On this St. Francis Feast, Sister Louise Hembrecht reflects on St. Francis and the Eucharist. Sister Louise lives at St. Francis Convent, West Point, Nebraska and is Assistant to the Director of Mission at Franciscan Healthcare.
I like to begin my week kneeling/sitting before the Eucharist in the chapel of the Franciscan Center (the former Convent). That midnight to 1:00 am hour is rather quiet – there is little traffic going by but there is some building creaking that can be distracting. It’s dark – I don’t turn on may lights – the darkness is peaceful and comforting. The tabernacle in the Chapel is made of wood and is exclusively to display the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration. It has a pull down door that when up is held by magnets. If no one has been in Chapel, the hour before, one has to pull it down to view the Eucharist. It’s a clear reminder that the Lord is always present, but we have to choose to be present, choose to see the Lord in the Eucharist.
St. Francis contrasted the sublimity and humility of God in the Eucharist. The God who creates, redeems, sanctifies is present in the host in front of me. Every once in a while I think of the great things I had planned to do for the Lord. I planned to be a great missionary – to convert the world or at least a big part of it; I planned to be a great contemplative – always deeply aware of the presence of the Lord and communing with Him on a very deep level; I planned to be a great scholar – delving in the mystery of God and the universe and sharing, enlightening the world with my insights.
Somewhere, sometime along the way I realized that none of that really matters. Perhaps it was in the presence of the Eucharist, seeing God in His littleness. The mystery of the Eucharist seems to echo the words of our Christmas novena: “God is great and worthy to be praised; God is little and worthy to be loved.”
If this is true of the Eucharist, it is also true of all of creation, the inanimate world, all living things, especially my sisters and brothers near and far. How great is our God; how little.