Sunday April 21, 2019 presents us with a unique blessing ritual that is only rarely done in the church for very practical reasons. The consecration of sacred vessels will be performed today prior to the Liturgy of the Eucharist at the 10:00am Mass.
This ritual will consecrate a new chalice which was commissioned for our pastor, Fr. Sergio Romo, by his family on the occasion of his 25th anniversary. A photo of the chalice can be seen here.
Fr Sergio’s chalice is silver-gilt with rhodolite (garnet) stones. It was made by Ottewill Silversmiths in Ashford, England. The inscription on the bottom reads: “To Father Sergio Romo from his family on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee May 22, 2018 in memory of his Father.”
What is the big deal?
Items that are used on the altar at Mass are a category of items in the church we call “sacramentals.” They are not the same “sacraments. » Sacramentals are “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, by which we are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments.” CCC 1667
We don’t just go to the store and pick up paper plates and cups to use on the altar. Sacred items of the altar are made from precious, durable, and non-porous materials, crafted by artisans who are mindful of their spiritual significance and use. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal speaks further on the creation of well crafted items for use in the liturgy in the following words:
“Consequently, the Church constantly seeks the noble assistance of the arts and admits the artistic expressions of all peoples and regions. In fact, just as she is intent on preserving the works of art and the artistic treasures handed down from past centuries and, in so far as necessary, on adapting them to new needs, so also she strives to promote new works of art that are in harmony with the character of each successive age. On account of this, in appointing artists and choosing works of art to be admitted into a church, what should be looked for is that true excellence in art which nourishes faith and devotion and accords authentically with both the meaning and the purpose for which it is intended.” GIRM 289
What happens in the blessing?
The chalice will be anointed with sacred chrism. This is the oil blessed by the Archbishop which is used for sacred anointing in the church such as the ordination of priests and Confirmation of candidates. Thus the item is reserved for sacred, not common use.
Why is this ritual done so infrequently?
Typically a chalice or other sacred vessel is created to be durable and to commemorate special occasions. When a new church building is commissioned perhaps a new chalice is made to match the art and architecture of the new church. When a man is ordained a priest, he might commission a new chalice to accompany him throughout his priesthood. That is why the blessing of a chalice is a rarely performed ritual in the Church. In the case of the chalice consecrated today, it will be the first chalice Fr. Sergio has had commissioned after serving as a priest for 25 years.