RDCA VII: Blessing of a Chalice and Paten

The final chapter of the RDCA (Dedication of a Church and Altar) provides for the blessing of the vessels used in the celebration and distribution of the Eucharist. First, a brief introduction:

1. The chalice and paten for offering, consecrating, and receiving the bread and wine have as their sole and permanent purpose the celebration of the eucharist and are therefore ‘sacred vessels.’

2. The intention to devote these vessels entirely to the celebration of the eucharist is expressed in the presence of the community through a special blessing, which is preferably to be imparted within Mass.

3. Any priest may bless a chalice and paten, provided they have been made in conformity with the norms given in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal nos. 290-295.

4. If only a chalice or only a paten is to be blessed, the text should be modified accordingly.

There’s not much to delve deeply into the rite itself. The celebration of the Eucharist is preferred above a word service. If the Mass of the day (5) falls in section III, numbers 10-13 on the Table of Liturgical Days, there are some readings which may be inserted into the Liturgy of the Word (6-8): 1 Cor 10:14-22a or 1 Cor 11:23-26; Psalm 16 or 23 (antiphons referring to “cup”); Matthew 20:20-28 (Jesus challenging the disciples: can they drink the cup) or Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 (Last Supper).

The homily (9) and general intercessions (10) follow, then the vessels are brought to the altar and placed there by ministers or members of the community. This antiphon may be sung:

I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.

No psalm is given here; this procession is not imagined to be very long. The blessing prayer (11) follows, with a response “Blessed be God for ever” instead of an Amen. The preparation of the altar and gifts proceeds as usual (12). A slightly altered antiphon is given:

I will take the cup of salvation and offer a sacrifice of praise (alleluia).

This time, with Psalm 116:10-19. The gifts and altar may be incensed (13). An interesting rubric is given:

14. If the circumstances of the celebration permit, it is appropriate that the congregation should receive the blood of Christ from the newly blessed chalice.

The wording here is interesting: that the assembly “should” receive.

I’m aware of the tradition of clergy having their own chalice. This blessing rite seems to locate “possession” with the local community. How can and does that harmonize with traditional practices of the clergy having the chalice reserved to themselves?

The blessing outside of Mass (15-23) is not terribly remarkable. The general intercessions take place after the blessing of the vessels. A sample set of intercessions are provided here, but not for the Mass. That was slightly curious. Not very different from the official form in the 1977/78 rite, here is the 2003 ICEL draft:

Let us humbly make our prayer to the Lord Jesus,
who continues to give himself over to the Church
as the bread of life and cup of salvation, by saying

R. Christ, the bread of heaven, give us eternal life.

Savior of us all,
who obeyed the will of the Father
and drank the cup of suffering for our salvation,
grant that we may be made worthy
to share in the mystery of your death
and to reach the kingdom of heaven. R.

Priest of God Most High,
who are present yet hidden in the sacrament of the altar,
grant that we may discern by faith
what is concealed from our eyes. R.

Good Shepherd,
who gave yourself to your disciples as food and drink,
grant that we who are nourished by you
may be transformed into you. R.

Lamb of God,
who commanded your Church
to celebrate the paschal mystery
under the signs of bread and wine,
grant that the memorial of your passion and resurrection
may be for all the faithful
the summit and source of the spiritual life. R.

Son of God,
who wonderfully satisfy our hunger and thirst for you
by the bread of life and cup of salvation,
grant that we may draw from the mystery of the Eucharist
a love for you and for all people. R.

Two points here. First note they address Christ. And second, this style of petition is similar to what was composed in the funeral rites: a bit wordier than the usual brief petitions we hear on Sundays, and each petition more explicitly addressing God. What do you make of that?

This brings the RDCA to a close. Last comments, anyone?

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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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One Response to RDCA VII: Blessing of a Chalice and Paten

  1. As this brings to a close the RDCA, I thought it might be nice to comment on this rite as well as on the whole Rite in draft form.

    This rite was originally envisioned as the consecration of a chalice and paten, as the sacred vessels were anointed with chrism during the prayer of consecration. This hghlighted a distinction between blessing and consecration; the use of chrism.

    The history of the rite overall is a rather sorted one. The work was started in 1970 and came to fruition in 1973. After series of consultations it was ready in draft from in 1974. It was about to be promulgated in 1975 when the Congregation for Divine Worship was suppressed. It didn’t emerge until 1977, and then only parts of it. In 1981 the Order for the Coronation of an Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary was curiously released as a separate rite. In 1984, the remaining rites were issued in the Book of Blessings, with the exception of the Public Prayer after the Desecration of a Church, which has not been released to this day. If one takes a look at the Ceremonial of Bishops, one will curiously find that it follows the proposed order in the 1974 draft and not the changes in the 1984 Book of Blessings. There is a curious differing of certain rubrics, in particular the Blessing of Bells. The Public Prayer after the Desecration of a Church was to be included as an appendix in the Book of Blessings but was strangely removed when it was published in 1984. That rite and the 5th volume of the Liturgy of the Hours, remain the only outstanding rituals in the reformed rites. When the RDCA was published in 1977, there were a number of changes from the draft to the actual texts. Annibale Buigini notes that the introduction was mutilated in a clumsy manner. One addition was the Prayer of Dedication in the Dedication of a Church and the Dedication of the Altar. Originally, the rite returned to the earliest practice of letting the celebration of the Eucharist be the dedication of a church. However, it was felts that a prayer that gave voice to the action was in keeping the spirit of the rite and the tradition of the church going back to the fathers.

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