Skip to comments.Liturgy: Are Glass Chalices OK for Mass?
Posted on 09/17/2003 6:34:12 AM PDT by NYer
ROME, SEPT. 16, 2003 (Zenit.org).- With this column ZENIT is launching a feature on common questions about liturgical norms and the proper way to celebrate the Mass. The questions are answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum. The feature will appear every other week.
Readers may send their own questions to email@example.com. Please put the word "Liturgy" in the subject field.
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Q: May a celebrant at Mass use a glass chalice when consecrating the wine?
A: From the historical point of view, glass chalices were known in antiquity up to about the time of St. Gregory the Great (died 604), although most Christians preferred gold and silver vessels, even in time of persecution.
The most relevant document regarding this theme are numbers 328-332 of the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) whose adapted English version recently received approval from the Holy See and is now in force in the dioceses of the United States.
No. 328 states clearly: "Sacred vessels are to be made from precious metal." Liturgical law, however, allows the bishops' conference to propose other esteemed materials for use in sacred vessels.
The U.S. bishops have allowed for the use of other solid materials "that, according to the common estimation in each region, are precious, for example, ebony or other hard woods," but, "provided that such materials are suited to sacred use and do not easily break or deteriorate."
No. 330 has an added proviso that chalices and other vessels destined to serve as receptacles for the blood of Christ should have bowls of nonabsorbent material. These norms are topped off by No. 332, which gives some leeway to artistic taste with respect to the outward form of the sacred vessels, "provided each vessel is suited to the intended liturgical use and is clearly distinguishable from those intended for everyday use."
So, can a priest celebrate with a glass chalice? The above-mentioned norms don't allow for a crystal clear response as they do not specify very much at all. Glass is not widely regarded as a precious material; it generally seems more like a household product. Then again, a glass chalice might recall, for some parishioners, the pleasures of cognac.
Some cut crystals, however, especially if artistically and uniquely fashioned with liturgical motifs, might pass the quality test. It is certainly not porous and does not easily deteriorate. But most glass is easily breakable.
A rule of thumb in deciding if a material is suitably strong for use as a chalice could be called the "clumsy server test." What happens if a server hits the rim of the chalice with a cruet? If the result is splinters, then the material should go to the rejection pile.
On the basis of these considerations I would say that in most cases glass is unsuitable material for use as a chalice, but the latitude provided in liturgical law does not allow for an outright prohibition.
Suggestion: let's pool our resources, compile a list and submit them one at a time. Then we can monitor the answers to determine whether or not our questions are being addressed.
So, can a priest celebrate with a glass chalice?
In my parish, the pastor consecrates the wine using a gold chalice. There is also a glass pitcher and two glass goblets for distribution of the Precious Blood.
I struggle with wondering somehow, if things like this are silly and not worth the time spent wondering or reading or writing about them, especially since norms seem so broadly written that there is no clear cut definitive answer (or room for YOPI) - as is the case with Tabernacle location or altar crucifix placement. And what if my parish priest was given the pottery chalice by someone very dear to him? Who am I? Does God really care?
On the other hand... where do the little "sort of" disobedience things stop?
So this is where I put my fingers in my ears, chant "la-la-la-la I can't hear you" real loudly and jump up and down. ;-)
(2) Stone doesn't meet it either, but stone is better than glass because glass is liable to break if the cruets, etc. hit it.
(3) There is no reason why any parish in the US should be unable to afford at least a gold-lined chalice. They cost maybe $200.
You should stop wondering. Things like this are silly. Common sense should prevail, and usually does.
The priest doesn't get to select the instruments of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to his own personal feelings. He has a job to do and he has a GIRM to tell him how to do it properly.
God does care if people obey the Church he established on Peter or if they disobey it. He cares a lot.
This is true: but such a chalice is probably significantly heavier and it must be elevated at least twice. And heavy glass isn't any more precious for being heavy.
Spilling seems to be a more serious concern than does breakage.
Which is why, after the consecration, the chalice should be moved as little as possible and handled by as few people as possible. Of course, the modern fad for utraquism presents problems on that front.
The big deal is the desire to offer God the very finest material things we have.
Wood is a definite practical problem: the Sacrifice should never be offered in an absorbent container.
You know I agree with you 100% here on dogmatic (faith and morals) issues and even matters of discipline. Took me a number of years to understand, but I'm there, by the grace of God.
However, reading the GIRM on what constitutes proper make up of the chalice... it's all over the place. I know what I would use (precious metal) and why, but it seems that when all is said and done, precious metal is a strong suggestion in the GIRM and not liturgical law. Way too "all over the place" - just like Tabernacle placement.
Drives me nuts.
It's certainly maddening - but remember that the GIRM is designed to apply to a mission church in Africa's interior as well as a parish church in a wealthy American suburb.
As I hinted above, in America such things shouldn't even be an issue: every parish in America can afford a chalice lined with gold.
In an African mission, the rumor of a gold-lined chalice might encourage an act of greedy violence against a priest.
Common sense should be applied in using the GIRM - leeway afforded to the unfortunate and oppressed shouldn't be twisted into a political weapon by lazy liberal priests in America.
That being said, Murano glass is chiefly found in Italian-American homes and is generally used for decorative, knick-knack type purposes. The dignity of the Mass wouldn't be enhanced by the chalice looking just like Grandma's candy dish.
I'm glad you were kidding.
It's one of the more horrific innovations in the Mass.
Most liberal priests find it intolerably old fashioned and omit it because it contradicts their theological prejudices.
One of the things that breaks my heart the most. The Confiteor is one of the most beautiful and heartfelt prayers you can say. When I say it, it reminds me how much of a sinner I am and how much I offend Him but it also reminds me of how sorry I am. What prayer brings you to the abject low and the highest high all in a few sentences? It's also kind of a summation of the human race.
I don't know why both the Confiteor and the Kyrie Eleison can't be said.
I honestly believe that most Catholics don't realize what they are missing until they hear it again... that goes for the longer Eucharistic prayer which is hardly ever said. No longer any mention of the Blessed Virgin Mary or "all the angels and saints n."
That is a total break with our Catholic heritage - the "communion of the saints" - something else you never hear. I hope and pray to God that I am passing this down to my own children in such a way that they will treasure the gift they have been given.
1 Tm 3:14-16
I am writing you,
although I hope to visit you soon.
But if I should be delayed,
you should know how to behave in the household of God,
which is the Church of the living God,
the pillar and foundation of truth.
Undeniably great is the mystery of devotion,
Who was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated in the spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed to the Gentiles,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.
The New Mass will slowly die, I believe.
Those raised in the New Mass generally know less about the faith, are more likely to either leave the faith outright, or marry outside of the faith and will generally have the minimum amount of children even if they stay.
Those raised in the theological richness of the Old Rite will be more likely to remain faithful, to marry among the the faithful and to have many children.
Simple arithmetic will eventually prevail.
It's a hard thing to be so far away from your community... I don't care about the coffee and donut thing (I never go to that anyway) but it is nice to be able to show your kids that others that they know live their lives as Catholics. When we go to the Tridentine (which I love and my kids are getting more and more out of especially since my daughter is taking Latin this year) we don't know anyone and we live too far away to really be a part of that parish.
Depends on where you are.
Only about 50-60% are marrying in the Church, and only 70% of those to a Catholic, and 20% of the total has been divorced.
Of those remaining within, they are averaging currently 3.4 children per marriage (compared to right around 3.85 per marriage during the Baby Boom). See here.
My kids are not yet old enough for formal instruction, but I would hope to be their main source for doctrinal education in any event. There is a large Catholic homeschooling association in my county.
I am also in a special parochial situation: my pastor celebrates both the Tridentine and NO Masses on Sundays, Holy Days and many other days besides and offers all the traditional devotions along with a very old-fashioned CCD. He also christens, weds and buries his parishioners in the Tridentine Rite if asked.
My parish is also a one-to-two minute drive from my home.
In short, I am one of the most fortunate Catholics in the United States.
Incorrect use of the word. This was associated with the Hussites.
TheCatechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1390) provides as follows:
Since Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, Communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace. For pastoral reasons, this manner of receiving Communion has been legitimately established as the most common form in the Latin rite. But the sign of Communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the Eucharistic meal appears more clearly (GIRM, no. 240). This is the usual form of receiving Communion in the Eastern rites.
In 1984, with Vatican approval, the U.S. bishops authorized reception of Holy Communion under both species for weekday, Sunday, and holy day Masses (This Holy and Living Sacrifice (THLS), nos. 20-21). When one receives only the consecrated bread, one truly receives the glorified body and blood, soul and divinity of our Savior, Jesus Christ. However, the Church has given approval to receiving both the consecrated bread and wine because receiving under both species gives a more complete sign of the "new and everlasting covenant" Christ has established with His bride, the Church (General Instruction to the Roman Missal (GIRM), no. 240, as cited in THLS, no. 18).
from the Catholic Encyclopedia...
II. HISTORY OF DISCIPLINARY VARIATIONS
From the First to the Twelfth Century
It may be stated as a general fact, that down to the twelfth century, in the West as well as in the East, public Communion in the churches was ordinarily administered and received under both kinds. That such was the practice in Apostolic times is implied in I Cor., xi, 28 (see above), nor does the abbreviated reference to the "breaking of bread" in the Acts of the Apostles (ii, 46) prove anything to the contrary. The witness to the same effect for the sub-Apostolic and subsequent ages are too numerous, and the fact itself too clearly beyond dispute, to require that the evidence should be cited here. But side by side with the regular liturgical usage of Communion sub utraque, there existed from the earlist times the custom of communicating in certain cases under one kind alone.
If you don't agree with communion under both species, you're entitled to your opinion. The Church sees it differently. It's unfortunate that the abuses shine a bad light on a good thing. We don't have communion under both species at our parish except on Holy Thursday. I'm not sure why, and it's not on my top ten list to know why. That said, our sister parish does and it is accomplished with all reverence and according to the rubrics. It is simply not fair to paint every practitioner of "reception under both species" as being likened to the heretics. I know of no one who thinks they are getting any less grace and therefore demand both species.
Back to the subject matter, we don't use glass at our parish. And I agree with Hermann...I am sick of the ambiguity and latitude in the norms. They are unnecessary, confusing and have been part of the problem. We don't use glass because of experience. Our last ultra-liberal pastor used glass. Waterford crystal. It was his mother's. It was precious. However, it shattered at one mass, after consecration, after the elevation. It was all over the pastor and the altar. No way could it be consumed. We also know of another instance upstate where the priest was using a glass ciborium and glass chalice. When he lifted the ciborium at the "This is the Lamb of God....", he hit the chalice which chipped and went into the now "Blood of Christ" making it dangerous to consume. I believe that glass is an impractical medium to use.
We use gold and platinum and precious gems for the chalice. Any other cups are gold.
Found this product on the 'net. And, it's bulletproof, too ... lol! Actually the pitcher and salad bowl bear a strong resemblance to those used at our liturgy. I suppose the salad plates are a bonus that could be added to the pantry.
Unbreakable Clear Glassware Starter Set. Tableware that looks like crystal but won't break like it. This heavy walled tableware is nearly twice as thick as others. Lightweight, clear polycarbonate, the same material used to make bulletproof glass, endows each piece with the look and weight of crystal without the fragility. Nor will polycarbonate become cloudy or impart flavor as most plastics do. Microwave and dishwasher safe.
I love a Catholic with a good sense of humor! :-)
Seriously though... ever notice that orthodox Catholics are among the happiest and funniest people? We can be really ticked off about some issue in our parish or an issue similar to the issue in this thread and still get a kick out of it all. I've noticed this on different shows on EWTN and also out here in the trenches. Or am I being stupid and generalizing?
For the same reason they omitted the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.
Ahhhhhh .... I would make the drive too, if your parish were near me.
Huh??? By orthodox, are you referring to those who celebrate the Tridentine rite or those who attend catholic mass on a regular basis? Ultima Ratio does not impress me as someone who is happy, much less funny.
Well, they had to cut something to make room for that stupid "prayer of the faithful" (not to be judgmental, but this a.m. one of ours was for "resources" for teachers). (Of course, we always prayed in the Canon for the living and the dead, so I'm not sure who they thought we were leaving out!)
So it would stand to reason that on a board like this,with so many conservative,orthodox and traditional Catholics,one would find the brightest people and if Fr. Andrew is correct then we would also find some pretty funny,amusing,droll,witty,humorous posters.And we do!!!
So to answer your question:"Or am I being stupid and gerealizing?",NO,YOU ARE BEING BRILLIANT AND GENERALIZING.
It was probably a stupid observation on my part.