Loving offer to God
Recently, we celebrated the feasts of the saints, St. Agatha, the Japanese Martyrs, and St. Scholastica, who gave their lives for God’s love. The Mass is a sacrifice where we offer ourselves with Christ to God the Father. This week, I am going to walk you through the Offertory of the Mass.
Procession of the gifts
During the Offertory, people in the congregation are united in prayer by the singing of a hymn. There is a procession of gifts. The people who bring the gifts represent the congregation. The gifts, bread and wine, are presented to the priest. This gesture reminds us that the priest is offering and praying on behalf of the people.
At this part of the Mass, we should offer our heart, mind, will, and everything to God. Giving in the collection is a symbolic but very real way of giving ourselves. The contributions we make help to support the works of the Church.
Blessing of bread and wine
After the priest has received the bread and wine from the people, he prepares the chalice by pouring in wine mixed with water. This mixing of wine and water symbolizes the union of divinity and humanity in the person of Jesus Christ. The priest also says prayers of blessing over the bread and over the chalice. These blessings are derived from ancient Jewish prayers said by those who celebrated the Sabbath.
The priest then quietly says two prayers that express humility and contrition. In the first one, he joins his hands, steps back slightly, and bows deeply saying, “Lord God, we ask you to receive us and be pleased with the sacrifice we offer you with humble and contrite heart.” The priest then washes his hands and says the second prayer, “Lord, wash away my iniquity; cleanse me from my sin.”
The priest then invites the people to pray and the people respond, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good , and the good of all his Church.”
Pope John Paul II said, “these words are binding since they express the character of the entire Eucharistic liturgy and the fullness of its divine and ecclesial content.”
The priest concludes the Offertory rites with the Prayer over the Gifts.
Mass is a sacrifice. Going to Mass regularly trains us to give ourselves to God. Self-giving love is very edifying.
Many years ago, a non-Catholic lawyer had his office at the foot of a hill. Each morning, he saw a widow walking up the hill for Mass. One cold, icy morning, the lawyer saw the widow on her hands and knees crawling up the icy hill. As he watched, the lawyer's eyes were filled with tears. When he went home, he asked the servant girl who worked for his wife to get him books on Catholicism. He said, “I want to see what it is in that Church that would make a woman crawl up a hill on her hands and knees to get to it.” Due to the example of the widow, the whole family of the lawyer converted to Catholicism. We should be grateful for the opportunity to attend Mass.
When the Church was persecuted in Greenland in the sixteenth century, one Christmas night the Catholics gathered in a house. A man held an old corporal and said, “My dear friend, on this sacred linen the last Holy Mass was said in this country fifty years ago. I served that Mass. This holy cloth is all that remains to us of the holy sacrifice. On it rested the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Let us kneel down and thank God for letting us have at least this dear and precious relic. Let us beg Him to send us priests soon again, so we can have among us once more the sacred body and blood of our Lord.”
神父接過麵餅酒水後，唸祝福麵餅的經文, 並把麵餅安放在祭台上; 然後把酒水混和在聖爵中——攙和酒水象徵耶穌基督天主性和人性的結合。神父接着唸祝福杯爵的經文。神父祝福麵餅酒水的經文，是修錄自古猶太人慶祝安息日的經文。
This article was published at the February 15 issue of the BC Catholic newspaper. Please visit my personal website for my other articles for the Pax Sinica column.