Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I have two Mass kits. I wonder if it is legal for me to have them.

Both were left at my last parish assignment by moving priests. They are kind of unique and I thought you might find them interesting. A Mass kit, of course, is a “Mass In a Box” of sorts. It enables you to have what you need to say Mass in a place that is not set up for such things.

This one comes from the U.S. Air Force. If you look closely at the contents list (below) it becomes apparent that this kit was made before Vatican II as it mentions such things as “Mass cards.” The two small canisters with lids are the candles. I suppose if you are saying mass around where helicopters are landing or taking off you would want to protect the flame from the breeze of the blades.

The whole thing is in a soft container that was, until recently, also filled with formed sponge but that had become so deteriorated it had mostly turned to sand.

I thought about getting rid of this kit or passing it on to another priest but it does come in handy from time to time though the last time I used it was about two summers ago when I went on a cattle drive in Wyoming. Several of us were able to gather together in a tent and have a simple Mass. Most other Mass kits would have not been very practical on this trip.

The next kit came from the United States Army and every piece is stamped with a bold "U.S." It is actually quite a nice, substantial, heavy kit which I also think predates Vatican II. The box itself, which is made out of steel, transforms into an altar though the places I have taken it (such as the nursing home or boy scout camp) generally at least have a table for me to use.

Catholics do not travel lightly (as I am discovering through preparing to move) though Catholics in the Air Force seem to come as close as possible. We have not even touched on the books, vestments and bottles of wine.

And you thought your kid’s school backpacks were weighted down. . .


Anonymous said...

Cool! One wonders if there were similar kits used in the catacombs.


uncle jim said...

plan ahead and travel light

don't check luggage - carry-on only

Rev. Daren J. Zehnle, J.C.L., K.C.H.S. said...

That second one looks very nice. How tall is that chalice? I've yet to acquire an actual Mass kit because I don't like using chalices less than six inches high, so I always put one together before leaving the church. It works just as well, I suppose.

knuckledragger said...

Very interesting, especially considering the possible histories
of these Mass kits. I did get a chuckle out of the nomenclature on the AF kit, written in classic government bureaucratese: Chaplain Kit, Combat, Catholic.

Jeffrey Smith said...

Take good care of them. They're actually rather important historical artifacts. How many things like that have survived?

Fr. V said...

Fr. - I think it might just make the cut.

Knuckle - Don't you wish someone would have left a record in there somehow?!

Jeff - Hadn't thought of that.

Liz said...

those are both super cool! i wonder where they have been

Matthew K said...

I was a Ohio National Guardsman, many years ago. It was an immeasurable joy that I was able to participate in a Mass using the hood of a Jeep as an altar and others in tents. I don't recall the chaplain's names, but I'll always remember their service.