Today's talks at the retreat of the New England Bishops include meditations on accipe, supplices, famulis and praeclarum. Here's my short mediation on "this precious chalice..."
accípiens et hunc præclárum cálicem in sanctas ac venerábiles manus suas
he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable hands,
One of the most frequently raised objections to the newest translation of the Roman Missal has been the more precise translation of the phrase praeclarum calicem in the Roman Canon. It conjures, they suggest, images of a bejeweled golden vessel of the high Baroque, when the vessel which the Lord first took into his hands in the upper room was probably a clay cup.
Mihi iam non sis amara
Fac me tecum plangere.
Ave, præclara maris stella, in lucem gentium…
The precious or shining star of the sea and light to the Gentiles!
Intacta Mater Numinis,
Cœlestis aulæ ianua,
Spes nostra, cœli gaudium.
"No longer is there a sanctuary or special place reserved for the sacred ministers in the Holy of Holies. All places are thrown open, not only to lay-men, to worldly women, to evil-living vagrants who enter the holy places only to profane them, but even to dogs that are allowed to roam around and do what they please; the Church is a den of thieves, a lair of wild beasts, a place of profanation. . .. You see lay-folk, men and women, entering the choirs and sanctuary, taking the priests' places, and sometimes seating themselves above them, standing beside the altar and even leaning upon it. . . .”
"That is not all: do you wish to see in what little consideration the majority of Christians hold the house of their God? Go to the houses of the rich and noble: you will see nothing there that is not clean and decent; you will see them adorned with rich tapestries, choice furniture, exquisite linen, vessels of silver often inlaid with gold and enamel. Go to the Churches; you will see many of them in dirty and filthy surroundings; tapestried inside with cobwebs, paved with dust and mud; the roof and windows open to wind, rain, hail, and snow; altars devoid of ornaments and covered with dust, priests offering the dread sacrifice in torn albs and chasubles, corporals and purificators sometimes so dirty that they make one's heart sick; chalices made of tin and begrimed at that; the Most Holy Sacrament in a ciborium of the same material and within a wretched tabernacle covered and filled with dust and dirt, without a lamp, without a light, and without any mark of religion.”
“In a large household there are vessels not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for lofty and others for humble use. If anyone cleanses himself…he will become a vessel for lofty use, dedicated, beneficial to the master of the house, [and] ready for every good work.”
May you be a praeclarum calicis!