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THE LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST: Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon) (7)
“In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable hands,…”
A chalice should be constructed of precious, non-breakable materials, but it is not that alone that makes it precious. It becomes a treasure because of what it contains. It is not guarded under lock and key in sacristies just because its materials are valuable, but because that chalice will hold the Precious Blood of Our Lord. Having been in touch with the sacred, it becomes sacred. In faith we know that in the Eucharistic species, whether the Body or the Precious Blood, Our Lord is sacramentally present, body, blood, soul, and divinity. In the Precious Blood he becomes the most vulnerable and the most in need of our care and reverence.
“… and once more giving you thanks, he said the blessing and gave the chalice to his disciples, …”
He not only offers this chalice for us, he offers it to us. Even if we don’t receive the Precious Blood directly in every celebration of the Eucharist, in Communion we receive his blood, blood that was and is shed for us. Coming in contract with the sacred, we become bearers of his Body and Blood; that’s meant to make us sacred too. The way we treat each other should reflect the fact that Our Lord has shed his blood for every one of us, whether we act in a way worthy of that dignity or not.
“… saying: TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT, FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.”
Throughout the ups and downs of Israel’s history the people would gather in worship to renew the covenant sealed by Moses at Mt. Sinai with a ritual involving the blood of a sacrifice. In every celebration of the Eucharist we renew that new and eternal covenant established by Our Lord through his blood. Receiving him in a few moments in Holy Communion is our opportunity to renew the covenant, and now his Body and Precious Blood are present, waiting for us to come anew into contact with the sacred and forgive the lesser faults and failings of our daily struggle for holiness. In this moment, as we gaze upon him, upon his blood, in the chalice, let’s remember what he’s done for us.