It’s a “chalice”… an ineffable chalice!

Before its implementation… and after… some people whined that the new, corrected translation is tooo haaard.  How could anyone be expected to understand words like “ineffable… consubstantial… dew…” or “chalice”.

A reader sent me this:


Apparently a brewery thinks beer drinkers can figure out what a chalice is and they believe that using the word “chalice” makes what is contained within more worthy of attention.  When their beer is in a “chalice” it is better beer and the people who drink their beer from a “chalice” are classier.


I received a note from the great Roman Fabrizio which I must share.  He sent links and comments.

Chalice? wait till you see Ineffable!

ecumenical ineffable

gangsta rap, hip hop ineffable

jazz ineffable

new age, LSD stoned music ineffable

photo group ineffable and here

maggott infested, liberal academia ineffable

stupid comics ineffable

But English speaking Catholics are too dumb to get the term? If anything, it should be frowned upon because it’s gotten so banal and widespread that literally any idiot wanting to sound sophisticated uses it!

I’m speechless!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. pkinsale says:

    My favourite argument for “chalice:” It may have been a humble, battered metal drinking cup before Our Lord took it in his hands, but when the King of Kings touched it, it became a chalice.

  2. buffaloknit says:

    I’m happy to see that I’m I’m not the only person reading this blog AND reading free stuff websites! Free samples and whatnot make great stocking stuffers.
    I didn’t send this in, but did see it about 2 weeks ago on one of these websites:

    a) I’m a big fan of Beauty Events and Free Stuff NYC (google it!)-which is where I have gotten a number of free samples and other deals- as well as

    b) Couponing To Be Debt Free-which has the creme de la creme of coupons.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    I hate this ad and have seen it throughout Britain as well. To me it is blasphemous. [Hmmm… I don’t automatically assume that every use of “chalice” must be a religious reference.] What is worse are the Jesuits in Malta who still use what I call crockery for chalices; that is, hand-made ceramic ware for chalice, paten, etc., all of which I assume are against liturgical rules, as I understand them. One has recently asked a unknowing potter friend to make more for him and his fellow priests–arggh, that deserves a rant, does it not? Pottery altar vessels…

    By the way, many moons ago, when I was teaching Arthurian tales to a class at Notre Dame, some of the students, bright as they were, did not know what a chalice was, when we were discussing the Holy Grail. One said, “Oh, the cup used at Mass.” And, then others understood. I knew our culture was in decline…

  4. Frank H says:

    Now THIS is a glass chalice I’ll be happy to see! I just ordered mine!

  5. teomatteo says:

    Don’t the Brits refer to a glass for drinking as a ‘beaker’? Kinda like what i used in chemistry lab?

  6. Dan says:

    Beer chalices are a BIG deal in Belgium. In fact, if you go to a bar there and order a beer that they have on tap, they will refuse to serve it unless they also have the chalice for that beer clean and in stock. Like wine, different beer styles demand a different glass…Trappist beers made by the monks in Belgium generally require wide mouthed, chalice shaped glasses that allow the rich flavors and thick foam to ‘decant’ in the glass so to speak.

  7. Tom says:

    Thanks for the free beer glass link, Father! haha

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Just wondering, but do not most dictionaries give the ecclesiastical definition of chalice as the Eucharistic cup first? It is my understanding that the first use of the word was such, at least in English. Of course, the Latin root included secular cups. I do not have an large Oxford in front of me to check. Wondering…

  9. maynardus says:

    Sshh – don’t tell Cardinal Mahony!

  10. When I search “calice” in French, I mostly get Eucharistic vessels. But if I add “bière des Trappistes” to “calice”, I get “verre” results out the gahooey. The Belgians also offer “verre de bière” results that aren’t called “calice”, but which look like ’em to me.

    Re: battered drinking cup, it’s mostly likely that Jesus used the Sabbath “kiddush cup”, which would have been nice, not battered. Probably belonged to St. Joseph and came down from his family.

    Re: English usage, the Middle English Dictionary at U of M shows that, even in the secular entry, most of the quotes are talking about Mass chalices. (Click on “open quotes” to see them.) But this is typical; the ordinary word in English is usually from Old English, and the technical word is from Norman French.

  11. pfreddys says:

    Hey, this is for real….I just ordered my free chalice, with no scam! Thanks for posting this!

  12. JayneK says:

    I think my first encounter with the word “chalice” came from this scene in Danny Kaye’s “The Court Jester”:

    “The pellet with the poison is in the vessel with a pessel and chalice from the palace holds the brew that is true.” But this chalice was effable.

  13. BobP says:

    At the consecration, now you’re going to have a lot of thirsty people out there just thinking about beer.

  14. I lived with under-translations in Mass for 40 odd years, so I can certainly live with an occasional over-translation now. But I and several reasonable and qualified people I know think there are some over-translations in the new edition, and translating calix as ‘chalice’, at least in its first appearance, is one of them. No big deal, but I just think it needs to be said.

  15. Mariana says:


    THANK YOU! My husband and I have been discussing for ever the The pellet with the poison being in the vessel with the pestle, but we simply couldn’t figure out where the brew that is true was!

    Speaking of which. Yesterday I received my Lockstep Sheep and Papist Throwback mug, it is now in front of me, filled with Fortnum & Mason Queen Anne tea!

  16. Supertradmum says:

    Dr. Edward Peters,
    Since at least the 14th century in Middle English, chalice has meant the Eucharistic cup in poetry and in prose. Albeit, the Greek and Roman usage could have meant cup, but cup is not necessarily the connotative meaning wanted in the liturgical language. In other words, a noun may be chosen for translation not because it is exact, but because it is more meaningful, or symbolic. There are other examples of such choices in liturgical language, such as terms for vestments, which are not exactly what they originally meant. In English, chalice has a plethora of resonances, including the Grail Legends. And, as the Mass for us is in English, there is a place for the most symbolic and numinous word, rather than the exact, dull word. English is a richly imagistic language, more so than Latin or Greek.

  17. John Nolan says:

    For the record, a stemmed glass like the one in the ad is called in England a goblet, never a chalice. In the Nottingham area thirty years ago, if you asked for half a pint of beer you would be asked “Is it for a lady?” and if it were it would be served in a goblet or ‘ladies’ glass’ rather than a straight glass. Beer glasses with handles, once common in the south of England, are less in evidence these days; if you want one, ask for a ‘jug’. The same vessel in silver or pewter is a ‘tankard’. As for ‘beaker’, a child’s plastic cup is sometimes so called; otherwise the word is confined to poetic use – “O for a beaker full of the warm south …”

    Continental-style lagers like Stella (which is brewed under licence in the UK) are usually served too gassy and too cold. Real ale (top-fermented and cask-conditioned) is a much better bet and should be served at cellar temperature – look for the traditional hand pulls. So-called ‘smooth’ beers, dispensed from tall fonts using nitrogen pressure, are a pasteurized and insipid apology for beer – definitely a novus ordo product. Here endeth the rant.

  18. irishgirl says:

    Does anyone here remember the movie ‘The Silver Chalice’, and the book of the same name on which it was based? Yeah, I know that the movie marked the debut of Paul Newman and was rather a bomb at the box office…..I happened to watch it on TV on Easter Sunday of last year (TCM). It was rather quirky, to say the least….nothing like the book….
    I read the book in high school and got a paperback edition of it in the 1970s. Bought it pretty cheap, and I still have it in my personal library. I take it out from time to time; twice I’ve read it aloud, from cover to cover….

  19. Supertradmum says:

    John Nolan,

    I can confirm your critique on “ladies’ glasses” and the term goblet. Not a chalice, a beer glass…

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