Being the Body of Christ

Three years ago I was in St Louis, at the spirituality forum in honour of St Philippine Duchesne. During the closing Eucharist our Venezuelan sisters surprised everyone with the presentation of a rather special ciborium, its 200-year-old story stretching all the way back to France and St Madeleine Sophie. You can read more about this here, and view a short video of this special moment here.

After Mass we crowded round to take a closer look. The ciborium had clearly not been used for a long time, as the lid was stuck tight. As we gently loosened it I felt as though we were prising open an ancient treasure chest. What treasures, I fancifully asked myself, might we find in here... knowing that for many years it had already held that unparalleled treasure, the Real Presence of Christ. And then the lid was raised, and peering in I saw... us... the people of God, the gathered Body of Christ... the greatest treasure of his Heart.

This moment came back to me the other day as I read a Tablet column by Liz Dodd, in which she writes: The pandemic has taught us how to pray. Closing churches forced us to find God in places that are more difficult and complicated than a beautiful monstrance in a quiet church: in the loneliness of shielding neighbours, the desperation of the street homeless, the fears of the vulnerable... Lockdown has been described as a kind of eucharistic fast, but that hasn’t been my experience at all. God didn’t cut himself off from me when I needed him so much: he gave me more of himself. 

And so, as we keep this extraordinary Corpus Christi without Communion, I do so filled with the Body of Christ. I hold in prayer the Body wherever it is being broken, the Blood shed, in those who are suffering, wounded, vulnerable, left behind. And I want to celebrate and give thanks for the Body of Christ given and shared that I have known and been part of over the years, and particularly these months. Thanks to my work I've been privileged to know so many who are a sacrament, a visible sign of Christ and his uncontained, self-giving love in our world right now, especially for the ones who are hungriest - for love as much as food - and weakest from the journey. Yes, the Body of Christ continues to be broken: and it continues to be given; freely, generously and without reserve.

And I pray that I too may increasingly become that sign, that Body, for all those I am called to encounter and serve, and to make my own the prayer often attributed to St Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body now on earth but yours;
no hands but yours; no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which the
compassion of Christ must look out onto the world.

Yours are the feet with which he will go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which he will bless his people.

Happy feast everyone ~ of Christ's presence among us, in the Eucharist and in all those who give flesh to his immense love, and are his body here on earth.


  1. I was at that celebration and am with you now in spirit. Thank you for your beautiful reflection...


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