Eucharist (2)The Morgan Library and Museum in NYC opened an exhibition called: Illuminating Faith — The Eucharist in Medieval Life & Art. It runs through Sept 2, 2013.

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.

The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of the communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.

Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all. 1324-1326 CCC

From the show’s Press Release

“For medieval Christians, the Eucharist (the Sacrament of Communion) was not only the heart of the Mass — its presence and symbolism also wielded enormous influence over cultural and civic life…(the exhibition) explores how artists of the period depicted the celebration of the Sacrament and its powerful hold on society in more than sixty-five exquisitely illuminated manuscripts drawn from the Morgan’s renowned collections.”

MorganEucharist1The exhibition, curated by Roger S. Wieck (photo), who is not a Catholic but who has a particular interest in the bleeding host of Dijon, starts out well but turns out to be a bait and switch scheme — ending with assertions of antisemitism by Christians of the late Middle Ages, who were driven to hatred by bleeding hosts that may not have been truly bloody but rather had red fungus on them, according to the curator.

Illuminating Faith seems designed to appeal to various interests and audiences. Even with its prejudices, the show presents profound artworks that offer edification for everyone. “It must be remembered that the Eucharist as the table of the Bread of the Lord is a continuous invitation.” John Paul II

When Mr. Wieck commented, during a recent press tour of the show, that Christians blamed the Jews for the bleeding hosts and then treated them badly, OC mentioned to him an anecdote of being in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 12/10/89, when members of Act-Up and Wham threw communion hosts to the ground and stomped on them. The reaction of Cardinal O’Connor to that abomination manifested the real fruits of the Eucharist. He said to everyone in the Cathedral that day: “We can’t hate these people otherwise our faith is meaningless.”

Artwork (top): Illuminated for Ste. Chapelle, Macheco Master 1536-37

Photographs: Stephen Wise