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Dictionary

A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

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CIRCUMSCRIPTION

The manner in which a body is naturally present in space, being contained and measured by other material bodies. The term is especially used to distinguish the manner of Christ's presence in heaven, circumscriptively, and his manner of presence in the Eucharist, sacramentally. In heaven Christ's body occupies space and is bounded by whatever surrounding materials are present. But in the Eucharist the body of Christ is not bounded by any other material things. Yet it is present with all that makes it a real body, including the attribute of gravity.

Hence it may be said that Christ's body "lies on the altar" or "is touched" or "is raised aloft" or "carried in procession" or even that it is "broken" or "his blood is poured out." But these expressions apply to the accidents only insofar as they are perceptible signs of the reality, namely Christ himself, which they signify.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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