective and challenging. Her enthusiasm and reverence for the sacraments is expressed in a clarion call to Catholics to make their sacramental encounters more personal and enriching rather than the routine reception of them that so often empty the sacraments of power and potency. A stirring and challenging series of reflections.

    - Fr Paul Clayton-Lea, Clogherhead, Co Louth, Intercom, March 2010


    The sacraments are so much a part of our Catholic life that sometimes we take them for granted. If we take the time to think about them, we will better understand what a great treasure our Lord gave us in them. Then we will revitalise our faith and profit more from the sacraments. Instead of falling into routine, each sacrament we receive will become more and more of a personal meeting with Jesus.

    In life we set out on two journeys. The first begins at the moment of conception, that extraordinary moment when our parents impart life to us. We plunge into a physical journey. When we gaze at an infant, we realise that only God could breathe life into it. On this physical journey God in his providence provides everything we require: eyes, hands, head, heart. God in his goodness provides what we take for granted. He enables the mother to supply those needs during the nine months she knits a child in the womb. Throughout the life of the child, and into adulthood, God continues to give us all we need.

    So we continue on our physical journey and we begin our spiritual journey. God allows us to glimpse insights into nature and we discover wonders. Through research and medical science, we uncover gifts that benefit our physical bodies. This all comes from God. God has given us the gifts of science and medicine to help us on the journey of life. The book of Sirach bids us to honour physicians, and recognise that God gives them to us to help us (cf. Sirach 38:1-2). Sometimes we take them for granted. We also know that we should take care of our bodies. We agonise over the poor people when famine strikes. Their bodies shrivel and wither because they do not have enough food to eat. Some people blame this on God and wonder, Why would God let this happen? But human greed causes it to happen. The earth can supply enough food to feed everybody but so often people exploit each other.

    God also provides for our spiritual journey. Once, on a radio show, someone asked me a question: What about the pagans? Will all those people who have not been baptised be saved? Yes, they can be saved. It is not the people who have never heard about God that I anguish over. It is the people who hear the saving word of God and reject it. It is the people like us who come from countries that once treasured the faith. Our ancestors entrusted the faith to us and we spurn it through materialism and ungodliness. God will call us to account for this.


    God provides for us on this spiritual journey. The first and greatest sacrament that we receive is the sacrament of Baptism. In this sacrament God adopts us and snatches us from the darkness of original sin. The sacrament of Baptism does something similar to what a family does when it adopts a little boy or girl. The family goes through a legal process to change the childs name to the name of that family. That child then has a right to everything the family has. To be adopted means to become a member of the family. In the case of children who are born into their natural families, through the beautiful gift that comes from parenthood, the mother and father know the child and it resembles them. But in the case of the youngster who was adopted, we say it is a child of the heart. I heard this beautiful definition of adoption from a priest in South America. A little boy confided to him, `Mommy told me that she didnt get me out of her womb. I came out of her heart because I am adopted.

    At Baptism the Heavenly Father adopts all of us. Thats why we say we are the family of God. The sacraments, as one of the old writers put it, are `the veins of the Church. Veins of the physical body pump blood to the heart and revitalise it. Veins run through the Church that Christ instituted when he said, `You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. The sacraments are veins that flow with life. At every stage of our spiritual journey they bring us life. What kind of life? Supernatural life, the life of grace which makes us holy. Baptism brings us into that place where we receive this life.

    How can we effectively live out our Baptism? We can renew it. We were carried to the baptismal font. Perhaps we dont remember that commitment, but now each one of us can rekindle it as we get older.
    I recall a beautiful testimony of a mother in Florida whose son had renounced the Church. He had turned away and for years she never heard from him. One day a priest asked this mother, `Is your son baptised? She said, `Yes, certainly hes baptised. `So do you know what I want you to do? He told her, `Get the formula of Baptism, the whole baptismal ceremony. Go through it and renew the baptismal promises in your sons name. Renew the promises to renounce Satan and all his evil works. Do that for your son every time you pray for him. Claim the power of the sacrament of his Baptism. Ask Christ, who sees your son wherever he is in the world, to stir up within him the grace of his Baptism.

    Three weeks later, in the middle of the night, this boy phoned his mother. He sobbed, `Mum, I dont know how to describe what has happened to me. Then he related that he had met someone in a store who had invited him to a prayer meeting. In that atmosphere he had rediscovered his faith. She realised that this had happened at the time that she claimed him into the family of God again.
    Today the Church warns people that if they desire Baptism for their child, then they have the great obligation to raise that child in the faith They must give the child the opportunity to know and to experience Gods life. The tragedy is that many are baptised but their ongoing religious formation is neglected.

    Baptism is the most precious gift we can receive. If we pray, God will fan into flame the graces we received with this sacrament.

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