The Church. Body of Christ AND Bride of Christ

Can someone please explain this to me? It certainly seems we are given two clear images of the church. One, being the Body of Christ and the other being the Bride.

It seems contradictory.

Whenever I discuss the sacrament of reconciliation with my protestant friend I make the point that when we sin, we wound the Body of Christ (the church.) So, I must approach the Body that I have wounded and ask forgiveness from Christ, through the ambassadors of reconciliation, the ordained priest. I mention to him that it is necessary for a variety of reasons.

Anyway, I guess the image of the Church is both the Body of Christ AND the Bride of Christ.

Does it confuse you in any way?

Hi Catholic Knight, I know what you mean; it can be confusing.

However, I think what Paul writes in Ephesians can help shed some light on the dual understandings of the Church as Bride of Christ and Body of Christ:

“For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the Church, because we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’.” Eph 5:29-31, RSV.

(Jesus also says a similar thing in the Gospel of Matthew when speaking about divorce, and this is obviously a quote from Genesis.)

When the Son became incarnate he, in a sense, left his Father, to marry his bride - the faithful - which he did perfectly on the cross, giving his life for hers. Thus we are Christ’s bride, but we are also part of his body because now the “two have become one flesh”.

If you go a little further you’ll see it applies to both the church and the family.

Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 33 Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

This is what I learned from catechism. The family unit made up of biological family members the father, the mother and children if any, is called the domestic church. Then there are parish churches, etc.led by our spiritual leaders, the priests, but we are also apart of the bigger Universal Church family. So it’s in reference to both.

The body of Christ is the members of the Universal Church which is the same as the bride of Christ. The bride of Christ is mentioned in Revelation as meeting the bridegroom (Jesus). We as a church are part of the body of Christ. We are the body and Christ is the head. The bride meets the bridegroom because it is a union made by God, perfect and Holy in every way.

In the following scripture the body refers to the church, and we walk by faith not sight but one day all will be revealed to us.

2 Corinthians 5:6 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.

Of course the body of Christ is also the Holy Eucharist that we share as the body of Christ. Jesus came once as a baby through Mary, and now the Body of Jesus is present as the Holy eucharist, and Jesus will come again as the Second coming to receive the body of Christ-us so that we will be glorified with Christ into One Body of Christ.

This is what I’ve come to learn, correct me if anyone knows better like a priest, :slight_smile:

Regarding the sacrament of reconciliation. Of course we should all forgive each other and ask personally for God to forgive our sins. But God created the church with priests who fulfill the role of ‘In persona Christi’ from Jesus who gave them the authority to forgive sins. He did not give everyone the authority to forgive sins “In Jesus name”, he gave his chosen apostles who we know as priests. They were specially chosen ones who are anointed by God as priests are today in the church started by Jesus. So to know we are forgiven it behooves us to go through a priest. It also helps us heal to ‘know’ we are forgiven.

The purpose of marriage is that the two become one person.

The purpose of the body of Christ is that we become one person.

Yes, I agree with this.

My thinking with the sacrament of reconciliation is that it is a gift…(every gift from Christ is a grace) from Christ. I believe His keen and full understanding of our reality is that even though we would no longer be of the world, that we would struggle with our sins. I could be wrong here, but sometimes I get so weighed down by my short comings, and utter failures that I need to unburden my guilt. I need to hear the words of reconciliation. I believe Christ in His compassion understands that, and established this sacrament for this purpose.

Also, for the whole notion of humility that it induces. It is not suppose to be a comfortable time, yet in some ways (many ways) it does provide a level of comfort. However, it would be far easier and far more “comfortable” if I thought confessing my sins in my closet was good enough. Praying and confessing my sins I believe are different.

Plus, the notion that we receive instruction from a priest. I would always suggest that we have a confessor and meet face to face. I know it is not necessary, but to me behind a vail with a confessor that does not really know you is not…always fruitful. Although it is acceptable, and you still receive instruction and guidance.

I have discussed this with a protestant, and I asked him if a young couple decided they wanted to have have premarital sex, and they decided to go into a closet and determine that they are now married, even though a church has not recognized it, does it mean they are married? Of course not. There needs to be a role of the church in order to ordain sacraments.

Anyway, yes sometimes it becomes this optical reality for us. We are a part of the Body of Christ, and we are the Bride of Christ.

One of those things that confuse but need to accept.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit