I remember a Saturday Night Live fake commercial, circa 1983/84, for a Ronco-esque music collection that included a song with the lyrics: “You say ‘grah-NAY-dah’, I say ‘grah-NAH-dah. You say invaders, I say advisers…” The song was poking fun (as only SNL can) at the controversial situation surrounding the U.S. invading Grenada, a Caribbean island nation. The bit about invaders vs. advisers is similar to a reference made by The Wizard in the stage musical Wicked:
A man’s called a traitor – or liberator
A rich man’s a thief – or philanthropist
Is one a crusader – or ruthless invader?
It’s all in which label
Is able to persist
Labels can hold a great deal of meaning, and I was raised in a family where precise language was highly valued. So when the language used in the Catholic Mass was changed with the release of the new Roman Missal nearly a year ago, I found some of the changes to be of little consequence from the interpretation/ translation aspect. But one of the word changes has really got my attention, and kinda bugged me. Hopefully I’m not ruffling too many feathers out there, as that is certainly not my intent. But I have had a couple conversations about this with others, so I know I’m not the only one that finds this odd.
In the Eucharistic Prayer, the word “cup,” used in reference to the vessel (not the one with the pestle, mind you) that Christ uses at the Last Supper to transform wine to His blood, has been changed to the word “chalice.” Yes, I am making a bit of a mountain out of a molehill. But this is just one of those little things that bugs me. The priest at Mass uses a chalice within the Liturgy of the Eucharist, however, since he is reiterating the events that transpired at the Last Supper, the use of the word “chalice” doesn’t seem appropriate to me. Jesus was celebrating the Jewish feast of Passover with his apostles. The traditional Passover seder meal includes a Rabbinic requirement involving “four cups of wine.” That’s not four chalices of wine.
I think part of my hang-up involves my interpretation of the word “chalice,” to mean an ornate footed drinking vessel. In my world, it’s a very fancy treasure, along the lines of the chalice that is used during Mass. Granted, not all priests have an ornate chalice, but this is just the concept that the word draws to mind. And at that point I immediately think of the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in which the last Crusader advises Indy to “choose wisely” in selecting the cup from among the collection that truly is the Holy Grail. Indy does choose wisely in selecting a simple “cup of a carpenter.”
One of my tangents in my internal debate over this word change speaks to the idea of something (or someone) that appears ordinary turning out to be extraordinary. Jesus was, to the general public, an ordinary carpenter, though Christians recognize him as being so much more. The Son of God, though divine, took the role of a servant in order to model for us the behavior He cherishes. While we can never consider ourselves to be as extraordinary as Christ, this doesn’t mean we can’t be extraordinary in our own right. As Christians, we are called to serve God and our neighbor, and as long as we surrender ourselves to God’s will, we can live the extraordinary life to which we are called.
Wow…how is it that I always run out of time and energy before I’ve completed my post. Sigh. Well, I should be able to pick up this topic at a later date. But now, I must head to bed to get some sleep. Monday will be here all too soon, and time just keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future!