Common Wisdom: The Gift of the Body


May 1, 1994

The Blessed Sacrament is Christ, the whole Christ. He was giving us Himself.

In so many other things He laid the stress on the invisible, the immaterial; His kingdom, He said, is not of this earth: His peace is not of this world.

Yet, in giving Himself to the world, He deliberately chose to emphasize the body.


The body is, for us, the means by which we can give ourselves wholly.

We say: “Go, my thoughts are with you,” or “My soul goes with you.” And we know that, though something of our self is with the traveler, essentially we remain separate from him.

We can give someone devoted care, unfailing kindness, and all our worldly possessions, but still we have kept ourselves.

But when we give our body willingly to another as the means of deliberate self-donation, then our union with the other is complete.

We surrender our intimacy, the secret of ourselves, with the giving of our body; and we cannot give it without our will, our thoughts, our minds, and our souls.

Christ surrendered the secret of Himself to each one of us when He gave us His Body. In Holy Communion this surrender of the secret of Himself goes on.

“With desire,” He said, “have I desired this hour.”

The hour when He was to consecrate bread, in order that not only to the whole race would He give His Spirit, but to each individual, the gift of Himself.

He had longed for it—that is what the phrase means; longed for the moment when He would give us the Body that Mary had given to Him and for the moment when each one receives Him in Communion. He waited 33 years in time for the Last Supper; 2,000 years for me.

Excerpted from Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God, available from Christian Classics, Inc., P.O. Box 30, Westminster, Maryland 21158


  • Caryll Houselander

    Caryll Houselander (September 29, 1901–October 12, 1954) was a lay Roman Catholic ecclesiastical artist, mystic, popular religious writer and poet.

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