SACRED TRIDUUM. April 6. Holy Thursday. Bruce introduced the reflection with the 2nd reading from the Mass of the Last Supper which he linked with the spiritual meal shared by St Francis and St Clare.
Scripture. “I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the chalice saying “This chalice is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this chalice, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Cor 11:23-26.
From The Little Flowers of St Francis of Assisi. How St. Clare ate with St Francis and his companions at St Mary of the Angels. St Clare, having a great desire to eat once with him, often begged him to grant her this request; but the saint would never allow her this consolation. His companions, therefore, being aware of the refusal of St Francis, and knowing how great was the wish of Sister Clare to eat with him addressed him: “Father, it seems to us that this severity on thy part in not granting so small a thing to Sister Clare is not according to holy charity.” St Francis answered: “It seems to you, then, that I ought to grant her this request?” His companions made answer: “Yea, father, it is meet that thou grant her this favour and this consolation.” “But I will that the meal do take place in front of St Mary of the Angels, because, having been for so long time shut up in San Damiano, it will do her good to see the church of St Mary, wherein she took the veil, and was made a spouse of Christ. There, then, we will eat together in the name of God.”
When the appointed day arrived, St Clare left her convent with great joy, taking with her one of her sisters. She arrived at St Mary of the Angels, and having devoutly saluted the Virgin Mary, before whose altar her hair had been cut off, they conducted her to the convent, and showed her all over it. In the meantime St Francis prepared the meal on the bare ground, as was his custom. The hour of dinner being arrived, St Francis and St Clare, with one of the brethren of St Francis and the sister who had accompanied the saint, sat down together, all the other companions of St Francis seated humbly round them. When the first dish was served, St Francis began to speak of God so sweetly, so sublimely, and in a manner so wonderful, that the grace of God visited them abundantly, and all were rapt in Christ.
Whilst they were thus rapt, with eyes and hearts raised to heaven, the people of Assisi and all the country round about, saw St Mary of the Angels as it were on fire. It seemed to them as if the church, the convent, and the woods were all enveloped in flames; and the inhabitants of Assisi hastened with great speed to put out the fire. On arriving at the convent, they found no fire; and entering within the gates they saw St Francis, St Clare, with all their companions, sitting round their humble meal, absorbed in contemplation; then knew then of a certainty, that what they had seen was a celestial fire, not a material one, which God miraculously had sent to bear witness to the divine flame of love which consumed the souls of those holy brethren and nuns; and they returned home with great consolation in their hearts, and much holy edification.
After a long lapse of time, St Francis, St Clare, and their companions came back to themselves; and, being fully restored by the spiritual food, cared not to eat that which had been prepared for them.
Reflect, share, pray. How did this reflection speak to you? In what way can it be seen as a “paschal meal?”