Greetings in Christ. I hope this finds you well.
A good, holy, traditional priest in my home diocese has recently claimed in conversation that the Communion-plate is in fact a sacred vessel, hence why they have handles–the servers are not to touch the blessed, plate portion itself.
However this does not fit with my time as a server at ___. There we had plates which had no handles, but small lips on two opposite sides which we simply thumbed to hold the plates. Those Fathers are also very good, holy, and traditional–and if those plates had been sacred, I certainly think they would have told me about it.
I have looked into this myself, but I cannot find any clarity beyond which documents state the plates should be used. Do you know the answer, here?
The sacred vessels are any vessels that hold sacred things, things that have been consecrated. For example, the chalice and its paten hold the Eucharist. Hence, they are sacred vessels. They receive a special consecration. The monstrance, the ciborium, the pyx, the lunette. These, too, are sacred vessels. So rare as to hardly merit mention are the fistula and papal asterisk. A tabernacle is a sacred vessel, too, as would have been the archaic Eucharistic dove. Vessels that hold consecrated oils are sacred. The bucket for Holy Water is a little ambiguous, since Holy Water is only blessed. And we are encouraged to touch Holy Water with our hands.
However, the Communion paten or plate, which substitutes for the paten on the chalice, or a housling cloth, is intended to “hold the Eucharist”, should it fall. They are gilded. They are concave, like the chalice paten. If particles of the Host drop onto the paten, handle or not, they are born along. If the chalice’s paten is sacred, for it holds the Eucharist, then why not the Communion paten which does the same. The chalice’s paten and the Communion paten are designed for this purpose. They actually do function the way they are designed. A smaller amount of the sacred species is still just as much the Presence of Christ as a larger amount.
I come down on the side of the Communion plate or paten being a sacred vessel. They should be gilded and clean, just like the chalice paten. The handle eliminates a need for gloves, for those who are careful about touching sacred vessels with hands that haven’t been anointed. No handle, then it is better to use gloves when handling it.
I hope this helps.