Mass at the Sisters of the Precious Blood Salem Heights Chapel in Dayton, Ohio.

“117. Sacred vessels for containing the Body and Blood of the Lord must be made in strict conformity with the norms of tradition and of the liturgical books. The Bishops’ Conferences have the faculty to decide whether it is appropriate, once their decisions have been given the recognitio by the Apostolic See, for sacred vessels to be made of other solid materials as well. It is strictly required, however, that such materials be truly noble in the common estimation within a given region, so that honour will be given to the Lord by their use, and all risk of diminishing the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species in the eyes of the faithful will be avoided. Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily. This norm is to be applied even as regards metals and other materials that easily rust or deteriorate.”

-INSTRUCTION Redemptionis Sacramentum

“328.Sacred vessels are to be made from precious metal. If they are made from metal that rusts or from a metal less precious than gold, then ordinarily they should be gilded on the inside.”

“329. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, sacred vessels may also be made from other solid materials that, according to the common estimation in each region, are precious…”

-The General Instruction of the Roman Missal

This deplorable practice is quite common in parishes and chapels across the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.  (I know St. Anthony’s Dayton, Ohio also uses “glass cups” for Holy Communion, or at least they used to last time I assisted at mass there 2 or 3 years ago.)  Although difficult to see in the picture, they are also using glass Ciboriums in addition to glass Chalices.  The reprobation of this practice rests on two points:

Breakability- Ok, I’ll cut them some slack on this.  These “cups” (that is the word used by the Sisters of the Precious Blood on their website as opposed to the word “chalice”) in the above picture seem to be pretty fortified to minimize breaking, and when you take into consideration that is probably likely that most Precious Blood churches/chapels are now carpeted like my living room, one would have to be celebrating mass in a traditional church with un-carpeted floors or on concrete to risk breaking these “cups” if ever dropped.  So I think the Sisters get out on a technicality on this point.

Truly noble/precious: This is where I think we have a big problem.  Anyone from this region with a sane mind would never say that mere glass was either precious or truly noble.  And when you take into consideration that the above instructions specifically say to use precious metal and not to use glass, once again we have individuals taking ownership of the Sacred Liturgy and re-inventing it for their own personal, theological agendas.  This practice is not in conformity with the norms of tradition, nor the norms of the liturgical books.  To diminish the Real Presence of Our Lord during Holy Communion in this way is truly reprehensible. 

Do people in southwest Ohio consider glass as precious and truly nobe?  Is there any region in this world, in which glass would be considered precious and/or truly noble?

Are there other parishes whose sacred vessels are not made of precious metals?

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