Friday, October 14, 2011

Cup and chalice

Friday greetings on a crisp Autumn morning here in Chicago.

Well, I was able to spend some fun time (without the new translation of the Missal) last night as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the newly re-formed Winnipeg Jets 4-3 before a packed house at the United Center here in Chicago. (Yes, some day I would love to be a sports announcer!)

Over the past few weeks, a question has arisen (or re-arisen, as the case may be) regarding the translation of calix in the newly translated Eucharistic Prayers. As you know, in the institution narrative, the word is translated "chalice." Yet in the "memorial acclamation," it is translated "Cup." It is interesting to note that "chalice" is not capitalized, yet "Cup" is capitalized. Some have surmised that "chalice" refers to the vessel that contains the blood of Christ, therefore the capitalization of "Blood" as it appears in the words of institution makes sense. And that the word "Cup" is capitalized in the "memorial acclamation" because it refers to the blood indirectly; one cannot drink a cup; one can only drink the contents of a cup, therefore the word at it is used in the acclamation refers to the contents, the precious blood of Christ and is therefore capitalized.

I am sure there has been much written about this. Would appreciate more information, as I don't have the time right now to do the research. Let's help one another.

I hope you have a wonderful Autumn weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Luke said...

Interesting analysis, Jerry. I wondered about that myself. As you may guess, I would have much preferred the word "Cup" all around, in part to avoid this non-uniformity of terminology.

I'd also like to bring up that the current Spanish translation uses cáliz ("chalice") in both the institution narrative and applicable memorial acclamation:

Cada vez que comemos de este pan y bebemos de este cáliz, anunciamos tu muerte, Señor, hasta que vuelvas.

That is:

"Each time we eat of this bread and drink from this chalice, we declare your death, Lord, until you return."

"Cup" would be copa in Spanish. It'll be interesting to see how these passages are rendered in the next Spanish-language missals, as well as those of the other Romance languages.

ethelthefrog said...

Personally, I feel that the presence of "calix" in the Latin is a hold-over from an over-ornamented view of the Son of God. It would have been unthinkable for the Word through whom He made the universe to hold, in his precious hands, a vessel of ought but the purest gold. Reality must bite, however, and admit that the itinerant preacher from Galilee would not have had the cash to institute the Mass with a bejewelled chalice. He'd have used a cup. Probably made of rude local pottery.

Whilst I accept that the Latin is probably correctly translated as "chalice", I assert that it is the wrong choice of word and that translating it into the English as "cup" improves the situation markedly. It's the very centrepiece of the Mass, and I find it jarring to hear such an obvious historical fallacy.

Paul Robertson

Luke said...


I agree completely. From what I understand, the English-speaking bishops initially attempted to render calyx as "cup," but Rome insisted on the literal option.

It is a jarring anachronism; it transforms Jesus into a priest saying Mass in a church, as someone who also wrote about this issue put it. This is an example of why Liturgiam Authenticam strikes me as an extremely insensitive document.