Sr Briege: ‘You can’t talk about Jesus until you talk to Him’
Sr Briege McKenna and Fr Kevin Scallon were signing books at the Veritas bookstand in the exhibition area this afternoon. What does it mean to Sr Briege that the International Eucharistic Congress is being held in Ireland this year?
“It is one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have to say that the atmosphere is absolutely fantastic. I have to give credit to Fr Kevin Doran and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and all those involved in it – for the prayer and the work that went into it – because we know people from all over the world here because of our work worldwide. There’s a real sense of a community – it has really fulfilled its title: ‘The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with One Another’ in the sense of community and the sense of joy that’s here.
“I also believe that the presentations have been absolutely fantastic. I have to tell you that I didn’t get to too many of them because it took me two hours to get from one side [of the venue] to the other – I prayed my way!
“I have to give credit to our own cardinal, Cardinal Sean Brady, at the general session yesterday. I was profoundly touched by his humility. He spoke about repentance and reconciliation and spoke all about our own weaknesses and how people make mistakes; and then he asked for forgiveness himself on behalf of the Church in relation to abuse – it was very humbling. At those public sessions out in the stadium, rain or no rain, the Lord poured out his graces upon us.”
Eucharistic meditations during Congress
Has anything struck her during her daily meditations before the Blessed Sacrament these past few days at the International Eucharistic Congress?
“The first thing that struck me is that we, in Ireland, have a tremendous history of the martyrs and the Blessed Sacrament – all the suffering. I was thinking today, not only of the martyrs that we know in the books, but of the people who left Ireland and shed their blood for the Church. The Irish saints in Heaven, especially Patrick and Brigid, must be delighted, because the heart of our faith has always been the Eucharist. We’ve gone through a rough time recently.
“The second thing is that, in Ireland, we are learning at this Congress that there are more people than Irish Catholics in the Church. We belong to a universal Church. Sometimes I think about the media, and how it is constantly highlighting weaknesses; but after all, we are a Church of saints and sinners. Somebody said to us, ‘I wouldn’t join the Church because it’s a bunch of hypocrites’. Well, we said, ‘One more – you can come in!’ Those kinds of things went through my mind as I walked around.
“And another beautiful thing is that the Irish reverence for the Blessed Sacrament is very evident here, so the people who are here are the salt of the earth. I have to say that the title ‘The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with One Another’ is completely personified in the lives of the people going around. You can see that there are no strangers here. I talked to more bishops and cardinals from around the world that we meet in our work. You see them sitting down among the people here, which is the Church in its beauty. Fr Kevin and I have met about 15 bishops we know from having given diocesan retreats: bishops from Asia, from Africa, from South America, from all the countries that we have gone to around the world.
What should we be praying for?
I asked Sr Briege what she would like to say about the Eucharist in Ireland – what should we be praying for?
“We should be praying to experience the living Jesus. Jesus is a person in the Eucharist. Paraphrasing what Jesus said through the revelations of St Faustina: ‘People come to Me – they approach Me as if I’m an object, but I am alive’.”
Sr Briege added: “I speak on the Eucharist and the one desire I have, instead of people running after people like me – they call me the ‘healing nun’, and I say to them: ‘But Jesus is alive in the Eucharist. This is not just a ‘nice thought’. He is a person, He’s alive and He’s active and He’s doing today what He did when He walked the earth, because He is alive.
“That’s what I preach – that people will become aware that the greatest gift we have is Jesus in the Eucharist for 2,000 years, and that Ireland will again discover that the Eucharist should be the centre of their lives. We should pray that, because of our weakness and our sinfulness, we don’t all of a sudden alienate ourselves from the most beautiful gift the Lord has given us, which was redemption through His passion, death and resurrection. That’s what the Eucharist is.”
Getting to know the real Jesus
How can people make Jesus more alive, more present, more real?
“Well, I tell people: ‘How do you get to know people? You only get to know them by talking to them – by praying. You know, King Baudouin, whom Fr Kevin and I had the privilege to know very well, used to say to me: ‘You know, Sr Briege, I sit for three hours every day before the Blessed Eucharist, and then I can talk about Jesus because I know Him personally.’
Pope Benedict is saying to us constantly about evangelization that you can’t talk about Jesus until you talk to Him. I think that’s the secret about getting to know Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Mary Helen Deakin says:
Hello from Canada, I am so delighted to hear how Jesus is being shared with all the people at the Congress. We lived in Ireland 2004 and 2005 so we know how lovely the people are and many were at mass daily. Thanks for reminding us of all the Irish saints.My family is from Mayo so we love our Lady of Knock.She must be so pleased to see the people adoring Jesus in the Eucharist. We will continue to pray for God's will to be done. Mary Helen O'Malley Deakin
Posted on : 16/06/2012