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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 Luke 22:19-20, and explicitly used by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 12:12-14.

Contents

Roman Catholicism

Part of a series of articles on
Roman Catholic
Devotions to Christ

Christ Hagia Sofia.jpg

Overview of Devotions
Holy Face
Sacred Heart
Divine Mercy
Eucharistic adoration
Holy Name
Acts of Reparation
Holy Wounds
Rosary of Holy Wounds
Stations of the Cross
Precious Blood
Infant of Prague

Prayers to Jesus
Anima ChristiShoulder WoundSacred Heart prayerYou are ChristVianney's prayerPerboyre's prayerMontfort's prayerCrucifix prayer

In the Roman Catholic tradition, the term "Body of Christ" refers not only to the body of Christ in spiritual realm, but also to two distinct though related things: the Church and reality of the transubstantiated bread of the Eucharist.

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The Church

The first meaning that the Roman Catholic Church attaches to the expression "Body of Christ" is the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes with approval, as "summing up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer", the reply of Saint Joan of Arc to her judges: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter."[1] In the same passage, it also quotes Saint Augustine: "Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man.... the fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does 'head and members' mean? Christ and the Church."

Saint Paul the Apostle spoke of this unity of Christians with Christ, spoken of in the New Testament also in images such as that of the vine and the branches,[2] in terms of a single body that has Christ as its head in Romans 12:5,1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Ephesians 3:6 and 5:23, Colossians 1:18 and 1:24.

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."[3] 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",[4] 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.

Protestantism

"Body of Christ" is used by some Protestants, such as Baptists, to collectively describe the believers in Christ. This is based on several passages in the Bible, including Romans 12:5,1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Ephesians 3:6 and 5:23, Colossians 1:18 and Colossians 1:24. Jesus Christ is seen as the "head" of the body, which is the church, while the "members" of the body are seen as members of the Church.

Lutheranism

In the Lutheran Church, the Body of Christ is used similar to the Roman Catholic teachings. Though the church reject the Roman Catholic teaching of transubstantiation, the Body of Christ is the formal title of the bread in the Eucharist, as seen in the Lutheran Divine Service. It is also said in the Words of Institution.[5] A similar teaching is taught in various Methodist Churches.

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[6] and in the decrees of the 1672 Synod of Jerusalem.[7]

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.

See also

References

  1. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 795
  2. ^ John 15:4-5
  3. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 789
  4. ^ Council of Trent, The Thirteenth Session
  5. ^ Luther's Small Catechism
  6. ^ "The bread and wine are changed, or transubstantiated, into the very Body of Christ, and into the very Blood of Christ" (question 339).
  7. ^ "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).

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Noun

Body of Christ

  1. (literally) The corpse or resurrected body of Jesus Christ.
  2. (figuratively) The bread of the eucharist.
  3. (figuratively) A title describing, as a whole group, all believers in Jesus Christ.

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

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