Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

From the August AD 2011
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

The Bishop's Crozier?
Sacrifice or Memorial Meal?
Why the Host but not the Chalice?


The Bishop's Crozier

    Question:  Pictures of servers handling the bishop’s crozier show them using a cloth to hold the shaft.  Is this ceremonial or functional?  Could I have seen a picture of a woman with a crozier?

    Answer:  The crozier, or pastoral staff is a sign of authority and jurisdiction, carried by bishops, abbots, and some abbesses.  In the place where they have jurisdiction prelates carry the crozier in the left hand, with the crook facing away from themselves.  Those without jurisdiction, and, a fortiori, the servers carry the crozier facing inward, toward themselves.  An abbess carries the crozier in her right hand, normally facing inward, although when the Blessed Virgin is portrayed in art as an abbess, the crozier may face outward.

    Bishops receive the crozier toward the end of their ceremony of episcopal consecration, and abbots when they are blessed and installed in their monasteries.  The Roman Pontifical makes no mention of the crozier or any other pontifical emblem given to an abbess on the occasion of her investiture.  In early medieval times bishops, abbots, and abbesses were also members of the civil political structure, given lands and the authority to do the king’s business.  This led to the custom of “lay investiture” which had the sovereign confer the ring and crozier as a sign of civil jurisdiction.  This ended in the early twelfth century by the decree of Pope Callistus II (r. 1119-1124).

    The crozier often had a cloth attached to it called a “sudarium,” which served as a handkerchief for the prelate.  This served the quite practical purpose of keeping the rod of the crozier from fingerprints and even eventual corrosion.  Even gold will show fingerprints, and lesser metals like brass will turn green with corrosion.  Stainless steel and spray-on lacquers were products unknown to the medieval world.  Liturgical gloves for bishops came into use around the tenth century in Rome, but appear to have been in use from an earlier time in France.  They seem to have been a decorative ornament from the beginning, but they also served the practical purpose of protecting the rod of the crozier.[1]  The modern Roman crozier no longer has a sudarium attached, although some in the Eastern Churches do—but the cloth is often so fancy that the hand is held beneath it![2]

    When the server carries the crozier (or the miter) he wears a veil known as a “vimpa.”  Often mistaken for the humeral veil used at benediction, the vimpa is shorter and less ornate.  It goes across both shoulders and usually terminates in pockets for the hands to protect the crozier or miter.  It also clearly distinguishes the server from the bishop.  In some places a cross bearer (same metallic shaft) is outfitted with a pair of plain gloves, more military in style than pontifical.

Abbess Benedicta von Spiegel
Abbey of St. Walburga in Eichstätt, Bavaria
Abbess Benedicta, in the photo above, carrying the crozier facing inward, is seen to be wearing pontifical gloves, ring, pectoral cross, and a crowned hood.

    Another interesting curiosity, of women wearing vestments associated with the priesthood is the Carthusian nun who chants the Gospel at Matins wearing a stole.  At solemn profession the Carthusian nun is invested with stole, maniple, and cross. [4]

Sacrifice or Memorial Meal?

     Question:  A friend of mine says that his priest told him that the Mass is a “memorial meal,” and is not a sacrifice.  How can I answer him?

    Answer:  This is apparently not all that unusual.  Shortly before being elected Pope, Benedict XVI gave an address in which he lamented that many of his priests question the sacrificial nature of the Mass.[5]  The Pope was clear that he did not share this (heretical) point of view.

To understand the sacrificial nature of the Mass it helps to know what came before It.  Sacrifice is a nearly universal aspect of religion, even without divine revelation.  Human beings are capable of knowing God’s existence by observing His effects on the world around them.  As He is the Cause of all that exists, and the benevolent Provider of all that men and women require for life, people naturally understand their duty to thank God.  This thanksgiving may take the form of prayer or song, but often it is expressed in sacrifice.  Something of value to men and women is offered to God, and then destroyed so that they can no longer enjoy it.  Often this sacrificial destruction is effected by a priest who is the designated mediator between man and God.

    With the benefit of revelation, God’s people have learned more specifically what He expects of us in worship.  In the Old Testament we learn that “God looked with favor upon Abel and his offering … the first born of his flock.”[6]  After the flood, Noah offered a sacrifice of the clean animals and birds that pleased God, who promised “never again to curse the earth because of man.”[7]  After the defeat of the four kings, Abraham had the priest-king Melchisedech offer a sacrifice of bread and wine (a foreshadowing of things to come).[8]  Later, to test Abraham’s loyalty, God commanded that he sacrifice his son Isaac, but then provided a stag as an alternate victim to redeem the boy (Genesis xxii:1-14).

    Sacred Scripture refers to Christ as “a priest forever according to the Order of Melchisedech.”[9]  But it is obvious that this sacrificial similarity is in the Eucharistic offering of bread and wine, and not in the crucifixion.  Christ, of course is the priest of both the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Sacrifice of the Mass, for they are one and the same.

    The Exodus from captivity in Egypt began with the sacrifice of lambs ordered by God;  the blood being smeared over the doorways of the Jews so that the angel of death would pass-over their homes without harming their first born sons.[10]  The Passover sacrifice was to be eaten in haste, with unleavened bread, wine and bitter herbs, a feast to kept “from age to age, an irrevocable ordinance.”[11]  It was this Passover sacrifice that provided the context for the first Mass, offered at the Last Supper, the night before our Lord offered Himself in Sacrifice on the Cross.

    During the Exodus from Egypt, Moses received the Law from God.  In addition to the moral instructions summarized in the Commandments, the Mosaic Law contained instructions about ritual purity and the way in which God wanted to be worshipped.  Moses’ brother Aaron and Aaron’s sons were consecrated as priests and ordered to offer a myriad of sacrifices on a continuous basis.  The sacrifices included clean animals, birds, and various forms of wheaten flour and cakes.  Details are found in the book of Leviticus.[12]  The Old Testament sacrifices were to be carried out in the portable sanctuary carried about through the desert, and later at the Temple built in Jerusalem.  They were still being offered at the time of Christ.  Some of the sacrificial victims were completely destroyed by fire (holocausts), others might be partially burnt with the remainder being consumed by the priests, and still others might be shared with the lay people who offered them.

    The prophet Malachi was sent by God to warn the Jews that they were offering unacceptable victims on His altar, and to announce that sacrificial worship would be transferred to the Gentiles (non-Jews) “a pure offering that would be offered everywhere from the rising of the sun unto its going down.”[13]

    In the New Testament, during the Passover, our Lord promised that He would give Himself to His disciples:  “I am the bread of life, anyone who eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world…. Anyone who eats of this bread will live forever.”[14]  We know that our Lord was speaking literally about giving His body, for some in the crowd murmured about it, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”  At which point Jesus reiterated His intention to give us His flesh and blood.  Many of His followers walked away in disbelief—He could have brought them back by saying that He was only speaking figuratively, that He intended to give symbols of his body and blood—but He did not, because He meant what He had said.

    A year later, at the Passover in Jerusalem, He made good on His promise.  As he ate the Passover meal with His Apostles, He took some of the unleavened bread and a cup of wine and gave it to them, saying, “Take it and eat.  This is My body…. This is My blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”[15]   And He commanded the Apostles, “Do this as a memorial of Me.”[16]  By our Lord’s words we know that what appeared to be bread and wine were one with His body and blood about to be sacrificed on the Cross, and that His Apostles were empowered to do what He had done, so that generations to come, thousands of miles away, “from the rising to the setting of the sun,” could stand at the foot of the Cross and receive the bread of life.  There is but one Sacrifice of the Cross, “for this He did once, in offering himself,” but that sacrifice is re-presented wherever and whenever Mass is offered.[17]

    In his letter to the Hebrews, Saint Paul speaks in clear sacrificial terms, describing the practice of the Christians relative to those who rejected Christ and remained with the Temple:  “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle (the Temple) have no right to eat.”[18]  Saint Paul wrote in Greek, and the word he used for “altar” was the same word (θυσιαστήριον, thusiastērion, thoo-see-as-tay'-ree-on) that was used to describe the sacrificial altar of the Temple in the Septuagint (Greek) translation used by the Jews of the Old Testament—it was not a table.[19]

    The constant tradition of the Church, both East and West has been the acceptance of the true presence of our Lord in consecrated bread and wine, and the sacrificial nature of the Mass, which re-presents the sacrifice of the Cross in time and place.  The deviant teaching that the Eucharist is merely symbolic and non-sacrificial was an innovation of Luther and the so-called “reformers” in the sixteenth century.  They at least had the honesty to stop referring to themselves as “priests,” for that title among Christians, Jews, and pagans refers to “one who offers sacrifice to God.”  Modernist Catholics who deny the sacrificial nature of the Mass should be as honest as their Protestant counterparts, whom they hold in such high esteem, and whom they mimic with their Protestantized liturgy.

Host, not Chalice?

    Question:  Why don’t we receive Holy Communion under both forms; the Host and the Chalice?

    Answer:  Although we sometimes speak of the Host as the “body of Christ, “ and the consecrated wine as “the blood of Christ,” it is theologically certain that what we receive is the living Christ, whole and entire, humanity and divinity, in either form.  Receiving either “species” insures the complete reception of the Sacrament.  Eastern Rite Catholics generally receive both, but the Roman practice from the twelfth century has been to administer only the Host to the laity.  In some of the Eastern Churches the practice is to communicate infants by placing a drop or two of the consecrated wine upon their lips.  A similar procedure might be employed for the Communion of those allergic to gluten (celiac disease).

    In the early Church Holy Communion was reserved under the species of bread for the Communion of the sick, and was even reserved in the cells of the desert dwelling monks who were permitted to communicate themselves.  Those who travelled by ship may have had the privilege of receiving the Sacred Host even when rough seas would have made the celebration of Mass impossible, for fear of spilling the Precious Blood—custom allowed the celebration of a “Missa sicca.” or “dry Mass” on shipboard, during which no consecration took place, but a previously consecrated Host would be elevated, and later given in Communion.

    The decision of the Church to administer Communion under the species of bread alone was motivated by the fear that if the chalice were passed around there was danger of spilling the Precious Blood, and that people might wipe It off their lips.  Of course, in modern times, we also know about the possibility of passing germs from one communicant to another.

    Although reception of either species is adequate for the administration of the Sacrament, the celebrating priest (who offers the Sacrifice of the Mass) must separately consecrate both bread and wine and receive both in Holy Communion.  This was the direction of our Lord to His first priests, the Apostles, to do what He did at the last Supper.  The separate Consecration is said to be a “mystical sword” of sacrifice.

    Luther and the so-called “reformers” objected to the Catholic practice since they rejected the immemorial belief in the Mass as a sacrifice and the Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine.  To the Protestant the presence of Christ is purely symbolic, and the administration under one species is less symbolic.

    After Vatican Council II the reception under both species was permitted on certain special occasions.  This included priests at their ordination, deacons and subdeacons at solemn Mass, an abbess at her blessing, nuns at their consecration as virgins, to religious making their profession of vows, husband and wife at their nuptial Mass, adult converts at the Mass of their baptism, to adults being confirmed, or being received back into the Church after falling away.  But as time went on the practice became increasingly widespread, with many Catholics thinking it an essential part of the Sacrament.  This change in practice came at a time when fewer and fewer Catholics professed to believe in the real presence.[20]  One can only speculate as to whether “the chicken or the egg” came first.


[1]   The Catholic Encyclopedia s.v. “Episcopal gloves”

[4]   William M. Johnston, Encyclopedia of Monasticism, Volume I, pg. (Chicago: Fitzroy-Dearborn 2002)  792

[5]   Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Oriens Journal “Theology of the Liturgy” delivered during the Journees liturgiques de Fontgombault, 2224 July 2001.

[15]   Matthew xxvi:26-28

Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
Authentic  Catholic Mass, Doctrine, and Moral Teaching -- Don't do without them -- 
Don't accept one without the others!