Here comes the Holy Spirit - Loving the Sacramental Life of the Church
As the weather has started to cool down from the summer, I have noticed a few extra bugs in Church. We certainly don’t have an infestation, but if you look around, you will notice them there. Since wine is sweet smelling, flies in particular can be attracted to the altar. The last thing we would want is a bug getting into a chalice of Precious Blood. There is a simple solution that I would like to propose that has a practical and spiritual significance for us.
There is an item that can be used at Mass that jokingly refer to as the liturgical flyswatter; yet that is what it does. A chalice pall is a small square that covers the top of the chalices to keep flies out of the Precious Blood. It is often made out of cardboard or plexiglass and has a white linen or decorative cover. Now, there also is a spiritual significance to a chalice pall as well. During the Eucharistic prayer there is a part that is called the epiclesis, which is the calling down of the Holy Spirit on the bread and wine that are about to be transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. This is the point where my gesture as a priest includes holding both hands over the chalice and is when I will ask the servers to ring the bells once. Now, the Holy Spirit can bless through any piece of cardboard that it wants to, but symbolically the chalice pall is removed at this point to signify that the Chalice is open and receptive to receive the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit that transforms wine into Precious Blood. It is a small but significant symbol that can help us to be attentive to the reality of the Sacramental change of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. This is a reminder to us as well that our hearts too, are called to be open to the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
For the practical purpose of keeping flies out of the chalice, and the spiritual symbolism of having our hearts open to the Holy Spirit, I would like to start using a chalice pall. Any objections?
-Fr. Michael Thiel