The Spiritual Life: “The Body of Christ” and “Amen” – What They Mean and What We Are Saying

Authored by Fr. Jeffrey Lewis in Issue #8.1 of The Catechetical Review

Each year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Corpus Christi: “the Body of Christ” in Latin. Of course, every Mass is a special celebration of the Body of Christ because every Mass is centered on the Eucharist. But for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Church, in a particular way, invites us to be especially mindful of this mystery of faith, to embrace more fully the sublime magnificence of that which is the centerpiece of our religion, the very heart of Catholicism.

When we come forward to receive Holy Communion, we bow our heads in reverence to the gift that we are about to receive. Some people genuflect before receiving. Some people even fall to their knees in order to receive in the holy posture of kneeling. And if we receive Holy Communion on the tongue, then we open our mouths like helpless infants seeking to be fed; if we receive on the hand, then we hold our hands up like helpless beggars hoping for some charity, presenting the open hands like holy thrones upon which Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, will be seated when we receive him. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” These words we say together, and they are the final words we speak before coming forward to receive the Lord. Because indeed, we are not worthy to receive Him. But he permits himself nonetheless to be received by us because it is only by his grace—and our words and actions done in faith in our response to his grace—that we are made worthy.

And this is pure gift, pure grace. We can do nothing to earn this, nothing to merit this, nothing to make ourselves worthy, only that we receive this precious gift in a state of grace and with proper disposition of heart and soul—humbly, worthily, and well.

Behold, the pierced One. Behold, the Lamb who was slain. Behold, the Suffering Servant, and the risen and glorified, majestic, and triumphant Lord. Behold, the Body of Christ.

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

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