What is the body of christ


When giving communion, the host is given as "the body of Christ". Many understand this to be the real body. This cannot be conveyed to children in particular. Why not say “Bread of Life”? A. R., Würselen

You are undoubtedly right to say that the phrase “the body of Christ” is used by practiced Catholics, but difficult to understand for those new to the Church. And even practiced Catholics are not always clear what is meant by “body”: not the body of a person, his flesh, but his being, his whole self, the person as a person in all his fullness. This is why we speak of the bodily resurrection, not the physical one; therefore we receive the body and not the body of Christ.

You are also right that the phrase “the bread of life” would be easier to understand - and that it is used in some places. It is easier to understand because it is recognizably bread; and because we religiously believe that this piece of bread means life, even life beyond death.

And now comes the but: the fact that a phrase is difficult to understand does not immediately mean that it should be abolished. In religion in particular, many terms are old, unfashionable and difficult to understand. Sin, redemption, ascension, trinity - all of this has to be explained, and even practiced Catholics understand some things incorrectly or not at all. Should we therefore get rid of all these terms?
And as far as the body of Christ is concerned, these words go back to Jesus' words in the Upper Room. “Take and eat, this is my body,” he said - the Gospels are pretty much in agreement on this. I think it's difficult to simply bypass it because the formulation is complicated and misleading for us.

Which, conversely, can only mean: Even apparently Catholic things that are taken for granted have to be explained again and again. In the sermon, for example. In catechesis anyway. Then first communion children can understand that too - at least as far as this religious secret is to be understood at all.

Susanne Haverkamp