Friday, 1 May 2009

Sacred Vessels: Pottery or Precious Metal

For the first time just recently I came across the use of ceramic Chalices and Patens. I happen to mention this in passing in a comment to Fr Tim Finigan saying:

That they were nice and I liked the simplicity of them imagining that they are something similar to what Christ himself may have used at the Last Supper but that if I were honest I preferred the more ornate ones made out of precious metal and jewels.

In reply and to my surprise he informed me that:

Redemptionis Sacramentum 117 states that vessels made from "glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily" should not be used for the celebration of Mass.

and that although

In films, Christ is always depicted as using common vessels at the Last Supper but we don't know that he did so - he may have used a precious vessel. What we do know is that the Last Supper was not an informal meal. It was a ritual and liturgical celebration.

and ending with
I do agree with you on the quality of the pottery and I am hoping to find time to give them instructions for a sacrarium and a holy water dispenser.

The comment had me thinking all day, I had previously read Fr Tim's paper "Sacred and Great" which brilliantly discussed the Last Supper as a sacred liturgy and had helped to furthered my understanding of the Last Supper as a ritual. When I finally managed to piece my thoughts together I came up with the following:

When I was a young child in my family we would always go around to my grandparents for Christmas day, although not completely comparable to the ritual and liturgical celebration of the Last Supper for my grandmother it came very close, for it was the one time of the year she would have all her children and grandchildren in the same house.

Christmas dinner was always the most important part of the day. The actual cooking of the meal had started the night before, but preparation for the meal had begun long before that with the ordering of the turkey from the farmer and the making of the Christmas pudding many months before. It was also they ONLY day of year that my grandmother’s best china was removed from the locked display cabinet in the entrance hall and used.

(I remember so vividly because my brother and I were repeatedly cautioned by my father about the handling of his mother’s china).

Anyway by now you have probably guest what I am getting at - if my grandmother (and no doubt in years to come myself) can make such a huge effort for Christmas dinner then I think it is only proper to assume an even greater effort was made by the Jews in Christ’s day when it came to the ritual of the Last Supper in that my grandmother’s equivalent to her best china was used.

Out of curiosity I also googled Redemptionis Sacramentum and while I like pottery for what it is, I would also argue that it is 'lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit' when it comes to its use as a scared vessel and therefore 'reprobated' and its use should be reserved for such items as a sacrarium/piscina (but that my just be my opinion).

Below I have included a slide show including a most ornate set of Sacred Vessels a wonderful example of what is available for use during Mass.

Acknowledgements to Holy Cross Family for the photographs used in the slide show.

Simple Ceramic or Precious Metal. What do you prefer?

Simple Ceramic

Precious Metal



zetor said...

As you say for special occasions we use the best china , so surely Our Lord is worthy of the best too.

berenike said...

Ceramic's not an option. :-)