Praise and Blessed Be
by Sr. Beverly Bodnar
As a young eighth grader, I was invited by my teacher, Sister M. Georgiana Pahl, to accompany her with a group of girls to Dayton, Ohio, for a Vocation Day visit at the newly built prep school, Fatima Hall. The highlight of the weekend was my visit to the Motherhouse Chapel, where I felt I witnessed a “vision of heaven.” The Blessed Sacrament was exposed in a large monstrance high above the altar, decked with many lit candles. On the other side of the communion rail knelt two white-veiled novices reciting the prayers of the Holy Hour. This was where I felt the Lord calling me!
My grade school days exposed me to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: during Lent after the Stations of the Cross and during 40 Hours. I remember Dad waking up during the middle of the night to drive to church to spend his hour before the Blessed Sacrament. Little did I know how important adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was in the lives of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. Eventually I learned how the practice I witnessed of the novices was followed by other members of the community all through the day and night. They were following the practice of Mother Maria Anna Brunner, who spent many hours before the Blessed Sacrament and encouraged other women to join her. Not only did they pray; they also took the Lord’s command to do unto others, and supplied food and clothing for the neighboring poor. Their actions eventually fostered the beginning of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood.
After I left the novitiate to work in His vineyard, I always felt strengthened by the prayers of our Sisters in Dayton, kneeling day and night before the Blessed Sacrament. Through the years, I grew in my understanding of the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Pope Pius XII reminded us that “Christ had indeed left this world in visible form at his Ascension; but He is emphatically still on earth, the Jesus of History, in the Sacrament of His Love.”
Due to diminishment in numbers and elderly health issues, we Sisters were eventually no longer able to keep perpetual adoration. Our Sisters are still faithful to our devotion to Christ in the Eucharist by their daily visits to the Blessed Sacrament chapel. On certain times we are privileged to have Holy Hour before the Eucharist exposed in the monstrance.
Pope Paul VI reminded us: “As long as the Eucharist is kept in our churches and oratories, Christ is truly the Emmanuel, that is, God with us. Day and night, He is in our midst, He dwells with us, full of grace and truth. He restores morality, nourishes virtues, consoles the afflicted and strengthens the weak.” Paul VI adds a final touch to his teaching. “Anyone who approaches the august Sacrament with special devotion, and endeavors to return generous love for Christ’s own infinite love will experience and fully understand how great is the converse with Christ. For there is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road of holiness” (Paul VI in Mysterium Fidei).