Monday, October 17, 2011

Of Hobgoblins, Cups, Chalices (and Grails)

Last week at choir practice at my parish, our choir director asked me why in the new Roman Missal the Latin word "calix" is translated as "chalice" in the Words of Institution but when we sing Memorial Acclamation B, it is "Cup".  We had, at all our parish Masses last weekend, watched the LifeTeen parent/adult video on the Roman Missal changes, in which it explains in some detail the first usage. However, on Thursday night, as the choir practiced the new acclamation, the difference struck her.  I could not give her an answer. So, I asked.... several people through the social networks.

Knowing he'd have the Latin text close at hand, I first checked with Jeffrey Pinyan.  I asked him if the Latin was the same in both places.  He assured me it is - and that he did not know why there was an inconsistency.  Next,  I checked in with Diana Macalintal of the Diocese of San Jose. She speculated that perhaps the Memorial Acclamation is quoting 1 Cor 11:26.. and referred me to another blog post by Fr. Ray Blake, that says in the original Greek, the scripture uses "poculum". This leads me to wonder - are we translating the Latin text of the Missal, or are we going back to Scripture (just saying!).

When I asked Jerry Galipeau, he admitted he did not know either, but that very question had been raised at one of his sessions the week before. He proceeded to put the question into a post on his blog the next day.  His post has just been picked up by Fritz Bauerschmidt over on the Pray Tell blog.  Both posts are generating a number of interesting comments, but no definitive answer.

Amid all the complicated answers, there are those who simply say what Fr. Richard Fragomeni answered when I spoke to him about it before he celebrated a regional Mass with some of our catechists Saturday morning: "It's probably just a mistake in translation of the Latin."

Maybe it is indeed a case of "Why ask why?".  Ralph Waldo Emerson may have said it best: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."  Then again, maybe Stephen Spielberg had it right all along (wait for it):   


  1. I'm usually picky about translations, but am happy with cup or chalice as the Church decides.

    Thanks for the link to the Blake discussion.

  2. I liked this article about the new translation:

  3. That IS good. Thanks for the reference.