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.
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?