Saturday, January 3, 2015


The Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood is the great pledge, given by the Lord to His Church, for as long as history lasts, of the reunion of form and matter, or spirit and flesh. Put more directly, it presents to us His death, by which He redeemed the world from sin and death and from the ruin brought on by the Fall. The "rebuilding," or reunion, of things from this ruin was inaugurated by God in the Old Testament, manifested at the Incarnation, and will be completed at the Parousia.                                                                              Thomas Howard, Evangelical is Not Enough
I've often thought that one of the most glorious aspects of the Eucharist is that feeds both Body and Soul with the same fare. It isn't just an ethereal grace that moves in our souls, but also actual nourishment (small as that may be) for our bodies, material food and drink. Thus it reunites the warring factions of our nature for the heavenly banquet, knitting them more and more, day by day into that unity which is man's origin and destiny.

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I love these 17th century paintings in which the grace of the Sacrament illuminates the beauty of creation and endows all these earthy elements with eternal significance. When I was teaching the First Communion class in my parish, I had this one front and center in my classroom so that my students, whose church is very spare, pedestrian, and, in my opinion, ugly, could see the Eucharist surrounded by beauty and mystery.

Host and Chalice with Garlands, Jan de Heem
There is a very nice article explaining the symbolism in this second painting here. I've made the pictures as large as possible within this column. If you click on them (once only) you can see them enlarged.

Allegory of the Eucharist, Alexander Coosemans

PS, Howard wrote the quote above in the early 1980s during his journey from Evangelicalsim to Catholicism. At the time, he was attending an Episcopal church. 


  1. I've never seen those paintings or anything like them before. They are really beautiful.

  2. You should hang one up someplace so your children can see it.