Monday, June 6, 2011

Book Review

 The Power of the Sacraments by Sr. Briege McKenna
      I was given the opportunity to choose a book to review from The Catholic Company and I immediately honed in on Sister Briege McKenna's book called, The Power of the Sacraments.  I was vaguely familiar with Sister Briege's healing ministry and her own personal healing from severe and debilitating arthritis.  I had seen her as a guest on an EWTN show and was drawn to her gentle nature and this gentle yet direct approach is how she wrote this book.  Her book is written in a way that everyone can understand.

     Her introduction reminds the reader of how fortunate we are as Catholics to have the sacraments the Lord has given us.  Sr. Briege ends her introduction with an eye opening warning, she states "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."

     Each chapter in her book focuses on a sacrament.  The chapters are only a few pages each that explains how each sacrament is a gift from God to help us on our spiritual journey.  The first chapter is about the Sacrament of Baptism.  I love this statement she made, "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."  This is the most precious gift we can receive because God adopts us into his family and cleanses us from original sin.

     The very first gift that Jesus gave to his disciples after the Resurrection was the power to forgive sins.  It is this gift that is available to us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Christ acting through the priests is how our sins are forgiven.  Jesus said, "I will empower you.  When people confess their sins, I will forgive them through you."  John 20:22-23

     The next sacrament given to us by Jesus was hard for the people of Jesus' time to believe, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.  Jesus was asking them to believe with their hearts and follow his word.  He knew we would need him in this special way to strengthen our spiritual growth.  He said, "I am the bread of life.  I will give myself to you.  Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood will have life."  John 6:27-58  In the Mass, we encounter the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Risen Christ.

     Jesus also knew we would face immoral challenges, so he gave us the Sacrament of Confirmation.  This sacrament strenthens us to stand up for Christ.  We are teenagers when we make it and at this stage of our lives, we are being bombarded by immorality.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are confirmed and fortified to turn away from temptation and do what is right.

     The Sacrament of Marriage seals the love of two people.  By being married in the Catholic Church, we invite Jesus into our lives.  Sr. Briege states "from the first day of this sacrament, a river of graces flows out from Christ through sufferings, through good times and bad, through sickness and death."  These graces are what get us through the struggles of marriage and bring us closer to our spouse and Christ.

     This next sacrament is meant to be used while we are alive and not necessarily near death.  Jesus knew our physical bodies would get sick so He gave us the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  This is the healing touch of Christ that the priest brings when we are ill.  Christ is present in every sacrament and when the priest anoints us, Christ assures us "I am healing you."

     The last sacrament makes it possible for us to receive every other sacrament.  It is the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Sr. Briege explains that "the sacraments are the veins in our church and the priests are the main artery doing the work of Jesus."   The priesthood is a gift from God whereby they serve at the table of the Lord, proclaiming the Word of God.

     I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sister Briege's book!  She shares a few stories of others who have benefited from the sacraments.  They are all heart warming stories of hope.  Some of the them are extreme but in all of them, the reader can see the power of God in our lives through His sacraments.

      This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company; I received no monetary compensation for my review.   Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Power of the Sacraments. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.
God's Blessings,


  1. HI Noreen!
    What a beautiful and thorough review you posted! This looks like a great book about the sacraments! Sacraments are misunderstood by Catholic and non-Catholics and this book seems like a great resource to clear up any misconceptions and strengthen our Catholic faith. Thank you for sharing on NOBH!

  2. One thing I'd love to be able to do is defend the sacraments, great review!

  3. Great review, Noreen! :-) Love your blog!

  4. Thank you ladies. I feel like I took it as a school assignment and wrote what I learned from the book instead of an overview. It was my first attempt and I'm happy with it but I've learned a different method from Christina. Thank you Christina!

    Now I've requested another book and I'm eagerly awaiting this opportunity.

  5. What a great review, Noreen. I love books that have personal stories mingled in. I look forward to your next review!

  6. Noreen, this is a great review and it sounds like an interesting book!