Rorate Caeli

Praeclarus calix

The Roman Canon describes the chalice which the Lord gives to his disciples as “praeclarus calix” (the precious cup), thereby alluding to Psalm 23 [22], the Psalm which speaks of God as the Good Shepherd, the strong Shepherd. There we read these words: “You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes … My cup is overflowing” – calix praeclarus

The Roman Canon interprets this passage from the Psalm as a prophecy that is fulfilled in the Eucharist: yes, the Lord does indeed prepare a banquet for us in the midst of the threats of this world, and he gives us the glorious chalice – the chalice of great joy, of the true feast, for which we all long – the chalice filled with the wine of his love. The chalice signifies the wedding-feast: now the “hour” has come to which the wedding-feast of Cana had mysteriously alluded. 

Yes indeed, the Eucharist is more than a meal, it is a wedding-feast. And this wedding is rooted in God’s gift of himself even to death. In the words of Jesus at the Last Supper and in the Church’s Canon, the solemn mystery of the wedding is concealed under the expression “novum Testamentum”. This chalice is the new Testament – “the new Covenant in my blood”, as Saint Paul presents the words of Jesus over the chalice in today’s second reading (1 Cor 11:25). 

The Roman Canon adds: “of the new and everlasting covenant”, in order to express the indissolubility of God’s nuptial bond with humanity. The reason why older translations of the Bible do not say Covenant, but Testament, lies in the fact that this is no mere contract between two parties on the same level, but it brings into play the infinite distance between God and man. What we call the new and the ancient Covenant is not an agreement between two equal parties, but simply the gift of God who bequeaths to us his love – himself.
Benedict XVI
Missa "in Coena Domini" - Homily
Holy Thursday, 2009


  1. Coming to Rorate is a little like going to Mass--thanks for all you do!!

  2. yes, I too enjoy the various selections you post here!

  3. As I contemplate the Holy Father's words I think to myself, yes indeed, it is a meal but it is also a sacrifice and were it only a meal, it's significance would be far less. Because of the sacrificial aspect it is none other than the means of salvation for the entire human race and only His Church has such a thing.

    But, the Holy Father emphasizes correctly, I think, the Divine Love attached to this meal at the last supper - that Christ gave this Eucharist in the form of a meal for His Church through his apostles until the end of time. After all, we couldn't really expect to re-enact a bloody crucifixion as a memorial but an unbloody one. And, to think that we who are members of His Mystical Body have been given such a gift of Divine Love is truly awesome and humbling at the same time.

    So, we are joyful and yet solemn at the same time, happy and yet reverent all the while contemplating the significance of this incredible gift. What an awesome God we have!


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