25 June 2019

Adding Water to the Chalice

Is it essential for a priest to add a drop of water to the Chalice at the Offertory?

Well, it all depends on what one means by 'essential'. It is not essential to validity. If a priest fails to do this, bread and wine are still transsubstantiated into the Lord's Body and Blood; the Holy Sacrifice is still validly offered. In general terms, it is very difficult for a priest to render a sacrament invalid.

Sometimes anxious Catholics wonder whether a Mass is invalid if the celebrant (for example) does not actually believe in the Mass. "How can he intend to offer Mass if he does not believe in the Mass?". It sounds like plain common sense, but in fact  it is contrary to the teaching of the Church. This is why an atheist or a Moslem can, in emergency, baptise a weak newly born baby, even though he/she does not believe in Christianity, still less, in Baptism. The basic intention to 'do the thing that Christians do', is sufficient. (And, of course, the use of water and the basic words.)

The Holy Office once had to decide on the validity of Baptisms performed by a nut-case priest who believed that by baptising a baby he was consigning it to the Devil!! The answer was that his Baptisms were valid. However misguided his views, as long as he was intending to do the thing called Baptism, it was valid. On another occasion, it came to light that Methodist missionaries in Oceania were actually saying in the course of the Baptism Service that it was merely a symbol and did not confer Regeneration. The Holy Office declared that even this public declaration of blasphemous heresy did not invalidate the baptisms.

The basic reason for this is that the Sacraments are the Sacraments of the Lord, and He is faithful to His promises.

The only way a priest could invalidate the Mass would be to use substances other than wheaten bread and wine of the grape; or to omit the crucial words of Consecration; or to form an intention deliberately not to consecrate ... out of hatred, perhaps, for the congregation or for the Lord ....

The apprehension among some Traddies that Novus Ordo Masses may often be invalid, because of a defect in the priest's 'Intention', is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. S Robert Bellarmine explained carefully that if a validly ordained priest became a Calvinist, and, believing that the Church of Geneva was Christ's True Church, intended to celebrate the Lord's Supper as the Calvinists had received it, his (dreadful and sacrilegious) service would still be a valid Mass.

Heresy, or even complete unbelief, on the part of a Minister does NOT invalidate his sacraments. Not ever.

I shall not enable comments which contradict this explanation. The matter needs to be understood. It is not up for discussion. It is what the Church teaches, and has taught for centuries, and has embedded in her praxis.

So omitting the drop of water in the Chalice would not invalidate a Mass. But it would be highly unbecoming and unpriestly. The ancients generally mixed water with wine; our Lord will undoubtedly have done this; and Bishops and Priests have faithfully continued to do this ever since. For nearly two millennia!! But it is not required for validity.

A priest who fails to do this is probably just being absent-minded. This is something that can happen to any of us! Especially as we plumb the ever-more-profound depths of senility!

It might be kind, very respectfully and deferentially, after giving him a whiskey or three, to tell such a priest that his omission is something that some members of his congregation find distracting.


PDLeck said...

You have a few more years on you than me Father so I'm wondering if this is a relatively novel fad or if it's always happened within your memory. It seems to me there are a lot of people today with scruples about whether a sacrament is valid. Catholics don't seem to understand that although there are five requirements for the validity of each sacrament the bar set by the Church is not very high and it not impossible to achieve. As you say it's quite difficult for a priest to invalidate a sacrament. I've seem some really daft questions including a recent one where a person went to Sunday Mass and somehow someone (who ever was responsible) didn't light the candles on the altar and this person was convinced the Mass they attended was invalid!

Mike Walsh, MM said...

So many abuses, so little time. But yes, most are just absent-mindedness (done it myself, one thing or another). The worst commonplace abuse I see (I live in a religious community) is the habit of adding words to the liturgy in an apparent attempt to add meaning. But if it ain't there already, padre, I says, nothing you say can put it in there.

I maintain that in practice versus populi means versus sacerdos (ending?) -the priest becomes the center of the liturgy- which has had untold malign effects upon the weak psychology of many a clerical slaphead. Liturgical kitsch is the main result.

Bud said...

Thank you Father for this very helpful and interesting information. I found it very reassuring as I am sure will many others.

ccc said...

It's interesting that Mormon Baptism is not accepted because of Trinitarian errors.

LDS Baptism's form form is precisely the same. "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

This evidently affects the intention of the minister.


Jesse said...

Your learned readership will already be aware, Father, that from time immemorial, in addition to using unleavened bread, the Armenian Apostolic Church has always consecrated an unmixed chalice.

Your post reminded me of a passage in Hugh Latimer's third sermon before Edward VI, preached in 1549:

"I remember how scrupulous I was in my time of blindness and ignorance: when I should say mass, I have put in water twice or thrice for failing; insomuch when I have been at my memento, I have had a grudge in my conscience, fearing that I had not put in water enough."

[Sermons of Hugh Latimer, ed. G. E. Corrie (Parker Society, 1844), vol. 1, p. 138]

Grateful as I am for the labours of Eamon Duffy and others who have rehabilitated pre-Reformation "traditional religion," I still find it necessary to remind myself that those English clerics who first fervently embraced the Reformation really had been taught a "traditional religion" that was, in the subjective experience of its practitioners, fundamentally superstitious. (It was not a matter of rejecting, say, St Thomas Aquinas: Cranmer and Co. hadn't even read him.) Against this background, the historic Anglo-Catholic project of reading the Anglican formularies in a manner that brings out their compatibility with traditional, "central" Catholicism becomes the only sane approach. The hermeneutic of Tract XC was more intellectually responsible than Newman's bigoted critics could apprehend. Indeed, I wonder whether Newman himself fully realized how right he was.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Who cares what the subjective experiences of people like Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley were (even IF they were honest in their assessments. I suspect that the theological "justification" for protestantism arose only when protestantism became a profitable proposition.)


Stephen said...

If I remember my history correctly, Martin Luther was so afflicted with scrupulosity that it contributed mightily to his break with the Church - an affliction which he rather quickly discarded, I might add, after his leaving, as he took a wife and enjoyed many of the finer things in life he had ostensibly denied himself whilst a celibate priest, giving rather broad leeway to himself and his adherents as he, ah, matured. Sort of like a mirror image of St. Augustine, whose trajectory went in the opposite direction as he got older, i.e. towards a healthy asceticism and self-denial after a rather robust youth, shall we say.

May others so afflicted by scrupulosity not have it be ultimately naught but a way-station to some form of narcissism.

Marco da Vinha said...

Father, could you cite the source (or at least the year) for those baptismal cases you mentioned?

Pulex said...

Father, in addition to the ccc's question about Mormon Baptism, it would be interesting to ponder what distinguishes the situation of Calvinist Lord's Supper you mentioned (valid if celebrated by a validly ordained priest) from that of Anglican Orders (invalid in, as it seems, analogous situation). In the case of Mass, one would think that it will in such case be valid even with the a Calvinist book, provided the words of consecration are there. In the case of Orders, however, the words that constitute the "form" appear to be not enough for validity (cf. Ap. Curae, 28, 33, etc.).

Jesse said...

@Albrecht von Brandenburg: "Who cares..."

I thought it would be obvious that I was alluding to the work of the study commission of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences set up by Pope S. John Paul II in 1981 to investigate the condemnation of Galileo. On 31 October 1992, at a plenary meeting of the Academy, in the presence of the pope (who would go on to address it himself), Bishop Paul Poupard (now Cardinal Poupard) summarized the commission's findings as follows:

Galileo’s judges, incapable of dissociating faith from an age-old cosmology, believed, quite wrongly, that the adoption of the Copernican revolution, in fact not yet definitely proven, was such as to undermine Catholic tradition, and that it was their duty to forbid its being taught. This subjective error of judgment, so clear to us today, led them to a disciplinary measure from which Galileo "had much to suffer." These mistakes must be frankly recognized, as you, Holy Father, have requested.

("Had much to suffer" is a quotation from a speech on Galileo delivered by S. John Paul on 10 November 1979.)

The Protestant Reformers' abolition of the traditional liturgy (among other things) has often struck me as a comparable error, arising from a comparable incapacity to "dissociate."

PM said...

I recall there were cases about a decade ago in which various Father McTrendies were baptizing in the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier in order to avoid 'sexist' and gender-specific language. The Holy See ruled them invalid, I think for defect of form, but also because the wording smacked of modalism.

William Tighe said...

Re: "LDS Baptism's form form is precisely the same. 'I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen'."

I've read that their formulary is "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Ghost. Amen," which might more clearly manifest their tritheistic concept of God.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Cardinal Poupard was ignorant. He didn't understand things like the Michaelson-Morely experiment, the intellectual fraud behind Einstein's relativity in attempting to minimise the implication of the experiment, the observations of Hubble and the implication of the cosmic microwave background and "axis of evil".

Talking about intellectual frauds, Galileo was one. And he recanted his nonsense. His judges were correct.

Heliocentrism is just another cretinous fairytale of the alleged (and falsely-entitled) "enlightenment".


Jesse said...

Eppur si muove... :)

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Do you really expect to be taken seriously, Jesse?? If so, you'll be sorely disappointed.


Figulus said...

Mike Walsh:

Thank you for your comment. I agree with it completely.

The ending you requested is "versus sacerdotem." What a magnificent counter-buzzword. I intend to make use of it myself. Many thanks!