For having attended a Franciscan high school and college, I knew relatively little about Saint Clare. That is, until I went to Assisi during my semester abroad my sophomore year of college. I knew she had been close friends with Saint Francis, and from the stories I had heard of her, she was just as intense as he was. I knew that she had given up wealth and status to be a bride of Christ, even going so far as to clutch onto the altar when her father tried to bring her home. But there was one story I heard when visiting her convent that surprised me because I couldn’t remember ever hearing it before.
When an army of Emperor Frederick II’s soldiers (who were at war with the Pope) plundered Assisi, a sickly Clare carried out the Eucharist to the gate where the enemy was advancing. She set the monstrance on the gate where it could be seen by the soldiers, and, bowing before it, she prayed: “Good Lord, protect these whom now I am not able to protect.” Hearing a small voice reassure her, she turned to her trembling sisters and said: “Have no fear, little daughters; trust in Jesus.” Upon seeing the monstrance, a sudden terror overcame the army and they fled.
There are some very strong parallels between the New Testament covenant between Christ and His Church, fulfilled in the Eucharist, and the Old Testament Covenant between God and the Israelites. In chapter 6 of the Book of Exodus, God reminds Moses of His covenant with Abraham to deliver the Israelites from their slavery to the Egyptians and to lead them to the Promised Land. Then in chapter 7, God, through Moses’ (literal!) hand, saves his people from their attackers, which is pretty similar to how St Clare saved her little convent in Assisi, if you ask me.
The body, blood, soul, and divinity of God Himself is held in a tiny white host. His very presence on earth can be found at every moment in a nearby tabernacle; in every monstrance, and every Sunday Mass, and yet it is so easy to take this incredible gift for granted. I don’t always recognize when God Himself stands before me. Yet, contained in the most humble form of bread is the very same presence that saved both the Israelites and the Italian convent. But hearing that story of St Clare I had to ask myself: Would I have had the faith to turn to the Eucharist when an army was about to attack? Would I have had the confidence in God’s promise to not fear?
All too often, unfortunately, my answer would have to be: “probably not.”
Thankfully, I am not in the business of saving convents. I am, however, in the business of doing dishes and attempting to keep our apartment clean, of answering emails and phone calls, and of trying to be a good wife, daughter, sister, and friend. It is these everyday tasks, these everyday “battles”, where God is forming us into saints. To be a saint, to unite all we are to Christ Himself, it is necessary to find strength and grace in the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Reflection question 1: How is God calling you to be a saint? In what ways do you need strength to do this?
Reflection question 2: How does Christ want to work in your life the way that He worked in the life of St Clare? How is He asking you to trust Him?
Act: If you have a chance today, visit Christ in the Eucharist today, either through daily mass or adoration, or even just a quick stop into a nearby church to pray in front of a tabernacle. If not, consider making a spiritual communion and ask God, through the intercession of St Clare, to increase your love and reverence for Christ in the Eucharist and to give you the graces you need to become a saint.