Monday, November 13, 2006

glass Communion vessels forbidden?

I was reading through this interview with Cardinal Arinze, and I was a bit surprised to read that glass is forbidden for use as a vessel for Holy Communion.

GIRM says:
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, for example, ebony or other hard woods, provided that such materials are suited to sacred use and do not easily break or deteriorate. This applies to all vessels which hold the hosts, such as the paten, the ciborium, the pyx, the monstrance, and other things of this kind.

Well, 329 provides the leeway. “Who are you to say glass isn’t precious to us?” “How easily is ‘easily’”?

Anyway, happy Monday to those reading.


At Monday, November 13, 2006 3:07:00 PM, Blogger Gavin said...

I rarely have seen glass cups at communion.

Assuming these churches using glass cups have marble or tile floors (yeah right, I'm picturing carpet everywhere), I wouldn't want to drop a glass cup on it. Also, had you heard the myth that glass is a liquid? It might just be something someone told me because I'm gullible, and Wikipedia says it's up for argument, but since there's doubt as to its solidity, shouldn't that invalidate it?

Anyway, I think the ultimate question is why use glass? Is it REALLY that much cheaper than gold or gold plating? And can't a church afford the difference? When the use of glass is risky at best, why bother?

At Monday, November 13, 2006 3:54:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

And so much for these too?

At Monday, November 13, 2006 10:04:00 PM, Blogger ScholarChanter said...

Putting aside the issues associated with the viscoelastic nature of amorphous common glass aside [it is solid enough for us]:

if you don't want it dropped, don't use it (I have a friend "scarred (in her words)" from her first communion experience after she accidentally dropped the chalice and it shattered);
if you don't want to cut your lip, don't use it; if you don't want to drink corrosion or mold products, don't use it;
if you don't want lead poisoning (fired ceramics occasionally use lead-containing glazes, when not fired correctly, can leach out lead), don't use it;
if it is not biodegradable (resin/plastic based materials), don't use it (yes, I know it doesn't say anything about the biodegradableness, but if we use certain materials that can break, we need to bury any remains of the sacred vessel in the ground);
if it is sensitive to acid or reacts with acid (in the wine), we shouldn't use it;

I am wary of using ebony or other woods as a chalice, because eventually the acid will eat through wood.

I have seen ceramic chalices that develop small cracks, and trap some the Most Precious Blood - they had to be decommissioned.

Perhaps going with some modern jewelry trends, I suggest metals such as tungsten carbide as the core of the sacred vessels - almost unbreakable, chemically inert, very unscratchable.

It is very evident that the GIRM is interested in 1. practicality, 2. safety, 3. good return on investment (as opposed to use of materials that lead to disposable sacred vessels).

I wonder why the dioceses in the US get to get away with non-precious metal materials? It does not make sense. Other countries may have traditional materials as well. It is not "fair" to them, although I am not sure why fairness is not a real issue.

At Tuesday, November 14, 2006 1:38:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...

I think I am in a diocese where cheap is the norm. This whole area seems unable to get a handle on its Catholic identity, between an entrenched establishment that decries the direction in which things are headed, but a laity that seems to gravitate best to orthodoxy.

A local parish that uses Sanctus bells, elaborate garments, and all has the most energized 20-somethings group I know of around here.


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