When is a calix not a chalice?

Jerry Galipeau, at his blog Gotta Sing, Gotta Pray, points out the interesting anomaly that in the new translation the consecration of the cup — hic est enim calix Sanguinis mei — is translated, “for this is the chalice of my Blood” while the memorial acclamation beginning Quotiescumque manducamus panem hunc et calicem bibimus. . . is translated as, “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup. . .”

It is interesting to wonder how this is squared with Liturgiam Authenticam no. 50d: “In translating important words, due constancy is to be observed throughout the various parts of the Liturgy.” This would seem to say that, all other things being equal, the same English word should always be used to translate the same Latin word. Is there something about the memorial acclamation that calls for a different translation? Is it the near-quotation of scripture that makes the difference (see LA no. 49)?

It is also interesting to ask what light the discrepancy between the consecration and the memorial acclamation sheds on how we read LA no. 50c: “One should maintain the vocabulary that has gradually developed in a given vernacular language to distinguish the individual liturgical ministers, vessels, furnishings, and vesture from similar persons or things pertaining to everyday life and usage; words that lack such a sacral character are not to be used instead.” Is “cup” a term for a “thing pertaining to everyday usage” while “chalice” is a word with a “sacral character”? If so, why is cup acceptable in one case but not the other? Is it because the words of the consecration should be more “sacral” than those of the memorial acclamation? Of maybe the answer is as mundane as one person translating the Eucharistic Prayer and another person translating the memorial acclamation.

Maybe its because I have a stack of papers to grade, but these are the sorts of questions toward which my mind keeps wandering.

66 comments

  1. In a similar vein, why do the Apostles’ Creed and Eucharistic Prayers II and IV retain “born of the Virgin,” or “born of the Virgin Mary,” while the Nicene-Constantinople Creed is now “incarnate of the Virgin Mary”?

    1. Because the Apostles’ Creed, EP II, and EP IV use the Latin word “natus” (or a variant thereof), not “incarnatus”. Different words (unlike “calix” used in the EPs as well as the acclamation), different meanings.

  2. Now, Russ, don’t ignore the entirety of the phrase:

    “…incarnate by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin.” (EP II)

    and

    “Made incarnate by the Holy Spirit
    and born of the Virgin Mary,” (EP IV).

  3. Perhaps this is in anticipation that in the future priests will drink from the Chalice and laity will drink from the Cup?

  4. If one has the chance to visit Greco-Roman collections of household items in museums — or even reads books about the history of these items, there is no drinking vessel which resembles what most people think of immediately when the word ‘chalice’ is mentioned. The general drinking cup called ‘calix’ can be made with expensive materials, but it does not resemble a ‘chalice’ — nor does any example extant, or any ancient illustration of the ‘solemn cup’ used for the Passover seder resemble what in the Western Church referred to as a ‘chalice’. “Cup” or maybe “Drinking Cup” would more accurately describe what is referred to in Scripture as used at the Last Supper and Passover Meals at Jesus’ time on this earth. To use “chalice” for “calix” is a classical example of what students of a new language are warned against: ‘Beware of false friends’ that is, words that look cognate but are not.

    1. Of course you are right, but welcome to the bizarre new world of Catholic liturgical translation where antique and orthodox-sounding language appears to trump all other considerations, whether they be pastoral, logical, biblical, historical or aesthetic.

      The result is the historical absudity that you point out and that Sebastian Moore calls an “unconscious vulgarity” in his recent letter to The Tablet.

    2. Calix, to a Roman, would have signaled a more or less large ceremonial drining cup, usually with handles and on a pedestal or stem, that was passed around by the host on ceremonial ocassions – such as the Last Supper in the upper room.
      When, however, we speak of cup in the acclamation we are indulging in a license of sorts – we sing ‘cup’ in recognition that, here, the chalice is conceived of as a more intimate ‘cup’ though it is, in fact, a chalice – this is literary license. Whoever wrote the Latin and Greek calix knew that he was speaking of a more or less impressive ceremonial bowl or drinking vessel…. The same that we employ and drink from at the Supper of the Lamb!

      1. A chalice used at the Last Supper? Really?

        Can you credibly substantiate your assertion that “a large ceremonial drinking cup usually with handles and on a pedestal or stem” was used at the Passover meal in a borrowed room, presided over by an itinerant carpenter, who owned nothing, and his friends, most of whom were peasants?

        Or could this be another example of uncritical, ahistorical, retrofitted revisionism that blights Catholic intellectual life these days?

      2. Graham

        Reading poverty into the furnishings of the Last Supper is no less an interpretation than reading splendor of some sort into it. The room was furnished, we know that the group had patrons and money, and Jews of even humble sorts saved for fine furnishings for the ceremonial meals of what we might call the “domestic church”. The texts and contexts do not dictate which interpretation is more correct. So let’s agree that assumptions in either direction are simply that: assumptions, not facts.

      3. I understand that for the Passover, Jews in the Lord’s time generally preferred stone drinking cups – or chalices, if you prefer. If we see one today, you might well call it a “chalice”.

        As for Jesus being a carpenter – are you sure? The Greek word thus translated can as easily mean a mason. If he was trained as a carpenter, it’s surprising that metaphors from carpentry are rare in his sayings, yet those from building and stone are common. He was a skilled worker, and he could read and (probably) write. And some of his followers could turn up with things like jars of precious ointment to pour over his feet. No-one says he OWNED the chalice used – since he took care to tell his disciples to prepare the passover, they may well have borrowed a ceremonial stone vessel with handles and a pedestal – ie a chalice – for the occasion.

        So we cannot say for sure what was used, but I suspect that it was more likely “special” rather than “ordinary”, put it that way.

      4. No Karl

        I disagree. I am not reading poverty but simplicity into the accoutrements, given everything I know about Jesus of Nazareth.

        A chalice is a post-Resurrection ornate, ecclesiastical goblet, which cannot possibly have been used.

  5. There is a reason why ‘calicem’ is not translated ‘chalice’ in the Acclamation. ‘Cup’ can mean ‘draught’, as in the sentence, ‘Father was so fatigued after Mass that he drank two cups of tea with his digestive biscuit’. In other words, it’s the ‘container for the thing contained’. (James Thurber famously drew attention to its opposite, ‘the thing contained for the container’: ‘Get away from me or I’ll hit you with the milk.’) ‘Chalice’ is never used in that way; you can’t drink a chalice.

    1. Interesting analysis. Maybe you’re right, though I have heard people say things like, “there were two chalices left over,” referring to the contents, not the container (presumably all the chalices are left over after Mass, unless someone absconds with them).

    2. “…you can’t drink a chalice.” Are you sure? You could in 1654, when the Anglican Jeremy Taylor wrote in “The Real Pressence” (31): “It is‥as necessary to drink the chalice as to eat the bread, and we perish if we omit either….” (Not that I share his doctrine, of course…”)

  6. Just a relevant personal anecdote:

    In nearly two years of attending numerous classes and workshops of various shapes and sizes, as well as doing as much reading as I can make time for trying to get prepared to help my community through this momentous transition to the new translation, I had not noticed this particular anomalous wrinkle. But when I was in London in August and was thrust into my first actual experience of trying to pray with the new Missal in a communal setting, the disconnect between hearing “chalice” in the Institution Narrative followed seconds later by saying “Cup” in acclaiming the Mystery of Faith was so jarring (so why do we drink “this Cup” if Jesus poured out the Chalice of His Blood — is that doing the same action he commanded or not?), it completely distracted me from “many” vs. “all”!

    It took me completely out of the prayer (in fact, I was still so distracted, I blew the “I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof …” response!) … and though there aren’t many assembly members who would wander down lanes of thought about what kind of deviation from the rules in Liturgium Authenticam it constituted to use such different words to translate the same “calix” in the space of a line and a half, I think the fact that I found it so jarring is significant. If we want to continue fostering people participating fully, consciously, actively, we want them listening hard and praying along — but here’s a concrete case where listening hard revealed only a disconnect, not connection.

    And I fear that come November 27, such jarring experiences are going to come in droves.

    1. Being a Brit living in the UK, I have been subjected to these jarring experiences every week for a month and a half. I find “chalice” individually jarring because of what the word means, in English, and Jesus would not have held a jewel-encrusted golden cup, regardless of what “calix” meant in the 1st century.

      In addition, the bit about having a leaky roof upsets me every time. Anyone claiming that these new words are “vernacular” has no idea what vernacular means. They are so alien to English usage that I am bounced out of prayer at exactly the time I need to be throwing my whole self (not just my soul, thank you very much) on God’s mercy.

      No amount of catechesis is going to convince me that English vernacular usage includes “that you should enter under my roof”. I’ve been speaking the language for 34 years give-or-take, and I’ve never encountered that phrase before.

      1. One of the priests that I’ve met through the years has a chalice made from wood. He said that it was given to him by his parents at his ordination. While they wanted to get him a cup made with gold, or even lined with gold, this priest said he wanted a cup of wood, because that is the type of cup that Jesus would have used.

      2. the bit about having a leaky roof upsets me every time. Anyone claiming that these new words are “vernacular” has no idea what vernacular means.

        In American English we use “under my roof” to mean “in my home” all the time, as when a father, asked by his adult daughter if she and her boyfriend can sleep in the same room while visiting, would say, “not under my roof.”

      3. +1 to Fritz’s attestation about American usage of that phrase. I am 50, and heard it many, many times in my family (nuclear and extended) and friend’s family and now my own peers, and not only in the specific context Fritz cites. It’s very much alive as an idiomatic expression.

  7. One interesting difference occurs between the terminology of the consecration, with the repetition of the word “chalice” and the second (new version numbering) acclamation immediately after the consecration – the “mystery of faith.” This is currently expressed:

    When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup
    We proclaim your death, O lord,
    Until you come again.

  8. Graham Wilson :

    A chalice used at the Last Supper? Really?
    Can you credibly substantiate your assertion that “a large ceremonial drinking cup usually with handles and on a pedestal or stem” was used at the Passover meal in a borrowed room, presided over by an itinerant carpenter, who owned nothing, and his friends, most of whom were peasants?
    Or could this be another example of uncritical, ahistorical, retrofitted revisionism that blights Catholic intellectual life these days?

    Hear, Hear!!

    My belief is that the cup used at the last supper was probably very plain, maybe made of wood because, He was a carpenter, it would have been light to transport, and it would not have been anything ornate or made of any precious materials.

    The romanticized visions of how the events in Jesus’ life took place are not reflections of what reality would have been. We talk about Jesus being born in a stable and being laid in a manger – a trough that animals eat from. We see Christmas cards with these beautiful scenes, but the reality is that Joseph and Mary would have been very unhappy at those conditions. In modern terms it would be like saying Jesus was born in a garage and He slept on some blankets in a rubbish bin. That’s the reality.

    Similarly,His cup would have been a plain cup, because despite being God, He was also man, and a poor man at that, living in a country that was occupied by a foreign power.

    1. What do you make of Karl’s remark above? (I’ve said similar things before.)

      You’ve said that the cup used (in your belief) was probably plain, maybe wood. These are your non-romanticized visions, but as Karl says, “Reading poverty into the furnishings of the Last Supper is no less an interpretation than reading splendor of some sort into it.”

      1. If I had to choose whether the cup Jesus used was more likely to be a cup of poverty versus a cup of splendor, I would lean toward poverty.

        Plus, who says that just because a cup of gold is considered splendor, that a cup made out of wood is poverty?

  9. The difference being that expert research into the times of Jesus, Palestine, and the conditions of a Palestinian man would point to an interpretation that the Last Supper and Seder meals in general were not marked by “chalices” but by cups.

  10. These historical efforts to reconstruct what sort of cup/chalice Jesus used are highly interesting. However, we don’t settle the question of translating calix, or what kind of cup/chalice we should use today, on purely historical grounds. A wider range of concerns come into play – theological, sacramental, pastoral, inculturationist, and so forth.

    The Mass is not a dramatic/theatrical imitation of what Jesus and the apostles did – it is a liturgical and sacramental celebration of Christians today. That’s why we aren’t obligated to dress like 1st century Palestinians, or wear sandals like those Jesus perhaps wore, or recline at a table, or speak Aramaic.

    History is interesting, but not decisive.

    awr

    1. Yes I agree, but Anthony, the words are

      “When supper was ended Jesus TOOK THIS PRECIOUS CHALICE into his … hands”

      We are remembering what happened – the story. The words convey the meaning that the historical Jesus used our modern-day ecclesiastical goblet. Just wrong and silly, and at the heart of the Eucharistic Prayer too. If words don’t mean what they mean – the Mass becomes a mockery of itself.

      1. I had started a comment about that phrase from the Canon, but wasn’t sure it was relevant. Here it is; it’s simply a collection of quotes from the commentaries I’ve read on the Canon addressing this issue of hunc praeclarum calicem.

        N. Gihr: The Saviour took “this excellent chalice”, that is, evidently not the very chalice of the celebrant, but a chalice of like contents and of similar destination as the chalice which is before the eyes of the priest and which he holds in his hands. The identity existing between the chalice used at the Last Supper and the chalice on the altar, therefore, principally refers to the sacrificial matter therein contained, which is and must be everywhere specifically, that is, essentially the same. This identity is perfect, that is, numerically so, only after the Consecration; then there is here as there altogether the same Blood in both chalices.

        A. Fortescue: “Hunc præclarum calicem”, a dramatic identification of the Mass with the Last Supper.

        A. Fortescue: I take it that the dramatic identification of the chalice we actually hold with the one our Lord held is a sign of Roman insistence on the words of Institution as the consecrating form. This makes it impossible to understand the text as merely a historic statement, in the way demanded by the Orthodox rubric at this point.

        H.R. Williamson: It is as if, at that moment, the identification of every Mass with the Last Supper is insisted on “in the matter of that Supper, of Calvary and of Mass, time vanishes and the Action is one and the selfsame throughout.” This indeed must be the symbolic construction put on the words to-day. It may be for that purpose that the words were inserted into the narrative.

        J. Jungmann: He takes the excellent chalice, this excellent chalice – implying that Christ takes this chalice.

      2. Jeffrey

        I appreciate the connectedness of the now to the past to the always conveyed in theological “this”, but the problem is convoluted, invented language – “chalice” – which implies a thing that was never true.

        Or is the Mass one “massive” gloss that always needs interpretation and explanation because the words are not what they appear? If so, we fail miserably to communicate the message because we are so preoccupied with the hidden message.

  11. Apart from theological and biblical accuracy concerning translations of Latin into English, the greater concern that many have had since the reforms of the Liturgy is that so many clergy and laity want a “literal” celebration of the Mass as Jesus did it at the Last Supper or how the early Church did it immediately after the resurrection and ascension or in the catacombs. I think this literalism in word and gestures is really just another aspect of “fundamentalism” which the Liturgy as celebrated today should avoid although its current format tends to make its visual celebration look during the Liturgy of the Eucharist as a literal reenactment of the Last Supper. It is not a literal reenactment of that or the Sacrifice of the Cross–it is a liturgical and thus symbolic reenactment and obviously takes great liberties with that over the course of centuries.

    1. And, for fuller context, that fundamentalism is a mirror of a fundamentalism of a different sort that formerly obtained (and that some are keen revive; I am not speaking of the Pope here, just to be clear). Fundamentalisms of opposing kinds tend to feed each other.

  12. I think too that many are missing the “banquet or supper” aspect of the reformed Mass and a new rubric that came with the reformed GIRM in 2002. When the priest says “Behold the Lamb of God…” he may hold only the host over the paten or the newer rubric allows holding the Host over the Chalice (Cup for those who understand the biblical meaning of such) which thus shows symbolically what the laity will receive if they are allowed the chalice, (or cup) at their Communion. Literalism at this point of the Mass is good.

  13. As I see it, this is all about what makes the calix precious. Is it an extraordinary vessel suited to a sacred use or an ordinary vessel made precious by its contents?

    I prefer the latter and would use ‘cup’ to better signify God’s transforming power. Nothing we make or do is precious enough. Every effort to make wood or stone or metal more suitable is futile. Which is not to say it is inappropriate to use the finest art and materials, but that those should not distract from the truly precious artistry of God in giving us the body and blood of Jesus.

  14. First time chiming in on PT.

    Check out Barry Craig’s paper in July 2007 issue of Worship: “Potency, Not Preciousness: Cyprian’s Cup and a Modern Controversy.” His thesis includes connecting “praeclarum calicem” of the Roman Canon to the LXX version of psalm 22(23):5 where the overflowing cup to which we are accustomed in the Hebrew Psalter, is instead an inebriating cup (“poterion methyskon”). This is related, if I’m understanding Craig correctly, to the desire of the composer of the Canon to clarify that the cup in fact contains wine/water and not only water (as was the practice in some churches). The meaning of the phrase has nothing to do with quality of the cup itself, nor does praeclarum mean “precious,” but rather “potent” or “inebriating.”

    To ice the proverbial cake, the Communion Antiphon in the Roman Missal for 2nd Sunday of Ord. Time, which quotes Ps. 22(23):5 from the LXX is now translated as “precious chalice” as well, rather than “potent cup,” despite there being no tradition of that meaning in the context of the psalm itself. A misstranslation of a liturgical text has apparently provided a model for a mistranslation of scripture, rather than a supportable interpretation of scripture informing a translation of a liturgical text!

    1. Thank you D.M. for these insights from erudition. It provides a whole new context for this conversation. Please revisit PT!

    2. His thesis includes connecting “praeclarum calicem” of the Roman Canon to the LXX version of psalm 22(23):5 where the overflowing cup to which we are accustomed in the Hebrew Psalter, is instead an inebriating cup (”poterion methyskon”). […] nor does praeclarum mean “precious,” but rather “potent” or “inebriating.”

      David, the Greek text in question is “τὸ ποτήριόν σου μεθύσκον ὡς κράτιστον” (to poterion sou methyskon os kratiston) and the corresponding Latin is “calix meus inebrians quam praeclarus est”.

      To compare “praeclarus” with “methyskon” is to compare the wrong two words. The Latin matches the Greek sufficiently: “inebrians” (intoxicating) = “methyskos” (intoxicating; also, befuddling!), and “praeclarus” (splendid, distinguished) = “kratiston” (most excellent).

      The Latin and the Greek express the same two points: the potency of the beverage and the quality of the vessel (on its own merits or on account of what it contains).

      Oh, and if anyone was curious, Cyprian’s Letter 62 addresses the proper contents of the eucharistic cup (both wine and water, not either alone). He also provides some theological commentary on why both are proper, providing thereby one interpretation (of many) for the “by the mystery of this water and wine…” prayer.

      1. Jeffrey, I stand corrected on μεθύσκον/κράτιστον. Yet I think Barry Craig’s point is that in Cyprian’s insisting on the use of wine for the Eucharist he cites Ps. 22(23):5 (in the Vetus Latina version that he knew, based in the LXX,: ‘calix tuus inebrians perquam optimus’) and thereby demonstrates that he understood calix to refer to the contents of the cup, not the cup itself.

        In turn Craig proposes that, since according to the phrasing of the LXX, ‘optimus/praeclara’ qualifies ‘inebrians,’ and since the pertinent phrase of the Canon arose in the same Patristic milieu that considered the calix of Ps. 22(23):5 a type of the “sober inebriation” of the Eucharist, the ‘praeclarum’ of our liturgy must again refer to the contents of the cup, not the cup itself. Craig states that ‘praeclarus’ is rarely translated as precious, but more often “splendid, famous, illustrious or noble.” In ancient medical works it may mean ‘efficacious’ or ‘potent.’

        In the end, and continuing to presume to speak for him, Craig’s conclusion is that the 5th cent. editor of the Canon who inserted ‘praeclarum,’ thought of calix as referring to the contents of the cup and that ‘praeclarum,’ as a reference to the LXX tradition of Ps. 22, meant powerful/potent in terms of “sober inebriation.” ‘Precious chalice’ is therefore out of the question as a translation, but something on the order of ‘potent cup’ is what is meant.

      2. David, that makes very good sense to me. I wonder why “precious” was chosen for “praeclarus”. I’ve seen “goodly” used (in the Douay Rheims, and in some non-liturgical English translations of the Canon), which — although it might sound peculiar to our ears — makes me think of the contents more than the container.

  15. While it is difficult to know what kind of vessel Jesus might have used at the last supper, it probably is a good guess that it was not his vessel, nor perhaps even his choice. On the night of the Last Supper, as during much of his public ministry, he appears to have been dependent upon others to provide for his physical necessities. The big choices were obviously his: when, where, and with whom. But the willingness to live in physical poverty and dependence upon others was an important aspect of his life, something to be considered in the liturgy.

    In his recent address to German laity, B16 brought up the matter of the Church’s detachment from the world, even in its relationship to the liturgy
    http://www.zenit.org/article-33525?l=english

    Secularizing trends — whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like — have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she has set aside her worldly wealth and has once again completely embraced her worldly poverty. In this the Church has shared the destiny of the tribe of Levi, which according to the Old Testament account was the only tribe in Israel with no ancestral land of its own, taking as its portion only God himself, his word and his signs

    History has shown that, when the Church becomes less worldly, her missionary witness shines more brightly. Once liberated from her material and political burdens, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world. She can live more freely her vocation to the ministry of divine worship and service of neighbor. The missionary task, which is linked to Christian worship and should determine its structure, becomes more clearly visible

    For me, cup represents Christ and a Church which is poor and unworldly, free and willing to do God’s will and serve others.

  16. [from Jeffrey Pinyan above, currently at #32:] “H.R. Williamson: It is as if, at that moment, the identification of every Mass with the Last Supper is insisted on “in the matter of that Supper, of Calvary and of Mass, time vanishes and the Action is one and the selfsame throughout.” This indeed must be the symbolic construction put on the words to-day. It may be for that purpose that the words were inserted into the narrative.

    J. Jungmann: He takes the excellent chalice, this excellent chalice – implying that Christ takes this chalice.”

    I am afraid that both of these quoted commentaries seem to me to make the direction of the anamnesis
    go the wrong way round — as if the “precious chalice” on our altar is being teleported back into Jesus’ hands, rather than the work of the Holy Spirit in response to our prayer making the whole of Our Lord’s Paschal Mystery present again in our midst.

    And I think there is another inconsistency with LA apparent here (though perhaps it is an internal inconsistency in LA itself — in making the Latin trump the translated Greek of scripture). Isn’t it claimed to be a great advantage of the new translation that it shows forth more plainly the many scriptural roots of the Mass texts? Yet here the connection is obscured rather than revealed.

    In the Palm Sunday Passion, and again in the Gospel we will hear on the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Mark has Jesus “take a cup.” In the account from Paul read every Holy Thursday, “cup” is used three times. On the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time next year, we’ll hear Jesus ask his disciples, “Can you drink the cup I drink?” — a provocative challenge to us as well! But all the echoes of those passages we used to hear in every Mass with every Eucharistic Prayer will have disappeared.

    And there is nothing precious about that sad fact.

  17. Martin Wallace OP :
    I understand that for the Passover, Jews in the Lord’s time generally preferred stone drinking cups – or chalices, if you prefer. If we see one today, you might well call it a “chalice”.
    As for Jesus being a carpenter – are you sure? The Greek word thus translated can as easily mean a mason. If he was trained as a carpenter, it’s surprising that metaphors from carpentry are rare in his sayings, yet those from building and stone are common. He was a skilled worker, and he could read and (probably) write. And some of his followers could turn up with things like jars of precious ointment to pour over his feet. No-one says he OWNED the chalice used – since he took care to tell his disciples to prepare the passover, they may well have borrowed a ceremonial stone vessel with handles and a pedestal – ie a chalice – for the occasion.
    So we cannot say for sure what was used, but I suspect that it was more likely “special” rather than “ordinary”, put it that way.

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Quite perceptive reasoning! References the fact that they had fine ointment which Jesus thought fitting to be poured over his feet, the fact that they had money (Judas, I believe, was the keeper of the money), they had rich friends and poor, and……. It would be a little presumptuous to propose that the last supper was less than a fairly decent, respectable banquet celebrated by the devout Master and his disciples. Probably something more akin to a chalice was used rather than mere cup. (Continued below —

  18. Whatever the realities of the upper room were, it is not unimportant that we have a worshipful disposition concerning them. It is fitting that we glorify them in every way that we can, that we enshrine them as costly vessels and vestments, smells and music. Not because our humble Lord needs or demands this but because we need to think it appropriate to do him this service, to give him worthship in this special way.

    One of the reformation grievances against Catholic excess was to diatribe that Christ had not ordained the Sacrament to be lifted up and carried about and bowed and scraped to. Well, it’s true. He didn’t. But, we do of our own inclination, showing it extreme reverence and honour by carrying it about in processions and lifting it up high in Benedictions. He gave it to us, and this is how grateful and appreciative we are to do it this signal honour. Thus is a gold chalice at least as appropriate as the wooden cup which another might reverently use. It is fitting that we exalt the Lord highly with fitting language, art, music, architecture, demeanor, all this wholeness of liturgy offered with a true and contrite heart. As the psalmist saith: O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

  19. There are many well furnished and appointed churches which are truly the work of the poor; their gold chalices are still the cup of the poor, their acknowledgement that God alone is enough.

    However there are many well furnished and appointed churches that are the work of the wealthy, whose golden chalices proclaim the wealth and domination of elites. As B16 said so eloquently in Germany, these churches and the entanglement of the clergy with the rich and powerful have often constituted an obstacle to the Gospel and care of those most in need.

    Jesus was not against wealth or the wealthy. He invited the rich young man to sell all he had and follow him. But he recognized that the widow’s mite was worth more than all the gifts of the wealthy.

    I don’t think Judas was an anomaly. The case could be made that his betrayal of the Gospel for money has been repeated again and again in the history of Christianity, most recently in the case of Father Maciel, that great modern clerical fundraiser and keeper of the purse who pulled the wool over the eyes of so many.

    Money, e.g. gold and jewels, has no absolute value. It’s only worth is that it distinguishes between the haves and those who do not have. It is intrinsically connected to social status and power. If gold and jewels became as abundant as clay and glass over night, they would no longer distinguish among people and we would likely cease to make gold and jeweled chalices. Some other rare elements would probably take their place.

    The Gospel challenges the world’s values of wealth, status, and power. Gold and jeweled chalices do a poor job of proclaiming the Gospel.

  20. Graham Wilson has it right in post http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2011/10/17/when-is-a-calix-not-a-chalice/#comment-87872.

    “Chalice” is nothing more than a mistranslation of the Latin calix. In today’s post-mediaeval usage, calix is a mediaeval, ornate, bejewelled, gilded vessel. However, the fact is that calix originates in the word used for the cup of a flower on top of the stem of a plant. This is a clear indication that calix is distinct from poculum, which means a domestic drinking cup, probably a high-sided bowl without a handle.

    It is the stem which differentiates this word from a cup which has no stem. Calix, properly translated, actually means a stemmed drinking vessel. Now there is a perfectly good word for that in English, as Graham has already mentioned: it is “goblet”.

    Received wisdom tells us that the translators did indeed look at this possibility but discarded it. The reason they did so is almost laughable: they thought that “goblet” would convey connotations of Harry Potter….. If they are correct, then the only alternative that does not convey either the gilded mediaeval image of chalice or the Harry Potter-ism of goblet is “cup”, as in the acclamation.

    1. There’s another word in English that means “A drinking-cup or goblet,” albeit “(Now only in poetic or elevated language.)”. (OED)

      It’s “chalice”. I don’t see why liturgy automatically rules out “poetic or elevated” usage.

      Examples of its use outside the Catholic sense of chalice would include the Unitarian symbol of the flaming chalice.

      1. SJH: “I don’t see why liturgy automatically rules out ‘poetic or elevated’ usage.”

        AWR: I suspect the reason, unfortunately, is that the Catholic Church is highly polarized, and the authorities have managed to lower their credibility and break down mutual trust (by new rules of secrecy and lack of transparency and consultation by-invitation-only), so that even the good things done by authorities are inevitably seen in the worst possible light by critics.

        Please note two things in my analysis:
        1. Some of the things the authorities do are good.
        2. That the authorities lack credibility is largely their own doing.

        awr

      2. I think Fr. Anthony’s comment about polarization and secrecy by church authorities have caused a general feeling that any and all changes to be viewed negatively.

        Just look at the world of politics where one party can present a few that is profoundly similar to a view held by an opposing party. That view gets dismissed out of hand by the side that used to support it, for no other reason that it is now supported by the opposition.

        So while the church may be presenting some reasonable or even worthwhile ideas, they are now being rejected because of the way that the men at the top have behaved (and I”m not using “men” generically)

        People will say that the church is not a democracy or a republic. Yes, just because the majority believe something to be true or correct doesn’t make it true or correct.

        But just because it’s not a democracy doesn’t mean that an oligarchy or, should I say even say, a dictatorship, is any better. Just because the oligarchists or dictators claim that something is true or correct, doesn’t mean that it is true or correct, either. It’s just that the oligarchy or dictatorship usually has a means to silence or render the opposition’s opinion to be meaningless.

  21. I would like to argue that elevated usage in liturgical language rules itself out because
    (a) it does not reflect reality (and in this particular case it only reflects an ideological agenda), and
    (b) no one takes it seriously because it is artificial and insincere.

    To put it very crudely, poncing around does not befit language to be used for the worship of God.

    1. “artificial and insincere”

      Yes, Paul

      That’s exactly what I think is wrong with the “Uriah Heep” style of the new translation. The artificiality introduces the “Problem of Separation and Alienation” that Dr. Dennis L. O’Connor of Arlington, VA characterises far better that I can:

      “The language is demeaning to the People of God insofar as it is re-instates a rigid separation between God and the people. It is archaic, inflated, pompous, offensively hierarchical, and officious: in short, the language and thought are clerical in the worst sense of the word. The proposed translation sounds regressive and servile as though we were slaves terrified of being slaughtered. Yet precisely because we are God’s beloved children, our liturgical address should surely express our healthy intimacy and complete acceptance in God’s love rather than indicate a pervasive sense of anxious self-abasement and cringing desire to placate a wrathful, all-powerful God.”

      Link

  22. I’m not surprised.
    Haven’t you seen it coming?
    I don’t think I’ve ever been to a church where the laity drink from the priests’ chalice? However, in every church in the past 25 years the laity have received from plain “communion cups” whereas the priest at the altar drinks from an adorned “chalice”.
    I really don’t care what vessel I receive the consecrated wine in but there has been something about this practice (adorned chalice for priest/deacon and an unadorned plain communion cup for laity) that seems to project the impression that the laity are “less” worthy to receive from a chalice.
    And now we have the exact same thing in the new translation, chalice for the priest, cup for the laity in the memorial acclamation.
    I am just not surprised.

  23. All my life in the Episcopal church, I have received the holy communmion under the form of wine from the one chalice that was used in the Consecration and that the priest drank from.

    Simple. Eloquent.

    Mark MIller

  24. I know this is private revelation and therefore does not require belief, but according to the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, the chalice was indeed very intricate.

  25. I have been dealing over the past couple of days with an insurance claims adjuster. When we spoke on the phone, I heard her first name as “Tallis.” Today I actually met her. When she gave me her card, I saw that her first name was not Tallis but Chalice. No doubt when she was a child her parents called her “precious Chalice.” Much nicer than Cup.

  26. Having just returned from a trip to Rome, I noticed on several restaurant menus that wine was available by the bottle or by the “calice.” Perhaps the anonymous translator’s first language is Italian and it never occurred to him that it is not American or British practice to ask one’s waiter for a chalice of nice cabernet.

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