SCHOLION: Consecration of a paten and chalice

UPDATE: 1 March 08 – 0615 GMT

Great images from an older Pontifical over at The Lion and the Cardinal.

______________

Over at NLM a seminarian asked a question about the consecration of a chalice with chrism using the old rites in the Pontificale Romanum.

The Pontificale Romanum is the book used for those rites that generally only bishops could perform, such as consecrations of certain objects, or churches, sacred persons, etc. 

Here was the seminarian’s question:

Was there a consecration of the chalice with chrism (as opposed to a simple blessing, as in the Novus Ordo), and if so, would someone kindly email a scan of the appropriate rites?

I had a rapid glance at the appendix of a 1962 Missale Romanum, where I remembered there were some useful excerpts from the Pontificale Romanum, and found the requested text.

"But Father!  But Father!" at least one of you is thinking.  "Why do you ‘consecrate’ a chalice?  Don’t priests consecrate bread and wine at Mass?  Don’t you just bless chalices?"

Holy Church, dear inquirer, makes a distinction between blessings and consecrations. 

(Keep in mind that the wretched post-Conciliar "Book of Blessings" (De benedictionibus) should be tossed in the nearest dust-bin: it destroys all distinctions about blessings, such as invocative and constitutive blessings.  It is not to be redeemed in any way, even as sail-boat ballast.)

Back to work… Holy Church, dear inquirer, makes a distinction between blessings and consecrations. 

We speak about the consecration of certain places, things and people.  People to be consecrated, for example, include bishops and some women who are virgins.  An abbot, however, is blessed.   A corner-stone of a church is blessed, but the stone of an altar is consecrated.  Priests can bless, but generally only bishops consecrate.

A distinction can be made about church buildings which are consecrated in a very special way called a "dedication".  Also, while confirmation and ordination are also consecrations, in a sense, they are really separate sacraments.  There is a lot of debate about just what the consecration of a bishop really does, since they are already priests and priests, by their priesthood, can pretty much everything bishops can do.  Once upon a time, priests were permitted to ordain!  Some theologians think episcopal consecration really just extends the sacramental character already present, etc.  But I digress.

By constitutive blessings (blessings which make something a blessed thing) and by consecrations objects and people are, as it were, removed from the secular, temporal realm and given over instead to God exclusively.  It is as if they are extracted from the world under the domination of its diabolical "prince" and given exclusively to the King.  Before, they were "profane".  After, they are "sacred".  Thus, a consecration is a once for all time act.  Once something is consecrated, it is forever consecrated.  Blessings can be repeated.  Thus, harming or doing wrong to or with something or someone who is consecrated is thus its own kind of sin: sacrilege. 

Say, for example, you unreasonably and without any provocation punch a bishop in the face (thus incurring an censure, probably).  That act is not only a sin of doing violence to a person, but it also the sin of sacrilege.  You must confess both sins, not just punching the person.  Harming or doing harm with a consecrated thing or person or in a consecrated place is always sacrilege.  Doing so with blessed things, etc., is not always sacrilege, though it more than likely would be.

In any event, back to the chalice consecration.

When considered from the older, pre-Conciliar rites, which we happily can use today, it is usually a bishop who consecrates chalices and patens.  It was/is possible to delegate a priest to consecrate these things.  The consecration makes these things suitable for the worship of God and being vessels for the Most Holy. 

In the old days, chalices and patens (as well as ciboria for Hosts and monstrances or ostensoria for Exposition) had to be consecrated before they could be used at the altar.  In the new way of doing things, vessels can be consecrated (though I think in the new rites they just bless them in a sort of vague and good natured way) or they become consecrated automatically the first time they are used.  That is a real loss of a teaching moment, I think, but there it is.

In the rite, the paten is consecrated before the chalice, which is logical. 

The people or the server is first exhorted to pray that God will favor the action.  Then the bishop (in a rocchet, white stole and gold miter), or priest as the case may be, anoints the paten with sacred chrism from edge to edge in the form of a Cross, after which he spreads chrism over the whole top surface while reciting the prayer of consecration.  This is repeated for the chalice, wherein the inside of the cup is anointed.  Then the one consecrating says a prayer which refers to the symbolism of the vessels: the chalice is like the slab in the tomb where the Body of the Lord was lain after the deposition and the paten is like the stone rolled in front of the tomb.  At the end the vessels are sprinkled with holy water.

Afterwards, a priest must clean the chrism as best be can from the vessels by wiping them with bread, and I suppose some lemon juice.  Then the bread must be burned and the ashes put down the sacrarium, the special sink in the sacristy (look at all those roots of sacr-) which drain goes into the earth.  Just about everything that touched the sacred species or was consecrated that had to be disposed of gets burned and eventually put down the sacrarium.  For example, if the Precious Blood spills on some thing wooden and it soaks in, the shavings of the wood must be burned and the ashed washed down the sacrarium.  Linens for Mass must be washed first by a priest and the water put down the sacrarium.  At the Sabine Farm, where I live away from Rome, I first wash linens and then pour the water outdoors, since the Sabine Chapel has no sacrarium, or even a sacristy to speak of.  If a spider should fiendishly jump into the chalice after the consecration, and the priest can’t bring himself to drink it down, it is to be fished out with a pin, burned and, yes, put down the sacrarium.  I used to think that was pretty funny and darn near impossible, until it happened in my little church in Velletri one day.  This stuff is all spelled out in the front part of the pre-Conciliar Missale Romanum The possibilities and solutions get amusing once you know the burining/washing/sacrarium principle.  At a very clerical supper one night we mused about the possibility of a mouse dashing across the altar after the consecration and making off with a Host.  Our solution was to bless a cat, put a white stole on it, send it after the rat, and when it came back, burn the cat and put the ashes, yes, down the sacrarium.  That was actually Fr. JS’s solution: no cat lover, he.  But I digress… 

Folks,  while the whole cat and stole thing is clearly a joke to illustrate a point about the importance of protecting sacred things, these occurances like spiders in chalices and mice getting Hosts actually happen if you wait long enough, and over the centuries solutions were found.

Back to work… once vessels are consecrated they stay consecrated until something major is done to alter them.  For example, if the chalice and paten are worn and sent off to be regilded or repaired, they have to be consecrated again.

The consecration of these vessels also calls to mind the extremely ancient practice going back to the time of Pope Sixtus I (+c. 127) that only priests, whose hands were also anointed with chrism, could handle chalices and patens.  Remember also the good custom of kissing the priests hand, which is anointed and is raised in blessing and in absolution and which hold the Eucharist.

Constitutive blessings and consecrations are very important.  Blessing and consecrating solemnly could help people understand better the distinction of profane and sacred and how blessed and consecrated things can help us in our spiritual lives and our constant fight against the enemy of the soul.

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67 Responses to SCHOLION: Consecration of a paten and chalice

  1. Yes, that’s the kind of gravatational pull I like to see for the new book of blessings, with it being pulled right into the bin. Book burning party, anyone? Wouldn’t that make for a great blognic!

    Excellent post, Fr Z!

  2. Bob says:

    Father wrote “the bishop in a rocchet, white stole and gold miter (or priest)”.

    Does Fortescue describe exactly how a bishop should wear a priest, so is it left to local custom?

  3. Knight of Our Lady says:

    As an altar server in the Extraordinary Form I never touch any of the sacred vessels if called upon to do so for some reason, but rather use a white linen cloth to hold them.

  4. Pat says:

    I am curious, too, about the blessing of Sacramentals — Rosaries, medals, etc. Having read the phrase “properly blessed articles of devotion (Crucifix, Rosary, scapulars, or medals)… ,” what does “properly blessed” actually mean? I’ve asked of different priests for the blessings of Rosaries and medals. One took my medals to a nearby font of Holy Water for the blessings, and did each of them in turn. Another just waved his hand at me across a room and pronounced that everything I’d brought was now “blessed.” Others are more solemn in their blessings but do not use Holy Water.

    I have read also that the ritual for the blessing of Holy Water has changed. Is that correct? And what would be the differences between the old way and new?

    Thank you.

  5. Your reference to a bishop being consecrated piqued my interest.

    I know that there’s a particular history of using the term ‘consecration’ in reference to what is now more usually called ‘episcopal ordination’, but one wonders whether it’s correct to consider this use of the term ‘consecration’ univocally with the consecration of a virgin or a chalice or an altar-stone. Similarly, the use of the word ‘consecration’ with respect to the sacred species at the Eucharist suggests that we take care how we understand this word.

    Perhaps one could distinguish one use of consecration as meaning a ‘super-blessing’ (e.g. of a chalice, a virgin, an altar stone) and its use in a properly sacramental context.

    By the by, I remember having a discussion (on this blog?) on the issue of the use of the word ‘ordain’ vs ‘consecrate’ with respect to bishops and discovered that [the English translation of] Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma also used the term ‘consecration’ with respect to priestly ordination. Just goes to show how flexibly words can be used on occasion.

  6. Bob: LOL! Everyone’s a comedian!

  7. Royce says:

    I think this raises an important question: may unconsecrated chalices and patens be used in the Extraordinary Form? Or are the new rules retroactive and apply also the the EF?

  8. matt says:

    Great post as usual Fr. Z,

    Could someone explain re the TLM community in Atlanta(St. Francis de Sales)–
    they make the point that their church was consecrated for the Tridentine rite
    and cannot be used for anything else. I’m not sure why they did this or why
    it was necessary.

    Sadly, one immediate effect I have noticed about this
    group is that they do not allow tambourines or drums(I know!)
    thus severely hampering any outreach or relevance they might have for the
    young people of today.

    Cheers!

    Matt

  9. Father,

    As you talked about the “What ifs”, in the Russian Sluzebnik, now translated into English, at the end of the Divine Liturgy text is a rather lengthy treatise to guide the priest in the event of extraordinary situations. I read thes directives several times a year, trembling at the admonition to priests to exercise all reverence and care when serving the Divine Mysteries, and the penalties one incurs who does not observe these instructions. We all need to reaffirm our faith and commitment to the Altar of the Lord, as the very Throne Room of Heaven. We are Stewards of the Mysteries of the Master who will render an accounting from us on the dreadful Judgement Day of the Eschaton.

  10. W says:

    Could someone explain re the TLM community in Atlanta(St. Francis de Sales)—they make the point that their church was consecrated for the Tridentine rite and cannot be used for anything else.

    I am a member of the parish and I do believe that anyone who has made such an assertion is mistaken.

    Sadly, one immediate effect I have noticed about this
    group is that they do not allow tambourines or drums(I know!)
    thus severely hampering any outreach or relevance they might have for the
    young people of today.

    St. Francis de Sales is full of young people. What do tambourines or drums have to do with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass anyway? Are you asserting that drums are necessary for the salvation of your soul?

  11. Matt: …they make the point that their church was consecrated for the Tridentine rite and cannot be used for anything else.

    Rubbish. The dedication of the church and consecration of the altar does not thereby mean that only the older form can be used in that building. It means that the building and altar must be used for sacred purposes and the worship of God in Catholic rites.

    Sadly, one immediate effect I have noticed about this group is that they do not allow tambourines or drums(I know!) thus severely hampering any outreach or relevance they might have for the young people of today.

    “Sadly”? Surely you jest! This is a positive!

    Young people don’t want that sort of music in church any way.

  12. I have heard of cases where groups attached to the Extraordinary Form have been given property (e.g. a chapel) by benefactors who make legal provision that if the Ordinary Form is celebrated in the chapel the title for the property passes away from the group.

    I’m not sure of the precise legal arrangements at work, but have been reliably told that certain groups would lose the use of the building if the Ordinary Form were to be celebrated there.

    I’m sure that were such a thing to happen it would be a canonist’s nightmare what with the Canon Law surrounding the alienation of ecclesiastical property and whether it is fitting and just under the law that the celebration of Mass in a chapel should lead to such an alienation.

  13. Sr. MM says:

    Can men become consecrated virgins, like women?

    I had always thought not, until I heard that one had.

  14. Michael says:

    The Book of Kells has images of rats nibbling on stolen hosts with cats right behind them. I always thought this was just the product of someone wild imagination, but now I’m wondering if it’s based on experience.

  15. Michael says:

    Father,

    Could you say more about the custom of only allowing priests to touch the chalice and paten? i had heard this before, but thought it had never actually been observed before the council and was only practiced today by rad trads. How does the altar boy set up the chalice before Mass if he can’t touch it?

  16. elizabeth: This has shocked me.

    I sure hope you are kidding.

  17. Michael: The Book of Kells has images of rats nibbling on stolen hosts with cats right behind them.

    I didn’t know that! Interesting. It would be fun to see images of that.

    Yes, if you wait long enough in the Church just about everything happens at some point or other. The thing about the stole and the cat at supper was just a clerical joke, but jokes are funny because they have their basis in reality.

  18. PBXVI says:

    Zadok,

    There are a couple of methods by which the TLM community’s (the donees) ownership of the donated chapel in question might be terminated. Most likely the property is gifted in fee simple determinable, i.e., ‘TLM gets chapel so long as or as long as only the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite is celebrated therein.’ What happens in that case is that, in the event a Novus Ordo Mass should be celebrated, the donees’ ownership interest terminates as a matter of law, and title reverts to the donor. The donor need do nothing to have his possibility of reverter vest in him once again. It’s automatic the moment that condition is violated.

    The other option is to gift the chapel in fee simple subject to a condition subsequent, i.e., ‘TLM gets chapel but if the ordinary form of the Latin Rite is celebrated therein, the donor has the right of reentry.’ In other words, the donor actually has to do some affirmative act to take back the chapel.

    But it depends on your particular state’s laws. Notice how the terms used in the conveyance are determinative of which estate the TLM community actually has. Words, words, words.

    And, yeah, a canonist’s nightmare I’m sure. But one they probably deal with fairly frequently.

  19. Jason in San Antonio says:

    Zadok,

    There are a couple of methods by which the TLM community’s (the donees) ownership of the donated chapel in question might be terminated. Most likely the property is gifted in fee simple determinable, i.e., ‘TLM gets chapel so long as or as long as only the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite is celebrated therein.’ What happens in that case is that, in the event a Novus Ordo Mass should be celebrated, the donees’ ownership interest terminates as a matter of law, and title reverts to the donor. The donor need do nothing to have his possibility of reverter vest in him once again. It’s automatic the moment that condition is violated.

    The other option is to gift the chapel in fee simple subject to a condition subsequent, i.e., ‘TLM gets chapel but if the ordinary form of the Latin Rite is celebrated therein, the donor has the right of reentry.’ In other words, the donor actually has to do some affirmative act to take back the chapel.

    But it depends on your particular state’s laws. Notice how the terms used in the conveyance are determinative of which estate the TLM community actually has. Words, words, words.

    And, yeah, a canonist’s nightmare I’m sure. But one they probably deal with fairly frequently.

  20. Garrett says:

    I thought every chapel/church had to have a sacrarium?

  21. Bruce T. says:

    A serious question concerning the Host:

    What would Fr. Z. suggest be done when a CCD student is caught putting a Host in his pocket?
    The class was at Mass. Fortunately, one of the other teachers saw the student do this.
    Should his pocket have been cut out?

  22. Chris Molter says:

    What would be the status (if that’s the right term) of the sacred vessels in such places as Canterbury Cathedral (many of which date to and were consecrated before the ‘Reformation’)? Are the Anglicans using consecrated Catholic chalices and patens in their Eucharist?

  23. Garrett says:

    “Should his pocket have been cut out?”

    I’d say the hand should be cut off, not the pocket. ;)

  24. Deacon Shawn says:

    Fr. Z.,

    Your post is very relevent to my immediate future as I will be ordained a priest in May and we traditionally have the bishop bless our chalices and patens the night before our ordination. In the past this has always been done out of the “Book of Blessings.” I would very much like to use the 1962 rite for mine, but a few questions come up.

    1) The Motu Proprio mentioned permission to celebrate the sacraments according to the 1962 form, but does this imply that the totality of the 1962 Rituale Romanum may be used, in this case including the blessings?

    2) If the blessings from the old Rituale Romanum are now able to be used again, can an English translation be used, such as Weller? (The one thing I do like about the new Book of Blessings is that it basically says everything in it is a suggestion and can be modified at the discretion of the priest…maybe I can just modify it to use and English translation of the 1962 version?). My bishop would probably be agreeable to using the rite with the anointings, but I don’t think he would be so willing to do it in Latin.

    3) Finally, which version of the Rituale Romanum is approved for use? Weller’s version is from 1948 I believe. However, he has a letter single volume only in English from 1964 that mentions various changes that were instituted (only using salt once in blessing holy water, etc.). What is the final version that is allowed and where can we get it. The only thing being published that I can find is a reprint of the 3 volume Weller. If I use that, where would I find the needed changes?

    Thanks so much for your great column and your help. I and my classmates are using your “What Does the Prayer Really Sound Like” recordings to help learn the Ordo Missae of 1962.

  25. The spider, rat and cat. Yes. This bit from Chapter 11 of the Trilogy is a true story:

    Again as a seminarian, Hash had helped the new Rector of a seminary move into his quarters. Going into the chapel, he asked if the Rector could open the tabernacle, sensing there was something terribly wrong inside. The Rector looked at him quizzically, but found the key, opened the tabernacle, and showed him five Hosts on a paten… along with half a dozen maggots. The Monastery, where the seminary was located – it came to his mind only now – had also spent millions of dollars on an illuminated biblical manuscript project whose calligraphers went out of their way to change the inspired text, a hellish extravagance in praise of political correctness, corrupting the Word of God like so many parasites, making Hagar Jesus’ direct ancestor.

    It happens…

  26. Prof. Basto says:

    Mother Church takes an ambiguous position on wether monarchs are blessed or consacrated in the rite of Coronation.

    The Pontificale Romanum in force for the Extraordinary Form speaks of “Blessing and Coronation”, and the rite provided commands the use of the oil of cathecumens for the anointing of the King.

    During the litany, the two special intecessions: “ut… benedicere digneris” and “ut…consecrare digneris” are required to be added, while the Archbishop makes the sign of the cross over the prostrated Sovereign. The third intercession used in the consacration of Bishops and other rites of consacration proper, that is, the intercession “ut..santificare digneris”, is not pronounced.

    However, some kingdoms, such as France, had, in their time special concessions from the Holy See to use a different “ordo” for the cerimony of consacration. In the French rite, not only the intercessions “ut..benedicere” and “ut…consecrare” were used, but also the intercession “ut…sanctificare”, denoting an act not of mere constitutive blessing, but of consacration.

    Also, the oil used in France was not that of the cathecumens, but a special oil, containing Holy Chrism. The Chrism was mixed with a drop of the mysterious oil from the “Sacre Ampoulle”, a vessel containing oil believed to have been provided by the Holy Spirit for the coronation of France’s first Catholic monarch. In other countries, special concessions were also made by the Apostolic See replacing the oil of cathecumens with Holy Chrism.

    And, while the Pontificale speaks of “benediction and coronation”, the French rite, and other local rites, were known as “sacre” (consacration).

    So, in the matter of the coronation of kings, there seems to be a dubious position regarding what is proper: consacration, as in the case of Virgins, or blessing, as in the case of Abbots?

  27. Ray from MN says:

    Father:

    I have it on good authority that the local PETA chapter will be greeting you on your upcoming return to the Sabine Farm.

    They have, as you know, no sense of humor.

  28. Irish says:

    Michael: The Book of Kells has images of rats nibbling on stolen hosts with cats right behind them.

    Pangur Ban

    I and Pangur Ban my cat,
    ‘Tis a like task we are at:
    Hunting mice is his delight,
    Hunting words I sit all night.

    Better far than praise of men
    ‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
    Pangur bears me no ill-will,
    He too plies his simple skill.

    ‘Tis a merry task to see
    At our tasks how glad are we,
    When at home we sit and find
    Entertainment to our mind.

    Oftentimes a mouse will stray
    In the hero Pangur’s way;
    Oftentimes my keen thought set
    Takes a meaning in its net.

    ‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
    Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
    ‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
    All my little wisdom try.

    When a mouse darts from its den,
    O how glad is Pangur then!
    O what gladness do I prove
    When I solve the doubts I love!

    So in peace our task we ply,
    Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
    In our arts we find our bliss,
    I have mine and he has his.

    Practice every day has made
    Pangur perfect in his trade;
    I get wisdom day and night
    Turning darkness into light.

    — Anon., (Irish, 8th century)

  29. Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    Quesstion: If a bishop is asked to consecrate a chalice and paten and will not do so, may a priest do so without delegation? And if he does so without delegation, is the consecration of the chalice and paten valid? Is validity even an issue? I’m asking because of the opposition to Summorum Pontificum.

  30. Maynardus says:

    *Surely even cats and spiders are God’s creatures and do not deserve to die in the way mentioned?*

    It depends whether or nor they were consecrated cats!

    *What would Fr. Z. suggest be done when a CCD student is caught putting a Host in his pocket?*

    Myself, I think a corps of worthy cats should be trained for these eventualities!”

    *The Book of Kells has images of rats nibbling on stolen hosts with cats right behind them.*

    The ancient wisdom of Holy Mother Church is displayed once again. The backers of novelties such as women’s “ordination” are barking up the wrong tree, they should instead be promoting the revival of traditionals practices such as the use of properly-trained feline acolyte-martyrs!

    (Sorry, I was unable to resist!)

  31. Deacon Shawn: 1) The Motu Proprio mentioned permission to celebrate the sacraments according to the 1962 form, but does this imply that the totality of the 1962 Rituale Romanum may be used, in this case including the blessings?

    Yes, I believe so.  Pastors can choose to use the older Rituale for sacraments.  I assume he  can do so for blessings.  Ubi maior… after all.  If pastors can, bishops should.   Also, these prayers are in the appendix of every 1962 Missale Romanum.  They can be used, I am sure. 

    2) If the blessings from the old Rituale Romanum are now able to be used again, can an English translation be used, such as Weller? (The one thing I do like about the new Book of Blessings is that it basically says everything in it is a suggestion and can be modified at the discretion of the priest…maybe I can just modify it to use and English translation of the 1962 version?). My bishop would probably be agreeable to using the rite with the anointings, but I don’t think he would be so willing to do it in Latin.

    I should think so.  BTW… I know old Weller.  Nice feller.  He retired in St. Paul and died there some time time ago.

    3) Finally, which version of the Rituale Romanum is approved for use? Weller’s version is from 1948 I believe. However, he has a letter single volume only in English from 1964 that mentions various changes that were instituted (only using salt once in blessing holy water, etc.). What is the final version that is allowed and where can we get it. The only thing being published that I can find is a reprint of the 3 volume Weller. If I use that, where would I find the needed changes?

    I am not sure what the very last edition was before the Council began.  However, I don’t think there were many changes to the Rituale itself, before the Council..  I think the only changes involved the use of vernacular translations.  Part of the problem might involve the fact that the section with blessings was sometimes published as a separate book called the Benedictionale Romanum.

    I will give the Commission a holler and ask about this.

    Thanks so much for your great column and your help. I and my classmates are using your “What DoesThe Prayer Really Sound Like” recordings to help learn the Ordo Missae of 1962.

    Thanks for that.  I will consider starting them up again, if there is interest…. and if I can figure out how to fix the stupid iTunes feed.  

  32. Fr. Bailey: Quesstion: If a bishop is asked to consecrate a chalice and paten and will not do so, may a priest do so without delegation? And if he does so without delegation, is the consecration of the chalice and paten valid? Is validity even an issue?

    Ansswer: If a priest consecrates the chalice without delegation, I suppose it is consecrated.  Whether or not he should seems an issue more for moral theology.  I would not recommen to any priest to do so.  Isn’t it better to have a bishop do it, after all?   

  33. Chalice Consecration says:

    I submitted the question on NLM. A kind priest emailed me a reply to the effect that seminarians should realize that they can always have their chalice consecrated a little later, after they are ordained. It might not be a good idea to ask for this before ordination because one could be labeled. Deacon Shawn above may want to take note of this.

    Fr. Bailey: the bishop must delegate a priest. See canon 1168 of the presently-binding Code of Canon Law: “The minister of sacramentals is a cleric who has been provided with the requisite power.” So if the bishop has not delegated the priest to do the consecration, then I think the priest could not validly consecrate a chalice. Also, see Canon 1169: §1. Those marked with the episcopal character and presbyters permitted by law or legitimate grant can perform consecrations and dedications validly.

    The question remains whether the Vicar General could be the one to delegate a priest. I think he could. That way, if you had a more sympathetic Vicar General, you could ask the delegation from him. And he is only bound to report the more important activities to the bishop (canon 480), so he would not necessarily have to tell the bishop that he gave that delegation (which most bishops would consider to be a fairly minor detail), in my understanding.

    It would be good if someone who has a more comprehensive knowledge of canon law could weigh in on this.

  34. Sr. MM: Can men become consecrated virgins, like women?

    There is no such rite in the Catholic Church. I am sure that part of the reason is that when the consecration of virgins was developing into a formal rite, actually into an Order of Virgins, there was no physical way to confirm a man’s virginity. Although not 100% infallible, with women there was a way.

    You might be interested to know that there was in the ancient Church “Orders” of lay people concerned with performing corporal works of mercy. There were orders of virgins and widows (something which I understand is being considered again today) and, for men, even of grave diggers. The virgins and widows would even have their own places in church. In some religious orders of women, such as Benedictines, some nuns were consecrated virgins all through history, but the other orders died out. The consecration of virgins has been revived since the Council. That is one of the very good post-Conciliar reforms, IMO. I was of help organizing a consecration for the first consecrated virgin in my home archdiocese. Since then, quite a few women have sought this way of life. Virgins are consecrated with a rite that is in some ways similar to ordination and similar to solemn vows of some orders of nuns. The texts are ancient and recall great virgin martyrs such as St. Agnes. The women are given a ring and a candle and presented with the book for the Liturgy of the Hours, which they are bound to recite. Though they live in the world and work in the world, they are to have a special relationship with their diocesan bishop, who must see to their spiritual well-being. In a way they are almost like “diocesan nuns”.

    And yes, the consecration of virgins is really for physical virgins.

  35. Chalice Consecration says:

    Deacon Shawn: the commonly-accepted practice both here and in the UK seems to be to use the 3-volume Weller edition that is currently being reprinted by PCPBooks.com. The good folks at PCP tell us that these were the approved editions at the time of the 1962 Missale.

    If you should happen to get a copy of volume 3, The Blessings, be sure to check out page 162, the Blessing of a Community to Ward Off Pests (the Latin is even better: “Benedictio Deprecatoria contra mures, locustas, bruchos, vermes et alia animalia nociva”). It’s the one right before the Nuptial Blessing ;-) In any case, you won’t find anything like this in the current Book of Blessings! (Note also that a priest needs delegation for this particular “blessing”.)

  36. Bruce T: What would Fr. Z. suggest be done when a CCD student is caught putting a Host in his pocket?
    The class was at Mass. Fortunately, one of the other teachers saw the student do this.
    Should his pocket have been cut out?

    Garret said: I’d say the hand should be cut off, not the pocket.

    Well! What a dilemma.

    The pocket? Definitely. Though given the present situation someone other than the priest will have to do the extraction and resection of the pocket.

    The hand? Hmmm…

    That would cut down on the frequency of Communion in the hand, wouldn’t it?

    Yes, definitely the hand too.

  37. Chalice consecration: The Blessings, be sure to check out page 162, the Blessing of a Community to Ward Off Pests (the Latin is even better: “Benedictio Deprecatoria contra mures, locustas, bruchos, vermes et alia animalia nociva”)

    No no no… I rather like the English wording. It could apply so well also to unnecessary Extraordinary Ministers of Communion and bad guitar players.

  38. Geoffrey says:

    Regarding the “Roman Ritual: Book of Blessings”, is there nothing salvageable? Especially regarding “modern” blessings, i.e. Advent wreaths, Christmas trees, etc. I don’t recall seeing these items in the Roman Ritual for the Extraordinary Form, though I could be wrong.

  39. Geoffrey: I bet if you look closely, those texts you mention in the Book of Blessings really don’t bless anything.

  40. Geoffrey says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf: Actually I didn’t have to look very closely at all, as that fact kind of leaps out right in front of you once you open the book! ;-)

    I was more thinking of the objects in question. I suppose you would just use the generic “Benedictio ad Omnia”?

  41. Tim Ferguson says:

    Concerning the potential mess involved in alienation of ecclesiastical goods, regarding a chapel that was donated with conditions attached. Yes, it would indeed provide a whole host of prooblems, which is why the Church should only accept gifts with conditions attached when willing to agree to the conditions. Frankly, if a bishop were to ask me if he should accept the donation of property under a condition (e.g. that only the 1962 Misaal be used there, or only the Novus Ordo, or only Mass in Latin, or only on days containing the letter “t”), else the property revert to the donors, I would encourage him to refuse the gift for many reasons. First, circumstances change, and once-benevolent donors can either become hostile, or can die and leave their estate in the hands of those who are hostile. A subsequent heir might say, “The bishop celebrated Mass there for the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who is clearly not in the 1962 Missal, therefore, the property reverts to me.” Accpeting gifts with conditions is a tentatively dangerous thing.

    At the same time, were I advising a donor, I would urge that gifts be given either for very immediate purposes, or with very clear and specific conditions attached, but, perhaps, with a time limit. E.g., after 40 years of use under the conditions I have laid down, the Church’s ownership of the property becomes absolute.

  42. John Spangler says:

    The comment about the CCD student who put the Sacred Host in his pocket reminds me of what happened in my presence at the cathedral of our diocese some years ago under our former ordinary.

    As I approached the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion to receive, the individual in front of me was receiving by communion in the hand. The Host fell off his hand and onto the carpeted floor. The extraordinary minister (a gentleman in his fifties or sixties) bent down, picked up the Host from the floor, PUT IT IN HIS POCKET, and gave the communicant another Host.

    I was so shocked and mortified. I still shudder when I think about this.

    Surely the extraordinary minister should have put the dropped Host back into the ciborium on the side and covered the spot with a purificator, shouldn’t he? Then later the dropped Host could have been dissovled in water and washed down the sacrarium and the spot where it fell washed and that water washed down the sacrarium.

    Happily we now have daily and Sunday Masses under the 1962 Missal here, and a current bishop who is faithful to liturgical law and diligent about what goes on in his cathedral and parishes.

    Communion in the hand and under both species makes accidents like this all the more possible. For my part, I have never received communion in the hand or of the Precious Blood from the chalice.

    John Spangler

  43. Scott Smith says:

    Isn’t a chalice and paten consecrated by the very use of them at Mass if they were not previously consecrated or if they were only “blessed”?

    A sacristan, unless I am mistaken, even if not ordained is also allowed to handle the sacred vessels.

  44. Derik C says:

    Dear Fr Z.

    I read somewhere that sometimes people put a Host in their
    pockets so they can desecrate the Host in satanic rites. It
    seems to be the case that consecrated vessels are also targeted
    in this fashion.

    That adds another reason to the necessity of comunion in the
    tongue, and the use of the safe in the sacristy.

  45. Here is the text of the…

    CONSECRATION OF A PATEN AND A CHALICE

    (From the new Roman Pontifical of 1962)

    {The consecration of a paten and of a chalice may be delegated to a priest, who follows the same rite given here for a bishop, omitting, however, the directions that do not pertain to a priest.

    The consecration of a paten and chalice may take place on any day and at any convenient place.

    The following are prepared: holy chrism and whatever materials are necessary for cleansing and wiping the chalice and paten as well as the bishop’s hands. The chalice and paten should be placed on a table covered with a white-linen cloth or on the altar.

    If several chalices and patens are to be consecrated the bishop performs the anointings successively on each of them, but he says the orations only once and in the plural form.

    The bishop, standing and wearing the rochet, white stole, and gold-embroidered mitre, says:

    Celebrant: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

    All: Who made heaven and earth.

    C: Let us pray, my dear brethren, that by the help of God’s grace this paten (these patens) may be consecrated and hallowed for the purpose of breaking over it (them) the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered death on the cross for the salvation of us all.

    Then, removing the mitre, he says:

    C: The Lord be with you.

    All: May He also be with you.
    Let us pray.

    Almighty everlasting God, who instituted the laws of sacrifice, and ordered among other things that the sprinkled wheaten flour should be carried to the altar on plates of gold and silver; be pleased to bless, hallow, + and consecrate this paten (these patens), destined for the administration of the Eucharist of Jesus Christ, your Son, who for our salvation and that of all mankind chose to immolate Himself on the gibbet of the cross to you, God the Father, with whom He lives and reigns, forever and ever.
    All: Amen.

    Having put on the mitre, he dips the thumb of his right hand into the holy chrism, anoints the paten from rim to rim in the form of a cross, and then rubs the holy chrism all over the upper side of the paten, while saying the following formula:

    Lord God, may you deign to consecrate and to hallow this paten by this anointing and our blessing, + in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever.
    All: Amen.

    Then (still standing and wearing the mitre) he proceeds to the blessing of the chalice, saying:

    Let us pray, my dear brethren, that our Lord and God, by His heavenly grace and inspiration, may hallow this chalice (these chalices), about to be consecrated for use in His ministry, and that He may add the fulness of His divine favor to the consecration performed by us; through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen.

    Then, removing the mitre, he says:

    C: The Lord be with you.

    All: May He also be with you.
    Let us pray.

    O Lord our God, be pleased to bless + this chalice (these chalices), made by your devout people for your holy service. Bestow that same blessing which you bestowed on the hallowed chalice of your servant, Melchisedech. And what we cannot make worthy of your altars by our craft and metals, do you nonetheless make worthy by your blessing; through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen.

    Having put on the mitre, he dips the thumb of his right hand into the holy chrism and anoints each chalice on the inside from rim to rim In the form of a cross, while saying the following formula: Lord God, may it please you to consecrate and to hallow this chalice by this anointing and our blessing, + in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever.
    All: Amen.

    Then, removing the mitre, he says the following over the chalice and paten (chalices and patens):

    C: The Lord be with you.

    All: May He also be with you.
    Let us pray.

    Almighty everlasting God, we beg you to impart to our hands the virtue of your blessing, so that by our blessing + this vessel and paten (these vessels and patens) may be hallowed and become, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, a new sepulchre for the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen.

    When the consecration is over a priest cleans the chalice and paten with crumbs of bread and purifies them thoroughly. These cleansing materials are put into the sacrarium.

  46. Angelo says:

    The monstrance shown above appears to be designed to
    accommodate an “oversized” host.
    The question I have is:
    Are there any rubrics regulating the size of hosts to be
    used at Holy Mass? I have noticed all too frequently
    the use of oversized hosts by some priests and
    bishops and yes, even at papal masses.

  47. Adam DeVille says:

    The custom of kissing a priest’s hand is very beautiful, but seems utterly foreign in the Latin Church today. Among Eastern Christians such as myself it remains customary (though not as well known and practiced as it should). As a subdeacon, I kiss the priest’s hand usually every time I had him something or receive something from him, whether object or blessing. And of course it’s customary, upon first meeting, not to shake hands but to ask for a blessing and then kiss the priest’s hand. Chrysostom tells us somewhere or other that if you are walking down the road and see an angel and a priest coming towards you, you should ignore the angel, and greet the priest first by kissing his hand because he, of course, has alone touched the Body of Christ. A very dear archpriest who is a friend of mine says that he needs people to kiss his hand precisely as a continual and concrete reminder of what his hands are for and whose hands they really are….

  48. Adam DeVille says:

    The custom of kissing a priest\’s hand is very beautiful, but seems utterly foreign in the Latin Church today. Among Eastern Christians such as myself it remains customary (though not as well known and practiced as it should). As a subdeacon, I kiss the priest’s hand usually every time I had him something or receive something from him, whether object or blessing. And of course it’s customary, upon first meeting, not to shake hands but to ask for a blessing and then kiss the priest’s hand. Chrysostom tells us somewhere or other that if you are walking down the road and see an angel and a priest coming towards you, you should ignore the angel, and greet the priest first by kissing his hand because he, of course, has alone touched the Body of Christ. A very dear archpriest who is a friend of mine says that he needs people to kiss his hand precisely as a continual and concrete reminder of what his hands are for and whose hands they really are….

  49. Genna says:

    Hello Father, This is somewhat tangential to the thread but it seems the most appropriate place to pose my question.
    In the EF, is the celebrant required to keep thumb and forefinger of each hand conjoined until after the second ablution? This was prescribed, I understood, to keep hands which had touched the Host uncontaminated. When I was little I can remember that the priest held the chalice by the middle finger, which was curled round the stem, when he distributed Holly Communion.
    I occasionally attend a church where only the OF is available and is celebrated with reverence. The priest and the deacon bless non-communicants by laying their “distributing” hand on their heads. I’m afraid that I find this rather off-putting and stay in the pew. I guess my desire to receive Our Lord should outweigh this fastidiousness.

  50. Matt Q says:

    Father Z wrote:

    “The pocket? Definitely. Though given the present situation someone other than the priest will have to do the extraction and resection of the pocket.”

    ()

    Yes, given the present circumstances. Beyond that, getting the Host back, yes, I understand and appreciate the urgency, however, if the offending party flatly refuses to surrender the Host much less the shirt, what then? Civil and criminal law makes no provision to be taken against the offender. If anyone puts a hand on the sacreligious offender, you can just see the lawsuits and criminal complaints which would then fly, and there would be little, if any defense on the part of one who takes action.

    Concurring with Derik C, yes, all the more we need to do away with Communion by hand.

    ==============

    Adam DeVille wrote:

    “The custom of kissing a priest’s hand is very beautiful, but seems utterly foreign in the Latin Church today.”

    ()

    You got it, and won’t begin happening any time soon. It would create scandal more than an attitude of respect.

  51. Carolina Geo says:

    How about this: If an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion desecrates, abuses, or otherwise mishandles the Eucharist, we burn him (and then dispose of his ashes in the sacrarium)! After all, if it works for the cat…..

  52. Marcin says:

    Matt Q,

    Why, oh why kissing the priest’s hand would cause the scandal? To whom? I see it the most proper custom, and if the priests of today hesitate, refuse or feel ashamed, well, shame on them. It just shows that they have not been properly formed and they think that it’s all about them. It’s a real pity that with ’62 Missal the Church got away with osculum, at least the kissing of hand should have been retained.

    I can only concur with subdn. Adam DeVille. It’s one of the small things that draw to the Byzantine rite.

  53. Mary says:

    Thanks for a really interesting post and comments thread. Especially about kings–that makes it seem like even if they didn’t have divine right by blood, in some minor way they acquired it? At least the French ones, I guess.

  54. Sylvia says:

    I have a question for Fr. Z (off-topic, but on thread): What constitutes “scandal” when it comes to traditional practices such as kissing the priest’s hand or, more common, wearing a chapel veil. One of my friends remarked that she hesitates to wear a chapel veil for fear she would cause scandal among the people at her parish (actually, I have heard more than one person express this opinion), but isn’t causing scandal giving the appearance of evil? In what way, if any, can using traditional customs be said to be scandalous?

  55. Sylvia, I know I’m not Fr. Z. and would never presume to speak for him, but I (actually and priest) can easily answer your question. In Catholic moral theology, scandal is a word or action evil in itself, which occasions another’s spiritual ruin (Summa Theologiae II-II, Q. liii, a. 1). Thus, wearing a chaple veil, kissing a priest’s hand, etc. can never be a cause of scandal since they are not evil in themselves.

    As you know from your blog post of Dec. 12 on “passion,” it’s important to keep in mind that the way words are commonly used is not necessarily the way the Church uses them, this being a case in point.

  56. Maureen says:

    Most of this info was totally new to me. I had a vague feeling, based on parental instruction, that there were different levels of blessing, but had no clue this applied to bishops! Thanks for the instruction, Fr. Z!

    (And yes, I went to Catholic school, got a pretty good education and formation, but nobody told me this. So if the kids go off with Him in their pockets, it’s more likely that they don’t know any better than that they’re Satanists.)

  57. Derik C says:

    Maureen:

    I understand that stealing a Consecrated Host is a sin,
    but from there, to assume that everyone who steals the Host
    is a satanist is perhaps a big leap. I know my earlier post
    was rather ambiguous on this point, and I apologize.

    I was talking about people who hate God and the Church, who
    consciously plot the way to steal consecrated items, with
    the only purpose of desecration.

    I don’t know how often Consecrated Hosts are stolen, but my
    guess is that not always they end in the hands of the enemy.

    Heaven help us!

  58. Fr. Michael says:

    John wrote: “For my part, I have never received communion in the hand or of the Precious Blood from the chalice.”

    You’ve never received the Precious Blood at all or you never have directly from a chalice?

    God Bless

  59. Federico says:

    Fr. Z. wrote: “You might be interested to know that there was in the ancient Church “Orders” of lay people concerned with performing corporal works of mercy. There were orders of virgins and widows (something which I understand is being considered again today)”

    In addition to consecrated virgins, the order of consecrated widows has also been reinstated and is alive and well in the Eastern Catholic Churches. They are regulated by CCEO Titulus XII, Caput IV “DE ALIIS FORMIS VITAE CONSECRATAE ATQUE DE SOCIETATIBUS VITAE APOSTOLICAE”. and are put under the jurisdiction of the local hierarch by CCEO can. 570.

    Latin Catholic widows who might feel called to this type of religious life can contact a territorially competent Eastern code hierarch and with the permission of their (Latin) ordinary enter into the order of widows. In principle, where the care of the Eastern Catholics in a particular area has been entrusted to a Latin bishop, a widow (of any Church sui iuris) could ask this same Latin bishop to receive her as a consecrated widow.

    In practice, in such a situation, the bishop would probably say “you want to discern WHAT????

    Federico

  60. Federico says:

    Fr. Z. wrote: “You might be interested to know that there was in the ancient Church “Orders” of lay people concerned with performing corporal works of mercy. There were orders of virgins and widows (something which I understand is being considered again today)”

    In addition to consecrated virgins, the order of consecrated widows has also been reinstated and is alive and well in the Eastern Catholic Churches. They are regulated by CCEO Titulus XII, Caput IV “DE ALIIS FORMIS VITAE CONSECRATAE ATQUE DE SOCIETATIBUS VITAE APOSTOLICAE”. and are put under the jurisdiction of the local hierarch by CCEO can. 570.

    Latin Catholic widows who might feel called to this type of religious life can contact a territorially competent Eastern Church hierarch and with the permission of their (Latin) ordinary enter into the order of widows. In principle, where the care of the Eastern Catholics in a particular area has been entrusted to a Latin bishop, a widow (of any Church sui iuris) could ask this same Latin bishop to receive her as a consecrated widow.

    In practice, in such a situation, the bishop would probably say “you want to discern WHAT????

    Federico

  61. Elise B. says:

    John Spangler:
    I am ECM at my parish. It happened once that as i was giving communion during Christmas midnight Mass, the communicant dropped the Host on the floor. My reaction was to pick it up and consume it on the spot. It seemed to me to be the right thing to do.

  62. John Spangler says:

    Father Michael, thanks for your question.

    I tried to be precise in writing that I had never received the Precious Blood from the chalice. Of course, I receive the Precious Blood every time that I receive the Sacred Host.

    I believe, as must every Catholic, that when I receive even the smallest particle of the Sacred Host, I am receiving the totality of the Eucharist — the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. This the Council of Trent taught de fide, did it not?

    Since the reintroduction of Communion under Both Species, I have occasionally received the Precious Blood with the Sacred Host by intinction when this method of receiving Holy Communion was the only mode of distribution made available at the celebrant.

    Reception of the Precious Blood from the chalice by the laity is option that I am not required to utilize and that is unnecessary given the Catholic doctrine on the Real Presence.

    John Spangler

  63. Fr. Michael says:

    John Spangler,

    Thanks for your thorough answer. From it, I now know that you have received the Precious Blood by way of intinction. Thanks.

    The theological principle of “sub una” (sometimes referred to as the principal of concomitance but this is problematic b/c it can be confused with a completely separate argument made by Calvin) was first widely promulgated by the Council of Constance (1415) and, of course, is still a guiding principle in the Church today especially in those situations whereby the offering of the Precious Blood is made difficult due to large number of communicants, or in those situations such as a poor parish where doing so would be an economic hardship.

    God bless.

  64. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    *There is a lot of debate about just what the consecration of a bishop really does, since they are already priests and priests, by their priesthood, can pretty much everything bishops can do. Once upon a time, priests were permitted to ordain! Some theologians think episcopal consecration really just extends the sacramental character already present, etc. But I digress.*

    Fr Z,

    That question, which was debatable before Vatican II, is no longer so. The Fathers of Vatican II definitively settled the matter in “Lumen Gentium,” no 21:

    “And the Sacred Council teaches that by Episcopal consecration *the fullness of the sacrament of Orders is conferred, that fullness of power, namely, which* both in the Church’s liturgical practice and in the language of the Fathers of the Church *is called the high priesthood, the supreme power of the sacred ministry.* . . . For from the tradition, which is expressed especially in liturgical rites and in the practice of both the Church of the East and of the West, it is clear that, by means of the imposition of hands and the words of consecration, *the grace of the Holy Spirit is so conferred, and the sacred character so impressed, that bishops in an eminent and visible way sustain the roles of Christ Himself as Teacher, Shepherd and High Priest, and that they act in His person.”*

    Regarding the “Book of Blessings,” I once asked Fr. Edward McNamara, LC, who answers liturgical questions for ZENIT, what in fact (according to the BoB) was the difference between a blessing done by a layperson and one done by a sacred minister. He responded that it wasn’t exactly clear anymore.

    Hmm . . .

  65. Federico says:

    Matthew, that quote from Lumen gentium is wonderful but says nothing about the nature of the ontological change that occurs with episcopal ordination. Everything you cite is consistent with what Fr. Z. called extension of the character already present.

    I think a similar discussion could be had about diaconal ordination. No question it leaves a sacramental character, but what is the nature of the character? Does it imprint jurisdiction? If so it can be provided by delegation for I (who am not a deacon) can do anything a deacon can do (except preach a homily) given sufficient delegation.

    These matters are interesting, and hardly settled. I agree that their discussion does not detract from what we know today assures valid and licit liturgical action, but it is nevertheless an avenue through which doctrine may develop in the coming years.

    Federico.

  66. John from Dublin says:

    Just found out this very interesting post, thanks Father. Just one thing, it is incorrect to say that the consecration is lost if the chalice or paten are regilded. The consecration is not affected by this process.