How many of your priests/parishes use a chalice veil for Holy Mass? You can bet one is used at The Sabine Farm! On the right you see the chalice as at the beginning of today’s Mass (for the Seven Maccabees in the older, 1962 Missal).
Today I had a question in the ASK FATHER Question Box which I thought I would pass along, since people seem to like liturgical tidbits around here:
AFQB – The ASK FATHER Question Box: Liturgy, Music & The Seven Sacraments: Veiling of sacred vessels
By Anonymous Monday, July 31, 2006 – 9:06 pm:
I was wondering if you could explain the history and significance behind the veiling of the chalice used at Mass. At my parish, the chalice is left on the altar, veiled, during the Liturgy of the Word, and also at the end of Mass, but at another parish I go to the chalice is veiled but left on the side, credence table during and after Mass.
Thank you and God bless you!
By Fr. J.T. Zuhlsdorf on Tuesday, August 01, 2006 – :
I don’t understand how, at that "other" parish the chalice can be left on the table since it has to be used during the Eucharistic Prayer: "…the chalice is veiled but left on the side, credence table during and after Mass…" Oh well….
In any event…. we read in GIRM 118: Calix laudabiliter cooperiatur velo, quod potest esse aut coloris diei aut coloris albi…. The chalice is, laudably, to be covered with a veil, which can be either of the color of the day or of the color white. [NB: The use of the subjunctive in cooperiatur is more than a suggestion. It really ought to be done.]
A practical function of the chalice veil is to indicate, when it is lifted from the chalice for the offetory, the shift from the "Liturgy of the Word" to the more sacrificial, eucharistic part of Holy Mass..
There can be a more symbolic vision, however. The chalice veil can be connect to the curtain described in the book of Exodus and in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews which sectioned off the Holy of Holies.
For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant (Hebrews 9:2-4).
This was the curtain that tore in two when Christ died on the Cross.
And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised (Matthew 27:50-51).
The ripping of the curtain in the Holy of Holies at the death of Jesus marks the shift from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant which the Lord spoke about during the Last Supper:
And likewise He took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:20). [NB: And it was poured out "for many", also, but I digress.]
The use of a chalice veil reminds us that somethings are worthily hidden from view until the right moment. It also reminds us of the great Sacrifice of the Lord on Calvary even before we enter into the sacrificial language of the Eucharistic Prayers.
I should add something. Remember that the Holy of Holies is still to be veiled. When there is a procession with the Blessed Sacrament a canopy is used. Even to go from the altar to the canopy and ombrellino was employed. The true sign of the Real Presence in the tabernable is the tabernacle veil and/or baldichin over the altar, rather than the presence lamp. As well, in the tabernacle, all the vessels which contained the Blessed Sacrament were veiled, the ciboria for Hosts and also the pyx with the lunette used for Exposition. This surely harkens back to the mysterious cloud that descended on the mountain or tabernale/tent when God desired to have a word with Moses.