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Friday, 10 September 2010

Precious chalice or cup?

In the combox of the post "Telling the truth - a new corrected translation", Lawrence the Roman writes concerning the new corrected ICEl translation of accipiens et hunc praeclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas:
Jesus Christ did not take “a precious chalice".
"He the cup" (I Cor 11: 25)
"He took a cup" (Matt 26:27)
"He cup a cup" (Mark 14:23
"He did the same with the cup after supper.." (Luke: 22:20)
"The inspired books teach the truth. Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confined to the Sacred Scriptures." (Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 107)
Just as the Sacred Scripture is the “soul of theology” it should also be the “soul of the Liturgy”. Let’s not alter Holy Writ for pious claptrap!
The Sacred Scriptures are indeed the soul of the Liturgy in the sense that the texts of the Liturgy include quotations from the scriptures and, when they are not quotations, often allude to them.

It could also be said that the Liturgy is at the heart of Scripture. The canon of scripture (the determination of which books are to be recognised as inspired scripture) was formed particularly with reference to the Liturgy - the books to be included in the Canon were those that could be read as sacred scripture in the Liturgy. Furthermore, the Church was celebrating the Liturgy of the New Covenant (testament) some years before the books of the New Testament were written down. The scriptures of the New Testament came from the life of the Church, at the heart of which was the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

The quotation from the Catechism is not to the point in this case. St Paul says that
All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice (2 Timothy 3.16)
Protestants sometimes use this verse to argue that we must only use scripture for teaching. This is a logical fallacy: "All A is B" does not imply "Only A is B". Similarly, the quotation from Catechism of the Catholic Church does not imply that only the words of scripture should be used in the Liturgy or that embellishments may not be added within the liturgy out of faith by the Church which composed those scriptures in the first place.

In the Douai-Rheims translation of 1 Cor 11.25, the word used to translate the Greek "poterion" or Latin "calicem" is chalice. In the King James version, the word is translated "cup". This was a small indication of the protestant tendency to present the Eucharist as simply a meal and to downplay the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

It is noteworthy that although the older version of the Revised Standard Version (Catholic Edition) of the bible uses "cup" in these texts, the new version, revised by Ignatius Press in accordance with Liturgiam Authenticam has "chalice". Here is the relevant text from the document which has guided ICEL in preparing the new corrected translation of the texts of the Mass.
c) One should maintain the vocabulary that has gradually developed in a given vernacular language to distinguish the individual liturgical ministers, vessels, furnishings, and vesture from similar persons or things pertaining to everyday life and usage; words that lack such a sacral character are not to be used instead; (Liturgiam Authenticam 50.c)
It should also be noted that the Last Supper was not an informal meal. There are debates over whether it followed the liturgy of the passover meal or of another form of communion sacrifice but it was undoubtedly a liturgical meal in which all the elements - including the bread, the wine, and the vessels, were set apart for sacred use and were not simply everyday kitchen items.

The vessel used by Our Lord, as well as being properly called a chalice was also precious, not necessarily on account of the material with which it was made, but because it was used in that liturgical action in which Our Lord instituted the most Holy Eucharist. I think we can agree that his hands were holy and worth of veneration.

As I have tried to emphasise here, the new corrected translation of the Mass is necessary because of errors and defects in the old ICEL translation. It is not a text newly composed from scratch. Therefore to suggest that the text should say simply "he took the cup" is to propose a change to the Roman Canon which has been in use in the Church since the time of St Ambrose. To say that the Roman Canon is "pious" is fine, if piety is understood correctly, but "claptrap" rather tends to contradict the defined doctrine of the Council of Trent:
And whereas it beseemeth, that holy things be administered in a holy manner, and of all holy things this sacrifice is the most holy; to the end that it might be worthily and reverently offered and received, the Catholic Church instituted, many years ago, the sacred Canon, so pure from every error, that nothing is contained therein which does not in the highest degree savour of a certain holiness and piety, and raise up unto God the minds of those that offer. For it is composed, out of the very words of the Lord, the traditions of the apostles, and the pious institutions also of holy pontiffs. (Council of Trent Session 22 "Doctrine on the Sacrifice of the Mass" chapter 4)
A Catholic would also want to be concerned about Canon 6 of the same decree:
CANON VI.--If any one saith, that the canon of the mass contains errors, and is therefore to be abrogated; let him be anathema.
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