Sister Amor shares a beautiful reflection on the Power of the Eucharist in the life of St. Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad.
When we pray before the Blessed Sacrament, whether we advert to it or not, we are
professing in the depths of our souls our FAITH in Jesus Christ as the natural, only
begotten Son of the Father, the Bread of life who gives us eternal life. Nothing and nobody
on earth can give this to us, the eternal life, the life we are hoping for, the reason of our
existence… except our LORD JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF really, truly and substantially
present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. This is our faith and this is the faith’s story of St.
Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad, second Foundress of the Order of the Most Holy Savior of St.
Bridget or the Bridgettine Sisters.
It was in 1902, that Maria Elizabeth and her two friends went on a pilgrimage from the United
States to Europe. That year, Maria Elizabeth was still a Lutheran and was still having
doubts and questions about the Catholic faith while actually seeking the true fold of Christ.
They stopped by Belgium and went to the Cathedral for the Feast of Corpus Domini where
there was a solemn procession. Elizabeth witnessed the entrance of the Bishop who was
holding a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament, but she did not understand the meaning
of the ceremony; she recalled, “I did not know what the Bishop was carrying and I
looked at the procession as an interesting military parade. Everybody knelt down while I
remained standing and so, to avoid offending anyone, I hid behind the door standing. I
told the Lord, I do kneel before you God, but not here. Yet something inside me started
to stir and when the Bishop passed by with the monstrance, I heard the voice of the
Lord telling me, “I AM THE ONE YOU ARE LOOKING FOR”. At that point, I fell on
my knees and around me everything became new. The air was filled with a sweet scent,
like a garden full of spring flowers. So, on that special day, there behind the door of the
Church, I performed my first act of worship in the Real Presence of our Divine Lord in
the Blessed Sacrament.” So, when they came back to the United States, she embraced
Catholicism and was baptized on August 15, 1902, two months after the Feast of Corpus
This is our Lord’s overflowing grace and mercy whom St. Elizabeth received through the
Most Blessed Sacrament. Experiencing Jesus’ real presence made a turning point in her
life, from being a Lutheran to a faithful Catholic Christian.
Another story of St. Elizabeth where she encountered Jesus’ presence in the Holy Eucharist
was the year after her conversion. In 1903, again with the same friends, they went to
Rome. She’s so excited thinking that she can visit the house of St. Birgitta. To make the
long story short, the tour led them to Campo de Fiori where the house was located. She
saw the house of St Birgitta which at that time, was occupied by the Carmelite nuns. So
they went inside and prayed. Elizabeth recalled, “While I was kneeling, full of gratitude,
for all the graces I received from the Lord, I heard the voice of the Lord telling me, “IT
IS HERE, THAT I WANT YOU TO SERVE ME.” The following year after this
experience, Elizabeth entered the convent of the Carmelite nuns in St. Birgitta’s house. And
the rest is history…..
Her experience of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist transformed her. From being a Lutheran to a
Catholic Christian; from a Carmelite novice to a Bridgettine Sister; from a sister to a
Mother Founder who re-founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior or the Bridgettine
Sisters and from an ordinary person to a saint, Now, St. Elizabeth Hesselblad!
Isn’t it amazing how the Lord Jesus transforms our lives?
In the life of Mother Elizabeth, Jesus in the Holy Eucharist gives light to her mind and
strength to her will, He provides her abundant graces, in enabling her weak human nature
to suffer superhuman trials, in giving her, an ordinary, supernatural power to accomplish
extraordinary deeds. That’s why she is titled in Rome, “The Most Extraordinary Woman in
Rome”. When she became the Mother Foundress of the Bridgettine Sisters, she struggled
in obtaining permission from the Holy See to have the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the
altar of all the Bridgettine chapels, so, until today, Our LORD JESUS CHRIST is adored
by every Bridgettine Sister every day.
So, we have many reasons why we have had a long tradition of prayer before the
Blessed Sacrament and how important it is. Like St. Maria Elizabeth let us devote
ourselves to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Let us express our faith in HIS Divinity,
let us profess our faith in HIS real bodily presence under the Sacramental Veil, let our
hearts rest in HIS bosom and let us express our love to HIM through Adoration and tell
HIM how much we love Him for we have in front of us the reason for our existence, God
Incarnate, the All-Loving God who became man for our sake.