Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Care of Liturgical Cruets

In the liturgical context, cruets are the small containers in which the sacramental wine and water are brought to the altar. In the traditional Latin Mass, during the offertory, the priest pours wine and water from these cruets into the chalice and says (in translation):
“O God, Who in creating man didst exalt his nature very wonderfully and yet more wonderfully didst establish it anew: by the mystery signified in the mingling of this water and wine, grant us to have a part in the Godhead of Him Who hath vouchsafed to share our manhood . . . ” *
Even though the wine and water brought to the altar in the cruets are not yet consecrated, they will be used in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and therefore their containers should be well maintained and immaculately clean.

McClinton and Squier give the following advice for care of the cruets:
“Cruets should never be left standing filled, but should be emptied after each service, washed out, and dried so that they will not become discolored. All glass should be washed in warm, soapy water, rinsed and dried while warm. The stoppers of cruets should not be replaced until the cruets are completely dry. When a stopper sticks, run hot water on the neck of the cruet, being careful not to let it get too hot. If this does not remove the stopper, put a few drops of glycerine at the joining of the stopper and the neck of the cruet and let stand for several hours. Cruets that have become discolored may be filled with a mixture of vinegar, salt, and water, or a little Clorox, or some other bleaching agent, and water, and left to stand a few hours. Another method for cleaning glass cruets or vases is to put in some dry rice and water and shake. A bottle brush is also useful when cleaning glass.”
Some cruets have silver stoppers. The same source recommends that silver should first be washed in detergent and hot water, and then silver polish should be applied while the silver is still hot. Using that technique, “the surface will be more glistening and shiny when polished.” After applying the silver polish, the silver should then be rinsed in hot water and buffed with a clean cloth or chamois.

McClinton, Katherine Morrison, and Squire, Isabel Wright; Good Housekeeping in Church (Morehouse-Gorham Co., New York, 1951), pp. 46, 51-52. (This is not a Catholic resource but it offers very practical advice on the care of the sanctuary, sacristy, vessels, and vestments.)

Pair of cruets, from SanctaMissa.org

*In the Novus Ordo liturgy, the priest says, “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

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