Monday, June 7, 2010


I wrote in a recent blog post that distractions can sometimes torment me during the celebration of the Eucharist. It happened in a nasty way just this past Sunday at 11:00 Mass.

In the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer a fly decided to circle around the paten and chalices and try to alight on them. As I was praying with my hands extended at that time, it had a good chance and succeeded several times (I tried desperately to brush it away, but it kept returning). How does one brush away a fly from 5 other chalices when one is holding the sixth, in the act of the Consecration?? How does one focus at that point? Answer to both questions: poorly, or not at all. And this, after a homily in which I was extolling the virtue of focus in the Eucharistic celebration! I wonder if there is any connection here with the “name” given to the chief god of the Canaanites by the Israelites. Known to those who worshipped him as “Ba`al ze ba`al,” or “Lord of lords,” the Israelites tweaked the name into “Ba`al zebub” (Beelzebub)—“lord of the flies”…

This leads me to the identification of a piece of altar linen that perhaps daily Mass goers here might see me place on the altar, and that Sunday Mass attendees would rarely see at all, if ever. It is called a pall.

It is a cloth pocket into which is inserted a piece of cardboard or plastic, to make it a stiff square. Traditionally it is placed on the chalice to prevent things (like flies) from getting inside.

Our Savior has exactly 2 palls, and I bring them out for daily Mass since I never have more than 2 chalices. In four years I have rarely needed them.

This past Sunday’s 11:00 Mass was different, sadly. Even if I’d had the 2 palls at the altar, they would have been inadequate for 6 chalices. But I am in the process of rectifying this situation. I won’t be had again by a fly, nor by its “lord,” I hope!


  1. It is in deed infinitely more difficult to be had by the flies that are unseen, or whose appearance do not look/seem like flies at all.

  2. correction to previous post:
    (I meant) it is in deed infinitely easier to be had by the flies that are unseen