Body of Christ

Body of Christ

Body of Christ is a term of Christian theology, implicitly traceable to Jesus's statement at the Last Supper that "This is my body" in ] in terms of a single body that has Christ as its head in and .

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "the comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ." [ [ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 789] ] The Catechism then spells out the significance of each of these three aspects.

To distinguish the Body of Christ in this sense from his physical body, the term "Mystical Body of Christ" is often used. This term was used as the first words, and so as the title, of the encyclical [ "Mystici Corporis Christi"] of Pope Pius XII.

The reality of the bread consecrated in the Eucharist

While teaching that in the bread consecrated in the Eucharist there is absolutely no change open to the senses or to scientific investigation, the Catholic Church has always believed that the reality of the bread is changed into that of the body of Christ. To refer to this change of the "substance" or considers particularly apt the term "transubstantiation", [ [ Council of Trent, The Thirteenth Session] ] but rejects that of "consubstantiation", which suggests that the substance or reality of the bread remains after the consecration, instead of being converted or changed into that of the body of Christ. At the same time, it holds that all that can be examined either directly or by scientific investigation - what in philosophy are called the "accidents" (as opposed to the reality) - remains quite unchanged.

Thus, in the Roman Rite, the priest or other minister who gives the consecrated host to a communicant says: "The body of Christ", indicating what is held to be the reality of what is given.

Since the consecrated bread is believed to be truly the body of Christ, what remains of it after celebration of Mass is reverently kept in the church tabernacle, primarily for the purpose of taking Communion to the sick, but also to serve as a focal point for private devotion and prayer, and, on appropriate occasions, for public Eucharistic adoration.


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"Body of Christ" is used by some Protestants who style themselves as "Bible-believing Christians" to describe believers in Christ.fact|date=August 2008 Jesus Christ is seen as the "head" of the body, which is the church. The "members" of the body are seen as members of the Church.

Eastern Orthodoxy

The Eastern Orthodox Church also believes that the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine become the actual Body and Blood of Christ. It has authoritatively used the term "Transubstantiation" to describe this change, as in "The Longer Catechism of The Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church" ["The bread and wine are changed, or "transubstantiated", into the very Body of Christ, and into the very Blood of Christ" ( [ question 339] ).] and in the decrees of the 1672 Synod of Jerusalem. ["In the celebration (of the Eucharist) we believe the Lord Jesus Christ to be present, not typically, nor figuratively, nor by superabundant grace, as in the other Mysteries, nor by a bare presence, as some of the Fathers have said concerning Baptism, or by impanation, so that the Divinity of the Word is united to the set forth bread of the Eucharist hypostatically, as the followers of Luther most ignorantly and wretchedly suppose, but truly and really, so that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, the bread is transmuted, "transubstantiated", converted and transformed into the true Body Itself of the Lord, Which was born in Bethlehem of the ever-Virgin, was baptised in the Jordan, suffered, was buried, rose again, was received up, sitteth at the right hand of the God and Father, and is to come again in the clouds of Heaven; and the wine is converted and "transubstantiated" into the true Blood Itself of the Lord, Which as He hung upon the Cross, was poured out for the life of the world" ( [ Decree XVII] ).]

The Orthodox see the description of the Church ("Ecclessia") as the "Body of Christ" as being inextricably connected to Holy Communion. According to St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 35-107), the unity of the Church is expressed in Eucharistic terms. Just as there are many offerings made throughout the world on any given day, and yet all partake of one and the same Body of Christ, so the Church, though existing in many separate localities, is only one.


ee also

* Christian Church
* Eucharist
* Sacramental bread
* Blood of Christ

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