The Irish Family, November 12, 2004

The importance of the Eucharist


It’s almost 30 years since Sr. Briege McKenna witnessed a child being healed during the consecration at Mass. Since then she has been ministering worldwide with Fr. Kevin Scallon on the subject of the Eucharist and has seen many more Eucharistic miracles.

She is delighted at the announcement by the Holy Father of the Year of the Eucharist. “I think that the Holy Spirit, through the Pope, is really calling us back to the essentials,” she said. She describes the Eucharist as a beautiful gift which Christ has given us through the Church. She says that while people are going into the new age movement, looking for “all kinds of quick fixes,” it is in the Eucharist that they will find the true answer. She says that people cannot truly experience this because they don’t have a prayer life.

Below are some of her thoughts to help us during this year of the Eucharist...

Sr. Briege McKenna shares her thoughts with Cathal Ó Broin

“I think that a lot of people don’t believe in the real presence. And do you know how you know? Just look at their demeanor in Church. Just look at how people prepare. Just look at how people go up to Holy Communion. They talk in the church - There’s no reverence.“

The grace to believe
“I think that one of the greatest graces needed at this time, is the grace to really believe that it is the living body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. I know it’s not easy. No mystery is easy to believe, because it’s a mystery. You’re not supposed to believe it with your head - It’s your heart. Faith is not seeing, it’s believing, you believe it because Jesus said it. The best way to grow in faith is to pray to the Holy Spirit. I go in there and I sit for hours at adoration. I love Eucharistic adoration. I sit there, and I just look at the Host and I say ‘Jesus, please, I want to believe, please help my unbelief.’ Read John, Chapter 6. There Jesus tells you all about the Bread of Life.”

How to think of the Eucharist
“The Eucharist is first of all the sacrifice, the victory of Calvary. It’s not just a re-enactment, you’re actually present. As the Catechism says it’s an unbloody sacrifice, but it is the victory that has won your salvation and mine. That’s the first thing. And therefore, when we go to Mass, we are not going to be entertained.

Young people say to me, ‘Oh I don’t get anything out if it, it’s boring.’ I say, ‘Look, it’s not entertainment.’ People evaluate the Mass on the priest, on the people around the altar and on the singing, and I tell them ‘That is not where you put your emphasis.’ It helps how the priest celebrates, and I’m always saying this. But once he has the power to celebrate through his ordination, the Mass, whether it’s said in a dungeon or in Notre Dame Cathedral, it’s the sacrifice of Calvary.”

Meeting Jesus
“The second thing is that the Eucharist is Communion with Jesus. I tell people, I’m always saying to them, ‘What would you say If I told you that you could personally meet Jesus, the living person, and that you could actually come into his presence and receive him?’ People go to chemotherapy, they go to radiation treatment for cancer. I say, ‘you’re Catholic, we have Jesus.’ “

A young woman is cured
“I see a lot of healings, I saw a beautiful young girl here a couple of months ago who had cancer of the liver and of the pancreas, a lapsed Catholic, and she came. Somebody gave her my book, her father was a doctor and she didn’t practice the Catholic faith. They hear of Sr. Briege and they say Oh I’m going to get this nun. And then she became desperate for me to pray with her. So I took her to the tabernacle and I showed her, we have a little monstrance in the door of our tabernacle, and... I said to her, “You know, Karen, that’s Jesus.” But she kept looking at it and she said “but it’s not really him.” I said “Yes, it is.” He’s 100% present. You can’t see him, but he’s alive and present. So, I encouraged her to go back, go to confession and to go back to the sacraments. You know, two months later she was completely healed.”

Ireland’s loyalty to the Eucharist
“Our ancestors laid down their lives - when you think of the thousands of people who fought for the Mass and many who were willing to give their lives for the priesthood and for the Eucharist. There’s a book, “Ireland’s loyalty to the Mass.” It was written in 1930 by a Capuchin. It gives you the most beautiful story of the Irish, young and old, what they did for the Eucharist - Going into the hills at night time, and people going out and saying ‘I’ll die for the priest - Let me go.’ ”

Finally, some advice for priests
“Jesus told St Catherine, ‘If my priests and bishops do not become holy, I will make them holy through their enemies.’ The Eucharist should be the heart of the priest’s daily life... the very centre.”

November 12, 2004
The Irish Family
P.O. Box 9900
Dublin 1, Ireland
Tel. (01)874 8451