Irish woman feasts only on Eucharist

  • August 25, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - Chewing gum, wearing strapless tops and receiving Communion in the hand are contributing to increasing irreverence at Mass, argues a 62-year-old mother of two who claims she has been living only on the Eucharist for almost nine years.

Irish-born Olive Dawson spoke at five parishes in the Toronto area and Orangeville, Ont., in mid-August. More than 2,000 people heard Dawson speak at three Catholic churches in Scarborough, Unionville and Brampton, all of which were filled to capacity.

“I am not important. I am just an ordinary person. Look through me, to Jesus and His Mother,” Dawson told the crowd of about 800 people at Scarborough’s Prince of Peace Church.

Dawson was born in Dublin, Ireland, and is now living in Kent, England. She is married with two sons. The Third Order Carmelite said she received the gift of living only on the Eucharist, in both species of consecrated bread and wine, in September 1999. Dawson said she does not drink or eat anything, needs very little sleep and “has boundless energy.”

She said she used to work in matrimonial law and now devotes her time speaking to different groups around the world.

Dawson said she witnessed a miracle years ago when her son awoke from a coma after being prayed over with a scapular bearing the Virgin Mary’s image.

The Register has not been able to independently authenticate Dawson’s claims.

Fr. Edwin Paniaguia, OFM, who organized Dawson’s mid-August visit to Canada, said he had a letter from Dawson’s bishop in England confirming Dawson’s authenticity. He told the audience that Dawson was “given this gift to authenticate messages given to the visionary in Ireland.”

Dawson said Mary has been appearing to a visionary in Dublin, who has chosen to remain anonymous, since 1988. Dawson said she is relaying messages on this visionary’s behalf.

“When I was asked to live on the Eucharist, I thought I was going a little crazy, over-religious,” she told the crowd. “But I also had a profound peace in my heart that I couldn’t explain.”

It’s the “power of the Eucharist,” she said, which sustains her.

Dawson said her asthma, high blood pressure and kidney problems “were taken away.”

A doctor even told her she has normal blood pressure, a steady heart rate and the “pulse of an athlete,” she added.

This is not the first time this has happened, Paniaguia said, inviting people to do an Internet search about the lives of the saints who had a similar gift.

He said Dawson spent two weeks with a group of Poor Clare sisters who had a nurse watch her, even while Dawson brushed her teeth or took a shower. The nurse said she was amazed at Dawson’s health condition, Paniaguia said.

Yet most of Dawson’s two-hour talk was not about explaining her gift, but delivering messages she said were from the anonymous visionary.

The main messages of her talk, she said, were about focusing on the Eucharist, prayer, sacrifice and repentance. She said the Mass should be “fully lived out” by becoming a “caring, loving community” and following the Ten Commandments.

On the Eucharist, Dawson said it’s important to treat Communion with reverence as an example for young people.

“Please be careful if you receive on the hand because Jesus is present.”

She argued that receiving Communion in the hand has led to “sacrilegious acts” such as the Eucharist being stepped on or stolen by young people involved in witchcraft.

Dawson also said failing to genuflect, arriving late and wearing revealing clothing at Mass are signs of disrespect.

“We don’t fully appreciate what we have in the Eucharist,” Dawson said.

On Mary’s message, Dawson said the visionary was asked to put Mary’s messages in a book. Copies of the book were available after the talk, along with painting replicas said to be drawn by the Marian visionary.

Dawson declined to be interviewed and said she required permission from her spiritual director.

Communion in the hand, the standard method of receiving the Body of Christ prior to the Middle Ages, was reintroduced in 1969 by Pope Paul VI in the instruction Memoriale Domini. Communion on the tongue dates back to the ninth century.

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