Sancta Missa


By Rev. William A. O'Brien, M.A.


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1. The Chalice and Paten. The sacred vessels are the chalice and the paten, which are consecrated; also the ciborium, and the lunula (also named "custodia") of the ostensorium (also named monstrance) which are blessed. It is praiseworthy that the ostensorium be also blessed.

The sacred vessels should be covered with a soft flannel cloth or each may have its own separate case. They should be washed and polished several times a year. Care must be taken that the best materials be used for the cleaning of gold and silver vessels so as to avoid injury to them.

The chalice and paten may not be handled by lay people or by one not in Major Orders. Permission may, however, be granted to those who have charge of such things to handle and prepare them.

2. The Ostensorium, Ciborium and Lunula. These may be handled even by a layman. There is no obligation of handling them with a cloth.

NOTE: No one should have a scruple if by accident he touches the sacred vessels that are forbidden to be handled by one not in Major Orders.

3. Other Utensils Used in Connection with the Sacred Vessels.

The Lunula (Illustration No. 3a.), sometimes called "Lunette, " is a case consisting of two hinged circular crystals set in silver or gold rims. The Sacred Host is enclosed therein when exposed in the ostensorium.

The Lunula Case (Illustration No. 4) is for the safekeeping of the lunula containing the Sacred Host, when not exposed in the ostensorium. It is then placed in the tabernacle with the ciboria.

The Theca (Illustration No. 5) is for the same purpose, but the lunula lies flat therein instead of standing as in the lunula case.

The Ablution Cup (Illustration No. 6) is a small glass or metal vessel containing water in which the priest purifies his fingers, etc.

The Pyx or Pyxis (Illustration No. 7) is a watch-like case made of silver or gold in which the priest places the Sacred Hosts to carry to the sick.

The Pyx Burse (Illustration No. 8) is a leather pocket, white silk lined, for enclosing the pyx. It has long looped strings, for passing around the priest's neck.

The Bread Box (Illustration No. 9) is a storage receptacle, fairly airtight, for holding the "altar breads." Usually there are two, one for the large breads and the other for the small ones.

The Communion Paten or Plate (Illustration No. 10) is a metal gilt plate, in oval or round shape, with a concave side, used to hold under the chin of those receiving Holy Communion.

The Sacristy Oil Stocks (Illustration No. 11) are a set of three metal tubes enclosed in a leather box and which hold the reserve supply of the Holy Oils.

The Oil Stock (Illustration No. 12) is a silver, gold plated cylindrical case having three separate compartments, which screw into each other. Each compartment contains a different holy oil. One contains the "Oil of Catechumens" marked O.C. The second contains "Holy Chrism" and is marked S.C. The third contains the "Oil of the Sick" and is marked 0.I. Sometimes the stock marked 0.I. is kept separately for greater convenience. For carrying this oil stock on their person to the sick, priests encase it in a leather pocket as per illustration No. 14. All these oil stocks are kept in a special cabinet, called the "Ambry," which is either set in or attached to the wall in the sanctuary or sacristy.

1. Chalice 1A. Paten. 2. Ciborium. 3. Monstrance or Ostensorium. 3A. Lunula or Lunette. 4. Luna Case. 5. Theca. 6. Ablution Cup. 7. Pyx. 8 & 14. Pyx Burse. 9. Bread Box. 10. Communion Paten. 11. Case with oil stocks. 12. Combination oil stocks. 13. Individual oil stock (Oil of the Sick).




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