Speak Lord: Of your saving cup

St John's Chalice

The responsorial psalm on Sunday, Corpus Christi, has us sing of the cup of salvation.

Especially because Sunday is Corpus Christi, as we sing of this cup many of us will have in mind the Eucharistic Chalice, truly the cup of salvation, and rightly named as such in Eucharistic Prayer II.

The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name.

How can I repay the Lord
for his goodness to me?
The cup of salvation I will raise;
I will call on the Lord’s name.

The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name.

O precious in the eyes of the Lord
is the death of his faithful.
Your servant, Lord, your servant am I;
you have loosened my bonds.

The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name.

A thanksgiving sacrifice I make;
I will call on the Lord’s name.
My vows to the Lord I will fulfil
before all his people.

The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name.

Psalm 115:12-13,15-18

It is surely something to be regretted that when the opportunity is presented to raise the cup, to drink of the Precious Blood, so many people  decline the invitation, choose not to respond to the Lord’s invitation to take and eat, and take and drink. Intentionally or not they can seem to break communion and relegate the Chalice to a secondary, optional, place in the Liturgy. A Catholic oddity that would be incomprehensible to most Orthodox, and indeed Anglicans and other protestant or reformed Christians.

Perhaps in the Catholic tradition the very significant changes in practice over the past 100 years with regard to Holy Communion – the communion of young children, frequent communion, and communion away from the altar rails – has led to a disconnection between the act of reception by the individual Catholic and the prayer/devotion, even theology, of the Church. The changes are all of them worthy and appropriate, but they have perhaps not been well embedded into parochial liturgical action and spirituality. For example, frequent communion has sometimes become indiscriminate communion; the communion procession merely a communion queue. These are not worthy; and cannot bear the weight of the response to the psalm ‘The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name’.

The challenge is that the meaningfulness of these actions has to be internalised by each communicant, or at least a critical mass within the assembly. And we seem far from achieving that in many communities – not only with regard to the Chalice of salvation but the Bread of life also.

If this is a challenge for the many, then it is surely something of a challenge for each one of us too, as we strive to live in faithful communion.

Perhaps in prayer today you would reflect on how you and your community ‘raise the cup of salvation’, and what opportunities might exist to deepen and understanding of what we do in receiving Holy Communion and in promoting a healthy and loving eucharistic devotion.

Photograph of the cup, or Chalice, of St John, in the treasury of St John Lateran, Rome. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

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