We have concluded the liturgy of the word with the prayers of the faithful and we move into the second part—the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
At this moment we do the offertory. During this time, the altar is prepared, the gifts are brought up the altar, and the collect is all happening at once. Let’s pause and reflect on these three things I have failed to fully embrace many times.
The altar is prepared; the Eucharist is also called the banquet of the Lord. This banquet like all banquets unites a family in a feast. This is why the preparation of the altar is so detailed and purposeful. What’s about to happen in this banquet, what’s on the menu goes beyond our worldly satisfactions, this something; better yet this Someone is going to nourish our soul.
The procession of the gifts; the gifts are brought up by a couple or a family celebrating something important that day. These people represent all of us. At this moment, we are asking the celebrant to take our offering; we are presenting God with all of our gifts and asking Him to take them into His perfect sacrifice and multiply them according to His will.
The collection; in the early Church people would bring bread and wine from their homes and present it as their offering. Now, the bread and wine are bought but we still have an opportunity to give something of ours to God. In most churches, baskets are passed around collecting people’s offerings. Giving in the collection is a symbolic but very real way of dying to our comfort and to our worldly needs. It’s a strong declaration of knowing that God is our richness and not material wealth. This also helps the church in a very practical way, we collaborate in keeping our facilities taken care of.
The priest then asks us to join him in prayer in making our offering acceptable to God. We can go back through the scripture and realize that not always are we offering up gifts acceptable to God—Paul will tell the Corinthian, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) We specifically ask God, to accept this sacrifice for the praise of God’s name, for our good, and for the good of all God’s people. This response is deep deeper than we can most imagine, because God doesn’t take our prayers lightly. We are not only interceding for us, our families, and community but for the salvation of all… in this sacrifice; in this most perfect and Most Holy Sacrifice.
These three things in a general sense (I skipped stuff) are what prepare our hearts for the big moment of the coming of our Lord in the Eucharist. In the next blog, we will cover the Eucharistic prayers and the transubstantiation. We are hitting the climax of the Mass the moment when He makes us literal vessels of Himself.
Joandra Mendoza – Writer, unparalleled love