'Hic Est Enim Calix Sanguinis Mei...'

Like any good seminarian, I found myself day-dreaming before Mass today as I was watching the priest bring out the vessels and put them on the altar. My first thought was, “Wow, I can’t wait till I can do that, preparing the chalice for Mass, knowing that it will soon be filled with the Precious Blood.” Naturally—and given the particulars of the situation—my second thought was, “That’s a really nice chalice!” After I quickly realized how my interior disposition had switched from the content of the chalice to the nicety in itself, it actually caused me to reflect a little on what it truly means to offer the chalice of the Lord, and why it’s something I should even appreciate. Lo and behold, this was a great topic of meditation…

For any new priest, receiving one’s first chalice is an occasion of great joy. To begin with, it usually comes from loved ones (parents, grandparents, etc.) and is a concrete sign of their appreciation of a vocation to the priesthood. More than that, however, it is their contribution to the mystery of the priesthood, which is so closely bound with the Paschal Sacrifice offered on the altar each day. In some sense, the offertory of the Mass is really exemplified in a priest receiving his first chalice from those on whose behalf it will be implemented; a striking reality.

Second, the chalice not only indicates the oblation of the people to God through the pure gift of Jesus Christ to his Father, but it also signifies the depth of the mystery in which both the people and priest participate at each and every Mass: “The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name. My vows to the Lord I will fulfill before all his people. O precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful.” (Psalm 116) The offering of the chalice by the priest is not simply some gesture of solidarity with those around him, but rather an elevation of those around him to God the Father, through the sacrifice of the Son. Jesus tells James and John—when they had desired to sit at his right and his left in Paradise—“You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” (Matthew 20) Christ knew that only through the consumption of the chalice could salvation be brought about, and what else are its contents than his very Blood, poured out pro multis as an expiation for their sins. The multis are those willing to partake freely of this sacrifice of Christ with full submission to its mysterious yet necessary truth: that we can only find salvation—the Resurrection—through first suffering and dying.

At the moment of the consecration at Mass all of this occurs. The offering of the people joined to the offering of the priest, who, acting in persona Christi offers the Son to the Father through the love of the Holy Spirit. In reality, the Passion, death and Resurrection of our Lord are made re-present on the altar and in the chalice. That is why I—as a seminarian—ought to value the sacrifice of the Mass and the offering of the chalice to the Lord. That is also why we all need to pray for seminarians and priests around the world, that their hearts might be open to the glorious mysteries God intends to lavish upon his Church.

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    # by tara - January 30, 2008 at 4:59 PM

    What a beautiful Chalice! Nothing is to good for our Lord! Today at Mass it was snowing outside, so we had very few participants. Father did not have a Eucharist minister for the Precious Blood--I was so happy when he did not ask me, because I feel so unworthy to distribute our Lord--my hands shake--now I'm an usher. How amazing that our Lord continues to give us Himself in the very same sacrifice for more than 2000 years--now that's multiplication!

    Oh, and BTW I'm praying for you!

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    # by Jennifer - February 1, 2008 at 10:00 AM

    You have raised some very good concerns and thoughts which I often take for granted. You have given me something to ponder throughout the day.

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    # by Anonymous - February 2, 2008 at 8:58 AM

    One thing that disturbs me is that,if I go to a TLM, I won't be able to receive the Precious Blood. I have read zero commentary on this from TLM enthusiasts. I know the Lord is just as present in the host as in the wine but receiving both species makes a big difference to me.

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    # by Andrew Haines - February 2, 2008 at 10:21 AM

    I'm not sure how to articulate the position of those strictly in favor of the "extraordinary form" (Tridentine) Mass and nothing else; I am not one. However, in light of the patristic teaching of the Church (i.e. writings from early popes and Fathers), I can provide a bit of a commentary on your question.

    Ever since the earliest days of the Catholic faith, the duty and right of even touching the sacred vessels was reserved to the priest alone. This tradition can be traced even to the year 115 AD, when Pope St. Sixtus I forbade the faithful to touch the vessels, and in 280 AD when Pope St. Eutycbian forbade communion to be received in the hand. John Paul II reiterates this same idea in Dominicae Cenae, where he says: "To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained."

    Although neither of these specifically deals with your question of reception from the chalice, I would be lead to believe that not touching the vessels also implies not receiving from the chalice. If so, then it also seems that receiving the Lord under the species of bread alone is quite an ancient and pious practice--even more so than our devotion to receiving him under both species. This isn't to say that it's not good to have a love for our Lord in the Precious Blood (since even you said it is not a matter of belief, but of affection). However, in the extraordinary form of the Mass the more ancient practice of receiving under the form of bread alone is preserved (and was presumably done by Pope Pius V for reasons very much stemming from similar patristic study).

    So, although you are right--you can't receive under the species of wine--think of it rather as growing in appreciation of the ancient roots of the liturgy. Perhaps that will make it even to see the connection between 2008 and 38 AD; that is ultimately the goal of liturgy: to unite all ages into the one heavenly age in glorious praise of our God.

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    # by noahcarter - February 7, 2008 at 2:07 PM

    Andrew,

    This is an excellent article on the Sacrifice of the Mass. Keep up the good work. You're gonna make one heck of a priest in a few years! I'll keep reading if you keep educating!

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    # by Meri Beth - March 31, 2009 at 2:17 PM

    read john 1:51
    pray to be Nathaniel ..a man that opens his hand and serves
    Job...last chapter....dominus est...was good enough

    gal.2:20