< Did you know... ~ Why the Church uses gold or other precious metal chalices
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Among the requisites for the celebration of Mass, the sacred vessels are held in special honor, especially the chalice and paten, in which the bread and wine are offered and consecrated, and from which they are consumed. (GIRM 327)
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.
330. As regards chalices and other vessels that are intended to serve as receptacles for the Blood of the Lord, they are to have bowls of nonabsorbent material. The base, on the other hand, may be made of other solid and worthy materials.
331. For the consecration of hosts, a large paten may appropriately be used; on it is placed the bread for the priest and the deacon as well as for the other ministers and for the faithful.
332. As to the form of the sacred vessels, the artist may fashion them in a manner that is more in keeping with the customs of each region, provided each vessel is suited to the intended liturgical use and is clearly distinguishable from those intended for everyday use.
333. For the blessing of sacred vessels, the rites prescribed in the liturgical books are to be followed.136
334. The practice is to be kept of building a sacrarium* in the sacristy, into which are poured the water from the purification of sacred vessels and linens (cf. above, no. 280).
*A sacrarium is used in cleaning the vessels used during the course of the Mass. Cleaning the vessels in this basin ensures that any remaining consecrated particles are returned directly to the Earth.
Taken from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/current/chapter6.shtml
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