ASK FATHER: “The Body of ‘grace'”?

From a reader…


I am distressed. I went to mass today and received, as the priest said over and over, “the body of grace.” Don’t get me wrong, I love grace, but I was expecting the body of Christ. Is this wording approved? BTW, anticipating his word “grace” I openly said “Christ,” just as I was to receive. I worry about this and what it means for this priest. Should I be concerned?

Perhaps Father had just been to the dentist and was still recovering from Novocaine?

The text in the Novus Ordo Missal is pretty clear concerning what Father is to say and what you are to respond.

The priest says: The Body of Christ.  The communicant replies: Amen.

That’s it.  It isn’t hard, is it?  It isn’t complicated?  Why must priests make things up and cause such wonder among the faithful?

What is being distributed is not “the body of grace”.  It is “the Body of Christ”.  Grace and Christ are not to be reduced to each other.

Should you be concerned?  Not very much.  This is just something silly he doing.  He probably is doing this from mawkishness rather than malice.  He just mistakenly thinks that he is making the moment more meaningful.  I suspect he is of a certain age.

Or maybe it was just the Novocaine.

Someday, perhaps, asks him about it.  Smile when you do.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Muv says:

    Actually, I can imagine a posh ex-Anglican vicar being misheard as saying “grace” for “Christ.” More likely to happen on this side of the Atlantic, though.

  2. pledbet424 says:

    I had a similar experience at a very small parish in a quaint Alaskan town. The priest on Corpus Christi told us to respond “I do” when receiving communion, to his question “Do you believe this is the body of Christ?” Of course, a retired, 80 something priest.

  3. vandalia says:

    My undergraduate degree was in engineering. After explaining a lengthy mathematical procedure (the inverse Fourier transform), the professor asked “Do you understand this?” We all nodded, and said “yes.” He then said, “Good. If you ever do this again in your life you are an idiot. There are tables with this already calculated. A good engineer is a lazy engineer. Never redo work that has already been done – we have physicists for that.!”

    I have always said the same thing applies to priest – in a very narrow sense. A good priest is a lazy priest. A good priest doesn’t attempt to recreate what has already been settled, e.g., the liturgy, the Catechism, St. Thomas, etc. If a priest has enough time on his hands to create his own liturgy, then that is likely a symptom of other problems.

  4. APX says:

    But then would it be appropriate to respond “Amen” (meaning “Yes, I believe” [it’s the body of grace])?

    [I wouldn’t. It isn’t the proper form.]

  5. iPadre says:

    May I suggest that the poor Father was distracted, as I have sometimes been, and the word grace was on his mind. An unintentional slip of the distracted mind.

  6. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    One of my first thoughts was the worrying one that this priest may be a fan of a paper by Rowan Williams which Wikipedia describes thus: “‘The Body’s Grace’, which he originally delivered as the 10th Michael Harding Memorial Address in 1989 to the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, and which is now part of a series of essays collected in the book Theology and Sexuality (ed. Eugene Rogers, Blackwells 2002).”

    Another, was the worrying one that he may have some curious alchemical speculation in mind, about which, for example, Charles Williams writes in his book, Witchcraft.

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