On Consecrating Wine in a Flask or Bottle

ROME, SEPT. 23, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

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Q: Is it allowable to consecrate wine at Mass in a flask or bottle? Is it allowable to use a chalice and a flask, putting both on the altar in cases of large numbers receiving under both kinds? I personally strongly think not. The words of consecration would not be true: This is the cup of my blood. The rubrics too only mention a chalice/cup, i.e., a drinking vessel. The symbolism of the cup is of course important. Has there been an official ruling? — B.B., Gladesville, Australia

A: As you yourself observe, the rubrics say nothing about this flask, and while so far there has been no official ruling against it we cannot appeal to silence to obtain tacit approval of abuses.

It is impossible for the Holy See to specifically forbid everything which the liturgical imagination can contrive and we have to be guided by the positive norms which speak only of chalices.

Even in the United States, where use of this flask, in some areas dignified with the slightly archaic term flagon, is relatively common, the recent norms published by the episcopal conference regulating concelebrations speak only of chalices and of pouring the blood of Christ from one chalice to another for distribution.

I am in full agreement with you as to the importance of maintaining the symbolism of the words of consecration and would add that the use of these flasks, decanters, bottles — or whatever name is given them — tends to send the wrong message as their external form tends to be associated with social events and parties rather than the sacred banquet of the sacrifice of the Mass.

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