I asked this in the Ask an Apologist forum but never got a reply…
I’m recently out of a nursing home, after almost 7 years, and am a double-amputee but I have found a ‘new’ home parish and it’s a great, but poor, parish.
The only thing that disturbs me about the liturgy is that a plain glass goblet is used for the cup. (The paten used is a regular dinner plate). I voiced my concern to the pastor in a letter but haven’t heard back from him (I haven’t seen him since last Sunday so I’ll see him this morning).
There are just so many documents that specifically prevent glass as being licit matter for the chalice - should I be disturbed or am I just making a big deal over nothing?
Prayers for you and your situation. I hope this finds you well.
From what you have described, it indeed sounds like there might be a lapse in liturgical rubrics here. Indeed, glass is not considered an appropriate material for the fashioning of sacred vessels.
From Redemptionis Sacramentum:
[117.] Sacred vessels for containing the Body and Blood of the Lord must be made in strict conformity with the norms of tradition and of the liturgical books.The Bishops’ Conferences have the faculty to decide whether it is appropriate, once their decisions have been given the recognitio by the Apostolic See, for sacred vessels to be made of other solid materials as well. It is strictly required, however, that such materials be truly noble in the common estimation within a given region,so that honour will be given to the Lord by their use, and all risk of diminishing the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species in the eyes of the faithful will be avoided. Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily. This norm is to be applied even as regards metals and other materials that easily rust or deteriorate.
The GIRM seems to give a little more leeway, but I do not see any cultural significance in the use of glass or its perception as “noble”, even before you take into account the fact that they are easily breakable.
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.
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.
It should be neither. It is thankful that you are aware of such things, but at the same time should not let it affect your prayer life. Similarly, while you should keep focused on God, one should not keep quiet and allow such transgressions of law to take place unchallenged. Therefore I thank you for taking up the responsibility of reminding the pastor on this.
Perhaps if he does not give a written reply, you could approach him politely after the mass and remind him regarding this. You can print copies of the above canons and bring them with you if you wish to present evidence to support your concerns if he demands it. In this way, one keeps the focus on loving obedience to the holy canon law, and not on a clash of egos.
Above all, be respectful and polite. I pray that you find success.
Thank you so much for your answer! As I say, I’m disabled and rely on a woman in my building for a ride to church on Sundays, but I’m going to give myself a little extra time this morning to talk to the pastor. I’ll post his reply here!
Straight up liturgical abuse. The diocese is required to provide enough to keep the roof from falling down. These are absolute bare minimum essentials. If they were in genuine need and if the priest had any sense of shame he could ask any other member of clergy and they would more than willingly help - at the very least by allowing them to borrow their own resources.
I would take this as a serious warning to the orthodoxy of the parish. If they don’t show the smallest bit of respect towards God in the Holy Eucharist they aren’t going to show respect for anything else.
If you know someone who sews, purchase a high quality white cotton queen-sized flat bed sheet and you can get lots of purificators and finger towels out of it. You could probably get a few corporals too. It’s easy to embroider a small red cross on them – Even on purchased ones the crosses are only a few stitches.
Corporal, purificators, sacred linens are all very easy to make. But I’d recommend the sacred linens are made from linen. Besides being the more classical approach, it’s much, much more absorbent. If someone were to spill the Precious Blood, a good linen corporal could absorb almost all of the substance, while cotton will very quickly become saturated, allowing the Precious Blood to seep off, and onto the altar or the top cloth.
All well and good, but linen altar linens are very expensive so for the OP’s purpose, it’s probably easier & more affordable to go with cotton, particularly for a parish that seems to be too poor to afford real altar linens in the first place.
Except for the set we use at Christmas and Easter and other major feasts, all our corporals/purificators/finger towels are cotton or a cotton/polyester blend. They work just fine, not to mention that they are a lot easier to iron than linen.
For the record, I have used linen tea towels and I don’t find they do such a great job. I’ll opt for cotton any day.
I used GOOGLE to search the OPs location, and found there are a few fabric shops, in her town, and some have white cotton and linen on sale for up to $9.99 a yard (on sale), which might be less costly than an already-made sheet. Here on Long Island, there is a shop called “One to Three” that sells remainder bolts of fabric for between $1 and $3 a yard. It would be great if there were such a place near the OP.
If/when you approach him, offer as well to make a donation towards the buying of new liturgical vessels. This would show your sincere concern and keep you from looking as if you are merely voicing criticism for its own sake. Such an appearance may entice him to engage the matter more deeply.
There is hardly a priest out there who is not criticized on a fairly regular basis for something. And given that priests are as human as those criticizing, it is no wonder that there are many who end up ignoring valid criticisms.
There is an old adage that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. That may be a bit over broad, but the point remains, offering a solution to a perceived problem is probably going to get a better hearing than simply being one more complainant.
Good news! At yesterday’s Mass, the priest used a cup made of ‘noble’ material! I didn’t get a chance to talk to him (we had a Baptism and it was both his 64th birthday and the anniversary of his Ordination so there was a celebration after Mass) but I guess my ‘question’ was ‘answered’!
Even though I’m on a limited budget, I can afford some good Mass linens…
Thanks to all who replied and offered some good suggestions.
One other option is for the parish to contact the diocese.
If there have been parish closings, the local diocese will generally hold on to the sacred vessels and other items. They are generally made available to other parishes on an ‘ask if you want it’ basis.
Do some volunteer work with a local chapter of the Pallotine Fathers. When they did an built our their new house, they were able to equip their chapel with a marble altar and a ‘new’ tabernacle that were obtained from the Archdiocese.
And our pastor did the same to help equip our parishes ‘sister parish’ in Tanzania. On our first visit there, we loaded up our suitcases with candle sticks, chalices, patens and ciboria.
All of that came via the archdiocese from parishes that had been closed.
Looks like your efforts have paid off! Perhaps he was truly simply ignorant and your email triggered some rubric-searching on his part. May God bless you for your perseverance toward orthodoxy for the benefit of the church, and may God bless your priest too for his willingness to conform to law.
Many churches have used and continue to use the glass chalices. Others still use woven baskets for the paten. It was an effort to get away from unnecessary extravagance, so called, in the Mass and return the Church and the Mass to a simpler, purer form.
The only problem with this, Mike, is that it is fundamentally irreverent and totally against Church instruction. Extravagance isn’t for us, it’s for God. He deserves it. Could you name some of these churches for us?