GIRM 327-331: Sacred Vessels

This portion is fairly similar to the 1975 GIRM. Many vessels for Communion are made of substances other than precious metals. My sense is that many Catholics perceive that other metals, glass, crystal, or ceramics avoid the appearance of being ostentacious. I’d say that judgment depends on the community, but a person would be hard pressed to prove it’s necessarily a sign of a lack of reverence.

327. Among the requisites for the celebration of Mass, the sacred vessels are held in special honor, and among these especially the chalice and paten, in which the bread and wine are offered and consecrated and from which they are consumed.

328. Sacred vessels should be made from precious metal. If they are made from metal that rusts or from a metal less precious than gold, they should generally be gilded on the inside.

329. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, sacred vessels may also be made from other solid materials which in the common estimation in each region are considered precious or noble, for example, ebony or other harder woods, provided that such materials are suitable for sacred use. In this case, preference is always to be given to materials that do not easily break or deteriorate. This applies to all vessels that are intended to hold the hosts, such as the paten, the ciborium, the pyx, the monstrance, and others of this kind.

330. As regards chalices and other vessels that are intended to serve as receptacles for the Blood of the Lord, they are to have a bowl of material that does not absorb liquids. The base, on the other hand, may be made of other solid and worthy materials.

331. For the Consecration of hosts, a large paten may fittingly be used, on which is placed the bread both for the Priest and the Deacon and also for the other ministers and for the faithful.

Thoughts?

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to GIRM 327-331: Sacred Vessels

  1. Liam says:

    The practical issue for chalices is that the interior material needs to be non-absorbent and non-reactive; gold historically worked well for this purpose (because it is also the most ductile metal, very thin layers were all that was necessary). Any material that can readily chip or shard should also be avoided for practical and pastoral reasons; we don’t need people getting cut while consuming, nor do we want to be picking shards from the floor materials.

  2. Todd says:

    Agreed. That practicality is a good consideration in a time when the awareness of the properties of metals is rather low. Most places I’ve served use brass to imitate gold. Personally, I’d rather use a “noble” pewter (as my current parish does) rather than “pretend gold.”

    • Liam says:

      I hope that’s lead-free pewter…

      • Todd says:

        lol; pewter is nearly all tin these days. The trace amounts are copper and other metals. I don’t think artisans use lead at all in crafting it for the purposes of consumption.

    • Liam says:

      Btw, here in New England, the favored local artisanal producer of “noble” unleaded craft glass is Simon Pearce, and you will likely find this particular classic Simon Pearce goblet lurking in many sacristies:

      http://www.simonpearce.com/product/essex+goblet.do

      That is very heavy-duty handblown glass. It does not chip or break easily. That said, I would not recommend furnishing a parish with glass chalices; for practical and pastoral reasons, it’s just not worth it to buy an argument over, as it were.

  3. Fr.C.Amirtha Raj says:

    I too agree. I fail to see what Christian value is promoted in requiring that sacred vessels should be of precious metals except coming close to the mammon! Of what metal was the cup Jesus used made of? Whatever used in the liturgy should be elevating the mind and promote values Jesus promoted like option for the poor.

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