March 30, 2010

To Wipe or Not to Wipe

The pastor and I recently had an argument about the preparation of the chalice. It was a small point, but one with important implications for the Roman rite liturgy at this point in history.

Over time I have fallen into the habit of preparing the chalice with some of the actions only explicitly called for in the EF. I push the purificator in to wipe the inside. Then, removing the purificator to one hand, I infuse the wine and then the water with the appropriate prayer. I then wipe the stray drops before returning to the center of the altar to offer the wine.

The pastor argues that this draws too much attention to what is essentially a functional part of the modern Roman liturgy. What's more, since the Precious Blood will be consumed from all 'sides' of the cup, stray drops aren't a big deal anyway. Neither the rubrics nor the GIRM demand any such concern. On the other hand, Bishop Elliott recommends exactly the procedure I described, though without citation. (This is how I learned it, not from the EF.) He's not an official authority, but someone to whom I am grateful for answering many little questions when I was first starting to celebrate Mass. I give his book to all of our newly ordained.

It brings up some basic questions. On the one hand we don't want to clutter the "noble simplicity" of the modern Roman liturgy with Tridentine accretions. On the other hand, our Holy Father has called for a "mutual enrichment" of the two forms of the Roman rite. Does my extra-rubrical chalice preparation fall into such a category? More basically, given that it is our desire to follow the rubrics, doing less than they ask is certainly out of the question. But what about doing more than the rubrics demand?


Jeffrey Pinyan said...

If your pastor frames the matter as one of "attention" and "functionality", I would recommend you point out the functionality of the actions you've described. Who wants to drink -- even the Precious Blood! -- from a dusty vessel? And if that wine does indeed become the Precious Blood of our Lord, shouldn't errant drops be cleaned away?

The GIRM is not exhaustive, though I agree that priests should be cautious about going beyond its prescriptions. For example, the GIRM says a pall can be used to cover the chalice at the Offertory, but it never mentions uncovering the chalice (or re-covering it) during the Eucharistic Prayer. The GIRM mentions only in passing the chalice veil; it doesn't say what should be done with it.

The Roman Missal itself is quite silent on the pall and chalice veil. Common sense must prevail, no?

Brother Charles said...

I would tend to agree with you, Jeffrey. Common sense is the hard thing, though. Finding commonality of sense seems to be one of our greatest challenges as Catholics.

P.s. Great photo!

Tina aka Snupnjake said...

Fr. Charles,
I've seen what you describe in some parishes here in St. L, with priests that tend to be on the more reverant side. I did see one of the seminary professors doing it at a parish Mass.

And really, now that spring is here and windows are open...I'd really like to be sure there were no flying things in the chalice...

I don't know if it helps in any way....

Anonymous said...

Father Charles, as a layperson who has seem many priests use both forms over the years, I think your way (if I may describe it as such) is one of the small ways in which to show continuity between the E.F. and the N.O. and I think you should continue it.