ASK FATHER: Can priests change the wording given in the Missal?

From a reader…

I recently heard a priest say: “We should go back to the [previous] version of the Missal, because I never had to change any wording. But now I have to change it all the time in the collect, for example. I don’t use the word ‘beseech’ in my daily speech, so why would I use it in Mass?”

I know the rule is “do the red, say the black.” But this made me wonder, how much latitude does the celebrant have to change the wording given in the Missal? Is the specific wording from the Missal less critical in, say, the collect than the Eucharistic prayer? What about some of the older priests who (for example) edit wording to make it more gender-inclusive, etc.?

Here’s some other words that Father might not regularly use: nincompoop, narcissist, nanocephalous….

The 2004 Instruction from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Redemptionis Sacramentum 31 states clearly,

[Priests] ought not to detract from the profound meaning of their own ministry by corrupting the liturgical celebration either through alteration or omission, or through arbitrary additions. For as St. Ambrose said, ‘It is not in herself…but in us that the Church in injured. Let us take care so that our own failure may not cause injury to the Church.’

There are a few places in the Missal itself where the priest is given an option, such as choosing between different penitential rites.

Nothing in the Missal permis the priest to, on his own authority, alter the texts that are given to him.

Sacrosanctum Concilium 22,3, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, establishes the principle that

“no person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”


Father may not regularly use the word beseech in his day-to-day language, but the Church does in hers.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. jfk03 says:

    The rules and the rubrics are one thing. Enforcement is an entirely different matter. To use a commercial analog, there is a lack of quality control. Non-enforcement of the rules equals chaos, which is the situation we currently experience in our very divided Church.

  2. Netmilsmom says:

    jfko3 – spot on!

  3. pelerin says:

    The word ‘beseech’ was used in the Anglican services when I was growing up. I don’t remember having to ask what it meant for the meaning appeared obvious even to me as a child.

    Today in the responses to the Bidding Prayers I remain surprised that we have to say ‘Lord we ask you hear our prayer.’ It seems as if we are saying ‘Lord excuse me but if you have the time we would like you to hear our prayer.’ I wonder why the verb ‘beg’ (the modern equivalent of ‘beseech’ was not used. Surely ‘Lord we beg you hear our prayer’ is infinitely more powerful and it does have the same number of syllables if sung? Occasionally I find myself replacing ‘ask’ with ‘beg’ at this point. Perhaps I should not although I don’t think the the Bidding Prayers are actually part of the Mass. I suppose I am also being disobedient in replacing the ‘official’ translation.

  4. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    Does the new translation actually use the word “beseech”? Sounds like the Tablet’s reference to “and with Thy Spirit”.

    For another similarity: I don’t use words like “memcpy” in my daily speech, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t use it when the specification tells me to copy bytes.

  5. It is precisely because we do not use the word “beseech” in our daily speech that we should use it at Mass. The language of the Mass should not be the language of the mundane.

    Which is a very good reason to go back to the no-longer-mundane Latin.

  6. Pelerin:

    In the Roman Missal Catholics now use, there is nothing specifying the response of the faithful to the intercessions or bidding prayers.

    It’s customary for the deacon or reader or celebrant to say, “We pray to the Lord…” and the faithful respond, “Lord, hear our prayer.” However, other responses could be used; in the ritual book for funerals, “Lord, have mercy” shows up. I’ve seen that used in parishes for other occasions.

    The trouble with changing up these things is that it must drive the faithful batty: “Oh, Lord, what’re we supposed to say this week?” So I always used the standard version, if only to leave the poor people to pray in peace.

  7. Dave N. says:

    The elementary school teachers in my head endlessly mock these questions beginning with “Can.” “Can Catholics…?” “Can a priest…?” Of course they CAN. As a matter of fact, we know they often DO. The question should instead be whether they SHOULD. Because someone CAN do something, doesn’t mean someone SHOULD do something. And isn’t that the broader problem? If there’s no one here to call me on it, it’s ok? I CAN do it? Who’s going to stop me?

    My point is that following the rubrics is not the same as following the assembly instructions that come with your Ikea bookshelf. The Mass points to matters that are moral, not simply questions of agency or one’s ability or getting away with something. “Should” places the question into its proper moral context.

    Instead of being obsessed with pedantry, I think those elementary school teachers were onto something.

  8. Volanges says:

    Dave N., I agree. They can, they may not.

  9. Andrew says:

    The “Lord hear our prayer” could also be problematic: who uses the word ‘Lord’ in his daily speech? I suggest: “Boss, hear our prayer”.

  10. jeffreyquick says:

    I love it when Vatican 2 documents are quoted in defence of tradition!

  11. JARay says:

    The response in England to the bidding prayers is not “Lord hear our prayer” but “Lord, graciously hear us”. Do you like the word “graciously”? I do. I think that a gracious request is a polite one and I like being polite when speaking to Almighty God.

  12. The Masked Chicken says:

    Now, now… Let’s not be too hard, here. If Father is a level 10 stutterer and simply can’t pronounce the word, beseech, then, what can you do. Necessity knows no law, after all. Thus, it would seem appropriate, if Father can’t say the word out loud, he should be allowed to whisper it. Come to think of it, that would be even more beseechful, wouldn’t it :)

    The Chicken

  13. The Cobbler says:

    “…I don’t use the word ‘beseech’ in my daily speech…”
    If I were present, I would beseech this priest to reconsider the root problem.

    Someone please be the Garrigue, I’d advocate for “std::copy” myself, but good point.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    “Cup” instead of chalice is another thing I hear sometimes….my thought is that if a priest is this disobedient with the words of the Mass, (unless he is in his 90s and just forgets), he is probably disobedient in other areas as well.

  15. Cody says:

    At a parish I used to go to (I won’t say where), there was a visiting priest who could occasionally come by from the adjacent Catholic university (I won’t say which one) who would always put the missal aside and take out his 3-ring binder which had prayers he’d written himself. After the first mass I heard from him (which I’m not certain was valid because of his dramatic changes) I would walk out anytime I saw that he was the celebrant.

    This is the same parish where the pastor, in the middle of a daily mass, pointed at me to read the first reading and psalm instead of reading it himself. After that, I could no longer assure people that if they sat up front they wouldn’t be “called on stage”, so to speak.

  16. majuscule says:

    I still use “thee” and “thou” in the Hail Mary. When praying the Rosary with others it’s jarring when one of the others uses “you” (although they are probably thinking the same thing about me.

    Hmmm. I also use ” amongst” not “among”.

    I dislike that words in my grandmother’s 1920s prayer book such as “awesome” and “adorable” have taken on a more mundane meaning today. (Examples of the older use: awesomeness of God… the adorable face of Jesus….)

  17. Cody says:

    Majuscule: I agree with the words you mentioned. Whenever someone says a baby is adorable, I want to shout out, “Blasphemy! The only adorable baby is Baby Jesus!”

  18. Reginald Pole says:

    Canon 846.1 (1983)
    o The liturgical books approved by the competent authority are to be faithfully observed in the celebration of the sacraments; therefore no one on personal authority may add, remove or change anything in them.

    • Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1125 (1992)
    o For this reason no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority of the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy.

    • General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 24 (2003)
    o Nevertheless, the priest must remember that he is the servant of the Sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass.

    • Redemptionis Sacramentum, no. 59 (2004)
    o The reprobated practice by which Priests, Deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease. For in doing thus, they render the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy unstable, and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the Liturgy.

  19. frjim4321 says:

    I have a couple tools for rendering the vox clara product into a barely acceptable form. It’s easy to de-Yodaize the text and put the words back into proper syntax. It’s also pretty easy to treat the “quaesumus” appropriately, as did the translators of the ICEL 1973 and 1998. Particularly neuralgic errors such as “many” for “all” and “chalice” for “cup” are rather easy to correct on the fly. Applying those tools the final result, nostrils firmly pinched, is almost tolerable.

  20. Tim Ferguson says:

    So, Fr. Jim, how do you reconcile your actions with the Church’s clear legislation that you, as a priest, do not have the authority to fiddle around with the texts the Church gives us to pray in Her (not your) liturgy?

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  21. CharlesG says:

    The ridiculous thing about this is that an effort was made to avoid words like “beseech” in the new translation, and I think it was only used in that Advent collect that uses the traditional Angelus collect, for the sake of familiarity and tradition. The knee jerk reaction of priests of this type to anything remotely traditional is arrogant and offputting to say the least.

  22. oldconvert says:

    There is a webcam service in the uk,, which broadcasts Masses every day from many churches (from chapels, tiny parish churches, up to cathedrals) in England and Ireland, for the faithful who can’t get to Mass. I have to say that the number and variety of deviations from the texts and rubrics (in the NO masses, anyway; there is only about one EF celebrant in this scheme) is astonishing, I doubt if any two are the same. So that horse has already bolted, as far as the NO is concerned. All though it is also fair to say that the majority that I have seen are at least celebrated reverently.

    Slightly off-topic, but can anyone tell me why, even when there is evidently only a congregation of a dozen or fewer, there is invariably an EMHC there, clutching the chalice? I thought these laypersons were originally only supposed to be used to assist the celebrating priest when there were many communicants present and no assisting priests or deacons available.

  23. frjim4321 says:

    “Slightly off-topic, but can anyone tell me why, even when there is evidently only a congregation of a dozen or fewer, there is invariably an EMHC there, clutching the chalice?”

    For communion under both species. With one presider it’s hard to do even with a small congregation.

  24. iamlucky13 says:

    “For another similarity: I don’t use words like “memcpy” in my daily speech, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t use it when the specification tells me to copy bytes.”

    That is a point that ties in well with the current GIRM’s instructions (quoted by Reginald, above): the priest “is servant of the Sacred Liturgy.” Translation: it’s your job to pray it this way. Likewise, in engineering, my job necessitates using words such as “modulus of elasticity”, “linearity”, and “tensile yield,” because they most appropriately convey the concepts I’m discussing. I could use “stiffness”, “proportional”, or “pulling failure” instead respectively, but those more common terms are more ambiguous and do a poor job conveying the engineering rigor behind the information I’m giving, similar to how common terms do a poor job of conveying the spiritual significance behind the prayers we make.

    “It is precisely because we do not use the word “beseech” in our daily speech that we should use it at Mass. The language of the Mass should not be the language of the mundane.”

    Exactly! This echoing one of Pope Benedict’s writings, is it not?

    As an example, even before the current translation of the Nicene Creed, the Latin version with the word “consubstantialem” struck me with a lot of meaning. I seldom gave much thought to the prior English translation “one in being with…” As far as I know, it’s a reasonable translation, but it fails to convey much significance. However, even with the little Latin I’d learned in high school, the first time I attended a Latin Mass, “consubstantialem” jumped out at me. Even though we can translate it “one in being” or “with the same substance,” far more is conveyed by using a word set aside specifically to describe that aspect of the Trinity.

    I got genuinely excited when I found out the new English translation uses “consubstantial.”

  25. acardnal says:

    frjim4321, for communion under both species, I would suggest intinction be used by the priest instead of an EMHC holding a chalice of the precious Blood off to the side.

  26. Mother says:

    I love your pastoral response, Fr Z.!

  27. frjim4321 says:

    acardinal I don’t think intinction is permitted at least in my province . . . and it sort of throws a wrench in the “eating and drinking” symbolism.

  28. Tim Ferguson says:

    Intinction isn’t permitted in your province… nor is meddling with the texts of the Church’s Mass.

    Again, I ask – how do you reconcile obeying one norm when you seemingly proudly disregard the other norms?

    Do you hate Vatican II? ;)

  29. Fr Kurt Barragan says:

    Fr Jim
    I would be very surprised to discover that intinction was forbidden in your province because
    (i) it is an option allowed by the universal law (GIRM 245);
    (ii) the CDW has indicated that, while “the Bishops may exclude Communion with the tube or the spoon where this is not the local custom, […] the option of administering Communion by intinction always remains” (RS 103) ; and
    (iii) in the United States, the ‘Norms for Holy Communion under Both Kinds’ (which are particular law for all Latin rite celebrations in the USA) explicitly refer to intinction and suggest that the need to avoid excessive use of extraordinary ministers might be one reason to choose this method (nn. 24 and 49).

  30. akp1 says:

    What I would love to say to those priests who disturb the Laity with their chopping and changing the words of the official English Translation of the NO Latin Mass is: “If you dislike the translation so much, just use the original.” I can only imagine the reaction (and hope I don’t cause a heart attack).

  31. Per Signum Crucis says:

    OK, I support the premise that it doesn’t matter what The Words are as long as the priest says The Words and only The Words. But I also have some sympathy for Fr Jim when he cites “chalice” as an over-formal word for cup: who is to say that it was not a cup that was actually used at the Last Supper? Also, because the new translation is still relatively recent, occasionally a priest will lapse into the previous form without thinking which, to my mind, is perfectly forgiveable.

  32. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Self-intinction by the ordinary communicant or EMHC is what is forbidden.

  33. Suburbanbanshee says:

    We know what kind of vessels were used for Passovers and Sabbaths by first century Jews, and they were more like a calyx than a poculum. They were certainly nothing at all like a coffee cup or a teacup.

    Kids are not confused by the complex word. They get some odd ideas from the simple one.

  34. barre218 says:

    If the priest changes the words before the consecration, “Before He was freed, He gave the blessing, broke bread…” does that make the Mass illicit?

  35. jaykay says:

    Per Signum Crucis: I don’t think I’d go so far as to say that “chalice” is over-formal. It’s not as if we all don’t know exactly what a chalice is, after all, and that we can’t recognise that certain words are “reserved” for certain special functions. Why should we be concerned about formality in the context of the Mass anyway? And similarly, if I happened to be buying fancy tableware , I wouldn’t get all upset if I saw the stemmed glasses described as “goblets”, not exactly an everyday word either.

    I think “chalice” is probably the best word to use in the context of the Mass anyway, since a chalice, or calix/calyx, is most likely what was used at the Last Supper, being a drinking vessel with a foot, of a type widespread in the ancient world for centuries by that stage

  36. The Masked Chicken says:

    Darn. I just wrote a long discussion about the use of, “cup,” in the Mass and Last Supper and this evil iPad cleared the comment box while I was looking for another reference. Two hours of work down the drain (without a cup in sight :( ). Well, The points are so important for reflection that I am going to re-do it. They form a really nice reflection for Holy Thursday and explain why the use of the word, “cup,” is a poor choice, after all. I doubt I can do as well as my original attempt, but here goes…

    There is no direct connection between drinking wine in cups and the Passover meal. In Genesis 12: 1 – 20, which recounts the institution of the Passover, neither wine nor cup is mentioned. In the commentary on the oral traditions of Judaism as they developed from the time of Moses onward, which were finally written down between the first and second century A. D. in a book called the Mishnah (whose customs were certainly observed during Jesus’s time), we read in Pesachim 10 that during the Last Supper the symbolism of drinking four cups of wine had developed:

    “Mishnah Pesachim Chapter 10
    1On the eve of Passover [from] close to [the time of] the afternoon offering, no one must eat until nightfall. Even the poorest person in Israel must not eat [on the night of Passover] unless he reclines. And they must give him no fewer than four cups of wine, even [if he receives relief] from the charity plate.
    2They pour the first cup [of wine] for [the leader of the seder]. The House of Shammai say: He recites a blessing for the day [first], and then recites a blessing over the wine But the House of Hillel say: He recites a blessing over the wine [first], and then recites a blessing for the day.
    3[Then] they set [food] before him. He dips the lettuce before he reaches the course following the [unleavened] bread. [Then] they set before him unleavened bread, lettuce, and a mixture of apples, nuts, and wine, and two dishes, although the mixture of apples, nuts, and wine is not compulsory. Rabbi Eliezer bar Tzadok says: It is compulsory. And in the Temple they used to bring before him the body of the Passover-offering.
    4They pour a second cup [of wine] for him. And here the son questions his father. And if the son has insufficient understanding [to question], his father teaches him [to ask]: Why is this night different from all [other] nights? On all [other] nights, we eat leavened and unleavened bread, [but] on this night, [we eat] only unleavened bread. On all [other] nights, we eat all kinds of vegetables, [but] on this night, [we eat only] bitter herbs. On all [other] nights, we eat meat roasted, stewed or boiled, [but] on this night, [we eat] only roasted [meat]. On all [other] nights, we dip [vegetables] once, [but] on this night, we dip [vegetables] twice. And according to the son’s intelligence, his father instructs him. He begins [answering the questions] with [the account of Israel’s] shame and concludes with [Israel’s] glory, and expounds from “My father was a wandering Aramean” until he completes the whole passage.
    5Rabban Gamliel used to say: Whoever does not mentioned these three things on Passover does not discharge his duty, and these are they: the Passover-offering, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. [The] Passover-offering [is offered] because the Omnipresent One passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt. Unleavened bread [is eaten] because our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt. [The] bitter herb is [eaten] because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors in Egypt. In every generation a person must regard himself as though he personally had gone out of Egypt, as it is said: “And you shall tell your son in that day, saying: ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt.’” Therefore it is our duty to thank, praise, laud, glorify, exalt, honor, bless, extol, and adore Him Who performed all these miracles for our ancestors and us; He brought us forth from bondage into freedom, from sorrow into joy, from mourning into festivity, from darkness into great light, and from servitude into redemption. Therefore let us say before Him, Hallelujah!
    6Up until which point should he recite? The House of Shammai says: Up to ‘as a happy mother of children’. The House of Hillel says: Up to ‘flint stone into a water-spring’, and conclude with the blessing of redemption. Rabbi Tarfon says: ‘who redeemed us and our ancestors from Egypt’, but without a concluding blessing. Rabbi Akiva says: ‘O YHVH our God and God of our ancestors–may we come to reach other seasons and festivals in peace, joyful in the rebuilding of your city, and jubilant in your Temple service, where we will eat from the offerings and Passover sacrifices etc.’ until ‘Bless you YHVH, Redeemer of Israel.
    7They mix a second cup; he blesses his meal. [The] fourth [cup] is concluded with Hallel, which he says with the [concluding] blessing. Between these cups, if he wishes to drink, he may drink. Between the third and the fourth [cups], he may not drink.
    8They may not add an afikoman after the Pesach offering. If a few of them changed [locations], they may eat. If all of them [changed locations], they may not eat. Rabbi Yossi says: if they nod off, they may eat. If they fall asleep, they may not eat.
    9[Contact with] the Pesach sacrifice after midnight renders one’s hands impure. [Contact with] piggul [a sacrifice that becomes unfit, due to the intention of the officiating priest, while offering it, to consume it after its permitted time] or notar [a sacrifice that becomes unfit, due to being left unconsumed until after the time limit for its consumption] renders one’s hands impure. [If] one recited a blessing over the Pesach sacrifice, he exempts [himself from the obligation to make a blessing] on [another] sacrifice [that he eats]. If he recited a blessing over [the eating of another] sacrifice, he has not exempted [himself from the obligation to make a blessing] on the Pesach sacrifice – so says Rabbi Yishmael. Rabbi Akiva says, “Neither this nor that [blessing] exempts the other.”

    How would this have played out at the Last Supper? To begin with, a chalice is a cup reserved for ceremonial banquets or kings. As Wikipedia puts it:

    “A Chalice (from Latin calix, mug, borrowed from Greek kalyx, shell, husk) is a goblet or footed cup intended to hold a drink. In general religious terms, it is intended for drinking during a ceremony..The gold goblet was symbolic for family and tradition…The ancient Roman calix was a drinking vessel consisting of a bowl fixed atop a stand, and was in common use at banquets. Chalices have been used since the early church.”

    How would the chalices have been drunk? The number four is found many times in Seder (the Passover meal) symbolism. The first Four Symbol is found in what is called the Four Questions, which the youngest child asks at the beginning of the meal:

    “Why is this night different from all other nights?

    On all other nights we eat leavened products and matzah, and on this night only matzah.[1]

    On all other nights we eat all vegetables, and on this night only bitter herbs.[2]

    On all other nights, we don’t dip our food even once, and on this night we dip twice.[3]

    On all other nights we eat sitting or reclining, and on this night we only recline.[4]”

    Question 1 refers to unleavened bread; question 2 refers to bitter herbs (hyssop, which was an herb of purification); question 3 refers to dipping of food – remember when Jesus or Judas, depending upon the account, dipped their bread in wine); question 4 refers to the practice of eating the meal while reclining (the posture of the free – remember St. John reclining on Jesus). So, the chalice would have been drunk while reclining and, in this case, because the King is present, at a royal banquet.

    Now, during the meal, four cups of wine are drunk, according to the Mishnah. From the blog:

    The Cup of Sanctification – based on God’s statement, “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians”
    The Cup of Judgment or Deliverance [or plagues]- based on God’s statement, “I will deliver you from slavery to them”
    The Cup of Redemption [redemption, in this sense, is based on the Hebrew concept of ga’al, which means a personal relationship of family with the one doing the redeeming] – based on God’s statement, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm [which is taken, figuratively, by Moses at the Red Sea and, literally, by the Son of God on the Cross]”
    The Cup of Praise or Restoration – based on God’s statement, “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God”

    These four chalices correspond to the four, “I will do,” of Exodus 6: 6 – 7:

    “[6] Say therefore to the people of Israel, `I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment,
    [7] and I will take you for my people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
    [8] And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.'”

    There are several other possibilities, however, of why there might be four chalices. The first has to do with the four curses of Pharaoh against which Exodus 6: 6 – 7 are spoken: a) Slavery. b) The ordered murder of all male progeny by the Hebrew midwives. c) The drowning of all Hebrew boys in the Nile by Egyptian thugs. d) The decree ordering the Israelites to collect their own straw for use in their brick production.

    [taken from:

    Another more interesting possibility is from Genesis 40, when Joseph, in prison, confronts two other prisoners: a cupbearer and a baker. This is, amazingly, the first time the word, cup, appears in Scripture (kowc, in Hebrew, from the root meaning, receptacle or vessel):

    “[1]Some time after this, the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt.
    [2] And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief butler and the chief baker,
    [3] and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined.
    [4] The captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he waited on them; and they continued for some time in custody.
    [5] And one night they both dreamed — the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison — each his own dream, and each dream with its own meaning.
    [6] When Joseph came to them in the morning and saw them, they were troubled.
    [7] So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?”
    [8] They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, I pray you.”
    [9]So the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me,
    [10] and on the vine there were three branches; as soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes.
    [11] Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”
    [12] Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days;
    [13] within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his butler.
    [14] But remember me, when it is well with you, and do me the kindness, I pray you, to make mention of me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house.
    [15] For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews; and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.”
    [16]When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head,
    [17] and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.”
    [18] And Joseph answered, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days;
    [19] within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head — from you! — and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat the flesh from you.”
    [20]On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants, and lifted up the head of the chief butler and the head of the chief baker among his servants.
    [21] He restored the chief butler to his butlership, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand;
    [22] but he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them.
    [23] Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.”

    Notice the interesting symbols: vine, branches (3 of them), 3 days of deliverance, pressed grapes (wine), four times the word cup is mentioned – but notice that it is the cup of a king, so, technically, a chalice, hanging on a tree, banquet, the innocence of Joseph. These are all symbols of the Passover meal and the Last Supper. Just as Joseph began the period of Hebrew slavery, so these are symbols of deliverance.

    The last possibility for why there are four cups comes from the ancient Roman custom of drinking one cup of wine for every letter in the hosts name. Since God’s name in Hebrew is (consonances), YHWH, the Tetragrammaton, four cups are drunk, since, of course, Jesus is God and the host of the meal, figuratively at all Passover meals, but literally at the Last Supper.

    Now, what the blogger, above, does not mention is that the Third Chalice is the cup used to symbolize the blood of the Passover lamb and, in a departure from the Seder meal, Jesus identifies himself with this blood when he says, “This is the chalice of my blood.” He is the Passover lamb. The Fourth chalice is the Chalice of Hallel or praise (from which we get Hallelujah – praise he, Jehovah). This chalice is the last to be drunk and Jesus did not drink this at the Last Supper. He said in the Farewell Discourse, “I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine, again, until I drink it, anew, in the Kingdom of God.”

    Hallel is the praise sung at the end of Seder. It is composed of two parts: the Little Hallel, psalms 113 – 118 and the Great Hallel, psalm 136. Now, psalm 116 is particularly relatable to the Last Supper:

    Psalm 116.1(114) Dilexi, quoniam


    1 I love the Lord for he has heard
    the cry of my appeal;
    2 for he turned his ear to me
    in the day when I called him.

    3 They surrounded me, the snares of death,
    with the anguish of the tomb;
    they caught me, sorrow and distress.
    4 I called on the Lord’s name.

    O Lord, my God, deliver me!

    5 How gracious is the Lord, and just;
    our God has compassion.
    6 The Lord protects the simple hearts;
    I was helpless so he saved me.

    7 Turn back, my soul, to your rest
    for the Lord has been good;
    8 he has kept my soul from death,
    (my eyes from tears)
    and my feet from stumbling.

    9 I will walk in the presence of the Lord
    in the land of the living.

    10 I trusted, even when I said:
    “I am sorely afflicted,”
    11 and when I said in my alarm:
    “No man can be trusted.”

    12 How can I repay the Lord
    for his goodness to me?
    13 The cup of salvation I will raise;
    I will call on the Lord’s name.

    14 My vows to the Lord I will fulfill
    before all his people.
    15 O precious in the eyes of the Lord
    is the death of his faithful.

    16 Your servant, Lord, your servant am I;
    you have loosened my bonds.
    17 A thanksgiving sacrifice I make;
    I will call on the Lord’s name.

    18 My vows to the Lord I will fulfill
    before all his people,
    19 in the courts of the house of the Lord,
    in your midst, O Jerusalem.”

    The cup of salvation (in Hebrew, kowc yeshuw’ah or Jesus’s cup) is the Fourth Cup. Interestingly, the Fourth Cup is connected with the coming of the prophet, Elijah, so when did Jesus drink the Fourth cup? Was it unseen in Heaven? No. In Matthew 27: 46 – 48 we read:

    “46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” 47And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink.…”

    It is clear that Jesus drank the Chalice of Restoration, His cup, on the Cross (and did He not say in John 18: 11 , “11So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?'”). Remember that Hyssop was an herb of purification, so that, at that moment, the purification from Original Sin was complete. Immediately after drinking this final Chalice on the throne of suffering, Jesus died:

    “50] And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.”

    It seems clear from all of this that the word, “cup,” is a poor substitute for what the container of the Most Precious Blood should really be called. Properly, it is, kowc Yeshuw’ah, the cup of Jesus, but since Jesus is a king and the cup of a king, especially at a royal banquet, which, after all, is the Cross – more, it is a wedding banquet of a King and his Queen, the Bridegroom and His Bride (for the Crucifixion is a marriage ceremony) – how much more should it be called a chalice and not a mere cup.

    Well, that’s four hours of my life. I hope this helps.

    The Chicken

  37. The Masked Chicken says:

    Should read:

    It seems clear from all of this that the word, “cup,” is a poor substitute for what the container of the Most Precious Blood should really be called. Properly, it is, kowc Yeshuw’ah, the cup of Jesus, but since Jesus is a king and the cup of a king, especially at a royal banquet, which, after all, is the Cross – more, it is a wedding banquet of a King and his Queen, the Bridegroom and His Bride (for the Crucifixion is a marriage ceremony) – is a privileged vessel, how much more should it be called a chalice and not a mere cup.

    The Chicken

  38. Per Signum Crucis says:

    Jaykay and especially The Chicken, thanks: I now see more clearly where chalice derives from and is appropriate to.

    Not wishing four more hours of labour upon anybody but a more difficult example for the ordinary Catholic to perceive the reason for the text changing is the doxology: from “Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever” to “Through Him and with Him and in Him, O God, Almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, for ever and ever”.

    I appreciate translations that bring us closer to original texts but where the change is more a matter of style than substance like this, it’s harder to see the point of the change.

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