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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Trying to Grasp the Seven Sacraments? This Little Guide Can Help. The Power of the Sacraments: A Book Review

by Kathleen Blease

 Sr. Briege clearly explains the sacraments; why they are the path to holiness and a gift instituted by Christ. Her short essays have a powerful message that's steeped in love as deep as the ocean. Clear, moving, and succinct.

Servant Books, paperback, 64 pages, 5" x  6", $9.99

Sr. Briege McKenna writes:
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 revitalize it. Veins run through the Church that Christ instituted when he said, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church (Matthew 16:18). 

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....

...We are on a pilgrimage here. This helps us realize why the Lord in his mercy and great love gave us the sacraments that are guaranteed. He promises, "I will be there to help you." That's what a sacrament is.  In the sacraments, Christ guarantees his presence. This doesn't depend on feelings; it depends on faith. On each step of the journey, he meets us with the needs we have.

First, let me say that appearances can be deceiving--yet still revealing. When I opened the envelope that came in the mail, I was first disappointed that this book was so small. It's only 5" x 6" and 64 pages. It looks more like a little gift book than an instructional text that promises to share all the nuances of the Seven Sacraments.

I didn't expect what I eventually found inside. After a careful read, I found Sr. Briege's explanation of the sacraments to be both complete and moving, and well described in just a few pages.

This little book's slim trim size and page count fit its mission perfectly. Sister Briege defines the seven sacraments in simple measure, and her words are steeped in truth. In her short essays is an ocean of Faith that is deep and wondrous. We could live out our lives exploring and loving it. A few simple lines delivered to us, and we are on our way contemplating with awe the life-giving and sustaining power of the mysterious sacraments. Simple yet complex, they are a gorgeous paradox. Thus, this little book fulfills its mission beautifully.

Sister Briege's voice and style are warm, welcoming, and instructive. You will find a willing friend who explains why we are Catholic.

There are seven chapters, one for each sacrament, of course. In each essay, Sr. Briege explains the scriptural root of the sacrament and its value in our lives, and also her personal experience of seeing it dramatically alter ordinary folk. Sister has traveled the world in her ministry and has met people in a variety of situations, such as life is, so she has had the unique opportunity to learn about the personal and private struggles of believers who turn to the sacraments for help and hope.
My reaction to call this work a "little gift book" was exactly right. The Seven Sacraments are themselves a gift we receive directly from our Lord, each one clearly explained by Christ in scripture. Thankfully, Sr. Briege shows us just where in the New Testament we will find them.

Bravo to Servant Books for packaging it in such a way. The Power of the Sacraments would make a wonderful gift for birthdays, St. Valentine's Day, your loved one's saint's feast day, or Mother's Day.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company.  Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Power of the Sacraments by Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C.  They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts

About the author:  Born in Newry, Ireland, Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C., is known worldwide for her ministry to priests and her healing  ministry. A member of the Sisters of St. Clare, she has traveled extensively, giving conferences in all parts of the world. Her healing from crippling arthritis is recounted in her book, Miracles Do Happen (Servant Books).

God bless!


  1. Sr. Briege McKenna is wonderful...she prayed over my father-in-law 30 years ago when he was suffering from grave illness. He had a complete recovery, much to the relief of his wife and 5 kids!
    This book on the Sacraments looks like a wonderful resource!

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Monica. Sr. Briege shares a few of her experiences in her book, and it's nice to hear from someone who was personally touched by her healing ministry. Praise God for your dad's healing!

    God bless!

  3. Thank you for your courage and honesty. Beautiful post :)

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)


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