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Preparation of the Gifts

Saturday, November 05, 2011

At this part of the Mass, the gifts of bread and wine (along with any financial collection) are presented. We are to present ourselves with them to the Lord, renewing the gift of ourselves to God, mindful all we are and have is from God. We want all this to be caught up into the mystery of the Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist, which enables us, in Christ, to be living sacrifices, offered to the God of holiness.

The prayers over the gifts have been changed slightly: the words ‘bread (or wine) to offer’ have been changed to ‘the bread (wine) we offer you’. It highlights the action that is taking place: we offer ourselves with the bread and wine and in the Mass this in actively being offered to God. We are each to actively take part in the Mass in this way.

This important feature in which each of us exercises the common priesthood we have received in baptism is brought out in a further change. After the priest has washed his hands he invites us all to pray. During this invitation he used to say ‘Pray brothers and sisters that our sacrifice will be acceptable to God …’. Now it is ‘ … that my sacrifice and yours …’. ‘Yours’ here carries the sense of ‘of each of you’ highlighted by the priest making clear that he too, as well as speaking and acting in the Name of Christ our High Priest, is also offering himself as everyone else does.

The end of this dialogue of self-offering and sacrifice ends with the addition of the word ‘holy’. Thus: ‘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 holy Church.’ It reminds us that we are here because God has made the Church holy by his presence and thus we, as baptised people are, a the First Letter of Peter puts it: ‘ a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, as holy nation, a people to be a personal possession to sing the praises of God who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light (1Pet 2:9).’

This part of the Mass finishes with the priest’s ‘Prayer over the offerings’: these have all been retranslated to bring out more fully their meaning. It is good to really listen and so pray and so mean the ‘Amen’ with which we respond.

Andrew Brookes OP


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