The Sacred Vessels
The principal vessels used in the holy sacrifice are the chalice and the paten. The chalice is the cup for the sacrificial wine which is to be changed into the blood of Christ. The Jews made use of the chalice in their sacrifices, for David says: "I will take the chalice of salvation, and I will call upon the Lord" (Psalms 65: 4). And of Our Lord it is said explicitly that having taken the chalice He said: "This is the chalice," (Luke 22: 20). The rubric requires that no other vessel be used but a chalice and that it should be made, if possible, of one of the precious metals. Pious Catholics have presented at all times to the Church valuable chalices of gold richly chased and adorned with jewels. Even in the poorest churches the chalices must be of metal and gilt. The chalice may be regarded as an emblem of the sepulcher of Our Lord, and the paten as the stone placed at the entrance of the sepulcher. Both chalice and paten must be consecrated by the bishop with chrism according to the form prescribed in the Pontifical; a priest has not the power to consecrate them.
The corporal, which accompanies the chalice, is a square linen cloth whereon the chalice stands and the Host rests. It is marked with a small cross on the upper surface, because the sacred Host must always be laid on the same spot. The corporal represents the winding-sheet wherein Christ's body was wrapped by Joseph of Arimathea. When not in use the corporal is kept in the burse, a case covered with the same material and of the same color as the chasuble. During Mass the chalice is covered with the pall, a small square of linen stiffened with cardboard, let anything should fall into it. From the commencement of Mass until the offertory, and again after the communion, the chalice is covered with the veil, which also resembles the chasble in color and material. For cleansing of the chalice and wiping the priest's hands after the communion, the purificator, a small linen cloth, is used. In some places the priest, when taking a few drops of water from the cruet to pour into the chalice, makes use of a small spoon which is kept in the chalice at other times.
Although the ciborium and the monstrance cannot be classed among the sacred vessels required for the celebration of Holy Mass, we shall still speak of them here. The ciborium, or pyx, serves for the reservation of the sacred Hosts which are required for communion, especially for the communion of the sick. This vessel must be of metal, the cup at least, and gilt inside. The Blessed Sacrament is in some places exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the ciborium during public prayers or the minor services of the Church, such as the Saturday devotion, etc.
On the occasion of solemn expositions, or when the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession, the sacred Host is placed in a kind of shrine made for the purpose, and called a monstrance, because in it the Adorable Sacrament is shown to the people for their veneration. The sacred Host is often put in a smaller glass-enclosed container called a luna or lunette, which is inserted in the monstrance. This is done, for instance, on the feast of Corpus Christi and during the exposition of the Forty Hours and during Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Next Thursday: The Ecclesiastical Vestments